Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer said that living in this world is all about survival of the fittest. Then I saw The Last Train Home, and I decided that I downright disagree with them. Nowadays, to thread the current of this world, you need to follow the new world order. It is now all about survival of the richest.
The documentary film can strongly attest to the fact that capitalism is continuously putting money in the pockets of the crème Dela crème of the society while the people on the lower class are struggling. The film primarily depicts the life that the migrant workers in China are living every day.
Imagine having to leave your family even your kids at a young age and then travelling 2100 kilometers away from your hometown just to scrap work at a factory to feed your family. They don’t get to see their kids grow up, all just to earn money. Chances are, your children don’t know you anymore and don’t have any attachment with you. They your blood but they are strangers, just as you are with them.
From where I am standing, the effects of this situation in the society are severe, in terms of bringing up the youth. For in their eyes, their parents left them to earn more money. They don’t fully comprehend the fact that their parents are doing it for their welfare, what they can only see is that they are growing up under the care of their extended family instead of their own mother and father. The outcome is that they tend to rebel against their parents. Take Su Qin as an example, on her perspective her father and mother doesn’t hold a torch in criticizing her choice of leaving school and working for a factory because they did not spend that much time with her. It even got to a point when she has no respect for her own father, simply because she did not grew up having him around. She is also having a hard time relating to her mother because she did not feel her presence ever since. And her choice is not that much different from what they did when they left her with her grandmother. In a way, it is trading your family for profit. And the sad thing about this is that they are trading the life and connections they could’ve had with their families for an almost dirt poor salary.
Circling back to what Su Qin’s parents are experiencing in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. They migrated with over 130 million migrant workers, leaving their young children behind with the hopes for finding a better future for them, or at least having the chance to earn one for them. What did they get? They are immediately immersed in a life of difficulty and poverty.
Day in and day out, these migrant workers are expected to meet a quota for the clothes that they sew or for whatever product they manufacture. They are living in an almost make shift house. Eating whatever scrap their employer will give them. This is not to mention the fact that they are given a meager 2000 yuan per month with no health benefits, and just one holiday which is the Chinese New year. The only time they can go back home and see their families. But before they get to see where they are from, they will go through hell. Waiting for the tickets to come by is like asking for miracle. They can even be seen converging at the train station hoping for a chance to hop on a train bound for home. Stampedes can’t undermine their spirits. They are literally being crushed but they persevere for that chance of going back home even just for a few days. For me, seeing these workers going through all of this distress is totally unjust.
All of this is like a domino effect, and tipping point is capitalism. The preservation of the favored races in the struggle of life now depends on the figures of your bank account, number of cars and mansions that you own and your annual net income. Capitalism encourages the pursuit of wealth for the purpose of having the said wealth. This can be seen as the reason behind the increasing divide between the social classes as the wealthy use their wealth to gain more power at the expense of the other classes. Capitalist are reigning on the top and the bottom feeders are the workers who are tirelessly working to feed their families while making the capitalist richer and richer. As wealth becomes the premier determinant of success, society becomes more and more materialistic as this success is normally displayed as function of physical ownership (more luxury cars means more success even if you do not use more that one of said cars).
Capitalism is perpetuated by the fact that only a very small percentage of the total population is in control of the economy. Small business players are slowly going out of business as the big capitalists give them more challenges. It is not only the small-scale businesses who suffer from this situation. The economy as a whole is impacted. A good example of this would be the visible growth of seemingly only three big department store chains. Small store owners or RTW sellers go bankrupt. Small manufacturers also suffer as they cannot compete with big factory owners, those who go out of business end up as employees or get added to the number of unemployed. In turn, the richest of the rich who own these department store chains get to control the prices of commodities. Aside from this, they also get to maintain the low cost of labor. Very few workers get regularized. Jobs are only offered for 6 months or less. This way, these powerful companies would only be paying minimum wage all throughout. The chances of advancement and improvement of living of the labor force would be very slim. The poor become poorer. The poor will have a minimal chance of improving their lives with the current system. Only when and if the government will intervene will the ordinary people have a better chance to have a better life.
I guess what I am pinpointing is that, in retrospection; capitalism is the source of affliction the working class is putting up with. Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against the progress capitalism brought upon us. But what I am really saying that, can we at least have an equal division of the merits and perks? Is it really too much to give the right benefits and decent amount of salary to those who are actually doing the dirty work? Idealistic as it maybe, I think this is what the society today needs, equal division, not only of the labor but the gratuity as well.
In our society today, for all the people outside the Alta Sociedad, hopping the jam packed train home, no matter how perilous, is their only choice to go back home. But should it really be that way? Will it hurt to give them a few more pennies and several days off in a year so they can see their families? Why offer the last train home, when we can do so much better, when you can give them just a simple ride home?
I am not asking for any changes, all I’m saying is that seeing both sides of the coin gives your perspective on what needs to happen. And if you can make it happen, why not do it.