Pandora Papers is not the entire Pandora’s Box; but a part of it only. The full picture is yet to emerge, in one sense, and in another sense, the whole is already perceptible.
The way the rich have their wealth, the way they accumulate, the way they hide, the way they deceive, the way they deprive, the way they lie are in the Pandora Papers. It’s not a tale of only a king, of a few powerful and a few politicians – a section of seemingly magicians. The Papers, as like their earlier friend, Panama Papers, convey a single fact: Exploitation, an exploitative system, the system’s power.
If that wealth of the rich is compared with the “wealth” the poor of the world own, if that power is compared with the “power” the poor of the world “wield”, the inequality’s brutality stands under sun – open, stark, it’s barbaric. The lie, the deception are two of the sharpest, most effective and functional weapons the rich employ against the people, the working people – the social force that produces the wealth at societal level but stolen by the rich.
Whose hands are behind the exposure – is not the only question related to the exposure. The exposure explains itself – the exposure is a part of factional fight among the wealthy at world level. But, the question that should also be in agenda is the system itself – what and how is the system that gives birth to such rich, such theft, such deception, such lie? The question that should also be in agenda is the “wealth” and “power”, if any, and even, if non-existent, of people, the poor, especially the working persons producing wealth and being deceived by the wealthy. The question that should also be in agenda is the relations between such wealth and power, essentially political power, used to do misdoings – theft, lie, deception. This is the question of inequality of political power – the question missed most of the time by most of the mainstream economists discussing inequality. An amazing business it’s!
There’s law, a gamut of law; and the purpose pronounced powerfully and forcefully behind enacting the gamut of law is execution of justice, execution of equity, kick out theft and deception. All the business the Pandora Papers show is an execution of law – the way it’s executed. No enactment could prohibit the deception. Whatever was done by the rich – floating of companies, transfer of money or capital, etc. – was by faithfully following all laws. The system of law, so, can’t escape the very question – what were you doing Sir when such a great business with such a great amount of money was transacted? Are you ineffective or a party to it? A sleeping partner, are you? Has this been enacted only to hoodwink the ordinary tax payers, the person begging on a street in Karachi, the mother with her hungry children in Lebanon, the person searching for medical treatment in a dysfunctional health care system in a capitalist economy that accumulates profit from the health care system it has elaborately set up?
There are executioners of law enacted to stop theft and “flying away” of capital. There’s supervisory authority keeping eyes open so that all laws related to theft and deception are executed properly. What were these executioners and supervisory authority doing while the theft, the deception – dodging taxes – were carried on by the rich with smile in their faces? Are they, the executioners and the supervisory authority, thus, party to this great job? They are part of the system of taxation and ensuring proper implementation of taxation, revenue, etc.; and thus, haven’t they made the system party to the lie, deception, dodging of tax, loss of revenue? Who the criminals will be, then?
Politics was obviously there behind these thefts, deceptions. Without political clout this system couldn’t have operated, couldn’t have operated for months and years, and thefts, the dodging of taxes, weren’t done in a day, weren’t done once, weren’t done by a single person.
These are difficult questions – difficult to the powerful, the owners of the system that creates and sustains with loopholes to lie, to deceive, that sustains with unequal political power sharing between the exploiter and the exploited.
These are questions unknown to the unaware, to the disorganized, to the political-powerless millions – the masses struggling with hunger in Afghanistan, struggling with poverty in Brazil, struggling with inequality in Nigeria.
But, these questions, instead of superficial and trivial issues, should reach them. But, these questions, in most cases, don’t reach them. The facts are hidden from them – the millions whose labor is stolen by a few.
Thanks to the exposure or the factional fight, whatever that’s. It has provided some facts – facts to understand the system, not only loot, not only theft – dodge tax. The Papers has opened up the powerful’s Pandora’s Box – a system full with theft, deception, lies, and inequality.
Loot – appropriation and expropriation – the exploiters continue with, tricks they follow and lies they propagate to hide their loot, agents they employ to keep people demobilized, to make people fail perceiving the loot-facts and sources and relations of the facts get exposed everyday if the exploiters’ acts and pronouncements are closely observed.
To keep the power of loot intact, the exploiters’ first tact is to wipe out the question of appropriation and expropriation from discussion, and stuff whole agenda with whatever rubbish they produce and collect. This move distracts the exploited, the part of society falling prey to the exploiters, keeps the exploited busy with issues not related to the existence of the exploited, serve the exploiters’ interests, make the exploited get busy with the agenda helpful to the exploiters. The question of loot withers away, thus.
The question of loot is connected to the question of the exploiters’ economic interests – dominance of exploitative system. The question of loot is connected to the question of the relations the exploiters establish – exploitative relations with private property – in the sphere of economy. Private property – capital, made by reproduction of surplus value as a result of exploitation of wage labor, “not a thing, but rather a definite social production relation, belonging to a definite historical formation of society, which is manifested in a thing and lends this thing a specific social character.” (Marx, Capital, vol. III) – is part of the economy. The question doesn’t move without politics – politics of the exploiters. The entire question withers away when these aspects don’t find place in agenda.
It’s regularly, thus, observed in most lands: these questions, essential and urgent to people, regularly go without discussion while questions related to people – of economy and politics – are discussed. Non-essential questions, questions related to the exploiters interests, questions serving the exploiters are discussed in a manner and with such force that push back questions related to people’s interests.
Here’re the tricks the exploiters employ: overwhelm the exploited with problems, so that people don’t get respite – the space required to summarize the hostile situation; make non-questions questions, engage adventurers with the task of raising fiery slogans instead of proper analyses and well-thought out ideas – a task that subverts people’s initiatives for having well-composed ideas and getting organized. A tricky job it’s. The adventurers turn “friends” and “well-wishers”, theoreticians advocating measures that torpedo people’s initiatives, and at the same time, camouflage self-face.
There’re persons subverting organizations people have or whatever initiative people take to claim space while the persons pose as friends of people. Engaging such persons is one of capital’s tasks to counter people. The engaged persons hide self-identity, in the payroll of masters, and spread lies, misinterpret and create confusion.
The question is: What should people do in this perspective? History presents lessons: Get aware, get organized, have organization, have leadership, foil attempts subverting people’s initiatives.
Farooque Chowdhury writes from Dhaka, Bangladesh.