Revue de presse : 4 octobre 2021
Yesterday the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released the “Pandora Papers,” the organization’s most recent and expansive disclosure of financial secrecy and malfeasance to date. The revelations of the investigation implicate political leaders and oligarchs from across the globe in offshore financial activity, and include cases of tax evasion and money laundering that took place while some of these figures held public office.
While there is of course something striking—though perhaps unsurprising—about billionaires undermining the law for the purposes of further self-enrichment, in an essay for The New Republic, Chris Lehmann offers a crucial reminder that the world’s billionaires do not maintain their position through their will and machinations alone. In his review of Matthew Stewart’s recent book The 9.9 Percent: The New Aristocracy That Is Entrenching Inequality and Warping Our Culture, Lehmann emphasizes that those whose socioeconomic position falls within highest ten percent of society are crucial contributors to growing inequality in the United States. Many factors contribute to the phenomenon, but Lehmann conceptualizes the crux of the matter as an expression of Gramscian cultural hegemony, one in which the ruling elite maintains its position through cultural practices whose meaning and affect surpass the material significance of economic power. Through this examination, Stewart seeks to explain “why meritocracy—born of the highest ideals of liberal democracy—so often turns into the handmaiden of autocracy.”
As these systems of mass global inequality tip in favor of oligarchs and the meritocratic class that enables them, Paul Linden-Retek’s essay in the Boston Review on the implications of the UN Convention on Refugees seventy years after its signing recalls that flows of human need are often stymied by some of the same powerful actors who benefit from movement across borders for their own illicit financial interest while impeding such mobility in what for the most vulnerable on the planet is often a matter of life and death.
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