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Voice From the Back

Once as history, twice as farce

Caroline Lucas, now 54, says the Greens’ most popular policy today is to bring the railways back into public ownership when the franchises expire (Guardian, 28 February). A fare dodger who was caught forging his own first class train tickets has been ordered to pay back £17,000 (Daily Mail, 5 March). The not so Artful Dodger, Mark Mason, 44, is old enough to recall that one had to buy tickets in order to travel on the nationalised trains. Some socialists at the time took to wearing a badge with the apposite question: if the railways are ours, why do we have to pay?

Shit sandwich

There are 41 million people who do not have access to a toilet in Pakistan and as a result they are defecating in the open. And open defecation has significant health and nutritional consequences. Pakistan is the third-largest country when it comes to people doing this in the open, behind India and Indonesia(AP, 8 March). The farms generate so much waste that it would be too expensive to transport via pipeline or a truck, Wing said. So manure is dispersed via big pumps and sprayers . . . The sprayers shower hundreds of gallons per minute (household lawn sprinklers average about two or three gallons per minute) . . . Of 187 samples, 40 percent exceeded state and federal water guidelines for fecal coliforms, harmful bacteria from animal faeces (Truthout, 6 March). The problem here is not a shortage of money – Pakistan and India are nuclear armed, the latter has even entered the space race – and the water contamination in the US (and elsewhere) could be eliminated were it not for capitalism and its never-ending purist of profit.

Barking mad

At least 95 families were evicted every day in Spain in 2014, fresh statistics say as Spaniards struggle to meet mortgage payments. Home foreclosures have become a stark symbol of the 7-year economic crisis, with 2014 seeing a further rise in numbers (RT, 6 March). Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young has kindly come forward with a possible solution to this worldwide 'problem'. He said that if he let loose wolves in some congressional districts, they ’wouldn’t have a homeless problem anymore’ (Washington Post, 5 March).

Telling it straight

George Carlin had something to say about Young and his ilk: ’Good honest hard-working people continue, these are people of modest means, continue to elect these rich cock suckers who don’t give a fuck about you . . . they don’t give a fuck about you . . . they don’t give a FUCK about you. They don’t care about you at all . . .  at all . . . AT ALL. And nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. That's what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue dick that's being jammed up their assholes everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth. It's called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it’ (shoqvalue, 25 September 2010).

UN Utopia

The USA, for all its faults, has to be seen as an improvement on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where a ‘Saudi woman who had fallen victim to a violent gang-rape has been sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail after being found guilty of speaking to the media about the crime and indecency’(PressTV 7 March). UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said gender equality must be reached before 2030, because until currently, not a single country has achieved gender equality (Ahram Online, 3 March). Gender equality in 15 years? Only in a socialist world.

Three key reasons for war

Russia’s president knows exactly what he wants, and it’s not eastern Ukraine. His interests are all about oil and gas and supply routes. The rest is smoke and mirrors (The Daily Beast, 1 March). Correct: states compete over natural resources, trade routes and areas of domination.

And finally some good news

More than 1,700 bargain copies of The Communist Manifesto have sold in the last week, in the form of an 80p edition of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s call to the working classes to revolt (Guardian, 4 March).