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Alienation

A Job for Life

"There, my son, you have a good job. Look after it and it will be a job for life.”

How many fathers have launched their sons into the world of wage-labour with that advice? How many sons have spent the best part of each day for the major part of their working lives polishing the seat of their pants on an office stool or fraying their cuffs at a workshop bench because of that advice? How many young working-class men have aspired to a life as motor mechanics only to find that the job they get requires them to be merely unit adjusters, grinding valves or drilling holes or pressing on bearings day after day? How many young girls have dreamed longingly of marriage and romance only to find that married life for a worker's wife offers them the drudgery of washing dishes, clothes and floors?

Mental Ill-health and Suicide

One in six women and one in nine men must expect at some time during their lives to be patients in a psychiatric ward. Between 1972 and 1982 more than one million people in Britain will have sought psychiatric help, and many more in need of it will have suffered alone.

Housing and Human Problems

One morning in the early 1920's, a young mother trudged up the front steps of a town hall in one of the London suburbs. She was confronted at the top by a portly commissionaire, pompous in his petty authority, but she pushed angrily past him and found her way to the Mayor’s parlour at last. There was certainly no respect for civic dignity about her as she barged through the door and demanded of the official there when he was going to get her and her family somewhere decent to live.

Her husband had been unemployed for two whole years after his return from the slaughter of the Great War, and their marriage was early feeling the strain of trying to live with their young ones in two small rooms. No wonder the poor woman was at her wits end. In desperation, she pleaded— and threatened (she would drown herself and her three children, she said), but it made no difference. The official was not impressed.

Book Reviews: 'Why the Dalai Lama Is a Socialist', & 'The People's Marx. Abridged Popular Edition of the Three Volumes of Capital'

Not Half

'Why the Dalai Lama Is a Socialist: Buddhism and the Compassionate Society'. By Terry Gibbs, (Zed Books £12.99)

He isn’t, of course, but that does not mean this book is without value. The eye-catching title aside, there is relatively little here about the Dalai Lama, and the book is really about how some forms of Buddhism (which is often described as a philosophy rather than a religion) make similar-seeming claims to Marxism.

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