Voice From the Back

A Fruit And Nut Case

Capitalism is a social system based on class ownership, and sections of the owning class are always in disputes over this ownership. They have legal battles, sometimes leading to military battles, over the ownership and access to sources of raw materials and markets. Recently there has been a legal dispute over the ownership of a particular colour. “Is chocolate the first thing you think of when you see Pantone 2685C? It might be if I tell you that it is the technical name for Cadbury Dairy Milk’s distinctive purple. And it does indeed ‘belong’ to Cadbury, after a decision in the High Court yesterday that the confectioner’s purple packaging constitutes a trademark” (Times, 2 October). This dispute arose over Cadbury’s rival Nestlé’s objection to Cadbury registering the colour as a trademark in 2004. Nestlé had already lost in 2008 but decided to appeal the judgement of the Registrar of Trade Marks. Only capitalism with its emphasis on ownership could have highly trained legal minds battling for years over who ‘owns’ a colour. Madness.

The Whip Hand

Whenever there is a slump and mass unemployment, the employers’ hand is strengthened, as a recent report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development shows: “Millions of workers are ‘too frightened’ about losing their job to take time off work when they are sick, even if they are very ill, a report reveals today. The authoritative report says a culture of ‘presenteeism’ is sweeping Britain as workers decide to come into the office, rather than stay home in bed. A third of bosses have seen an increase in the number of workers ‘who struggle into work when unwell’ over the last year, according to the report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development” (Daily Mail, 9 October).

Some Good News

Every day in the newspapers socialists can read all the bad news that capitalism throws up. Millions starve while food is destroyed; children dying for lack of clean water; and lately a 14-year-old girl shot in the head by some Pakistani religious zealot because she dared to attend a school. So what is the good news? “The number of people with no religious affiliations is growing at an unprecedented rate, according to research. A third of adults under 30 in the US now say they have no faith. …. The US study was undertaken by the Pew Research Centre, a Washington based think tank. According to the latest British Social Attitude Survey, published last month, religious affiliation among Britons has fallen from 68 per cent in 1983 to 53 per cent in 2011” (Times, 10 October).

A Deadly Social System

In its unending drive for more and more profit the capitalist system ruins lives but it also ruins the world’s environment and biodiversity. “Reducing the risk of extinction for threatened species and establishing protected areas for nature will cost the world over $76bn dollars annually. Researchers say it is needed to meet globally agreed conservation targets by 2020. The scientists say the daunting number is just a fifth of what the world spends on soft drinks annually. And it amounts to just 1% of the value of ecosystems being lost every year, they report in the journal Science. Back in 2002, governments around the world agreed that they would achieve a significant reduction in biodiversity loss by 2010. But the deadline came and went and the rate of loss increased” (BBC News, 12 October). Governments can make sympathetic noises and even pass pious resolutions but profit making comes before biodiversity so more and more species of flora and fauna are doomed.

Recession? What Recession?

During the current economic recession it is commonplace to hear of workers being unable to sell their houses because of tumbling prices and difficulties in obtaining mortgages, but one part of the housing market is unaffected by economic difficulties. “An estate agent to the rich and famous is celebrating after selling £3 billion worth of property – on the same London street. Trevor Abrahmsohn has cornered the market on one of the world’s wealthiest roads, The Bishops Avenue in Hampstead Garden Suburb, north London – known as ‘Billionaires’ Row’. Over the last 35 years he has handled 150 house sales on the street at an average value of £20million at today’s prices” (Daily Mail, 12 October). To those members of the owning class who think nothing of spending £20 million on a house there is no economic crisis. 

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