The Pyramid Of The Capitalist System.

This month for your “Read of the Month” we have chosen a poster from the Hetherington Occupation, at Glasgow University. Text by Stasia Rice.

The Pyramid Of The Capitalist System.

The Pyramid of the Capitalist System poster is in the Hetherington Collection The Activist made it from coloured pencils on an old cardboard box. We do not know who made it (do you?). It was used in the Occupation of the Hetherington Building in Feb 2011 which remained occupied until August -donated to SoR Archive by Johnathan Anderson. The occupation produced many pictograms/diagrams/ banners and flyers, propaganda advertising the Occupation by using images to get the message across quickly as a graphic. This activist has spent time on this hand made coloured pencil version and it is so well made that it catches your eye and makes you want to study it in detail, a way in to accessing its message.

This remodelled version is from an old illustration The Pyramid of the Capitalist System which has been widely changed and reproduced by activists over the years. It illustrates the position of the workers within the economic inequality of capitalism. The iconography is clear as a bell and cannot be misunderstood even without the explanatory text. However the proportions are deceptive, the media and the military becoming such sophisticated machines now.

 pyramid depicts society under capitalism as tiers, with the top balanced upon the others. Using gravity, the tiers ascend, each tier only able to balance there while the others stay intact. Each tier illustrates an aspect of society and its role in preserving the balance of the overall structure. Ruling class, Military, Media, Church, the Courts, the aristocracy and government, cannot stay in place if the bottom tier becomes precarious or collapses.

This symbolism gives great clarity of thought and of hope because the power to collapse the structure lies with the workers great numbers, creativity and strength. The illustration depicts a dead child, work spades and ragged clothes, metaphors of the inequality and brutality of life on the bottom. The red flag demonstrates the direction for hope to build and topple the existing social order with a view to creating a fair system.

In the original anonymous monochrome, Russian flyer from 1900, by the Union of Russian Socialists,

the eagle of Empire is perched on top of the tsar with the slogan;

“The time will come when the people in their fury will straighten their bent backs and bring down the structure with one mighty

This eagle was replaced by the Dollar sign in the later IWW version from 1911. It was published in the 1911 edition of the Industrial Worker paper of the IWW and attributed to “Nedeljkovich, Brashich, & Kuharich”.( taken from Wiki)

IWW further explained the hierarchy of the pyramid- simplifying the core power structure using humour by involving the viewer in deciphering hieroglyphs of a pack of cards.

Staines Anarchists have produced a simplified meme diagram.

Some of this is taken from Wiki, the rest is written by Stasia Rice (10/4/19)

You can see the Poster at GB 243 T/SOR/2 , Mitchell Library Archives, Glasgow.

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