Eight people own as much as half the world

I am reblogging this, which I consider essential reading.

Systemic Disorder

Just when it seemed we might be running out of superlatives to demonstrate the monstrous inequality of today’s capitalism, Oxfam has provided the most dramatic example yet: Eight individuals, all men, possess as much wealth as the poorest 50 percent of humanity.

Eight people have as much as 3.7 billion people.

How could this be? Oxfam calculated that 85 people had as much wealth as the poorest half of humanity in 2014, a staggering finding that researchers with the anti-poverty organization discovered through crunching numbers provided by Forbes magazine in its rich list and by the investment bank Credit Suisse in its global wealth distribution report. Oxfam found wealth distribution to be even more unequal than did Credit Suisse, which calculated that the top one percent equaled the bottom 50 percent. Oxfam, in its report, “An Economy for the 99%,” released this month, explains:

“This year we find…

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Responsible politicians: trade barriers against climate-criminal Trump are your duty


Pulling the USA out of the Paris climate agreement would be ecocidal criminality on an unprecedented scale. I am calling on my political representatives to deter such monumental folly.

[UPDATE: Since writing to my representatives I discovered this Avaaz petition, which I have signed.]

I have just emailed my MP as below, asking her to do what she can to deter president-elect Trump from pulling the USA out of the Paris climate agreement. (I used the heading ‘No trade deal with climate-criminal Trump’.

I am copying it to the MSPs and councillors who represent me, asking them also to take appropriate action at the Scottish and local authority levels.

If you agree with what I say, feel free to use my email as the basis for similar messages sent by yourself. You can find your MP on TheyWorkForYou and your MSP on the Scottish Parliament website.

Dear Ms_

You will know that the overwhelming majority of climate scientists accept man-made climate change as a reality. You will also be aware that climate change has already had serious effects on the biosphere, increasing the incidence and severity of extreme weather events and contributing to the so-called ‘refugee/migrant crisis’. Indeed, the Pentagon believes that ‘climate change poses an immediate threat to national security, with increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages’. Many scientists fear that the tipping point is dangerously close, with mass extinction looming.


I joined thousands of other protesters at the COP21 event in Paris.

These considerations motivated me to join thousands of other protesters at the Paris COP21 event. While we were disappointed with the relatively weak outcome, it was vastly better than nothing. If the USA is taken out of the agreement, as threatened by Donald Trump, this would be an unprecedented and monumental act of ecocidal criminality, given the USA’s dominance as an economic power and significance as a contributor to climate change. It is therefore surely every responsible global citizen’s duty to do what he or she reasonably can to deter such an act.

Accordingly, I am asking you to raise at Westminster the issue of potential trade barriers/sanctions or selective boycott against the USA. Theresa May should receive a clear message that any maintained (far less enhanced) trading relationship with the USA should be contingent on that country sticking to the Paris agreement, and she must signal this to Trump. I leave it up to you how best this might be done, whether by parliamentary questions, an Early Day Motion or a mention in speeches, but I trust that you would consider yourself to be a responsible global citizen and will therefore take some action along these lines.

I thank you for considering this and look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

R.Eric Swanepoel, Dr

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I concur wholeheartedly!

Mewsing Out Loud

America goes to the polls tomorrow and I don’t envy them. Both the Republican and Democrat parties seem to have to have had a competition where they picked their worst candidate. Maybe it wouldn’t have seemed so bad if Bernie Sanders hadn’t been in the running, but it feels as though the US voters – those who have made it through their minefield of registration – have to choose between their equivalents of Cherie Blair and Farage.

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Brexit will only count if everybody leaves the EU

I tend to agree with this!

Systemic Disorder

Britain can leave the European Union, but it would remain just as tied to capitalist markets as before. The decision to leave the EU is not a decision to leave the world capitalist system, or even disengage from Europe, and thus is not a decision that will lead to any additional “independence” or “sovereignty” outside of proponents’ imaginations.

What has been unleashed is the nationalism and xenophobia of right-wing “populism” — those on the Left celebrating a blow against elites might pause for thought. Yes, voting in defiance of what elites told them to do played its part in favor of a British exit from the EU, but nationalism, scapegoating of immigrants, and convincing people at the mercy of corporate power that less regulation is in their interest were dominant.

It is the far Right that been given a shot in the arm from Brexit — from the National Front…

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Yes, the Leave vote is hostile to foreigners – and you need to come to terms with that

Please read this great article I am reblogging!


Here’s what the Brexit vote means to me: 52% of the people I share a nationality with think there should be fewer people like me in Britain’s future. And before you object, or make excuses, let me point out that if Britain clamps down on immigration, there will be fewer people like me.

I was born in England. In Hammersmith, to be precise. It’s where my dad was born. And his mum. And her mum before her.

I was born in England, but I am not English. I have roots in London, but that is not the same thing. My dad’s family – his great-grandparents – arrived here as Jewish refugees in the 1880s, ending up as East enders on one side and West enders on the other. My heritage spans the breadth of the city in which the family whose name I bear has lived for a century before…

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What Jeremy Corbyn must say to the Labour Party establishment

Jeremy Corbyn

Corbyn: ‘Are you with me?’

‘You claim you wanted strong leadership. I give it to you.

‘I have an overwhelming mandate from members to lead this party, and I am using it now.

Purging Blairites

‘I am purging all Blairites from the party. Resign or be sacked. The choice is yours. I give you one day to decide which it will be.

‘For those who require clarification of the term “Blairite”, I use the term to mean those apologists for neoliberalism who sought to align themselves with the so-called elite, to talk about the importance of appeasing big business and the markets, rather than of addressing the fundamental underlying cause of ever-widening inequality and the genuine suffering of many.

Collusion and fascism

‘You have colluded with the super-rich, who seek to scapegoat the weakest and most vulnerable in society for the consequences of their own greed and short-termism. This is evil, a word I use advisedly.

‘Your collusion has contributed to a drift towards fascism. You have let down the people of the UK, and the people of the world. You have no place in the Labour Party. Leave now.

‘For those who require clarification of the term “neoliberalism“, this poisonous philosophy, which we should have been much more explicit in explaining and condemning, has five main elements:

  • the rule of the market,
  • cutting public expenditure for social services,
  • deregulation,
  • privatisation, and
  • eliminating the concept of ‘public good’ or ‘community’.

‘None of these contributes to public wellbeing in the long run. All of them are claimed to help (at least) the short-term profits of multinational companies, but even this is questionable as a universal truth, and they certainly do not help them in the long run. I refer you to Ha-Joon Chang’s 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism.

Neoliberalism in a nutshell

Jeremy Corbyn must spell out what the real enemy is: neoliberalism.

The rancid heart

‘Neoliberalism is based on neoclassical economics, and this spurious “science” is a self-referent, hermetically sealed, theoretical discipline, based mainly on the assumption that people can be thought of merely as autonomous and selfish actors, interested only in their short-term material gain. It is not based on empirical evidence. Indeed, as Ha-Joon Chang and many others have demonstrated, it is nonsensical.

‘This nasty and false assumption – of the essential selfishness of people, and the non-existence of community – lies at the rancid heart of nihilistic neoliberal dogma. It is totally at odds with the founding values and traditions of the Labour Party.


‘There is no excuse for not knowing these things. There is no excuse for not acting on them. Alas, neoliberalism has also fostered a cancerous anti-intellectualism and so many people are now not only ignorant, but wilfully so, and this brings me to my next topic: education.


‘We shall simplify and reform the education system. Teachers will be given the best possible training, and then respected for the professionals they are, and largely trusted to get on with it.

‘Children will start formal education at 7. Before this age there will be informal, play-based education only. There will be an emphasis on outdoor education throughout. We shall drastically reduce the number of tests and exams.

‘We shall focus not on providing fodder for the ever-fickle jobs market, but instead on producing happy, resourceful, resilient and responsible global citizens, citizens who speak at least two languages fluently, and who are equally at home in – and see no boundaries between – the arts, humanities and sciences. Above all, we shall produce citizens equipped to tackle the real challenges of our century, not least climate change. Citizens, not consumers!

‘In this way we shall eliminate the silo mentality of so-called experts, whose blinkered views of one tiny aspect of a field do not allow them to see or address the wide consequences of their pet projects or see beyond their own short-term financial interests.

‘Such cancerous anti-intellectualism is demonstrated by the proponents of GM crops. These thin-end-of-nothingers are doing the biosphere a huge disfavour and bringing science into disrepute.


‘In conclusion, comrades – and I use that word advisedly – from now on we shall offer a solid, evidence-based alternative to neoliberalism rather than collude with it.

‘We shall address the real cause of people’s suffering.

‘We shall not shy away from explaining all this. We shall halt the pernicious dumbing-down of society. For now on, we shall “intelligent-up”!

‘Are you with me, or are you against me?’

Footnote: most Labour Party members are for him. Jeremy, don’t let them oust you because of Iraq.


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Reeling from the EU referendum, especially this…

The Kirklees borough contains the town of Birstall, where young mother and MP Jo Cox, a Remain campaigner, was murdered by a fascist terrorist in the name of the Leave campaign. See how the people of this area voted in response!

The Kirklees borough contains the town of Birstall, where young mother and MP Jo Cox, an EU Remain campaigner, was murdered by a fascist terrorist in the cause of  leaving the EU. See above how the people of this area voted after this act: 54.7% in support of Leave!

Sadness, anger, bewilderment

I am not yet sure what my settled feeling about the EU referendum results will be, but sadness, anger and bewilderment certainly feature at the moment.

Understandable discontent

If I believed that Leave supporters had voted on the basis of a rational desire for democracy, having analysed the advantages and disadvantages of EU membership, I would not feel this way. (Indeed, I am not uncritical of the EU myself, not least the Common Agricultural Policy.)

However, it seems clear that understandable discontent at their circumstances was exploited by the far-right element of the establishment (whose neoliberal policies cause much inequality and misery). These cynical plutocrats and their acolytes sought to scapegoat immigrants and refugees (an old trick, done in many ways), and then to conflate EU membership with ‘breaking point’ levels of immigration, suggesting that the solution to ‘the problem’ was Brexit.

Most disturbing

Here is the most bewildering and disturbing thing for me… Jo Cox, a young mother, MP and pro-Remain campaigner, was murdered in Birstall by a white fascist who made it clear that he was killing her in support of leaving the EU. After this appalling act of terrorism how did the good people of Kirklees (the borough in which Birstall is situated) vote? They voted to leave!

A secondary disturbing element of this story is how the right-wing media framed the murder: ‘the act of a loner with mental health problems’. Not only could this be construed as pejorative with regard to loners and people with mental health issues (probably most of us at some point in our lives), but it also contrasts with how they describe non-white people – and those who claim to be Muslim (falsely, in my opinion) – who commit similarly abhorrent acts and share similarly extremist ideologies. Such hypocrisy arguably amounts to hate-mongering propaganda in itself.

I am fearful that the present era has parallels with the 1930s, and we are drifting into outright fascism. Please learn about neoliberalism before it is too late.

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