Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The 1% are the very best destroyers of wealth the world has ever seen ~ George Monbiot

Illustration by Daniel Pudle
The very rich are often described as wealth creators. But they have preyed on the earth's natural wealth and their workers' labour and creativity, impoverishing both people and planet. 

Now they have almost bankrupted us. The wealth creators of neoliberal mythology are some of the most effective wealth destroyers the world has ever seen.


Until recently, we were mesmerised by the bosses' self-attribution. Their acolytes, in academia, the media, thinktanks and government, created an extensive infrastructure of junk economics and flattery to justify their seizure of other people's wealth. So immersed in this nonsense did we become that we seldom challenged its veracity.

This is now changing. On Sunday evening I witnessed a remarkable thing: a debate on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral between Stuart Fraser, chairman of the Corporation of the City of London, another official from the corporation, the turbulent priest Father William Taylor, John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network and the people of Occupy London. It had something of the flavour of the Putney debates of 1647. For the first time in decades – and all credit to the corporation officials for turning up – financial power was obliged to answer directly to the people.

It felt like history being made. The undeserving rich are now in the frame, and the rest of us want our money back.


[Read the whole illuminating essay here!]


7 comments:

masterymistery said...

Totally agree. (Who could not?)

The current situation --- including the last 20 years, or even 200 years --- reflects badly on all cultures, but more so on Western "free market" "democracies". (Which are neither free nor democratic)

But I would change the intro from "have preyed" to "continue to prey, with impunity".

However, elites don't get to be elites because they're nice people.

I fear a substantial backlash is coming against anyone and everyone who dares to question the system. Even though it's falling apart as we speak.

And I would add that not only have they almost bankrupted us in a financial sense, but also in other ways as well: emotionally, psychologically, in a wellness/wholeness sense, in a cultural sense, medical sense, spiritual sense etc.

And they have almost bankrupted us in an ecological/environmental sense. The folly of the economists' mantra of growth has brought us to a very bad place.

But our target should be not only the elites but the system. And one of the first steps should be in relation to the Corporation itself.

More specifically, we should somehow reverse or take back or repeal the historic legislation some hundreds of years ago, that granted corporations the right to be legal "persons": able to transact and own property, able to mount legal action, required to pay tax, subject to the Law etc etc

The problem is that even though a corporation may be a legal person, supposedly subject to the law, in fact it's only subject to parts of the law.

Just for starters, corporations can't receive custodial sentences. Bail is never an issue.

And then there's the peculiar notion of "limited liability":
Within the context of the corporation as a legal person, the flesh and blood human directors of the corporation enjoy limited liability.

If the corporation goes bankrupt, owing hundreds of millions of dollars to small and large creditors, the directors are not legally liable. They don't have to cough up any of their own personal money (that they stole in the first place) to make good the bad debts that their decisions caused in the first place.

So, two very specific actions: repeal the law/s that allow/s a corporation to be a legal person, and get rid of limited liability: the directors should be personally liable for the debts their bad decisions incur.

But it's not only directors. It's every employee who checks in their personal values at the door before they enter the workplace. People "working in" / employed by corporations make decisions and perform actions they wouldn't make or perform in their personal capacities. Because their personal values wouldn't permit it.

But at work, operating under the values of the corporation, most things are permitted especially if they increase the financial wealth of the organisation.

Anyway, I've rambled far too long and far. Excellent post, Antares, thank you.

masterymistery at
cosmic rapture

dukuhead said...

20 years after communism collapses, now it's capitalism's turn to face the wrath of the masses. You could say that unfettered capitalism without the counterweight of communism is a bad thing. No ying and yang.

Antares said...

@masterymistery - I can only credit myself for extracting the most powerful statement in Monbiot's essay. It's actually quite amazing what has been happening since 2008, the year of political tectonic shifts. Back in 1992 I could have said exactly the same thing - and did, over and over again - but was laughed off as the village idiot by left-brainers and shunned by New Agers enamored of their own capacity to manifest "limitless abundance" using the Laws of Attraction. I still feel it's not the concept of Abundance that's incorrect - it's charging astronomical fees for therapeutic services and specialized knowledge that impoverishes others and creates more elite circles. Even so, I'm not antagonistic towards "elite circles" per se - but the ascetic in me finds the slave trade repugnant, because it obviously has to be maintained or how else can you get native girls to massage and manicure you at a luxury spa? It's a carryover from the last days of the Roman Empire! As for me, I'm quite happy to massage and manicure native girls in exchange for their services. Yep, I'm fairly egalitarian in my approach to human interactions.

@dukuhead - You've got a point there, but it's time we outgrow the two-party system, the leftwing versus rightwing approach and view it all as breathing in (capitalist phase) and breathing out (communist phase).

Azazel said...

communism, capatalism, facism, socialism....these are just ideologies created by mortal humans to control portions of the populations. why must we follow any one of those ideologies? zoom out from this planet and observe, do we not seem like sheeps being controlled by the shepperds? think freely and dont let others control your thoughts. each one of us is unique and no matter how hard one tries to control us through ideologies, it is bound to fail.

we came into this world with nothing and we will leave this world with nothing. what happens in between is just a game, an illusion....a dream (or nightmare for some). clear our minds and think deeply what is happening, use our observation as our tool and dont get influenced by others.

'Truth is a pathless land'. Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, nor through any philosophical knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation, and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection. Man has built in himself images as a sense of security—religious, political, personal. These manifest as symbols, ideas, beliefs. The burden of these dominates man's thinking, relationships and his daily life. These are the causes of our problems for they divide man from man in every relationship." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

Just remember one thing, nothing can change the laws of the universe. The 1% might think they are very rich but we are just a very tiny portion of the universe. We consider our Sun the biggest object in our solar system but compared to the vastness of the universe, it is but a grain of sand on all the beaches in this world combined; there are billions and billions of Stars out there.

All it takes is for a CME (Corronal Mass Ejection) to hit us like what happened in 1859 (known as the Carrington Event) and we will realise how small we are. Humans will start to wake up to reality.

The only way the 1% can function is because of the 99%, if the 99% buy into these idealogies. All we need to do collectively is to stop functioning for them, stop drinking coke, stop eating McDonalds, stop this crazy consumption that is stripping off the precious resources of this planet and you will start to realise the 1% is suddenly powerless.

We need to start by thinking freely, all our actions are influenced by someone, think about it, most people wants a big car, a big house, a luxurious life, is that really a path to happiness? That idea was put there by the 1% into our minds.

We need to break free from the chains that bind us, then only we can find that the true path is just nearby.

I do not wish for anyone to follow the way i think, think independently, follow your heart, think deeply, dont let anyone influence you in any way.

masterymistery said...

Antares, it's an egalitarian approach that works for me!

In fact I'd probably provide the massage and manicure as a free and unencumbered gift, depending on the recipient!

masterymistery at
cosmic rapture

UP41 said...

Dear Antares, I took at the look at the income disparity in wiki & noticed that in tanah air the riches 10% income is 22 times than the poorest 10% Vs Singapore 17 times. Malaysia is the highest among Sg, Thailand and Indonesia. Our Econ policies are pushing wealth to very small group of people.

Antares said...

@mastermistery - For egalitarianism to work, especially when it comes to mutual massage, one has to keep in good shape. Nobody would be inspired to work on Jabba the Hutt - unless offered an obscene amount of cash or on pain of death!

@Azazel - You're a rare and unique individual, an Aragorn type, unafraid to walk alone. More power to you!

@UP41 - That's exactly the problem. As George Monbiot points out, in a corrupt and perverse economic system, becoming super-rich has little to do with one's ability but one's genealogy, or one's willingness to curry favor with the ruling elite.