Voice From the Back
The Control Of Ideas
The New Yorker magazine (7 June) asked a worthwhile question recently. “Last week, Gallup announced the results of their latest survey on Americans and evolution. The numbers were a stark blow to high-school science teachers everywhere: forty-six per cent of adults said they believed that ‘God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years.’ Only fifteen per cent agreed with the statement that humans had evolved without the guidance of a divine power. …. Such poll data raises questions: Why are some scientific ideas hard to believe in? What makes the human mind so resistant to certain kinds of facts, even when these facts are buttressed by vast amounts of evidence?” We would suggest that one of the factors that stops the flow of scientific ideas to the minds of workers is the control that religious and political factions have over the education and communication facilities. The owning class in the USA spend billions of dollars ensuring that their workers don’t understand the society they live in.
The Realities Of War
We are all aware of the Hollywood depiction of wartime bravery and noble sacrifice in battle, but one aspect of war is never dealt with by the cinema. “Suicides are surging among America’s troops, averaging nearly one a day this year — the fastest pace in the nation’s decade of war. The 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan — about 50 per cent more — according to Pentagon statistics obtained by The Associated Press” (Associated Press, 8 June). More suicides than those killed by the enemy! No wonder those portraying war as something admirable keep quiet about the suicide rate.
One of the myths espoused by supporters of capitalism is that the present economic downturn is caused by the laziness of the working class. Far from this being the case thousands of workers are desperate for a job as can be seen by the following statistics. “Leading companies are being flooded by 73 applications for each graduate vacancy, a major report reveals today. That figure is an average and the number is even higher in some sectors, with 154 chasing each post in retail and 142 vying for a single job in investment banking. The report says that it is even harder to find work this year as openings are down on 2011 amid the economic uncertainty worsened by the eurozone crisis” (Daily Mail, 4 July).
In their desperate struggle to survive, many workers from Africa try to get to Europe by any means possible. “The only survivor of 54 Africans who tried to cross to Italy in an inflatable boat has described throwing overboard the bodies of fellow passengers who died during the voyage. Abbes Settou, from Eritrea, who was rescued by Tunisian fishermen, said the migrants, including three members of his family, and ten women, slowly died of hunger, thirst and exhaustion” (Times, 12 July). According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) some 170 migrants have died attempting the Mediterranean crossing this year. Capitalism’s hellish conditions force workers into unbearable situations.
Spend, Spend, Spend
All over the world capitalism is experiencing an economic recession. Even formerly booming Japan is feeling the pinch with markets in free-fall. Amidst this period of uncertainty and fear there is of course one section of the population that continues to spend, spend, spend as usual. “An apartment that is believed to be the most expensive one-bedroom property in the world is on sale in Tokyo with a price tag of a cool Y1.8 billion (£14.72 million). …. The price means that 1 square foot of the property costs £3,320.33. The owner of the penthouse apartment – whom Sotheby’s would only identify as a successful and married businessman – spent 18 months completely refurbishing the property from a four-bedroom family home” (Daily Telegraph, 13 July). The owning class continue to indulge themselves no matter the economic world climate.