The Great Wall of China, built over nearly 2000 years, collapsed when the Ming dynasty collapsed, in 1644. Today’s ruling elite of China is building a new giant electronic Internet wall, though the demise of their People’s Republic of China is already glowing on the horizon. The wall of Berlin and the Iron Curtain (1961-1989), built by East Germany, meant to keep foreigners out and their own people in, collapsed, when the USSR-collapsed. All printed matter, books, pictures, records, films, tapes, slides, movies, compact discs, computer software and diskettes, etc. are subject to censorship and confiscation in Saudi Arabia and many other Muslim countries; the world is witnessing the massive, bloody implosion of absolutist Muslim states, ruled by despots.
Many more walls, real and virtual, have been built and are being built by feudal states, philosophies and religions to keep innovations, and new ideas out and to keep their own people in and restrained.
Keeping products, ideas and people out, to be exclusive, is only to protect and maintain the philosophical, religious, political and economic base from which the powerful operate. Mostly, the regimes are absolutist, non-democratic, and strive to extract as much surplus, wealth, as possible from many, to the benefit of a few. Such States and their institutions created unprecedented wealth for small elites, like Assad in Syria, the Saudi royal family in SA, the Sultan of Brunei, the Putin-clan in Russia, or the Chavez-junta in Venezuela, but are the main cause of extreme, painful poverty for hundreds of millions in the world.
To the contrary, over a revolutionary period of hundreds of years, Europe, USA and Japan and their political States and institutions have gradually moved to open, all-inclusive, anonymous, merit-based political and economic institutions, and therewith created tremendous wealth for all, more widely distributed, than ever before in world history. These States have increasingly demolished walls, borders, censorships, import barriers and opened their borders for foreigners, innovations, and ideas.
During his recent tour around Latin America, the Pope called on multinationals in the world, to end poverty and hunger. He specifically mentioned corruption, as the most evil of all causes. The Pope did not call on regimes of feudal dictatorships to open up their rich gravy trains of surplus and include all their nationals in sharing the benefits. He did not call on ending exclusive wealth for a few at the expense of many. That may have been one station too far for the Roman Catholic Church, which has been the embodiment of feudal, exclusive, extraction policies for nearly two thousand years. The Church was, and still is the golden temple of sumptuous gilded super splendor at the expense of millions, reduced to serfdom and slavery and bare, bitter poverty.
I have no doubt that after the Pope’s visit, perceived as endorsement of the regimes, Latin American voters will go to the polls again, willing to support potential despots, such as Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro, because they believe these demagogues will stand up to extracting elites, but in the meantime, iron laws of South America’s oligarchy will only replace one set of stealing and robbing despots with even more pernicious ones, and the walls to wealth will remain intact, and exclude as many as possible.
By Jacob Gelt Dekker, opinion columnist for Curaçao Chronicle.