There is a school of thought which maintains that Socialists should view Communists and Labourites, as distinct from the Tories, as having something in common with us.
We don’t, and they haven’t. This was demonstrated in articles on the Election in the Communist Party’s fortnightly review Comment
, on 7th September. What was the working-class issue in the Election ? According to Dave Cook
, the National Agent:
In the build up to the General Election, Britain’s economic position is the decisive issue, and it is around the policies to tackle the crisis that this political battle now explodes.
John Purton wrote on the same question—Britain’s Economy and the Crisis in the Capitalist World.
Purton discussed the gravity of the balance of payments situation and the need for economic co-operation with “the poorer underdeveloped oil-consuming countries”:
Ideally, they should receive large sums of oil money, which would provide larger markets for industrial exports.
It does not mean that economic relations with monopoly capitalist countries can suddenly be abandoned or completely revised. Obviously, Britain’s dependence on world trade would prevent that . . . Furthermore, the contradictions of capitalism provide a basis for a progressive government to bargain with countries of monopoly capitalism for relations which do in fact serve legitimate national interests.
So the “revolutionary”, “Marxist” CP want the working class to accept capitalism’s crisis, world trade, markets and national interests as its “legitimate” concerns. What are we supposed to have in common with this pernicious rubbish ?
Our Father’s Up the Poll
The failure of the “opinion polls” forecasts of Election results has provided more talk than the Elections themselves this year. John Akass in The Sun (14th October) argued that they produce cantankerousness: the more predictions there are, the more unpredictability will be cultivated.
Very amusing, but wrong. The opinion polls are not the same as racing tips. Their daily prognoses in the campaigns inform the political leaders of, roughly, where they stand — so that each knows when a new promise or representation has to be made, if he can manage it. It is not the electors who want to upturn the polls, but the politicians.
However, the most recent one is unlikely to be changed. A poll published in the Sunday Times on 13th October found that fewer than one in three people believe that God exists. See what an advantage Wilson has over God. The latter can’t accuse his opponent of having no policy, or promise bigger and better rewards for prayer
A Worse Kind of Jungle
A question to socialists used to be: “What about the backward peoples of the world ?” It is seldom heard now because, like many other questions, it is being answered by capitalism: the tribesmen are becoming factory hands.
A talk on the New Guinea Mission, given at the Royal Commonwealth Society on 24th September, described the head-hunters’ new mode of life. Urban drift “has become a flood”, and started other floods too:
The move to the towns is dragging in its train all the problems that have long been familiar in other countries all over the world. There is unemployment, inadequate housing, incipient slums and malnutrition. Mental illness, hitherto unknown in Papua New Guinea, is on the increase. So is crime, with juvenile delinquency causing particular concern. There is drunkenness, gambling and prostitution.
The New Guinea Mission’s speaker had a curious explanation for all the crime etc.: it is due mostly to “just plain old-fashioned sinfulness”. If it is old-fashioned, why is it a new phenomenon in New Guinea?
The correspondent who sent this item informs us that Bougainville, one of the larger islands, has a huge opencast copper mine using machines costing £50,000; and because of the copper deposits the island wants — independence. Shades of “Scottish oil” !
The Predatory Process
Some noteworthy facts about American involvement in South-east Asia were given in the Los Angeles Times Business and Finance section on 9th September:
Direct US investment in South-east Asia was a meagre $200 million in 1950. The total grew to $2 billion by 1970, should reach $5 billion next year, and $10 billion in 1980.
“It may be that opportunities in Europe have been decreasing but, more significantly, investment returns in Asia tend to be higher than those obtainable elsewhere”, the SRI report said. “One study found US investments returned 13% to 14% profit, and another found the median return on total equity of foreign firms in the Philippines, mostly American, to be over 31%.”
The report also describes the importance of oil in business with Indonesia: “Indonesia’s oil is in great demand due to its low sulphur content.”
Put this information beside the figure of 50,000 American servicemen killed, 350,000 wounded, and 1,000.000 Vietnamese killed to “secure” South-east Asia for “democracy and freedom”.
One of the ways in which people stake a claim to be “middle-class” is by running down the “working class” — i.e. manual workers as distinct from white- collar ones — as workshy spongers who milk the welfare services. A survey carried out recently by PEP has concluded that the boot is on the other foot:
Our finding that managerial and professional workers are the most likely to be drawing unemployment benefit at the same time as both having no intention of taking an official job, and earning from unofficial employment, contrasts strongly with the popular image of the idle, feckless unemployed as manual workers.
(Evening Standard, 18th September)
It sounds revealing, but the revelation should go further. There is an implication that what they are doing should be stopped. We agree. Why should people resort to shifts and subterfuge for crumbs from capitalism when the whole loaf — which they helped to produce — can be claimed ? Managers and professionals need to recognize that they are members of the working class, and that Socialism is the answer.