Voice From The Back
End of a dream
Ever since the publication of his Unsafe at Any Speed in 1965 Ralph Nader has been the darling of radical circles in the USA. Here was a man who dared to question the power of such capitalist concerns as General Motors. He went on to found scores of progressive non-profit organisations. He even ran as a Green Party and later an Independent candidate for the President of the USA. On one occasion he even polled almost 3 million votes. Capitalism however is a resilient social system and his attempt at reforming capitalism has ended up with him looking to the capitalists to solve the problems. He is on tour at present to promote his first fictional book entitled Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. This has led some of his former supporters to doubt his reasoning. “There is a poignance in listening to Ralph Nader these days. Here is a man who, for the last 45 years, has hurled his body at the engine of corporate power. He’s dented it more than anyone else in America. But he knows it’s still chugging, even more strongly than ever. Nader understands that he’s losing. He understands that we’re losing—we who believe in democracy, we who care about justice. But if our only hope is with a handful of billionaires, we’re in a lot worse shape than I thought.” (The Progressive, 28 September)
How about socialism?
As the social problems of capitalism mount up its administrators have to be seen to be doing something. The usual drill in the past has been for world leaders to meet together usually in some splendid hotel or other, make pious noises about “something has to be done”, pat each other on the back and fly home first class in a glow of self-satisfaction. The most recent crisis of world hunger has occasioned another useless backscratching summit. “With food prices remaining high in developing countries, the United Nations estimates that the number of hungry people around the world could increase by 100 million in 2009 and pass the one billion mark. A summit of world leaders in Rome scheduled for November will set an agenda for ways to reduce hunger and increase investment in agriculture development in poor countries. What will drive the next Green Revolution? Is genetically modified food an answer to world hunger? Are there other factors that will make a difference in food production?” (New York Times, 26 October) The one factor that they have not taken in to consideration is not yet another summit at a higher and higher level, but a sump level meeting of the world’s working class. Only by such a movement as the World Socialist Movement can men and women abolish for ever the madness of millions starving to keep a system of robbery and exploitation intact. The journalist asks the question “Are there other factors that will make a difference in food production?” Yes there is – world socialism and production solely for use! That is one issue that wont be discussed in Rome.
Capitalism is gangsterism
Politicians and clergymen and even well-paid TV personalities will claim that the Middle East conflict has something to do with morality and justice and that it has nothing to do with crass consideration such as “making a couple of bucks” as Al Capone once famously said. “The British oil giant BP will today take control of Iraq’s biggest oilfield in the first important energy deal since the 2003 invasion. The move has created uproar among local politicians invoking resentful memories of their nation’s colonial past. The agreement to develop the Rumaila field, near the southern city of Basra, will potentially put Iraq on the path to rivalling the riches of Saudi Arabia within a decade — if the Government can fend off corrupt officials, continuing terrorist attacks on pipelines and political uncertainty.” (Times, 3 November) Hey, Iraq workers may continue to live in poverty, so what, we can make a couple of bucks. That is how capitalism works, isn’t it Al Capone?
The new gangsters
It used to be popular for supporters of the so-called Communist Party to decry Imperialism. They would point out how Britain had exploited Africa and India during their colonial conquests. Later on they would concentrate on the role of the USA in Central and South America. Changed days now with China investing heavily in all sorts of corrupt regimes throughout Asia and Africa. “Barely a fortnight after soldiers loyal to Guinea’s military junta butchered at least 150 demonstrators calling for civilian rule, a deal for oil and mineral rights worth about $7 billion has been struck between China and Guinea. …It seems that China’s commercial march across Africa will continue unabated, however vile the human-rights record of the government it seeks to befriend.” (Economist, 17 October)