Rebelión, September 22, 2020 | By Sirio López Velasco
Translated by Jane K. Brundage
Today Uruguay has approximately 3.5 million inhabitants. The Rural Association of Uruguay (ARU) has represented the country’s plantation owners since 1871.
According to data from 2017, 96% of Uruguayan lands are in private hands. According to the 2011 Agricultural Census, 3 million of the country’s 16 million hectares belonged to only 260 producers. Moreover, according to expert estimates, at least half of the Uruguayan territory is today owned by foreigners (especially multinationals; just one, dedicated to forestry for the production of cellulose pulp, controls more than 250,000 hectares | 617,764 acres).
At the same time, it must be remembered that not long ago the ARU opposed enactment of the Law guaranteeing the eight-hour workday for rural workers. In his closing speech at the annual Rural Exhibition in mid-September 2020, the ARU’s current President, Gabriel Capurro, while acknowledging that according to official data 8% of Uruguayans are in poverty, nonetheless proclaimed:
“Although we can all agree that extreme inequality is not desirable, the reality is that income inequality will always exist because of human nature itself, and it is only fair that it should. Differences exist and will always exist between people and therefore between incomes, which cannot and should not be the same.”
Immediately, building on those concepts, he congratulated the current right-wing government for not having increased taxes (on the large landowners, of course). Then he spoke out against direct monetary aid without demand [request] for compensation to the most needy in the midst of the COVID19 pandemic, since, he said, that would be populism and break the logic of payment based on effort and merit. He then added that entrepreneurs are the ones who create the jobs that improve income and raise the standard of living for the general population. This personage (forgetting to say that 85% of taxes in Uruguay are collected from wages and only 15% from capital) seems inspired by the Theory of Justice by John Rawls who—sublimating capitalist reality, proclaimed that the differences that supposedly redound to general benefit are moral ones. In fact, he was thus legitimizing the latest assertions of Capurro, by canonizing as useful to all the dominance of the capitalists over the means of production and their lion’s share in national wealth and income.
For our part, and speaking from an ecommunitarian point of view, we stand up (following and expanding on Marx) for the principle of distribution that guides society (extended to Humanity), which is as follows:
“from each according to their capacity and to each according to their need, respecting ecological balances and interculturality”.
In other words, we recognize the difference between people, in particular in relation to their productive capacities-abilities and in relation to their needs to develop fully as individuals. Moreover, for this reason, we consider that the community must control-manage the means of production and distribute the productive duties and the fruits of production according to, respectively, those different capacities and needs. From an ecommunitarian perspective, this means that a single person with a physical or mental problem will likely have more needs to be satisfied in order to achieve full development (for example in medical care and devices to overcome their ailments). That person, moreover, will likely have less productive capacity and thus contribute LESS to the common social fund generated by the community without employers. At the same time, that person will receive MORE of the common fund, than another single person who does not suffer from those problems.
Under this logic, the current meritocratic-hierarchical scale of the professions exercised temporarily by each is not of interest (Ecommunitarianism proclaims the rotating exercise of productive activities for which each one is inclined by his vocation and prepared by his training, in a system of universal and free education open to all up to its highest levels). Thus, if a single person practices the profession of doctor for a given year and second person with two children works in the same period as a street cleaner, then this second person will have to receive more from the common fund than the first, since their family needs are greater.
As can be seen, like Mr. Capurro, we believe that people are and will be different from each other (here we have considered only the productive aspect, but it is obvious that these differences widen when we consider tastes, character, etc.). For that very reason, we defend a principle of unequal distribution that gives more to those who need the most (within the limits of respect for ecological balance and interculturality). For this principle to be realized, the means of production will have to be returned to the national community (such as the Uruguayan lands now monopolized by the small multimillionaire oligarchy represented by the ARU), such that its fruits might be at the service for the full development of each person.
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Related articles by Sirio López Velasco republished in Resilience.org:
A Communitarian Vision: Interview with Philosopher Sirio López Velasco, By Mariel Cisneros López, Indymedia Argentina – June 30, 2020.
Cuba | What would Che Guevara Say to Covid-19? By Sirio López Velasco, Resilience.org – July 22, 2020.
E-communitarian Democracy: What is it? By Sirio López Velasco, Resilience.org, August 10, 2020.
E-communitarian Democracy: What is it? Part 2 | By Sirio López Velasco, Resilience.org – August 24, 2020.
Teaser photo credit: Iporá lake in Tacuarembó, Uruguay. By No machine-readable author provided. Tano4595 assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=436827