Can you imagine walking downtown in Seattle, Vancouver, New York, Toronto, or any other burg in Canada or the United States and not seeing any panhandlers? This homelessness, begging, and dumpster diving is not confined to major urban centers. Last week, I was in Yellowknife, the capital of Denedeh (Home of the People; colonially designated as Northwest Territories), home to about 20,000 souls, where the temperatures ranged from -30° Celsius to -40° Celsius. Despite this, the homeless were out in the frigid temperatures asking change for a cup of coffee. There are shelters in Yellowknife. The take-away point, however, is that some people struggle with penury despite Canada being a signatory to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights whose preamble recognizes “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family…”
Specifically, Article 23(1) of the UNDHR holds,
Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
Article 25(1) of the UNDHR states,
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
If Canada and the US honored their signatures on the UNDHR and abided by its articles, then absolute poverty should not exist.
While poverty is an important story for people to be cognizant of, and while it may not receive the media coverage and government prioritization that it deserves, the marginalized story that so many people seem unaware of is that there is a country that made it through 2022 having lifted its citizenry out of absolute poverty.
China declared victory against poverty in 2021. And it is not just China lauding its victory. UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres commended China on its fight against poverty. The World Bank noted that China has lifted 770 million out of poverty over the last 40 years. Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said, “Poverty alleviation and the eradication of extreme poverty, 10 years ahead of its target date, are tremendous achievements of China.” Citing China’s eradication of absolute poverty, even the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, was moved to praise China’s amazing economic development.
This achievement was by the nominally communist China. Being aware of the victory over poverty is great, but this awareness ought also to be kept in mind before unthinkingly criticizing socialism or communism. The intellectual poverty of the criticism is such that many people consider it sufficient to just remark, “That’s communism/socialism,” as if providing a label for a political-economic system should evoke fear and invalidate it. Thus, in the US, Barack Obama was risibly derided as a socialist; he, nonetheless, sought to distance himself from such a descriptor.
Donald Trump declared his scorn for the bugaboo of socialism (apparently ignorant of what spending on the military; police; border security; highway, airport, train stations, railways, port facilities, bridge construction and maintenance; education; etc represent) and communism. He unsuccessfully tried to paint his presidential challenger in 2020, Joe Biden, as a socialist (again risibly).
Even university professors, such a Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, would add their ill-contrived opinions to the anti-socialist, anti-communist chorus.1
What Obama, Trump, Biden, Peterson, Justin Trudeau and other western-aligned personalities beholden to capitalism cannot tolerate is that a developing nation in the earliest stage of socialism (one with Chinese characteristics) has done something that the longtime capitalist-butt kissing nations have never, despite any lip service, come close to achieving: the elimination of absolute poverty.
What’s Next for Chinese Society?
China has identified a metric: “Human rights are an achievement of humanity and a symbol of progress.” Now China has set its eyes on achieving xiaokang (moderate prosperity), defined as “a status of moderate prosperity whereby people are neither rich nor poor but free from want and toil.” Xiaokang is to benefit all Chinese and benefit the world.
Meanwhile, the poor masses in capitalist countries languish while the middle classes, in the US and Canada, fall behind.
Why isn’t this war on poverty covered regularly and widely in capitalist media? Why doesn’t everyone know that the Chinese have conquered poverty and are embarked upon creating a prosperous society for all Chinese? Shouldn’t this be something all nations sincerely and actively aspire to?
- See “Understanding the Red Menace,” “Understanding the Soviet Union, Inequality, and Freedom of Expression,” and “IQ, Equal Pay for Equal Work, Population Control, Mao, and Communism.”
This content originally appeared on Dissident Voice and was authored by Kim Petersen.