Wednesday, March 29, 2023

“Provocative society”: Dahlia Namian denounces pornography

The gigayacht of the American Jeff Bezos (world fortune 4), christened Koru, was lying at sea last month when the founder of Amazon received the Legion of Honor from the hands of President Emmanuel Macron. On that day the streets of Paris and other cities in France once again overflowed with protesters against the pension reform.

Now the Chevalier Bezos was at the Elysee in the company of Bernard Arnault, the modern Croesus, who was worth about a third of a million tons. His fortune was built on the most luxurious brands. Money breeds money.

Koru, the largest ship in the world, would cost nearly 700 million. Dutch builder Océanco wanted to demolish a section of the historic De Hef railway bridge in Rotterdam to bring a miracle out of the construction sites. The capital of the city had received the commotion, but when thousands of citizens had promised to throw their eggs into the Koru, the ship at last moored at night to another dock, this open to the open sea.

The very, niche market of pleasure art competing at the end and in power has experienced a meteoric rise since the turn of the 20th century. Superyachts (over 100 feet long) number in the thousands and gigayachts (over 300 feet in length), by hundred

These floating palaces, the ultimate symbols of prosperity and ostentation, mirror the flaws of modern capitalism. On the other hand, they recall the infinite ruling 1%. On the other hand, they pursue and amplify the consequences of economic life.

“In a globalized society, what is surprising about those who could support the highest capital of the seas? He asks Professor Dahlia Namian in his new memoir, La societa de challenge (in Light editor, for involuntary irony…), dedicated to the “obscenely rich” (this is subtle). “Is this not the perfect account of the endless space promised by the liberality of commerce? But this most recent Eden, this paradise — fiscal, regulatory, social — is preserved by the happy few of globalization. For the waves of migrants fleeing from poverty, the ocean represents one of the last lands on earth. In Greece, in this country of the gods, migrants wash up along the thousand shores of the Aegean Sea, washing away the dead, the living, the weak. »

The anger of health

The tone is set and maintained for 250 pages connected between strong symbols and key themes (food, island, travel, etc.). Ms. Namian has a certain talent for unearthing and collecting stories, even illuminating anecdotes, here with the history of the Forland colony founded by Henry Ford in Brazil, there in the Greek island of Hydra where Leonard Cohen was inaugurated. Barbara Rothschild hosted a meeting for a lucky few in Montreal.

Professor Namian, a sociologist by training, teaches in the Department of Social Work at the University of Ottawa. We have published previous books of his on topics related to mental health, poverty, homelessness or exclusion. A new arc of essays shines at the other end of the social order.

“You can’t think of the rich and the poor separately,” he said. I started this book during the pandemic, which was very difficult for me. I felt anger and expressed it in this commentary, when I saw that the crisis affected the poorest, the most helpless, and even more so the workers, when every day we saw the most fortunate exposing their privileges, they take refuge in the plates; private islands, huge second homes. »

The title of the work, taken by Romain Gary (in The White Dog), describes “a social order that fosters such confidence”, where luxurious display and material exhibitionism encourage consumption, while the majority of people do not have access to it. they cannot fulfill their demands. The English speak of “wealth.” Let’s say “pornography”…

There was no such thing as always. And would they not be admired, or envied almost everywhere?

“What new society with the challenge is not the solution of exuberance, but that the mocking display of riches no longer resists to provoke the challenge, answers the commentator. With this name, the challenge, the duel, will wait for the reaction, since the rich no longer seem to act as any opponents. We are in a time of calm provocation. »

Busting myths

Cultural creations (television, movies) are often content with exposing inflated moguls as the result of vice, promiscuity. Ultimately, this rudeness reinforces the feeling of powerlessness in the face of the powerful without the excessive aura enjoyed by groups in the upper class.

“We attribute many virtues to the rich,” said Professor Namian. We see them as entrepreneurs, visionaries who have built their fortunes from their talent and talent. We also praise their generosity. They are made in the middle of the day. It is clear that our financial society worships accumulation and consumption. This is also true in Quebec. »

In fact, the myth of meritocracy holds little sway. Fortune feeds itself, and the best gain remains the heir. Yes, Jeff Bezos started from nothing to accumulate too much, but thanks to the work of hundreds of thousands of employees, and the following generations of Bezos will live on in the splendor of his legacy for centuries and centuries.

The professor reminds us that the differences in wealth on a planetary scale are constantly growing. In March, Forbes magazine counted 1,426 billionaires in the world, all worth about $7 trillion, almost three times the GDP of Canada, the fourth country in the world for the number of billionaires (about 65 in total) for its proportion. population

Another myth is that the money at the top will eventually trickle down to the bottom of the pyramid and the “golden nugget” will end up in the slings of the poor. “This theory does not hold water, the sociologist summarizes. The opposite has happened over the years. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, the foundations that have allowed the middle class to thrive are being attacked in different ways. »

The conclusion is obvious, especially in terms of inequality: it is necessary to take a decision and renew capitalism. “We need to start talking about social class again,” he said. Great fortunes must be taxed. »

According to Oxfam’s calculation, if Canada added a wealth tax of 2% for the wealthy, 3% for those with more than 50 million and 5% for billionaires, it would raise 50 billion dollars every year.

And do what you can…

A challenging company. The obscenity of the rich

Dahlia Namian, Lux editor, Montreal, 2023, 240 pages

As in the video

Nation World News Desk
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