Dear Mr. Chuckman:
By a fortunate circumstance, I had the opportunity to read your article about Moore and Fahrenheit 9/11 . It was a pleasure to read your excellent observations and comments. They invite a serious reflexion. Sincere congratulations. In this connection, I would like to mention some points, which I believe, are related to the topics you discussed. Before I give you my comments I’d like to mention that I am eighty years old, retired senior economist from the IMF, and reside in Bethesda, MD.
A Jewish friend sent me an email, whose first lines were "I am unhappy with what is going on in Iraq and the terrible world situation". There are many people who feel as she does. We look at the world and what do we see? Civil wars, interracial conflicts, religious animosities, violence everywhere, exploitation, crimes against humanity, and last but not least, increasing poverty. The Iraq disaster is only one pathetic example amongst others that emerge from a problem that is rarely mentioned let alone discussed. When this problem is carefully scrutinized it is easier to understand why mankind is going through these tempestuous times.
Coincidently, I discussed this problem with Dr. Timothy Milford, a bright and well informed professor of American History at Saint John University of New York. Dr. Milford, my grandson and I were having lunch at a restaurant in Queens, New York. The discussion started after I mentioned a comment made by Dr. Heinz Dieterich, a renown German intellectual and professor of Economics at the National University of Mexico.
"Presently" Dr. Dieterich asserted "we have a global system of domination, subjugation and exploitation" He added, "Mankind has fallen in the hands of an elite of approximately ten thousand bankers, industrialists and professional politicians who use the planet resources and the fruit of our work for themselves. They monopolize the benefits of the energy, technology, science, foods, education, and health leaving the majorities in poverty and abandonment" For the majorities only crumbles remain
As a corollary of this situation, I commented, the three virtues of a human being: the critic-rational thought; his esthetic capacity and his ethic potential could not be developed. This fact alone constituted a violation of his most elemental human rights. Therefore to give him back the right to live and develop with dignity mankind had to recuperate the global society and make it its own. Probably the best way to attain this objective is what many intellectuals call the Participatory Democracy. They have already outlined the institutional structure that will support the social environment in which the citizen of a future and better society could and hopefully will live. In other words, they have shown the strategic horizon to guide the people’s progress towards the democratic transformation of present society. The characteristics of a program of t transformation that will lead mankind to the new society, without getting lost along the way have also been outlined.
In this connection I said that some basic facts had to be recalled. It is known that every human being or community must solve four necessities to be able to exist: First, the necessity to eat. From here the economy is born, with its relationships and institutions. Therefore, the economy is the special relation by means of which nature is transformed into goods and services to satisfy the material needs of human beings. Second, the necessity to be understood in order to live, and act in society. The culture emerges from this need with its relations and institutions, that integrate all citizens to society by means of shared language, values, traditions, etc. Third, the necessity to make and implement decisions in the name of the community. The politic arises from this one with its relations and institutions, the State being the most important. And fourth, the necessity to defend physically from aggressions and impositions. The military with its relations and institutions em emerges from this necessity.
Naturally, the quality of life of people and societies depends on how these basic relations and institutions are organized. If they are organized with democratic participation they will be beneficial for all. However, if one leaves the organization of these relations and institutions into the hands of a small group of rich and powerful individuals they will use them for their own benefit and without consideration for others.
I pointed out that this is the situation that prevails in the present global society of the representative democracy and explains why approximately 80 percent of mankind survives with a poor or without any quality of life, while 20 percent – mainly in the First World countries – concentrates 83 percent of the planet’s wealth and have per capita incomes of 25 to 35 thousand dollars a year.
In view of this reality a question comes out by default. How is it possible that a world’s minority has been able to exclude the majority of 5.5 billion human beings from the benefits of work, education and present technology? Or the other way around, why the overwhelming majority of human beings tolerate the tyranny of this small global oligarchy?
The answer is rather elementary. The elite has built a system of domination, exploitation and alienation that embraces the four basic relations of the human beings. It extends from the two centers of world power, the United States and the European Union, to the poverty ridden slums of our inner cities, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
I explained that this system has four fundamental characteristics that ought to be considered as points of departure to design a needed transition’s plan to a better world order.
First of all is vertical and anti-democratic, in other words, it goes from top to bottom. Second, the elite that commands it is the Atlantic bourgeoisie. Third, they use the four basic social relations to exploit and dominate. The fourth characteristic is the system’s capacity to maintain its unity, operational, efficiency and direction through three main institutions, despite the enormous number of activities performed daily by mankind, and the diversity of cultures and levels of technological development They are the national market economy; the formal democracy, and the class State.
As you know these three institutions are untouchable because they support our bourgeois order. They are the bonding agents, which unify the activities of society and ensure the system’s stability, its reproduction and continuity. These institutions are like a light bulb which consolidates the multiple colors of the light spectrum in one single white light or like the gravity center in Physics around which all events turn. For the global elite this institutional structure is final and as far as its members is concerned at this stage mankind has arrived at the end of history.
The market economy, the formal plutocratic democracy and the class State are the very essence of the historical project of our present system. Obviously the functioning and protection of these three institutions is of utmost importance for the global elite, because they ensure the existence of the system that yields to their members substantial economic benefits and power of domination.
This is the way the world is now structured. It is undeniable. On top are the elites with wealth and power. Below, are "the damned of the earth," that is to say, the vast mass of " les miserables du monde". The problem is that many of them, tired of the long history of crimes, exploitation and subjugation by the West have said "Enough!"! They have started to protest and struggle for their rights and dignity to which they feel entitled as human beings. Tired of suffering so much blood, pain and tears they have started to fight in different forms against the Status quo. Probably this is one of the most important reason that explains why the world including our country – is going through these depressing times. On the other hand, it also explains why we attacked Afghanistan and Iraq, have military basis and marines all over the world, have as allies the corrupt elites of the Middle East, we supported the Venezuelan oligarchy in its attempt to overthrow Chavez, and give financial and military aid to the Colombian and Bolivian elites. In all these countries there are substantial reserves of petroleum and gas. They are coveted in order to satisfy our voracious consumerism.
Finally, rest assured that the members of our elite will not hesitate to use the military anywhere in the world, including the United States, to perpetuate their power and protect their privileges. Unfortunately current events have taught that anti-Americanism and terrorism are a result of their policies. State terrorism and private terrorism feed each other. Terrorism is not something which grows spontaneously abroad. In this sense, it is not unreasonable to predict that if they continue, with our government having the leading role, the way they have in recent times even Europeans, in increasing numbers, will start sharing the anti-Americanism of the rest of the world, which is and has been – as a whole – victim of their actions.
A better world is possible and to build it we need to change our policies. The huge amounts of money we waste to produce tools for war and destruction should be devoted instead to improve the quality of life in our country and why not – with the cooperation of other developed countries – in less fortunate nations. In this connection, we should know that one year of our military budget is equivalent to approximately $20.000 per hour for every hour since the birth of Christ. If we could reduce 20% or 30% of our military budget and use the savings, as William Blum, former State Department official, suggested, "to pay reparations to the victims and repair the damage from the many American bombings, invasions and economic sanctions" terrorism would tend to disappear in a relatively short time. If we would also apologize for our misdeeds, Blum also said, terrorism against us would disappear completely.
We should all get together and struggle to change democratically the present Formal Plutocratic Democracy and build the Participatory Democracy, in which we would decide from below, What to Produce, How to Produce, and For Whom to Produce. Fortunately this new Social Project is attainable as shown by theoretical and programmatic contributions made by renown social scientists like Professors Arno Peters and Carl Stahmer in Germany, W.Paul Cockshott and Allin Cottrel in England, Hugo Zemelman and Heinz Dieterich in Mexico, Enrique Dussel in Argentina, etc. This is the only road left now to mankind to have a better world.
Dr. Gilo Muirragui
Senior Economist (Retired)
International Monetary Fund
"America’s Pathetic Liberals: The Sequel"
by John Chuckman