Voice From the Back
Business as usual
The International Monetary Fund calculates that up to £1,000 billion made from drugs, prostitution, fraud and extortion is sloshing around the world’s 15 offshore tax havens. The secret BND (German intelligence service) report, The Money Laundering Community in Liechtenstein, reveals that billions of pounds of assets have been placed in secret trust funds by the American Mafia, the notorious Colombian Medellin cocaine cartel and the Juarez drug cartel of Mexico . . . One secret service source said: “Liechtenstein is at the epicentre of money-laundering in the world. Tough news laws in Switzerland mean that the Swiss are moving all their dirty deals to Liechtenstein. They can pass all the laws they want there, but as long as the same bank experts and lawyers are in charge there will not be any change.” Financial Mail on Sunday, 16 July.
One of the claims made by Blairite supporters is that we now live in “Cool Britannia”, a land where artists, film-makers and trendy “in” people thrive. A recent Unicef report paints a different picture: “The Observer (11 June) has obtained a report by Unicef, the children’s arm of the UN, which says that Britain has one of the worst records on childhood poverty in the industrialised world. Nearly 20 percent of young people live in families which are below the official poverty line—judged as a household income below half median earnings.” Behind the statistics lies real misery of almost Dickensian proportions: “Children are eating main meals which consist of little more than toast and beans, and rice pudding. Many live in terrible surroundings with damp running down the walls and inadequate heating. Parents often cannot afford to buy new clothes as the little money they have is spent on food. Some lone parents have less than £100 a week with which to bring up their children and pay the bills.”
“I go to university all day, come home and do my projects and homework then work part time at the weekends. It’s exhausting. The final straw came when I applied for free prescriptions and was told that my wages (£30 per week) and my student loan, which is classed as earnings, is over the government threshold. According to ‘New Labour’, students can live on £46 a week. So I would like to ask our politicians: how can a loan be classed as earnings when it has to be repaid and how can a student live on less money than a pensioner?” Evening Mail, 29 July.
The latest Greenpeace leaflet appealing for funds paints a gruesome picture of capitalist society in the future: “A flailing dolphin gasps madly for air. Where once there was living forest, now silence reigns. More and more of our children are choked by invisible poisons. Fields of genetically modified crops dominate the countryside, bereft of song and life . . . This is not science fiction. It is a realistic vision of a world without Greenpeace.”
So what do Greenpeace propose to do about pollution? They claim they have succeeded in getting Unilever to remove GM ingredients from their products; that they have forced the president of a G7 country to stop a nuclear test and have designed a “green” fudge. They hope to “keep the North Atlantic alive” and are striving to protect the Amazon rainforest from illegal logging”. All of these are doomed to failure because the cause of all environmental problems is the way wealth is produced. The whole purpose of production is to make a profit, and if it is necessary to pollute the planet in order to realise that profit then that is what capitalism will do. Persuading presidents and petitioning multi-nationals are pathetic operations. The need is for a new society based on production solely for use.
Profits first and last
A British company, Premier oil, went ahead with a £500m project to pipe gas through Burma despite warnings that its partner, the Burmese military, was using slave labour—including children—on the pipeline . . . Premier’s American partner, Texaco, has since pulled out of Burma. But despite the British government taking the unprecedented step in April of asking Premier to leave, the oil company has refused. Guardian, 27 July.