The end of the democracy dream is very close. We’ve already taken the first steps into it
This statement by Paul Săndulescu is delivered by our Diplomatic Council Partner Diplomat Magazine.
PLUTOCRACY – Noun
1. Government by the wealthy.
2. A controlling class of the wealthy. (Wiktionary)
PLUTOCRACY – A plutocracy or plutarchy is a society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth or income. (Wikipedia)
PLUTOCRAT – Noun
Someone who rules by virtue of his or her wealth. (Wiktionary)
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE – Noun
1. The branch of computer science dealing with the reproduction or mimicking of human-level intelligence, self-awareness, knowledge, conscience, thought in computer programs.
2. The essential quality of a machine which thinks in a manner similar to or on the same general level as a real human being.
3. A computer system or software package which is artificially intelligent.
4. An intelligent, self-aware computer or computer program. (Wiktionary)
Artificial intelligence is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals. (Wikipedia)
On November 17, 2018, street demonstrations began in France, which proved to be the most extensive and serious of the past decades, even for a country where such movements have a tradition of hundred-years. It is important to keep in mind that they did not have a leadership and were not stirred up by trade unions or opposition political parties. The spark was kindled by the rise in fuel prices (sic!) and the taxes to be introduced from January 1, 2019, but behind them is the general impoverishment of the population, predominantly of the workers and of the middle class, especially in rural and peri-urban areas. The magnitude and violence they came to (including the dead and seriously injured) denote that the roots are deep and spread, although the protests seem to drop in intensity for now. The protesters adopted as distinctive sign the yellow jackets that the law compels the car workers to wear.
Dissatisfaction is general on the global level, not only in France, so the symbol of the yellow vests appears more and more rapidly and more often in the protest movements starting from Europe and reaching North Africa, Middle East and North America, although the claims do not seem to be always the same. Not yet. So, what is it about?
Whether you are aware or not, you are contemporaries to two enormous global currents that feed each other and whose effect you have been feeling for a long time, but for which you are continually intentionally induced to find side causes. It would be great, however, to know the real ones, because they will determine the future of your existence and the course of the events you will be facing.
These two currents are: the ultra-concentration of wealth and the disappearance of the need of people.
In 2014, in New York, plutocrat Nick Hanauer made at the TEDSalon NY2014 the presentation “Beware, fellow plutocrats, the pitchforks are coming“. I invite you to watch it!!! The title itself is suggestive. Note that this warning comes from a plutocrat!
Just three years before, on September 17, 2011, due to social and economic inequality, corruption and the undue influence of corporations on the US government — particularly from the financial services sector, appeared the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. The OWS slogan, “We are the 99%”, refers to the income inequality and wealth distribution in the U.S. between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population.
It is true that after nearly two months, on November 15, 2011, the protesters were forced out of Zuccotti Park, which they occupied, and 2,000 were arrested in New York and 6,000 in the rest of the US. It is true that the movement has lost breath, is true that in 2016 the businessman Donald Trump was elected president, but that does not mean the reasons were not real or have disappeared. On the contrary, they are getting deeper with every day passing.
Nick Hanauer pointed out in 2014 that in 1980 the top 1% of Americans held 8% of the country’s wealth, while the 50% of the lower half of their compatriots shared 18% of it; that in 2010 the top 1% owned 20% of the wealth, while the bottom 50% owned 12% of it; and if this trend persists in 2040 the 1% will own 30% of the wealth, while the 50% bottom will have only 6%. Forbes magazine outlined that in the 1950s a typical US CEO made 20 times the salary of his average worker. In 2018, the ratio rose to 1: 361, but there are cases where it reaches 1:4.987!!! Nick Hanauer has warned that this evolution will transform the modern capitalism into an eighteenth century neo-feudalist rentier society. That the things are much worse on the entire planet, and that the things are accelerating results too from the reports Oxfam presented in two consecutive years to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2016 and 2017.
In 2016, Oxfam warned that compared to 2010, the wealth of the poorest half of the world fell by 1 trillion USD, which means a 38 % reduction (!!!), while the world’s population grew by 400 million over the same period. In the same 6 years, the wealth of the richest 62 people in the world grew by more than half a trillion dollars, so they held half of the world’s wealth in 2016. In 2010, the number of the rich people who owned half the wealth of the world was 388, but it fell steeply from year to year: 177 in 2011, 159 in 2012, 92 in 2013, 80 in 2014, and 62 in 2015! So, wealth is concentrating very fast! This is in the conditions of the great global financial depression, which started in 2007!
In its January 2017 report, Oxfam outlined that, although the previous year’s calculation may have been badly misplaced because it did not have all the data at its disposal (so instead of 62, the rich were probably only 9) the number of those concentrating the wealth of the world narrowed further: early last year only 8 people (Bill Gates, Amancio Ortega, Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim Helu, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, Michael Bloomberg) owned as much as 3.6 billion people. Meanwhile, the number has probably narrowed even more. I do not intend to address the issues of equity, but the question arises for itself: what is the social utility of this accumulation for it to be allowed?
In his turn, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, in a 2015 presentation in Geneva entitled “Capitalism will eat democracy – unless we speak up“, showed that in the democratic process appeared a split: democratic decisions include only the political factors, while the financial and corporate ones, which really influence the lives of the populations of the planet, were totally left on their own. And they finally came to acquire such power that a rumor is circulating that the “Democracy would be banned if it ever threatened to change anything.”
As early as 1923, the Freemason Count Richard Nikolaus von Coudenhove-Kalergi, recognized as the “father” of the European Union constitution, stated that: “Today, democracy is a facade for plutocracy: because the people would not tolerate naked plutocracy, the nominal power is left to them, whilst the actual power rests in the hands of plutocrats. In republican as in monarchical democracies the statesmen are puppets of capitalist masterminds: they dictate the guidelines of the policy, they control voters through the purchase of public opinion, thorough business and social relations controls the Minister” …. “The plutocracy of today is more powerful than the aristocracy of yesterday: because nobody is above it in the country which is their tool and accomplice“.
In France, in December 2018, Macron (a former banker at Rothschild & Cie Banque) admitted nonchalantly that protesters’ anger is “deep and in many ways legitimate” but did not give up to rising the taxes, including increasing the tax for low-income pensioners, the tax for overtime payments and end-of-year bonuses, only just postponed them. On the other hand he refused to reinstate the wealth tax he scrapped upon entering into office.
Besides that, as Nick Hanauer admitted, till now the wealth of the powerful Western countries was based on a strong and large middle class, so absolutely necessary, but throughout history when was needed the masses had their means of struggle needed to improve the situation: strikes, protests, riots, revolutions. The vote is not to be taken into account because we came at the moment when no matter who is in power they are doing what plutocracy “asks”. Just as Richard Nikolaus von Coudenhove-Kalergi said.
What gave people real force was that they were needed by the plutocrats: they were need to work, so to produce value added, therefore wealth; they were needed for the force bodies (to wage wars to seize or defend the seizure, and for the internal guarding of the wealth); were necessary for the government apparatus (for the proper functioning of the society, so that the wealth to continue to be produced).
Only now, with the advent of the Artificial Intelligence and the accelerated replacement of people in all social processes, the need for people disappear so that their democratic means of struggle disappear. Who’s interested if someone goes on strike when he is no longer needed?! Artificial Intelligence is the future evolutionary step, so it is a threat to the survival of the human species is, but this isn’t the aspect I want to bring to your attention, but the present and what’s next: the impoverishment of people and the decrease to extinction of the need of them.
The European Parliament already takes into account the fact that the Artificial Intelligence will “pose a challenge to humanity’s capacity to control its own creation and, consequently, perhaps also to its capacity to be in charge of its own destiny and to ensure the survival of the species“. Consequently, already is preparing the necessary legislation, but in the interest of the Artificial Intelligence. Among other things, its existence will be recognized by law and will be given the right to be employed; insurance companies will be obliged insure the AI for the accidents it causes maliciously, recklessly or carelessly; the companies producing AI will be released from liability for the damage caused by the AI they produced, for the reason that AI has the ability to learn by itself, and they do not have to respond for it.
A former Facebook employee, programmer Antonio Garcia Martinez, has clearly stated that “You do not realize we’re in a race between technology and politics, and technologists are winning, they are way ahead. They will destroy jobs and disrupt economies way before we even react to them“. He is sure that in at most 30 years, half of mankind will remain without jobs, but the beginning is much closer than that: 5, at most 10 years. As a consequence, he bought some land on an island near Seattle, where he is preparing for the wild times to come. And he says that many Silicon Valley IT professionals are doing the same, but on a larger scale.
Antonio Garcia Martinez, however, was optimistic, for Artificial Intelligence had already for long time occupied people’s jobs. If 30-35 years ago you were calling at a company, a centralist was answering; now a robot is responding to you. The doors were opens by a gatekeeper, and now is a robot that opens them. Even the telephone surveys are made nowadays by robots. Until now, the commercial vehicles were driven by professional drivers, but they will to be driven by computers in a short time. This means not only that the drivers will disappear, but traffic police will no longer be needed. The traffic control is done already by computers. And the computers are now recognizing pedestrian faces and overseeing their movements and activities, too. All these are already lost jobs, but also mean the control of the populations through and by the AI.
Note that 5 of the world’s 8 richest people are related to information technology. Their power is illustrated by the fact that Mark Zuckerberg refused to appear in November 2018 in front of an international grand committee of parliamentarians from seven countries. In May 2018, after three refusals to appear before the European Parliament, Zuckerberg eventually presented there, but although lawmakers asked him questions for 60 minutes, he spent less than 10 minutes to skirt them all. On this occasion, Guy Verhofstadt, the chairman of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), asked him if he is “a genius who created a digital monster that is destroying our democracies and our societies“, and Manfred Weber, the leader of the center-right EPP group, the largest in the European Parliament, said “I think it’s time to break Facebook as a monopoly, because it’s already too much power in one hand. So, I ask you simply, can you convince me not to do so?” Zuckerberg refused three times to appear before the British Parliament, but came before Congress in April 2018. Somehow disproportionate the forces in these meetings relationship, right? On one part a plutocrat, who comes to the audiences or not, as he pleases, and on the other hand the elected representatives of the people who prove to be powerless. In fact, it reflects very accurately the report of the world’s wealth owning. You have not forgotten, right? 8 people to 3.7 billion. Who is actually rigging the games is very clear from Zuckerberg’s attitude and behavior.
That the plutocrats have the real power also is seen from the fact that all the companies that have Internet activity, all the software companies, collect the users personal data far beyond their acceptance without taking into account any other considerations apart from the companies own interest. It is very similar to the situation in the Middle Ages, when the senior of the land owned everything you had. As a simple example, I have no preference for Google and I did not allow it to collect my data. However, if I buy a mobile phone (which is a utility), the phone has Google preinstalled and all its affiliate applications. Although I’ve disabled “Location,” and I have not allowed it, Google knows where I live, where I work, where I spend my vacations, where I am at any time. It is following my traffic on the net, the pages I access, my shopping, correspondence, and so it knows my preferences, my relationships, how I relate, think, make choices.
Moreover, Google closes the accounts of those who dare to express their opinions contrary to hyper-liberalism, that is to say against its interests, because democracy and hyper – liberalism are their tools (remember Richard Nikolaus von Coudenhove-Kalergi ) – is selling the private information of those who use the Internet, including the correspondence of its clients, even though they did not agree and did not know this fact. And so on, and so on, and so on. And the people have no choice. If they refuse, they are denied the access to those services. They have just the option to accept the abuse. Much the same option the slaves had, and later the serfs, thralls, servants, bondmen: your accept your enslavement or disappear.
It is, however, incomprehensible how society will operate under the conditions of general impoverishment. The blood of human society is money, and its health requires good circulation of this blood. If people do not have jobs, so they cannot earn their money, if money is concentrated in the hands of 1% or less, how will the human society work? What do plutocrats have in mind???
I am not intending in this article to suggest solutions. These involve a radical general change of thought and cannot be determined by a few pages. And I do not even know if we will get to change something. I cannot, however, not to suggest that the actual functioning of the financial system is wrongly conceived from the start. Three years ago, in September 2015, I have shown that almost all countries have debt, and the debt is growing steadily. At that time, the US had an external debt of USD 18.540 billion (i.e. 106% of GDP), the United Kingdom 406%, France 222%, Germany 145%, Norway 141%, Italy 124%, Switzerland 229%, Hong Kong 334% , Iceland 724%, and Luxembourg 3.443%. China has an external debt of 37.5%, and Russia of “only” 23%. The planet’s total debt amounted to US $ 199,000 billion in the second quarter of 2014, rising US $ 57,000 billion (17%) over the past seven years of a major global financial crisis. The whole planet was indebted in the second quarter of 2014 by 286% compared to the Gross World Product (GWP), compared to 269%, as it was in the fourth quarter of 2007.
It is absolutely understandable that at the moment government budgets are emptied. In addition to the excessive and unnecessary indebtedness, which is siphoning huge volumes of society’s blood (money) towards plutocracy, the traditional method of ensuring a steady budget income, the only one that has been applied so far in history, is the taxation of the masses. It is based only on the certainty that the masses produce income, so that they have the money to pay with. Their income has so far resulted from sales (of products or labor), which meant that, ultimately, human labor was needed. But we came to the moment when the work of masses of people is less and less necessary, so they will not have the money to buy the goods, and ultimately to buy the work of other people. It is an auto-induced process, very similar to a plane’s stall; if the pilot does not intervene, with maximum certainty the flight will end very quickly into a crash.
The loan is useful to any person and any company to develop, so it cannot be abandoned. But would not it be an idea that the loans be granted by the state banks, so that part of the profits go to budgets? A nationalization of private banks is not possible, but they can be subjected to differentiate taxation, say double of the state banks, so they contribute more to the budget, and at the same time the clients would migrate to the state banks.
Perhaps another solution could be the drastic progressive taxation with reaching limits that exceed very much not only the normal needs of lots of generations of middle class people, but even the normal luxury of those in the upper class. We are offered arguments, first of all, by politicians (see Macron) that the rich need the money to create jobs. That is total false, misleading. The politicians are making such statements to justify to the electorate why they are not taking the necessary measures. You should watch the exposition of Nick Hanauer, mentioned above!!!
The amount of money in circulation is the same, no matter who owns it. More jobs are created, and social life goes much more harmoniously, the blood of society, the money, flows much faster and better, the competition is blooming, the political decisions and democracy ultimately work naturally, freely, as they are meant, if wealth is distributed more evenly, not concentrated in the hands of 1% or less of the people.
The very near future is not favorable to you if you are not a plutocrat. I am very sure that the next one is not favorable to them, either, even though they are convinced they will still have the control. The next evolutionary step is Artificial Intelligence, which even plutocracy cannot handle. But until then the big problems are for the 99%. The problems for the other 1%, after that ….. I mean a few years, though.