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The conspiracy of wealth.


Guest Stephen Turner
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Guest Stephen Turner

The ruling class enjoy several distinct advantages over the ordinary citizen....Wealth, power, privilage, ownership of the means of production, both material and mental..But all these can be reduced to one powerful element, the ability to predict, and shape the future in a form that is most beneficial to their Class. To comprehend this it must be understood that the elite recognise no National boundries, Patriotism is strictly for the Plebs, they are not religious, but will use Religion to further their ends, and do not concern themselves with Morality, nor astetics, over and above their abilty to calm, control or enrage the masses.

1, NATIONALISM/PATRIOTISM, Probably the strongest class weapon in the elites repertoire, because while the Ruling class think and act Globally to extend the hegemony, Citizens are taught, from an early age to consider only what is good for "their" Country, thus stifilling an Internationalist impulse. the importance of this diversionary tactic to the contined rule of the elite cannot be overstated.

2, RELIGION, Fact, nobody in the ruling class believes in an individual God, and their actions, as opposed to their words are the proof of this. but the promise of a better life in the hereafter, provided one knows one's station in this life, has provided them with another wonderful diversionary tactic. The message of most religions, Love your Brother/Sister as yourself is transformed, in the elites hands into a message of fear, and hate, and ultimately into a formidable weapon of Social control.

3, MORALITY/AESTHETICS, The elite are, by and large, amoral/immoral, many are fully blown Psychopaths, but they are adept at using false moral outrage to control the masses, witness the false piety when dealing with issues such as Reproduction, Homosexuality, the Family and conservation. it also follows that being amoral Sociopaths they enjoy no real appreciation of aesthetic values, including the semi-mystical emotion we call love( self love aside)

These are some of the normal methods of Social control, employed by the ruling class and their hired henchmen, and have been thousands of years in the perfecting. in normal times they work very well in curtailing any true Egalitarian impulse, but Ladies and Gentlemen we are most assuredly NOT in normal times.

" AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT, THERE IS A SORT OF ALL PERVADING ORTHODOXY, A GENERAL TACIT AGREEMENT NOT TO DISCUSS LARGE AND UNCOMFORTABLE FACTS." GEORGE ORWELL.

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Guest Stephen Turner
I wouldn't paint everyone in the ruling class with such a broad brush. I would say that your analysis only applies to about 99 percent of them. (Don't ask me who and where the 1 percent are. I have no idea.)

As Oscar Wilde said " I am sure that there are well mannered members of the upper eschellons, its just that I have never met any"

Edited by Stephen Turner
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Stephen,

Great post- I agree with everything you said. The fact that only wealthy persons truly have any power or influence, in America and all over the world, is a simple and obvious fact that is conveniently ignored by everyone. In America, it's the reason why every piece of legislation always benefits those who are wealthy, because only those who are wealthy (the politicians who craft and vote on leglislation, the courts who interpret and enforce it and the mainstream media moguls who decide on how it is all reported) have any say in the matter. Working men and women are forever scratching their heads in wonder at the various indignities going on all around them, but as long as no one from their economic level has a vote in Congress, or runs a television station or a daily newspaper, they will continue to scratch their heads in wonder. We won't even mention the lack of power for those llving below the povery level, struggling just to maintain shelter and eat daily. The rich count on the gullibility and short memories of the public when they front or pose as working-class, everyday people, whether they are politicians dressing casually to get votes or entertainers like Bruce Springsteen wearing torn blue jeans and singing about working in a factory.

Nearly everyone aspires to wealth, although very few like to admit it. It's part of human nature to dream of being rich. However, this curious group denial is the reason why Jesus's declaration that "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven" is every pius Christian's least favorite and least quoted biblical verse. It's my favorite quote, and I have yet to meet a single Chrisitan who doesn't react to it in the same way. Invariably, they attribute Jesus's crystal clear statement with a "well, you have to understand what he really meant," or "he isn't saying that no rich people can get into heaven." Uh, yes he is. And very few human beings want to acknowledge that, because while they want to get to heaven, they also would like to still dream about becoming rich. The Born-Againers usually provide the best reactions to this verse.

Huey Long is my all-time favorite politician, simply because he was only national figure to ever point out the huge elephant in the room, and no one else has done it since. His "share the wealth" program certainly would have been difficult to enact and enforce, but his general theme that a very small handful of people should not have so much, when so many have barely enough, and too many don't have enough at all, was a universal one that still resonates to this day. This guy was advocating a 30 hour (or maybe even less) work week in the early 1930s! He was urging politicians to enact legislation to make life better for everyone, so that all could have more leisure time to "enjoy the blessings the Lord has provided." Read his speeches- they are truly remarkable. No political figure has ever said the things he did on a regular basis.

The rich are defintely not, as Fitzgerald wrote, "the same as you and I." Ferdinand Lundberg wrote a few great books on this subject some years ago. I think his most well-known work was the classic "The Rich And The Super Rich."

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Guest Stephen Turner
Stephen,

Great post- I agree with everything you said. The fact that only wealthy persons truly have any power or influence, in America and all over the world, is a simple and obvious fact that is conveniently ignored by everyone. In America, it's the reason why every piece of legislation always benefits those who are wealthy, because only those who are wealthy (the politicians who craft and vote on leglislation, the courts who interpret and enforce it and the mainstream media moguls who decide on how it is all reported) have any say in the matter. Working men and women are forever scratching their heads in wonder at the various indignities going on all around them, but as long as no one from their economic level has a vote in Congress, or runs a television station or a daily newspaper, they will continue to scratch their heads in wonder. We won't even mention the lack of power for those llving below the povery level, struggling just to maintain shelter and eat daily. The rich count on the gullibility and short memories of the public when they front or pose as working-class, everyday people, whether they are politicians dressing casually to get votes or entertainers like Bruce Springsteen wearing torn blue jeans and singing about working in a factory.

Nearly everyone aspires to wealth, although very few like to admit it. It's part of human nature to dream of being rich. However, this curious group denial is the reason why Jesus's declaration that "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven" is every pius Christian's least favorite and least quoted biblical verse. It's my favorite quote, and I have yet to meet a single Chrisitan who doesn't react to it in the same way. Invariably, they attribute Jesus's crystal clear statement with a "well, you have to understand what he really meant," or "he isn't saying that no rich people can get into heaven." Uh, yes he is. And very few human beings want to acknowledge that, because while they want to get to heaven, they also would like to still dream about becoming rich. The Born-Againers usually provide the best reactions to this verse.

Huey Long is my all-time favorite politician, simply because he was only national figure to ever point out the huge elephant in the room, and no one else has done it since. His "share the wealth" program certainly would have been difficult to enact and enforce, but his general theme that a very small handful of people should not have so much, when so many have barely enough, and too many don't have enough at all, was a universal one that still resonates to this day. This guy was advocating a 30 hour (or maybe even less) work week in the early 1930s! He was urging politicians to enact legislation to make life better for everyone, so that all could have more leisure time to "enjoy the blessings the Lord has provided." Read his speeches- they are truly remarkable. No political figure has ever said the things he did on a regular basis.

The rich are defintely not, as Fitzgerald wrote, "the same as you and I." Ferdinand Lundberg wrote a few great books on this subject some years ago. I think his most well-known work was the classic "The Rich And The Super Rich."

Hi Don, I was pleased to hear about your book being published, well done Man.

You are correct, nearly everyone aspires to the lifestyle of the Rich, and the very fact that 99.9% are never going to get anywhere near it doesn't appear to deter them, thats some strange mass halucination, and represents yet another conspiracy of wealth, the lie that anyone can become rich. This is achieved, I believe, by the media phenomina of no past, no future, only NOW.

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Guest David Guyatt

Stephen, you are oh so right to describe the yearning for wealth as a hallucination -- one that is reinforced every second of every hour of every days by all media all across the board.

This too is a divide and rule strategy and occludes the fact that extreme wealth can only be achieved by a very few. Making everybody yearn, claw and bleed to "get some" is the way to divert attention away from this obvious fact. It also dissolves society - it's ultmate aim.

David

PS, I have a digital copy of Lundberg's "The Rich and Super Rich" packages as a Word document. Anyone want a copy PM me with their email address so I can send it as an attachment.

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I'm not sure what you're really saying, Stephen.

I'll do a crude paraphrase. Please correct me if and where I have it wrong.

(1) there's a huge disparity of wealth, with a small minority who are 'super-rich'...

(2) the super-rich is like a caste; inherited wealth is really the only gateway to membership.

(3) the super-rich are cynical and use ploys such as nationalism and religion to divide and rule the masses (99.9%+?)

I agree with (1). It is really just a statement of fact, based on well-known and widely available statistics.

(2) seems a lot more problematic to me. It does not make sufficient allowance for socio-economic mobility and the self-made man phenomenon. How do Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Aristotle Onassis or Rafiq Hariri fit into this caste paradigm?

(3) also seems very problematic to me. You imply the super-rich, as a united whole, collude to defend their interests as a class/caste.

The truth, IMO, is much more subtle.

Some enormously wealthy folk collude and conspire. Others don't.

There are networks of collusion - just like there are in other social classes. These networks themselves cut across social strata.

Edited by Sid Walker
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The ruling class enjoy several distinct advantages over the ordinary citizen....Wealth, power, privilage, ownership of the means of production, both material and mental..But all these can be reduced to one powerful element, the ability to predict, and shape the future in a form that is most beneficial to their Class. To comprehend this it must be understood that the elite recognise no National boundries, Patriotism is strictly for the Plebs, they are not religious, but will use Religion to further their ends, and do not concern themselves with Morality, nor astetics, over and above their abilty to calm, control or enrage the masses.

1, NATIONALISM/PATRIOTISM, Probably the strongest class weapon in the elites repertoire, because while the Ruling class think and act Globally to extend the hegemony, Citizens are taught, from an early age to consider only what is good for "their" Country, thus stifilling an Internationalist impulse. the importance of this diversionary tactic to the contined rule of the elite cannot be overstated.

2, RELIGION, Fact, nobody in the ruling class believes in an individual God, and their actions, as opposed to their words are the proof of this. but the promise of a better life in the hereafter, provided one knows one's station in this life, has provided them with another wonderful diversionary tactic. The message of most religions, Love your Brother/Sister as yourself is transformed, in the elites hands into a message of fear, and hate, and ultimately into a formidable weapon of Social control.

3, MORALITY/AESTHETICS, The elite are, by and large, amoral/immoral, many are fully blown Psychopaths, but they are adept at using false moral outrage to control the masses, witness the false piety when dealing with issues such as Reproduction, Homosexuality, the Family and conservation. it also follows that being amoral Sociopaths they enjoy no real appreciation of aesthetic values, including the semi-mystical emotion we call love( self love aside)

These are some of the normal methods of Social control, employed by the ruling class and their hired henchmen, and have been thousands of years in the perfecting. in normal times they work very well in curtailing any true Egalitarian impulse, but Ladies and Gentlemen we are most assuredly NOT in normal times.

" AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT, THERE IS A SORT OF ALL PERVADING ORTHODOXY, A GENERAL TACIT AGREEMENT NOT TO DISCUSS LARGE AND UNCOMFORTABLE FACTS." GEORGE ORWELL.

I am pleased you have started this thread. This is of course the most important conspiracy of all.

There have been periods in history when politicians have attempted to reduce inequalities: the Liberal Party under Gladstone and Asquith and the Labour Party under Clement Attlee and Harold Wilson. However, these reforms have always been undermined by Tory governments. Blair of course has followed in this Tory tradition and as a result the gap between the rich and poor has increased markedly during his period of power. I do not expect Brown to be any different.

As that early socialist Billy Meredith once said of his fellow football players when large numbers of them refused to join the Association Football Players Union in 1909 in order to increass the £4 maximum wage: "The unfortunate thing is that so many players refuse to take things seriously but are content to live a kind of schoolboy life and to do just what they are told ... instead of thinking and acting for himself and his class."

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Guest David Guyatt

One area of collusion is the Billionaire Boys Club. Others exist.

One of which is the Rhodes-Milner inner circle whose self-proclaimed ambition (which remained unnoticed nor commented until I wrote about it – drum banging session herewith ended) was to “absorb the wealth of the world”.

This is extracted from the Quigley’s “Anglo-American Establishment” (footnote for chapter 3) the expressed purpose of which was to forge a federal union between Britain and the United States (achieved, in my view) that would be a secret idea (put into practise via a secret society) by “gradually absorbing the wealth of the world to be devoted to such an object”. From a letter of 1891 that Cecil Rhodes write to his secretary W T Stead. This, as Stead latter commented, remained the “guiding star of his [Rhodes) entire life” – and which all his immense wealth and that of his friends, was devoted.

As Sid points out, not everyone is a member of these groups – although I suspect that their wealth can be harnessed to these collective ends whether they like it or not (that’s what banks are for, init?).

We should also consider what is wealth. Until a few years ago, Multi-billionaire Bill Gates was acknowledged as the richest man in the world. Was he hell. His was a new fortune. Think of those families that have been absorbing wealth for hundreds of years. There are trillionaires. But they do not allow the extent of their wealth to be known, for obvious reasons.

The annual revenue from the global drugs trade is well above $1 trillion a year. This figure, in fact, is close to being two decades old. The sums involved are so vast that not to launder them through the banking system would cause the collapse of the global economic system. Must be a couple of trillionaires there, I would guess. When we think of wealth we think of America, ot old Europe (not usually Italy curiously enough though). But we rarely, if ever, consider China and Japan -- loadsa "wedge" there...

David

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One area of collusion is the Billionaire Boys Club. Others exist.

One of which is the Rhodes-Milner inner circle whose self-proclaimed ambition (which remained unnoticed nor commented until I wrote about it – drum banging session herewith ended) was to “absorb the wealth of the world”.

This is extracted from the Quigley’s “Anglo-American Establishment” (footnote for chapter 3) the expressed purpose of which was to forge a federal union between Britain and the United States (achieved, in my view) that would be a secret idea (put into practise via a secret society) by “gradually absorbing the wealth of the world to be devoted to such an object”. From a letter of 1891 that Cecil Rhodes write to his secretary W T Stead. This, as Stead latter commented, remained the “guiding star of his [Rhodes) entire life” – and which all his immense wealth and that of his friends, was devoted.

As Sid points out, not everyone is a member of these groups – although I suspect that their wealth can be harnessed to these collective ends whether they like it or not (that’s what banks are for, init?).

We should also consider what is wealth. Until a few years ago, Multi-billionaire Bill Gates was acknowledged as the richest man in the world. Was he hell. His was a new fortune. Think of those families that have been absorbing wealth for hundreds of years. There are trillionaires. But they do not allow the extent of their wealth to be known, for obvious reasons.

The annual revenue from the global drugs trade is well above $1 trillion a year. This figure, in fact, is close to being two decades old. The sums involved are so vast that not to launder them through the banking system would cause the collapse of the global economic system. Must be a couple of trillionaires there, I would guess. When we think of wealth we think of America, ot old Europe (not usually Italy curiously enough though). But we rarely, if ever, consider China and Japan -- loadsa "wedge" there...

David

I agree with you that the official rich list is probably not to be trusted.

I believe at least one family fortune is so vast it has consciously been kept out of the limelight for a long time.

I think the institutional framework of the current world order needs more attention. It is neither a world of nation-states, nor is it a truly global political economy. It's somewhere in between.

This chaotic international disorder, so brilliantly characterised by Phillip Allott in Eunomia, serves the interest of the unaccountable mega-rich very well. On the one hand, global capital flows means that almost the entire world is their oyster. On the other hand, the lack of a coherent global taxation system enables them to contribute very little to the community while their wealth escalates.

I fall into that unusual category of people who believes that 9-11 and the JFK assassination were inside jobs ("a conspiracy theorist" in common parlance) and who also believes that we urgently need to develop a global system of governance, decentralized by all means, but global nevertheless.

"Conspiracy theorists" typically fall over themselves with paranoia at the merest suggestion of "globalism".

While I comprehend and sympathize to a large degree with their concerns, I think they are much mistaken in rejecting globalism out of hand. In my opinion, a managed global economy with global taxation offers the only serious prospect that we'll ever take the ruling class off welfare. It would also provide the basis for more effectively taxing transnational corporations.

I wonder, indeed, wither anti-globalist paranoia has not been deliberately fostered in that part of the community that poses the greatest threat to the criminals responsible for outrages such as the slaying of JFK and the 9-11 black op.

As the saying goes, the technique of infamy...

Edited by Sid Walker
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There are subleties to many of these issues that may seem contradictory without a broad based debate.

Just as an example: Nationalism

When it is used to divide the people of the world into warring (economic and armed) clans it is negative.

On the other hand when a weak group among strong ones seek an identity and a 'level playing field' it can be positive.

Another example: Religion.

Christ's real message was to the individual as an intermediary between god and the individual, irrespective of the material conditions that that individual finds him/her self in, whether in a dungeon or on a throne.

The abuse of his teachings in Religion is (as has been pointed out) negative.

Similarly Buddha, who wanted to be cremated and his ashes scattered and a simple set of symbols used to capture the essesnce of his teaching which is a simple sciemtific meditation technique. After three, or so, hundred years, images of him started to appear and rituals replaced the teaching. This had happened pre Buddha as he really only correctly interpreted and re-discovered previous teachings that also had gone the way of all 'religions' do over time.

Globalism:

This is a thorny one. Many overlapping themes grouped together that obscure some serious issues.

Various Major finance institutions use their enormous influence to control the policies of nations, often to the detriment of local economies. For example, credit is extended on the proviso that certain limitations on Multi-National monopolies are relaxed. In some cases such things as welfare provisions must be done away with in order to get access to loans.

One description of thie global playing field that is pushed by major players is a soccer field which slopes in one direction, and the goal at the lower end is big and the one at the high end is small.

The players on the low end shoot upwards, against the wind with shoes falling apart and those on the top end have top quality equipment and medical care as well as a field of umpires dependent on them for lucre and even life itself.

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Globalism:

This is a thorny one. Many overlapping themes grouped together that obscure some serious issues.

Various Major finance institutions use their enormous influence to control the policies of nations, often to the detriment of local economies. For example, credit is extended on the proviso that certain limitations on Multi-National monopolies are relaxed. In some cases such things as welfare provisions must be done away with in order to get access to loans.

One description of thie global playing field that is pushed by major players is a soccer field which slopes in one direction, and the goal at the lower end is big and the one at the high end is small.

The players on the low end shoot upwards, against the wind with shoes falling apart and those on the top end have top quality equipment and medical care as well as a field of umpires dependent on them for lucre and even life itself.

When I say 'globalism', what I mean is a conscious drive to create global instituitions - and global governance over-arching other levels of governance.

It's a different concept from 'globalization', which I'd define as the technologically-driven internationalization of economic activity.

Socialists were in at the beginning of the race to create global institutions that represented the common interest of humanity. The First International came long before any global institutions existed to reflect the interests of capital.

Unfortunately, from my perspective, the socialist hare has been very erratic in the last century and a half, while the capitalist tortoise kept going steadily... taking more and more control, step by step, of the very terms of mainstream debate about how to build global institutions commensurate with the needs of contemporary humanity. Meanwhile, humanity has been subjected to intensifying globalization.

The consequence is the messy inter-national disorder of our times.

Global institutions that we do have - such as the UN - have been tamed and/or warped. The global institutions that we need to have are barely discussed in mainstream discourse. The world's people - as a whole - feel utterly disempowered. The most powerful elements of the elite are able to make most of the running in shaping the world to their liking. Only strong populist and nationalist regimes offer some kind of effective resistance to the gradual emergence of a global police state controlled by an unaccountable elite. Yet ironically, the greatest threat to the elite's overweening power - IMO - is the development of a really effective global polity.

There a historical parallel. In the early period of industrialization, capitalism ran rampant in Britain. Few environmental controls. Pitiful workers' rights. Slums, work-houses... not a pretty sight. Revolution was in the air.

The capitalist system became more workable and stable as governments with stronger popular mandates increasingly regulated economic activity. The result was not socialism - but a much more livable capitalist-dominated society with some socialist elements.

National regulation of capitalism was adequate in that era - but today it's a bad joke. Most trade in our times is within and between multinationals. Capital flows are truly global.

By letting capitalism go global - but failing to provide an effective regulatory framework for global capitalism - we have created a potential hell for ourselves.

In the worst case scenario, our malfunctioning, hijacked global political economy could wreck the biosphere and destroy humanity as a whole.

Edited by Sid Walker
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Guest Gary Loughran

Great post Stephen.

I concur that this is the conspiracy. It is certainly the area where I feel most despondent when I think about it. This is also the one that makes me most emotional, angry and frustrated, at my inability to influence or begin to influence. I confess to putting my head in the sand occasionally on this topic, purely as I don't believe I have the intellectual capacity to see the whole of the problem. This really annoys me, as I would be quite cerebral and am able to detach from the subject normally :D

In a thread on this forum in galaxy far, far away, I said that we could only hope to win battles and the war was already lost (perhaps I said irretrievable) - perhaps I am wrong - though I still feel this way.

I commend you on your ability to rationalise these topics in your posts.

Edited by Gary Loughran
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I'm not sure what you're really saying, Stephen.

I'll do a crude paraphrase. Please correct me if and where I have it wrong.

(1) there's a huge disparity of wealth, with a small minority who are 'super-rich'...

(2) the super-rich is like a caste; inherited wealth is really the only gateway to membership.

(3) the super-rich are cynical and use ploys such as nationalism and religion to divide and rule the masses (99.9%+?)

I agree with (1). It is really just a statement of fact, based on well-known and widely available statistics.

(2) seems a lot more problematic to me. It does not make sufficient allowance for socio-economic mobility and the self-made man phenomenon. How do Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Aristotle Onassis or Rafiq Hariri fit into this caste paradigm?

(3) also seems very problematic to me. You imply the super-rich, as a united whole, collude to defend their interests as a class/caste.

The truth, IMO, is much more subtle.

Some enormously wealthy folk collude and conspire. Others don't.

There are networks of collusion - just like there are in other social classes. These networks themselves cut across social strata.

I would agree that it is misleading to suggest that the super-rich work as a united whole by colluding to defend their interests as a class. For example, recently Rupert Murdoch and Richard Branson have been in conflict over the control of digital media services. After all, they made their fortunes as a result of commercial conflict.

It is also true that this class is not impregnable. That is why it is called a class rather than a caste which is fixed. The super-rich class always includes new money. It would be true to say that social-mobility is a fact of life in a capitalist society. The media places great emphasis on these upward social mobility stories. It is a way of keeping the masses quiet. They believe that they could one day become another Richard Branson.

Sociological research shows that social mobility is fairly rare. In fact, during the period that Tony Blair has been in power it has been in decline. The only period in recent history where we have had significant social mobility was in the 1960s and early 1970s. This was because the economy needed a growth in certain professions such as education. The middle classes grew during this period. However, then, as now, there was virtually no downward social mobility.

Over the last twenty years the middle-classes have found it more and more difficult to keep their children in their own class. This has caused tension and it could be argued that the middle-classes are potentially the new revolutionary class. They are definitely more likely to have a better understanding of the political and economic system than the working or under-class. As a result they are more likely to be politically active.

However, there are certain subjects where the ruling class are united and do not break ranks. These are over issues that pose a threat to the privileges of their class. This includes subjects like taxation. This has always been the main way that income and wealth is redistributed. In the past, Asquith, Atlee and Wilson used the tax system to improve the lives of the less well off in society. As far as the UK is concerned, starting with Thatcher and continued by Blair, changes were made to the tax system that ensured that the poor paid a higher percentage of their income in tax than the super-rich. In fact, in many cases, the super-rich pay very little in tax. This is because of tax loopholes introduced by Thatcher and maintained by Blair. Murdoch and Branson both take advantage of these tax loopholes yet it is virtually never discussed in the media.

The result of this is that the middle-classes pay more tax than they have ever-done. The Liberal Democrats saw what Thatcher/Blair had done and suggested a 50% tax rate on those earning over £100,000. This was a very popular policy and this was reflected in the polls. This policy disturbed the super-rich and the media began a campaign to undermine Charles Kennedy. As soon as Sir Menzies Campbell became leader, he ditched the 50% tax policy.

Another subject that the ruling classes do not like discussing is private education. This is one of the main ways that they preserve their privileges. Any politician who suggests that we should introduce a fully comprehensive system is immediately dealt with.

The third subject that is kept off the political agenda is radical electoral reform. It is vitally important in the UK (and the USA) that the ruling class preserve the two party system. In this way they find it fairly easy to corrupt the political leadership of the two main parties.

The fourth subject that the political class does not like discussing is arms spending. The two main parties in the UK both have policies on this subject that are highly unpopular with the general public. However, they refuse to use a percentage of this budget to redistribute wealth.

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Guest David Guyatt
I'm not sure what you're really saying, Stephen.

I'll do a crude paraphrase. Please correct me if and where I have it wrong.

(1) there's a huge disparity of wealth, with a small minority who are 'super-rich'...

(2) the super-rich is like a caste; inherited wealth is really the only gateway to membership.

(3) the super-rich are cynical and use ploys such as nationalism and religion to divide and rule the masses (99.9%+?)

I agree with (1). It is really just a statement of fact, based on well-known and widely available statistics.

(2) seems a lot more problematic to me. It does not make sufficient allowance for socio-economic mobility and the self-made man phenomenon. How do Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Aristotle Onassis or Rafiq Hariri fit into this caste paradigm?

(3) also seems very problematic to me. You imply the super-rich, as a united whole, collude to defend their interests as a class/caste.

The truth, IMO, is much more subtle.

Some enormously wealthy folk collude and conspire. Others don't.

There are networks of collusion - just like there are in other social classes. These networks themselves cut across social strata.

I would agree that it is misleading to suggest that the super-rich work as a united whole by colluding to defend their interests as a class. For example, recently Rupert Murdoch and Richard Branson have been in conflict over the control of digital media services. After all, they made their fortunes as a result of commercial conflict.

It is also true that this class is not impregnable. That is why it is called a class rather than a caste which is fixed. The super-rich class always includes new money. It would be true to say that social-mobility is a fact of life in a capitalist society. The media places great emphasis on these upward social mobility stories. It is a way of keeping the masses quiet. They believe that they could one day become another Richard Branson.

Sociological research shows that social mobility is fairly rare. In fact, during the period that Tony Blair has been in power it has been in decline. The only period in recent history where we have had significant social mobility was in the 1960s and early 1970s. This was because the economy needed a growth in certain professions such as education. The middle classes grew during this period. However, then, as now, there was virtually no downward social mobility.

Over the last twenty years the middle-classes have found it more and more difficult to keep their children in their own class. This has caused tension and it could be argued that the middle-classes are potentially the new revolutionary class. They are definitely more likely to have a better understanding of the political and economic system than the working or under-class. As a result they are more likely to be politically active.

However, there are certain subjects where the ruling class are united and do not break ranks. These are over issues that pose a threat to the privileges of their class. This includes subjects like taxation. This has always been the main way that income and wealth is redistributed. In the past, Asquith, Atlee and Wilson used the tax system to improve the lives of the less well off in society. As far as the UK is concerned, starting with Thatcher and continued by Blair, changes were made to the tax system that ensured that the poor paid a higher percentage of their income in tax than the super-rich. In fact, in many cases, the super-rich pay very little in tax. This is because of tax loopholes introduced by Thatcher and maintained by Blair. Murdoch and Branson both take advantage of these tax loopholes yet it is virtually never discussed in the media.

The result of this is that the middle-classes pay more tax than they have ever-done. The Liberal Democrats saw what Thatcher/Blair had done and suggested a 50% tax rate on those earning over £100,000. This was a very popular policy and this was reflected in the polls. This policy disturbed the super-rich and the media began a campaign to undermine Charles Kennedy. As soon as Sir Menzies Campbell became leader, he ditched the 50% tax policy.

Another subject that the ruling classes do not like discussing is private education. This is one of the main ways that they preserve their privileges. Any politician who suggests that we should introduce a fully comprehensive system is immediately dealt with.

The third subject that is kept off the political agenda is radical electoral reform. It is vitally important in the UK (and the USA) that the ruling class preserve the two party system. In this way they find it fairly easy to corrupt the political leadership of the two main parties.

The fourth subject that the political class does not like discussing is arms spending. The two main parties in the UK both have policies on this subject that are highly unpopular with the general public. However, they refuse to use a percentage of this budget to redistribute wealth.

I would also argue that the 60’s and 70’s were one of the coldest periods of the cold war and the home fires needed to be stoked and kept burning. Once it was evident (by the early-mid 1980’s that communism as a force was finished) it was then okay to squeeze harder and keep on squeezing to this very day.

I don’t ever think the outcome of the cold war was ever going to be different than what it was, but there were times when the domestic rabble needed reassurance… fattening the rabbit for the pot, I suppose.

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