2022 is a year that millions will likely want to forget and put behind them. Rising food prices, the anxiety of war in Ukraine, suffocating heatwaves, a freezing winter, inflation, meagre pay rises, rising rents, shortages, the list goes on…
But this Christmas, a handful of people will be toasting one of their most profitable years ever. We are often told that the festive season is a time for ‘togetherness’. But in reality, there is an unbridgeable divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.
Although he didn’t have Christmas in mind, Marx was correct when he said,
“Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole.”
Today, the divide between rich and poor, them and us, is a gulf – one that not even Santa’s sleigh can overcome.
Super-rich getting richer
The staggering profits enjoyed by bankers, energy companies, and supermarkets have stuffed the pockets of the bosses and shareholders with billions of pounds.
For example, Royal Mail chief executive Simon Thompson has been ‘earning’ £753,000 per year, all the while telling posties there isn’t enough money to go around. Similarly, renowned ‘hustler’ Sir Geoffrey Cox, while sitting as a Tory MP in Parliament and voting for austerity, boosted his income with £400,000 for working just 45 hours a month for a law firm.
Clearly these two will have no problem forking out to put a turkey on the table this year.
Whilst millions of us have to struggle to get an inflation-matching pay rise this year, hedge-fund manager Sir Chris Hohn paid himself a record-breaking payout of £574m ($690m). When someone is taking home around £1.5m a day like Sir Hohn, what do they actually spend their money on?
Well of course, any self-respecting billionaire worth their salt owns a super yacht. But for those bored of merely floating on the water, the latest super yacht accessory is a deep-sea submarine ranging between $2.5m and $40m – quite the stocking-filler!
And for those looking to add a little ‘Christmas spirit’ to their property portfolio, the Financial Times recommends purchasing a two-bedroom apartment in Mayfair, which is only a few minutes’ walk to the Winter Wonderland fair in Hyde Park. At just £8.25m, this luxury flat is clearly a festive bargain.
Season of giving
Christmas is of course known as the ‘season of giving’ – i.e. an opportunity for the bosses to salve their consciences for a few days after a fruitful year of exploitation.
For these philanthropic billionaires who want to get into the holiday spirit, then the FT offers good advice in their ‘A to Z of stylish giving – 26 fashionable ways to support a good cause’.
So when they’re spending tens of thousands on Rolex watches encrusted in blood diamonds, they can feel good that a slither of it will make its way to an NGO researching marine life in the Canary Islands.
If saving the oceans isn’t your thing, then perhaps there are some more worthy contenders for your hard earned cash. Just ask hedge fund billionaire Sir Michael Hintze, who describes himself as a ‘philanthropist’, and is a new inductee to the House of Lords. His main charitable donations appear to be bankrolling none other than…the Tory Party!
After paying (sorry, donating) over £4m to the Tories, he can now cash-in on the £325 per day attendance ‘allowance’, plus the many expenses afforded to unelected Lords. Ho ho ho!
Poor get poorer
While at one pole the FT gives tips to billionaires on how to spend their wealth, at the other the working class is lectured by the bosses’ press about how we can cut costs to beat the cost-of-living crisis.
The Observer, after going into great detail about the science behind how our bodies stay warm and go cold, had the following pearls of wisdom: wear a hat, wear layers, get active, and don’t drink alcohol. Bah Humbug!
But even those measures aren’t enough. Out of desperation, people have lined their walls and ceilings with cardboard to try and insulate their homes, as well as using portable gas stoves rather than turning on central heating.
In fact, hot water bottles have been selling out as people try to avoid hefty energy bills. For those unable to heat themselves at home at all there are ‘warm banks’ in places such as cafes, museums, and libraries. And as with food banks, the number of visitors to warm banks is rapidly growing.
As well as the bourgeois press, celebrities have been wading into the cost-of-living crisis. Multi-millionaire, celeb-farmer, and professional plonker Jeremy Clarkson has even said we should be paying more for our food.
No doubt starving families suffering from food price inflation must be thinking “we already are”! In fact, TUC research shows that the cost of a traditional Christmas dinner has risen three times faster than wages.
A red 2023
For the working class, capitalism is hell on Earth. But we cannot afford to merely dream of a white Christmas. 2022 has also been a year of growing class struggle, from which we take a great deal of optimism.
Workers are fighting back with increasing confidence against the lavish and extraordinary profits enjoyed by the super-rich. As the crisis of capitalism deepens, this decrepit system’s days are numbered.
The wealthy elites may well enjoy another lavish Christmas at our expense. But beneath all the merriment and cheer, the more astute capitalists are growing increasingly nervous about the rising wave of class struggle, and what the months and years ahead may bring.
So here’s to a red 2023.