Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"The Menace of Socialism." (1907)

From the August 1907 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Daily Express endeavours to make capital—or rather profit—out of the prominence which the word "Socialism" has attained during the past few years. The character of its attack upon what for its purpose it chooses to consider as Socialism is quite worthy of the traditions of "yellow" or capitalist journalism.

In heavy type on its leader page the Express published the following:-
Why not look the facts in the face? The issue is no longer Liberalism against Conservatism. It is, instead, Constitutionalism—which signifies unity of Empire and the rights of property, law and order—against Socialism, which stands for disruption, for loot, for the elimination of individual enterprise, and the incentive to do great things for laziness, for ATHEISM and FREE LOVE.
Here wage-slavery, the exploitation of the mass of the people to supply the luxuries and ease of wealthy drones appears disguised as Constitutionalism, Empire, Property, Law and Order! Whilst Socialism is disguised also but in a different way as Disruption, Loot, Laziness, Atheism and Free Love!

But who, pray, is it intended should be frightened by these scarecrows? Is it the worker? Or is the leech to be applied to some sacred capitalists for the benefit of the free and glorious Press?

The answer to the wild ravings of the Express is soberly unfolded month by month in the columns of this journal; and any reader who follows the installments of Kautsky's work will be enabled to understand and appreciate the depravity of such apologies for capitalism.

The tirade of the Daily Express against Socialism is palpably overdone. In the eyes of the average worker the Express simply makes itself ridiculous by its antics. If the result at Jarrow showed that the working class can no longer be relied upon to vote Liberal or Conservative, the result at Colne Valley showed that at least the word "Socialism" is no longer a bogey from which the workers will fly in terror.

But is the Express concerned with this? Is not its aim rather to scare the less astute section of the capitalists into helping forward an Anti-Socialist League scheme and into providing, incidentally, of course, some very profitable jobs?

If we have to realise that the capitalist Press is a powerful aid to the supremacy of the ruling class, we are also sure that the parasitic nature of that Press makes it at times a sad thorn in the side of our enemy, and a heavy drain on its ill-gotten "swag."

The Great Sham Fight
The Daily Express knows, as do the smarter among the capitalists, that the Liberal Party so far from giving way to the so-called Socialists, stoops but to conquer. By patronage, by flattery, by subsidation, if need be, the Liberal Party collects under its wing the "labour" men who, not having been elected to wage the class struggle for Socialism, and not being answerable to a class-conscious electorate, but being merely the expressions of personal ambition, and of confusion and vague aspiration among the electors, become easily dupes or tools in the hands of the enemies of the working class. Thus the teeth of labour leaders are drawn, jobs are found for them and they become "respectable, adaptable and sensible" citizens; tranquilizers of the discontented among the workers and bulwarks against revolutionary working-class action.

The Liberals, like the mountain that was in labour, are big in promise—it is part of the game, although the fulfillment could only be as chaff to the workers; but even as it is the net result behind all their hypocrisy out-tories the Tories.

The retention of the party division, splitting as it does the capitalist party into two factions, is a splendid dodge for blinding the worker to the truth. But Liberal and Tory, like the genial sun and the boisterous wind in the old fable have identical objects—only their methods differ.

Putin's Games (2014)

The Action Replay Column from the April 2014 issue of the Socialist Standard

The 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow were the subject of a large-scale boycott following the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The recent Winter Olympics in Sochi managed to avoid anything similar relating to the situation in Ukraine, but were still not uncontroversial.

New events, such as half-pipe skiing, were staged for the first time, on the basis of their supposed appeal to spectators and TV viewers. And as usual at such enormous events, global companies have been keen to sponsor and gain attention, and also to get publicity without the expense of official involvement (as ambush marketers). Some of the ambushers did pretty well, with Red Bull winning overall (according to Global Language Monitor) and, somewhat incongruously, Subway beating Rolex.

Michael Hudson and Jeffrey Sommers saw the Games as ‘the great success Russia hoped for’ ( Money and development were brought to the Caucasus region, and the authors were almost rhapsodic in their praise: ‘Sochi shows that Russia can pull off world-class projects on the global stage. The games proved how Russia can transform its economy through infrastructure investment in a way that can build up a middle class while countering religious and racist fundamentalist discontent.’

But not everyone was so enthusiastic (see December’s Action Replay). Of the £30bn cost of the Games, perhaps one-third went in corruption and embezzlement. Two thousand families were evicted from their homes so Olympic infrastructure could be built. The ecosystem of the Sochi National Park was badly damaged, and the prospects for the city becoming a big winter resort are at best dubious. The clumsy harassment of a Pussy Riot protest did the Russian state’s image no favours, either.

A large Italianate residence near Sochi, known colloquially as Putin’s Palace and allegedly built for his personal use during his first spell as Russian president, was recently sold for £215m to a fellow oligarch. So Putin’s bank balance at least is now in a healthy condition.
Paul Bennett