Bird’s Eye View – Wilde, Orwell, Douglass and Banks
‘The fact is, that the public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing’.
The Socialist Party is very rarely mentioned in mainstream media, even during elections in which we campaign, leaving us to agree with Oscar Wilde when he stated ‘the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about’. Wilde, however, was never ‘fact checked’.
‘Media Bias Fact Check selects and publishes fact checks from around the world. We only utilize fact-checkers that are either a signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) or have been verified as credible by MBFC. Further, we review each fact check for accuracy before publishing. We fact-check the fact-checkers and let you know their bias. When appropriate, we explain the rating and/or offer our own rating if we disagree with the fact-checker’ (Media Bias/Fact Check, 13 August, bit.ly/3C0Qo1L).
The Socialist Standard is found wanting: not always credible or reliable and biased to the Left. No doubt the ‘… current editors .. Edgar Hardcastle and Gilbert McLatchie’ would scoff at such nonsense. Alas, they are no longer with us. In fact, having two supercentenarians in Britain’s oldest socialist party would certainly bring us some much needed attention. McLatchie (1890-1976) in an article titled ‘A “Living Wage”. I.L.P. Moonshine’ (Socialist Standard, June 1925, bit.ly/3C1JUj9) wrote ‘The Independent Labour Party [1893-1975] has kept the workers’ attention fixed upon questions of Taxation, Credit Banks, Nationalisation, and a thousand and one other things in which the remedies proposed would bring no appreciable improvement in the general position of the workers’ – true of the Left today as then.
‘It is quite possible that we are descending into an age in which two plus two will make five when the Leader says so’.
‘In the Socialist Party of Great Britain we are all members of the working class, and cannot hope that our articles will always be finely phrased, but we shall at least endeavour to lay before you on every occasion a sane and sound pronouncement on all matters affecting the welfare of the working class. What we lack in refinement of style we shall make good by the depth of our sincerity and by the truth of our principles.’
This statement taken from the first edition of the Socialist Standard in September 1904 remains true today, as does a quote attributed to Orwell: ‘during times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act’.‘ We are not alone. Other groups and individuals reveal pertinent truths too, at least some of the time.
‘…it should be uncontroversial to assert the antiracist principle, anchored in basic biology, that we are one species. There are observable differences in such things as skin color and hair texture, as well as some patterns in predisposition to disease based on ancestors’ geographic origins, but the idea of separate races was created by humans and is not found in nature. There are no known biologically based differences in intellectual, psychological, or moral attributes between human populations from different regions of the world. There is individual variation within any human population in a particular place (obviously, individuals in any society differ in a variety of traits). But there are no meaningful biologically based differences between populations in the way people are capable of thinking, feeling, or making decisions. We are one species. We are all basically the same animal. Although we are one species, there are obvious cultural differences among human populations around the world. Those cultural differences aren’t a product of human biology; that is, they aren’t the product of any one group being significantly different genetically from another, especially in ways that could be labeled cognitively superior or inferior. So why have different cultures developed in different places? The most obvious answer is that it is the result of humans living under different material conditions’ (We Are One Species, Information Clearing House, 4 August, bit.ly/3bvuQzr).
‘While the forces of repression need to win every time, the progressive elements need only triumph once’.
‘.. the emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind, without distinction of race or sex.’ This statement is from our Decleration of Principles and is astonishingly forward-looking considering it dates from the formation of the Socialist Party in 1904. ‘Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave‘, said Frederick Douglass. We should fill in the blanks, be alert for media lies, distortions and half-truths, as well as conspiracy theories and ‘alternative facts‘. We should remember Marx’s favourite motto – doubt everything! – and this from his German Ideology (1845): ‘the class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production’.
Today, even bots are showing signs of socialist thought:
‘Meta’s new chatbot has told the BBC that Mark Zuckerberg exploits its users for money. The chatbot, which uses artificial intelligence, was asked what it thought of the company’s CEO and founder and it replied “our country is divided and he didn’t help that at all”. It added: “His company exploits people for money and he doesn’t care. It needs to stop!” Meta said the chatbot was a prototype and might produce offensive responses’ (bbc.com, 13 August, bbc.in/3C1FpVN).
The hyper-intelligent artificial minds of Iain M Banks’ post-capitalist, post-scarcity, galaxy-spanning Culture are only possible in the far future, yet Socialism As A Practical Alternative (bit.ly/3w4WIBn) has long been possible. In 1948 John Boyd Orr, former director of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, stated ‘a world of peace and friendship, a world with the plenty which modern science had made possible was a great ideal. But those in power had no patience with such an ideal. They said it was not practical politics’ (Daily Herald, 29 July 1948). Let us hasten that day.