Thursday, May 12, 2016

Letter to a charity (1994)

From the April 1994 issue of the Socialist Standard

A Socialist sends a personalized reply to one of the 55 charities which solicited him for donations last year.

Nicholas Hinton,
Save the Children

Dear Nicholas,

Thank you for your letter and your request for help. I’ve decided that the best way I can celebrate the 75th birthday of Save the Children is by offering a donation to the Socialist Party.

I should explain. From time to time I've given to Save the Children, and some of the other charities that increasingly demand my support. (I kept a note in 1993 of the number of requests for help I received during the year. It turned out to be 154 from 55 different organizations and agencies). It’s quite clear there is much to do: famine to prevent; children to be saved from death, literally with spoonfuls of sugar; action to be taken to prevent the destruction of the world’s wildlife, its forests, the diversity of plants and animals, pollution to be combatted, the land, sea and air to be protected against rapacious commercial interests; help to be offered to the partially-sighted. the hard-of-hearing, folk suffering from arthritis, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, etc; attention to be paid, worldwide, to the needs of the orphaned, the poor, destitute and disadvantaged, those denied elementary human rights, imprisoned without trial, tortured and forgotten.

And this is just the beginning. Faced with cries for help from so many quarters I’m prompted to ask "Isn't there something wrong with a world that regards such problems and calamities as normal? That assumes that war. death and destruction are as natural (sic) as night and day?" And I know the answer.

Certainly there is something wrong. The basis of our relationship with each other and with the world which supports us is flawed. It accepts that making a profit for the few is inevitable and logically prime, even if the consequence is that most of the population of the world must remain forever threatened with poverty, death and disease, and oppression of all kinds; that economic affairs must forever be organized in this way, and the needs of humankind to food and shelter, never mind liberty, life and the pursuit of happiness, must never threaten the interests of the owning class.

But, of course, there is another way: a blazingly simple, self-evident way. We, the majority who produce the profit for the few, can say "no". No more. From here on in we choose, knowingly, to produce and distribute goods and services, co-operatively and harmoniously, in a way that meets human needs.

So from here on in I’m going to resist the heartbreaking appeals that come with most requests for donations to charities. From here on in my time and energy, and my money, will go to the Socialist Party, in the confident knowledge that the only way to create a world fit for children is to proposition its economic arrangements in such a way that the needs of the human race (and the continued wellbeing of the planet which supports us) must replace production for profit with all its inevitable, attendant evils. Why not join me in sending your £10 donation today?
Yours sincerely Michael Gill

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