Liberation theology on Capitalism
Here's another important piece by Boff, that expresses my beliefs around capitalism
Living Better or Living A "Good Life"?
Leonardo Boff Theologian
According to the dominant ideology, everyone in the world wants to live better and to enjoy a better quality of life. In general terms this quality of life is associated to the Gross National Product, GNP, of each country. The GNP represents all the material goods produced by a country. Then, according to this criteria, the better positioned countries are the United States, followed by Japan, Germany, Sweden and others. The GNP is a measure invented by capitalism to stimulate more production of material goods for consumption.
In the last years, in view of the growing of poverty and of the urban favelization of the world and even due to a sense of decency, the UNO introduced the category HDI, «Human Development Index.» The HDI includes intangible values such as health, education, social equality, care of nature, gender equity and others. It has enriched the meaning of «quality of life», that was previously understood in a very materialistic form: one enjoys a good quality of life who consumes more and better. According to the HDI, tiny Cuba is better off than the United States, even though her GNP is comparatively much lower.
First among all countries is Bhutan, lodged between China and India, at the foot of the Himalayas, materially very poor, but which officially established the «Index of Gross Interior Happiness.» This is measured by qualitative, not quantitative criteria, such as whether the authorities govern well, with equitable distribution of the subsistence agricultural surplus, of the harvest of vegetation, and the sale of energy to India, with good health and education and, especially, a high level of cooperation among everyone, to guarantee social peace.
In the native traditions of Abya Yala, the name of our Indoamerican continent, instead of «living well» people speak of «a good life.» This category entered the Constitutions of Bolivia and Ecuador as the social object to be pursued by the State and by all of society.
To «live better» implies an ethic of unlimited progress and brings us into competition with others to create more and better conditions to «live better.» However, so that some may «live better», millions and millions have to and had to «live poorly.» That is the capitalist contradiction.
On the contrary, a «good life» points to an ethic of that which is enough for the whole community, and not only for the individual. A «good life» implies an integrating holistic vision of the human being, immersed in the great earthly community, that includes, besides humans, the air, water, soil, mountains, trees and animals; it is to be in profound community with Pachamama, (Our Mother Earth), with the energies of the Universe; and with God.
The main concern is not to accumulate. Moreover, Mother Earth provides all that we need. With our work we supply that which due to excessive aggression she can not give us, or we help her produce what is enough and decent for all, including the animals and the plants. A «good life» is being in constant harmony with all, celebrating the sacred rites that continuously renew the connections with the cosmos, and with God.
A «good life» invites us not to consume more than what the ecosystem can support, to avoid the production of residuals that we can not absorb with security and spurs us to re-use and to recycle that which we have already used. It will be a frugal and recyclable consumption. Then, there will not be scarcity.
In this time of searching for new paths for humanity, the idea of a «good life» has much to teach us.