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The course followed by the global economy is socially and ecologically unsustainable and the expropriation of great fortunes are imperative measures

In the international media, a question has been raised – inevitable within the framework of the capital regime to which we are subject: who will be the first trillionaire (1 trillion in English or 1 trillion in Brazilian Portuguese equals a thousand billion in Portuguese Portuguese) of the story? Jeff Bezos founder of Amazon? Bill Gates founder of Microsoft? And since there are no women in this front race, any other super-rich? We will enter the time of the trillionaires! Let us make a brief diagnosis of this socioeconomic problem and present the obvious treatment. There is one word that sums up the problem and the solution: expropriations!

Big capitalists expropriate society and appropriate nature

All fortunes are based on mechanisms of expropriation of society. Often literally a rip off! Using illegal practices and explicit violence. Whether in the past or today, the examples are countless. The expropriation and expulsion of peasants from the countryside, colonial looting actions, the diversion of public resources, etc. And then we have the practices that are legalized, which does not mean that they are ethically correct, or legally guaranteed, highlighting today the unfair wages paid to the overwhelming majority of workers, the debts with high interest rates and the famous paradises that are hells taxes – the recent Pandora papers remind us of the scale of the problem.

There are people and economic-financial conglomerates with more money than entire countries and many millions of people who live in poverty. According to a study published in 2017 by the organization Oxfam, titled “an economy for the 99%”, the 8 super-rich have as much wealth as the 3,6 billion poorest people in the world. The super rich don't need to play the lottery, because they win the lottery every week, they can buy all the tickets! And what do you do for it? Very little! They are like giant ticks attached to the socio-economic body that suck up the wealth produced by millions and millions of people and the offerings of nature.

Nature is also appropriated and expropriated from the common by capital, at low cost and without paying the costs of the negative externalities of activities. For capital appreciation and profits, the flow of cheap labor and natural resources cannot stop. Emissions of greenhouse gases, pollution, loss of biodiversity, degradation of ecosystems that result from many activities are unpaid costs for those who get rich with them. Who pays the bill, as a rule, are the communities, states and future generations that will live on an impoverished planet.

Why should they be expropriated?

The first reason is that capitalist accumulation, if not stopped, imposes destructive determinations on people and ecosystems. The logic of competition between capital imposes growth or being swallowed up. Capitalist production cannot be rational and sustainable because it is only at the service of capital appreciation, through markets.

The second reason is that there is no democracy, even if merely formal and restricted to the political-institutional sphere (a true economic and social democracy is incompatible with capitalism), which is healthy with such inequalities. The powerful holders of the greatest fortunes have the capacity to decisively influence the results of the elections, namely by controlling the private and public media. Corruption, revolving doors and political finance are other mechanisms used to control the state and condition liberal “democracy”.

The third reason is evident from what has been exposed above: capitalists, especially the big ones, expropriate and therefore must be expropriated. If they expropriate society and abuse nature, it is completely legitimate and just that they be expropriated. It's just society getting back what was subtracted, withdrawn or stolen.

How should they be expropriated?

Wealth taxation or progressive taxes currently have limited impact as a form of treatment, due to international mechanisms for escape and wealth protection. Therefore, in addition to the fight to put an end to these stratagems, it is increasingly necessary to bring to the table of solutions the use of forms of expropriation of real estate that cannot leave the country. In addition, the expropriation of banks, energy and pharmaceutical companies in private hands are fundamental levers for restoring to States and peoples the ability to face the difficult challenges they face. The cancellation of illegitimate debts and a radical change in the organization and functioning of the global financial and monetary system are also survival needs for humanity.

Summing it Up: the course followed by the global economy is socially and ecologically unsustainable and the expropriation of great fortunes are not only just measures – morally, economically and politically – but also imperative.

* Pedro Miguel Cardoso is a researcher in political and ecological economy.

Originally published on the portal Brazil 247.


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