According to Oxfam Novib ( Dutch section of Oxfam International ) only 1% of the world population owned 44% of the world wealth in 2009. If the rich keep growing richer as they do now, then in 2016 they will own 50% of the world wealth. Oxfam Novib warns against growing income inequality. They argue for a progressive income tax system and call for government regulations to stop growing poverty. But the ruling political parties of the world do not care. Liberals, social democrats and conservatives are servants of the rich and reject intervention to end inequality. In the USA, organisations like Oxfam International are considered radical-leftist for their opposition to exploitation and poverty. Anybody that stands for fair wages and progressive taxes is called a ”dangerous leftist” in the American conservative media!
There is hue potential to brake with the capitalist system. Unfortunate most nations lack workers parties to lead the working class towards socialism. Social democratic parties, betrayed the working class, communist parties have degenerated so much that some even work with capitalist governments. The political left-wing is still in crisis, 25 years after the collapse of the USSR. This give the political right a clear advantage which they use again and again. Claiming that they can be ”responsible” by balancing the budget and limiting spending. Right-wing parties also win votes with anti-immigrant populism, blaming foreign workers for the crisis on the stock markets. In the USA, the right-wing blames Mexicans for many problems in the south, in Europe they blame Arabs and Turkish immigrants. Yet the people who caused the economic crisis are not blamed by the capitalist parties!
Revolutionary socialists call for a new economic system. A system based on collective ownership of the means of production. These means of production will not be controlled by the state, but by democratic elected workers councils. Management of nationalized enterprises will be done by these councils who’s representatives will be accountable to workers and society, not to some greedy shareholders. Much will change under socialism. Some jobs will die-out such as people who work at stock markets. On the other hand new jobs can be created by reducing the workweek to 32 hours. Instead of working for profits, people will work for the benefit of all. Capitalists today claim that we cannot work win-out the need for profit. But 500 years ago, the Christian Churches, Kings and Emperors claimed that common people could never rule for themselves. This is still propagandized by absolute monarchies like Saudi-Arabia!
In order for revolutionary changes we need workers parties. The old parties of social democracy ( who used to be moderate socialist ) are today fully capitalistic and right-wing. Although they still use the red color and sing The Internationale on the first of May, they carry out austerity politics and deep cuts in social spending. Still because there is no leftist alternative to many social democratic parties, workers of the world feel that by voting on social democrats they choose the lesser evil, only to be betrayed again and again. Many trade unions remain linked to social democratic parties, as they once stood for workers rights. But these times are over and many workers face brutal intimidation by governments in which social democrats participate!
Because of social democratic betrayal, the top 1% of the world are now supported by almost all political parties. From liberals to conservatives and now social democrats. Some communist parties even participate in coalition governments that carry out austerity plans. A famous right-wing ”communist” party is the Chinese ”Communist” Party, the ruling party of the People’s Republic of China. In 1949 the CCP took power in China and established a Stalinist single party dictatorship. By 1978, China was in ruins thanks to two cruel economic and political experiments that caused the death of millions. In desperation, the Chinese ”Communist” Party embraced the ideals of Deng Xiaoping. A pragmatic Stalinist who rejected Mao’s dogmatism and argued for state-capitalism.
By 1986, the leadership of the Soviet-Union also embraced new ideals with the election of Micheal Gorbachev. In the ”Socialist” Republic of Vietnam, the ruling politburo also enforced market based reforms. The stalinists decided to return to capitalism, as their top-down planned economy failed. Win out democratic participation from workers, their economy stagnated. Fearing a collapse of their regimes, the stalinists abandoned their communist rhetoric and introduced capitalism. Micheal Gorbachev wanted a state-capitalist system for the Soviet-Union, but nationalist forces took power in many Soviet republics which led to the collapse of the USSR in December 1991. Vietnam embraced the new laws of capitalism and because of this, diplomatic relations with the USA were restored in the early 1990’s!
The market became God, competition became King. Former revolutionary governments embraced that what they once opposed so dogmatic. In only 25 years, the People’s Republic of China boosted 1,3 million people who belong to the new rich. 120 million are lifted out of poverty since 1978, however 800 million Chinese remain poor to very poor. Vietnam has less rich people then China, but there are around 110 people who’s personal net-worth is higher then 30 million American dollars. 12 years ago this number stood at 34 individuals. However to be rich in Vietnam can means something very different. Rural workers say that if a person earn 400 dollars a month he is considered rich. 400 dollars a month is a very low income in the western world. But in rural Vietnam this is big money, while urban Vietnamese say that a income of 1800 dollars a month, means you belong to the ”rich”. This why only 110 people in Vietnam are considered rich by western standards as their wealth is higher then 30 million dollars!
As a result of austerity, the gap between the top 1% and the rest is growing. Oxfam Novib estimates that in the year 2016, more then 50% of all the world’s wealth will belong to the 1%. At this moment the 1% control 46% of the wealth, this used to be 44% in 2009, only six years ago. The capitalist crisis resulted in the fact that the rich grew richer, while most workers suffer. In Greece, child poverty grew to 40%, used to be 20% before 2008. But not only Greece is heavenly affected by austerity, in Spain 1 out of 4 families is at risk of living in poverty. All the result of massive unemployment, low wages and rising costs of living. Capitalism is punishing the workers and the poor, while making the rich even richer. This is a fact explained by Oxfam International;
20% of billionaires have interests in the financial and insurance sectors, a group which saw their cash wealth increase by 11 percent in the 12 months to March 2014. These sectors spent $550 million lobbying policy makers in Washington and Brussels during 2013. During the 2012 US election cycle alone, the financial sector provided $571 million in campaign contributions. Billionaires listed as having interests in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors saw their collective net worth increase by 47 percent. During 2013, they spent more than $500 million lobbying policy makers in Washington and Brussels. Oxfam is concerned that the lobbying power of these sectors is a major barrier in the way of reforming the global tax system and of ensuring intellectual property rules do not lead to the world’s poorest being denied life saving medicines.
In order to combat income inequality and poverty, Oxfam International proposes the following solutions;
- Clamp down on tax dodging by corporations and rich individuals
- Invest in universal, free public services such as health and education
- Share the tax burden fairly, shifting taxation from labour and consumption towards capital and wealth
- Introduce minimum wages and move towards a living wage for all workers
- Introduce equal pay legislation and promote economic policies to give women a fair deal
- Ensure adequate safety-nets for the poorest, including a minimum income guarantee
- Agree a global goal to tackle inequality.
Revolutionary socialists agree with many of these solutions, but in order to end inequality we need to brake with the capitalist system. The rich will never agree to higher taxes and social safety nets. Because most millionaires and billionaires are individualists, they care only for themselves. Since they own most politicians and media outlets, workers are mislead into voting on political parties that support capitalism. The rich even use social democrats to poison workers with leftist propaganda, only to abandoned this once social democrats join coalition governments with liberals or conservatives!
This is why we workers must brake with their logic. We must brake with the rule of the 1%, the tiny group of people who will soon own 50% of our collective global wealth. Let the ruling classes tremble at a socialist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.