Policy #6.2 - The People's Power: A look at society

In the previous post, we discussed the policy around both energy resources and minerals. In Islam, these are commonly owned and must be used for the benefit of the people. 

One way to look at the issue is that the society resides in a certain area and that area contains the resources buried in the land. So in a sense, it is natural to see this as a common set of resources to be shared - just like air, waterways, roadways, etc. Although this is common sense to some, it isn't it to all. 

Capitalists oppose such a concepts this and instead want to privatize everything. For example, the Bechtel corporation attempted to privatize water in Bolivia

The real problem in discussing this issue lies in how capitalism views society. This was best summarized by Margret Thatcher who said:

"They are casting their problems at society. And, you know, there's no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours."  [emphasis added]

In other words, capitalists see society as just a group of individuals. This is wrong. For example, a 1000 people on a cruise ship don't make a society, but a remote village of a 100 people do. Both consistent of a groups of individuals, but what makes the village different? 

The village has a set of commons that govern the society; common way of thinking, common set of emotions and common set of laws. The people on a ship, in contrast, don't share any of these things with each other because they belong to different societies.  

Ironically, the public relations (PR) industry actually proves that the Capitalists are wrong about this. Take for example, how they used PR to get women to smoke. 

Edward Bernays, the father of the PR industry (or propaganda as he used to call it), was hired by the tobacco industry to increase sales of cigarettes. The problem was that society judged women who smoked as having loose morals. So how would he convince women to smoke? Go door-to-door and debate people individually to smoke? What he did instead was to create public opinion for smoking, by getting women at the 1929 Easter Day parade in New York to smoke and called them "torches of freedom": thereby making it a women's liberation issue. The press took this on and it transformed how society viewed women smoking - linking it to freedom (the statue of liberty no less) instead of prostitution (see the video below). That is, the common set of thoughts and emotions that society held were changed, which in turn influenced the individual to act according to this new set of customs and norms. 

In sha Allah, we will continue this discussion into the next post exploring how elites spend millions on influencing the masses and the reality of individualism.