Myth: Capitalism Lifted Millions out of Poverty

Fact: Members of industrialized nations imposed their own definition of wealth onto indigenous populations and, using this, determined that those populations to be ‘poor’ because of the lack of what made their own nations ‘rich’. They then capitalized on this new information by promising to make them rich, but instead exploiting them for cheap labour. 

Those populations were very content with their meager but full lives, where they all lived together in harmony, long before industrialized countries came along and told them how to live their lives. They now remain poor and helpless because they were tricked into engaging in a system that was promised to make them wealthy, but has instead done the exact opposite.

What do you think the indigenous populations of Australia, Indonesia, or North America were doing before the introduction of capitalism into their societies? Were they shit-chucking apes, unable to provide for themselves, begging for the white man to come and save them? Those who are emotionally invested in the idea of capitalism would have you believe this to be true, but the truth is that these societies flourished for tens of thousands of years before contact with the West brought it to an end.

How is it that a society is ‘pulled out of poverty’ by changing it from a prosperous agricultural or nomadic people, happy and content with what they have, to a stagnating, starving, undeserved population that is suddenly unable to provide for themselves? By all accounts, a previously non-struggling society that is now struggling, after the introduction of capitalism, has been plunged into poverty, and given no choice but to work for generations to return to the same standard of living that they enjoyed before.

Having money is not an objective in itself, but a method of improving the lives of the population. If that population was able to have a high standard of living without the use of money, then who are we to call them ‘poor’? If a population was happy farming and foraging for their food, and building their own shelters, who is anyone else to say that that society is ‘poor’?

The reality is that capitalist sympathizers use the ‘pulled out of poverty’ myth to excuse the fact that greedy countries and corporations destroyed the lives of countless people for generations (some of which is still ongoing), forcing them to work harder for a lower standard of living, simply to profit from their labour.