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Voice from the Back

Progressing backwards
Apologists for capitalism are always telling us that despite its problems this society is making wonderful improvements in the world today. This is shown as an unsupportable view when we can learn of the following on the BBC NEWS Website (25 November). “The United Nations food agency has warned that world hunger is rising again, despite international efforts to reduce poverty. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) annual report says nearly 850 million people go to bed hungry every night, mainly in Africa and Asia. The number of undernourished people is climbing by 5 million a year, it says.”5 million people need to eat. Let's feed them. That is the socialist view. Have you a better one?
 
Scrapheap mentality
“Hundreds of old people could die from cold this winter unless more is done to combat fuel poverty, Help the Aged warned today. The charity fears a repeat of last winter when 2,510 older people died from cold-related illnesses, almost 700 more than the number who died in the winter of 2001/2Herald (27 November). Although the charity do not give figures it is safe to assume that we will find no capitalists amongst those at risk. The elderly men and women who die this winter because they could not afford to heat their house are members of the working class. Goodnight, Grandma, sorry about the gas bill. Is this how you see yourself?
 
Slow learners
Away back in 1899 the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (now part of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union) moved a resolution at the TUC to set up the Labour Representation Committee, the forerunner of the Labour Party. More than a hundred years on some branches of the RMT are seeking to stop supporting the Labour Party. Progress? Hardly, because they want to support another reformist party. “The Labour Party is facing a breach with one of its founding trade unions after a move by three branches of the left-wing Rail, Marine and Transport Union to support the militant Scottish Socialist Party.” Times (28 November) When will workers learn that there is only one way to run capitalism and that is in the interests of the capitalist class? Having experienced a century of failure with Labour some of them now want to support the same old policies in the guise of the SSP.
 
Do I make myself clear?
The Plain English Campaign have announced this year's winner of the Foot in Mouth award. It is hardly surprising that it goes to a politician as that is the job that most calls for deceit, duplicity and obscurity. If clarity of thought goes with clarity of expression one can only wonder at the mental confusion of Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, who is quoted in the Herald (2 December) with the following. “Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me because, as we know, there are known knowns, there are things we know we know. We also know that there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know.” Have you got that? No, neither have we. 
 
Forward planning?
“Mobile phone group mmO2 proudly revealed today that it plans to create more calls jobs in the UK, rather than India. One of the reasons for its decision, though, is rather curious. The company's political risk assessment concluded that there were three countries in the world at risk of nuclear war: North Korea, Pakistan and India” Times (5 December). A bit scary isn't it? 
 
War is hell – for some
The US Government war aims were well known. To introduce democracy to Iraq, to bring about prosperity and peace in that country and to award lucrative construction contracts to US firms. Oh, you never heard of the last one? Neither did we but it is pretty certain the third aim is the one that has been realised long before the other two. “Haliburton, the engineering group formerly run by US vice-president Dick Cheney, has been given $1 billion worth of reconstruction work in Iraq by the US government without having to compete for it, thanks to repeated delays in opening up a key contract to competition” Observer (7 December). War is hell – a hell of a good investment for some.