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It’s called the Class War


New research from the Ministry of Social Development  shows the gap between rich and poor in New Zealand is at its widest ever. The 2012 Household Incomes Report covers the period July 2010 to June 2011, and is a stunning indictment of the State. While the report places the blame for the growth in the gap on the global financial crisis, the real culprit is a government that is beholden to elite interests, in particular, that of multinational corporations.

The report provides sobering reading. Median household incomes fell 3% in real terms after little change (+1%) from the survey in 2009. This against a backdrop of tax cuts for the rich, and an increase in GST to 15%.

More to the point, NZ has no official measure of poverty or material hardship (deprivation). It seems an incredible position to maintain. Paula Bennett, Social Welfare minister claims that ‘people are moving in and out of poverty everyday’ so it is just too difficult to measure poverty. Sure Paula, we’ve got lots of million dollar lotto winners this week. 

The rates of child poverty are devastating: 21% of the country’s children are living in poverty. And poverty isn’t colourblind: 50% of the children in poverty are Maori or Pacifica, demonstrating that the class war is really a race war, too.

We should not be surprised by this report, but we should be skeptical of the claims that this growing gap has much to do with the global financial crisis.

We have a State that is committed to transferring the wealth of the people - public wealth, Maori wealth – into the hands of private interests. The aggressive privatisation agenda including prisons, schools, energy companies (read: water), the national airline and rail company is fundamentally about further enriching elite interests.

The corollary to this agenda is a whole host of other sustained attacks on ordinary people and the environment. In recent years, these attacks have often been cloaked in terms of the ‘war on terrorism’ and include the erosion or total abrogation of civil, political and legal rights, the growth of surveillance, mass incarceration, the growth of paramilitary units and tactics by police, large scale data gathering including of DNA, and the growth of international agreements entrenching corporate rights.

In terms of the environmental onslaught, the list is so long it could not be exhaustive. The land and sea that sustain us are facing collapse. The seas have been fished to near depletion, the race is on for oil, gas, minerals in every corner of the earth, nuclear weapons and waste proliferates, forests are cut down, our rivers are filled with effluent, and chemical waste is buried just below the surface.

This is no accident, nor is it any necessity. It is the natural result of a capitalist system based on stolen indigenous lands and stolen labour. It is a system whose elite masters have been supremely successful in retrenching in times of economic stagnation – the Wall Street bankers who enjoyed record profits after receiving the largest bailout in world history in 2008 are the best example.

A change in the status quo is not one that will come about through the philanthropy or generosity of the rich. Indeed, the many of the richest people in the world give away large sums of their money to ‘good causes’: causes that stridently avoid confronting the structural inequality inherent in capitalism. Poverty would have been solved long ago if it were possible for a group of committed do-gooders to have done so. There has been no lack of desire to end poverty, but there has been a lack of willingness to confront capitalism, and its necessary handmaiden, colonisation, head on.

An change in the status quo will not come from ‘good government’ redistributing the wealth from rich to poor, at least as much because such governments no longer exists (if indeed they ever did). Government in this neo-liberal globalized world is a tool of elite corporate and business interests. It is impossible for any State to step outside of the global capitalists system even if those working within them would like to. A Green government would be as constrained, if not more constrained, than any other. Those who believe they can ‘change the system from the inside’ suffer a naivety bordering on delusion.

Warren Buffett, investor, capitalist and one of the richest men in the world said: ‘There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.’

It is a war. Act accordingly.


>> It is a war. Act

>> It is a war. Act accordingly. <<

Righto. Any suggestions?