On 19 January Oxfam reported that the richest one per cent own 48% of the whole world's wealth.
Their super-domination has increased in the economic depression, from 44 per cent in 2009. At this rate it will be more than 50 per cent in 2016. The top one per cent had an average wealth of US$2.7m per adult in 2014.
The bottom 80% have, between them, just 5.5% of global wealth, an average US$3,851 per adult. Just 80 ultra-billionaires have the same wealth as the poorest 50 per cent.
This economic inequality is a different thing from a few having much more musical or scientific talent than the many. Ultra-wealth also means ultra-power over others, and the ability, indeed the compulsion, to exploit.
The super-wealthy own the giant corporations which dominate the world's economy, their factories, their offices, their transport and communication networks. They monopolise control over the most advanced technologies.
The rest of us can live only by selling our labour-power, our capacity to produce, to those super-wealthy. They buy our labour-power — i.e., pay us wages — only on the basis that we produce value for them which outstrips those wages.
The super-wealthy stay super-wealthy only by competing with each other to squeeze more profits out of their workers. They squeeze more profits by constantly increasing the insecurity and stress of working life, even for better-paid workers.
At the other end of the scale, even in relatively well-off Britain, nearly four out of ten households with children, or 8.1 million, are below a “minimum income threshold” calculated by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as the income necessary not just to avoid starvation or homelessness but to participate normally in society.
The number below that minimum threshold has increased by more a third since 2008/9, over the same period that the super-wealth of the super-wealthy has soared.
We are supposed to have one vote each, in political democracy. But in the economic affairs which decide so much in our lives, a tiny minority “vote” with vastly more pounds, or euros, or dollars, than the majority.
Solidarity campaigns for economic democracy. The factories, offices, transport and communication networks, and technologies should be put under common ownership and democratic control.
As a start, we demand that the rich be taxed to reverse the cuts and organise reasonable, well-paid jobs for all.