Guillermo Sullings: The rich get richer and the poor get poorer

22.05.2018 - Madrid, Spain - Redacción Madrid

This post is also available in: Spanish, French

Guillermo Sullings: The rich get richer and the poor get poorer

Economist, Guillermo Sullings, author of the book “At the Crossroads of Humanity’s Future: the steps towards the Universal Human Nation” talks about the difference between globalisation and planetarisation, the European Humanist Forum, neoliberalism and how to surpass it, and the International Monetary Fund in Macri’s Argentina, in this interview for Pressenza

The video comes with English subtitles.  The full translated transcription is below.

So, we’re with Guillermo Sullings, economist and author of the book “At the Crossroads of Humanity’s Future”.  We have a question for you.  Today, we’re seeing that the gap, the difference between rich and poor is getting wider and wider.  What can be done?

Well, the solution is simple and hard at the same time, no?  It’s simple because in reality there is wealth enough for all human beings to be able to live well, if it would be differently distributed, and difficult because obviously those who have that wealth, also have the power to avoid it being distributed differently.

But I believe that the possible way out is through real democracy because through real democracy people can really have power and distribute wealth in favour of the people and not in favour of the few.

The problem is that the formal democracy we have today means that the few who have economic power are the same as those who have political power.  So, in order to be able to distribute wealth, and to generate global development, power must be taken away from big global capital, directly taking the money away and invest it in production so that the whole world develops and that there is a fair distribution.

Now, for that, there must be a great political power in all countries of the world, not only in one country, and in order to have great political power, we have to remove the leaderships in formal democracies that depend on economic power today, so that the people take power in their hands through a real democracy.

Then, the economic distribution mechanisms are simple.  From this point of view it’s simple; what’s difficult is from the political point of view.

In your book, you talk about the steps towards the Universal Human Nation, but what is it? What would a Universal Human Nation be?

Well, human beings, since the time of caves, then tribes, city-states, and later on nations, have been converging, broadening a level of integration, and today no one is in any doubt that the world is more integrated, cultures are converging, people are communicating more and more.  In other words that the world is tending to be one is the reality of a historical tendency.  The problem and the question that we must ask is, is that world going to be controlled by multinationals, global financial power, by one or several military powers, by a political bureaucracy; or will it be a world that really converges, where people can decide about their destiny, about their future and live with dignity?

As humanists, we believe that that’s the possibility that we need and what we’re working for, but today the world’s going in another direction.  So we have to change a few things in order to be able to change that direction.  That direction with a world without violence, without wars, without discrimination, with fairness in distribution of wealth of the world that we all aspire to, is what we call the Universal Human Nation.

We could say that that tendency towards unification of the world, but controlled by concentrated powers, economic power, military power, the superpowers, is what we know as globalisation.  We prefer to talk about planetarisation when we talk about convergence among cultures, of that unity between peoples that tends to converge in a Universal Human nation.  This is what we call planetarisation, in contrast to globalisation.

How have you enjoyed the European Humanist Forum?

It’s been all very interesting.  I think that first of all, this Forum has demonstrated that humanism is alive and is still keen to move forward with its dreams of a Universal Human Nation, precisely the dreams that were cultivated over decades in the Humanist Movement, which is the Universalist Humanism founded by Silo 50 years ago.

So, I think that this forum is a sign of a re-start and a re-launch of this human intention of convergence towards the Universal Human Nation and, hopefully, this convergence between different countries that have developed many working areas very well, and that will return to their places to continue in contact with other organisations and develop a genuine network in function of the Universal Human Nation, hopefully this will be repeated also in Latin-American, in other continents, and in some moment we’ll be able to converge in some World Forum where we can take concrete steps towards that Universal Human Nation.

Yesterday, Clarin (An Argentine newspaper) published an article that quoted a humanist slogan from more or less 1980, “Nothing for the IMF”, and now we’re seeing that Macri’s government is going back to the IMF to ask for money.  What would you like to say as an economist?

Yes, sure. I saw the article in Clarin.

Obviously, Clarin has a neoliberal, right-wing view so it thinks the IMF is very good so the article was biased against any kind of protest against the IMF, and, as Clarín points out, Humanism was at the vanguard of that protest.

This phrase “Nothing for the IMF” was a phrase cultivated by humanists in 1984-1985 after the founding of the Humanist Party because in those days the IMF was disciplining Argentina and all of Latin-America through foreign debt.  And even though it had been contracted by military dictatorships and international financial capital, the economies of those countries still had to follow the economic policies, the dictates of the IMF.

So “Nothing for the IMF” was a way of saying let’s not pay the foreign debt contracted by military governments and let’s not follow the economic policy imposed by the IMF.

They were times of a lot of protest against the IMF.  Humanism was at the vanguard of the protest.  That phrase is a symbol of those days.  I remember that there was a drawing of a pig symbolising the IMF and “Nothing for the IMF”, the expression in Spanish was a very Argentinian way of saying you’ll get nothing from us.

And, well, that article in Clarin is reminiscent of those times because now Argentina, with a new neoliberal government like Macri’s rapidly, after the previous government eliminated the country’s debt, rapidly put the country back into debt and today it has to go back to the IMF to continue borrowing and to follow their rules like never before.

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