Monday, 8 May 2017

THEM AND US: capitalism creates class divide

The gap between Them and Us is widening - at an appalling speed. 
The Great Class Divide is a global feature that makes the Grand Canyon look like a shallow sheugh. It's an inherent part of how capitalism functions; a gut-wrenching reminder of the sick, dysfunctional system of inequality and exploitation we need to overturn. 
The global class divide is encapsulated by one startling fact: the eight (yes, 8) richest men on the planet have combined wealth exceeding that of the poorest half of the human race, 3.5 billion people. 

UK Rich List 2017 
The annual Sunday Times Rich List has just added to the mind-boggling statistics revealing the gaping chasm between the richest 1,000 in the UK and the multi-millioned rest of us. And Scotland is no different to any other corner of the capitalist UK or capitalist world. 

The richest 1,000 in the UK last year enjoyed a massive 14% boost to their wealth - a surge of £83billion, to a new total of £658billion. 
Almost two-thirds of that pile of wealth (£419billion) is in the tight fists of Britain's 134 billionaires - 19 of whom raised their wealth by over £1billion in the past year alone! 
In keeping with the modern 'city state' of London sucking in a vast chunk of the total wealth of the UK - and contrary to the deceitful nonsense about us being 'better together' in a 'caring, sharing United Kingdom' - 86 of the billionaires are based in London, making it home to the most sterling billionaires of any city on Earth. 

Which Scotland? 
Here in Scotland, we are now blessed with 10 billionaires, compared with 5 in 2012 and one in 2009. 
The 73 Scots now placed in the UK's richest 1,000 are 'worth' just over £30billion - the same sum afforded to the other 5.3 million of us through Scotland's annual block grant from Westminster! Remember that the next time your local council, or NHS board, or employer, tells you they can't afford a pay rise, or have to slash services, or obliterate jobs.
That's an increase of £3.4billion on the pile enjoyed by the Scots on the 2016 Rich List; an increase of 12.6% for the 73 richest people in the nation, in the same year when employers and governments (at UK, Scottish and local authority levels) imposed real-term pay cuts on millions of the workers who produce the actual wealth of the nation. Class division is alive and kicking the livelihoods out of us! 

If you happen to be fond of Glenfiddich whiskey or Hendrick's gin, you're fueling the fortune of Scotland's richest family, the Grant Gordons, whose wealth rocketed by another £210million last year, reaching £2.37billion. 
And don't imagine last year was an aberration, a blip. It's true, as the Sunday Times report commented, that:
"the astonishing strength of the Rich List defies expectations that wealth creation would stall in the lead up to the 2016 EU Referendum and crash after the Brexit vote". 
It's also nauseatingly true, as they add, "wealthy individuals have benefited from the weaker pound" after the Brexit vote. 
But far from being an accident of Brexit and the plunging pound that aided those capitalists and companies with overseas investments, the trend towards ever-increasing class division is ongoing for several years (indeed decades). As the Sunday Times comments: 
"While the rise in wealth among Scotland's richest last year is stunning, the difference over the last 5 years is even more stark. The total wealth of this year's 73 Scots on the Rich List is almost DOUBLE what it was in 2012, marking an £11.49bn (or 62%) increase in the wealth of the Scots in the UK richest 1,000 over 5 years."

Food-banks in Food-rich Scotland
Just in case you've forgotten, this vast mountain of wealth, accumulated in the hands of a tiny handful (about the population of two school classrooms!), has occurred in the same Scotland where last year emergency food parcels for three days were handed out to the equivalent of the entire population of Dundee city. 
And as I said in a speech at my USDAW union national conference in Blackpool last week, this is under the same government which can afford to spend £170-200billion on renewal of Trident nuclear weapons of mass destruction - so we can feel secure in the knowledge we have Trident to protect our food banks from being stolen by any invading foreign states! 

Capitalism Creates the Great Class Divide 
The stark, shattering contrast between the capitalist rich and the rest of us, between Them and Us, is no coincidence, no accident, no act of nature. It's the inevitable product of a capitalist system of ownership and production. It's planned inequality and planned poverty. 
And don't look for the pages of the Sunday Times to find any critique of this gross, gargantuan inequality, nor any hint of how society could be different, more egalitarian. On the contrary, this capitalist mouthpiece carried an editorial headlined 'Don't beat the rich - try to join them', which ended with the clarion call to all us plebs: "We should celebrate the success of the wealthy and try to join them."

We have to assume the Sunday Times readership figures amongst those swallowing their pride as they turn to food banks - workers included - are not high... nor in general amongst those on low or average wages. Why the hell should we 'celebrate the success of the wealthy' when it's the working class produces that wealth in the first place, only to have it legally robbed off us, on a daily basis, by the profit-driven employing class and their hired governments. 

Far from suggesting you race out to buy the Sunday Times, I'd advise you instead add my book Break the Chains to your reading list! It tries to dig deeper, to explain the root causes of exploitation and inequality. It explains and justifies a joined-up package of real-life measures that would transform the lives of millions of people in Scotland, to put an end to 'Them and Us'.

Arm yourself not only with facts, but comprehensive arguments for an entirely different type of society, where capitalist exploitation is replaced by a socialist democracy; where the grotesque class divide between Them and Us is eradicated in favour of a system of cooperation and collectivism in ownership, production and distribution of the vast wealth of Scotland and beyond.

Buy the book, join the struggle, help put an end to excruciating hunger and deprivation amidst grotesque gluttony and greed on the part of the profiteers - the Rich List and their hangers-on.


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