2000s >> 2006 >> no-1219-march-2006

Voice From the Back


In last month’s column we reported on how in India capitalism was repeating the process that Karl Marx had analysed in Capital, under the heading of the primitive accumulation of capital; now an identical procedure is being carried out in China. “Several people have been injured in the latest violent clash between villagers and armed police in southern China. …China reported 74,000 demonstrations involving more than a 100 people in 2004.” (Times, 16 January) These demonstrations are by farmers protesting at the seizure by the government of land that they have tilled for generations. The seizures are extremely violent as shown by the death of three protesters gunned down by the police in the previous month.


Under the headline “People die of famine in nation that exports food” the Times (18 January) expresses astonishment over events in Kenya. “The British aid agency Merlin found that 27 per cent of children around the town were malnourished — nearly twice the15 per cent emergency level.” Their astonishment is because: “Kenya is a food exporter. Grain silos are still full from last year’s harvest.” Their misunderstanding is because they think malnourishment is caused by drought rather than capitalism, after all in the 19th century during the Irish potato famine Ireland was exporting food. It’s the same all over the world throughout history, if you have money you eat, if you’re poor you starve. That is how capitalism works.


Capitalism is a dangerous society. How dangerous often depends on what part of the world in which you live. More important than that though is the class to which you belong. According to recent figures if you are a man and live in the Gaza Strip your life expectancy is 70.5 years. If you live in some other areas of the war-torn Middle-East it is even lower, but even more hazardous is trying to survive in the working class area of Calton in Glasgow. “In Iraq, life expectancy is 67. Minutes from Glasgow city centre, it’s 54.” (Guardian, 21 January). The message seems clear for all potential parents — don’t have your child reared in a war zone, but if you can’t manage that, at least avoid a working  class area in Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham or Newcastle. Capitalism is a killer society, no matter where you live.


We live in a harsh, brutal society; but even by its standards the following report is a shocker. “ A postal worker rode in a subway train around New York for six hours before a commuter noticed he was dead” (Times, 25 January). The 64-year-old Vietnam veteran had joined the subway after finishing work at 1am and his train had covered the 15-mile circuit six times before he was discovered. In the rat race that is capitalism human beings become callous towards others, but probably a contributing factor to this piece of inhumanity was the knowledge that eye contact in the New York subway can prove to be dangerous at certain times.


Under the headline “World has only 20 years to stop climate disaster”, the Times (31 January) reported on the document Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change. This reported on the conference hosted by the Met Office in Exeter last year. The release of carbon dioxide is causing the polar caps to melt and many areas face disastrous flooding. As every government in the world represents the interests of the capitalist class, who in their mad drive for profits are polluting the atmosphere, the future looks disastrous unless we can get rid of capitalism. 


Everything that is produced in capitalism takes the form of a commodity even education. “A detailed look at half a million pupils will show that bright children from the poorest families are often fated to perform below their potential. Success at primary school can soon become irrelevant as children repeatedly fail to get places at the country’s top schools, the study by the Centre for Market and Public Organisation will say.” (Observer, 5 February) Everything that is produced — housing, clothing and food — is distributed according to your wealth. Why should education be any different in a buying and selling society? 


Every day we read in the newspapers about poverty, world hunger and crime, but it is not all doom and gloom inside capitalism. Take the case of billionaire Larry Ellison, reputed to own about $17 billion, his lawyer reported to a San Francisco court that Ellison owned a $194 million yacht. “But most intriguing is the money his accountant set aside for what are described as “lifestyle” expenses: $55,000 a day.” (Times, 7 February) $55,000 a day? Yes $55,000 a day. We definitely need a revolution!.

Leave a Reply