Freedom Vs Bread

I return to one of my earlier topics on the same/similar subject, because I saw what was happening in Malaysia post the general elections and felt that I should mention my views about the developing scenario over there.

This is not a political blog post and I am not taking sides with any one political party (anywhere). My point is simply that people are yet to attain full widespread, equalized prosperity levels (not the same level for anyone but the difference between the top and the bottom earners is not more than 10:1) in most countries. There is very wide gap which is expanding even in the most developed countries, such as the U.S. During such a phase of development, what is more critical – the ability to strategize together for a faster pace of economic development, or being able to fight for and secure the fullest freedom levels that are possible ? Which effort should take precedence ?

This is not a trivial matter and merits intense discussion amongst peer groups, not just in academia. The ability and competency of a government or a political party to work for the overall widespread economic prosperity of a nation, in my opinion, far outweighs the ability of people to protest and derail any economic gains that a country has already achieved. If a country has already reached USD 10,000 per capita and is well on its way towards meeting the next goal post of USD 15,000 per capita, and the current political dispensation is intensely focused on the same, then why disrupt what is progressing just for the sake of a change ? A change would bring in rather inexperienced politicians to power and would make the economic pace grind down to a very slow pace, while new strategies are being thought through. It would eat up one or two years of crucial time necessary for continued progress.

There are many examples in this world of countries which have lost out due to revolutions – let me avoid naming them. Of course, there are also examples of countries which have come under the influence of dictators who have gone on to rob their countries.

On the other hand there are good examples as well of political parties which think of their countries’ economic prosperity first before anything else. Mistakes will be made by any government, but the intent is crucial for the country’s benefit.

In a nutshell, bread is more critical (even more so in today’s world) than political freedom. Yes, elections are important, issues are challenging, democracy is probably the best form of government, protests are to be encouraged without affecting law and order, etc., etc., But at the end of the day, bread always remains the most crucial part of one’s life – I do not buy the argument that enhanced economic prosperity would lead people to look for more esoteric, psychological satisfaction via political expression – I have only seen prosperous people wanting to make even more money for their and their childrens’ future security.

I would like to be challenged, of course. 99% of the people that I am connected with would disagree with me (that is my expectation). Let me see how this argument develops.


Vijay Srinivasan
11th May 2013


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