Tuesday, 6 January 2009

The True Internationalists

Within the financial and ideological walls of a place known as Richistan, live the tiny number of rapaciously greedy people who control our world. These are the Obscenely-Rich who are greedy for money because money buys power and power is addictive; the more power they have, the more they want.

Money and power distances the Obscenely-Rich from the lives and concerns of the rest of humanity. The more rich and powerful they are, the smaller and less significant ordinary people appear to be. This moral radar can also be calibrated so as not to register people of the 'wrong' skin colour or belief system and is invaluable when the Obscenely-Rich need to harm or kill their fellow humans in pursuit of more money and power.

Be it through over-work, hunger, disease, pollution, industrial accident or war – all the Poor are dispensable to varying degrees. The Utterly-Poor are simply a nuisance. They add little or no value and can be left to die in any of the myriad ways man and nature has devised to rid the earth of the vulnerable. Their one small use to the Obscenely-Rich is as a reminder to the Relatively-Poor of what might happen to them if they don't behave.

The Obscenely-Rich don't need to worry about running out of Utterly-Poor as there are plenty of the Relatively-Poor who lose their grip on their place in the global scheme of things. The Relatively-Poor have a greater value in that they can both produce and – importantly - consume. 

They can be persuaded into being perpetual debtors, working for the Obscenely-Rich to pay the interest on loans extended to them by banks owned by the Obscenely-Rich. They can be manipulated, through nationalism, bigotry, religion or other fervour-raising agents, into fighting the wars that the Obscenely-Rich foment in pursuit of more money and power. They buy into the Great Con with its twin illusions of political and consumer freedom - the right to vote for effectively powerless governments, and the right to buy the commodities they produce, with the money they have been paid for producing them. They live in perpetual fear of becoming one of the Utterly-Poor.

Most strive to drag themselves into the relative safety of the Favoured-Few which includes those who provide the essential expertise without which the world could not be efficiently plundered by the Obscenely-Rich. The more widespread and sophisticated the plundering is, the more these experts are needed. Their rewards, in terms of money and status, rise commensurately and their stake in perpetuating the Great Con is driven deeper. They perpetuate the idea that, without the profit motive, there would be no incentive to progress and therefore the Great Con is the only way to organise production. They use their clever minds and hands to design and produce ever-more useless stuff and to create ever-more subtle ways of selling it. They devise ever-more sophisticated weapons to kill other humans, and substances and techniques for saving lives that only the Obscenely-Rich and some of the Favoured-Few can afford to buy. 

They live happily with the fact that the Utterly-Poor die for want of clean water, food, shelter and medicines all the while developing more ways of keeping themselves and the Obscenely-Rich alive longer and looking younger. They try to justify a world in which millions of children die every year from the effects of poverty; and in which millions of others face a future of obesity and metabolic chaos induced by products and lifestyles sold to their parents by companies owned by the health, and appearance-obsessed Obscenely-Rich. And, they obscure, with complex and clever justifications, the fact that these ideas are nothing more than the crude ideology of a god-given order of the rich man in his castle, the poor man at its gate - and the poor woman and her children – well, who cares?

Sadly, for all the world's Poor, as the plundering becomes more efficient, it also becomes less labour intensive. Some of the Favoured-Few lose their grip and slip into the ranks of the Relatively-Poor, which forces many of them to fall into the realms of the Utterly-Poor. 

The dispossessed and disillusioned become potential rebels who are all the more dangerous because the key trade-off for their cooperation in the Great Con – ie political freedom with its notions of individual and human rights - has made them believe that they actually matter, that they have a right to their piece of the pie, and even a say in how the pie should be divided.

They are both the creation of the system and the very thing that might bring it to its knees. Except the Obscenely-Rich have foreseen this and created many means of diverting and controlling the rebellious Poor. Some are brutal and obvious, others are so subtle they are seen as rights and freedoms. One of the most effective weapons of the Obscenely-Rich and their courtiers is telling the Poor that their worst enemies are the Other-Poor. So much the better, if those Others have different coloured skins, speak a different language or worship a different god.

And so the Relatively-Poor and some of the Favoured Few regularly march off to contrived wars which have multiple benefits for the Obscenely-Rich. They reduce the numbers of the Utterly-Poor, who are always worst affected by war. They kill off great swathes of a most potent rebellious force – young men - and envelope their families and communities in a haze of grief and hatred of the 'enemy'.

They also have the added benefit of generating vast amounts of the stuff that keeps the walls of Richistan standing.

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