1960s >> 1962 >> no-695-july-1962
Letter from Edinburgh (1962)
Edinburgh is a city with a population of about half a million. A few of these are very rich but. just like in all other cities in the Capitalist world, most of them are poor.
Edinburgh attracts many visitors from all over the world. They stroll along the mile-long Princes Street, staring at its famous buildings, gardens and floral clock. There, too, stands the Walter Scott monument. Looming over it all is the Castle, from which the visitor can admire the surrounding hills, can look over the Firth of Forth and can see the art galleries on the Mound which have given Edinburgh the name of the Modern Athens.
There is a great tradition of learning and letters in the city. In 1727 Alexander Munro was installed as Edinburgh’s first professor of anatomy and laid the foundations for what is now a thriving university. Alan Ramsay the elder (1686-1758). whose monument overlooks the floral clock, was the pioneer of the revival of literature in Scotland. Ramsay was a wigmaker in the High Street; he joined the Jacobite Essay Club and became its Post Laureate about 1717. Desiring to render service to the inside of his customers’ heads as well as the outside, he converted his wig-shop into a bookstall. Both Walter Scott and Robert Burns acknowledged the fact that they owed a lot to Ramsay, whom they had taken as their model.
But this is no take-off of a gaudy travel brochure. The Socialist Party of Great Britain is in Edinburgh too, making its voice heard in this centre of learning. Many visitors from abroad listen to our speakers on the Mound and are impressed by the Socialist’s scientific case. Here are expounded the theories of historical materialism and scientific Socialism which Karl Marx and Frederich Engels first formulated over a century ago.
Before man can pursue the studies of politics, philosophy, science and art for which Edinburgh is famous, he must first of all eat and drink and have clothing and shelter; he must, therefore, first of all work. It is with this fact and others—that our Socialist speakers are illuminating the minds of their listeners in the Modern Athens north of the Border.