By MA Iliasu
Very recently I talked with some social media users about how nothing in capitalist age goes or comes for free, donations and charity contributions inclusive. And many among them didn’t understand, very few did, while some declared it a blunt speech which should be taken with a pinch of salt. Well, in any case, I didn’t make the rules. It’s the mode of production that comes in such form. And whether we’re ready to agree or not, a pure capitalist never make an accounting outflow where natural and economic disasters are limited. What’s known is issuing out veiled donations in exchange for everything that could contribute towards creating further surplus. In which ever manner the veil appears; cunning or ingenuity, empathy or coldness, humanity or inhumanity.
One thing is fixed; creation of surplus by capitalist is like the drive and desire to make heaven by any man or woman who believes in religion. It’s nonnegotiable, untouchable, indispensable and like an impregnable settlement in the city of capitalism. Now let me take us to a short journey on how capitalist’s mind works during a crisis as the one currently threatening our existence.
“Crises and deadlocks when they occur have at least this advantage, that they force us to think.” – Jawaharlal Nehru.
I trust you hear that quote many times and ponder into your imagination on which type of thinking crises force us to do. Most of the times and to most of the people, it serves as a wakeup call. For the state, it involves making the structures more sturdy by learning from the rabbit holes the crisis exposed. For individuals it’s always about tiding belts, learning the culture of saving for the rainy day. But at organizational level, especially profit maximizing entities; it goes beyond making adjustments or fixing existing problems. It’s about profiting from the crisis, for if it requires a crisis for an organization to discover rabbit holes in its structure, surely it’s inefficient and bound to sit behind in any race of organizational competency. And such isn’t the case for the capitalists donors.
When you look at a cow you see a meat, money or an asset. But when a believer of Hindu sees a cow, all he sees is a God that will solve all his problems and offer him salvation. A capitalist perception takes a little similar dimension as that of a Hindu who perceive cow as a God, as oppose to other individuals, who perceive it differently for not being Hindu, by seeing it mainly as a meat, money or an asset. Especially during a pandemic like Covid-19. For while majority of people are busy learning how to avoid the reoccurrence of what hanged them by the neck during the pandemic, a capitalist has already sorted how to profit off that pandemic, and one of the ways is through granting donations. Allow me to explain.
The economy of a country like ours is massive enough to sustain itself from revenue sources like taxation, or at least should have taxation among the biggest sources of revenue that could provide a makeshift alternative in the event of global market crisis as the one we’re currently encountering. But contrarily, the taxation numbers are always on the increase while the impact of taxation is becoming more underwhelming by the day. Why is that? The answer is clear. Charging taxation is nothing but one of those alive-on-paper-only charges that exist only in theory rather than practice. It’s not entirely impossible that our industrialists are enjoying taxation holidays in exchange for agreeing to issue domestic loans to the state, which would be paid back by the budgetary allocation made solely for the servicing of domestic debts, with the taxation holiday taking the form of reward in kind, what in the language of market is called interest.
Since nothing goes without a reward. It’s one of the reasons our governments are always racing to borrow funds domestically and otherwise, so that it will serve as a stopgap for the money that should have been charged from taxation. Since taxation is sacrificed to reward the issuing of the loan by the industrialists. Haven’t you ever wondered how the governments never make an unsuccessful attempt at getting loans, especially domestically, while the capitalists never hesitate to issue out? There’s that mutual understanding and trust between state and surplus. And that relationship is bigger and stronger than any institutional relationship out there.
Holding that in mind, any capitalist that enjoys such profitable relationship with the state can never intend to give something in form of donation, because that has never been part of his unwavering surplus-creating objective. And that’s not his fault, it’s just the mindset that gets him to where he’s – a noble status enough to make the state bow before him. We’re speaking of industrialists who issue loans that aren’t only conditioned to be paid back but are also put on a condition of taxation holiday to serve as a reward. And the same loans they issue to the state would be used on lifting the same economy they’re operating inside and impact the same people they live with. If there’s any empathy to be exercised it should be done during that decisive moment – by issuing out loans that’s only cost normal interest without any tax holiday that’ll hold the state ransom – when the state appear less vulnerable and desperate, because most of those enquired domestic loans are to fund infrastructures, and not during a time like this when the state is more vulnerable and desperate, because the donations would be used to save lives.
The return on donations doesn’t exactly take the form similar to that of return on loans. Because it could be even bigger. Mainly because loans need to be paid back, with taxation holiday serving as interest. While donation is like a signed bond guaranteeing economic word that is binding upon the state, usable by the industrialists whenever the need arises. That word can be a tax holiday, lifting of custom duty, lifting import embargo, land allocation to build more industries, government policies that will favour their respective industries, etc. And that’s only the direct benefit of granting donors to the state. The indirect benefits hurt the poor more. Because after everything is sorted in granting state the so-called donations, a prolific capitalist would then begin to think of how to make up for that huge amount of money donated, since unlike loan that would be directly paid back, donation is a forgone that’s gone forever. And despite the fact that it’ll bring back benefits that are way more valuable and profitable than its solid retention in the running capital, a pure capitalist mindset would still perceive it as a money lost which should be replaced instantly without hesitation. And not only because he want to do it. But because he can.
However, how could that forgone be replaced? By increasing the price of goods and services produced by those respective industries. Which is basically indifferent from reduction in the disposable income of workers. Crippling the purchasing power of common man, tightening the already very tight economic situation. That increase in price of goods and services would not be checked by the state because turning a blind eye to any action of such occupies part of the anonymous word binding upon the state when receiving donations from those capitalist donors. It’s no wonder that billions are being issued to the state like its penury. It’s not because the donors are rich and can afford it – that is also true – but because the return on those donations would ensure their foreseeable stay at the top of economic activities in the country. It’s so staggering a chance to be missed out. Making the pandemic in an institutionally weak country like ours no better than a voluntary advertisement upon which capitalist wishes to have a sit at the table of “Deep state” power brokers.
From that point, I believe there is no need to clarify on which between donation and loan is deadlier to the poor, and is more capable of catching the state in a trap of despair. And while I’m trying to explain how the donors could benefit from that, I’m not in any way being anti-capitalist or industrialist agitator. Likewise my explanation of how the states get trapped doesn’t in anyway indicate that the states should not be accepting donations. Rather explaining the impact such grey terminologies can have and how they work in a capitalist society. People should understand what’s coming to them, so that when it does, they won’t be blindsided. Capitalism doesn’t know empathy. The same way a capitalist knows nothing but surplus-creation. There’s no such a thing like favour or solidarity today. That’s left behind hundred years ago. Everything now is a chance to create economic advantage. As asserts by the famous author, Robert Kiyosaki: “History reminds us that dictators and despots arise during times of severe economic crisis.”
MA Iliasu writes from Kano and can be reached through: email@example.com
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily