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Another World Is Possible, Without the 1%


#1

Another World Is Possible, Without the 1%

Winnie Byanyima

Activists from around the world will defy the terrorists to attend the World Social Forum in Tunis on March 25, determined to make the occasion a beacon for free speech, justice and equality.


#2

Beautiful essay, and spot on.

There is no reason to allow the existence of a 1%, or for that matter any percent that lives off the labor of others.

In Director Byanyima's essays and others', we see awareness spreading and pressure building. I hope we find a way to keep it from bursting mindlessly out of control, because Condorcet -mathematician, scholar of democracy- was one of the victims in 1798 purely because he was an aristo, not because he was an arsehole or exploiter.


#3

We have to look at individuals. For example, Bono has earned enough cash to be part of the 1%.

Most of the rich can be split into just plain corrupt, basically rotten psychopaths and well-intentioned people who seem to serve only themselves when push comes to shove. There's a mixture between these two groups.


#4

Beautiful essay, I agree... And this paragraph, "Wealth is used to entrench inequality, not to trickle down and solve it. Our research shows how pharmaceutical and financial lobbyists spend hundreds of millions of dollars to influence government legislation in their industries’ favour, saving them billions of dollars, for instance by securing the banks’ huge state bailouts. Across the world, we see that great money doesn’t only buy a nice car or a better education or healthcare. It can buy power: impunity from justice; an election; a pliant media; favourable laws. With the privatisation of our universities it can even buy the world of ideas." Is one of the best summations of the bureaucratic crime inflicted upon America and the rest of the world. Now, how to get the perpetrators into a court room?


#6

Agree totally, Tom. An essay underlying the 1% greed offering no solutions; child-like and naive.a summit with organizations like Greenoeace? Neo-liberal hogwash indeed. We are WAY past he need for summits and marches and whining. TOTAL REVOLUTION NOW!


#7

The essay makes some good points, but I was disappointed that it didn't really show how to eliminate the 1%. One point in particular is worth focusing on: "Wealth can buy power..." In fact,

Wealth = Power. (Or, more precisely, Wealth equals one type of power.)

What does wealth even mean? Ownership of something -- and the power to do what you want with it. Wealth isn't a physical object, not a house, car, share of stock, bar of gold, $100 bill. It is the power to control those things that is provided by society. Wealth is a social relation. To have wealth is to have power granted by society.

In the world today, wealth is highly concentrated, as the article points out. But the article's response seems to be to ask those with power to "play nice." Corporations should "pay their fair share of taxes and work for the good of the majority" (I wonder which minorities corporations shouldn't work for.) But who should make those decisions, and should there be corporations in the 1st place?

There is much talk in liberal circles about "redistributing" the wealth. But this begs the question, who decided on the distribution in the 1st place? Since 1980 in the US, the economy's grown substantially. But virtually ALL the additional wealth has gone to the top few percent of the population. I'd say THAT'S redistribution. The wealthy had the power to grab even more, and they did.

The real question we should be asking is how to distribute society's wealth and power in a fair and just way. How can we create an economy and society where the default, the tendency, is toward absolute equality? There will always be people who want more wealth and power than others. I don't see anything wrong with that per se. But they should have to deserve it, and to use it for the common good. The rest of us shouldn't have to live on our knees, begging them to play nice.


#8

The 1% controls human power, e.g media, education, health, food, and the political process. They also have the biggest guns. What does the 99% have to leverage against that?


#9

Which means what, exactly, as well as being hunched over a corporate-produced computer keyboard (which we all hope isn't produced by uber evil apple) typing out meaningless slogans and criticising those at least active enough to attend summits and plan strategies?

Incidentially, I think Tom's comment was referring to the previous poster and not the article in general, which seems a good article, if only for publicising and disseminating the nature of the problem.


#10

I posted this elsewhere but thought it applies here too so I copied and pasted it: "I'm starting to think that a core group among the extreme right is pushing an agenda on the rest of us to make "making the rich richer" a national agenda. Please think about what it means to impose such an agenda as a national goal. Fascism comes to my mind. Why should a nation that is supposed to be about freedom and liberty be hyper-focused on making the rich richer?"

I believe that humans can learn to be cooperative vs competitive. In fact, there are existant and historical examples of cooperative economies. I don't beleive that capitalism necessarily needs to be competitive. Profits can be shared vs divied out at $/hr. Within a corporation, responsibilities and decision making can be horizontal and democratic vs pyramidal and authoritarian. It will take a long time for people to learn these concepts and to behave this way. The paradigm of self-serving authoritarianism has been imposed on humanity for thousands of years. It won't go away quickly.


#11

How to redistribute wealth? My answer: buy goods and services from employee owned businesses for starters. Don't buy goods/services from heirarchical corporations. Put them out of business by not buying their crap, for starters. In a word, support cooperative businesses.


#12

The 1% needs us to spend our wee pittance on them. So, don't do it.


#13

Not just "something", but specifically the means to maintain life. Wealth is ownership of the means to maintain life. Their mansions, yachts, private airliners, and jewellery aren't wealth, they're "stuff".

It'll help if we start making that distinction by habit because then we'll be clear about what we have to take away from them to eliminate their power over us.


#14

" If you are in the top 1 percent of the global wealth stakes, our economic system works exceptionally well. "

Made me check want it takes to be in the top 1% of the" global wealth stakes ". Turns out a someone making $40,000 (including benefits) is in the top 1%. I guess that makes most of us working stiffs are one percenters.


#15

My grandparents fled the Russian Revolution. They were lifelong liberal Democrats here in the U.S. Having witnessed Czarist Russia they always said "never again."
Too bad Americans now think somehow this orgy for the elites is going to last forever. I have the feeling viewpoints are going to change radically again somewhat like they did in the early 1930s in the U.S. when younger people come to realize many of them have been excluded from participating in society simply because they are only middle class. I hold the media with the largest amount of responsibility for this, they are marketing twenty four hours a day a world that most people in the U.S. cannot approximate at all. They marketed the 03 invasion of Iraq. They will market a return to simpler values. Somehow, media will win and manipulate everything and everybody, to our detriment.


#16

Of course she meant "global" in the sense of "international", not "everybody from Carlos Slim to the Aché gatherer/hunter family in Paraguay who never see ten pesos cash money from one year to the next". She's talking about the people involved, will-they nill-they, in Capitalism's system, not those outside it.


#17

We're stuck with human nature. What has remained blocked out of the "bigger discussion" is the fact that what the rich are doing to the middle class is essentially what the middle class already did to the poor. In reality, not everyone can work, and there aren't jobs for all who urgently need one. The middle class demanded, "No food or shelter for the poor," and even liberals haven't noticed or cared that (at the least) this is in violation of fundamental human rights (per the UDHR). This generation's policies against the poor have destroyed -- and cost -- lives. There can be no such thing as justice or equality for some, and not for all.


#18

I read somewhere that the richest 1% own almost half the world's wealth. Since most of them will have gained their financial status by inheritance, by manipulating currencies and buying legislatures, they really have little or no claim to the wealth that was created for them by the efforts of the 99%. Spreading their wealth equally amongst the 99% would result in everyone being better off and moreover, poverty would be eliminated - as it should be.


#23

I don't really want to spend the time to respond to you because I think it would be a waste. You are very well-adapted to the Capitalist zero-sum religion in that you have a world-view at odds with the idea of equality.

But if you should want to do some research on your own, however, there are many non-hierarchical societies in the world. They have no equivalent of the "1%" because they're organised to prevent the creation of hierarchy. Nobody obeys anyone else, and if someone is stupid enough to try to impose his will by force, he's first laughed at, then ostracised, and if he still won't quit, killed. When such communities want something done, they all pitch in to do it. Share the work, share the benefits. Do a search on "egalitarian societies" or "non-hierarchical societies".

You might also find the MondragĂłn CorporaciĂłn Cooperativa interesting (http://www.mondragon-corporation.com/eng/). It's hierarchical only on the level of activity---everyone shares alike in the profits because everyone has an equal ownership share

They started out 60 years ago with a one-eyed socialist priest and five (I think it was five) young unemployed engineers making paraffin (kerosene to you) stoves in a shed. Now they're a gigantic conglomerate, entirely self-funded and still egalitarian-socialist, doing everything from basic cutting-edge research, tertiary education, and banking, to selling retail groceries and collaborating with the Steelworkers union in the US to test-plot their model over here.


#24

1) Imagine passing one law: the only legal forms of business are immediate-family proprietorship and cooperative. What would be the knock-on effects? The biggest thing would be that the owner class would cease to be an owner class. If you cannot employ someone else for wages, you can't get rich off their labor.

2) Make sure they don't, if at all possible. Which is why I often suggest that we should arm ourselves and become capable with the weapon(s), so that when the balloon goes up and blood runs in the gutters, it's their blood not ours. Could there really be anything worse than our dying for their continued hegemony?


#25

I think the stats break down to something like the .06% who actually do act as the self-appointed owners of our earth, as misguided as such a concept may be. The idea that people can own the planet is pretty insane, which tells us a lot about those who feel they can own the land, water, air and all resources, while treating all in their path anyway they choose. Eventually, their model will crumble into dust at their feet, while the rest of us work to save them from themselves, thereby saving ourselves and this beautiful earth we all live upon.
Some very wealthy folk understand this quite well and are on the side of people and justice, we just don't hear from them often, since they have the same problem we do when it comes to being heard in the corporate media. The MSM refuses to give voice to those who don't adhere to the party line, only should they band together and buy a network like ABC for example, our chances would improve for bringing a faster end the current rulers and their minions. The propaganda machine is a formalde power source, but to have one network that speaks truth to power would offer another viewpoint to those currently brainwashed, ignorant, or undecided from hearing the same lies on the 24/7 news cycle. While this would be smeared endlessly, often using the same fear tactics they use against anyone of note who speaks out, not all would fall for their propaganda so much when facts take the place of spin.