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The owners of private capital have never

stopped fighting against the Welfare State”

Founder, together with Joao Caraça, of the Lisbon Group in 1992, Riccardo
Petrella is the author of the well-known Limits to Competitiveness, and in
1996 he and Mario Soares, created the International Committee for a World
Water Contract. In 2001 he founded the University for the Common Good
and in 2007 the IERPE (Institut Européen de Recherche sur la Politique de
l’Eau). In his recent essay In the Name of Humanity, Global Audacity*,
Petrella analyzes the issues of war, climate change, and poverty from a social
and philosophical perspective, questioning the concepts of the dominant
discourse, which in some cases coexist despite the fact that their failure has
been evident in recent history: first of all, “in the name of God”, then “in the
name of the Nation/People”, and nowadays “in the name of the Money”.

Thus, he will raise the alternative “in the name of Humanity”, which is also
the title of the essay.
Deeply knowledgeable about the Common Good and the right to water,
Petrella analyzes the
and the right to water, Petrella analyzes and disproves several fundamental
prejudices, such as the belief in the relationship between economic growth
and sustainable development.
Indeed, he highlights the failure of the World Bank’s developed in 1974-75,
“Zero Poverty” by the year 2000. This was adopted by the UN following the
1972 Rome Conference in which, for the first time in
In western societies, a serious warning was sounded about the “limits to
growth”. The effect of that program was the “liberalization of private capital
movements; the deregulation of markets for raw materials and industrial
products, and the public of the North to the South. The sovereignty of large
multinational companies was then “imposed in the South under the urging
of the World Bank and the IMF”. The condition of their aid consisted of
“structural adjustments”, that is to say, the “opening up to the laws of the
market” and the privatization of “structural goods and common public
Distinguishing the phases of this evolution, Petrella analyzes the
contributions of the United Nations Brundtland Commission that took place
in 1987, analyzing its positive and negative sides. This report raised the
separation of climate issues and inequalities, through a process defined as
“mystification and reconciliation between economic growth and sustainable
development”. It thus makes an uncompromising critique of the World
Bank’s programs, stating that they are based on false premises, crystallizing
in a process of true mystification. Indeed, in 1995 when the UN had a
Conference on Poverty and Social Exclusion, the World Bank once again
proposed a change of strategy: moving from a program of “total eradication”
to one of “reduction of extreme absolute poverty” by 2015. The change was
endorsed by the Millennium Development Goals Plan 2000-2015. As a
consequence of the pallid results of these initiatives, the Sustainable
Development Goals have been updated again at the United Nations
Conference for a post-2015 agenda in New York, which proposes a roadmap
to 2030.
By analyzing how the public company has been attacked and discredited in
favor of the and discrediting in favor of private enterprise, Petrella
distinguishes three factors that enabled European countries to develop an
economic model based on the welfare: “the first, monetary control by the
State and, therefore, of the national economy within the country (a key role
of the nationalized public sectors)
and of relations with the outside world (control of capital movements and
trade). Second, the option in favor of full employment through a policy of
public investments. The third, the gradual introduction of a progressive and
redistributive tax system thanks to which the State can finance public
investments. From this derives the concept of free rights (…)”. Petrella
emphasizes that the described system was never to the liking of private
capital owners, who saw in it a “threat to freedom and the right to private
property”, since this model guaranteed that the community could assume
the costs “of the right to water, energy for domestic uses, health, education,
housing, public transport (…). That is why they have never ceased to fight
against the Welfare State”.
Despite the fact that state-owned companies have enabled considerable
progress in the development of several European countries, and despite the
numerous “scandals involving private companies”, after the collapse of the
international financial system in 1973-74, privatization eventually prevailed
overwhelmingly. As a result, “our societies have lost the awareness and
vision of the public common assets for life”. Petrella explains how a
“historical stage” began when science and progress were subjugated to
money, when the “patentability of the living being”, was decided for the first
time in 1980 in the United States by the U.S. Court of Justice, for a
bacterium discovered by the laboratories of General Electric”. In 1998, it was
the European Parliament which in turn authorized the “patentability of the
living being”, under the pretext that “European competitiveness in the field
of applied biology (especially agriculture and health) would be weakened”.
On the other hand, the author denounces that “almost all the major
investments in scientific research (considering all fields), was and continues
to be put at the service of military or economic and power objectives”.
In the conclusion of the second chapter, the author describes in detail how
in the market: 1) “there are no human rights” 2) “there is no democracy” and
3) “there is no justice” and summarizes the famous “laws of the market” for
their lack of regard for rights: “in the world of private finance, especially in
the stock market, there are no rights. The corn or rice exchanges do not
know what the right to food is”. By means of two opposing quotations, the
contradiction between both approaches is raised: that of the privilege given
to wealth or to human beings. On the one hand, the resolution of July 28,
2010, of the United Nations Assembly, which recognizes that “access to safe
drinking water and sanitation is a human right”; and, on the other hand, the
statements of Peter Brabeck, the ex-president of Nestlé, who denied that
access to water could be a human right.
Translation Red en Defensa de la Humanidad-Cuba