Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 7 September 2011

Editorial of the Socialist, issue 684

Mass workers' movement - the only way to make the super-rich pay

Members of the teachers' union NUT on the 26 March TUC demonstration, photo Suzanne Beishon

Members of the teachers' union NUT on the 26 March TUC demonstration, photo Suzanne Beishon   (Click to enlarge)

"The system [capitalism] produced an ever-expanding flow of goods and services, which the impoverished proletarianised population could not afford to buy. Some 20 years ago...this would have seemed outmoded. But it needs another look, following the increase in concentration of wealth and income." These are not the words of a socialist but Samuel Brittan, the Thatcherite columnist for the Financial Times, giving his summary of Karl Marx's analysis.

In the 19th century Marx explained that capitalism created a trend, with brief interludes of growing prosperity, towards the concentration of wealth and power in an ever decreasing number of hands at the top of society, with increased poverty and misery at the bottom. This has never been truer than today.

Marx was right

So overwhelming is the similarity between Marx's analysis of capitalist crisis and the reality we face today, many capitalist economists have been forced to declare that 'Marx was right'.

Capitalism is a bankrupt system. As it lurches into a new phase of the 'great recession', billions of people around the world face growing poverty.

The economic crisis has not, however, meant increased hardship for the few billionaires at the top of society. In Britain bank CEOs who brought the economy to the brink of meltdown, with bank collapse only prevented by 850 billion of tax payers' money in 2008, have seen their bonuses increase by 130%.

But it is a sign of the bankrupt nature of modern capitalism and its political representatives that taxation of the rich is so low some of them are asking to pay more.

Warren Buffett is the world's richest man - worth $62 billion at the last count. In an act of self-flagellation he has demanded to pay more tax. He 'feels guilty' because he only pays 17.4% of his income in tax ($6.9 million last year), while his staff pay an average of 36%.

In Italy, the chairman of Ferrari has also offered to pay more in tax - but in doing so demonstrated why the working class must always beware of billionaires bearing 'gifts' - the Ferrari boss is only willing to pay more if the government accelerates its programme of privatisation.

The Socialist Party demands that it is the rich - not the working and middle classes - who pay the price for the economic crisis. We want a huge increase in taxation of the rich - all that Buffett and Co are offering - and far more.

Over the last 30 years the pursuit of ultra neoliberal economic policies - where mammon alone is worshiped - has left taxation of corporations at historically low levels.

In Britain for most of the 1970s the tax rate for the highest band of income was 83%. Likewise for most of the 1970s, big corporations paid 52% of their profits in tax, but that percentage has been reduced step-by-step ever since, to now being just 26% - with the government planning to lower it to 23% in three years' time.

The 'feral rich'

And as the PCS trade union has pointed out, even with the existing low levels of taxation for the rich, more than 120 billion goes uncollected every year, as the 'feral rich' avoid paying even the puny taxes they owe.

The Con-Dem government, far from increasing tax on the rich, is mooting the possibility of reversing even the minor measures introduced by New Labour at the start of the economic crisis - such as the 50% rate of tax on income over 150,000.

Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France, partly reflecting the less short-sighted character of French capitalism - but also the nearness of the French presidential elections - has said he favours a temporary tax of 3% on taxable earnings above 500,000. But this is chicken feed, especially in comparison to the billions that Sarkozy has given to the rich in tax breaks.

Worldwide there is enormous latent anger at the growing gulf between rich and poor. In Britain 72% of people support a dramatic increase in taxation of the rich, in the US it is 76%. It is partly because the super-rich fear the growing anger against them and their system that a few of them are offering to pay a bit more, to give some crumb of credence to the idea we 'are all in it together'. We need to organise a mass movement to make them pay.

But while we favour taxing the rich, we also recognise that the logic of capitalism - a system driven by the blind need to maximise profits - means that the capitalists will never meekly accept dramatically increased regulation and taxation. The response of the capitalist media in the US has not in the main been to welcome Buffett's proposal but to ridicule him.

The only permanent and lasting solution to the crisis is a socialist solution. Capitalism has led to enormous economic destruction. In Britain around 10% of wealth has already been lost as a result of the recession, due to factories and workplaces closing, resulting in 2.5 million and rising officially unemployed. Nor is there any prospect of a return to healthy economic growth.

That is why a crucial step towards solving the economic crisis would be to take the big corporations and banks that dominate Britain's economy into democratic public ownership, paying compensation on the basis of proven need. This would then allow for production to begin to be planned for need and not for profit.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 7 September 2011:

Action to defeat the cuts!

Strike together to defend pensions

Mobilise the power of the working class

The Socialist editorial

Mass workers' movement - the only way to make the super-rich pay

Socialist Party news and analysis

Tory bribes to promote socially divisive 'Free Schools' agenda

NHS reaches a tipping point

Reject health bill attacks on abortion

The riots, Clarke and the "broken penal system"

Fast news

New pamphlet - The Rise and Fall of the Scottish Socialist Party

Miliband to bury Labour

Socialist Party feature

Consequences of 9/11: a world turned upside down

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Bristol marches against home care sell-off

EDL kept out of Tower Hamlets by thousands protesting

Stop the Dale Farm evictions

Confronting a Labour cutter

Socialist Party workplace news

Scotland - Unison calls for pensions strike

Picket lines at police stations

Workplace News in brief

Socialist Party youth and students

Youth March For Jobs

One in a million...fighting back!

NEET figures still rising

Local Housing Allowance

36,000 for a degree

Socialist Party review

Them and Us by Will Hutton

International socialist news and analysis

Libya after Gaddafi - Independent workers' action needed

Indian high commission protest over Tamil death sentences


Home   |   The Socialist 7 September 2011   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleCaerphilly & RCT Socialist Party: The fight against the poll tax

triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: How we beat the Poll Tax

triangleTurn Carillion crisis into movement against privatisation and capitalism

triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: How the Poll Tax was beaten

triangleThe Socialist Inbox


triangleCapitalists fear for their system at Davos

triangleWidening wealth gap, increase in poverty...make the fat cats pay

triangleThem & Us

triangleThem & us


triangleMajority of kids poor in some areas

triangleFor workplace trade union organisation against sexual harassment

triangleTrump's tax attacks


triangleNHS pay: Reject the Tories' divide and rule offer

triangleZero new homes 'affordable' in Blairite Manchester


triangle15 years since the invasion of Iraq: what we said


triangle200 years of Marxism meeting


triangleRussia, spies and nerve agents

Economic crisis:

triangleItalian elections create huge political shake-up

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



For a fighting, democratic Labour Party



Social media - the potential and the limits



NHS pay: Reject the Tories' divide and rule offer



Jeremy Corbyn and Brexit



Passing the council cuts test


Them & Us

Them & us



Cuts harm kids' health



The Blairites are NHS privatisers - to save it means sacking them



Hands off free school meals!



Russia, spies and nerve agents



Zero new homes 'affordable' in Blairite Manchester



Spring Statement 2018: Tory austerity staggers on despite economic and political weakness


What we saw

What we saw



Sainsbury's raise really a cut: fight for 10 with no strings!



Profits up Wages down

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018