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Voice From the Back

The Socialist Alternative
It is difficult to imagine someone disputing Professor Hawking's views on cosmology or theoretical physics, but some of his other views are open to challenge. ‘It is possible that the human race could become extinct but it is not inevitable. I think it is almost certain that a disaster, such as nuclear war or global warming, will befall the earth within a thousand years,’ Professor Hawking, the Cambridge University cosmologist and theoretical physicist said. ‘It is essential that we colonise space’ (Daily Telegraph, 6 January). Rather than wait a thousand years for space colonisation we think a more realistic view is to change the basis of society now from one of production for profit to one of production solely for use.

Malaria And Social Madness
There are many reasons for the world's working class to get rid of capitalism. Here is one of them. ‘Worldwide malaria deaths may be almost twice as high as previously estimated, a study reports. The research, published in the British medical journal the Lancet, suggests 1.24 million people died from the mosquito-borne disease in 2010.This compares to a World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate for 2010 of 655,000 deaths’ (BBC News, 3 February). While billions of dollars are spent world-wide in armaments to destroy human lives, capitalism refuses to spend a few pennies on mosquito nets that could save over a million lives a year.

Distorted Values
For want of a few pence, children are dying of lack of clean water and millions die every year from malaria when all that is needed to prevent it is a mosquito net. Yet millions are spent by parasitic capitalists on their stamp collection. ‘Printed in Sweden in 1855, the tiny Treskilling Yellow is thought to be the most valuable thing in existence by weight and volume. Weighing just 0.03 grams, the three-shilling stamp is now worth £5m. It is so prized because it was printed in yellow by mistake, and should in fact have been green’ (Daily Telegraph, 21 January). It speaks volumes for the values of capitalism when the health of millions is valued less than a scrap of paper.

Behind The Diplomacy
The Philippines is in talks with the Obama administration about expanding the American military presence in the island nation. An arrangement would follow other recent agreements to base thousands of U.S. Marines in northern Australia and to station Navy warships in Singapore. Under each scenario, U.S. forces would effectively be guests at existing foreign bases. ‘The sudden rush by many in the Asia-Pacific region to embrace Washington is a direct reaction to China's rise as a military power and its assertiveness in staking claims to disputed territories, such as the energy-rich South China Sea’ (Washington Post, 7 February). Behind the niceties of diplomacy lies the naked economic drive of modern capitalism.

A Strange Sort Of Advance
Some years ago with the advent of advanced technology many workers were promised that the working week would be cut drastically, but capitalism just doesn't work that way. ‘Workers in the digital era can feel at times as if they are playing a video game, battling the barrage of emails and instant messages, juggling documents, Web sites and online calendars. To cope, people have become swift with the mouse, toggling among dozens of overlapping windows on a single monitor. But there is a growing new tactic for countering the data assault: the addition of a second computer screen. Or a third. This proliferation of displays is the latest workplace upgrade, and it is responsible for the new look at companies and home offices - they are starting to resemble mission control’ (New York Times, 7 February). For many office workers the advance of technology has meant more arduous working conditions, not easier ones.

Rolling In It
At a time when unemployment is rising and many companies are feeling the economic pinch it is not all doom and gloom for investors. ‘Another year another bumper set of figures for investors in Rolls Royce. ... Analysts have pencilled in £1.2 billion of profits on £11.4 billion of sales, increases of 16% and 5%, respectively’ (Sunday Times, 5 February). It is reassuring no doubt for the unemployed that the owning class can still lord it over us in their splendid new Rollers.