The Sting in the Tail Column from the April 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard
Force and Revolution
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels wrote in The Communist Manifesto that the defeat of capitalism " . . . can be achieved only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions".
Generations of left-wingers have claimed this is proof that Marx and Engels advocated armed insurrection, smashing state power, etc.
Of course they did no such thing. Instead they urged workers "to win the battle of democracy" in order to control state power and thus secure the socialist revolution.
Left-wingers have ignored the fact that "force" doesn't only mean violence but has economic and political meanings too.
For example, workers are "forced" by economic need to work for wages: More to the point, almost all of Eastern Europe's dictatorships were ousted by political force and without any violence being used. This "force" was the determination of the people to get rid of a system they detested and is in line with the "forcible overthrow" envisaged by Marx and Engels.
Economics of Health
How splendid is the claim of Kenneth Clarke, Health Secretary, that under his White Paper no patients will be refused the medicine they need.
This is, of course, a downright lie. There is a drug called erythropoetin that can transform the life of those suffering kidney failure. A thousand patients are being denied the drug because it is so expensive. It costs between £3,000 and £5,000 per patient per year.
Of the 1,500 who would benefit from it, only 500 are receiving it. The doctors have to refuse the treatment to the other 1,000 sufferers, because it is too expensive for the NHS.
Commenting on this, Dr. Stephen Waldeck, consultant renal physician at Hope Hospital, Salford said:
It is extremely frustrating for doctors and nurses, having seen how much better that little ampoule can make the patients to have to refuse it.
It is also frustrating, doctor, to see workers suffering unnecessarily while bare-faced liars like Clarke get away with their empty political boasts.
Love's Young Dream
It is not often that any worker will find anything of interest in Harper's and Queen magazine. It is a snobby magazine aimed at the parasites who own this country, but have been woefully short changed in the brains department.
But there was an interesting little item in a recent issue about the 20 richest women in Europe. It comes as no surprise to learn that Queen Elizabeth tops the list, with a personal fortune of £5,300 million. She was way ahead of her nearest rival Queen Beatrix of Netherlands, who had a mere £3,800 million.
But this wealth accumulation is not the exclusive domain of royals. It was heartening to see that a former member of the working class had managed to reach number 10 in the Rich Bitch Charts.
She is Janni Spies-Kjaer who has a personal fortune of £330 million. Not bad for a former lift-operator!
How did she manage this transformation? It seems that at 16 years of age she caught the eye of her 60 year old employer. Married him and a year later he died, leaving her his Scandinavian travel empire. Later she consoled herself by marrying a multi-millionaire.
Now £330 million is a tidy sum. Why, it could buy 66,000 treatments of erythropoetin!
The Nutty Professor
The new Tory "Libertarians" claim that they influence the government by "thinking the unthinkable: and setting out to deliberately shock.
Roger Scruton, professor of philosophy at Birkbeck College, has set out to shock us.
We must recuperate yet another Victorian value: that of child labour. Many a 14 year old, set to work as a builder's apprentice, an electrician's mate or a stable hand, will learn far more than he could ever learn at school, while acquiring independence, responsibility and self-respect. If the pay were sufficiently low - and children are willing to work for quite paltry sums - there would be no lack of employers ready to offer it.
The Guardian 13 February.
So you see, child labour would really benefit the children: just look at all the things they would gain! Of course the "paltry sums" they might earn are purely incidental as are the extra profits employers would get.
Scruton's views that many children would "learn far more" if they left school at 14 is his unconscious verdict on the standard of working class education, and has he never wondered how the children of our masters manage to acquire "independence, responsibility and self-respect" without the advantage of child labour?
Anyone who thinks Scruton's obnoxious views are mere fantasy should remember that some previous libertarian fantasies are now law. Child labour is only one example of the kind of society they want and work for.
Oh No, Not That!
Can you imagine Kenny Dalglish complaining that fans are talking football or Bros being unhappy because youngster discuss pop music?
Of course not, but here's a politician who doesn't want people talking about politics. Tory MP John Stokes told a meeting of Tory MPs
People never talk about politics in the pubs. But now they are starting to. I regard this as a sinister sign.
Glasgow Herald 9 February.
It's easy to see why Stokes doesn't welcome this trend. Tory policies such as the Poll tax, high interest rates, etc., are highly unpopular and Stokes thinks that if politics is being discussed then so will those unpopular policies.
But maybe something much worse has dawned on Stokes: like the dread thought that workers who talk about politics might even start thinking for themselves.
Every would-be leader from "right wing" Tory to "vanguard" Leninist would find that very sinister indeed.
Letter to Tebbit
The Scorpion's Nest
We read how upset you were at at the BBC for describing those Russian hardliners who opposed Gorbie as "conservatives". You added:
Indeed, to my astonishment I find from the BBC that Stalin and Brezhnev were "conservatives" while poor ill-informed me, well, I had thought they were communists.
The Independent 22 February.
We know how you feel, Norm: haven't we in the Socialist Party fumed when the Labour Party is miscalled "socialist" or some dictatorship is dubbed "Marxist"? We even read, in your favourite rag, The Sun, about Nicaragua's awful "Marxist coffee".
But Norm, you've got a nerve to complain about others misusing words. You do it all the time! You're doing it when you say Stalin and Brezhnev were communists: what communist principle did they ever adhere to?
And at the last general election you were even describing the Liberal-SDP Alliance as "socialist", so you really shouldn't whinge when you get a taste of your own medicine.