Abolish the Rich?

A photo of the disgraced Labour MP Claudia Webbe, with the caption ‘Claudia Webbe’s plan to beat climate change is as worrying as her conviction,’ accompanied Claire Foges column in the Times (8 November). According to Foges, ‘this year she tweeted a novel idea to solve the climate crisis: ‘the rich must be abolished.’” We are prepared to believe that Webbe might have had in mind abolishing them because they consumed too much or some other such silly idea. But what’s wrong with abolishing the rich or, rather, of abolishing the division of society into the rich and the rest? As a matter of fact, as this can only be done by making productive resources the common property of all the people, it would also create the only framework within which the climate crisis can be tackled with any chance of success. It is more worrying that some people want to keep the rich, and so the society which has led to the climate crisis.

Or just tax them?

Commenting in the Guardian (15 November) on the outcome of COP26, George Monbiot wrote:

‘Our survival depends on raising the scale of civil disobedience until we build the greatest mass movement in history, mobilising the 25% who can flip the system.”

As he has previously identified capitalism, not just one particular kind of capitalism, as the cause of the climate crisis, we can assume that this is the system he wants to ‘flip’. We can agree that this requires ‘the greatest mass movement in history’ and that if 25 percent want this then we would be more than half way there as most of the rest of the population would soon follow. However, they would need to be clear on what is to replace capitalism (and they’d be better advised to aim to win political control rather than trying to confront the state head on).

Unfortunately Monbiot is very vague on this, having talked merely about a ‘wealth tax’ and the government spending more money on public amenities. But that wouldn’t be an alternative to capitalism, if only because to be taxed the rich would still have to exist and their wealth derives from their ownership and control, in one way or another, of the productive resources on which society depends, the basis of capitalism. To flip capitalism means establishing a classless society based on the common ownership and democratic control of these resources. Will Monbiot eventually come round to this view or would that be too much of a shock for Guardian readers?

Whose government?

Before going in to be sent to prison for contempt of court, the 9 Insulate Britain protestors, who had been alienating people by blocking roads, had a family photo taken with one of them holding a placard saying “Betrayed by My Government” (Guardian,17 November). How naïve can you get? Evidently they think that the government exists to protect the people and that, in failing to do this over climate change, it has betrayed them. But the government exists to protect the interests of the rich owning class, and insulating people’s homes is not one of their priorities as it would cost too much. It’s their government. To call the government ‘my government’ is to reinforce the myth that governments are there to serve the people. They are not.

A hundred more years of wars?

This year is the centenary of the Royal British Legion. Its press statement on this began:

‘For the past 100 years, and for the next, the RBL will always ensure our Veterans get the support they deserve ….’

A hundred more years of wars, no thanks.

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