2010s >> 2017 >> no-1359-november-2017

Rear View

Corbyism or socialism?
Real socialism has recently been the subject of two articles in mainstream media in as many weeks. Such occurrences are very rare even during elections in which socialists campaign, leaving us to agree with Oscar Wilde when he stated ‘the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about’. Neither thesun.co.uk (28 September) nor nationalreview.com (6 October) score top Marx for accuracy, but many of their readers will have been shocked to see excerpts from our twitter account – @OfficialSPGB – such as ‘outdated failing capitalism must be eradicated and replaced with socialism and forget about wanting to manage capitalism to make it nicer’. The Sun is as superficial as ever, but National Review’s Jonah Goldberg tries harder. His best effort at critique invokes John Rawls: ‘any attempt to create a “true socialist” society runs into the Iron Law of Oligarchy. Every organization requires some small group of people to make important decisions.’ But no leadership has emerged since our formation in 1904 and our structure is based on democratic accountability and delegated function. Our registered ‘leader’ for electoral purposes is no different from any other member – other than that he had the misfortune for his name to be drawn from a hat!

Premier league parasites
Revolutionary change can only come about as a result of, as Marx and Engels put it, ‘the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority’. Until then, capitalism with its wars and want will remain. Until then, leaders and social parasites will continue to parade their privilege. ‘The Sultan of Brunei celebrated his 50 years on the throne of the tiny oil-rich nation in typically understated style. Dressed in gold brocade and festooned with medals, the sultan entered the capital – with his wife Queen Saleha and their children – on a gilded chariot pulled by 50 members of staff. The five-kilometre procession through the streets of Bandar Seri Begawan was part of a month-long celebration of his golden jubilee… Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam is… the world’s wealthiest monarch and was once the world’s richest man, with a personal wealth estimated at £15 billion ($20bn) in 2008. He lives in an 1,788-room palace and owns one of the world’s most valuable collections of high-performance supercars’ (ibtimes.co.uk, 5 October). Two others playing in the same league, Russia’s dictator Putin and the Saudi king, met recently. ‘Asked about ties with Riyadh during a panel discussion at an international energy conference Wednesday, Putin responded that Moscow doesn’t see close US-Saudi relations as an obstacle for closer cooperation with the Saudis, and added that alliances tend to shift. “Is there anything in the world that stays unchanged?” Putin said. “I think that all things change”‘ (abcnews.go.co, 4 October). Which for the 99 percent means the more things change, the more they stay the same.

ICAN! UCAN’T!
Unsurprisingly, ‘NATO gave a chilly reception to nuclear disarmament group ICAN’s Nobel Peace Prize win Friday, saying efforts to end the atomic bomb must take into account the “realities” of global security.’ The reality is that nations compete over natural resources, trade routes and areas of domination. Such competition can and does result in war. ICAN, ‘the Geneva-based organisation, recognised by the Nobel committee for its decade-long campaign, was a key player in the adoption of a treaty symbolically banning nuclear weapons, signed by 122 countries at the UN in July. NATO, which has three of the world’s nuclear powers in its ranks, strongly criticised the treaty, saying it risked undermining the international response to North Korea’s atomic weapons programme. Jens Stoltenberg, the alliance’s secretary-general, welcomed “the attention given to the issue” of disarmament by the Nobel Committee and said NATO was committed to creating conditions for a world without nuclear weapons’ (en.prothom-alo.com, 6 October). UCAN’T expect peace in a capitalist world where war is endemic. Why focus on one type of weapon of war when the solution is to get rid of them all, and war itself by establishing socialism? ‘Our house is burning because it is made of inflammable materials—and people will keep dropping lighted matches. It is useless to tackle each fire as it breaks out. We must build ourselves a new house’ (A Message for Aldermaston Marchers, April 1960).

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