By the Way

Reform in Africa

Let’s have a big round of applause for all those reformists who have been telling socialists, for a century or more, that they should ignore the fight for socialism, and instead agitate for ‘here-and-now’ reforms. In Africa, that meant dismantling the old empires, and setting up new ‘independent’ capitalist states. Socialists always said that the result of all that would be merely cosmetic. Instead of the ordinary Africans being plundered by an owning class with white skins, they would be plundered by an owning class with black skins.

Now we have two interesting bits of information from the Times (8 October).

Firstly – there are now fifty-five African billionaires: i.e. individuals who are worth one thousand million pounds – a tidy old sum.

Secondly – in April the World Bank gave its opinion that Africa was the only area where ‘the number of poor people has risen steadily and dramatically’ during the past thirty years.

These two bits of news will surprise nobody – except, perhaps, the reformers who brought them about.


Another interesting quote from the Times (6 November).

‘In the past 30 years, the proportion of national income taken as a reward in the form of wages has fallen while the proportion due to owners of capital has  risen. And this has happened all over the world, pretty much regardless of what  politicians have tried to do about it.’

The last sentence seems to indicate a belief that politicians get elected ‘to do something about’ capitalism. In fact they all get into power determined to uphold the capitalist system: so that’s what they do. Why should a journalist raise his eyebrows at such news?

In the last thirty years there have been about fourteen years of Conservative governments, thirteen years of Labour governments, and three years of a Conservative-Liberal coalition. So all three major parties can take a bow.

Christmas is coming

One way you know Christmas is coming is the rash of adverts in the paper showing sad-faced teenagers, accompanied by an appeal for some kind charity that gives homeless people a dinner on Christmas day. So you can choose. You can support a political and economic system that gives homeless people a slap-up meal on one day in the year, and then throws them on to the streets for the other 364 days; or you can work to bring about a socialist system where the human ingenuity and human skills and human control over industrial processes and raw materials – which already exist – are used to make homelessness a thing of the past. It’s up to you.

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