The working class is losing the war

June 17, 2016

There's a war going on — the class war. Funnily enough, the only time you hear politicians using that term is as an epithet, not as a descriptor for the daily life of the overwhelming majority of society.

An example: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull accused Labor leader Bill Shorten of declaring war on business and waging a “class war” for making the modest suggestion that the rich should pay a fairer share of tax.

Another example: Treasurer Scott Morrison called for an end to class warfare around the budget which gives tax cuts to corporations while implementing even greater austerity on the vast majority.

It has been five years since the Occupy movement popularised the slogan “For the 99%”. Socialists such as Jeremy Corbyn in Britain and Bernie Sanders in the US have brought this type of politics into the political mainstream, but it has not yet resulted in a meaningful challenge to the power of the 1%.

This was confirmed by a report released earlier this month by corporate think tank the Boston Consulting Group, titled Global Wealth 2016. It showed that last year, the private wealth of the world's richest individuals increased by 5.2% to US$1.28 trillion dollars. The report also noted that this occurred at a time when global financial growth was slowing down, the only exception being Japan where “a government stimulus drive boosted asset values”.

As US billionaire, philanthropist and 1 percenter Warren Buffett has rightly pointed out “There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning.”

When Turnbull attacks Shorten for engaging in class warfare it is about preserving the status quo and inequality inherent in the system, not correcting an imbalance in inequality. There is a war going on and unfortunately it is not the 99% that are winning. We need reinforcements for our side.

Green Left Weekly is a clearinghouse of information about the struggles of the 99% against injustice and inequality. If we are going to seriously challenge the inequality of the system we need to learn from struggles, past and present, and we need an advocate for our interests — the interests of the 99%.

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