Photographs of inequality | Pasqualina Curcio

That an economy recovers and grows is very important, this implies that more goods and services would be produced, that there is a greater amount of employment and that more value is being added, but as or more important is how this new production is distributed because it can It will happen, as it has indeed happened and is happening, that economies grow, but in a more unequal way manifesting itself, visibly in more poverty.

For example, suppose that an economy goes from producing 100 to 200, that is, its size doubles. When production was 100 it was distributed in the following way, 50 for salaried workers or working class and 50 for the bourgeoisie or owners of capital. It may happen that when production becomes 200 it is distributed, for example, 50 for the working class and 150 for the bourgeoisie, which at first glance implies greater exploitation of the workers who, in the end, are the ones who add value to the economy with your workforce. In this case, inequality is greater, and of course, poverty is also greater, despite the fact that production has doubled.

Another possible scenario is that, when going to 200, production is distributed 60 for the working class and 140 for the bourgeoisie. In this case, the former increased its participation in production by 20% and the latter by 80%, benefiting the most from it. Some of the working class who were on the poverty line will probably come out of it, but not in the same proportion to the value they added to the economy with their workforce.

There can be two more scenarios, one of them is that, by increasing production, proportionally everything remains the same, that is, that the working class keeps 100 of the 200 and the bourgeoisie appropriates 100. Both classes increased by 100% their participation, that is, in the same proportion that production increased from 100 to 200. In this case, poverty remains the same because the levels of inequality remained the same. 

The best of all the scenarios, the one that one would expect to observe in a revolutionary process that moves towards socialism (even being in capitalism) is that, while production increases, it is recognized that who creates value is the worker and, for example, the distribution of the 200 becomes 180 for the worker and 20 for the bourgeoisie. In this case, exploitation decreased, the workers increased their participation in production 260%, while the owners of capital saw their share reduced by 20%. Poverty should decrease considerably because, generally, the poor are those of the working class.  

It also happens that, instead of increasing production, it decreases, from for example 100 to 80. In this case, if the 80 are distributed 20 for the workers and 60 for the bourgeoisie, the former saw their participation reduced by 60%, while the owners of capital increased it by 20% despite the fact that less is produced, of course at the cost of greater exploitation. It is the current scenario in Venezuela, passing through an economic war of imperialism against the Venezuelan people without precedent due to its magnitude, impact and duration.

Saying that we are going to “economic recovery”, “economic growth” and economic prosperity ”without monitoring and measuring the way in which this increased production is distributed is not enough, at least not in revolution. Social indicators must be above economic indicators (Chávez said several times) what really matters is not to grow, but to reduce poverty and for this, it is necessary to reduce inequalities in the distribution of production. It is useless to grow if said increase goes to the owners of capital in a more concentrated way thanks to the effort and strength of the workers. 

Seeing a dirty, hungry and barefoot child in the streets and at the doors of large still lifes crammed with delicacies asking for food from those who leave said establishments with full bags is a clear image of inequality, for me, one of the most eloquent photographs. 

Skinny, barefoot kids juggling while big, luxurious late-model pickup trucks wait for the green light at traffic lights is another image. Doñitas, old women, or women breastfeeding, asking what to eat at the exits of large supermarkets is another effigy. Tall, ostentatious buildings with sophisticated architecture that almost scratch the sky next to it and on the same level as tall mountains crammed with ranches is a representation of inequality. 

The photographs of boys and girls requesting help to pay for their cancer treatment while gigantic billboards advertising cosmetic surgeries are raised in the avenues, has no adjective in this photographic exhibition.

But there are worse photographs, they are the ones that we cannot see, and they are those that show people so, but so poor, a consequence of the great inequalities that, not even manage to leave where they live, the exclusion becomes such that, if at another time You could see them in squares and parks enjoying an ice cream, now they are gone, recreation for them became something forbidden, as well as other basic needs, meanwhile, from the top, at the top, after an excursion in cable car there are those who leave their exaggerated wealth in luxurious casinos.

It will depend on the level of savagery of the capitalist system whether these photographs of inequality are more or less painful and outrageous. For boys and girls to end up on the street as destitute is because their homes reached such a situation of extreme poverty that they no longer have a way to support them, it is very regrettable, but it is real. And what do they live on in those homes? What is your main income if not salary? Neoliberalism, based on the Washington Consensus and theoretically supported by monetarism, has, among its main postulates, keeping wages frozen to guarantee greater accumulation and concentration of profits for the bourgeoisie.

The main objective in a revolution is not for the economy to grow, which does not mean that there is, of course, not to produce more, but we cannot leave aside the central, to improve the living conditions of the people, that happens by reducing the poverty, which in turn requires reducing inequality in the distribution of production that can only be achieved by reducing exploitation, that is, recognizing the value of labor power, and that necessarily requires reversing the proportions between what is distributed to salary and profit. The salary issue is not just any detail, it is the key as long as the system remains capitalist. 

In Venezuela, during the IV Republic (1980-1998) and in neoliberalism, GDP grew 52% and poverty increased 132%, this behavior was reversed in revolution between 1999 and 2013, the economy grew 57% and poverty decreased 47%.

Photographs of negotiations with businessmen are not the ones that should fill a revolutionary with pride. They are not necessarily a guarantee of the good life of the people. It may translate into "economic recovery", "economic growth" and even "economic prosperity" but for a few, with deep inequalities and poverty if the problem of wages and social relations of production is not addressed. 

 

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