Introducing our new magazine Ninety-Nine
09 February 2015
During the high times of globalisation, there was a common belief that we need not worry about the wealth of the rich, as long we made sure that the very poor were not being left behind.
The category of ‘extreme poverty’ denoted those who really deserved our attention, and a technical set of development policies promised to lift the very poor out of their poverty so that they too could share in the wealth of the global economy. Aid was important, the theory went, because it could help build the sort of liberalised market necessary for democracy and prosperity to flourish.
In the wake of the financial crash this theory was left threadbare. As those most responsible for the economic meltdown walked away scot free, it became clear that globalisation has made a tiny proportion of people much better off, while the livelihoods of many others – not to mention the environment – was eroded.
At the beginning of last year we learnt a few dozen people owned the same wealth as half of the world’s population. This level of inequality could be blamed for all manner of social ills – selfishness, violence, depression and more. Even head of World Bank has said: “Inequality is not just a problem in itself: in countries with rising income inequality, the effect of growth on poverty has been dampened or even reversed.”
But even this doesn’t begin to sum up the problem. Because at the heart of inequality of wealth is a massive power imbalance. Poverty isn’t simply the difference between living on $1.20 and $1.40 a day. It’s about lacking power over those resources that you need to live a decent life – food, water, shelter, access to healthcare, education. If one person – or corporation – controls them, that means others don’t.
When Occupy set up camps in London and New York, they said “we are the 99%”, to reflect an anger that our whole society had been captured by a tiny, elite – by 1% of the population.
Of course, 99% doesn't express all of the complex power relations in the world. It doesn’t encapsulate what the global north still takes from the global south and from the environment, for instance.
But it does express the importance of fighting inequality in fighting poverty. And it sums up the idea that transformational social change is in the interests of the vast majority of us –that those suffering from austerity here in the north have something in common with those suffering from the economic policies of globalisation in the south.
Together, there are more than enough of us to build a very different future.
Ninety nine expresses both our desire for a world that works for all of us, but also our ambition for creating a genuinely big movement capable of bringing this world about.
You can find the read and download the first issue of Ninety-Nine below. We hope it will inform, inspire and provoke. You are the 99%.