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Economic Dictatorship
by Frei Betto
Monday Mar 12th, 2012 6:51 AM
In the crisis, there was a paradigm based on the belief in unlimited economic growth on a planet with unlimited resources. This paradigm identifies happiness with wealth, well-being with accumulation of material goods and prosperity with consumerism. The logic of accumulation is more authoritarian that all dictatorial systems in history because it ignores cultural complexity and biological diversity and divides humanity into those open to [progress and those without access.

By Frei Betto

[This article published in February 2012 is translated from the German on the Internet, ]

In the 27 countries of the European Union, 115 million people, almost 25 percent of the population, are stricken by poverty and another 150 million are threatened by poverty. In Spain, the unemployment rate is 22.8 percent. Greece and Italy depend on interventions and are governed by prime ministers chosen by the IMF. Ireland and Portugal are insolvent. In Belgium and Great Britain, the street protests make clear that “the party is over.”

Now the central bank of the European Union wants to appoint an auditor to control the budget for every country caught in the crisis. That is the officialization of economic dictatorship. Great Britain and the Czech Republic voted against that. But the other 25 countries accepted the ruling. Whether Greece, the first c country on the list of economic dictatorship, will accept this and subject its accounting to an external control with the loss of its sovereignty remains to be seen.

The present international crisis is radical and far-reaching and cannot be reduced to financial turbulence. In the crisis, there was a paradigm based on the belief in unlimited economic growth on a planet with infinite resources. This paradigm identifies happiness with wealth, well-being with accumulation of material goods and progress with consumerism. All dimensions of life – our life and the life of the planet – live through an accelerated process of commercialization today. Capitalism is the empire of infinite longing that contradicts a finite planet with limited natural resources and a restricted population capacity.

The logic of accumulation is more authoritarian than all dictatorial systems in history because it ignores cultural complexity and biological diversity and commits the grave mistake of dividing humanity into those open to the progress of science and technology and those without access. Its most disastrous aspect is that the accumulation and possession of wealth in the hands of a few is possible by denying and excluding many from ownership.

The question is not whether capitalism will come out of the sickbed of Davos with chances of survival or not, even if it is forced to swallow increasingly bitter medicine as for example abolishing democracy and exchanging the voice of the people for economic auditors and politicians focused on financial management. The question is whether humanity as civilization will survive the collapse of a system that grants civil rights to owners and defines civilization as the consumption-oriented Anglo-Saxon Paradigm.

We recently were Rio +20. This housed that we inhabit – Planet Earth – has experienced astonishing climatic changes. In the summer, it is cold and in the winter it is warm. Lakes and rivers are polluted, the forests devastated and foods contaminated by harmful substances and pesticides. The results are droughts, floods, loss of genetic diversity and the desertification of soil. In the scientific community, there is a consensus that the greenhouse effect, global warming, is a consequence of harmful human activity.

All the past efforts to protect life on the planet have failed. In December 2011, the greatest thing that could be accomplished in Durban (South Africa) was the founding of a study group for negotiations on a new agreement on the greenhouse effect. This should be adopted in 2015 and introduced in 2020! The US EPA has calculated that 564 million tons of greenhouse gases were released in 2010, six percent more than in 2009.

Why is no progress achieved? Because market logic prevents it. The countries of the G* do not propose rescuing human lifer and the life of the planet. No, they want to create an international market for carbon or dirty energy so industrial countries can buy pollution credits from poor or developing countries that have not exhausted their quotas.

What does the UN say? Nothing, because it cannot free itself from the ideological cage of the market. Therefore it proposes to Rio +20 a fraud called the “green economy.” It believes the way out consists in market mechanisms and technological solutions without changing market relations, without reducing social inequality or creating a sustainable, environmentally-friendly world in which everyone has a right to well-being.

The owners and great beneficiaries of the capitalist system – ten percent of the world population – have 84 percent of global wealth and maintain the dogma of immaculate conception, that it is enough to file off the shark’s teeth so it stops being aggressive. [Translator’s note: The 400 richest America ns have more wealth than 180 million people. See Gar Alperovitz’ “America beyond Capitalism)].


BY Ingo Schulze

[These paragraphs published in: Sueddeutsche Zzeitung, February 26, 2012 are translated from the German on the Internet.]

[…] Examples of the new clothes of our community can be found in every area of life. There is hardly an area that can be protected from privatization, commercialization and striving for profit. This is especially bitter in the public health system and education. The new foregone conclusions that gained hegemony at the beginning of the nineties are in force today unchanged. A politics that propagates the logical nonsense of “decisions without alternative” is derived from a world without alternative.

As absurd as it seems to us that everyone in the fairy tale admires the new clothes, so we accept the news that governments must “soothe the markets” and “regain the trust of the markets” as self-evident. In this case, the markets mean the stock exchanges and financial markets, those actors that speculate in their own interest or in the commission of others to make as much profit as possible. Didn’t they take inconceivable billions from the community? Should our highest representatives wrestle for their trust?

Betto, Frei, “Spirituality and Social Justice”

Boff, Leonardo, “Is the Crisis of Capitalism Terminal”

Boff, Ledonardo, “The Cost of Not Listening to Nature”

Lewis, Al, “Capitalism will gladly sells the rope to hang itself”

Biggest Gift the Commons has Received in a Long Time
New videos from Occupy Wall Street's Commons Forum
By Jay Walljasper


Occupy is the biggest gift the commons has received in a long time in this country— Alexa Bradley

Making Worlds, an educational committee of Occupy Wall Street, convened a watershed forum on the commons Feb. 16-18 in Brooklyn.

OTC's program director Alexa Bradley gave a presentation about Reclaiming the Commons, where she stressed that the commons is found "at the intersection of environmental responsibility and restoration, and direct democracy, and social and economic equity."

She goes on to note that, "Occupy is the biggest gift the commons has received in a long time in this country."

"Economic Security Beyond Jobs," Peter Barenes

and "Annie Leonard," Creator of Story of Stuff