Monday, December 28, 2015

Sting in the Tail: Class contempt (1997)

The Sting in the Tail Column from the January 1997 issue of the Socialist Standard

Class contempt
Nigel Dempster’s column in the Daily Mail (23 October) carried an uplifting little item that shows the owning class are not all money mad. It was feared that there would be a dispute in the family of Lord White of Hull when it was discovered that he had left an additional £2.6 million without a will.

Everyone behaved beautifully and there was no undignified squabbling. The lack of litigation over the £2.6 million could be explained by the earlier settlements:
“Widow Victoria, who celebrated her 34th birthday last week, inherited around £17 million, his daughters Caroline and Sita were left £3.5 million each after being given homes in Los Angeles valued at £700,000 and son Lucas, 22, who is heading for tax exile in Bermuda, is the main beneficiary of the £70 million estate. ”
Readers will be relieved to know that the additional cash will go to his son. He’ll need it too, as he apparently spends around £500,000 per year on his polo expenses.

That the capitalist press can print such obscenities, shows in what contempt they hold the working class, who of course produce all these immense fortunes.


The golden years?
Last month we reported the shocking treatment of elderly workers, but the situation is even worse than we thought.

In the Observer (3 November) Ginny Jenkins, director of the charity, Action on Elderly Abuse, says:
“This month and every month at least 100,000 old people will be physically abused. And these will be people living in their own homes. Patients, visitors and staff can be reluctant to report abuse. Patients may feel that complaining will make matters worse, or be too confused to complain. Relatives might fear being handed back the complainant. And staff may think they could lose their jobs. ”
The report details a catalogue of horror stories—rape, sexual abuse and neglect at home and in nursing homes.

When you are young and fit you produce surplus value for your master. When you are old and infirm you are the subject of neglect and abuse. In the treatment of the elderly, capitalism must be the worst system ever devised.


His master’s voice
James McKillop writing on the arms trade in the Herald (19 November) both illustrated his awareness of the horrors of capitalism and his misunderstanding about the government’s role in the arms trade:
“They are the merchants of death. Like vultures they hover around the world’s trouble spots, intent on making a quick buck out of human misery and genocide. They have no ethics other than those of the market force that decrees wherever there is a demand, a ready supply can be guaranteed. ”
We could not have put it better, but his indignation is somewhat marred by this naive statement:
“In the wake of the Scott report into the arms to Iraq scandal, the government has tried to get its act together. In preparing for fresh legislation it has issued a consultative document in which it has asked the advice of (would you believe it?) those involved in the arms trade. ”
Yes, we believe it. The arms trade is worth £5 billion per year to the British capitalist class. Why shouldn’t their spokesmen and legislators in government consult their masters?


The blind wordspinner
In the Independent on Sunday (27 October) the journalist Colin Tudge wrote a long article called “If the Pope can find Darwin why can’t Dawkins find God?” It was a typical piece of ill- informed journalism; long on rhetoric and short on sense.

After discussing the stupidities and horrors of religion from the Inquisition to the role of Islam in present-day Afghanistan, he makes the following ludicrous claim:
“But despite its past enormities and its present absurdities, religion is necessary, and the task is not to obliterate religion but to devise one appropriate to our age. ”
Tudge is really annoyed at Professor Richard Dawkins, author of The Blind Watchmaker, for his attacks on religious beliefs. He accuses him of “the Goebbels-esque response of some scientists who reach for their revolvers when they hear the word ‘religion’”.

In fact, Dawkins in his books and lectures when discussing religious notions contrasts them with verifiable, logical data. When it comes to “reaching for revolvers” the religious of this world have a much more trigger-happy record than professors of zoology.


Magic moments
Sometimes the capitalist class get really desperate. But we doubt if any British company has yet plumbed the depth of one Chinese factory. According to the Independent (4 July) and quoted in the December issue of Fortean Times things must have got really desperate in Guandong:
“The Longwan cement factory in Guandong province, China, ordered the entire workforce to attend a ceremony where a witch and a sorcerer sacrificed a dog in an attempt to restore profitability to the plant which lost 8m yuan (over £600,000) last year. ” 
Alas, the magicians had little more success than the teams of management consultants called in to work their voodoo for British firms in similar circumstances:
“Workers and management went down on their bended knees to ask for divine assistance, but shortly after the ceremony a power generator at the factory burnt out. ”
No doubt the witch and the sorcerer deservedly got their marching orders. Pity about the dog though. 

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