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OPINION

Wretched of the earth

The Chinese Communist Party's "happy few" have become bilionaires of the capitalist elite

Most mortals play the game according to the rules that normally exist in the ambit of nation-states. They pay their taxes; they exercise their rights as citizens, assuming that they have such rights; they are punished when they break the law.

A handful of privileged people, however, are subject only to the laws of nature that function in their own particular ambit, the Wild West of the globalized world, where there are no taxes, no laws or international courts to call you to account (unless you are guilty, for example, of a genocide of millions, and in most cases not even then), and where you can condition, or impose your desires on the lesser ambit of the state.

When gross imbalances (for which read crises) occur, the bills come to the door of the ambit where the rules of the game exist and are respected; but never to the ambit where there are no rules, only relations of strength — that is economic power. Cutbacks in the welfare state, loss of rights and impoverishment affect only the so-called middle classes, while the rich escape unscathed from crises, and even use them to increment their wealth.

One result of the disparate structure is growing inequality and the breakdown of democracy, as suggested in the report prepared by Intermon Oxfam for the World Economic Forum on the eve of its annual meeting in Davos. We have already seen the scandalous figures: 83 people possess more wealth than the 3.5 billion who make up the poorer half of the world's population; 20 Spaniards have as much as the poorest 20 percent of the nation; half the world's wealth is in the hands of only one percent of the population.

Cutbacks in the welfare state, loss of rights and impoverishment affect only the so-called middle classes

The report supplied to the Davos summit has an eloquent, synthetic title: Governing for the Elites: Hijacking of Democracy and Economic Inequality. The paradox of the twenty-first century is that where this scheme functions best is a land governed by a party that claims to stand for a socialist society.

No ruling caste has attained greater perfection in the organization of this political and economic duality than the Communist elite that governs the world's second-ranking economic power: China. Its system of the all-powerful single party, derived from Leninist and Stalinist tradition, guarantees order in the world's most populous country and thus contributes to the better functioning of the global economy. Instead of merely conditioning democracy, as the elites do in the West, they opt simply to abolish it.

The numerous constellations of tax havens in various parts of the world, and the computer-driven world of financial globalization, are essential pieces in the modern Chinese system, which has transformed many of the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, supposedly the vanguard of the wretched of the earth, into solid billionaire members of the select club of Western capitalism.

Various generations of communist leaders are represented in this select group of potentates, who elude the state's troublesome interference in their accumulation of fortunes.

All the different trends within the party have tentacles in the web of globalized business dealings. Among them there is even a granddaughter of Mao Zedong, the founder of the People's Republic and celebrated author of On Contradiction, who, on another occasion when freedom of speech was supposed to be encouraged, said: "Let a hundred flowers bloom."

She now enjoys a place among the "happy few" who dwell on the heights of that Olympus where wealth flowers without taxes, controls, redistribution or solidarity.