The Continued Rise of ‘the 20/80 Society’

Ah, only if we worked together, how much society could be transformed and how much we could do and how much more prosperous we would all be. I’m not an economist, or a political theorist or anything like that, in fact though educated I am like most everybody else, a voice just howling in the wilderness. What I can see though, in my own life, in the community I live and the nation and indeed world I live in, that things are not going too well for the majority of us, but sadly things are very probably going to plan. The rich are getting much richer and the poor are staying poor or slowly but surely getting poorer. The political class in most of Western Europe and the US are increasingly more detached from ordinary people, and the working class have been well and truly marginalised, disenfranchised and ignored, and usually only mentioned in a negative sense. Racism and sexism and homophobia, at least on the surface of ‘respectable’ society have become taboo, so class prejudice and class discrimination have taken the place of these and many other prejudices, because of course the working class, particularly the white working class are so irretrievably racist, sexist, homophobic, workshy, indolent, uneducated, slovenly and were most definitely to blame for the economic crisis in 2008, not the bankers and speculators, that they deserve all the hatred, resentment and righteous anger from respectable society they get. They brought it on themselves, didn’t they?


Who needs satire these days? Anyway, the much regurgitated answer to the problem is that it is the 1% against the 99%, which though interesting is not really the whole truth I feel. It’s a little more complicated than that. If it really was only 1%, they just wouldn’t be able to maintain control of the economy, the police forces, the army, the political class and the opinion formers that really effectively act as the gatekeepers, or to be blunt, the cheerleaders of the very wealthy and powerful who espouse neoliberal and ‘free market’ economics that most the world lives under now. I’d say that the very wealthy and powerful, the elites who command and control and believe their elitism is the only thing that matters, and not much else, need and in fact have the aid of about 1/5 of the rest of the majority to promote their interests and are paid off accordingly. To be part of this society, you need actively to promote economic, political and social policies, views and ideologies that work against the majority and work for a tiny minority. So, I’ve coined this the ‘20/80 Society’ because effectively it is the 20% at the top or who work for elitist interests, directly against the 80% who are not part of any elite. It is essentially an amoral or immoral society with the full knowledge that some people rise almost directly at the expense of other people and their rights being trampled on and trampled over, dismissed, derided and aided by a drip drip of propaganda by clever opinion formers and the mainstream media, all done in the knowledge that those who propagate and uphold such a system built on injustice and patent unfairness would not like to be on the receiving end of such injustice and unfairness themselves. This alone tells us that such a society may work effectively for a while, but the moral issues, beaten down again and again, and/or ignored or dismissed again and again, do not go away. We all know that unfairness and economic inequality is now sewn into the very fibres of modern society in the UK and many other wealthy and not so wealthy countries, but few of us can do anything about it, and few politicians are listening anyway.


Already, I believe that the wheels are coming off the amoral, selfish and elitist society largely promoted out of the US and the UK, and many Americans, British people and people all over the developed world are sick and tired of societies and economies that literally only work for a minority, and where only a minority seem to prosper, whilst many more of us struggle to find work, if in work get a decent wage, buy a house, pay bills, pay often extortionate gas and electricity charges, plan for any kind of future and see workers rights eroded whilst very rich people like Phillip Green asset strip companies to the tune of £100s of millions, throw thousands out of a job, and walk away personally enriched at the expense of others. This isn’t the unacceptable face of unfettered capitalism, this is merely the reality of unfettered capitalism, one individual walking away with multi millions and many thousands, perhaps million cast further and further into hardship and uncertain futures. Let alone the moral issues, the mere economic situation alone is not sustainable and will only get worse until we, as concerned citizens from all walks of life, accept that the very richest should not be allowed to ride roughshod over the rest of us, should be made by enforceable laws to pay their taxes, closing every loophole and tax haven if need be, be fined double of what they avoid in tax, and on the other hand that workers rights are restored, there is a decent minimum living wage for all. Some say, of course, that small businesses will not be able to pay a decent minimum wage, and it is a very fair and salient point. My simple answer is this: All small businesses should get help topping up wages if governments and parties are truly concerned, whilst medium sized and large businesses, like supermarkets, mobile phone companies and the like will have no difficulty paying a decent wage, and therefore do not need the government to top up wages. What we all have to understand, quite bluntly and frankly, is that to have a truly health society and economy, the wealth has to be shared more equitably: that is the bottom line. Make the 1% pay their taxes, and 80% of the economic problems will subside. I may add that eventually, and we already see this happening in London and other upmarket parts of major cities, even professional middle class people will not be able to buy average houses on their decent salaries. I believe this will only get worse, and it may have to, until people see that the elitist economy works for few but the elite and nobody else.  


Just as I was literally in the middle of writing this piece, Donald Trump became the president of the United States. For many, it was a shock, for me, personally, it was a surprise but not that surprising. Like Brexit here, his backers or many of them have been vilified as the, mostly white, working classes who are, of course, racist, homophobic, sexist and Islamophobic, or ‘the deplorables’ as Hillary Clinton nobly called them. Yes, Donald Trump did say very very provocative things, especially about that f*****g wall way down Mexico way, and about Mexicans in general, and lots of other things I didn’t like, don’t believe and wouldn’t say myself. In calling people racist, sexist, homophobic and etc just because someone holds a different political or now almost any other ‘accepted’ view, whatever that really means, the unbelievably un-self aware liberal/neo liberal diversity proclaiming affluent metropolitan elites, those who claim to be progressive, socially aware, concerned for minorities and going on about equality, have actually helped in the biggest part to get people to vote for Brexit and for people to vote for Trump, as a mass protest vote against the often pompous, self important and self regarding ideology of those who claim to be tolerant and liberal, but are often anything but tolerant and liberal when people either have the temerity to disagree with them on any point, or the gall to think for themselves. In short, the establishment and the metropolitan elites, opinion formers, so called ‘left wing’ journalists from privileged backgrounds who think that no one else’s opinion is as important as theirs who get so angry that people don’t follow the script anymore. Many of us not so privileged, and no doubt many people from all walks of life are fed up with the hard right political and economic establishment in the Western world, or the watered down politically correct version as an alternative. We are, and I certainly am, fed up with the whole lot of them. Too privileged, too unaccountable, too out of touch and refusing to accept they don’t have all the answers and smearing all and sundry who challenge them and their agenda. I tend to be left of centre, and I voted Remain in the referendum but I deeply resent the prejudice aimed at people who have views that the metropolitan elites don’t like. That is, in the end, a kind of cultural or social fascism in itself. I’m sorry to be so negative, but until we all learn to accept free speech and difference of opinions again, and that ‘equality’ doesn’t mean all talking and believing and agreeing with the same thing, we as a society will keep regressing. I feel that PC and identity politics are going to be challenged, and that is no bad thing. Now, what about classism?