I was not impressed with your card handed to me on the march in Edinburgh last month [July]. Your connection Make Poverty History with Capitalism was in very bad taste and I consider it a disgrace. I am aware of the shortcomings of the present trading system and will continue to campaign for the aims of the Trade Justice Movement of which I am a member locally. However I do not want to be associated with your extreme views or the way you carry out your activities.
PHIL BARLOW, NOTTINGHAM
Many problems are faced today most especially in economical and political spheres of life. For instance, wars, workers’ strikes, corruption, riots, and many others. These most happen in developing countries and some few developed countries and the influence comes direct from world powers.
The selfish ideas of the world powers, being hidden by these powers, are the root cause of the world atrocities in pretext that they are fighting terrorism, ending colonialism, fighting dictatorship among other decisive, political and economic selfish ideas.
It is a great challenge for all socialists to pronounce and advocate for socialist principles without fear or frustration from selfish politicians so that we come to save the world from the ongoing atrocities escalating from selfishness of those who only look for ways of getting richer and richer at the expense of the majority.
JOSEPH BALIKUDDEMBE, KAMPALA, Uganda.
Some people, including some socialists, used to get quite irritated about the way that recorded laughter was inserted into, first radio, then television, shows that went under the generic heading of comedy. But we have slowly got used to this feature of modern life in capitalist society. It is almost universal now. It is applied to quality comedy and poor comedy; those with real audiences and those with no possibility of an audience at all in the location of the action. Like antidepressant drugs, canned laughter is prescribed for nearly everybody. Because, let’s face it, much of the time, if you didn’t laugh, you’d cry.
Many aspects of living in this increasingly dysfunctional world society are moving in the same direction. In Japan, as well as North America and Europe shopping has become the diversionary avenue of seeking feel-good factors. Clothes, to make us feel good about our appearance; various types of car, to make us comfortable about our status among our neighbours; health foods, to make us feel healthy; exotic foods to make us feel opulent; gyms, to make us feel confident or even superior about our physical fitness and sexual attractiveness. Houses, gardens, kitchens, etc., etc. Our electronic gadgetry, from mobile phones and digital cameras to MP3 recorders and players, offer us more power to do things we hadn’t even thought of and probably will never try.
The planet is being pillaged, plundered and polluted to make commodities for us to buy, partly because we need them and capital must have the flow of profit, but increasingly in the effort to obliterate our basic hunger for freedom, the one thing we cannot have. Like canned laughter, the temporary lift we get from commodity gratification is artificial, false. It hides a bad joke.
RON COOK, WEST BROMWICH
Socialism, scientific and humanistic
Since January the Pathfinders page has been a valuable addition to the Socialist Standard. In discussing socialism it recognises that we need to be consciously working for something, not simply against something. In July I argued against the idea that voting and democracy would be significantly advanced by means of new technology. After reading the August Pathfinders I realise that my questioning of new technology developed within capitalism goes deeper than that. It is a matter of some interpretations of scientific socialism focusing on things and humanistic socialism (as I see it) focusing on people. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against scientific socialism. I just think that Pathfinders puts too much emphasis on things and not enough on people.
“If capitalism fed, clothed and looked after its people in peace and without coercion, socialism would not be disproved but it would be unnecessary.” There is no evidence that capitalism can be changed to adequately feed and clothe all the world’s population without coercion. So the idea that it can do these things remains a doubtful hypothesis. But even if capitalism could change its spots in the ways outlined, would that be the end of the socialist campaign for system change? I think not. Socialism is not about
changes to capitalism – it is about replacing capitalism with another system. It is about a world society based on giving and taking, not on buying and selling.
“. . . the ability to micro-produce with minimal waste and distribution costs remains one of the most exciting innovations socialist society could possibly inherit.” Pathfinders’ fire is obviously lit by socialist methods of producing and distributing things. My fire is lit by the prospect of socialist relations between people (which will, of course, lead to changes in production, distribution, and much else).
STAN PARKER, LONDON N3