1980s >> 1987 >> no-989-january-1987

Out of the mouths of . . .

    Doesn’t it all begin to seem a little silly One moment these two great nations are deadly enemies, then they are all pally . . . and all the time the media pour out endless pictures of two tired old men in heavy overcoats. How many of these summits have there been now? Has there been any change in the insane level of armaments . . .  is the world a safer place to live in because of these summits?
It is to the mutual benefit of both America and Russia to make sure that nothing changes. No one asked me if I wanted to be represented by dear old Ron. . . .  leaders of the free world’ and ‘socialist world’. As if they were really in any kind of conflict. Basically they need each other. So after a few days of Ronnie and Mikhail shaking hands and kissing each other on the cheeks they send home a few of the spies that they both know exist in order to stop the ice melting completely. They have to keep the game going. There are too many forces on both sides with powerful vested interests in ensuring that everything remains the same. . . .
powerful Californian scientists and industrialists who are going to make sure that nothing really changes and no real agreement is reached. That is where real power is.
History will see the two great power blocks coming closer and closer together to squeeze the rest of the world over dwindling economic resources. That is the true logic of the situation and the rest is just a game.

You could be excused for thinking that these are extracts from a letter to the Socialist Standard. In fact they are taken from “Summit for Nothing “, the editorial of About Town (10 November 1986), one of the weeklies distributed free at bus stops and tube stations. Their content consists of approximately 90 per cent job advertisements, with the remaining pages filled with fashion and film reviews, job features and What’s On.

Usually I don’t even bother to open the paper, so you can imagine my surprise on reading this evidence for our contention that socialist ideas will evolve out of the capitalist environment. Mind you, “evolve” is the relevant word because, after such a promising start, the end of the article shows an incomplete understanding of the workings of the system. The final sentence “Next time they play at having a summit, I just hope they do it in private” shows that Robert Elms objection is to the play-acting of the figureheads rather than a wish to do away with the system of whose economic basis he is aware.

Eva Goodman