L'article en Néerlandais de Caroline de Gruyter de l'NRC "Dit kapitalisme is gedoemd te mislukken"
On the one hand, with hundreds of laws, legal proceedings and rules, politicians try to keep a grip on everything, while on the other hand, the financial economy is without structure. The undersigned once attempted to clarify this in a pamphlet, the politico-economic illusion:
It shows how 'paperprofit' by businesses leads to the production of more new 'laws and rules' by the government. But in fact we play hide-and-seek behind these paper 'truths', without taking responsibility.
That we cannot take responsibility is somehow logical because what is this all about? About apples or about bureaucratising added value? Moreover, taking responsibility is not interesting economically speaking, because, as a rule, it involves an increase in costs. If possible, you try to pass on the costs to an abstract whole, which has a favourable effect on your profit margin. Obviously, the authorities will eventually find out that something is wrong, so they will devise a new law or rule. Thus, the game of cat and mouse goes on.
The apple should just become an apple again and a euro a euro. But as T.S. Eliot said:Humankind cannot bear much reality.
To be perfectly clear, nobody finds it easy to get their head around this:
We, the government, businesses and the financial world, have created a mechanism based on a trick of creative accounting. Our current political and economic system is in reality one huge accounting scandal. We cling like religious fundamentalists to eternal book (paper) profit, thereby losing sight of daily reality and our responsibilities. From a political perspective, this is a social/liberal delusion, in which the socialists want to use this paper profit for the benefit of society, and the liberals to reward individual initiative. Surprisingly, both suffer from the same malady, that is, their faith in this non-existent paper profit.
Source: The political-economic Decoy, 2004
Nowadays, we all depend on bureaucratic reward. In 2009, Jacques Attali described a G20 meeting in London as: a meeting of alcoholics in a bar. Let me be clear, we are all addicted to our dose of bureaucratic reward, our purchasing power, bringing in more than we actually contribute. Is it possible to return the economic system to some form of natural balance? Without actually questioning the economic dogmas of growth and profit, this seems impossible to me. But what is the real problem in these proceedings?
What has gone wrong, theoretically and hence practically speaking, in the course of time?
Great thinkers all recognised the dangers of concentrating power in a relatively small group of people. From different angles and in different contexts, the “big three” have all given their vision of this: Montesquieu (1689 – 1755,) Adam Smith (1723 –1790) and Karl Marx (1818 – 1883.)
Montesquieu could perhaps be considered the founder of the political separation of powers. Adam Smith knew that an economy profits from individual initiative and maximum participation, with the result that economic communication remains in balance because of mutual competition. Adam Smith can, in a sense, be seen as wanting to keep the economic concentration of power under control by means of a kind of “economic separation of powers”. Mergers and the endless buying up of companies is at odds with this. How can you sum up Karl Marx’s ideas? Maybe he can be regarded as the scientific founder of “social equality”. The isolated role of money in society has alienated man from this social equality so that he lives in a kind of permanent and anxious isolated exile.
For me, these basic precepts do not contradict each other. Rather, they are complementary and integral. It would seem as if we have taken the separation of powers too literally. In the sense of: we are responsible for this and now you are trying to cast doubt on our independent way of working. I don’t interfere in your business either, do I? What I am trying to say is that the separation of powers has taken on dogmatic/technocratic features, and, as a result, the comparative outsider no longer has access to the place that theoretically regards each human being as equal. It makes little difference whether this concerns politics, the economy or the judiciary. By delegating this, specialists/winners keep you at arm’s length because you are, basically, a danger to the “establishment”. Money reinforces the separation of powers, because if you have money today, you let that money communicate for you and you yourself remain inviolable. At the same time, money has reduced the dependence of others, which, in many cases, is extremely positive. The real political and economical trick is to strike a dynamic balance between these. If the market of politics, the law and economics are a meeting of equals with different responsibilities, then we must leave our ivory towers (the technocratic separation of powers) to safeguard what unites us, and we should all, on the basis of our own responsibilities, watch over and strengthen this meeting of “equals”. This can only come from the inside, awareness is not something that you can impose on others.
In my first letter to Prime Minister Balkenende (2 May 2006), I wrote the following in the appendix:
The economy is nothing other than a form of social communication and, therefore, the most important building block of democracy. A lasting reform will only be possible when we show the courage and the will to democratise the economy.
IV. EXPOSÉ RELATIF AUX PRESCRIPTIONS DE L’ARTICLE 35 § 1 DE LA CONVENTION
STATEMENTCONCERNING ARTICLE 35 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION
VERKLARING BETREFFENDE ARTIKEL 35 § 1 VAN HET VERDRAG
The dogmatism behind the assumption that money is in itself worth money in the form of interest and its conditioning of people, politics, economy and the judiciary contravenes the following articles: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 14 and 17 as can be read in the appeal of 4 July 2007:
In this petition, I will limit myself to article 6 (right to a fair trial):
The search for balance is the essence of the legal system and a fair trial. How will the balance of power evolve in society if the basic message is to bring in more than you contribute, make a profit?
Money rules the world. But the power of money remains largely invisible. Few realise that we are living in a global casino in which almost 2 trillion dollars changes hands every day. No less than 98% of this is speculations, i.e. money not used to pay for goods or services. The negative consequences of this are all too familiar: poverty, environmental pollution and chronic lack of time.
From the back cover of The Future of Money by Bernard Lietaer, published in the Netherlands by De Boekerij BV Amsterdam.
What objective hold do politics, the legal system, economic science, and normal people have if growth and profit are the economic objectives? Is five per cent good or maybe twenty? It’s intangible. If the virtual part of the economy is in difficulty, we pump billions into the system to save it, at the expense of the whole. What we achieve by doing that is to save the belief in the system, whilst the rest remains as it was. The existing balance of power is stabilised. Stability is a matter of life and death for all societies but as a constitutional state, we are also obliged to look at the mutual hierarchy of power to see if people are essentially still “equal”. This is only possible if there is a common basis in which people are “equal” and onto which they can always fall back. Legally speaking, this is the constitution and human rights. Politically speaking, this is a bit more vague: winning elections, the general good? It should be the latter, but what constitutes the general good: economic growth and profit?
We have not made it easy for ourselves, but at the same time that’s the success of the system. Thanks to an arithmetic lever, we have managed to turn an apple into an apple plus X per cent. This X per cent is our reward for the effort we have put in. No one has ever been able to explain to me where exactly the added value of the X per cent is, except in the apple itself. The undersigned calls this our bureaucratic faith. This is hardly surprising as this belief works as a lever, a profit catalyst. First there was a plain or very special apple and if you sold it and your costs were lower than your income you had a profit…. on paper. Because in reality, all there was was the apple and whether this makes you a “profit” or a “loss” does nothing to change that. The result was a lot of hocus-pocus about that apple, and what good this has done us, you may well ask. The origin of this bureaucratic technique is found in the financial world, where money in itself is worth money in the form of interest. In actual fact, it’s something we believe or think is true. If we borrow money we have to pay it back and pay interest, which is why we had to come up with something that makes an apple not just simply an apple but an apple plus X per cent.
Fortunately, this can be done in a supply and demand market, where growth and profit are the motors of the economy. Profit is in fact nothing other than the difference in power between the supplier and the demander. A big difference in power gives you extra purchasing power. The West has far more purchasing power than African countries, for example. It doesn’t really make much difference if you have lots of debts, the point is to grow and win, because by doing so your purchasing power increases. Actually, this is an indicator of market dominance, although to uphold the faith, economists and political commentators will use other, more pleasant sounding words to describe it. This is not so much reproach as logic and, in certain respects, of all time.
If we look at the global consumption pyramid, we see that twenty per cent of the richest account for eighty-six per cent of total global consumption – you, and the undersigned, included (Source: UN population fund). The trend in the difference in purchasing power clearly emerges in calculations made by the footprint organisation, i.e. that if every citizen of the world were to have the same average consumption requirements as the Dutch have, we would need five extra worlds. We live beyond our means and that has to be paid for somehow. Evidently, today’s political and economic system has nothing built into it to maintain the balance, such as by using the earth’s own natural renewable production capacity.
II. EXPOSÉ DES FAITS
STATEMENT OF THE FACTS
WEERGAVE VAN DE FEITEN
The undersigned has attempted to expose at law the difference in power between the financial world and the rest of society. This difference in power becomes manifest in the interest that is required to be paid on loans in addition to the redemption sum, making a balanced economic exchange between parties impossible and sending out a hierarchical message that you should bring in more that you have contributed. Applied recurrently, this leads to vertical concentrations of power rather than horizontal economic communication based on constitutional “equality” between people. On the basis of these differences in power, social hierarchy, both public and private, will form and stabilise itself as layers. They called this the caste system in India, apartheid in South Africa, segregation in the USA and fascism in Germany. Religion calls it faith and within the economy, we call it science.
In 2006, the undersigned attempted to raise this subject without obligation in an effort to initiate a discussion with the Dutch Authorities. This correspondence came to nothing, after which the undersigned lodged an objection against a provisional corporation tax assessment.
The best observation made during the entire proceedings was by a tax inspector on 26 March 2007:
The problem that you address is beyond the scope of this notice of objection.
This statement hovered over the proceedings throughout and none of the Dutch legal authorities were brave enough to address the crux of the matter raised. It was solved legally and technically, thus obviating the need to discuss its content.
17 April 2008 Ruling of the District Court of Arnhem, tax section:
Interest forms part of profit.
28 July 2009 Ruling of the Court of Appeal Arnhem, tax section:
Interest forms part of profit
The European Court also charges interest. EHRM, 16 April 2002, S.A. Dangeville v France, Application No: 36677/97
Nowhere has the undersigned contended that interest is not part of profit within the given context. The real issue, the assumption that money is worth money in the form of interest, creates a context in which the government designates the winner in advance. This has turned legitimate economic robbery into a building block of contemporary Western society: bring in more than you actually contribute: the pursuit of profit.
The undersigned does, of course, realise that today’s economic world hinges entirely on this. But if the consequence of this is a recurrent misuse of power and conditioning, then in an open and independent legal system, which is an integral part of society, it must be possible to address the essence at law.
In its ruling of 17 September 2010, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands invoked article 81 of the Dutch constitution:
If the Supreme Court decides that a complaint raised cannot lead to cassation and does not demand that questions of law be answered in the interests of the unity or development of the law, the Court may, when stating the grounds for its decision, confine itself to this ruling.
Neither did the Supreme Court address the content of the charge, thus leaving the bureaucratic power mechanism as it was. Bringing in more than you contribute, the paper translation of profit. This explains why in his book and the documentary made about it, The Corporation*, Joel Bakan clinically diagnoses the business enterprise as legal entity as psychopathic. Nowadays, an enterprise as entity is forced to bring in more than it contributes and as a consequence, it is not able to develop any empathy towards the outside world itself. It is a ‘luxury’ that it cannot afford in mutually competitive surroundings.
Because of the persistent belief in competition, society and individuals allow themselves to be governed by a social hierarchy of winners.
The undersigned has indicated that overestimating the efficiency of competition undermines reason, common sense and just balance.
It was also regularly brought to the fore and suggested during these proceedings that the problems I raised did not belong in a court of law but in parliament. (Tax and Customs Administration, 26 March 2007 Appendix A p. 18) The undersigned remains of the opinion that the assumption that money is worth money in the form of interest is a political choice that has already been made and can therefore be considered at law. This leads me to the question of whether the Dutch legal system believes that something becomes the truth just because a parliamentary majority is in favour of it. For the undersigned that would mean that in the Netherlands, the separation of powers and the independence required to arrive at a legal judgement are, at the very least, heavily under pressure, never mind the spirit of the law.
- Summary of the attempt at entering into a dialogue with the authorities -
Five years ago (in 2006) I entered into a dialogue with the public authorities (and the constitutional state.) The Supreme Court decision has now formally ended this dialogue.
A summary of the attempt at dialogue with the public authorities can be found at:
“Before the law”, the introduction to Orson Welles’ film of Kafka’s book The Trial, is also worthwhile viewing:
En plus une article sympa dans Marianne cette semaine d' Alain Remond "Braillard" ça me va, j'assume. Malheureusement je n'ai pas trouvé un lien.
La "vérité" va être une bataille "de pouvoir" de deux côtés très probablement.
Le grand perdant dans cette histoire va probablement être "la vérité".
Ajouté 5 juillet 2011:
Ajouté 2 janvier 2013: