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Voice from the Back

Spaced out
The US multi-millionaire Dennis Tito returned to earth on 6 May after his trip on a Russian space flight. He paid about $20 million dollars for the privilege; well American capitalists have got to do something with the surplus value that they have extracted from the working class. The awful thing is that while he was away in space for a week the capital that he has invested in the exploitation of the working class made him even richer than he was when he left the planet earth. As he is estimated to have a fortune of $200 million at present that is bloody rich. If every capitalist in the world was given a one way ticket into space, it would make no difference to the wealth produced on this planet, it would of course cut the consumption of wealth quite considerably.

Is democracy ghastly?
The Trade Union movement, in one of its worst moves ever, assisted in the development of the Labour Party. The outcome of that decision is that former railway workers, coal miners and factory hands are calling themselves Lords, dining at the Savoy and discussing the merits of Bollinger '57 champagne. And are the legions of present and former Labour MPs grateful for the soft living they procured with the help of the TUs? Not a bit of it.

"Teachers unions should end the "ghastly ritual" of their Easter Conferences because they turn off would-be recruits, the chairman of the Commons education committee said last night. Labour MP Barry Sheerman said he was dismayed by the behaviour of some delegates at the National Union of Teachers' conference in Cardiff, who jeered and held up placards when education secretary, David Blunkett, addressed them." Guardian 17 April.

Art for cash's sake
The art world was excited by the re-emergence of a "lost" painting of Claude Monet entitled Haystacks, Last Rays of the Sun. It is a painting that has not been seen in public since 1895. It goes under the hammer at Southeby's next month and is expected to fetch £5 million. So where has this masterpiece been for over a hundred years? In private hands, where its various owners have kept it safe from the prying eyes of the great unwashed. This is not an unusual fate for artistic works. The very rich, and quite often the very stupid, hoard them under lock and key, often not even looking at them for years on end. These are the people Wilde described as "knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing". Inside a socialist society all works of art will be available for the public to enjoy, not for millionaires to store in vaults.

Strange bedfellows
The news from Scotland that the Socialist Workers Party will cease to exist and that its 272 members will transfer to the Scottish Socialist Party illustrates the complete lack of principles of both parties. The SSP stand for an independent Scotland, the SWP in the past have always ridiculed this as narrow nationalism. We predict that a battle for supremacy between these two Leninist factions will probably break out in the future. They have certain views in common though. They are opposed to the concept of a class-less, trade-less, money-less society and of course see themselves as the self-appointed leaders of a working class too stupid to get socialism for themselves for "five hundred years". A plague on both their houses.

Slaughter of the innocents
Capitalism is an awful social system, the old, the infirm and the handicapped are particularly unfortunate recipients of its competitive uncaring nature, but a recent report by the United Nations Children's Fund shows how terrible is the fate of many children inside capitalism:

"Two million children have been killed by conflict over the last 10 years; 12 million children have been made homeless; six million children have been injured or disabled. Of the world's 40 million displaced, 20 million are children. Up to 10,000 children each year are killed by landmines" Observer, 6 May.

Situations vacant
From the majestic mountains and glens of Scotland we are delighted to inform our readers of the wonderful career opportunities that are available in Tony Blair's modern, cool Britannia. "Grouse Beaters wanted. Male and female accommodation. Meals provided. Apply in writing to the Headkeeper, Corrybrough Estate, Tomatin, Inverness-shire IV13 7XY" Herald, 8 May. "Accommodation" AND "meals provided" - Wow! "Near Utopian conditions for the lower orders, your Lordship." For how long are we going to let these arrogant swine get away with these insults?

Enlightened self-interest
When 39 drug firms dropped their case against South Africa importing cheaper anti-Aids drugs, it was hailed as a victory for humanity over profit. It wasn't that simple though, because the firms had only bowed to public opinion when it seemed that the import of cheaper drugs into Africa seemed inevitable. The South African government have refused to provide retroviral drugs through the public health system despite this apparent victory. The London-based mining giant Anglo-American is now negotiating with an Indian pharmaceutical company to purchase cheap Aids drugs for its HIV-positive workers in South Africa. An altruistic gesture by big business? Not quite. "Businesses say the pandemic will have a devastating effect on the economy, and research has shown that providing workers with drugs is cheaper than paying for absenteeism, loss of productivity, hospital treatment, funerals, and replacing and retraining staff" Herald, 7 May.