Socialist Worker

A glimpse of our real rulers

Issue No. 2313

The revelation that at least £13 trillion is hidden away in tax havens by the super-rich is a scandal. But it also gives a glimpse of the world’s ruling class.

It makes a mockery of the idea that we need cuts to pay back the debts of the bankers. The money is still in their vaults—we need to take it back.

This isn’t just a matter of shady, anonymous bankers in tropical island hideaways. The tax-dodging offshore sector is designed and run by some of the world’s biggest banks, law firms and accounting companies.

More than half the world’s private financial assets are managed by the ten biggest banks. They include the likes of Goldman Sachs and UBS. But Barclays and HSBC are up there too.

And their clients aren’t just a few dodgy comedians like Jimmy Carr or even Tories like Gary Barlow. They are the global elite—the bankers, the royals and the bosses of the world’s biggest companies.

And what’s shocking is just how few of them there are. The Tax Justice Network study estimates that there are 9.3 million millionaires in the world.

That sounds like a lot. But they are just 0.14 percent of the world’s population—and they own 81.3 percent of its financial wealth.

Even this elite has its own elite. Some 30 percent of the world’s financial wealth is owned by just 91,186 people. The Occupy protests last year targeted the 1 percent. These people are the 0.001 percent.


They are the ones who decide where and when workplaces are opened or closed. They are the ones who pull the strings of “the markets”—and choose their next target. They squeeze governments and blackmail them to gain the economic rules they want.

In Britain, the Tories have certainly helped their rich backers. They’ve cut tax on corporations and the wealthy, opposed taxes on financial trading and even now are pushing through job cuts at the tax office.

It’s right to oppose these pro-fat cat policies. But the rich will always try to find a way of fleecing us. It’s not enough to just say we should tax them more.

Elections and policies do matter. But whichever politicians we vote for, the real power lies outside parliament—in the pockets of the billionaires. We need to get rid of them, and the system that created them.

The yawning gulf of inequality between the super-rich and the rest is a reminder of the injustice of the system. But there are many, many times more of us than there are of them.

And none of the wealth was generated by these gold-plated parasites. It comes from the billions of ordinary people who do all the work. That gives workers collective power—especially when their system is in such a deep crisis.

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What We Think
Tue 24 Jul 2012, 16:43 BST
Issue No. 2313
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