Political education for Marc Marquez and his defenders
In view of the many criticisms – both positive and negative – that have been voiced by Marc Márquez (Spanish two-time Moto GP World Champion) about his desire to register in Andorra and pay taxes in the country of the Pyrenees in his subsequent statements , I have decided to give my opinion on the case and thus contribute a grain of sand to the established debate. To this end, I propose an exploration at different levels of analysis: social, political and economic of the existing economic and tax situation in Spain.
My contributions must be framed within a logic of healthy, free and open debate. I do not intend to offend anyone. I would also like to point out that the controversy over Márquez will not monopolise my analysis, but rather I intend to preponderance the context in which it takes place.
Conceptualization and brief history of neoliberalism
Today we live in a particular period of capitalism. The neoliberalism , stage of capitalism, is an ideology and method of liberal analysis, fruit of a new economic vision of the world, whose development took place in the years of government of Roland Reagan and Margaret Tatcher , who commanded the rupture of the pacts of Breton Woods (1971). The latter established the rules of the global financial system, which had to respect the centrality of the dollar as a currency of exchange. With their rupture, a system called floating exchanges crystallized.
neoliberalism seeks, in general terms, to denounce a strong or interventionist state in the economy as well as to diminish the power acquired by the working classes translated, in part, by a welfare state . In words of David Harvey, in his book Brief history of Neoliberalism , “Neoliberalism is, first of all, a theory of political-economic practices that affirms that the best way to promote the well-being of the human being, is not to restrict the free development of the individual’s entrepreneurial capacities and freedoms, within an institutional framework characterized by private property rights, strong free markets and free trade.” In theory it is very nice, but in practice it translates into policies whose purpose is to dismantle part of the State , or in other words, to bankrupt the public sector while maintaining just enough to maintain stability or social cohesion so that companies can compete without many regulations. This leads inexorably to less state intervention in the economy, with the aim of having private companies replace this management, previously guaranteed by the state, in order to gain more opportunities for their capital accumulation at the expense of society.
In summary, the neoliberalism , as well as the globalization that accompanies it, is the direct effect of the need of certain companies or great capitals (in its beginning mainly American financial) to guarantee the economic expansion at the expense of the State and, In the end, at the expense of the working classes , who cannot take advantage of the benefits of free trade in the same way since their capital accumulation is too small to get out of the ideological and administrative reality imposed on them: the nation state .
The normalization of the neoliberal ideology
Marquez’ case has been widely publicized, and perhaps he does not deserve such a punishment. On the contrary, a scandalous case such as that of the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the “tax ruling” in Luxembourg has had a testimonial relevance and has barely passed the table. Nevertheless, this event seems interesting to us because it is part of a context of ideological domination , which is neoliberal, and which has been established in the minds of a good part of us, crystallising in the daily life of the citizens.
The main problem is found in the anti-democratic logic of neoliberalism . This new system liberal is taken advantage of, to a great extent, by those who have the capacity to move capital out of some borders and into others. The argument for a neoliberal , conscious or not, is based on their perception of the freedom acquired by this hegemonic vision. The freedom for a liberal consists in the mercantilist logic: the freedom of capital, goods and people flows without almost restrictions or regulations. Following this logic, Europe would be one of the freest places in the world. I do not share such perception, at least partially, because, as this ideology implicitly shows, freedom is linked to the capacity of accumulating monetary resources and, in fine , of your social class. The more you have, the freer you are and the easier it is to accumulate capital, since you can take advantage of other tributes and facilities available for big capitals.
The application in Marquez’s case? Very simple. While most of us do not have the capacity for accumulation, the reality, which is presented as a range of possibilities, is basically that limited by the nation-state . On the other hand, the Marquez or the Pujol have a mass of capital whose quantity calls them to move from one place to another understanding -actively or passively- the possibilities that the neoliberalism offers them. First conclusion? neoliberalism gives more capacity to those who have more so that they can get out of, for example, national taxation, which in the case of elite sportsmen is at 56%. This characteristic, recently denounced by many senior police officers in France (such as Jean-François Gayraud ), brings a criminal dimension to the capitalist system.
The example of the acts of tax evasion of Google or Apple is often proposed to legitimise the action of the young athlete. That these companies take advantage of the system of free movement of capital to pay taxes where they can get the best conditions is categorically true. But this does not legitimise that others can do so. In fact, the responsibility of a patriot, whether he feels Catalan or Spanish (it doesn’t matter much), is to respond to his nation. Especially at a historical moment when its citizens need it most, as they do not enjoy the same freedom . It must be understood that the young driver takes advantage of the following of a large number of fans who are reflected in him, precisely because of his status as a national “brother”; of prodigal son . A few days ago, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), an organisation made up of the majority of the most developed states in the world, showed some statistics that classified Spain as the fourth country, among those that make up the OECD, with the greatest inequality between rich and poor . Only three countries surpassed this bad figure: Turkey, the United States and Mexico. Furthermore, the study showed that Spain took the trophy of the country where these inequalities have worsened the most since the economic crisis . Welcome to Marquez’s money for those who cannot pay for their heating or fill the fridge! Or more realistically, welcome to try to safeguard our public accounts and our welfare state decimated, in part, by the bailout of nearly 100 billion of Spain’s private banks.
To add another cherry on top of that, in Spain, some 107.35 billion dollars were evaded for tax purposes by large companies and fortunes in 2011 according to Tax Justice Network. Elite athletes are part of this elite capable of evading capital from state taxation and there are many cases found in Spanish sport ( Lionel Messi is one of those cases, recently prosecuted and finally reached an agreement with the Treasury to pay what was claimed).
The nation: “farce for the rich, reality for the poor”
Many times it has been debated whether the capitalist interests still respond, or not, to the interests of the nation-state . The truth is that this problem is complex and I would like to cover it assuming that both cases are possible (in the following article I will propose a deeper analysis of this debate). The case of Márquez leads us to question the schizophrenia that has appeared between national ideological values and the contradiction with the individualistic interest resulting from neoliberal capitalism. The tax evasion of large fortunes, as we mentioned in the previous point, puts this question at the centre of the debate.
The national ideological anchorage acts as a constraint, since it provides an identity feeling of horizontal solidarity without class distinction (identity distinctions prevail) and binds society within a framework of “real” borders. The neoliberalism and the globalization open wide these frontiers although they maintain the ideological reality of the nation to enclose the claims of those who do not benefit from the privileges derived from the possession of great capitals. My personal opinion is that a patriot is the one who pays taxes in his country, exercising a political responsibility, and not the one who waves the flag.
Marc Márquez will be a mess . The media pressure seems to have exerted a significant weight: Cervera’s seems to have understood that he is fed, in part, by the Spanish fans and, without them, his image as a national idol and advertising icon may be punished, losing part of its commercial appeal and, ultimately, may compromise a not inconsiderable income. Schizophrenia is produced at the moment in which this great mass, which gives him this social value, sees in his desire to change his residence a betrayal of national values . These values, in their great majority, remain chained to the reality of the nation-state (both sentimentally and tax-wise). The nation, as we have been saying, is a concept that prevails the identity question against the social class question, allowing a kind of solidarity or pact between classes. When this cultural paradigm is threatened, all the popularity gained by excellent work in the world of motorcycling and its wide media coverage can be destroyed in a matter of seconds.
Marquez has understood many things in a short time (or should have). His national responsibility to his compatriots could be one of these things. That money doesn’t give everything, could be the second. The third, and more complex one: that the national ideology is incompatible with the interests of the great fortunes, who are liberated from that reality as well as from a neoliberal system that allows, exclusively to them, a greater mobilization; some tricked rules. To be legitimized in the eyes of public opinion, Marquez must understand that the fiscal party must play by the same rules as they do. In the days to come, we will see what representation will prevail at the head of the motorcycle “crack”: national solidarity or the freedom of capital typical of modern capitalism. I have no doubt…