Slum dog millionaires

July 23, 2015

Here’s the opening of an interesting article at Cato at Liberty. RTWT.

How Capitalism Is Undermining the Indian Caste System

Karl Marx was wrong about many things but right about one thing: the revolutionary way capitalism attacks and destroys feudalism. As I explain in a new study, in India, the rise of capitalism since the economic reforms of 1991 has also attacked and eroded casteism, a social hierarchy that placed four castes on top with a fifth caste—dalits—like dirt beneath the feet of others. Dalits, once called untouchables, were traditionally denied any livelihood save virtual serfdom to landowners and the filthiest, most disease-ridden tasks, such as cleaning toilets and handling dead humans and animals. Remarkably, the opening up of the Indian economy has enabled dalits to break out of their traditional low occupations and start businesses. The Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI) now boasts over 3,000 millionaire members. This revolution is still in its early stages, but is now unstoppable.

As an aside, my brother-in-law’s wife was born in Kolkata (Calcutta). She told us a story once about her parents’ household and mentioned in passing that the family’s servants washed their car by hauling water in buckets.

It made my back ache to think of it. I’m hoping those servants have better things to do these days than schlepping water to wash cars.

But getting back to castes and feudalism, I’ve always been fond of this rhetorical question: When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?

That applies as well to Eve’s children in India as it does to her children everywhere else.

Anyone claiming privileges because of "breeding" or "family line" deserves a poke in the nose, IMO. When you think about those claims, they’re just another form of racism — or maybe "sub-racism", which is a concept that’s even more ridiculous.

Now that I think of it, claims like those make a very good reductio ad absurdum argument against racism.

Update: (8/18/15)

I just came across this trailer for a documentary that will appear on public television soon.

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