Paradise Papers: 100 years after the 1917 Revolution, we urgently need our own one!

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8 November 2017

This Wednesday, 8th November, is the 100th anniversary of the day in 1917 when the Russian workers and poor decided that they'd had enough of the exploitation, injustices, misery and wars caused by the profit system.
    On that day, following a virtually bloodless insurrection, the Russian working class assumed political power through its own network of Soviets. Contrary to the vicious lies still peddled by the media today, their power was the most democratic ever seen in history: while the elected Soviet deputies enjoyed neither perks nor privileges of any kind, those who failed to deliver could be recalled and replaced at any time, with the aim of making political careerism a thing of the past.
    Meanwhile, across the country, landless peasants were taking over big landowners' estates and workers were asserting their control over production in factories.  The days of these fat cats' private profiteering and rotten parasitism were soon to be over.
    Isn't it ironical, therefore, that this centenary should take place at the very moment when the Paradise Papers scandal is unfolding in today's capitalist world, exposing, once again, the fat cats' ever-growing greed and parasitism?

The fat cats' British paradise

So, over 13 million Paradise Papers (i.e. murky documents) have now been leaked to the public.  Most come from a little-known, but very old and "respectable" law-firm called Appleby.  Based in the British tax haven of Bermuda, this firm has branches in many other British tax havens, including the Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands.  And what does this "respectable" business do?  Quite simply it helps the rich and powerful to dodge the taxman!
    Of course, this is nothing really new, coming after an already long string of financial scandals: from the 2015 disclosure of tens of thousands of accounts hidden by HSBC in the vaults of its Swiss subsidiary for income tax avoidance purposes, to the 2016 Panama Papers scandal, which revealed the extent of the illegal business which was being channelled through British tax havens.
    Except that, this time, the Paradise Papers' leak is many, many times larger.  It points at the usual individual suspects:  members of the royal family and the Queen, Trump's close entourage, politicians from all over the world, show-business and sporting stars.  But, above all, it puts a large number of very big companies under the spotlight, exposing the incredibly complex web of bogus shelf companies they've been weaving across mainly British tax havens in order to minimise their tax bill and, in some cases, reduce it to peanuts.
    But the most striking feature of the galaxy of tricks revealed by the Paradise Papers is that they're all more or less "legal"!  Which is kind of strange for the rest of us, PAYE workers!

No tricks, no tweaks, Revolution!

This is where the real scandal lies.  That the capitalists are thieves is not new, of course - don't they rob us of the wealth we produce?  But how many times have we heard governments pledging to clamp down on wealthy tax dodgers?  And yet, just 66 criminal investigations (not even prosecutions!) have been launched against the thousands of wealthy who used HSBC to hide from the tax man!
    Oh, of course, May's ministers boast about the "transparency" measures introduced by British tax havens - meaning that they pass on a lot more information to HMRC.  And then what?  Well, HMRC just sits on its hands, because these scams are not entirely "illegal".  But, of course, there's a reason for this: every government, Tory and Labour, has been careful to keep the loopholes they use wide open.  In fact, they've gone further than that:  when the EU tried to introduce a regulation which would have made it compulsory to reveal the names of the beneficiaries of tax haven-based trusts, Cameron vetoed it!  So much for "transparency".
    The result of all these scams?  Leaving aside the world champions of tax avoidance, like Apple and Amazon (but also Serco, among others), it is estimated that British companies are able to cut their corporation tax bill by £20bn/yr - or 28%!  How many hospital and council housing estates could be built with that sort of money?
    This is why we need a revolution, just as in 1917, but this time, one with lasting results.  And across the whole planet, from London to Bermuda and from Moscow to Washington.  Because as long as the fat cats' politicians hold the reins of power and control the institutions of the state, as long as they own the means of production on which the economy depends, society will remain an instrument for the few against the many.  It is more than high time for the many - we, the working class - to take over control of this failed system, in order to change it!