Dangers of a dual society

Juan Luis Cebrián, the former director of a prestigious Spanish newspaper, said that we are on the verge of facing the huge problem of having a dual society, where almost half of the population lives on the limits of subsistence. In his conversations with another journalist he made observations that shake us in the middle of the development of a digital revolution. That half of the humanity “are not recognized citizens, they will never belong to a middle class, they will never receive an education or the minimum natural resources to live with dignity. It’s about a society where slavery and absolute poverty will coexist with the most advanced science and investigation, with worldwide communication in real time.” This will create more possibilities of violence, which will be labeled as terrorism by many.
The transformation of the financial economy in the last twenty years is leading us towards the interdependence of the decisions that some people make regarding living conditions, wealth or poverty of millions of people in the world. This alarms analysts and observers because these decisions are not always made by representative governments, but rather by agents of the markets that escape from traditional political controls. This exposes and weakens the pretended superiority of democratic systems that Western powers aim to impose to the rest of the world. Without asking them for their opinion and without taking into consideration their traditions and their culture, which are at least as respectable as our Euro centrism, the American way of life, born out of a Judeo-Christian civilization than leaned on Greek-Roman cultural systems.
It is insane to believe in a cultural superiority only because it dominated during the last four centuries! We are already starting to pay its consequence, since immigration, among other unavoidable phenomena, brings us the rich and multiform voices of Islam, of Eastern civilizations and the even more profound African one, full of promises that European colonizers despised over ignorance, while they vowed to develop their “three C program”: Christianity, Civilization and Commerce.
That dual society is particular because public powers govern, more than anything, for concrete sectors of the population, like in so many countries of Latin America, Asia and Africa, and even in the United States recently. Globalization not only controls the economy, but also organized crime, prostitution, drug trafficking, the black market of weapons and even terrorism.
The danger grows even more in the spheres of communication and in the digital revolution.
We parody the wizards without being able to control a present that we don’t know where it’s leading us because something is changing very fast without us realizing it fully.
The authors of the book question whether we would need a universal government with powers to make decisions on certain matters that affect the whole humankind. And Cebrián claims that a world government that is not necessarily democratic or representative already exists.
The economy is already controlled at a global scale, not by the national governments or by the institutions that emerged from Bretton Woods because the measures taken by the Reserve or by the Central Bank are motivated by the behavior of economic agents that escape from the governments’ control. Now, national governments cannot define the quantity of money that is printed because they cannot control the agents that operate in the system of international payments. The system is more global each day and more independent of the political powers chosen by the people.
“The global authority exists in the economy and in the world of computer science.” Large transnational monopolies that are provoked more by the demands of the new technologies than by the mere greed of their owners. Once more, the creature rises against its creator like in the myth of Pygmalion. Because we are able to do more things than what we know and a few have infinitely more then what they can administrate without damaging millions of human beings reduced to market objects, to labor force, or simply ignored by the system. A world government would only be imaginable if it governed concrete things and it is very difficult to imagine how it would be chosen. Furthermore, a government of that sort that aimed at being efficient would need a coactive force that today seems unimaginable. In the mean time, more than half of humanity does not ask for more than for something to eat, to receive an education and to have basic healthcare.
It is not only about the threat of the new hegemonic power that pretends to control the sources of energy and the crucial geopolitical places. It’s also about the survival of the human specie to which supranational institutions capable of imagining and organizing more just relationships in a global scale, with more solidarity, have to respond. The world has become embraceable and us people know we are responsible. The models that have governed us until now and the power relations that originated as a result have to be substituted because a human wave can rise in a blind and uncontrolled way as a result of not being able to bear degrading, undignified and, the worst, senseless life conditions.

José Carlos Gª Fajardo
Translated by Carlos Miguélez

This article was published in the Center of Collaborations for Solidarity (CCS) on 05/03/2005