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Rear View

Rage against the machine

'Decelles, a scientist at Princeton, has just published some very telling research that illustrates the broader social costs of unequal treatment by focusing on a very specific instance. She looked at what happens when those travelling in economy class on a plane pass through the first-class section on the way to their seat, and found that this encouraged bad behaviour.... Much less predictable was the discovery that when economy-class travellers have shuffled past the luxurious first-class seats on their way to the back of the plane, first-class travellers become more badly behaved too. In fact... it’s possible the first-class traveller is just as prone to raging at the cabin crew as the one in economy, when – and this is the bit that matters – they both are made unavoidably aware of the difference in their status' (theguardian.com, 4 May). These remarks would come as no surprise to Marx. He made a similar observation: 'a house may be large or small; as long as the neighboring houses are likewise small, it satisfies all social requirement for a residence. But let there arise next to the little house a palace, and the little house shrinks to a hut. The little house now makes it clear that its inmate has no social position at all to maintain'.

Work, work, work

Socialism will not see the end of all boring work, but many occupations considered so will simply not exist as a result of automation or historical redundancy. A world of production for use not profit will have no use for banks, bookmakers, cashiers, economists, estate agents, loan sharks, security staff, stock brokers, etc. This should be of interest to wage slaves everywhere, including 44-year-old Parisian Frédéric Desnard, who '... is demanding more than $400,000 from his former employer, a perfume enterprise, as compensation for the boredom it allegedly caused. According to the Frenchman, the company should be held responsible for mental and other health damages' (washingtonpost.com, 5 May). Frederic also states that he was 'ashamed to be paid to do nothing'. Usually being paid to do nothing, or nothing useful, is the preserve of the capitalist. Bored members of the 1 percent are welcome to apply for membership of the Socialist Party and do something more meaningful instead. Capitalism stinks: vive la révolution!

Money first, medicine second

Who needs gods when we can make the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk and bring back the dead? We can perform many other miracles, but capitalism rather than lack of ardent prayer gets in the way. We can cure many diseases once considered fatal. 'Hepatitis C-related deaths reached an all-time high in 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday, surpassing total combined deaths from 60 other infectious diseases including HIV, pneumococcal disease and tuberculosis. The increase occurred despite recent advances in medications that can cure most infections within three months' (cnn.com, 4 May). Treatments are developed with profit not people in mind. Can't pay, can't have. This is the situation throughout the world. In central and west Africa as many as five million AIDS sufferers have no access to anti-retroviral drugs. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki promoted alternative remedies such as vinegar rather than ARVs, which saved the state's funds at cost of at least 300,000 lives.

Abortion

'There are 49 countries in the world today where abortion is still completely illegal. In many more, it is legal only under the narrow pretext of saving a woman’s life, and many other countries have strict regulations relating to abortion that ultimately take away a women's control over their own bodies even in cases of rape or incest' (indy100.independent.co.uk, 1 May). Celibate men dressed in frocks, often with more interest in young boys than women, expect their pronouncements on sex to be taken seriously. Lack of sex education and access to contraception as well as the pervasive poison of long dead generations are driving pregnancies among girls and women throughout the world. Lack of pre- and postnatal care for millions results in unnecessary deaths. You know the solution.