Capitalism and its impact on society – present and past

Akhtar Rasool Khan 

Human mind is the only organ bestowed by God that distinguishes it from other animals. The tales of human achievements are passed from generation to generation highlighting the thinking capability of man. The time of bust and boom or the time of gloom and doom, all are attributed to man’s thinking. This thinking and reasoning ability led the man to level unprecedented.

The industrial era of 18th century was epitome of human ingenuity. The industrial revolution ushered immense social changes leading to alteration of every nook of social life. In such a transitional era, economic transformation was sine qua non. Thus the economic transition took place when the Scottish economist Adam Smith in his magnum opus An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations propounded the idea of “Capitalism” in 1776. The idea of Lassiez faire not only veered the economy but human thinking, as well. Thenceforth, capitalism plagued human society affecting every aspect of man’s life.

The society is constituted of social institutions on which it stands. One of the major institutions is the economy, which determines the society. The inception of capitalism besmirched this institution by making it heaven for opulent and hell for the poor.  The capitalist economic system is a mean which furthers the mundane cupidity of rich, supporting it by all means possible. Whereas in contrast the bad conditions of poor are made even worse by this economic spectre.

The mighty God has endowed us with the bounty of natural surroundings. The capitalist economic system was manifestation of human rapacity that would maliciously destroy the natural environment in which we abide. If we look at the pages of history it is evident that the British Empire in the Subcontinent exploited resources and natural habitats of the area. Likewise, the US invasion of Afghanistan was not an act against terrorism but aimed at exploiting resources as cheap raw materials to boast its production.

According to veteran analysts, Afghanistan is embellished with abundance of minerals – like Lithium that is used in every electronic device nowadays – and to clump these resources USA invaded Afghanistan. In a like manner, the expansion of capitalist ideology is proving itself as vengeance on the ecosystem.  This capitalist greed is resulting in deforestation of rainforest as major oil companies are in race against each other, so the oil underneath is drilled out by cutting the forest relentlessly. As John Perkin in his book The Confession of Economic Hitman confesses:

The major US companies are being so blind in the neo-liberal capitalist race that to fulfill their greed they are exploiting the rainforest regardless of its future consequences.

Capitalism has major impact on the social structure of society, as well. As it fosters those who have means at their disposal and it presses those who don’t have ample economic means. Thus it conduces to widen the chasm between rich and poor resulting in forging of social stratification. Furthermore, capitalism has resulted in aura of imitation, that is, those who are at the bottom and at the middle of economic ladder tend to emulate the life style and outlook of those at the top. As Georg Simmel pointed out that because of such imitation fashion comes into being. Thus this imitation accelerates the bankruptcy of middle and lower class.


Human sympathy is a potent mean of social cohesion. Family is the primary mean from where sympathy emanates. The love of parents for their children and their mutual attachment helps to strengthen sympathy for each other. But human greed i.e. the capitalist pursuit, dominated human sympathy resulting in alteration of family, which is now composed of two people (especially in West) – one of the spouses with his/her one child. This led people to emphasize individualism rather collective well-being.

In like manner people are more gravitated toward corporate to gain economic benefits leaving behind the idea of nationalism.  Ordinary worker is use as a pawn by corporate magnets to achieve economic gain. The populace, rather focusing on national well being, began to focus on the prosperity of corporate in which they work. Thus it made the corporate potentates more stalwart than public representatives who have people’s mandate. These corporate magnets are now able to make political manipulation of their own choice from behind the scene.

This economic system sprouted many ideas to surface. One of such idea was the expansion of modern global empire. Conception of modern global empire refers to the domination one country over the other developing countries, so it can manipulate the vanquished countries for its economic gain. This desire is realized by ensnaring developing countries in the trap of international monetary institutions (such as, IMF and World Bank) or by using hard power outright. Explicit example of this is the USA, who after World War 2 has invaded twelve countries for mere economic gain.

The notion of human rights gained legal acceptance with the approval of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. This charter recommends every state to ensure the fulfillment of fundamental rights, eschew inhuman treatment and preserve the human dignity regardless of race, ethnicity or language. But capitalism seems to be the antithesis of human rights. The flourished capitalist economy and the so called patron of human rights (i.e. the USA) has always breached the very notion of human rights. This is vivid in Iraq that how the US troops inflicted vengeance on the Iraqi people. Many human rights agencies (like the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International) have reported the use of cluster bombs, land mine and sulphur gas by the US military, which have been banned long ago by the United Nation in wake of their mutilating properties. As US’ brain failed to clutch this country, so it is using its brawn irrespective of the human rights.

The current global world is engulfed by pandemonium with the outbreak of corona virus pandemic (COVID- 19). But who is responsible? I will linger my diatribe by attributing it to capitalism. As we were well aware of such an outbreak to happen sooner or later, but the major global health agencies didn’t paid heed to it because they were running after their commercial greed. The prominent American linguist, philosopher and political activist Noams Chomsky in an interview shared his concerns:

The medical science anticipated a major pandemic outbreak soon after SARS in 2003. But rather than to be prepared the wealthy drugs companies shunned it keeping capitalist logic at center.

Thus it can be conclude that capitalism is a mirage that’s seemingly is the best economic system. But in reality its better for the few, who have hefty resources and not for the whole population at large.

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