I’ve been trying to come up with a way to explain just how much trouble the world is in. It’s difficult, to be honest, even dealing with the mathematics of the economic woes is near impossible. It’s nothing to do with the vast scale of the numbers, which are terrifying, it’s to do with the wealth gap.
About 80 people own half the world’s wealth now… this is a false start. That sounds ridiculous but 80 isn’t a small number as such. Then again, when you realise there are seven billion people on the planet so 80 people own as much as three and a half billion people then… nope. I’ll start again.
The odds are that if you add together the wealth of everyone you’ve ever met and everyone you ever will meet you will not have as much money as one of these people. No, that doesn’t work either, that sounds like envy when it’s just an attempt to explain the difficulty.
The wealth of Bill Gates alone could build 35 Burj Khalifas. It could fund two Manhattan Projects today. He could pay for all of the Apollo moon landings again, twice. This still doesn’t work. Also Bill Gates has at least signed up to leave half his wealth to charity after his death. Probably tax free as well because these things are.
The problem here is one of scale. You, most likely, are thinking of what these people own as a very, very large wage but it isn’t; it’s insane. They can do literally anything and get away with it. They have more money than you could possibly understand.
It’s like trying to explain the sun to a candle flame.
And despite this, despite all this, they are growing richer. Does that infuriate you? It should. It should make you sick with the vile scale of the relentless avarice.
Does this sound like the politics of envy? I don’t care. I don’t want what they have, I don’t want yachts and football teams and massive charity foundations that effectively function as tax breaks, I just want enough to get by and have a good time now and then. Maybe a little more, enough not to have to toil for someone else. I don’t have that.
Economists argue that wealth can’t be measured like that, that it’s created from some mystical spring hidden in the financial sector. To a degree, bizarrely, this is true, but most of the bounty of that spring is slurped up by entitled filth before it ever reaches you. Or anyone you know.
In Greece the Syriza party were elected to put a stop to the awful austerity bludgeoning the country has been taking. They made some headway, angry though they were, and when they were instructed to take yet more painful measures by the troika they went to the polls and held a referendum about whether or not to accept them. They chose not to and, as a result, their masters in the political parties who answer to the banks and the funds that answer to the banks and the European central bank that answers to the bloody banks, forced them to accept it anyway.
So it was that in Athens, in the birthplace of direct democracy, after an exercise in direct democracy specifically rejecting the fresh avalanche of fiscal agony, the citizens were overridden by the bankers. The excuse, as it has been for some time, is that there is no more money. The scum at the top of the pile keep getting richer.
Now in the UK we have a new Labour party leader. He’s okay, kind of left wing, certainly more left wing than the limp, meandering shadows who’ve run the party after Blair. Kind of left wing. He believes in free markets but he want to renationalise the currently bloody awful railways and institute a kind of direct quantitative easing, effectively printing money to pay for infrastructure projects. He wants to raise taxes for the very wealthy, close tax loopholes and stop the social cleansing of our largest cities. Sounds reasonable to me, more reasonable than pouring money in to a black hole of a financial sector at any rate. The establishment…
The Establishment. It’s an old word and I’d almost forgotten about it. They’re still there, surprise surprise, and they’re still in charge. Let me give you some examples of just how berzerk they have become since Corbyn’s election.
The Express, one of our many, many right wing newspapers, printed a story about a member of his family being a somewhat odious sort. By all accounts he was horrific to those in his employ and was dragged before the courts for breaching labour laws on more than one occasion. Newsworthy? Nope, it wasn’t him and there is no suggestion that he colluded in this behaviour in any way. I’m sure he didn’t anyway, unless he has a time machine, because this relative was his great great grandfather. His great great grandfather.
Other newspapers have made a lot of noise about his lack of a tie, as if not wearing a tie is something that actually matters. “He probably should,” you’re thinking, “if only to protect himself from press attacks like that.” Why? Why should he? Do you wear a tie to work? Statistically; you do not. You almost certainly don’t if you’re a woman. Why should he have to wear a stupid, irritating, gendered item of clothing? I find them distracting, I find it hard to think with one of those bloody things wrapped around my neck. He does wear one in the commons now. I don’t think he should.
Others have made a huge fuss about him not singing the national anthem during a remembrance service, just like many other attendees. If you’re a UK citizen quick; sing the national anthem! All of it! Now! DON’T GOOGLE THE LYRICS, THAT’S CHEATING. And do it with someone else in the room. Feel a stirring of national pride? No? At best you don’t care and at most you’re a little embarrassed, aren’t you? You didn’t even sing it you liar. What arch patriots these papers are, what lovers of our gracious queen, when less than a week earlier they had gleefully published a picture of her performing a nazi salute while she was an infant.
Finally (for the purposes of this article if not actually finally, the Establishment really went ballistic at him) a general in the British army said that there would possibly be a coup if Corbyn were elected as Prime Minister. A coup. This man is suggesting, by the law of the land, treason. Can you picture a general saying that about a conservative party leader? No? Of course you can’t, it wouldn’t happen. If he did he would be arrested for it, much as he should be now, but the Establishment had already spent so much time painting him as an illegitimate lefty terrorist that everyone almost laughed it off.
This is not democracy. Corbyn is going to lose. He’s going to lose badly. He hasn’t put forward any policies which are particularly leftish, he’s been quiet and softly spoken, he’s quite likeable when you see him talking in an interview though he clearly doesn’t like the press (who can blame him?). He’s not going to lose because he’s worse than the other Labour leadership candidates, they were awful, he’s not going to lose because people, when they actually think about it, particularly disagree with his policies, he’s not going to lose because he doesn’t wear a tie, he’s going to lose because the Establishment, the right wing filth who run this country, have already moved heaven and earth to make him unelectable.
Now, personally, he’s not left wing enough for me. He believes in wage culture and he thinks that a nation state is not an inherently destructive force and a state monopoly on violence is acceptable and a thousand and one other things I disagree with. However I will, probably, vote for the Labour party at the next election because the alternative is the bloody Tories under, most likely, George Osborne. And they’ll lose. They’ll lose hard. Because even the right of their own party have bought in to the narrative that he cannot win. Because an electorate crying out for a more human, less weirdly slick, more relatable politician is nudged gently towards UKIP by the Murdoch papers and their thuggish friends. Because an electorate rapidly falling out of love with austerity is told a thousand things about the man who says to stop it but none of them are about policy. Because he tries to change, a little bit, the consensus that a tiny, brazenly wealthy elite is somehow good for everybody. Because for all the illusion of an egalitarian world we live at the bottom, we are the cattle corralled by people so rich they are effectively a different species, we live in a pen and they squeeze it ever smaller, growing fat off the sound of our pain.
This means the world is in trouble. Deep trouble. The money is utterly entrenched and owned by unaccountable people who can, and will, do anything, anything, to keep it that way. I genuinely fear for the future.
I badly, badly hope I’m wrong.