2020s >> 2021 >> no-1405-september-2021

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It’s not rocket science
Following his trip to the edge of space, billionaire Branson asked us to ‘Imagine a world where people of all ages, all backgrounds from anywhere, of any gender, or any ethnicity, have equal access to space’ (free-media.info, 18 July). Indeed. Iain M Banks’s Culture series is a highly recommended imagining of such a post-capitalist/scarcity society. But to get there, we need to abolish capitalism on Earth. We could make a start by understanding where one-time Democratc Party Ohio State Senator, Assistant Professor Nina Turner, errs. She recently criticised billionaire Bezos who, following his first rocket trip, said ‘I also want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all of this.’ But the ‘Blessed By God! Wife, Mother, Sister, Host of Hello Somebody Podcast, Ohio State Senator, Professor’ @ninaturner (20 July) disagrees: ‘Correction: employees didn’t pay for this — their wages were stolen to pay for a billionaire’s space vacation. Jeff Bezos can thank his workers by treating them with dignity and paying them fair wages….and he can thank us all by paying his damn taxes.’ Oh no, not again – a call for ‘fair’ wages and taxation! There is nothing fair about wage slavery. We work, they take and do their best to avoid paying taxes which serve to maintain this system of legalised robbery. On 25 July Turner tweeted to remind us that the Federal minimum wage of $7.25 has remained unchanged since 2009. An earlier re-tweet proclaims, correctly, another world is possible. She, unlike Marx, fails to join the dots. He wanted us to understand that, with all the miseries it imposes upon us, the present system simultaneously engenders the material conditions and the social forms necessary for an economical reconstruction of society. Instead of the conservative motto: ‘A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work’ we ought to inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword: ‘Abolition of the wages system’.

A Professor of the dismal science
‘If the Socialist Party of Great Britain is an authority on such things, it is official: in light of recent anti-communist protests and civil unrest, Cuba has been demoted to “Not Real Socialism” and reclassified, along with the USSR and other failed socialist experiments, as “actually state capitalism”’ (independent.org, 20 July). The author of this ahistorical drivel is Art Carden, an Associate Professor of Economics at Samford University. For the record, in the December 1906 edition of the Socialist Standard we stated: ‘We are not concerned with State capitalism. We are concerned with Socialism. Socialism is the negation of capitalism. Consequently State capitalism cannot be the ideal of any Socialist. Ergo those who preach State capitalism or collective exploitation are not Socialists.’ Further, we said Russia had state capitalism in 1920 and similarly Cuba in 1968. Ironically, the island’s present dictator made a speech recently (liberationnews.org, 11 July) that was surprisingly succinct and free from mention of communism or socialism! This did not deter the loony left, eg. workers.org, from proclaining ‘U.S. HANDS OFF CUBA! END THE BLOCKADE! DEFEND SOCIALIST CUBA!’ or the rabid right from declaring ‘Cuba is a tragic case, but it is not our problem…. Except for China and North Korea, after the fall of the Soviet Union communist regimes have all ultimately collapsed ‘(vdare.com, 19 July). Even the moribund middle contributed: e.g. ‘Biden Says Communism Is A ‘Universally Failed System,’ And Socialism Is No ‘Useful Substitute’” (dailycaller.com, 15 July).

Doctor in need of a second opinion
Another professor, Jody Rawles, M.D., writes: ‘Homelesssness is complex… Anybody claiming to have a plan to fix this problem with only one remedy is like a mechanic claiming to be able to overhaul your engine with only one tool — it won’t work’ (yahoo.com, 20 July). Yes, homelessness is a complex issue. For every homeless person there is a raft of interrelated reasons why they may be in that situation. Some are simple: loss of housing through relationship breakdowns, inability to pay for housing, drink, drugs, mental health issues, abuse and domestic violence. For some, all they really need is a house or flat. For others, more complex social help is required from specialists perhaps in drink and drug rehabilitation, or social workers to support individuals through crises. The US-based professor of psychiatry and human behaviour recognizes that individual human needs can be complex as well as unique, but he is clearly igmorant that we are existing in a sick social system which responds only to market rather than human needs. Consider, there are on any given night over 500,000 homeless in the US alongside over 17 million vacant homes. The Ending Homelessness Act of 2019 which provides additional funding for, and otherwise addresses, assistance to homeless individuals and families will fail. There is in fact a housing shortage for those most in need. Nearly 150 years ago Frederick Engels wrote: ‘This shortage is not something peculiar to the present; it is not even one of the sufferings peculiar to the modern proletariat in contradistinction to all earlier oppressed classes. On the contrary, all oppressed classes in all periods suffered more or less uniformly from it.’ Engels saw that there was no possibility of a rational approach to housing within capitalism. ‘As long as the capitalist mode of production continues to exist, it is folly to hope for an isolated solution of the housing question or of any other social question affecting the fate of the workers. The solution lies in the abolition of the capitalist mode of production and the appropriation of all the means of life and labour by the working class itself’ (The Housing Question, 1872).

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