The Voice From the Back column from the August 2015 issue of the Socialist Standard
Too many people?
While only 59 percent of lay respondents believe that a population boom will become a problem, 82 percent of scientists are concerned about overpopulation (goodtherapy.org, 6 July). Is the world overpopulated? Socialists are convinced there is good evidence to the contrary. Dr. Paul Ehrlich recently opined that women should not be allowed to have as many babies as they want as this is akin to letting everyone throw as much of their garbage into their neighbour's backyard as they want. Does he or most of the scientists surveyed, no doubt seeing this 'problem' through a capitalist lens, not know that half of all food is thrown away or that we could all move to New Zealand and experience a population density less than that of Manhattan?
Sultan Erdogan and his golden throne
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denied (Today's Zaman, 3 July) that his gigantic presidential palace is fitted with gold-plated toilet seats. Should we believe him? A more interesting question is what would a socialist world do with the tens of thousands of tonnes of gold currently locked away in vaults? Well, some may take inspiration from More's Utopia and use gold to make bathroom fixtures. We would also have to decide what to do with Erdogan's 1,150-room palace, which was built at a cost of around €490 million when money still existed.
William Morris wrote ‘While theologians are disputing the existence of a hell elsewhere, we are on the way to realising it here: and if capitalism is to endure, whatever may become of men when they die, they will come into hell when they are born.’ Haiti is certainly one candidate for hell on Earth as in addition to natural disasters and the rule of the one percent, our class there has recently suffered from the attention of the United Nations and Red Cross. The former is responsible for the ongoing cholera outbreak, an epidemic which has killed thousands and hospitalised hundreds of thousands, as well as exchanging food and medicine with over 200 women and underage girls for sex. The Red Cross raised half a billion dollars and built just six homes leaving most of the population existing in shacks made of rusty sheet metal, and without access to drinkable water, electricity or basic sanitation. Now 'some half a million stateless Haitian-Dominicans face mass deportation from Dominican Republic in what's been called an 'ethnic purge.' Poverty-stricken Haiti has condemned the expulsion measures and signalled it is not equipped to deal with the security issues posed by a massive influx of migration' (Telesur TV, 1 July).
Let them eat Campylobacter
Nearly three-quarters of fresh supermarket chicken in the UK tested positive for a food poisoning bug. Campylobacter is the UK's leading cause of food poisoning and a year-long survey by the Food Standards Agency showed 73 percent of chickens tested positive for the pathogen, with one in five (19 percent) within the highest band of contamination (foodqualitynews.com, 3 July)
Socialists are smart. We do not know the answer to life, the universe and everything, but we have the solution to war, pollution, and many other global 'problems'. We are members of the working class, smart enough to run society from top to bottom for the enrichment of the vestigial capitalist class. Until we learn better, even 'the smartest people in the world' will find 'problems of hunger and poverty are wickedly difficult' (grist.org, 2 July). D'oh! As long as capitalism remains so will its attendant 'problems'.
Looks like a duck
So-called socialist or communist states (actually a contradiction in terms) show the hallmarks of capitalism. State capitalist Venezuela and Guyana are in an uncomradely argument over resources:
’This particular border controversy covers an area of some 160,000 sq. kilometers (62,000 sq. miles), which signifies some three-quarters of the territory of Guyana, according to a decree signed recently by Maduro. For its part, Guyana claims that Venezuela modified its maritime borders to include the area in dispute, which includes territory where large petroleum deposits were recently discovered’ (Fox News Latino, 4 July).