The feral rich

A note from the editor

Vanessa Baird

We need to talk about the rich

‘Exclusive’, ‘discreet’, ‘private’, ‘bespoke’. The words used to describe goods and services aimed at the rich – who are increasingly the super-rich – speak volumes.

So, we found while putting together this issue, do agency photos of the wealthy. If you type in search terms like ‘poor’ or ‘poverty’ you will see any number of images of people, mainly in the Global South, that will give you a spontaneous, close-up view of their lives. You can see people eating, sleeping, working, playing; on the streets, in the fields, inside their homes.

A search for ‘rich’ or ‘wealthy’ is more likely to produce staged public events such as conferences, award ceremonies or gallery openings. Unless ‘snatched’ by despised paparazzi, pictures of wealthy people in their home, work or play environments tend to be rather posed and controlled affairs.

The subjects often come across as distant, removed, insulated from the tawdry world of mundane reality. A surprising number of the more arty studio shots are cropped so that their heads are missing – which is taking detachment a bit far.

Today, the detachment of the rich from the rest of us is more than just a matter of style. In this month’s Big Story we join the dots between runaway riches and the global recession. We turn the spotlight on the actions of a global élite and its impact on millions of people around the world. Which is why our title – The feral rich – pulls no punches.

Other features in this issue may be more heart-warming. ‘Good news from Greece’ sounds like an oxymoron, but Alexandra Saliba’s investigation into what people are doing to support each other through the crisis helps restore faith in humanity. She visited 11 grassroots collectives engaged in activities ranging from developing local fair trade and alternative currencies, to running rebel kitchens and preventing suicide.

Some of the initiatives have received media attention; for others, this is a first.

And, as usual at this time, we present our stunning alternative take on the previous 12 months with our Unreported Year photo special.

Vanessa Baird for the New Internationalist co-operative.

The big story

The feral rich

How do they get away with it? Vanessa Baird investigates.

Buy this magazine

Now here’s a puzzle. The world economy is in a fix. Most people are getting poorer. Household income is down by more than five per cent on last year. That’s the global average; in some countries it’s much worse. We need 80 million new jobs to get us back to pre-crash employment levels. And the progress on reducing world hunger has stalled, leaving one in seven people without enough to eat.1,2,3

But for one grou...


Sticking together: residents of the 13 de Mayo internal refugee settlement, such as this mother and daughter, fought for their right to stay.

Colombia - the riven land

Brian Fitzpatrick and Michael Norby reveal the real key to lasting peace in the war-torn country.

Buy this magazine

Rebel zest and great food at El Che-f collective kitchen.

Greece: what the potato movement did next

From direct deals with farmers to guerilla parks and suicide prevention, Alexandra Saliba documents grassroots solutions to the financial crisis.

Buy this magazine

Privilege looms large in the southern Indian city of Chennai.

India's elites have a ferocious sense of entitlement

A revealing set of US studies has got Urvashi Butalia thinking about how the rich behave in Dehli.

Buy this magazine

Laying into the poor

From the US to China, Owen Jones documents how the demonization of the have-nots is going global.

Buy this magazine

The feral rich - how can we help them?

The feral rich - how can we help them?

A 10-point action plan for policymakers, illustrated by Kate Charlesworth.

Buy this magazine

Showdown in the Amazon

Why are indigenous leaders at odds with their communities in the struggle to conserve their forest homes? Jane Monahan travels to Ecuador to find out.

Buy this magazine

That's rich - The FACTS

In spite of global financial crisis, the numbers of super-rich people in the world has grown - and so have their fortunes.

Buy this magazine

Falling in love with tax

Some rich people are all for it. Nick Harvey reports on the growing desire for tax justice.

Buy this magazine

A worker recovers in hospital after fainting at a factory run by Sabrina Garment Manufacturing Corporation, a Nike supplier.

Stitched up

Cambodia, a ‘sweatshop-free nation’? Try telling that to its expolited workers, writes Heather Stilwell.

Buy this magazine


Jon Snow - 'Twitter is a sensational medium'

The veteran journalist talks to Libby Powell about the dearth of tweeting Tuaregs, reporting war crimes and the scourge of guinea worm.

Buy this magazine

This month:  Emilio Agra, from Venezuela, with ‘Evolution’.
The cost of civilization: waste
Emilio Agra lives in the Venezuelan city of Maracay, where he has made his living since 1970 both as a sculptor and as a cartoonist.

Open Window

With guest cartoonist Emilio Agra from Venezuela.

Buy this magazine

Election-rigging, torture of opponents, widespread corruption... have marked his rule.

Azerbijan's pompous kleptocrat

Worldbeater dishes the dirt on Ilham Aliyev, master of autocratic self-enrichment.

Buy this magazine

Letter from Botswana

Customary law needs to catch up with women's rights, says Wame Molefhe.

Buy this magazine