‘A TV interior designer and curators at the William Morris Gallery were among the speakers at a school’s exhibition and celebration of his life last week. Over 330 people crowded into the chapel at Forest School in College Place, Snaresbrook last Thursday (March 24) on the artist’s birthday for an evening of talks and an exhibition of his work. One of the guest speakers was TV personality Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, who is part of the campaign to put Morris on British bank notes ahead of the 200th anniversary of his birth in 2034’ (guardian-series.co.uk, 31 March). What a silly way to celebrate the birthday of a Marxian socialist, author of the Socialist League’s manifesto – upon which our Declaration of Principles, written some 30 years later, drew heavily – countless pamphlets and polemics and the utopian novel News From Nowhere, which describes what life could be like in a moneyless post-capitalist world of common ownership and democratic control.
Morris and those who founded the Socialist Party would likely be astonished and appalled that worldwide capitalism continues into the 21st century. Even the confused James Connolly saw over a hundred years ago that the day for patching up the capitalist system had passed and that it must be replaced. Yet we must not despair as more recently groups and individuals who would not necessarily describe themselves as socialist embrace ideas that are clearly part of our tradition: ‘what makes Star Trek particularly attractive for many viewers is its progressivism. Star Trek depicts a future where the scourges of sickness, racism, poverty, and war have been eradicated on Earth and throughout much of the Federation, an inter-planetary alliance of which the Earth is a founding member. The elimination of poverty, hunger, and wage slavery has resulted from overcoming capitalism, markets, and currencies’ (dissidentvoice.org, 1 April). Add to this books such as Life Without Money and Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek and we just need to convince those excited by a world of free access and production for use to join our movement and make it so.
War and want
‘Weapons spending worldwide increased in 2015 and now stands at a mind boggling $1,676 billion, according to new data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute today. This 1% increase from 2014 marks an important shift: since 2011, military spending stayed at more or less at the same level. It is now going up’ (greenpeace.org, 5 April). War is endemic to capitalism as is poverty. Ending the latter would cost just a fraction of the wealth spent on weapons: ‘eradicating extreme poverty and hunger – two of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed by the United Nations in 2015 – may seem far out of reach. But, according to a new study, it could done with about ten percent of the world’s military spending’ (commondreams.org, 6 April), yet, armageddon aside, ending war and want can only achieved in a world without wages.
The Panama Papers are a reminder that the 1 percent, like capitalism itself, exist worldwide. They also add another nail to the coffin of Chinese so-called communism. ‘Directly connected to Xi is his brother-in-law, Deng Jiagui, who is named in the documents. Deng married Xi’s elder sister, and it was reported in 2012 the couple already held hundreds of millions of dollars worth of assets including real estate and shares. In 2009, at the time that Deng was the sole director and shareholder of two British Virgin Islands-based firms under Mossack Fonseca’s purview, Xi was rising within the Chinese Communist Party, en route to becoming its head. The documents also name Jasmine Li, the grand-daughter of Jia Qinglin, a top ranking official in the Communist Party. Li reportedly received her first offshore company as an undergrad at Stanford University, and through a number of complicated ownership agreements, Li was able to hide her holding of several offshore companies (mashable.com, 5 April). Putin, his family, and entourage have also apparently stashed funds overseas. Joshua Kurlantzick adds to the socialist nail gun: ‘the most serious threat from state capitalism is that the two big state capitalist authoritarian powers, China and Russia, will use their state companies as weapons in conflicts with other countries, as vehicles to control certain types of natural resources, as vehicles for obtaining and stealing sensitive technology from other nations, or as tools for undermining environmental and labor norms in countries where their state companies invest’ (State Capitalism: How the Return of Statism is Transforming the World, OUP USA, June 2016).