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The 21st century witnessed one of the most perilous and unethical alliances of mankind’s biggest foes: greed and capitalism. A system where the will or self interest emerges as a master of all human actions in the economic sphere.
There has been a change in the way organisations do businesses and there has been a change in the way businesses are being managed. With the passage of time, businesses have become more isolated from the basic idea of self-interest and more fascinated with profits, expanding their wealth based on what they see as most lucrative rather then on ethical foundations.
There is contamination of capitalism in every corner of the imagination, through the unscrupulous pursuit of profits, selfishness, and through an incorrect comprehension of the idea of economic freedom.
It is true that a farmer in the fertile English midland produces potatoes not to make consumers happy, but for his self-interest and survival. But it may also be true that if the farmer regularly exceeds his need, greed might lead to consumer concerns elsewhere, such as unjustified price movements or supply barriers.
Many illustrations, mathematically and not, can demonstrate how this system becomes contaminated. When capitalism was introduced it was hailed has a unique path to prosperity, opportunity, and more importantly, an end to inequality.
Over the years the urge to make money has killed morality. Now we are trapped in a net which was earlier believed to be a liberator from material discomfort. Greed became epidemic at all levels of commercial existence in the world.
We are living in a society where wealth commands, and those who posses wealth command the world — often in a way that only benefits themselves. The ideals of capitalism to provide opportunities that benefit everybody are contaminated by self interest, and this transition from self-interest to greed in recent years proved fatal. If the bottom line of business is profits, then it is cultivating greed and no benefit at all.
The outburst of protests across the world primarily addressed income inequality and unethical behaviour on part of entrepreneurs. Over the years, the divide between rich and poor deepened in the US, according to the Congressional budget office. Between 1979 and 2007 the incomes of the top 1% grew by a whoping 275% average, and during the same time 60% of the American middle class income grew by just 40%.
Economist and Noble Laureate Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times that the ‘we’re the 99%’ slogan correctly defines the issue as “being the middle class versus the elite.” He also noted that the movement debunked the wrong notion that rising inequality is “mainly about the well-educated doing better than the less educated.” True enough, economic injustice is not just about education, but to fully comprehend the deep-rooted cause requires organizes and collective study.
Under an Islamic economic system we will not find any of these character-based problems or growing inequality. The Islamic economic system is primarily based on Islamic laws and principles, while capitalism is constructed upon morality. Ideally, if something is based on religion there is no danger of greed and malice, because no religion has ever preached greed. The Islamic economic system considers greed as a grave sin, so if the system tried to bring in something which is based on faith, people might refrain from evil deeds. But unfortunately Islamic economic system is hardly prevalent.
What we need is to find ways to resolve inefficiencies of the system through religious methodologies rather than criticism of capitalism.