One of the sharpest criticisms of the newly enshrined Global Goals for sustainable development (SDGs) comes in the form of a comic by Swedish electronic music duo The Knife. The band is best known for their song Heartbeats and the cover by José Gonzales. Included on the webpage for their last album, Shaking the Habitual, is a comic featuring a presentation on the newest goal set out by the World Bank, U.N., and IMF – end extreme wealth.
The more than 40 panels feature various experts expounding on the problems faced by the extremely wealthy using much of the same language that is used to describe the world’s poor. The presenter is surprised to learn that an expert actually lived amid the wealthy and learns that they are “very friendly.”
Rather than facing a cycle of poverty, wealth families accumulate “more crap,” such as antiques. The expert says the wealthy need to realize that their lifestyle contributes to climate change.
Solutions to the problem of wealth include taking small amounts of money through “the micro-snatch” strategy. The final expert recommends surrounding Wall Street with trees to prevent the spread of finance, much in the way someone might talk about slowing down the spread of poverty or a disease.
And at the end, of course, there is the song to “heal the rich.”
It is a rather clever perversion the ways that the SDGs and the preceding Millennium Development Goals only focus on the problems experienced by the poor. The new goals make a major step forward by including targets to reduce income and gender inequalities and slow down climate change. Yet still, the framing is about the poor – not the wealthy who are contributing to the problems and benefiting from the status quo.
Maybe there is something to this idea of ending extreme wealth.
See the full comic here.