1980s >> 1989 >> no-1016-april-1989

What’s next for privatisation?

“They have monopolised everything that it is possible to monopolise: they have got the whole earth, the minerals in the earth and the streams that water the earth. The only reason they have not monopolised the daylight and the air is that it is not possible to do it. If it were possible to construct huge gasometers and to draw together and compress within them the whole of the atmosphere, it would have been done long time ago, and we should have been compelled to work for them in order to get money to buy air to breathe. And if that seemingly impossible thing were accomplished tomorrow, you would see thousands of people dying for want of air — or of the money to buy it — even as now thousands are dying for want of the other necessaries of life. You would see people going about gasping for breath, and telling each other that the likes of them could not expect to have air to breathe unless they had the money to pay for it. Most of you here, for instance, would think so and say so. Even as you think at present that it’s right for a few people to own the Earth, the Minerals and the Water, which are all just as necessary as is the air. In exactly the same spirit as you now say: ‘It’s Their Land , It’s Their Water’. It’s Their Coal’, It’s Their Iron’, so you would say ‘It’s Their Air’, ‘These are Their gasometers, and what right have the likes of us to expect them to allow us to breathe for nothing?’”


— Owen to his fellow workers in Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.