Material Opulence

There is no denying that the last two hundred years have been extremely significant in the history of mankind. Economic and social transformation has taken place in an unprecedented manner. While acknowledging the quantitative and qualitative changes that have taken place and are symbolized by what may be described as new icons of civilization and politico-economic power viz.: unending rows of skyscrapers, meta-industrial complexes, banks and finance houses, industrial giants, opera houses, museums, stadiums, airports, marvels of satellite technology and other expressions of affluence. It is important not to be overwhelmed by the sheen and glory of these manifestations of power. We must try to go behind what is apparent to see the true state of the human society. Yes, these two centuries have been centuries of great economic transformation. Consequently production has increased, new lands have been discovered and developed; land, sea and air communications have so increased that the distances of space and time seem to have been abridged, if not annihilated. Developed countries are awash with wealth and opulence. Science and technology, education and research, military power and political conquests have played a critical role in bringing about a global transformation. During these two centuries humanity has lived through three major economic experiments – viz.: Capitalism, Socialism and Fascism. I regard the mixed economy of the welfare state as part of the overall capitalist experiment and its latest formulation to overcome some of its widespread weaknesses and to face the demands of the democratic process.

Source: Contemporary Economic Challenges and Islam, Khurshid Ahmed. Republished with permission.
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