Saturday, September 2, 2006

Capitalism and Other Kids Stuff (2005)

From the September 2005 issue of the Socialist Standard
Capitalism and Other Kids Stuff can be viewed here.
To describe a society of common ownership without mentioning the word socialism is undoubtedly difficult. But by no means impossible. For a short film produced by members of the Socialist Party, Capitalism and Other Kids' Stuff, does just that in a language that nevertheless consistently pulls no punches.
Socialists are well aware of the dual purpose on the part of the capitalist media in portraying the class of exploited producers as a mindless, selfish, non-caring mass of individual consumers: to promote profits and create disunity. The film destroys these caricatures right from the start and exposes them for the claptrap they are, by juxtaposing the individual differences of perception with the broad facts of social evolution, human behaviour, and the unique ability of humans to care and share in common despite our cultural differences and lifestyles.

When the producing class engage in widespread discrimination over issues of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexuality, disability, etc; and take sides over who gets what share of the global market, this is clearly against their interests since they are thereby helping to create the conditions for a wealthy few to control the means of living.
Globally the results are all too familiar with the complexity of private property relationships concealed within a quagmire of disputes over territory and markets, followed by constant eruptions of violent conflict, and ending in misery and destitution on a massive scale. By skilfully crafting the reasons for this complexity of private property relationships to a novel 'kids stuff' analogy the script neatly underlines the importance of gaining a worldview of capitalism by analysing how the rules governing the minority ownership of the 'toys' determines the terms of oppression and the conditions of inequality for the 'toyless producers'.
Although there is an obvious danger such an analogy could be counter-productive, by unintentionally projecting an oversimplification of what constitutes the reality of capitalism, this hurdle is overcome by complementing the linkage to the "reality" of capitalism with a powerful backdrop of words and images, so the overall context underscores a revolutionary outlook on how we might live. These contrasts are further enhanced by comparing the divisions and horrors of capitalism with a society where production is geared to meeting human needs not profit plus the immense benefits to be gained when the world's resources are distributed through a system of production for use and free access so the necessity of social equality become conclusive.
This is maintained throughout the 50 minutes so the viewer is left in no doubt that before a world of common ownership is possible the majority have to gain a level of class consciousness and political understanding. In other words: engaging in a struggle to promote the class interest of the majority to attain and create a society where private property is replaced by common ownership involves acknowledging that the present unequal access to the means of living requires a political solution.
To get this solution across to an apolitical audience successfully in itself is no mean feat, but to also focus attention on the vast amount of social and individual freedom such a revolution will bring about will motivate many viewers to press the replay button over and over again, and so speaks volumes for the professional dedication and attention to detail. Although this is a first in terms of the socialist message being transposed into a film format no doubt it will not be the last. So watch this space, but in the meantime judge for yourself by watching Capitalism and Other Kids' Stuff at, or alternatively by purchasing a DVD from: Socialist Party, 52 Clapham High St, London SW4 7UN. Cost £5 (including post & packaging).
Brian Johnson

September 10, 2001 - America on the Brink

The September Socialist Standard is now online and can be read either as a PDF here or the individual articles and reviews can be read in html by clicking on the links provided below.

With this month being five years since 9/11, I wasn't that surprised to see that the Editorial Committee opted for an article on that monstrous atrocity, and the resultant fall out in the world as its front page article. People might also be interested in the Socialist Standard which was produced the month following the terrorist attack in New York.

I can't help but notice that the late Ted Grant gets a long obituary in this month's Standard, which I guess is par for the course as the late Tony Cliff also got the full length write up in the May 2000 Socialist Standard. I fear the worst if Tony Benn, Michael Foot and Margaret Thatcher were to die over the same period of time - a bumper 72 page issue of the Socialist Standard the following month, made up of an editorial, the Party's object and declaration of principles, and the rest of the issue given over to sticking the political boot in.


  • War, Plots and Civil Liberties

  • Regular Columns

  • Pathfinders Odds Uneven

  • Cooking the Books Doing Business, the World Bank Way & "Mass Unemployment"

  • Greasy Pole Peter Hain - a Case of Mistaken Identity

  • 50 Years Ago What is Behind the Fight for Suez

  • Main Articles

  • September 11, 2001: reflections on a somewhat unusual act of war On the fifth anniversary of the al-Qaeda attack on New York and Washington, we reflect on this act of war and try to place it in its true political and moral context.

  • After Hezbullah, war with Iran? Was Israel's attack on Hezbullah part of preparations for a coming US attack on Iran?

  • Globalisation - what does it mean? The second part of our article analysing capitalist globalisation. Last month we looked at how this affected capital. This month we examine its impact on the world's population at large.

  • Death of a Tendency The recent death of Ted Grant at the age of 93 has been a landmark, albeit a minor one, in British political history.

  • Political Ideas in Africa A brief look at the history of leftwing ideas in Africa.

  • Desperate Lies The man who faced the choice of dropping dead while waiting on the NHS list or bluffing.

  • Reviews and Letters

  • Book Reviews Glasshouse by Charles Stross; A Rebel's Guide to Gramsci by Chris Bambery

  • Theatre Review Shakespeare's Coriolanus at the Globe

  • Letters to the Editors Nuclear Power & Asked and Answered

  • Voice From The Back

  • Blinded, Conned, Kicked, Disgusted, Abandoned and Shunned by Capitalism.