Saturday. 20.07.2019
El tiempo
Matthew Kennington
20:23
21/12/18

Parasites

I’ve been walking a lot recently, avoiding social media, trying to improve my wellbeing, listening to my inner voice more. We all talk to ourselves, don’t we?

In the previous article I complained bitterly about the division within my family which Brexit had created. This led me to think about other divisions which are taking up so much media coverage, such as Catalonia. Regional elections in Andalusia, Southern Spain, also highlight how easily society can become fragmented and polarised.

The rise of the far right in Europe is of genuine concern course, but we sometimes forget just how privileged we are to be able to be concerned about democratic processes. I’m also extremely fortunate that I can leave my flat and take a stroll around the countryside, or play tennis with friends, enjoy a meal out and a glass of wine.

On the return from my walks I sometimes do some shopping at one of the local supermarkets. Before entering I stop for a brief chat with a black man from Gambia. I always smile, comment on the weather or something trivial. In summer I leave him water. I don’t ask him about his background or why he’s here. He speaks English well and he tells me he attends Spanish classes in the evenings. The shoppers appreciate his help with the bags. He gets tips.

So on one of my walks I wondering more about my acquaintance from Africa.

‘Did he risk his life coming to Spain? Where are his family? Is he married? Does he have children?’

I started feeling guilty about my moaning regarding Brexit. It is time to put my Noam Chomsky t-shirt on and talk about a much more uncomfortable subject.

The main reason why immigrants risk their lives to come to developed economies is poverty; poverty which we need to maintain to protect our own lifestyle

The main reason immigrants risk their lives to come to developed economies is poverty; poverty which we need to maintain to protect our own lifestyle. Although most of the colonies may now be free from their old masters, new masters in the shape of huge American food conglomerates or Petrol companies now dictate their economies. Welcome to consumerism and the parasitic economy.

The supermarket in which the man from The Gambia stands is ideal in order to understand the above. A packet of ground coffee costs me less than €2, a kilo of sugar is less than €1 and 6 bananas is about €1.80 (the ones from the Canary Islands are more than double that price). You walk in, put them in your basket and walk out. There was a time when only the wealthier classes could afford these products on a daily basis. These days I don’t bat an eyelid. So why is everything now so affordable?

Think about your mobile phone, computer and tablet. They contain conflict minerals which are mined in areas of Western and Central Africa controlled by warlords. In order to keep the price of these minerals down they employ children and pay slave wages. If they didn’t we wouldn’t be able to afford them.

How many pairs of shoes and jeans do you own?  My parents’ generation will tell you that when they were children they only had one or two pair of shoes and a couple of pairs of trousers or dresses. Now we can buy jeans for €20. The only way this is possible is by paying workers extremely low wages and keeping the raw material prices down.

Unicef estimates that 22,000 children die every day. How many rock concerts will we need to save those lives?

When you are ill and you need to take something, thanks to horrendous working conditions in many tropical zones, we are able to buy medicines, which are at ridiculously low prices.

Some economists have estimated that for each member of a consumer society, 60 slave workers are needed to provide the goods and services for that one person alone. At least 80% of the world’s population live on less than €10 a day. In fact, 3 Billion people live in extreme poverty, which means they have less than €2.50 a day to live on.

UNICEF estimates that 22,000 children die every day. How many rock concerts will we need to save those lives?

I am the parasite; the 1% which lives from the other 99%. Thanks to this enormous inequality and suffering I am able to sit here and complain about Brexit.

Remember this when politicians blame immigrants for societies problems. Immigrants don’t want to steal from our system; they want to be part of it. And since they’ve seen the other side of ‘the matrix’, who would blame them?

Merry Christmas.

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