2000s >> 2000 >> no-1151-july-2000

Voice From the Back

Between $373 billion and $1.6 trillion
is what it will cost to clean up the sites polluted with uranium in the USA, depending on how thoroughly the job is done. But there is a much cheaper way, according to Sandia national laboratories of Albuquerque, New Mexico—leave it to nature, which will neutralise the radioactivity—in time, a very long time. In other words, do nothing, as millions of other capitalist firms are doing with their pollution.

In Lewis Carrol’s madcap world,
Humpty Dumpty declares, “A word means what I say it means”. It seems that Brian Souter, the Scottish multi-millionaire and homophobic would agree with Humpty Dumpty: “His inspiration comes from the Church of the Nazarene, a fundamental American sect based in Kansas City. Although it takes a harsh line on all matters sexual, it allows him to get on with business. As he explained, the sect’s “ethics are not irrelevant but some are incompatible with what we do because capitalism is based upon greed. We call it dichotomy, not hypocrisy” (Observer, 14 May). In another book, even more fantastic than “Alice”, it states: “It will be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” This has not scared off our Brian from accumulating a reported fortune of £300 million out of the exploitation of the working class. After all, such contradictions in the eyes of the deeply devout Souter, are a “dichotomy not hypocrisy”.

Freedom—as long as you pay
is the heading of a column in the Irish Independent earlier this year. Gene Kerrigan says, “It’s like there are at least two Irelands, side by side. In one Ireland, an Ireland where fantasies come true, entrepreneurs receive windfall profits of a kind that used to be built up over generations. In the other Ireland, an all-too-real Ireland, people lie for hours on hospital trolleys, untreated, because we have never made up for the health cutbacks of a dozen years ago. Is it unfair to suggest that there might be a cause-and-effect relationship between fantasy Ireland and real Ireland? Ireland is the sixth most “economically free” country in the world, says the Edmund Burke Institute, a ‘right-wing think tank . . .’ The woman in her 80s, who worked hard all her life, paid her taxes, and is now free to gasp her last on a trolley in an overworked hospital, would no doubt find the surveys interesting if she had the breath to comment.”

Sisters of mercy.
In the 15 January edition of the Irish Independent, a review of an episode in a three-part television documentary, Stolen Lives, recounts the interview with Kathy Byrne who, as a child was placed in one of the industrial schools for girls: “A nun walked in and gave me a whack with her hand and said: ‘how dare you get ink on your dress.’ She was going mad at me and she said, ‘you’re coming with me.’ Kathy breaks into a sob at the memory: She took me to the little place called St Brigid’s and . . . she just beat me and beat me and beat me and beat me. She just beat me everywhere. I was crying for my mum. Please mum, please mum, help me. I missed her so much, I couldn’t believe where I was. And the nun said, ‘You can call your mother all you want. She’s dead.’

Amnesty International,
in a recently produced leaflet, are appealing for your financial support. On the face of it, it is a powerful appeal. There cannot be a human being worthy of the name, on reading some of the examples of tortures that occur inside modern world society, who is not profoundly moved: “Take the case of Nang Mai. Nang was seized by solders in June 1997, in her township in Myanmar—not for any particular offence, but simply belonging to an ethnic minority. She was repeatedly raped, covered with wood and burnt alive.” Every human being must feel repugnance at such brutal acts. The leaflet goes on to tell us about blowtorches being applied to a person’s face in Algiers. Such barbarities happen all the time inside capitalism. So what is Amnesty International’s solution to such horrors? Send a cheque for £250 or £10 or £other (please tick box). This will enable them to help future Nang Mais or blowtorch victims by “applying pressure to governments around the world”. Our solution? Get rid of the whole awful social system that causes such horrors. We don’t want to apply “pressure to governments”. We want to see an end to the rotten system of capitalism that is the basis for such unspeakable crimes.

Trotskyist tactics summarised
One learns by failing. Silk Road, Chinese Fortune Cookie.

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