But some, it seems, are more unequal than others.
And yet it seems to be that where the masses are dirt poor and starving peasants, the rulers of these countries are not as well off as affluent people in countries where the differences between the rich and poor are not as widely seperate.
In real terms, the people who form the ' inner ring' around a dictator like Idi Amin or Saddam Hussain are not as wealthy as say, the average stockbroker in Surrey, or the top earners in industrialised democracies. And this is not hard to fathom. If you have gun toting goons around you, you might be able to steal everything the peasants have got - but the peasants won't have that much that you can steal.
A wealthy stockbroker , though, you can tax . Sure, they will moan , but they will always pay more than an illiterate peasant. So, even the rich get a payoff for closing the gap between the rich and the poor. In pre-war Germany, Krupps, the big steel magnate, made a point of payin the workers well, building homes for the workforce, and even installing showers that the steel workers could use in the workplace before they got changed out of their overalls and went home.
When another wealthy friends questioned his generousity, Krupps remarked " it's a small price to pay to keep Communism and Socialism out of the workplace " Cynically, he bought the workforce off, undermining the sources of discontent and greivances in order to keep the bulk of the profits for himself. Yet it was true that his workers were better off than many of their contemporaries.
Today, The Green party is not out to abolish capitalism, but rather to close the gap between rich and poor. a goal that some see as a sell out. " Why beg for a few more crumbs when we can seize control of the bakery?" they ask.
The SWP, years ago were preaching revolution , and not reform. Rather than overhaul the system, they sought to sweep it away. And one day, a demonstration , up in the north, took a surprising turn. I know , because i was in the SWP at the time and I read all about it in the party newspaper, the Socialist Worker.
It turned out that a window got broken , and a small supermarket got looted. A lot of booze and cigerretes were 'liberated' and reurned to the control of the proletariat', it seemed . So, at the next big meeting that I went to, many speakers stood up to congratulate the workers who took part in the demo for their tremendous victory over the capitalist classes and their quasi-fascist police force. Then I got on the rostrum and asked a few questions. Like -
" How many tins of baby food got liberated and turned over to a young working mother to feed her child?"
"Did any local OAPs enjoy enjoy a bit of beef that evening, or did as much as a single bottle of milk go missing and find its way to someone in need?"
These questions were met with stunned silence. I took that to mean a 'no' then. And i pointed out that if this was what happened when they siezed control of one small shop, then what could we expect of them if they ever got control of something biigger?
Somehow, I got the feeling that we would not see a workers paradise come into being , but a selfish mad scramble as everyone stuffed as much as they could into their own pockets. Mark it well, all the booze and ciggies went - but no food. The rioters were not hungry I suppose. Even so, there was no thought for the poor who might have been. I remember it well, because I recall how dissappointed I felt at seeing these self styled revolutionaries in their true colours.
I also remeber it as the day I tore up my SWP party card.
Everyone who gets rich, or even stays rich, does so by being disciplined and well organised - or they don't stay rich for long. If we allow the rich to keep the bulk of the wealth they create, we can still syphon off enough to keep the poorest in our society at a decent levelof comfort and well being. We can even see to it that they can create some wealth themselves, and bette the whole community as a result.
A cap on the excessive bonusses of bankers would impact so few, but save so much. Raising the level of the lowest paid in sociey would also close the gap - and societies with a more equal wealth distribution have lower crime rates, lower rates of teenage pregnancy, disease and other social ills. So, yes, we would bring back in the 10% tax band, and the 22% basic rate, but also crack down on tax havens. why should the rich forid 'tax evasion ' when they simply call it ' tax avoidance' when they do it themselves.
More equal societies have fewer people in prison per capita, they also have less violent crime as well.
They even mange to recycle more! So, the Greens commit to making our society more equal, using a whole raft of measures.
For more info on Equality as an issue, go to the report by independant academics, found here at http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/