Fighting wealth and the desire for wealth

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« The question that arises is, in any case, who are the intellectuals of the left today. Should we still call « left-wing intellectuals » people who, if they are generally more sensitive than others to the social and human costs of progress, and in particular to the inequalities, injustices and phenomena of exclusion that it engenders, nevertheless continue to believe in the possibility and necessity of progress through unlimited economic growth and are content, for the most part, to demand that the fruits of growth be distributed, if possible, a little more equitably? » 

Jacques Bouveresse, The Modern Myth of Progress, Agone, 2017, pp. 38–39.

The intelligentsia on the left and on the right, followed by social movements and a part of the masses who are afraid of « thinking wrong », have fallen back on the useful vote in France. In the U.S., a little before, she mostly criticized Trump for his sexism and racism. In both cases, it did the same thing: it removed the scandal of giving the leadership of a country to ultra-rich people who put money at the center of everything. The wealthy class will be reinvigorated, as it managed to make the taxpayer, including the poor, pay for the bailout of its banks in 2008, in order to better restart and get fat on its back. This has made it possible to conceal the inconvenient truth: the oligarchy has a structural need for the extreme right, for racism and hatred, for sexism and humiliation, whether it takes the tone of falsely proletarian vulgarity (Trump) or that of the polite enarque of good family (Macron). It’s kale and collard greens. In both cases, the societal inequality from which it benefits needs an entertainment of the struggle (in the double sense of  » togo in another direction  » of the Latin but also to distract): while we hit the immigrant or the « The real criminal is left alone: the hyper-rich.

But the heads of this class of hyper-rich, the 1% who hold as much wealth as the rest of the planet, would fall within the hour, if the individuals who are victims of their drain on the common good were not driven by a strange desire to be like them (pp. 10–11). For there is hardly any other explanation than the generalized desire for everyone to become rich, especially among the working classes who are the most victimized by the monopolization of a minority, which can explain why the mass does not revolt against a minority that holds almost everything, and still dares to castigate the « profiteers », to the point of forgetting that the rentiers and the big fortunes are the greatest thieves.

Who will then be ready to put limits to the desire to want more and more (pp.14–15) that runs through all social classes? Members of Parliament? Little chance… (pp.15–16). If they want to, the reality of the possibilities of real change within an assembly, gives the measure for impossible. For the others, who have no care for the common good, in spite of their fine words, they are so corrupted by money that the very idea of putting limits on wealth frightens them, since measurement would mean the end of their own excess.

All that remains is to make the fight against « less inequality » (we shouldn’t ask too much of it either) their leitmotiv: the one that allows us to touch nothing. We arrive at this absurd and revolting situation that an institution like the National Lottery, symbol of the decadence and the deviation by the money, which organizes a voluntary tax, in the opposite direction — where everybody gives for one -, where the members of the board of directors perceive for a few meetings per year, tens of thousands of euros, imposes itself as « first patron of the country ». Thus, by « dreaming of becoming scandalously rich », one does charity work! Fabulous ingenuity… (pp. 12–13).

« An institution that creates the rarities responsible for the creation of misery cannot at the same time be responsible for its eradication.

Majid Rahnema, When Misery Drives Out Poverty, Babel, 2003

Thus, one manages to sleep, to go to work, to not grab paving stones and molotov cocktails, while knowing that eight people own as much as the 3.5 billion poorest people. We come to hear from the European Commission that Belgium must make budgetary efforts (22/05/17), while this body is composed of individuals who earn tens of thousands of euros per month and chaired by a Jean-Claude Juncker, the main architect of Luxembourg as a tax haven, he who receives 31,272 euros per month and an expatriation allowance of 48,656 euros per year. All this while sovereign wealth funds held by billionaires speculate on the public debts of States.(1)

Will it take time to understand that inequality makes you sick (pp. 16–17)? In the ideological diktat, will we become aware that the loss for the community is the fortune of some and the desire to be of others and that, therefore, when « the richest Belgian leaves the country », it is not « 70 million loss for Belgium(2)But it is the fact that an individual has been allowed to accumulate such wealth that is an ignominy that one or the other will pay for one day…?

File coordinated by Alexandre Penasse

Notes et références
  1. Voir le dossier du CADTM dans le Kairos de février/mars 2017.

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