Rich list figures should spur fightback!

By Rhodri Evans

The Sunday Times Rich List for 2018 showed the top 1,000 plutocrats’ wealth at £724 billion, 10pc up on the 2017 figure of £658 billion, which in turn was 14pc above the 2016 figure of £575 billion.

In the years 2016-8, when world capitalism made its nearest approach to a revival since the 2008 crash, profits edged up, and stock markets rose, just those top thousand individuals siphoned an extra £820 into their coffers from each child, woman, and man in the country.

Meanwhile, real wages have fallen or stagnated. In 1977 the wages of the bottom half of workers recouped 16pc of value generated by workers’ labour. By 2010 that figure had fallen to 12pc.

Of the remainder in 2010, 39pc went to the top half of employees (some to better-paid workers, some to salaried bosses); 11pc was paid by employers in the form of social contributions (so largely filtered through to workers); and an increasing slice, 39pc, went to businesses and owners in the form of profits (see here).

Since then the share of wages (including social contributions, and including very high wages) in output has fallen further.

New research by economists at Greenwich University has shown that “changes in bargaining power, in particular the fall in union density, and welfare state retrenchment, as well as financialisation and offshoring, lie at the core of rising income inequality between labour and capital” (see here).

From that inequality in incomes flow a larger take for profits, and increased wealth for profiteers.

The remedy is clear: organise; fight back; reverse the decline in union strength and wage-share; and build up the labour movement to be strong enough to claim social ownership and control over the vast concentrations of wealth created by labour but currently monopolised by the profiteers.

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