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22 agosto 2011 1 22 /08 /agosto /2011 23:35

In the United Kingdom after Margaret Thatcher, and in the United States after Ronald Reagan, and in the world in general, great social inequality is growing.

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Gobernados por ciegos e irresponsables
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2011-08-19

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Afinando los muchos análisis hechos acerca del conjunto de crisis que nos asolan, llegamos a algo que nos parece central y sobre lo que toca reflexionar seriamente.

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Las sociedades, la globalización, el proceso productivo, el sistema económico-financiero, los sueños predominantes y el objeto explícito del deseo de las grandes mayorías es consumir y consumir sin límites.

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Se ha creado una cultura del consumismo propalada por todos los medios. Hay que consumir el último modelo de celular, de zapatillas deportivas, de ordenador. El 66% del PIB norteamericano no viene de la producción sino del consumo generalizado. Las autoridades inglesas se sorprendieron al constatar que, entre quienes promovían los disturbios en varias ciudades, no solamente estaban los habituales extranjeros en conflicto entre sí, sino muchos universitarios, ingleses desempleados, profesores y hasta reclutas. Era gente enfurecida porque no tenía acceso al tan propalado consumo. No cuestionaban el paradigma de consumo sino las formas de exclusión del mismo.

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En el Reino Unido, después de M. Thatcher, y en USA después de R. Reagan, así como en el mundo en general, va creciendo una gran desigualdad social. En aquel país, los ingresos de los más ricos se incrementaron en los últimos años 273 veces más que las de los pobres, según informa Carta Maior el 12/08/2011.

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Por eso, no es de extrañar la decepción de los frustrados ante un «software social» que les niega el acceso al consumo y ante los recortes en el presupuesto social, del orden del 70%, que los castiga duramente. El 70% de los centros recreativos para jóvenes fueron simplemente cerrados.

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Lo alarmante es que ni el primer ministro David Cameron ni los miembros de la Cámara de los Comunes se tomaron el trabajo de preguntar el por qué de los saqueos en las distintas ciudades. Respondieron con el peor remedio: más violencia institucional. El conservador Cameron dijo con todas las letras: «vamos a detener a los sospechosos y publicaremos sus caras en los medios de comunicación sin importarnos las preocupaciones ficticias con respecto a los derechos humanos». He aquí una solución del despiadado capitalismo neo-liberal: si la orden que es desigual e injusta lo exige, se anula la democracia y se pasa por encima de los derechos humanos. Y esto sucede en el país donde nacieron las primeras declaraciones de los derechos de los ciudadanos.

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Si miramos bien, estamos enredados en un círculo vicioso que puede destruirnos: necesitamos producir para permitir el tal consumo. Sin consumo las empresas van a la quiebra. Para producir, necesitan los recursos de la naturaleza. Estos son cada vez más escasos y ya hemos dilapidado un 30% más de lo que la tierra puede reponer. Si paramos de extraer, producir, vender y consumir no hay crecimiento económico. Sin crecimiento annual los países entran en recesión, generando altos índices de desempleo. Con el desempleo, irrumpen el caos social explosivo, depredaciones y todo tipo de conflictos. ¿Cómo salir de esta trampa que nos hemos preparado a nosotros mismos?
Lo contrario del consumo no es el no consumo, sino un nuevo «software social» en la feliz expresión del politólogo Luiz Gonzaga de Souza Lima. Es decir, urge un nuevo acuerdo entre un consumo solidario y frugal, accesible a todos, y los límites intraspasables de la naturaleza. ¿Cómo hacer? Existen varias sugerencias: el «modo sostenible de vida» de la Carta de la Tierra, el «vivir bien» de las culturas andinas, fundado en el equilibrio hombre/Tierra, la economía solidaria, la bio-socio-economía, el «capitalismo natural» (expresión desafortunada) que intenta integrar los ciclos biológicos en la vida económica y social, y otras.
Pero cuando los jefes de los Estados opulentos se reunen no hablan de estas cosas. Ahí se trata de salvar el sistema que está haciendo agua por todas partes. Saben que la naturaleza ya no puede pagar el alto precio que el modelo consumista cobra. Ya está a punto de poner en peligro la supervivencia de la vida y el futuro de las próximas generaciones. Estamos gobernados por ciegos e irresponsables, incapaces de darse cuenta de las consecuencias del sistema económico-político-cultural que defienden.
Es imperativo un nuevo rumbo global, si queremos garantizar nuestra vida y la de los demás seres vivos. La civilización científico-técnica que nos ha permitido niveles exagerados de consumo puede poner fin a si misma, destruir la vida y degradar la Tierra. Seguramente no es para esto para lo que hemos llegado a este punto en el proceso evolutivo. Urge tener valor, osadía para cambios radicales, si es que todavía nos tenemos un poco de amor a nosotros mismos.

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Leonardo Boff - Theologian - Earthcharter Commission

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Ruled by the Blind and Irresponsible

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Leonardo Boff  - Theologian - Earthcharter Commission

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Looking carefully at the many analyses of the crises that are destroying us, we see something that seems central, and about which we must think seriously.

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Societies, globalization, the process of production, the economic-financial system; the predominant dream and the explicit object of the desire of the great majority is to consume, and to consume without limits.

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A culture of consumerism has been created and is propagated by the media. We must have the latest models of cell phones, training shoes, and computers. 66% of the Northamerican GNP does not come from production, but from general consumption. British authorities were surprised to learn that, among those who created the disturbances in many cities, were not only the usual foreigners in conflict with each other, but many college students, unemployed, teachers; and even soldiers.

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They were people enraged because did not have access to consumption. They did not question the consumption paradigm, but questioned the means of excluding them from that paradigm.

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In the United Kingdom after Margaret Thatcher, and in the United States after Ronald Reagan, and in the world in general, great social inequality is growing.

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In the United Kingdom the income of the wealthiest has increased 273 times as much in recent years as that of the poor, according to Carta Maior, of 08/12/2011. Because of that, there is no surprise in the disappointment of the frustrated, who face a «social software» that denies them access to consumption and forces them to confront the cuts in the social budget, 70% of which falls punishingly hard on them: 70% of the youth recreation centers were simply closed.
What is alarming is that neither Prime Minister David Cameron nor the members of the House of Commons took the time to ask themselves the whys of the looting in so many cities. They responded with the worst remedy: more institutional violence. Conservative Cameron said, emphasizing every word: «we will detain the suspects and will publish their faces in the mass media and we could care less about the fictitious worries about human rights». This is the solution of pitiless neo-liberal capitalism: if an order that is unequal and unjust demands it, democracy is annulled, and human rights are ignored. And this happens in the country where the first declarations of the rights of the citizens were born.
If we look carefully, we can see that we are embroiled in a vicious cycle that can destroy us: we need to produce to allow such consumption. Without consumption, enterprises go broke. Resources of nature are needed to produce. These resources are ever more scarce and we have already disposed of 30% more than what the Earth can replace. If we stop extracting, producing, selling and consuming there will be no economic growth. Without annual growth countries fall into recession, generating high rates of unemployment. With unemployment, explosive social chaos erupts, degenerating into all types of conflicts. How can we get out of this trap that we have set for ourselves?
The opposite to consumerism is not non-consumption, but a new «social software» as expressed by political expert Luiz Gonzaga de Souza Lima. That is, we urgently need a new agreement, between a frugal and solidarian consumption, accessible to all, and the limits of nature that must be respected. How to do it? There are several suggestions: the «sustainable way of life» of the Earth Charter, the «good living» of the Andean cultures, founded on the equilibrium human being/Earth, the solidarian economy, the bio-socio-economy, the «natural capitalism» (unfortunate expression) that attempts to integrate the biological cycles in the socio-economic life, and others.
But when the heads of the wealthy States get together, they do not talk about these things. They try to save a system that is leaking everywhere. They know that nature can no longer pay the high price charged by the consumerist model. It is already endangering the survival of life and the future of generations to come. We are ruled by blind and irresponsible leaders, incapable of understanding the consequences of the economic-political-cultural system they defend.
A new global path is imperative, if we want to guarantee our lives and the lives of all other living beings. The scientific-technical civilization that has allowed us exaggerated levels of consumption can ruin that civilization itself, destroying life and degrading the Earth. It is certainly not to such an end that we have reached this point in the process of evolution. We must have the courage and daring to create radical change, if we still have a little of love for ourselves.

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Leonardo Boff   - 08-19-2011

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"¿Quiénes son los rebeldes?", por Jon Lee Anderson 

OTAN logra estrategia de apoderarse de recursos libios tras seis meses de ataques  

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London's richest people worth 273 times more than the poorest

Academic argues in new book that society has the widest divide since the days of slavery

  The Guardian, Wednesday 21 April 2010

London is most unequal city in the developed world, with the richest tenth of the population amassing 273 times the wealth owned by the bottom tenth – which creates a "means chasm" not seen since the days of a "slave owning society", according to a new book. 

In Injustice: Why Social Inequality Persists published by Policy Press, Danny Dorling, a professor of human geography at Sheffield University and an expert on social disparity, paints a bleak picture of an extremely unjust Britain where differences in wealth have led to a profoundly divided society. 

Dorling said Labour had managed to stop the gap in incomes from getting bigger, but this had not stopped the rich getting richer. The wealthiest had amassed assets such as second homes and expansive stock portfolios. 

He says the government's latest figures show that in the capital the top 10% of society had on average a wealth of £933,563 compared to the meagre £3,420 of the poorest 10% – a wealth multiple of 273. 

"Other comparable cities like New York, Stockholm, Sydney ... have wealthy people, but not as many wealthy people as London," said Dorling. "There is an inbuilt bias towards inequality in UK society today. 

"We are getting wealth inequalities in London now as far as we know that have not been seen since the days of a slave-owning elite. The lesson is that it is not enough to just stop the disparity in incomes from getting bigger – you have to make it smaller to stop wealth inequality from getting worse." 

This wealth gap has produced an alarming health gap – with the life expectancy at birth of the richest group rising by a year annually, while the poorest are seeing almost no rise at all. In 2008, a female born in London's exclusive Kensington and Chelsea could expect to live until 88 and nine months – a year earlier she would have reached 87.9. In Glasgow, by contrast, where women were expected to live until 77.1 in 2007, the rise was only a month to 77.2 in 2008. 

"You have rich people living longer and longer, while life expectancy has all but stalled for the poor," says Dorling. 

In Europe, only Portugal appears more unequal than Britain. Instead of seeking to reduce inequalities, Dorling argues, Westminster politicians simply accept that it is unfortunate but inevitable, rather than seeing it as undoing the "warp and weft of society". 

The result is that the affluent have been allowed to lose touch with the everyday norms of society. The academic points out the cost of a flat in the City of London rose by 24% to almost £450,000 in 2009. 

"Prices jumped at a time of recession. The rich really aren't like us ... they operate in a different world," said Dorling. 

This segregating effect means that the wealthiest are "socially excluding themselves by choice". 

"[The rich] are no longer even thinking of sending their children to the same schools as others, nor having holidays that in any way resembled the norm, nor having salaries that bore any resemblance to national averages, nor relying on the same health services as others ... as far as we can tell, at no other time had so many people in countries like the United Kingdom not felt part of the societies there," he said. 

The effect on politics has been the dramatic "super concentrating" of the Conservative vote in a series of wealthy constituencies in areas such as the south- east. By 2005, one in six Tory voters would have to shift from some of the most Conservative seats to other party strongholds to spread the Tory vote equally across the country. 

Dorling says this "geographical polarisation in underlying beliefs is where David Cameron finds his party". In the past, this feature of Conservative voters, combined with large now inequalities, has led to a "decade of political instability". 

"The last time the Tory vote was so geographically concentrated was when we had a similarly unequal society in 1918. The result was a decade of instability, with a coalition government between the Liberals and the Conservatives. It means this election is about real choices." 

           

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