Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Greed Tyranny

Why do people with much more power and money than the rest of society take it upon themselves to reshape public policies to secure even greater domination over everyone else? What drives them to seduce politicians with their substantial donations and media influence? Or to strike fear into voters against imaginary threats so they would back policies that actually serve the corporate elite at their expense?

The answer lies with the sixth giant, Greed.

After the defeat of fascism in the Second World War, progressives rallied to Beveridge’s vision of slaying the five infamous giants of Ignorance, Idleness, Squalor, Disease, and Want. A civilised society in partnership with a responsive state would ensure the provision of education, employment, housing, healthcare, and social security. Public debt of over 200% of GDP was brought down through growth fuelled by state investment in building a better future for everyone. Quality of life improved substantially, especially for those on lower income.

But they forgot about Greed. And Greed struck back with a vengeance.

From the 1980s on, Greed in the form of plutocratic manipulators have driven forward a relentless agenda to make the wealthiest 5-10% in society even more rich and powerful by releasing them from any bond of solidarity with the other 90%.

Ideological arguments do not so much shape this agenda as are deployed to justify the overriding aim of amassing more power and resources for those with the most, while making everyone else more dependent on them.

These plutocrats – Reaganites, Thatcherites, funders for ‘protest’ parties like the Tea Party & UKIP – push for taxes to be cut to widen the gap between rich and poor. They press for public provisions to be slashed so that it will hurt the 90% but will have little impact on the wealthiest. They arrange for public assets to be handed over to private corporations so the few can make profit from the rest and penalise those who cannot afford to pay. They repeal laws as red tape if these hinder the wealth accumulation of corporations, but bring in regulations to clamp down on any resistance from workers and unions to arbitrary business diktats. Worst of all, they orchestrate scapegoating campaigns to deceive people about the real causes of social and economic problems, and divert public anger towards vulnerable people least able to defend themselves: immigrants, disabled people, the unemployed, those in dire poverty.

Greed, with the other giant causes of human misery in its tow, is now a tyrannical force in politics. Those most adept at squeezing dry the fruit of ordinary people’s labour, and siphoning off the resultant nectar to their private reservoir, are granted a place at the apex as ‘wealth-creators’ and can pick their own privileges. Everyone else is robbed of equal access to quality education, decent jobs, affordable homes, free healthcare, and a real safety net.

Politicians looking to rally the great majority of the public to join forces in rebuilding our society, step forth and declare: it’s time to end the tyranny of Greed.

[There are two public talks in Cambridge this May on ‘The Problem with Plutocracy’ by Dr. Henry Tam:
7 May, Tuesday, ‘Left with a Hard Choice: the contest of democracy v plutocracy’
13 May, Monday, ‘Will this be the Plutocratic Century?’
For more details, see ‘The Problem with Plutocracy’]