The utopia of a Dignity Trust

Are those who concentrate wealth, and the consequent decisional power, prepared to give up their privileges graciously? Would they do that if they understood that humanity has been cornered into a dead end of unforeseen consequences? Could an existential responsibility far from endless greed, destructive selfishness, and permanent mistreatment of the Planet ever prevail?

Last month we turned to the eight men whose wealth equates the wealth of 3.6 billion people in the planet asking them if they would be willing to contribute a significant part of their assets to a Dignity Trust geared towards sustaining the dignity of that large majority of humanity and assuring the preservation of the planet.

We were and we are aware of the minimum or null possibility of being heard. Where have we seen that those who concentrate wealth, and the consequent decisional power, were willing to graciously hand over their privileges? Would they do that if they understood that humanity has been corned into a dead-end alley of unforeseeable consequences? Could en existential responsibility far from endless greed, destructive egoism, and constant abuse of the planet ever prevail? Perhaps it could help if leaderships with credibility could convene dialogues where this or other initiatives with similar purposes could be considered.

It is worth to make explicit that the proposed Dignity Trust is not aimed at destroying the current reality but rather to transform it based on another type of economic dynamic quite different from that that prevails in contemporary world; this would have multiple implications.

We will point out the most significant traits of that initiative:

  • Its foundational purpose is to defend the dignity of the poorest half of the world’s population and to preserve the planet.
  • This is proposed without destroying ((the)) existent productive fabrics but rather transforming their meaning and significance by transferring the ownership of strategic assets (diverse shares, stocks) to Dignity Trust. This will help to transform the rationality of maximizing profit without considering the social and environmental consequences that guides and organizes economic performance today.
  • The assets transferred to Dignity Trust would generate a permanent flow of resources that will be applied to endorsing multiple specific initiatives that support the impoverish sectors of world’s population and the protection of the planet.
  • The ownership structure and governance of the Trust would be established so as to ensure the steady validity of the mandate on which it was founded.
  • It would not be necessary or convenient to generate an administrative bureaucracy as the change in orientation and functioning at the level of Dignity Trust and the initiatives it would support could be achieved by appointing honest representatives in the Boards of Directors of the enterprises, investment funds, holdings and other assets that might have been transferred. Their performance and that of the sponsored initiatives should be supervised in real time by an appropriate follow-up and monitoring system.
  • These representatives will have the unavoidable mandate of asserting the objectives of Dignity Trust in the functioning of the entities in whose Board of Directors they participate. This is a critical function to give way to new economic actors, some novel in terms of conception and structuring while others arising from existent actors but transformed in their purpose, ownership structure, and rationality.
  • The fact is that the world can no longer hold out with the organization of its production and the economy as a whole based on maximizing the profit of an exiguous minority that becomes increasingly rentier and speculative. A critical challenge for XXI Century is to subordinate the economy to the general wellbeing and the caring of the planet. IN ((and, in)) that sense, the establishment of a Dignity Trust (or many if that were the case) would constitute a significant advance in that direction.
  • The initial group of contributors to the Trust could form and Advisory Board to promote the incorporation of new contributors that they could help mobilizing.
  • Contributors to the Trust would bring about not only their assets but also their talent, creativity, expertise and contacts. It is not just about channeling resources but also those other critical attributes and abilities.

This type of Trust with the assigned mandate does not exhaust by itself the need for transforming the course and way of functioning of countries but it could help to explore new, different, and much more responsible development paths. If it would serve to open up new avenues of thought and construction of better options, even encouraging that other more systemic solutions might emerge, its mission would have been accomplished.

We have already mentioned that Opinion Sur has never turned to those who have been favored the most with the concentration processes. This invocation to exercising their full responsibility for what happens in the world is part of an important, though overlooked, dimension of referential utopias that we have been raising. Hopefully those who have accumulated enormous wealth will act voluntarily, rather than forced by the severely assaulted Nature and the legitimate though unpredictable reactions of the billions of beings that are still economic and culturally victimized.

A final thought. It would be naïve to believe that with the establishment of one or various Dignity Trust we would have transformed the concentrated way of functioning that prevails in almost all of our countries. No doubt these trusts will mean a significant advancement in that direction and have value in themselves. However, their contribution would increase in a different context where the mechanisms for extracting value that sustain and reproduce economic concentration, as well as the resulting concentration of decisions, are removed. To achieve that, actions should be taken at the level of public policies, geared towards transforming key aspects of the productive matrix, value chains, cultural submission, legitimacy of our representatives, the instability of systems caused by the punishment of Mother Earth, huge inequalities, debauchery of corruption and the impunity of the powerful. All these questions permeate over values of endless greed, consumerism voracity, destructive egoisms, the “what do I care about the rest.” There are not few reflections on the muddy substrates of the present path; they encourage us to conceive other ways of being and living in society. We are aware that we can advance, either with long or short steps. It is in such search context that the proposal of Dignity Trust is presented.

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