Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/375/4213
Indian Ocean tsunami disaster
They didn't have to die
Capitalist system fails millions
People's generosity shames world leaders
WE WILL never forget the harrowing scenes of death, destruction and suffering which have affected millions following the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster. With over 150,000 dead, two million desperate for food and five million made homeless, the scale of the catastrophe is almost unimaginable.
But alongside sadness at the terrible human suffering, there is anger that tens of thousands died needlessly. It was a natural disaster but even world experts agree that thousands of deaths could have been prevented if an early warning system had been in place.
Thousands died needlessly
Across the globe ordinary people have responded to the disaster with unprecedented generosity, solidarity and internationalism. In Britain, individual donations of £1 million an hour were pouring in - over £70 million has been raised so far.
But this is in stark contrast to the stingy contributions of national governments, who only increased their initial donations when shamed into doing so by the generosity of ordinary people.
The Blair government's pledge is the equivalent of just five-and a-half days expenditure on the war in Iraq. Bush boasts of giving $350 million in aid to tsunami survivors but has spent $148 billion on killing tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Not long before the tsunami struck, the US administration cut its contribution to global food aid programmes!
Capitalism - the profit system that Bush and Blair promote - has proved incapable of protecting the lives of tens of thousands in the Indian Ocean. And every day the profit system destroys the lives of millions.
More than one billion children, half the children in the world, are at risk from war, poverty and hunger. While the capitalist powers spend £712 billion a year on weapons, one in six children go hungry and one in seven have no healthcare.
The tsunami disaster has exposed the inadequacies of capitalism and the desperate need for socialist change.
But the tremendous response of ordinary people internationally also gives a glimpse of what a system based on need not profit, on co-operation, solidarity and internationalism would mean for the workers and poor of the world.
In The Socialist 8 January 2005: