Voice From the Back
The Great Divide
The class division in capitalism is well summed up by the millions trying to survive on less than $2 a day and the following news item. ‘Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim has topped Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s richest billionaires for a fourth year. The magazine estimates that Mr Slim, whose business interests range from telecommunications to construction, is worth $73bn (£49bn)’ (BBC News, 5 March). If you attempt to live on less than $2 a day your kids will probably die. That is a powerful reason why we need a new society.
A Billionaire Gets Angry
You would think it would be in the interests of billionaires to keep quiet about their riches, but not a bit of it. ‘One of the world’s richest men, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has severed ties with the Forbes rich list, claiming it understated his wealth. The Saudi investor, ranked 26th in the billionaires’ list released on Monday, accused Forbes of a “flawed” valuation method that undervalued his assets and “seemed designed to disadvantage Middle Eastern investors and institutions”‘ (Guardian, 5 March). They estimated that Alwaleed is worth $20bn (£13bn), putting him behind Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Alwaleed estimates his own wealth at $29.6bn. C’mon why get so upset, Alwaleed, what’s a mere $9.6bn to the likes of you? There’s lots of other workers to exploit and billions still to be made.
Hunger In The USA
Whenever one hears of children going hungry it is assumed this is a reference to some backward country in Asia or Africa, but recent events show that it applies to even advanced countries like the USA. ‘Child poverty in the US has reached record levels, with almost 17 million children now affected. A growing number are also going hungry on a daily basis. Food is never far from the thoughts of 10-year-old Kaylie Haywood and her older brother Tyler, 12. At a food bank in Stockton, Iowa, they are arguing with their mother over the 15 items they are allowed to take with them … The family are among the 47 million Americans now thought to depend on food banks. One in five children receives food aid’ (BBC News, 6 March). It speaks volumes about the nature of capitalism when even the most advanced country in the world has hungry kids.
Politicians love to paint a picture of a Britain of steadily improving standards of living and a gradually more equitable society, but recent statistics show that this is a complete fraud. ‘Millions of families will be no better off in 2015 than they were in 2000 due to a devastating attack on household finances, according to Britain’s leading think tank. The average worker will have suffered the worst squeeze on incomes in memory by the time of the next General Election, warns the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ (Daily Mail, 14 March).
The Roots Of War
The first world war was supposed to be the war to end all wars. 1939 showed the nonsense of that notion, but some claimed the second world war was a war to end fascism and to protect democracy. That now looks like an equally stupid idea. ‘As Austria prepares to mark the anniversary of its annexation by Nazi Germany, an opinion poll has shown that more than half of the population think it highly likely that the Nazis would be elected if they were readmitted as a party. A further 42 per cent agreed with the view that life “wasn’t all bad under the Nazis”, and 39 per cent said they thought a recurrence of anti-Semitic persecution was likely in Austria’ (Independent, 10 March). Wars are not fought for splendid humane principles they are fought for markets, sources of raw materials and political and military reasons. Foolishly workers today are still conned by the nonsense of nationalism and capitalism.
Another Phoney Socialist
The BBC described him as a revolutionary and media coverage has referred to him as a socialist. ‘Venezuela has announced seven days of mourning for Hugo Chavez, who has died aged 58 after 14 years as president. Thousands of Mr Chavez’s supporters took to the streets of Caracas to express their grief … A self-proclaimed revolutionary, he was a controversial figure in Venezuela and on the world stage. A staunch critic of the US, he inspired a left-wing revival across Latin America’ (BBC News, 6 March). In fact Chavez was no socialist. Like other phoney revolutionaries, he introduced whole-scale programmes of nationalisation that have nothing to do with socialism. Socialism means production solely for use. It is a classless, propertyless society. Venezuela remains mired in capitalism despite the media nonsense.