‘Socialism Or Barbarism’

How Much Average Healthy Human Life is Possible?

Chaman Lal

Was it or is it possible to have a rise in average healthy human life? The reply is yes; it was possible by this time itself that average healthy human life could have easily been raised to a hundred years, had the October Socialist Revolution of 1917 in Russia spread all over the world, at least imperialist form to which Lenin described as the highest stage of capitalism or now a days called crony form of capitalism had been kept under some form of social control. If there has been no division of one percent have-alls and 99% have-nots in recent terminology developed in many countries of the world. If the world had not passed through second world war and various international wars for capitalists’ interests, the interests of weapon producing industry, whose basic aim is to have wars, if not happening, then create massive lies like WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) to attack Iraq by Bush and Blair duo of imperialists, which got exposed only after destroying Iraq and later Libya. Had the Soviet Union despite all its ills of growing capitalism, which China in its height of revolutionary arrogance used to describe as ‘social imperialism’, which is one of the factors behind Russian-Ukrainian war, has not broken up into fifteen countries, it was possible to have an average healthy life of human beings raised to a hundred years even at this point of time! Rahul Sankartyayan, a Hindi Marxist writer in one of his highly scientifically imaginative prose-Baisivin Sadi (Twenty second Century) has created such a utopia of human life, which could have proved true and actual, if in twentieth century and continuing twenty first century all these wars fought due to neo colonial and neo imperial crony capitalist interests had not disturbed the flow of history towards the humanist dream of Marx or even earlier idealist philosophers. In Rahul’s imagination the working hours and days of human societies would have been radically decreased, very harsh working conditions changed through scientific mechanical innovations, (as the robots have already come up) and the multiple and wholesome hours of entertainment, highest level of cultural development, with no crime in society and the level of happiness among human beings would have increased immensely.

If all these trillions or more of money which had been spent on nuclear bombs, weapons and other forms of capitalist profits world over, had been invested into health and education. The newly liberated or freed countries of Asia and Africa had not indulged in fratricidal killings like India and Pakistan or some other countries had, and the focus had more been on human development in totality. It is not absurd to foresee the dream creation of Rahul’s Baisivin Sadi, based on Marx’s concept of socialism or even beyond that of communism, coming closer. It was and is possible even without full-fledged socialism coming into practice, as Thomas Piketty like writers etc had shown in their recent books.

It was possible to achieve one hundred percent literacy by now in all countries, even in so- called most backward much exploited ex- colonised countries of Africa, without socialist revolution. And it was possible to find treatment to most common old age or even earlier age diseases relating to cardiology, ortho or prostate or sugar related diseases etc. Even during the worst attack of present pandemic Covid-19, the multiple countries have been able to develop vaccination for the deadly killer disease, which still continues. The issue of environment pollution, rising of temperatures in climate world over, even so-called cold countries of Europe and Americans being burnt by same profit motivated industries which are using human damaging gases and other products, could not have reached at this stage, if some kind of social control had been kept on profits at the cost of human life.

How the social system affects human life can be seen from continuing Covid-19 pandemic throughout the world. There is a qualitative difference between the countries with different socio-political system to handle the pandemic. On one side there are few countries like Cuba, Vietnam, China and North Korea, where the human life loss is minimum, less than thousands in number. On the other side there are countries like USA, Brazil, India, UK and many more, where loss of human life is in millions. While USA and European countries have provided food and shelter to unemployed and poor people in some dignified manner, India like countries have treated poor and people, who lost employment due to Covid-19 in a most ruthless and pitiless manner and reduced them to the status of beggars, who got minimal level of raw food from state funds, but shown as personal gift of rulers with photographs and votes sought for this ‘pity’ shown to them!. The way lakhs of Indian working people returning to their villages by walk, cycling, buses and trains due to getting no work and wages with no support from state, and got crushed under trains, road vehicles, died by hunger and exhaustion. People have been left to die like insects and their dead bodies got most horrible treatment, seen by the whole world on electronic media. The second round of Covid-19 during April-May 2021,was the most horrible even for much influential middle classes, when in Delhi like capital city of second largest populated country of the world saw the naked death dance due to lack of gas supply to hospitals and even richer patients dyeing in front of cameras, was such a horrifying spectacle, which would have made the rulers of any country hung their head in shame and would have required resignation and apology as are demanded from ex- colonial countries like England and US for their crimes and rightly so. Yet rather than any sense of guilt, the rulers of country shamelessly speak of dealing with pandemic as ‘best’ in the world and claim to be ‘Vishavguru’! Those few in media showed the reality on ground have been targeted or under the close watch of ‘big brother’, who have claims to be the ‘largest democracy’ in the world!

Socialist or ex socialist countries like Cuba, Vietnam or China have preferred to save human lives, even with certain strict and harsh measures than keep on earning profits for the business and capitalists. It was economic and financial crisis with the complete closure of economic activities and the workers of those places had lost jobs and wages, but the state had ensured their lives to be saved with restrictions but helping them with food and other needs. China is blamed by western world for causing Covid-19 from its laboratories, but same China did not allow its largest population among the whole world, to die like American people, who accuse China for spreading Covid-19. Why America or Brazil or India did not try to save their population from dyeing in millions? And why China and North Korea termed as authoritarian and dictatorial countries saved its citizens by taking harsh measures like shutting people in their homes, stopping all economic activities?

Cuba and Vietnam did not take much harsh measures, yet their health system has been so advanced and pro- people that the human lives were not lost in such massive manners as in other countries, whose economic system is pro -corporates. Is it not an irony of the situation that as more people died in pandemic, the profits and coffers of biggest billionaires of the world increased manyfold, including those of Adanis and Ambanies in India which joined the club of ten richest people in the world! Death and destruction of human life and increase in corporates coffers seems to be inter-related, that is what pandemic in 2019-22 has proved and showed to the world people like a mirror! But the mirror does not make them rise in anger and throw away such system as Bhagat Singh had asked people to do long back.

As about average longevity of human life, Covid-19 has definitely negatively impacted, but if one takes examples not from much older past-—Nirad C Chaudhary, the renowned author of ‘The Autobiography of an unknown Indian’, lived up to 102 years, while his last novel—Three Horsemen of the New Apocalypse published at the age of 100 years! He was fit and active till hundred years of his life. Baba Bhagat Singh Bilga, the renowned Ghadarite revolutionary, to whom this writer had the chance to meet many times, lived up to same age 102 years and at the age of hundred years, his standing straight speech was so loud and stirring that even young people could not make such stirring speech. English authors Mulk Raj Anand and Khushwant Singh both lived up to 99 years of life and remained actively writing till last! Two athletes from Punjab Fauja Singh and Mrs Maan Kaur had participated in running competition at the age of hundred years,just recently 94 years old woman from Haryana won some medal in running.

Most of the persons mentioned above lived in relatively comfortable conditions which provided them with social and financial security and they could avail Medicare with ease. If the same conditions could be provided to society at large, the longevity of average human being could definitely reach 90 years plus active life.

The more important factor is sense of financial and social security of the citizens in society. With these securities, a large number of populations would otherwise be saved from diseases, which are caused by tensions and stress and environmental pollution. There is a term lumpen proletariat, which is a negative term and used for those criminals, who come from poor and working-class background population. Why they turn lumpen? Because of lack of jobs and positive absorption in society. When people say and see with their own eyes that capitalist system produces an army of unemployed people to keep working class in control with limited wage structure, as whenever working-class fights for wage rise, they are threatened with dismissals and replaced with even lesser waged people engaged from unemployed population, who are ready to work at much less wage. Some part of these lumpens turn into hardened criminals-gangsters, rapists and murderers!

What is happening in India today? Qualified teachers and other professionals are ready to work and do work at pitiable wages. Why India and more countries are facing increased serious crimes of murder and rapes with much brutality, because it is crony capitalist system which gives birth to most heinous crimes. Those countries have lesser crime rate, which have more social securities, more equality in gender matters, apart from socialist countries, which theoretically if not practically follow these principles. Some European or Nordic and some of Latin American countries have lesser crime of rape, than other countries, because in their systems women participate in socio-cultural set up of those countries at equal level and sex among men and women is neither taboo nor suppressed, so the mutual consent becomes a major factor among men-women relations. Norway like country does not execute or lynch barbaric murderer of seventy plus kids as the country like hundred plus more countries have abolished death sentence or capital punishment, but in countries like India which have deadly combination of feudal religious fundamentalism with crony capitalism, not criminals, but innocent people are lynched on the base of their particular religious faith or eating habits and the those lynching murderers are honoured by leaders of majoritarian religious fundamentalist ruling parties.

Only if people in the world could realise that social control over money production is in their own interests. Creating a wedge between and one and Ninety nine percent is the root cause of all crimes, all health-related problems. Had the Socialist revolution in Russia kept advancing as it was till Vietnam liberation in 1975, the world human society would have been much more kind, humane and full of empathy. Advancement of socialism, even some social control over capitalism would have brought much cheer to society. In a fuller socialist transformation of the world, which is at present is not even a dream, average human life could have increased to 150 years and all other things imagined by Rahul Sankartyayan in his book—Baisivin Sadi (twenty second century)!

But the present situation is such, especially after pandemic and wars, that the world is moving towards the dangerous path of fascism and could end up in even more destruction, along with the warming up of climate. Rosa Luxemburg had rightly warned before her brutal assassination, that world has to choose-Socialism or Barbarism. There are little signs of world moving towards Socialism and dangerously sliding downwards to barbarism. Would there be a stop or break to this slide, it will not be less than a miracle, if it happens. But this miracle would not happen at supernatural level, only exploited, oppressed and suffering humanity can bring about this stop, through their sustained struggles, as Indian farmers struggled during 2020-21 facing all kinds of oppressive state machinery tactics, sacrificing more than seven hundred farmers lives in the process, had for a while stopped it or Sri Lankan people are trying to stop, some countries in Latin America are also proving a bulwark against barbarism. The hope lies in such people and their mass struggles!

[The writer is ex Dean, faculty of Languages at Panjab University Chandigarh.]

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Vol 55, No. 14-17, Oct 2 - 29, 2022