Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The class struggle on the Costa Concordia

Reports in the press say that the wealthy paid “wads of cash” to get on the lifeboats as the Costa Concordia cruise ship was going down.

A resident of Giglio, where the lifeboats made shore after the disaster, told German media: “I went to the boats as I saw them coming in expecting to see women, children and the injured but all I saw were healthy men and elegant women in evening gowns..."

The claims may well be exaggerated. Yet they’re likely to recall one of the enduring narratives of the Titanic. When the Titanic sank there were widespread claims that the rich got the lifeboats while the non-rich were left to drown. When the Titanic sank, rich and poor alike died but the ratios were still skewed in favor of the wealthy. In first class over a third of the men, almost all of the women and all the children survived. In second class, it was less than 10 per cent of the men, 84 per cent of the women and all the children. In steerage 12 per cent of the men, 55 per cent of the women and less than one in three of the children survived.

In today’s times, the idea of the wealthy buying their way to safety at the expense of others clearly has resonance, echoing the view that in the current recession the rich were bailed out while the rest of American sank.

What the Socialist Standard wrote about the Titanic at the time can be read here

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