Selling Socialism?

Dear Editors,
As a fellow socialist but also a practitioner in the evil discipline of marketing I have come to the conclusion that we are all missing something quite clear in terms of how we all seek to promote the aims of socialism.

We are entering a new millennium and the current tide of capitalism has to be—at least—challenged. The only way we’re going to do that is by beating it at its own game—and that does not mean distilling the message—it means working out how to communicate our message more effectively.

What we are offering is an attractive proposition for more people on this planet than any other ideal! I think that’s something to shout about!!

Marketing has been clever in cultivating capitalism, arguably its major tool. However we are now entering a darker phase where brand overtakes everything.

LET US have a global brand. Let us get our groups together and have a logo that reflects all the positives and ideals that socialism espouses. This is the only way we’ll ever challenge the NIKE, McDONALDS and COCA-COLA syndrome. We have to think brand but only after we’ve unified our message.

And how do we project our message more effectively? Through creative and sometimes illegal advertising—with images that break open the myth of capitalism, that allow people to consider their situation therein, that challenge the whiter than white brand identity. Let us tell people about the wage differential, the unethical practices, the exploitation that they are victim of. Let us get these images everywhere and see what kind of effect it has.

Don’t mistake me for seeing socialism as a product . . . oh no . . . it has infinitely more substance than a simple product and that is our strength and collective strength. Let us be taken seriously as a very workable solution—if not inevitable—to the greed, ethnic conflict and hate that fills this world.

We must break down the myths of what has been done in socialism’s name in the past and create a solid clear vision for the new millennium globally.

We must take heed of regionalised feelings—legalisation of cannabis etc.

As people with ideals we will all have an innate creativity in which we can tap into. We should take more notice of our ideas and realise that real creativity is not the preserve of top London agencies—where most copywriters will be/been socialists! We have the images, the icons that we can use to push ourselves and our message and be taken seriously.

Socialism has to evolve and move in a way that people can understand. Understanding has evolved and we’ve stayed still, it will only work if done globally and pushed globally. All the tools are there to do the job.

Reply: The Socialist Party has always stood for a global system, and we have a global brand name—The World Socialist Movement.

The principles of Socialism are not an ideal, but rather the only real solution to the viciousness of capitalism. This journal has been exposing (unfortunately, too often, mainly to Socialists) this viciousness ever since its first issue. The problem, as you realise, is how to reach a mass of people with the Socialist solution. But our resources are—at the moment—minuscule. We could never compete with the likes of Coca Cola or McDonald’s. Perhaps the Internet is an easier (and cheaper!) way to reach the world—Editors.

Hollywood debases Oz

Dear Editors,
The Observer for 3 October carried a brief review of a newly-reissued book containing three novels in the Wizard of Oz series by Frank Baum (The Wonderful World of Oz, published by Penguin). This sparked off an interesting exchange of mails on the World Socialist Discussion Forum (well worth joining if you have Internet access: you can subscribe via the World Socialist Movement website, or by sending an empty email to WSM_Socialism_Forum-subscribe@onelist.com).

I had never realised before reading the Observer review that the Oz books are political allegories, an aspect that is completely lost in the film starring Judy Garland. The film depicted the land of Oz as a dream world, whereas for Baum it was a real place, an alternative to the alienating, exploitative and economically-depressed United States of the beginning of the century.

For instance, consider the following passage, from The Emerald City of Oz:

“There were no poor people in the land of Oz, because there was no such thing as money, and all property of every sort belonged to the Ruler. Each person was given freely by his neighbours whatever he required for his use, which is as much as anyone may reasonably desire. Every one worked half the time and played half the time, and the people enjoyed the work as much as they did the play, because it is good to be occupied and to have something to do. There were no cruel overseers set to watch them, and no one to rebuke them or to find fault with them. So each one was proud to do all he could for his friends and neighbors, and was glad when they would accept the things he produced.”

Leaving aside the reference to the ruler, this is clearly a description of a Socialist community, based on production for use rather than exchange of commodities. No wonder Hollywood didn’t show this in the film!

Paul Bennett, Manchester

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