Voice From The Back


Many people see the recent rise in foodstuff as an unmitigated disaster. Millions of poor people see it as a potential death sentence, but we live in capitalism and many capitalists see it as an investment opportunity to make huge profits. “Huge investment funds have already poured hundreds of billions of dollars into booming financial markets for commodities like wheat, corn and soybeans. But a few big private investors are starting to make bolder and longer-term bets that the world’s need for food will greatly increase — by buying farmland, fertilizer, grain elevators and shipping equipment. One has bought several ethanol plants, Canadian farmland and enough storage space in the Midwest to hold millions of bushels of grain.” (New York Times, 5 June)



The recent increases in oil and food prices combined with the so-called “credit crunch” has led many economists to reconsider their viewpoints, but none more startlingly than that of the Times journalist and arch-conservative William Rees-Mogg. “All serious political analysis has a Marxist element. The core discovery of Karl Marx as a political philosopher was the dominance of economic change in shaping the history of political society.” (Times,12 May)



“A California company will give five dog owners the chance to have a favourite pet genetically copied and brought back to life later this month. BioArts International has arranged an online auction to decide which dog lovers will qualify: at starting bids between $100,000(£51,000) and $180,000.” (New Statesman, 5 June) “Every 17 seconds, a child in the developing world dies from water-related diseases. In around the time it takes you to read this paragraph, someone, somewhere, will die. Everyday, people in the world’s poorest countries face the dilemma of having to trust their health and that of their children to the consequences of drinking water that could kill them. It’s a gamble that often carries a high price – seeing children needlessly dying is simply heartbreaking.” (WaterAid leaflet, June) It says a lot about the priorities of capitalism when WaterAid are asking for £2 a month to help save children and someone can spend £90,000 to clone a pet dog.



It is always difficult if not impossible to predict where the next international conflict will erupt inside capitalism, but this piece of sabre-rattling by a prominent Israeli politician gives us the heebie-jeebies. “An Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites looks ‘unavoidable’ given the apparent failure of sanctions to deny Tehran technology with bomb-making potential, one of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s deputies said on Friday. ‘If Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective,’ Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz told the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. ‘Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable,’ said the former army chief who has also been defense minister.” (Yahoo News, 6 June)



There are many examples of how capitalism turns human beings into monstrous creatures, but we doubt if a more extreme example than this could be found. “A woman beat her grandmother to death with a garden spade because she feared her inheritance would be spent on her residential care. Joanne Hussey, 33, has been jailed for a minimum of 20 years for the brutal attack on 77 year old Annie Garbutt. …The jury was told that Mrs Garbutt had the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and it had been recommended she be placed in a home. Her savings of around £250,000 would have been dipped into in order to pay for the cost of her care.” (Daily Telegraph, 11 June)

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