The Global Architecture of Wealth Extraction
By Joe Brewer / therules.org

Wealth inequality has reached truly epic proportions — with 62 individuals amassing the same aggregate wealth as 3.7 billion. Most of us intuitively sense that this outcome was rigged by design by a global elite.

Here in the United States we know about things like Citizens United (those with money can influence elections) and the Koch Brothers (part of the cabal that purchased this little piece of legislation). We get that the bankers who collapsed the financial system made out like bandits, quite literally. Those unlucky enough to be born anyplace where the tornado of colonialism touched down have been taught that “our people” should blame themselves for the personal character flaw of being on the receiving end of conquest and pillage.

What we’ve been lacking is a name for this integrated system of tax havens, corporate handouts, gutted governments, privatized lands held in common, and so forth. I use the phrase global architecture of wealth extraction and want to describe here how it makes up the core of political systems around the world.

Last year, I worked with a talented graphic designer by the name of Zoe Lowney to help tell this story as a timeline for modern history. This is what she came up with:

We intuitively get that the game has been rigged for some time. But most of us don’t know the details of how things came to be this way. As this graphic demonstrates, the architecture of wealth extraction had to be carefully built up in waves of creative destruction over the span of several hundred years.

In the earliest days, a suite of business innovations (double-entry accounting, the joint-stock company, etc.) were combined with a systematic policy of kicking people off commonly managed lands so that a system of “rent seeking” could be built up for wealthy people to extract money from the working poor. This was done in 16th and 17th Century Britain in what is known as the Enclosure Movement. And it laid the groundwork for a massive colonial empire to grow as the British and other imperial powers spread this logic of wealth extraction across the globe.

The first wave of mass poverty in modern times was the British and French peasantry. When these societies overthrew corrupt leaders and established democracies, the elites had to find more subtle ways to keep syphoning off wealth (thus growing social inequality) that didn’t conclude with rolling heads at the guillotine. So they invaded foreign lands and did their rent-seeking there.

This was how the mass poverty of India and many African nations sprang into being. Accompanied by systems of racial inequality and other “social control” mechanisms at home, they pitted the working classes of their own nations against each other as they took their model of wealth hoarding to new levels in “developing markets” like those of the spice trade and later with oil, coal, and other natural resources.

Flash forward to the 20th Century and you see the high art of wealth hoarding in digital accounting systems, structural debt-repayment programs, “free trade” agreements that privatized public lands, the invention of personal lines of credit to keep people enslaved to mortgages and consumer purchases, and later the so-called austerity programs that gut public coffers to feed private financiers after they orchestrated the deregulation and collapse of financial markets.

Said another way, the seeming lack of choice among political parties has less to do with politicalideology and much more to do with the economic ideology that forms the core logic of this planetary-scale system. To really get a sense of just how big it is, consider this:

If we were to tax a mere 10% of the money hoarded away in tax havens, we would have at least $2,000,000,000,000 that could be used to fund (1) universal basic income; (2) universal healthcare for more than 7 billion people; (3) free public and university education for everyone on Earth; (4) fund basic scientific research for all major problems humanity must confront; and (5) make the transition to ecologically-based energy systems and urban design that staves off the potential for collapse of our highly unsustainable civilization.

Think about that for a moment. Let it sink in

The architecture of wealth extraction is a cancer on this planet. It continually corrupts our governments, poisons the natural environment, and pits us against each other in a “race to the bottom” that has only one logical outcome — the wholesale destruction of life-giving capacities for the only home planet we’ll ever have.

I have written elsewhere about systemic corruption, the cognitive science of how we fail to see it, howwealth is really created, and what we might do with that $2 trillion dollars that constitutes a small part of the money squirreled away by sociopaths and those who idolize them.

It is time to systematically dismantle this wealth hoarding system. Now that we know what it is and how it was built, we can tear it apart piece by piece and replace it with something better.

Now THAT is change I can believe in.

Onward, fellow humans.

4.4 ·
3
What's Next
Trending Today
This Polish Ad Will Give You The Feels, For Reals
3 min · 22,244 views today · This is an ad for Allegro, a Polish company similar to eBay, and it's heartwarmingly lovely.
Time-Lapse Satellite Images Give a Startling Snapshot of Past 30 Years on Earth
2 min · 16,862 views today · Working with satellite images from NASA and the US Geological Survey, Google has created a searchable snapshot of the past 3 decades on Earth, creating startling time-lapses of...
Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children
Jan Hunt · 15,517 views today · 1. We expect children to be able to do things before they are ready. We ask an infant to keep quiet. We ask a 2-year-old to sit still. We ask a 3-year-old to clean his room...
The Problem with Hating Our Enemies
Charles Eisenstein · 8,725 views today · He who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself; and if thou gaze too long into the abyss, the abyss will gaze into thee. —Nietzsche
How to Expose Trump's Dastardly Bait-And-Switch
Robert Borosage · 6,665 views today · Trump is not an economic populist, he’s just playing one on TV.
Why You Should Stop Apologizing for Doing All That You Can
Kelly Hayes · 3,214 views today · I’ve noticed lately that a lot of allies and accomplices I talk to about NoDAPL and other struggles will name what they are trying to contribute to the cause, and then promptly...
The Myth of Positivity: Why Your Pain Holds a Mighty Purpose
umair haque · 3,077 views today · Of all the great myths of contemporary life, one of the most toxic is positivity. It says: there are negative and positive emotions, and only the positive ones are worth...
Swanage Protectors Camp - Campaigning to Stop New Oil and Gas Exploration in Dorset, UK
7 min · 2,987 views today · The planning permission for an exploratory oil rig near Swanage ran out on 3rd December 2016. A good day all round for those campaigning against the fossil fuel industry. Hear...
Have You Heard of The Great Forgetting? It Happened 10,000 Years Ago & Completely Affects Your Life
Daniel Quinn · 2,413 views today · (Excerpted from the book, The Story of B) With every audience and every individual, I have to begin by making them see that the cultural self-awareness we inherit from our...
Van Jones: Only a 'Love Army' Will Conquer Trump
Tim Dickinson · 2,162 views today · Though it's important to fight Trump's policies, "it's at the values level that we need to do a reset," says Jones
The Lid Is off, The Truth Is Coming Out
Charles Eisenstein · 1,763 views today · It is getting harder to keep a secret these days. The collective shadow of our society, once safely relegated to the dark basement of the unmentionable, is now exposed to...
Sleaford Mods on Brexit Britain
4 min · 1,711 views today · In early 2014 the Guardian hailed duo Sleaford Mods as ‘the most uncompromising British protest music made in years’. Here, we go backstage at a Sleaford Mods gig in their...
Black on Black Crime Isn't a Myth
Donyae Coles · 1,573 views today · Let’s talk about Black on Black crime. Maybe you’ve heard about it on the news, specifically likely in regards to Black people murdered by other Black people. Perhaps you’ve...
15 Easy Things You Can Do to Help When You Feel Like Shit
Maritsa Patrinos · 1,443 views today · You don’t have to tackle it all at once.
David Graeber: We Need a Revolution in the Way We Think about "Work"
4 min · 1,420 views today · David Graeber on the Value of Work. Does the world really need neuroadvertisers, PR researchers and branding consultants? Renowned academic and coiner of the ‘we are the 99%’...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,338 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,082 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 1,080 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
10 Stunning Images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award
Natural History Museum · 896 views today · These incredible images are a selection from of the 25 shortlisted by The Natural History Museum for the People's Choice Award from this year's Wildlife Photographer of the...
Trump: The Illusion of Change
Helena Norberg-Hodge · 733 views today · “Only by restoring the broken connections can we be healed.” — Wendell Berry
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
The Global Architecture of Wealth Extraction