[Marxism] Interview - How the rich stay rich
dmozart1756 at gmail.com
Sat Nov 25 11:12:16 MST 2017
*DH: As I was reading your book, I was thinking that this interest in
protecting wealth, rather than creating it, seems symptomatic of a certain
senescence creeping into capitalism. It reminds me of an older person
moving out of growth stocks into municipal bonds, and it’s all about
capital preservation. We haven’t mentioned how the bankers are somewhat
contemptuous of this goal. But what does it say about the state of
capitalism that these immense fortunes are sequestered; not so much engaged
with expansion of the system but are being kept from the prying eyes of
government or relatives?*
BH: People who claim to love capitalism and care about capitalism thriving
should be very worried about this, because what this concentration of
capital in an increasingly small group of people’s hands means is that the
economic system is ossifying. It’s going backwards towards feudalism, where
wealth was tied up generation after generation among a very small group of
families. That’s exactly what we see happening now.
You may have seen that every year, Oxfam produces a study in which they
count the number of people whose wealth exceeds that of the poorest 50
percent of humanity. In 2010, that number was above three hundred. In 2017,
as of January, it was eight. The number of people who could fit into an
extra-large golf cart now own wealth equivalent to the bottom 50 percent of
humanity. That’s neo-feudalism, and we’re already seeing the consequences
in the extreme decline of upward mobility in the US.
Now when you get an inheritance in the US, that doesn’t just benefit
children or grandchildren of the original rich people. It has a knock on
effect to the fifth or sixth generation. Meanwhile, most Americans,
especially African Americans, have nothing; nothing but debt when they die.
Whereas a very tiny group of people at the very top of the socioeconomic
scale have billions to distribute to their heirs when they die. We’ve
essentially re-feudalized ourselves.
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