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Letters

Socialism and the Media

Dear Editors

The Leveson Enquiry is currently looking into the malpractices of the newspapers but it goes deeper than that. In capitalism there is at present the very large Goliath of   capitalist inspired policies and practices and the very small David of socialist education. The same goes for the media. Newspaper, periodicals and other electronic media are overwhelmingly owned and controlled by capitalist interests. They hardly ever mention the s-word and when they do they invariably equate it with nationalisation or what happened in the former Soviet Union.

In socialism education will be for life and life-long. There will likely be a closing of the gap between teacher and taught. In some cases there will be an interchange of roles. For example the same individual may for a time be a teacher in a subject of which they may have made a special study, while at other times they may learn from others who have different specialisms.

People will derive meaning and satisfaction from the varied contributions they make to the material, intellectual, social and cultural world in which they live. Of course  skills and expertise will still need to be taught and learned. But not how to be a professional killer, a persuasive salesperson or a maker of money (except perhaps how to preserve specimens of it in a museum).

In any modern society the media are a reflection of, and a significant part of, the world in which they are located. Regarding the various forms of media in a socialist future, it is easier to say what won’t be in them rather than what will be. Property based crime won’t be reported and discussed because there won’t be any. That doesn’t mean to say that no one will ever behave in an antisocial way or that disputes will never arise, but how these will be coped with is another matter. The salacious events in the lives of media-created ‘celebrities’ seem unlikely to outlast a capitalist-dominated world. We shall have to work for the growth of socialist media to see what will take their place.

In recent years there has been a rapid increase in technological – and especially electronic – invention and gadgetry. We don’t know what the socialist future will bring in this regard. But we can say for sure that there won’t be such things as commercially-inspired advertising, product placement or incitement to consumer addiction. Information about what is or could be made available would be freely accessible by all.

STAN PARKER, LONDON SW8

Something in the air

Dear Editors

Thank you for the articles in the January Socialist Standard on the Occupy Movement and the radio series Capitalism on Trial. There’s definitely something in the air, and

I was reminded of a comment in an article in the Standard last year - that you know capitalism is in trouble when people start talking about capitalism. And aren’t they just? It’s as though it’s suddenly been noticed that there are obscenely rich people in the world and that the most important division is between them and the rest of us. People are now prepared to talk about the social system as a whole rather than some particular aspect of it, and it’s significant that many of the movements responding to current capitalism have stuck to democratic instincts rather than allowing leaders to emerge from their midst and lead them astray. Moreover, the idea that political problems require a global solution (which the Socialist Party strove for years to propagate, in the face of much ridicule) is now a commonplace.

Of course, all the present unrest may come to nothing. The Occupy movements and the Arab spring movements may lapse into a preoccupation with trying to patch up aspects of the existing society and so become mired in futile reformism. But what should be encouraging for socialists is just the evidence that people can change: they can cease to take for granted what they have accepted so far, they can develop critical attitudes to what has previously been unquestioned, and all of this may come out of the blue. That’s a heartening thought in the context of the present miserable phase of capitalist society.

KEITH GRAHAM

Erratum
Re January Pathfinders, Brian Cox writes: “Good article. Only one fact check. I didn’t co-author Things Can Only Get Better. It was written by Peter Cunnah and Jamie Petri.” Apologies for the grievous misattribution.