• Incomes for the very richest are rising faster than ever before.
  • Incomes for the majority of us are falling.
  • Despite the obvious transfer of wealth and power to the very richest many blame the welfare state, immigrants or the Eurozone crisis for their economic hardship.

I want to look at how these aggressive super-rich are using our society, our culture to fight for the ever-increasing share of money and power they desire. The recent legal battle over “welfare-to-work” schemes in the UK has really thrown into reflief some of the methods I’ve seen being used against us, and hearteningly how the counter-insurgency is fighting back.

I’ve previously described the rapid increase in inequality in the UK and the western world as a “Soft War”. This isn’t a term used very widely. It is most often used to describe and analyse the conflict between Iran and the US.

This article [Click here], from “Intellibriefs” blog has a useful definition:
“A “soft war” can be defined as a set of deliberately hostile acts aimed at transforming the fundamental cultural values and identities of a society. This type of war can influence all social aspects of a political system, and can include such phenomena as “cultural invasions” and “psychological operations.” In other words, a soft war includes the following:

  • It is an intentional and planned activity
  • Its most important domains are cultural, political, and social”

Phil Taylor, a Leeds University academic gives this very thought-provoking observation: “A true softwar attack is one of covert perversion, best thought of in terms of a military adage–war is deception. People make decisions based on their cognitive environment, their infosphere; control of the data comprising such an environment allows a certain amount of control over those in it.

A “Soft War” is being fought to gain control over our minds, through influencing the information we receive, the political landscape we live in and the way that frames our culure and our society. It is frighteningly successful. We are living through the fastest and most audacious transfer of wealth and power, probably the greatest in human history, and despite being on the smelly end of this stick most of us are either oblivious to it or so passively apathetic that we are complicit in our own impoverishment. In fact, most of us in some way or another actually actively fight this soft war on behalf of the folks who are winning it at our own expense.

One of the reasons this soft war is so sucessful is the ways it is hidden from us. Firstly, this is through controlling the information. Before 2007/8 hardly any of us had any idea how much money was being earned by bankers, traders, CEO’s. We had no interest in the mechanisms behind the creation or supply of money, or any comprehension of the ways corporations and the super-rich avoided tax or how vast the sums in question were. We certainly had no idea how unequal our society was. Since the Occupy movement and campaigns by groups such as UK Uncut this has changed a little. Secondly, and more pertinent to this post, these things are hidden by distraction and diversion. This is where the welfare debate comes in.

The UK hasn’t always had a safety-net for the poorest and most vulnerable. It took the devastation of two world wars and the intervening depression to produce the political will and cultural climate that gave birth to it. This article from the Guardian is a brilliant intro to the events and the personalities that so dramatically changed our country [Click here]. I urge you to read it and compare it to the political landscape of today. Can you imagine a political party elected to power with a manifesto that contained the phrase “The Labour Party is a Socialist Party, and proud of it.”? And then one that commits to an incredible programme of nationalisation and the creation of the welfare state and the world’s only universal health service? I’m starting to wonder if the result of this devastating economic war might, just might, give rise to something similarly radical. Christ I hope so. The alternative is the destruction of these safety nets and the brutalisation of our society.

As you can see, the political landscape we inhabit today is very, very different. Our NHS is (according to politicians and the media) in a constant state of “crisis” and continually requires “reform“, which interestingly results in ever more for-profit involvement and cuts to frontline services. Our welfare system is now a shameful “trap” that prevents people working, a bloated burden that creates “scroungers” and “shirkers“, and a lead weight on our economy threatening to drown us in a torrent of “Chavs” and immigrants playing Xbox with their curtains drawn and buying potnoodles in their dressing gowns. This narrative is so pervasive and so vivid that it grips the minds of the majority of us, serving as such a popular and powerful scapegoat for our economic difficulties that the richest 0.1% can get away with the fastest increase in the share of income since the Victorian times with little more than a “tut” from the watching masses.

Of course, as with any sucessful Soft War this is a “covert perversion” of reality. Let’s look at reality. Our UK government spent £694.89bn in 2011-12. Jobseekers allowance took £4.91bn of this. Debt interest cost us £48.20bn. That’s nearly ten times the ammount we gave to jobseekers. This is where I got these figures: [Click Here] On 31 March 2011 we had £456.33bn tied up in failed banks we had bailed out [Click Here]. That’s NINETY-THREE times the ammount we gave in jobseeker’s allowance. As an interesting juxtaposition, the banking and finance sector paid out £13bn in bonuses for the financial year 2011/12 [Click Here]. That’s right, we gave £456.33bn of support, they paid themselves £13bn in bonuses. So where are the tabloid stories decrying the economy-sapping bailout-fueled debt interest repayments or the bonuses-for-failure leaches in the finance sector? Yeah, makes you think, doesn’t it? One of the characteristics of a Soft War: It is an intentional and planned activity. You are reading and watching the results of editorial decisions.

Ok, the media presents a picture of welfare spending that is massively exaggerated. Does it matter? Does it affect how we think? Yes, to a stunning degree. Read this for the general picture: [Click here]. This is an extraordinary demonstration of how effective this media war effort has been: [Click Here] Look at how these people, the direct targets of government policy that is exacerbating the increasing levels of inequality, are actively supporting the policy because it will affect other people on benefits. The people costing a fraction of the burden on the the taxpayers purse compared to the cost of supporting the (in many cases) criminal bankers who bankrupted our world are fighting to impoverish themselves and enrich the already rich. As Fern Brady puts it, this is a work of “Genius”. Working people are being forced to use food banks to feed their families, while In 2012 the income (just that year’s earnings) of the richest 100 people was enough to end extreme poverty across the globe 4 times over, and we direct our anger and blame at the most vulnerable in our society who are costing us the least.

Anyone know a good shaman or psychic? We need to contact the spirits of Keynes, Attlee, Bevan and Beveridge or the battleground of our minds is going to be lost.

Maybe I’m getting too pessimistic, there is some hope. The welfare-to-work schemes which undermine wages and job security, and actually prevent jobseekers from finding work according to DWP’s own figures, were ruled unlawful on 12th feb 2013. They were quashed by judges in an appeal court on technical grounds. But the case against them was fought on breaches of Human Rights laws protecting people against forced labour. The judges actually dismissed this argument, but almost every media commentator reported the ruling as “forced labour schemes outlawed” for a day or so. That could be a powerful meme if it takes hold. The anti-tax-avoidance campaigns of UK Uncut have also been a real perception-changer, influencing even our tax-dodging Chancellor and PM’s language and actions.

There’s so much more to say about this, and so many related topics. But I gotta sleep.

Don’t believe what they tell you, always ask “what are they hiding from me?”