Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Where your money is. posted by Richard SeymourI would hazard a guess that most UK readers of this blog are in the bottom 50% of the wealth league. Here's what you get:
About 6% of the wealth divided between about 30 million of us, which would be six grand each. Well done. The top 1 per cent, comprising 600,000 people, doubled their money under the first five years of New Labour, from a collective sum of £355bn to £797bn. Bear in mind that there is probably a huge discrepancy within this top 1 per cent, so that people like Roman Abramovich, the Duke of Westminster, Hans Rausing and his family, Lakshmi Mittal, the Ecclestones, the Carvalhos and the Reubens all rake in billions individually. And that's declared wealth: it is impossible that the Office for National Statistics gets the correct figures on wealth since a huge amount of it is stuck in investments (land, as Lady Bracknell said, has ceased to be either a profit or a pleasure), large sums of which must be concealed in offshore trusts to avoid paying taxes. A number of factors expressed in these staggering sums should be drawn out: 1) the trend is for more and more wealth to be transferred to the richest .25 per cent; 2) this trend brings with it immense disparities of power and not only of wealth, since to the extent that huge slices of the national wealth are in private hands, this wealth is obviously not being directed to use according to popular need and demand; 3) such immense concentrations of power obviously vitiate the extent of genuine democracy that exists in any society; 4) but these concentrations are able to emerge precisely because of the successful class war of the rich in recent decades. The working class had been able, through their collective actions, to democratise public life substantially and create standards for public services and a demand for socialised industries that still persist today even among middle class Tory voters. It had made society much more egalitarian, and therefore much less of a squalid and venal place to exist in. The trouble was that the same class of rich kids, playboys, thugs and clapped out aristrocrats stayed in power, even if they were a little less ostentatious and lionised.
This time we need to get them out of power for good.