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Die young

'Wealth and health are intrinsically linked in the United States, with rich Americans living between 10 to 15 years longer than their poor counterparts, a study has found. A series of five papers published in the medical journal The Lancet found that a widening income gap, structural racism and mass incarceration are fuelling growing health inequalities' (newsweek.com, 7 April). Bernie Sanders' diagnosis cannot, for once, be faulted: 'the USA is one of the richest countries in the world, but that reality means very little for most people because so much of that wealth is controlled by a tiny sliver of Americans'. Tragically, his treatment plan, as outlined in Our Revolution, if followed, amounts to yet another spin on the reformist misery-go-round. Dr. Marx's observation, published 150 years ago, that 'accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole, i.e., on the side of the class that produces its own product in the form of capital' remains valid. His cure is possibly best summarised as workers of the world unite!

Utopian capitalists

Dr. Butler, Director of the Adam Smith Institute, asked recently ‘Is Ayn Rand still relevant 35 years on from her death?’ This resulted in some feedback, the most outrageous example being that ‘Ayn Rand will remain relevant till the end of time for the same reason as Newton, Michelangelo, Copernicus, or any other brilliant mind who discovered eternal principles.’ One blogsite, theobjectivestandard.com (5 April), is slightly less effusive: 'It’s great to see such a prominent thinker at such a renowned think tank recognizing the nature and importance of Rand’s ideas. I suspect that if Adam Smith and Ayn Rand were alive to see it, they would greatly appreciate this development.' Smith would likely be horrified by the Institute which bears his name, by Rand and by capitalism today. One of his admirers was none other than Marx. Smith held that 'labour… is the real measure of the exchangeable value of all commodities,' noted 'the masters, being fewer in number, can combine much more easily; and the law, besides, authorises, or at least does not prohibit their combinations, while it prohibits those of the workmen' and, tellingly, 'wherever there is great property there is great inequality. For one very rich man there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many' (Wealth of Nations, 1776).

Philosophers have only interpreted the world

Noam Chomsky is listed as one of the ten most quoted writers of all time, but the description of him as the ‘most dangerous man in the US’ has surely been Trumped. Chomsky is more cognisant of capitalism than Sanders but shares his reformism, alas. During a recent interview titled ‘Chomsky: Why Trump Is Pushing the Doomsday Clock to the Brink of Midnight’ (alternet.org, 4 April), Noam stated '.. a couple of years ago, the secretary-general of NATO made a formal statement explaining that the purpose of NATO in the post-Cold War world is to control global energy systems, pipelines, and sea lanes. That means it’s a global system and of course he didn’t say it, it’s an intervention force under US command, as we’ve seen in case after case.' Whether he means Anders Fogh Rasmussen or the incumbent Jens Stoltenberg does not really matter – this is surely the first time that socialists are in agreement with Chomsky and a head of NATO.

Waiting for the last Chechen?

'I haven’t had a single request on this issue, but if I did, I wouldn’t even consider it, Kheda Saratova, a Chechen activist who is on Kadyrov’s human rights [sic] council, told a Russian radio station. In our Chechen society, any person who respects our traditions and culture will hunt down this kind of person without any help from authorities, and do everything to make sure that this kind of person does not exist in our society' (theguardian.com, 4 April). Examples of such primitive prejudice – in this case towards homosexual men – and practices abound. Will the lack of social progress delay the establishment of socialism? No. Developments in communications technology allow for the near instantaneous dissemination of ideas everywhere, as well as the circumvention of state censorship. Further, globalisation leads to the increasing uniformity of conditions and experiences and convergence in thinking. Socialists can use such factors in targeting our arguments.