By: Raúl Zibechi
In recent days two facts illuminate the strategy of the richest 1 percent of humanity. Towards the end of January the media divulged an Oxfam study, wherein is asserts that of all the wealth generated in 2017 in the world, 82 percent went into the hands of the richest 1 percent, while half of the population received absolutely nothing. The economy only functions to benefit a tiny minority that concentrates more and more power.
The second fact comes from the Davos Forum, where the sector that represents the interests of the 1 percent meets. All the chronicles assure that the CEOS of the multi-nationals and the world’s most powerful men (there are few women), were happy and converted the annual gathering in the Swiss Alps into a real party. Almost all of them arrived in private jets; they paid $245,000.00 for the four days of meetings and conferences and access to the private sessions.
They actually have plenty of reasons to be happy. Things, “their” things, are going wonderfully. Stock market quotes on Wall Street have multiplied by three since the 2008 crisis. The Dow Jones index was at 8 thousand points during 2009 and these days it quotes at 26 thousand; a permanent scale, although the economies are stagnant or barely grow. There is no data about the real economy that supports the exponential growth of the stock markets, which shows its disconnection from production and its conversion into mere casinos.
The data that show the hoarding of wealth reveal the silent strategy of the 1 percent. More than 80 percent of the wealth that is generated in the world is for them. Around 20 percent goes to almost half of humanity, that which gazes into the mirror of wealth and aspires, with or without sense, to be close to the wealthiest hoping to get some of the crumbs. For the other half, nothing, there is no future, only poverty and repression.
Domination always seeks to support itself on three legs: the ruling classes, the middle classes and the popular sectors. The art of domination has always been to maintain itself based on hegemony, which is attained by offering a place to the middle and selling the illusion of progress to those most below.
In the golden periods of capitalism, between the end of the Second World War and the real crisis of socialism (approximately 1945 to 1991), society functioned integrating workers by means of a stable wage with full rights. That permitted them to obtain security for their families, who hoped (and often achieved) the so dreamed of social ascent. The middle classes were now in a more or less confortable position. Those were the years of development and the culture of consumption.
That strategy failed, for various reasons: decolonizing rebellions in the third world; factory rebellions against oppressive work in the first world; the rejection of patriarchy and machismo by women throughout the world, youth rebellions on the big cities; massive occupation of the cities by waves of migrant campesinos, and several revolutions like the ones in Cuba, Viet Nam and the red guards in China, among many others.
The truth is that the ruling class started to redeploy itself, to construct walls to defend its interests and to ignore the rest of humanity, in particular the poorest 50 percent and, at times, most rebellious. It set aside the integration of workers, a strategy that it has devised to neutralize the shock wave of the Russian Revolution (1917).
Now, the 1 percent hoists a strategy that consists of reducing the planet’s population in half, as some studies of the Bilderberg Club point out, another space of the wealthiest. It is true that they are more or less well-founded speculations, because the 1 percent does not risk publicizing its intentions, like they don’t do it each time they decide to undertake genocide against the popular sectors.
That strategy comes sweetened, as León Felipe would say, with stories. The cries of anguish and the weeping, writes the poet, “drown with stories.” One of those stories, the most terrible for efficiency, are the promises of rights, citizenship and respect for the popular will. “The Brazilian political system is a cadaver rotting in the open,” an analyst maintains after the sentencing of Lula. Maybe that’s why the Sao Paulo stock exchange breaks all records.
One of the preferred tactics of the strategy of the 1 percent is electoral fraud. There are three kinds, according to what experience tells us: post-electoral fraud, as happened recently in Honduras; fraud before, during and after the voting, a technique that has been applied in Mexico at least since 1988; and, the third is to accept the winner and then bribe him and/or threaten him with death. That latter is what happened in Greece, according to Yanis Varoufakis, the former minister of Syriza, who experienced it from the inside.
There are more techniques for ensuring the power of the powerful, the coup d’état with genocide (like in Chile and Argentina, among others) being the most extreme. What’s clear is that the 1 percent has been armored: it has the power of money, of legal weapons, illegal weapons and of the communications media. It accumulates more power every day.
It’s evident that, today, we cannot defeat them, neither by bad or good. So? Those of us below are the problem, because it’s up to us whether we continue to believe in the stories from above; stories that had some credibility when the system aspired to integrate us. The problem consists in continuing to trust in unsustainable strategies, because the material and social bases that made them possible no longer exist.
As we are not going to surrender, the path must be to construct the new. To survive in the storm, we have no other option than to construct two, three, many Noah’s Arcs (as Che said with respect to Vietnam), autonomous spaces for facing the collapse to which those above lead us.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Friday, February 2, 2018
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee