The Political Notes column from the September 1980 issue of the Socialist Standard
End of the Shah
In the welter of words about the passing of this remarkably successful capitalist monster, there was a passing reference to the first time he lost his throne in the early fifties. That time it was not the Ayatollah but a nationalist called Mossadegh who had the audacity not only yo kick him off the Peacock Throne but to nationalise the British oil giant which practically owned the country.
The idea of nationalisation was of course too much for the British government, who were so angry that they wanted to resort to their old friend the gunboat. They had to be restrained from this notion by those pacifists in the Truman government of the USA (remember him? Hiroshima? Korea?). In due course the two governments managed to "destabilise" Mossadegh (the dirty tricks department of the CIA knew more modern tricks than gunboats), the "robbery" of nationalisation was put right and the Shah restored to await the Ayatollah (and Death the Great Leveller—it seems he hasn't taken his billions with him).
But the real point lies here. Who were the Blimps who wanted to send in the gunboat and who clearly hated the idea of nationalisation? Churchill? Eden? Well no—actually it was Attlee, the leader of the Labour government of 1945-51. And who were his supporters in Parliament in those days? Why the same apostles of nationalisation that we know and hate today—Wilson, Foot, Callaghan, Mikardo, Allaun—and the young Wedgbenn himself.
The Guardian, like the high-class reformist rag that it is, employs some of the finest leftist creeps in Fleet Street. Among them is a chap called Jonathan Steele who is now their chief foreign scribbler. Up to about ten years ago, he was their main Eastern European reporter and had been licking the boots of the so-called communist governments with great enjoyment.
Suddenly, for no reason that he could think of, this bewildered lefty found himself kicked out of a communist congress in Hungary. He never knew why and was clearly shocked that years of faithful creeping should be rewarded in this way. However, he managed to get over it and became the USA expert of the paper for the next decade. Whether he found it better or worse he never told us. No doubt he was hard put to find much difference.
However, he is now back in Moscow and clearly determined to lick even harder so that he will never be kicked out again. On July 29 he had a large spread in the Guardian with a picture of that great democratic newspaper called Pravda. And under the picture was the caption: "In a one-party state, readers' are the best guide to public opinion". Now isn't that delightful? The very fact of a one-party state means that the ruling class allows no opponents to open their mouths. Imagine the shock to the Soviet system if one day there appeared just one letter in Pravda saying: "As a member of the public, I wish to voice some public opinion. I think that free trade unions and political parties should be legalised at once. Oh yes, and that Brezhnev and the rest of the gang should be sent to enjoy the delights of the Gulag Archipelago".
A likely story, fit only for creeps like Steele—who, incidentally, has provided us with this gem: that most of the letter-writers are pensioners because they have most time. "Next in order are workers, clerks, farm workers and technicians." Now the very existence of a working class is proof positive of the existence not of socialism, but capitalism. It now seems that in Russia, they have got a socialism tat not only has a working class but apparently any number of working classes. Steele omits to tell us whether there are many letters in Pravda from readers who are not members of any working class at all. For example, Communist Party bosses.
Can anyone fail to be sickened by the antics of the pseudo-socialist parties? When in opposition, they denounce the governments of their countries on account of the social evils all around and when they obtain power they continue with the mixture as before—the same capitalism with the same evils. Well, the British pseudos are now bidding for an all-time record in lies and humbug.
Barely a year ago they were the governing body, gallantly presiding over rising unemployment and cuts in education and the social services. There were cuts too in the living standards of the workers they tried to browbeat in the "winter of discontent" (which they have already erased from their memories) with rises of 5 per cent in the face of inflation of more than twice that amount. And now we read headlines like: "Varley attacks 'wicked' Tories over dole queues" (Guardian July 16). How can this unctuous humbug possibly call the Tories wicked for helplessly watching unemployment grow when he knows full well that his lot were exactly the same.
That question started out as rhetorical but it might as well get the obvious answer—that all these villainous politicians can do all these things simply because the working class allow themselves to be fooled by plausible rogues. Another specimen, the man who calls himself Tony Benn (this makes him a liar even before he says anything) complains that the media is (sic) 100 per cent anti-socialist . . . attacking the Young Socialists (he means young Trotskyists) and all those who stand for full employment, disarmament and peace".
This same Wedgwood, like Varley and the rest of them, was a leading member of the last Labour government which "stood" for unemployment, armaments and wars and all the other evils of capitalism. How could those young "socialists: sit there at their meetings (Guardian July 28) and allow this conman to get away with it?
Recently Michael Foot, who was mouthing the same cant (in the same high-pitched screech) as long ago as most people can remember, said that an anti-unemployment demonstration in South Wales was the greatest he had seen. How conveniently he forgets a similar protest at a steel works in his own constituency in Ebbw Vale, when he was minister in a government about to close the place down. The outrage among the workers was so great that they refused to let him speak and there was a serious danger of violence.
Not that we condone such tactics; we look forward to the day when workers will allow these leaders to speak—and then tell them they have had enough of capitalism, and its left-wing and right-wing stooges and are going to achieve a socialist world with their own intellects and their own efforts.
A Labour councillor is quoted (Guardian July 15) as saying that workers "live in poor houses and in a poor environment. That was bearable while they had work" (he didn't say why). "Now that a lot of them have lost their jobs they are starting to ask questions—the process that creates wealth has spurned them and case them aside". Well spoken Labour councillor! (Even though this same thing has been going on for a couple of hundred years.) But what questions are they asking? Here's a suggestion: Who in hell needs Labour councillors? When did Labour politicians make a scrap of difference to those on the scrap heap?
L E Weidberg