Ildiko Nova, 49, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada is presently volunteering with a group in a community studio where she learns about Aboriginal culture, as well as facilitating art activities to different communities and continues to make various new paintings on multiple topics, referring to her ethnicity and to raise awareness of animal cruelty. She is also working on a flower shop font design with the owner.
In our current issue: “Capitalism, Poverty and War” we speak with Ildiko about her latest submission and hear her thoughts on capitalism, poverty and war, how they have contributed to her own society and experiences as well as hearing her thoughts on creating change towards Saving Our Planet. Ildiko is an altruistic and refreshing artist with a passion to create and express as well as a strong moral drive very in keeping with ASLI’s mission.
Ildiko is an existing ASLI Artist who we have featured since our first issue “Celebration of Women”, through to the second “Mental Illness, Health and Recovery” (Please find links to Ildiko’s previous features at the end of this article)
“This picture is a response to the topic of “Save Our Planet”. The girl is playing on the ground of a destroyed environment. She is trying to make an angel as kids do in a pure, fresh snow, but the soil of this tar sand land is contaminated. The intention is to bring awareness that if senseless human made industrialization continues, the land is not going to able to provide clean water and food sources. The toxins ruin the fresh air and the area becomes a wasteland where people are at the highest risk of cancer and other autoimmune diseases.”
Here is our interview with Ildiko:
In your opinion, is capitalism the best system in today’s world? Why (not?)
I don’t think that capitalism is the best system in today’s world. Capitalists destroy traditional values and tear communities apart. Money, hunger and greed divide people and bring out the worst from some of them. Corporations don’t fulfill moral obligations in order to keep the environment livable, sustainable and safe for citizens. The ecosystem is broken and human lives are at risk due to the exploitation of our planet’s resources. The richest elite have certain policies that they can hide millions of dollars in tax avoidance and then force the ordinary people to be responsible for the country’s economic well-being.
What are your opinions on how capitalism serves those who are born without the wealth and opportunities enjoyed by others?
There is no wealth without exploitation of all levels. Global industrialization means that rich countries can outsource work to poorer countries for cheap resources and reduced wages. Workers are always underpaid and are in a marginalized, limited situation so that they have no voice to protest. The working class have no options to have a good life, good home or good health. Those who do not comply with the rules have a hard life with a lot of struggle.
If capitalism rewards only ability, what are your thoughts on those who can’t compete?
The capitalist system does not have compassion towards members who are less capable due to any disability. Actually these people are often blamed to be a burden on the society. Society shames people who cannot fit into the expected norms. Personal problems and difficulties are treated as a result of bad choices, poor parenting or an unbalanced mind. Distribution of welfare or any social allowance is a true failure and the application of rules are often humiliating to participants.
What are your views or suggestions on an alternative economic system?
An alternative economic system would be locally based, grass-root and small business orientated. Communities would find a useful position for every member. There is a need to restore real agriculture (non GMO) to secure food resources. Urban planning should include as much green environment and community gardens as possible. An independent investigation should find all legal and illegal tax avoidance money. However, it is based on utopia because there is an entire section of the legal system to protect the elite.
Has capitalism affected you in any way in your life?
I grew up in a socialist regime. We were taught to value communities where people’s work all added up to help everybody without exclusion. Learning as much knowledge as possible was a pride and people were very cultured. After I immigrated to a first world country (Canada) I found myself unable “to sell” my skill-set on the job market and it remained one of my weaknesses. I realized that I am not willing to be hostile or back-stabbing towards other workers to gain position. As a person who worked underpaid, heavy labor, precarious jobs, I realized that there is no way out or “up”. This is a rigid class structure where a raise cannot keep up with the price of living anyway. This is modern day feudalism. Not all my co-workers saw that. They agreed to do the most demanding requests in order to keep their jobs, to buy a new television-set or a used vehicle.
In your opinion—who benefits from poverty, and how?
Corporate businesses profit really well from low wage jobs. The companies of high-interest payday loans and fees profit from ordinary poor people who need that kind of money to pay their regular bills, rent, or gas. The government guarantees the landlords their rights to have profit, so slumlords profit to rent a place (in any condition) to people. Poor people can only afford cheap, artificial food – the food companies profit to provide bad food to people. People develop illnesses – the pharmaceutical companies profit (even though their medication often only suppresses symptoms without actual healing). People with a job or without a job feel hopeless and frustrated; it leads to drug and criminal problems. Drug smugglers are profiting. Lawyers, the prison system and probation authority profit from these problems.
How do images/videos/news reports of people in poverty influence society in different countries? What is your country like?
People in poverty are portrayed in media in a negative way. The middle class blames them as being lazy, unwilling. Solidarity is not a typical value of capitalism. In addition, in my community there is a growing population of urban Aboriginals. There is a lot of conflict and misunderstanding about these people. Most of them live in extreme poverty for an extended period of time and have very limited resources. It is absolutely unacceptable for any population, especially for those who are pushed back on their own territory.
To what extent does stigma contribute to the experience of living in poverty in your country, and in your opinion what could be done to address this?
There are efforts in order to help the poor such as community initiated events for donations or to raise money. The main element is to change the society’s overall perception of the poor. Especially the middle class, where members are frightened of change in their own lives and in their positions and they are the main distributors of consumerism.
What in your opinion works in reducing the negative impact of growing up in poverty on a child’s life chances?
When parents have to work precariously, having shifts that mean they are forced to be away from their children, it jeopardizes the healthy development of the child. When children grow up in neglect and often abuse from their frustrated parents, it causes multi-generational trauma. The ideal would be a supportive community or a collective caregiving. “It takes a village to raise a child” says a proverb and indeed it is part of having a healthy, functioning community.
Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day. How does this make you feel and is this something you think about and actively try and change, and if so how?
It is a result of the disproportionate gap between the richest and the poor. Often as a result of colonialism, poorest nations have limited access to their own education or land or resources. As these countries became the source of weak political leadership and war, citizens were not protected from active violence and aggression. Also natural disasters can destroy at a level where people have to flee and ask other countries to provide shelter for them. At this point in history, after all atrocities against people, it is hard to find solutions for improvement. On a skeptical side, it seems that world poverty is kept deliberately to feed the richest.
Do you think war is ever necessary and why?
I do not think that war is necessary. Countries should find effective negotiations and diplomatic solutions. War is about killing innocent civilians, destroying lives and places. Even there is an opinion that war is a result of conflicting ideologies and after the actual fights there is new law is being set – I can’t see anything positive about it.
Who profits and gains in general from war, in your opinion?
I think politicians, businessmen and weapon industries benefit from war. It’s been said that it gives the economy a new boost. Again, it only helps the rich get richer through “legalized” looting.
In your opinion what motivates war? Is it capitalism, patriarchy, the standing of a country or revenge etc?
One of the main reasons of war can be to demonstrate state power. Racism or scapegoating of any group can elevate the mood of people to support war in the name of patriotism. Historical trauma of a nation takes several generations to heal, meanwhile anger or revenge can be easily provoked.
Do you think enough is done by the global community to help the people affected by the ongoing occupations and wars globally? As well as the aftermath; leaving people with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, homeless, and often completely destabilised in general.
Unfortunately, there is not enough help, assistance or compassion towards survivors of war. People see it as problem of others, not their own.
How do you feel about the media’s use of propaganda when discussing war and the rhetoric of the “good guys and bad guys” being fed to the masses?
I’ve never seen the media this messed up before. As much as the internet helps to spread news the fastest way, also there are unreliable sources. Almost anybody can start a rumor and it is the reader’s’ responsibility to check the seriousness of the sources. The media is ruled by the elite and corporations and filters what to report. Some news is out of proportion in order to serve some political agendas.
Lastly we would like to know of your own experiences with either war or poverty or both. Have you or anyone in your family been affected by them and how are you now or are you still affected?
My personal story is related to WWII. After the war my grandfather returned from Soviet field where he was kept as a war prisoner. As a soldier he served as a medic. I am sure he witnessed a lot of suffering. He developed PTSD a mental illness, as we know it today. However, in the 70s, nobody talked about it and it remained undiagnosed and untreated. Unfortunately, my grandmother lived under a lot of pressure and fear with him and eventually she took her own life. It is a very sad story – I am sure there is a whole generation who have similar tragedies. As a person who mostly worked underpaid, I never recovered from losing everything (financially) after my marriage ended. I’ve been without my family and started all over many times, in many different places and survived homelessness three times. As the beautiful people of Cuba would say: “The struggle continues.”
Please find links to Ildiko’s previous submissions below:
Issue 1 ‘Celebration of Women’
:“Romani Artist Ildiko Nova Uses Visual Art to Discuss Under Represented Communities”
Issue 2 ‘Mental Illness, Health and Recovery’
ASLI Artist Ildiko Nova speaks to us about her thoughts on mental illness and art, saying “My art is my sanctuary where I don’t have to fulfill any social norms or expectations from society.”
Find out more about Ildiko Nova: