“Sophie’s choice” in Africa and the world: which child dies under capitalism?
According to the UN, 3.5 million people risk dying as a result of the recent famine in Somalia. Of a population of 7.5 million, 3.2 million are in need of relief. According to recent estimates, the recent child death toll from the famine in Somalia is around 29,000 in the last 90 days. And 640,000 children are acutely malnourished. (1) (2) This famine happens in the context of a civil war foisted upon Somalia by the imperialists. The recent civil war and famine are part of a long chain of hundreds of years of underdevelopment and violence perpetuated against Africa by imperialists. Somalis fleeing the poverty are forced to make heart-breaking sacrifices. Many have to decide which child to sacrifice in order so that others may live.
“Wardo Mohamud Yusuf walked for two weeks with one child on her back when her 4-year-old son collapsed at her side.
The 29-year-old asked the families she was traveling with for help, but they continued on their way. Then she had to make a choice no parent should have to make. Yusuf left her 4-year-old behind.” (3)
These types of choices are unnecessary ones that happen all the time. On the global level, the world economy decides who lives and who dies. Everyday, the global capitalist system allocates resources so that some children die and some live. The system allocates resources so that some populations receive relatively comfortable lives while the vast majority struggle just to survive. Some do not survive at all. Some people receive more than a fair share of the global social product. These populations are concentrated in the First World. Others receive far less, mostly, in the Third World. Third World people starve everyday, while the First World peoples, as a whole, enjoy relative prosperity.
There is nothing natural about famine in the modern world. With today’s technology, production and distribution, there is no reason for anyone to go hungry in our world. All famines are man-made today because they could be easily avoided in the modern world. Capitalism has been producing famines since its beginnings and continues to produce famines across the Third World. Famines in Africa today are a result of a long history of violence and poverty inflicted on Africa by imperialism. In our world, famines are a result of what Karl Marx called “the anarchy of capitalist production.” Capitalism is irrational from the standpoint of human need. Capitalism puts the needs of capital, of profit, over people. First World people and their agents, on the whole, profit. Third World people suffer. By contrast, socialism is a system where production and distribution are organized scientifically for the good of all humanity. Human need is balanced with the needs of development and ecological needs with the goal of reaching communism, the end of all oppression. To escape the endless cycles of famine, war, inequality and suffering, there needs to be a radical reorganization of society at the deepest levels, New Power of the Leading Light must replace the Old Power of the capitalists and other reactionaries. Revolution is the only solution.