Take the wealth off the 1%
Come to Socialism 2017!
By Andrew Carss, The Socialist November 2 2017
The combined wealth of the world’s billionaires has now reached an eye-watering $6 trillion. Up by nearly a fifth from last year, vast profits wringed from the workers of the world are concentrated in ever fewer hands.
The most powerful force in the universe, Einstein is said to have remarked, is compound interest. Never before has greater wealth been accumulated.
In 2016, nine individuals owned as much wealth as the poorest 50% of the world’s population, according to Oxfam. At the start of this year it was eight.
Stunning wealth inequality epitomises our generation and is a damning indictment of the capitalist system. The latest numbers come from Swiss bank UBS and financial services and outsourcing giant PwC.
Their report on what they call “value creators” demonstrates how insidiously the world’s billionaires have bought influence. 109 billionaires own the top 140 sports teams. Of the top 200 art collectors, 72 are billionaires.
They set up private art galleries, ostensibly to share a small part of what they have with the public. But at best these are vanity projects – which help secure favourable tax treatment.
How long can this volatile situation be sustained? It cannot continue indefinitely. The same report shows wealth concentration is at its highest since 1905! Its lead author Josef Stadler says we are now in a second “Gilded Age.”
In fact, Stadler worries wealth inequality could lead “society” to “strike back.” Even the IMF – notorious for inflicting vicious, punitive austerity on the workers of Greece and other countries – has suggested tax on the wealthy should be “significantly higher.”
100 years after the Bolshevik-led socialist revolution in Russia, the ruling class once again rightly fears a dynamic, increasingly politically active and unified working class.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s income tax proposal of 50% on earnings of over £123,000 is very welcome. But we cannot fight this system with reforms alone. Recent history, like in Greece, shows all too clearly they can be watered down or reversed.
The working class are the only real “value creators” in society. But we get back just a fraction of the wealth we create for the bosses.
The Socialist Party says the solution is a complete restructuring of society: public ownership, and democratic working class control and management, of banks, industry and top corporations. A socialist plan of production would provide for all, not enrich the gilded billionaires.
Come to Socialism 2017 (11 and 12 November, central London)
Themes of discussions include the 1917 Russian revolution, capitalism today, the fightback against austerity, and what is socialism?