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Letters

Dear Editors

Having just read with interest the article God and the Market (November's Socialist Standard) I felt that socialists may like to hear my views and opinions.

As an adult, I made the conscious decision to be baptised. That was ten years ago, and ever since then I have struggled with my faith because of the blatant hypocrisy that we all know exists within the Church. Indeed, Robert Tressell’s portrayal of the Church in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is, in my opinion, not too much of an exaggeration. Jesus Christ and his disciples spoke very plainly about the familial relationship of all people under our parent God, the requirement for "Children of God" to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), to shun riches (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13; Acts 8:20; 1 Timothy 6:10; Hebrews 13:5) and to care for all people (1 Corinthians 13; 1 John 4:7-21). Such is the true Christian faith: it does not seek the division of humanity in any way. True Christian faith, I believe, is socialist.

But Church practice is very different from the way it should be, as you all know. The Church, the faithful bride of Christ, has unwittingly embraced capitalism and is unable (or its leaders are unwilling) to escape from its grasp. These leaders, among other things, commit "daylight robbery" by sending out "tax-collectors" with bright shining plates during each act of worship to take money from their "beloved" flocks, and they celebrate (or, as they say, "Remember") the inhumanity of war and support future killing among siblings, even going as far as "blessing" destructive weapons (e.g. battleships). At the heart of each spiritual community is the local church, and how many local churches resemble market places? How would Jesus react to such things (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46; John 2:13-16)?
To be fair there are groups within the Church who do remain faithful. These include the Pax Christi movement, Tearfund and the Mothers' Union. But unfortunately, the humanity of such groups as these is hidden within the shadows of the Church's capitalist image within the world.

>From its earliest beginnings, the Church applied the pious practice of lending without adding interest. But it wasn't long before Church authorities saw this practice as "bad for business". In the same way, I wander how long it will be before the greed of Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury and the Anglican Bishop Wallace Benn of Lewes (who claimed that the credit crunch is God's punishment for society's obsession with money (Premier Radio News, 29th October 2008)) resurfaces and they change their minds.

PAUL BOYCE, Lincoln

Reply:
We agree that what evidence there is seems to show that the first christians practised a form of what Kautsky in his Foundations of Christianity called “a communism in articles of consumption”, but it also shows that they were more interested in the world “to come”, which they believed to be imminent, than in changing the corrupt (as they saw it) world in which they lived. The case for socialism, as the common ownership and democratic conbtrol of the means of production, is a secular doctrine based on the facts of the situation today and not on quotations from the sacred texts of one particular religion,
 - Editors.
 

The politics of poverty in Zambia

  The sudden collapse of copper prices and the consequent depreciation of the Zambian currency, the kwacha, has meant that the election promises made by the newly-elected MMD President of Zambia, Rupiah Banda, won’t be achieved in the space of three years before the 2011 general election.

The recent increase in meali meal prices from K56,000 to K75,000 per breakfast bag (25kg) led to riots in Kitwe.

  President Banda seems to be a man devoid of pragmatic ideas and that can be instanced when he appointed the discredited veteran politician Vernon Mwaanga as parliamentary chief whip. Indeed, Mwaanga and Banda were early groomed by the first President Kenneth Kaunda. Mwaanga had served in every administration ever since 1964. He was only dismissed by the last President Mwanawasa in 2007. Mwaanga is a wealthy and respected Tougha tribesman.

  Most people in Zambia feel that Banda has brought UNIP back into power—Banda was a staunch UNIP politician (foreign minister in 1972) and was living in retirement ever since the exit of the UNIP government in 1991. he only came into active politics in 2006 when the late Mwanawasu appointed him as vice-president.

  Unexpected was the dismissal of the versatile finance minister Nyanda Magande together with the outspoken female minister of local government, Silver Masebo. Indeed, the reconstituted cabinet is a pale-faced assemblage of yes men.

  The MMD government has lost touch with the vast majority of Zambian workers and it seems that Rupiah Banda’s government will be subjected to unexpected economic crises that will jeopardise his chances of winning the 2011 general election.

  But what many workers and students in Lusaka and the copper belt mining towns do not understand is the fact that the current economic and social problems confronting them cannot be resolved by the opposition Patriotic Front leader Michael Sata. There isn’t any political difference between the ruling MMD and PF. Both Banda and Sata are old and tired wealthy politicians seduced by political and economic privileges. The sudden collapse of copper prices has led to widespread job losses (redundancies) in the mining sector. It is just in such unforeseen economic misfortunes that many irate workers think that the PF leader can create economic wonders. Economic liberalisation entails free market economy in which demand and supply comes to determine commodity prices. The government of the day cannot impose itself upon the market to fix a minimum price. That is why the increase in meali meal prices cannot be restrained by the MMD government.

  In 1991, Western-sponsored economic growth programmes impact negatively upon the ordinary Zambian workers and peasants—economic growth in Zambia is enjoyed by the foreign industrial elites (through tax exemptions).

  Gross inequalities in the distribution of income and wealth mark the political, racial, ethnic and religious frustrations taking place in many countries in Africa today. The only way-out is a classless, stateless and moneyless society—socialism.

KEPHAS MULENGA