When Will Oppression End?
WHY have not men with all their wars and revolutions to overthrow oppression succeeded in so doing? Why have they not founded a nonoppressive society? Why is it that oppression is not eliminated by higher forms of economy but accompanies them? To answer these questions necessitates one’s understanding the very origin of oppression itself.
For centuries men have prayed, warred and died to free the oppressed. Their efforts, for the most part, have never led to anything except the replacing of one oppressive system by another. Karl Marx thought he was able to demonstrate scientifically that things were different in our day. He set about to develop a system of government that he thought would lead to true emancipation, not to a new oppression. This was the beginning of communism, the most oppressive of all systems to date. The people’s communes in China are proof enough of that, for about 98 percent of China’s peasantry have been herded into a system of forced collectivization. All their personal rights, freedoms and belongings have been surrendered to the State. This is the fruit of a system that Marx believed would do away with oppression and bring true emancipation.
There are, of course, different kinds of oppression. In many parts of the world there is what might be termed industrial oppression. Huge industrial systems pin down thousands of men to more or less servile jobs, govern their hours and, indirectly, their standard of living. For workers to press for better working conditions and a higher wage to meet the high cost of living often brings on more oppression. When employers are forced to pay higher wages, they frequently boost the price of their products to compensate for the additional overhead, prices are raised to absorb the higher costs, and the worker, who must buy the product, ends up paying for his own raise. The recent 116-day steel strike in the United States cost some 500,000 steel workers an estimated total of $1,160,000,000 in wages. When will these workers ever regain this loss by their raise in pay? Possibly never. So strikes and collective bargaining are not the means by which economic oppression will be brought to an end.
The oppression of the farmer is big enough to become a national issue during presidential-election years in America. Giant landowners have all but choked out the small farmer. His few bushels of wheat cannot compete with the millions of the rich. So he is often forced to sell for less than it cost him to raise it, which leads to bankruptcy—oppression.
The big chain stores now operated by giant corporations have much to do with the setting of prices. Often huge corporations undersell the small merchant until he is driven out of business and into bankruptcy. Then prices are raised. The man who eats and the man who produces must suffer; the one because he has to pay high prices, the other because he has to sell at a loss, and the ones who control the market make the profit. The result? The small merchant passes out of existence and the people suffer.
Recent investigations in the United States into the pricing practices of the drug industry uncovered another kind of oppression. Some drugs sold at from 7,000 to 10,000 percent over the cost of the materials! One item that cost 14 cents to make was sold for $15. The subcommittee was told that large concerns were “overcharging the public $750,000,000 a year for prescription drugs” alone. Drug costs may be so high as to prevent people from receiving proper medical treatment, or make them hesitate to get their prescriptions filled when necessary. Oppressors care little for the public’s health so long as they get their profit.
The vicious practice of kidnaping Negro children and selling them to become servants is reported by Life, January 11, 1960, to be a lucrative trade in Nigeria. The article states: “Sometimes the child . . . is sold to a local believer in juju who thinks that if he sacrifices a human being to the god he will grow rich, or that by eating some parts of the slaughtered anatomy he can rejuvenate himself or prolong his life. The current price is £300 ($846) per child.”
Heavy taxation is another form of oppression. In the past decade the American taxpayer has paid $365,000,000,000 into defense and yet feels more insecure today than ever. That is over $6,000 for every working American, which is an oppressive burden to bear.
When will oppression end? No power can abolish oppression so long as the cause that makes it inevitable remains. Abolishing oppression means getting at the very root of the trouble, namely, getting at this system’s god, Satan the Devil. (2 Cor. 4:4) To eliminate Satan and those who display his selfish spirit is to wipe oppression off the earth. That is why nations have failed, because only God can destroy Satan and root out greed. This Jehovah has promised to do. “The God who gives peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly,” wrote the apostle Paul. (Rom. 16:20) This crushing will take place at Armageddon, God’s war against the wicked. To follow Armageddon there will be a new world of God’s making, completely free of oppression. Ruler of the new world is Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, who, when on earth, “went through the land doing good and healing all those oppressed by the Devil.” (Acts 10:38) Now from his heavenly throne as King of the new world he will make a complete end to all oppressors and oppression. Gone will be all oppressive communes, greedy industrial giants and commercialists, religious and military oppressors. The inspired promise is: “He will deliver the poor one crying for help, also the afflicted one and whoever has no helper. From oppression and from violence he will redeem their soul, and their blood will be precious in his eyes.” “For evildoers themselves will be cut off, but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth.”—Ps. 72:12, 14; 37:9.