Without reciting classical critical theories on social class divisions, (Marxists, et al.) one can easily observe, even decidedly conclude, that our polarized world is increasingly breeding grave resentments which might well lead to transformative revolutions in the not so distant future. Inequality between and within countries has now reached a level of discord that is not going to be managed using old tricks. The prevailing lopsided global economic regime continues to add wealth to the already rich, while dispossessing the majority. In the parlance of the radicals, ‘revolutionary situations’ are now present in almost all nation states of the world system, awaiting the emergence of quality political leadership to lead the way!
For our purpose, we will heuristically define ‘workers’ as all those who have to earn their keeps by actually doing something tangible. It includes those who are directly and materially engaged in producing goods and services to society at large. Therefore, this category of ‘workers’ includes small private enterprises, as well as genuine entrepreneurs. Defining capitalists as those who ‘own’ means of production might have had its analytic use in centuries past. However, in today’s debt infested global economic regime, where actively engaged capitalists/companies are up to their eyeballs in debt, tax burden, etc., the very idea of ownership has become a source of contention. In reality, so-called owners have been transformed into mere slaves, sweating it out to satisfy the excessive greed of their financial bosses, i.e., banks, etc. In all honesty, very few owners/companies can claim to have real, not phantom net worth (positive equity) in their businesses (productive assets). Market valuations being what they are today (detached from real clearing prices) wealth cannot be accurately calculated using traditional parameters. The once conventional price discovery mechanisms are now lost to the fantasies of speculative finance. Hence, our simplistic definition of ‘workers’ justifiably encompasses almost anyone and everyone in the world, except the few privileged parasites of high finance. These parasites differ from the rest of us in one crucial respect; they are the premiere thieving goons of late modernity!
By and large, ‘parasites’ are those who unduly/unfairly benefit from the maliciously structured world system. The continuous dispossession of the working stiff by the officially designated parasites is one of the built-in features of the system’s accumulation process. The category of parasites includes, amongst others, politicians on the pay of corporations, banksters, unicorn companies, etc. The facilitators are the old culprits; lawyers, accountants, media, security personnel, etc. If truth be told, parasites and workers have been marching on their separate ways since 1971, to put a date on the currently accelerating polarizing process. It all started when money freed itself from the various restrictions put upon it by the Bretton Woods Agreement-1944. It is the beginning of an era when the global parasitic class was allowed to systemically undermine hard-earned money. Creating phony money in abundance, to steal the sweat/labor time of the working stiff, earnestly began in 1971. 1971 was the year when the convertibility of the US Dollar to gold was severed. The 1944 agreement stipulated that all currencies of countries were to be pegged to the US dollar and in turn the dollar was to be fixed at $35 to an ounce of gold. In other words, since 1971, countries were allowed to create as much money as they want from thin air without any restriction, as previously imposed by the gold standard! This crucial decision triggered the inflationary regime of late modernity and by extension the immiseration of workers all over the world.
Workers in the rich countries have started to articulate alternatives to liberate themselves from the polarizing world order. Brexit, Trumpism, Yellow vests, Italian politics, Catalonia’s secession, Greece’s economic contraction, etc., etc., are all manifestations of deepening disgruntlement. In the in-between countries or what are called the semi-peripheries, like that of East Europe and South America, one can expect more chaos to unfold. In the poorer countries of the south, violent resistance to the prevailing paradigm is already underway. Distressingly, there seem to be no visible trajectory as well as capable leadership to lend a helping hand. Instead, it is the primordial instincts of ‘identity politics’ that is currently in play (Ethiopia, et al.) Don’t forget; our elites, for the most part, have no clue as to what is happening in the world system. These dimwits of Africa are only capable of stupidly imitating what has stopped working elsewhere. Articulating a smart strategy to find a way out of the quagmire, frankly speaking, is way beyond our current elites’ intellectual, cultural, emotional, spiritual capacity! So suffer we must!
In Ethiopia, those occupying state power have managed to create a virile breed of parasitic goons, fronting as entrepreneurs and business people, oligarchs more appropriately. Ethiopia’s Mafiosi State, which has been dominating the formal state for almost three decades, was interested (more than anything) in the institutionalizing nepotism, ethnic fixations, grand political corruptions and the likes. These psychopathic politicos occupying state power cultivated a system of ‘rent seeking’ par excellence. Even the formal sector was not spared. Ethiopia’s banking sector, which exhibits the classic symptoms of a Ponzi scheme, is a case in point. For example if one invests in the banking sector, one is guaranteed to get, at the minimum, a 30% annual dividend. At least this is how it has been so far in the Mafiosi dominated financial sector. On the other hand, if a worker takes out a loan from the bank to start a legal business, she is unlikely to get a 30% return scot-free, given the various hustles associated with the normal operation of a business enterprise (payroll, cost of goods, utilities, rent, taxes, etc.) This example perfectly illustrates what we have been trying to say in the above paragraphs. Parasites make money and workers get dispossessed. Something has to yield!
Unless systemic effort to redress past grievances is initiated, trust in the system will not be recovered, rhetoric aside. The highly misguided policy of parasitic/criminal accumulation, facilitated by the ‘Mafiosi State’, will only lead to violent disaster, under various guises (ethnic, religion, etc.) This column has been advocating for the institutions of a comprehensive integrity system, overseen by the kosher elements of society, for almost two decades, but to no avail.
This article was first published in 2019