Economic and decisional power is concentrated into ever fewer hands, a process that seems unstoppable. However, from time to time, social reactions threaten to push down the continuous concentration. To avoid this outcome, some redistributive pauses are tolerated. In them, concentrated power does not stop its course, as it does not lose patrimony of assets and influences, but rather just cutbacks in incomes; preserves its ability to mold global functioning and that of each country. Therefore, it is critical to seize redistributive pauses to dismantle firmly the engines that promote concentration.
Today, 26 people’s wealth equals that of the poorest 50% of the world population: 3,800 million peoples. If we add the other multimillionaires and the simple millionaires, plus all that is concealed in available statistics, we arrive at that fatidic 1% of people that have appropriated almost all the global wealth. Something outrageous and unacceptable. It is about an appropriation of the effort of billions of beings that are punished with infinite material, cultural, and spiritual hardships. Indignity prevails everywhere, dreadful social cruelty, bloody destruction of the planet, while the scoundrels bray in their privileges.
How has this dehumanization happened? Who promotes it? Do they believe to be the world’s owners? Is it possible to believe that they have acquired their large patrimonies and corresponding influence with the sweat of their brows? It is impossible to accumulate such resources without appropriating what is produced by the 99% of inhabitants of the world, the immense disadvantaged majority of humanity.
The unbridled concentration of wealth and decisional power keeps destroying the environment, fragmenting societies, cornering solidarities without caring for the fallen or excluded brother, asphyxiating the real economy and the internal market of almost every country, silencing the voices that propose other courses and better ways of functioning. These questions are denounced, alerting that they take us to dead-end alleys that even threaten the continuity of the concentrating process. Recurrent economic instability, hard social reactions to privileges that contrast with their living conditions, an environmental chaos that compromises the planetary sustainability, are factors that, when the abyss is closer, give way to political openness. Popular base governments emerge that target at redistributive transformations, some searching for new scenes others restorative of lost times.
These processes arising amid serious turbulences and multiple needs and interests, tend not to be in condition for reverting the causes of concentration. Though welcome, their efforts can only establish redistributive pauses, valuable in themselves despite being unsustainable. Because the concentrating order does not graciously relinquish its power, rather it preserves it through media, judicial, and political trenches that they have been establishing over years of preeminence. Therefore, when they retreat in the State control, they sustain with their resources and influence the actions of their accomplices and amanuenses that obstruct every significant reform. They know how to destabilize new popular-base governments that, if effective, are able to grind down the cruelest effects of the concentrating process though, it should not surprise us that, with it they involuntarily avoid its collapse and extend its reproductive space.
Redistribution of income is positive, but, without redistributing wealth and influence by dismantling the engines that sustain concentration, sooner or later, the destructive virulence will resume the prevailing pace in the world today. We will offer some explanations among the many to take into account.
To begin with, if the mechanisms that feed concentration were kept intact, that is, if patrimonies and decisional power of concentrated groups remained growing though at a lesser speed for the imposed redistribution of income, the threat of return might become true. Its ability to co-opt wills would stand still, while transforming governments wore out in the unfavorable vicissitudes they have inherited and the multiple obstacles that are imposed on them.
Moreover, those who profit the most when popular-base governments are able to reactivate internal market are the large economic actors that, with their oligopolistic power that remains intact, can keep on practicing market power abuses.
Thus, cycle after cycle, the concentrated power keeps on strengthening while humanity breathes the relief that comes with the redistributive pause and tends to lower down its defenses. The dominating purpose remains firm despite using more subtle modalities of submission. Decades ago open repression prevailed, coup d’état lead by the military or imposing autocratic governments or kingdoms. Today, they practice “soft coup d’état” where repression exists but only when it is not enough the mafia-like actions of sectors of the judiciary, media, and politics, united to colonize minds and format subjectivities.
Searching for new paths
Transforming the present, hegemonic concentrating model does not need patches, no matter how well intended they might be. The forces to confront are so strong and permanent that, we will need to focus on dismantling their foundations. This implies posing another course and way of functioning. There is a great job ahead, to transform established institutions that keep the punished majorities contained by others that promote and sustain a country for all. It is not about indiscriminately sweeping away what exists but rather preserving or enhancing what aids the collective wellbeing and protection of the environment. However, it is also clear that we will need to generate new and innovative institutions to act as backbone of a new social order. There will be a lot to innovate in economics, education, health, justice, media, democratic representations, and politics.
Within socioeconomics, a key aspect in redistributive pauses is how to use the resources that are available to be reassigned. Obviously, one part must be assigned to cover the basic needs of popular sectors, which cannot be put off (such as food, health, housing, and environmental sanitation, among many others).
Another part of the resources to distribute should be assigned in support of in-depth transformations, that is, to accompany changes proposed to regulate capital movements and their permanent flight to other countries or fiscal havens, tax evasion of large corporations and wealthy families, establishment of progressive tax structures, responsible allocation of public spending, control of inflation-generating factors, no more sovereign over indebtedness, establishing another productive structure that includes all the population that wants to work on the basis of justice and equity. These and other critical issues were covered in previous articles; here, we only point out certain productive issues that acquire more relevance in the context of redistributive pauses.
- One refers to transforming the productive matrix and the functioning of value chains. We will need to deviate from conventional economy to transform the productive matrix of a country. There is no lack of instruments; some are already known that we need to reformat to tackle this challenge with active fiscal and credit policies; also, others less used as capital reinforcements to promote work-intensive activities that are less import-intensive. To secure sustainable transforming trajectories, we will need to avoid falling into recurrent external sector crises produced by the own economic dynamic that harshly conditions our development.
- Un segundo tema a destacar hace al funcionamiento de las cadenas de valor. Hoy esas tramas productivas permiten una enorme diferencia de capitalización entre las empresas que lideran las cadenas de valor y el resto de participantes sin los cuales la producción no podría materializarse. Está claro que al interior de las cadenas los más poderosos se apropian del mayor valor producido. Para evitarlo, es necesario establecer espacios de negociación de precios y condiciones de comercialización al interior de las cadenas, alterando la desigual correlación de fuerzas. Hay bastante trabajado en este novedoso campo; Opinión Sur ha sumado una propuesta.
- Another issue worth mentioning is how value chains function. Today, those productive fabrics allow for great differences in capitalization between leading enterprises of value chains and the rest of participants without which production cannot take place. It is clear that within value chains, the powerful appropriate the larger value produced. To avoid that, it is necessary to establish spaces for negotiation of prices and commercialization conditions within the chains, altering the unequal correlation of forces. Plenty already exists in this nouvelle field; Opinion Sur has added a proposal.
- A third issue of strategic importance is to promote the emergence of new types of economic actors that can fully contribute to the existent productive apparatus. Those are medium-size ventures, capable of including various popular sectors that are currently dispersed, unemployed, or working in non-promissory niches regarding present incomes and future growing possibilities. Here, there are popular franchises, communitarian systems of stockpiling and transport, locomotive agro-industries, second-degree cooperatives and holdings (third-degree cooperatives), service centers, community traders, producers’ supermarkets, among many others. In addition to their productive capacity, these new actors will be bearers of solidarity values within the own venture, as well as with other similar actors and communities with which they interact. There is a variety of forms to promote and assist them, among others, establishing developers and trust funds specialized in this type of inclusive ventures.
An almost universal longing
To dismantle the concentrating process and part to new courses and ways of functioning, will it be necessary to have a dramatic social explosion that would annihilate the 26 ultra-rich? This is not the solution, as another 26 will appear. It is the concentrating dynamic what has to be dismantle, if not, there will be futile the valuable efforts that billions of people of well and regular will are doing for the general wellbeing and the protection of the environment.
It is worth saying that transforming the concentrating process through pacific and democratic means is a huge but doable collective effort, essentially political in it is highest, most effective, and solidarity connotation. There is no lack of talent, technology, or resources to sustain this journey of justice and equity, but it will be necessary to combine a firm and clarified determination, good organizational effort, forming millions of militant cadres for this new order, first local and global as soon as possible. This almost universal longing has been present since the dawn of humanity. Let us hope that for the planet and everyone’s benefit, this longing would remain firm in present generations and could motivate those that will follow.
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