Tyranny of the one per cent by Serge Halimi

Tyranny of the one per cent

Serge Halimi is an editor of Le Monde diplomatique.

“Some revelations come as little surprise. It’s not really news that some politicians love money and like to spend time with those who have lots of it. Or that they sometimes behave like a caste that is above the law. Or that the tax system favours the affluent, and that the free circulation of capital enables them to stash their cash in tax havens.

The disclosure of individual transgressions should lead to scrutiny of the system that created them. But in recent decades, the world has been changing at such a pace that it has outstripped our analytical capacity. With each new event — the fall of the Berlin Wall, the emergence of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), technological advances, financial crises, Arab revolutions, European decline — experts have fallen over themselves to announce the end of history or the birth of a new world order.

Beyond these premature birth and death notices, three main, more or less universal, tendencies have emerged which warrant initial exploration: the marked rise in social inequality, the disintegration of political democracy and the decline of national sovereignty. Every new scandal is like a pustule on a sickly body: it allows us to see each element of this trio re-emerge separately and operate together. The overall situation could be summed up thus: governments allow their political systems to drift towards oligarchy because they are so dependent on the mediation of an affluent minority (who invest, speculate, hire, fire and lend). If governments balk at this abandonment of the popular mandate, international pressure from concerted financial interest ensures they topple.

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” As we all know only too well, the first article of the Declaration of Human Rights has never been strictly observed…

Illuminating the real workings of what happens, the mechanisms through which wealth and power have been captured by a minority who control both markets and states, requires a constant effort to educate the public. It would remind people that any government ceases to be legitimate when it allows social inequalities to grow, ratifies the crumbling of political democracy, and accepts the subordination of national sovereignty.

Every day, there are signs of the people’s rejection of illegitimate governments — at the ballot box, in the streets, in the workplace. Yet despite the severity of the crisis, they are groping for alternative proposals, half believing they do not exist, or else would come at too high a price. Thus the growing frustration and despair. Fresh ways out are urgently required.”

to read Serge Halimi’s article published on May 1, 2013 in Le Monde diplomatique English edition, click on


This entry was posted in Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply