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Letters

Globalisation

Dear Editors

“Is globalisation just another word for capitalism? The short answer is yes” (Book Reviews, Socialist Standard, July 2009).

 Globalisation is not the same as capitalism. It is a process occurring within capitalism. It has predominated in recent decades, but it was not predominant at earlier stages of the development of capitalism. It will not necessarily continue to be predominant.

 It is important to distinguish between capitalism and globalisation because many opponents of globalisation advocate not socialism but the restoration of national capitalism.

Stephen Shenfield (by email)

Reply:

 That depends on what is meant by “globalisation”. In the middle of the nineteenth century Marx and Engels gave a vivid description that could equally apply to the present day:

“All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations” (Communist Manifesto, 1848).

 This “golden age” of globalisation was brought to an abrupt end in 1914 with the start of the First World War and the abandonment of the international gold standard. Thereafter globalisation continued with the help of increased state intervention. Capitalism has an inherent tendency towards globalisation, driven by the competitive accumulation of profits. Globalisation is not a particular arrangement of institutions, for example deregulated markets, or a particular ideology such as neo-liberalism. Of course there are many opponents of “globalisation” who want a restoration of national capitalism, and we agree it is important to counter their faulty conception of what constitutes capitalism - Editors.
 

Fascist?

Dear Editors,
 
 I am writing in response to Adam Buick's article about the BNP. Whilst I would whole-heartedly agree that the best way to deal with the BNP is to confront their ideology head-on, and debate with them if necessary in order to expose the paucity of their ideas, I do feel that it is naive to state that "the BNP is not a fascist party." Their constitution may not be overtly fascist, and they may no longer espouse fascism in their public utterances, but it would hardly be a vote-winner if they did! Is it really believable that, if the BNP came to power, they would still guarantee free speech to their opponents, or meekly allow themselves to be voted out again a few years later? Er... Remember that Nick Griffin is on record as stating that "well-aimed boots and fists" will win out over "rational argument"!

 Regarding their claims not to be racist, I can only recall an incident from when I lived in east London 15-20 years ago. In those days, the BNP was more of a localised nuisance than a national threat. They used to expound their "policies" by means of small credit-card sized stickers stuck to lamp-posts or other available surfaces. "Hang Black Muggers" is one particular gem that springs to mind. In any case, I recall seeing two of these stickers side-by-side; one read, "Protect British Jobs - Ban Imports." Alongside this (this still being the Apartheid era), was another which read, "Boycott the Boycott - Buy South African!"

 Ridiculous they may be, but these people are gradually obtaining positions of influence. It is important to expose them for what they are, but please do not underestimate them.

Shane Roberts, Bristol

Reply:
Irrespective of whether or not the BNP meets the historical criteria for being labelled fascist, their racism and extreme nationalism is bad enough - Editors.

 

Opportunism

Dear Editors,

 Before retiring, I was a member of the MSF union. (MSF stood for Manufacturing, Science and Finance). One month the union newsletter carried an article about how membership was being boosted by the recruitment of clergymen. I wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury asking that, as neither Manufacturing nor Science covered the activities of god's representatives, could I assume their efforts were chiefly concerned with Finance? He didn't reply.

 However, God apparently does have to take his finances very seriously. In common with numerous other multi-millionaires, his wealth is not what it was. And as always, it's the workers who suffer when the bosses money isn't rolling in fast enough. As a cost cutting measure, the Church of England is now looking at proposals to shed the jobs of some of my ex-fellow union members bishops and senior clergy.

 It is concerned that the value of its investment portfolio last year was only £4.4 billion. (Yes, 4.4 billion). In 2007 it was £5.7 billion. Another proposal under consideration which might save your local bishop from having to sign on, is to encourage congregations to be more generous with their donations. Although they currently provide the C of E with £600 million a year, it has been estimated that if they contributed 5 percent of their income, an extra £300 million a year would be generated.

 It has also been suggested, in all seriousness apparently, that priests should preach more about the value of generosity. The Rt Rev John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, worried about his job perhaps, is quoted as saying "A time of recession is also a time of opportunity ..."

Now that's what I call opportunism.

Nick White, Luton