The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Raw Materials and the Hunger of the Greedy

Feb 6, 2023

This article is translated from the January 27 issue #2843 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group of that name active in France.

The fabulous enrichment of companies trading agricultural raw materials and fossil fuels due to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine was highlighted in a report published by Swiss non-governmental organization (NGO) Public Eye.

The world’s number one agricultural trader, Cargill, broke profit records with 6.7 billion dollars. The family of company founder William Wallace Cargill is one of the richest in the world. Its fortune has increased by 20 million dollars a day since 2020, according to the NGO Oxfam. Its main competitors are not to be outdone. They also have raked in unprecedented profits. For example, Trafigura with 7 billion dollars doubled its previous record from 2021. Archer Daniels Midland and Louis Dreyfus Company’s half-year results exceeded their previous annual results.

The top five oil, gas and coal trading companies also saw their profits soar. Market leader Glencore raked in 5 billion dollars in profits in 2021, a 661% increase over its pre-pandemic average. In the first six months of 2022, its main competitor, Vitol, exceeded its own record with 4.5 billion dollars.

The domination of this handful of companies is not limited to delivering raw materials. They operate plantations, mines, and refineries. They control supply chains and shipping. Their size is such that Public Eye claims that eight of the 10 Swiss companies with the highest turnover in 2021 were traders. They now account for as much of the country’s GDP as the entire financial sector.

If pandemics and wars are calamities for workers, they are boons for big capitalist groups. This shameless enrichment has repercussions for the entire planet. According to the World Bank, around 95 million people fell under the absolute poverty line since the pandemic started. Workers everywhere find it harder and harder to feed themselves in the face of soaring prices. Food distribution centers are overwhelmed by the needs of new people at the door.

The Secretary General of the United Nations hypocritically denounced this “grotesque greed”. But the only solution to stop it would be to expropriate these greedy bosses and put the production and exchange of essential products under workers’ control.