As if we don’t have enough roadblocks to wealth, success, and aspiration, Guardian columnist Zoe Williams — who has never created a real job (or done one) and never invented anything — now wants the rich to be further demonised.
She writes of Sir James Dyson:
…I get it: he is very rich, and his smartness is greater than mine by whatever factor his wealth is. I still say he’s wrong about this. We don’t demonise rich people anything like enough. There is a protective cordon around them that predates the right’s idiotic appropriation of the language of prejudice (“you’re discriminating against white men!”) by ages, probably centuries. Eating them, squeezing them till their pips squeak, heaping any hostile attention upon rich people en bloc – even in its glory days, when it sounded quite fun – has the tang of envy, which is less poisonous than, say, race hate, but somehow more shameful.
Williams may be right about not being as smart as Sir James Dyson OM CBE FRS FREng (she churlishly refuses to recognise even his knighthood in her column). But she clearly hasn’t used the smartness she insists she has to employ over 8,500 people and create £2.5bn of taxable revenue per year.
She received just as good of a private education, but appears to have advanced no further than the rank of feminist author. She did admit to being a criminal in 2011, leeching off the taxpayer and stealing rides on London buses. But perhaps comparing these two isn’t fair.
We can’t all be Sir James Dyson, and Ms. Williams shouldn’t be made to feel bad for not being a successful white man, though I suspect this is what her column is really about. I could have written the sentence prior without the word “white” and it would have remained true, of course, but Williams insists on creating some strange juxtaposition between the “poisonousness” of hating the rich and hating people based on their race. These are scarcely comparable, and don’t just mean from the perspective of outcomes: they are fundamentally different philosophical propositions.
Hating someone based on their race is a type of bigotry predicated on something the other person has no control over. Hating someone for being independently rich or self-made is to loathe their life choices and successes. Both can be “worse” than the other depending on your view. Racism is often passive. It is in the definition of the word “prejudice” that the judgement is preconceived. But to judge someone after the fact — after acknowledging the good they’ve done, whether for themselves and their families or whether that wealth trickles down — is a significantly more thoughtful kind of hate.
The implications for British participation in business and politics if we disincentivise entrepreneurship through wealth-shaming, as Williams suggests, are massive.
She clouds her attacks on the independently wealthy by stating:
The problem with the rich is not the people themselves. It’s not the hoarding of wealth; it’s not the tax avoidance or the inequality or the excavation of undersoil so that cars can drive in and out of buildings with no one having to suffer the vulgarity of a pavement. No, the problem is that they are paid far too much attention; the accumulation of money has become an ur-qualification in everything, a PhD in the world. Tell us one about the future, billionaire-sooth? What shall become of the NHS? What’s wrong with young people; why aren’t they the way they used to be? Why do people on benefits not just stop watching Sky and make a million pounds, like what you did? Why did that driverless car kill a lady when they’re not supposed to? What’s going on with the weather? In the age of Mammon, making a packet has a spiritual dimension, bordering on the mystical.
I think we can agree that rich, or just posh, bastards are usually just that: bastards. But Sir James is hardly renowned — unlike the anti-Brexit campaigners Sir Bob Geldof or Sir Richard Branson — for his smugness or arrogance. In fact, it occurs to me that most rich people who are selfish, unbearable, and thoughtless are usually virtue-signalling leftists.
The argument we shouldn’t listen to captains of industry about how national industries could be run, or that they haven’t qualified above the rank of a Guardian (or Breitbart) columnist, is risible.
Having spent much time in the United States in recent years, this issue has become even more prevalent in my mind. In the States, when you’re dressed well, people (even homeless people) will pay you a compliment. In London (not so much other parts of the UK), there is usually a snide comment disguised with humour but with the undeniable undertone of aggressive envy.
They’re thinking — and we’ve all done it — “if he has nice stuff, that means I can’t have nice stuff”. Our mentality on the finiteness of wealth is bizarre given Britain’s history of either creating it or taking it.
This is the mentality Williams and the left want to foster and encourage in the United Kingdom, because if our side is silenced by the fact we have little cash, then they don’t have to have the argument at all. And while the Labour Party maintains its grip over union dues, and the Tories have their globalist hedge fund backers — ordinary people don’t get a say.
This dichotomy is one Williams sidesteps ungracefully by attacking Sir James, and not the state-sponsored capitalists (read: cronyists) or those who have set up their wealth on the backs of the labour of others, like the union bosses.
Entrepreneurialism versus parasitic behaviour. What Lenin described as “…the extraordinary growth of a class, or rather, of a stratum of rentiers, i.e., people who live by ‘clipping coupons’, who take no part in any enterprise whatever, whose profession is idleness.” (Yes, I just used Marxist-Leninism against a Guardian columnist).
Philosophically, the modern left prefers the politics of envy because it means they don’t have to think, innovate, or produce. They hate all that. It runs counter to the idea of entitlement, most recently epitomised by the burgeoning support for a universal basic income.
Williams argument in itself is a microcosm of the leeches versus the creators narrative also set forth by Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged. Her arguments are why both the real left and real right are vociferously out of step with the “moderates” or “centrists” (i.e. neoliberals).
She is parasitically click-leeching off Sir James, who dared to share his belief that Britain is now a country where “making money is rather demonised”, and where “the government tries to extract as much as it can out of companies, requiring more and more red tape and making it less and less attractive for entrepreneurs to start businesses.”
She can’t create anything for herself, so she has to piggyback off Sir James. (I understand the irony of me doing the same, here. We’ll call it un hommage.)
That’s why Williams concludes:
…demonise the rich for their own good; liberate them. Bust them back down in your social imagination to the status of people who are unusually good at a particular thing, such as physicists or weavers. “Demon” is such an angry word, but it would be an act of kindness.
An angry act of kindness? What a distinct abdication of 20th Century leftist ideas. Old Major is dead, and Snowball and Napoleon are battling it out for who gets to rip his legacy to shreds.
Raheem Kassam is the Editor in Chief of Breitbart London