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MARXISM 2010, London July 5th Injustice: Why social inequality persists Danny Dorling University of Sheffield -

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Presentation on theme: "MARXISM 2010, London July 5th Injustice: Why social inequality persists Danny Dorling University of Sheffield -"— Presentation transcript:

1 MARXISM 2010, London July 5th Injustice: Why social inequality persists Danny Dorling University of Sheffield - The claim: the five social evils identified by Beveridge in 1942 are gradually being eradicated, they are being replaced by five new tenets of injustice - elitism, exclusion, prejudice, greed and despair. [but we should think back, so I have included a few pictures from the past in this talk] Social injustices are now being recreated, renewed and supported by these five new sets of unjust beliefs. We need to again begin to think differently, as some of the ruling class last did in the 1920s and 1930s. This time will be different. Now - far more than battles over resources - it is arguments over ideas which perpetuate inequality, because in rich countries we have enough for all.

2 Five renewed tenets of Injustice (renewed from the 1920s) Hepple, L. W. (1999). "Socialist Geography in England: J. F. Horrabin and a Workers' Economic and Political Geography." Antipode 31(1): Frank Horrabin’s cartoons (Staff Artist Sheffield Telegraph, 1906, London Newspapers from Example from the 1920s: The five tenets of injustice are that: elitism is efficient, exclusion is necessary, prejudice is natural, greed is good and despair is inevitable. Because of widespread and growing opposition to the five key unjust beliefs, including the belief that so many should now be ‘losers’, most of those advocating injustice are careful with their words. But those who believe in these tenets are the majority in power across almost all rich countries.

3 Renewed Lies of Our Times (renewed between 1950s-90s) Although many of those who are powerful may want to make the conditions of life a little less painful for others, they do not believe that there is a cure for modern social ills, or even that a few inequalities can be much alleviated. Rather, they believe that just a few children are sufficiently able to be fully educated and only a few of those are then able to govern; the rest must be led. They believe that the poor will always be with us no matter how rich we are… It is their beliefs that uphold injustice World maps of those on the lowest and highest incomes living on under 1$ a day: …over 200$ a day: source: See Dorling, D. and Pritchard J., 2010, The Geography of Poverty, Inequality and Wealth in the UK and abroad: because enough is never enough, ASAP Journal.

4 Labourservatives? osborne-key-words#http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/jun/22/budget osborne-key-words# from 2010 and, from 1932: / Emrys Hughes MP (46-66), 1932:

5 1. From ignorance… In 1942 illiteracy was widespread and numeracy was even worse. James Flynn has shown how much we have improved since (see his book ‘What is Intelligence’, 2007) However, educational apartheid in the UK has risen as the majority of additional qualifications in recent decades have been awarded to a minority of young adults A Tale of Two Cities: The Sheffield Project (University of Sheffield 2009) sheffield/ City of Sheffield – Age destinations of 15 year olds Orange = mostly full-time work Pink = new university ( away) Red = pre 1992, ‘old’ university Hallam Constituency (Nick Clegg’s)

6 …to elitism A seventh of children in affluent countries are now routinely described as “found limited or simple at learning” by the OECD Many now again believe that the ‘ability’ of children is distributed along a bell-curve with little chance for most of rising much above their set potential This elitism is erroneously seen as being somehow efficient City of Sheffield – Age destinations of 15 year olds – Second most likely destination Pink = new university ( away) Red = pre 1992, ‘old’ university Yellow = apprenticeship Green = unemployed Brightside Hillsborough Central Heeley Attercliffe

7 elitism is efficient – because some are strong and some are weak? “…every new school acquiring academy freedoms will be expected to support at least one faltering or coasting school to improve. We are liberating the strong to help the weak - a key principle behind the coalition Government” (Gove, Hansard 21/6/2010) Is this helpful or patronising? Picture credit: Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, 8 May 2010 by Paul Clarke Is this man “the strong” or “the weak”? Does he need liberating?

8 GDP Sources include: 9/nov/25/gdp-uk-1948-growth-economy 9/nov/25/gdp-uk-1948-growth-economy 2009

9 2. From want … In 1942, for the first time in Britain, many of the poor did not go hungry thanks to rationing Absolute material deprivation was reduced to the point where obesity became associated with poverty Social segregation has increased as real financial rewards and benefits to those worse off have fallen — just as the riches of the wealthy have grown Source: B. Seebohm Rowntree, 2000 (1901), Poverty: a study of town life, Bristol: The Policy Press Poverty in York: The keys to poverty Maps used to read like this:

10 … to exclusion a sixth of people in the more unequal rich countries are ‘debarred’: excluded from full membership of society because of poverty. A much smaller proportion exclude themselves from social norms by dint of their wealth. Questioning these extremes is far from encouraged Exclusion has become accepted as a new necessity, both the super-rich and widespread inequality have become acceptable Yellow: Upper-middle and Upper classes. Wealthy Red: Well-to-do. Middle-class Pink: Fairly comfortable. Good ordinary earning Purple: Mixed. Some comfortable, others poor Pale Blue: Poor – homes of moderate families Dark blue: Very poor, casual. Chronic want Black: Lowest class. Vicious, semi-criminal Carry on as we are & soon maps might again read like this (Booth’s 1890s map):

11 exclusion is necessary (according to the rich) George Osborne’s Budget Speech, June 2010: “Sadly, there are further benefits which the country can no longer afford. So we will abolish the poorly- targeted Health in Pregnancy Grant from April 2011.” But is that grant unaffordable? In fact the annual cost would be very similar to Barclay’s ‘President’ Bob Diamond’s (disputed) £63 million annual ‘compensation’. £63m figure from: news/2010/04/04/peter-mandelson-s-anger-at-banker-s- 63m-pay / PictureCredit: George speaking in 2009 at Keele University, taken by M. Holland: Who told George its unaffordable?

12 Why is £190 not affordable?: cutting benefit - even child benefit from the unborn…. Who can get Health in Pregnancy Grant? [until April 2011] You can get the grant if all of the following apply: you are 25 weeks pregnant or more you have been given health advice from a midwife or doctor you may not get the grant if: you are subject to immigration control or you are not present, ordinarily resident or have a right to reside in the UK How much do you get? The grant will be a one-off payment of £190 for each pregnancy. It will not affect your tax credits or any other benefits. Everyone will get the same amount – you will not be asked about your income. mniotic_sac.jpghttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0b/Fetus_a mniotic_sac.jpg - public domain image The last group of mothers who will be eligible for the grant will be those who find out they are pregnant around Christmastime this year. From then on the poor get poorer, including the unborn poor. Child benefit can take three months to arrive.

13 Policy graphics 1933 and 2010 The Guardian: et-2010-ifs-cuts-data#zoomed-picture et-2010-ifs-cuts-data#zoomed-picture My plan for 2,000,000 workless, by Ernest Bevin, Clarion Press, 1933

14 3. From idleness… In the 1930s millions of people were desperate for a job … any job That desperation was eradicated by creating new employment and providing better social security But a wider racism has developed, a new social Darwinism, which sees some people as inherently less deserving and able than those who ‘need’ great rewards to work in ‘top jobs’ Frank Horrabin (Socialist Geographer) See slide two above for source.

15 …to prejudice a fifth of adults in countries like Britain and the United States are now serial “debtors”. Rising inequalities in income and wealth have made it more likely that people get into debt in order to keep up with their peer group and avoid being judged ‘undeserving’, of living in the wrong place, or of just wearing the wrong clothes. This prejudice is being painted as natural – as Darwinian. It is hard to imagine large numbers of people. Above are the million people who filled the National Mall at Barack Obama’s inauguration. One million people in the UK aged 25 and under have no work and no place in college. Image: Barack_Obama_Sworn_In_As_US_President/ html Image:

16 prejudice is natural – are millions on the dole because others are ‘worth’ fortunes? “The Chairman of bailed-out RBS has acknowledged that bankers are overpaid. Sir Philip Hampton said that salary persists to be 'astonishingly high', but claimed that he had no option but to shell out the going rate for best talent.…[top people get] average take-home pay of more than £240,000 this year. … Sir Philip said, “If we don't pay our top people they leave very quickly. Our top people are very much in demand and we have seen a significant loss of our top people”.” 5 January 2010, as reported around the world (this from New Zealand). Image from Story titled: “RBS Chief Acknowledges His Staff is Overpaid” 5 January 2010: acknowledges-his-staff-overpaid Image: Hampton.jpg

17 4. From squalor… After 1942 unprecedented numbers of households were homeless, the eradication of slums was a priority Most spending on housing was initially for those who most needed housing But now a mantra is widely accepted that for those who have most to spend, their spending is necessary at almost any cost, including growing global inequalities and mounting debt Income Inequality, share Held by richest 1%, Electoral Inequality, Segregation Index of Tory voters, Sources: ‘Injustice’ Chapter 5 + New Statesman (2010)

18 …to greed a quarter of households in Britain are ‘discarded’ in terms of social inclusion. Many cannot afford to run a car while others have more cars than they can drive. Foreign holidays are advertised as normal, whereas increasing numbers of households cannot afford a single annual holiday Greed is presented as good, welcomed as what now drives our model of economic growth, not ‘duty’ but ‘greed’ Inequality, in survival chances to age 65 in Britain, [BMJ] Income inequality (X axis) verses Health inequalities (Y axis) in Britain,

19 greed is good “It may not be pretty but, on the whole, greed is good” Preston, R. (2008). Who runs Britain? How the super-rich are changing our lives. London, Hodder & Stoughton. (page 336). Picture Credit: Robert Peston, BBC Economics Editor, 20 June 2007, London, taken by Steve Punter

20 5. From disease… In 1942 a near bankrupt country planned the introduction of efficient national health care The NHS and reduced social inequality, resulting in a great reduction in suffering and fear of physical disease But anxiety rose in place of disease, best understood as a symptom of living in times and places when wide inequalities are seen as acceptable The distribution of “top” bankers in Britain – drawn by Ben Hennig on an equal population map.

21 …to despair a third of families in Britain now contain someone who suffers depression or chronic anxiety disorder. The result of living in more unequal affluent countries is to harm the mental well-being of people in general and especially adolescents, who now face such uncertain futures Despair is becoming seen as inevitable, the symptoms require mass medication, but what of the causes…? The rate of prescribing anti- depressants by the NHS in Scotland, (anti- depressant daily doses per 1000 people aged 15+ (Injustice Chapter 7) US mortgage debt 1977-now % annual change and $billions

22 despair is inevitable - there is no alternative Celebrity culture dominates Winner takes all capitalism Political parties run by neo- aristocrats and millionaires Praying for technological fixes to environmental ruin Universities become private schools with ‘market’ fees “Those in greatest need ultimately bear the burden of paying off the debt” [Bob Neill, Conservative Local Government Minister, June blunkett-on-how-the-poor-stand-to-suffer-under-the- condem-coalition / ] blunkett-on-how-the-poor-stand-to-suffer-under-the- condem-coalition / Various sources. Ms Diaz is more popular than ‘Dave’. Caroline Bonarde’s image is from “Shrek the Third” premier:http://commons.wiki media.org/wiki/File:Cameron_ Diaz_June_07.jpg If you believe the five tenets of social injustice then the last tenet is self-fulfilling Despair is inevitable:

23 But inequality is expensive. In money, learning, respect, labour, housing and lives. Among the world’s richest 25 countries: The most unequal are: By 90: 10 income ratios 17.7 Singapore (-) 15.9 US (20) 15.0 Portugal(-) 13.8 UK (22) 13.4 Israel (-) And the most equal are: 6.9 Germany (14) 6.2 Sweden (8) 6.1 Norway (8) 5.6Finland (10) 4.5Japan (-) Source: note 37 page 327 of ‘Injustice’ Why social inequality persists. The Figures given in brackets are UNDP 2009 % aged lacking literacy There are many alternatives: 1) There are alternatives in our recent past ( /78 and earlier still). 2) There are alternatives abroad. Inequalities in Social Injustice is lower almost everywhere else in the OECD 3) There are alternatives in our imaginations, where so many have never been as free to think as they are now – especially in the countries which are already much more equal than is the UK Social Inequality damages our collective ability to think clearly – all of us Danny Dorling University of Sheffield -

24 Conclusion To consume less, you need to feel you have more in common with other people. If success is about having a lot of money, success is about consuming more and wasting more. Consumption by everybody is less in countries where everyone is more equal. All affluent countries need to reduce their levels of consumption by reducing social inequalities. Through their dominance of global media and marketing the rest of the world usually looks up towards richer countries. What example are the rich providing?


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