Thursday, April 18, 2019

News in Review: Freedom Riders (1961)

The News in Review column from the July 1961 issue of the Socialist Standard

Freedom Riders
Nobody need be surprised at the reception which was given to the Freedom Riders in Alabama. Race hatred, with its violent undertones, still festers in The Deep South. When we remember this, the 'sit in' victories seem to have been too easy.

Neither should we wonder at the brutality of the Montgomery mob. Colour bars cannot be justified by scientific argument, because there is no evidence to support them. Violence is simply a substitute for reason. Here is fertile ground for the ignorant, vicious mobster to flourish unhealthily.

We should remember that many of the Southerners who are fighting so hard to keep the Negro down also fought not so long ago in a war which, we were told, was for racial freedom.

We can see now what that assurance was worth. Racial freedom cannot be safeguarded by the military victory of one capitalist state over another. It depends upon the ideas of human beings.

Capitalism, with its anomalies and insecurity, breeds many brutal and inhuman ideas. Race hatred is one of them. The Freedom Riders are tackling something which may be bigger than they think.


Kennedy calls
President Kennedy is certainly mobile. His top level visits showed that, after the years of dispute, the American capitalist class still concern themselves deeply with European affairs.

Even after the wars which were supposed to eliminate them, there are still enough conflicts of interest in Europe to start another international blood bath. There is no reason to think that a third world war need begin anywhere else.

Kennedy did not see Macmillan until after his important talks with de Gaulle and Khruschev. Was he reporting on what had been decided, whether Macmillan liked it or not? Was his call at London merely a face-saver for British capitalism?

Certainly, it showed that the days are gone when Britain's gunboat word was law and that international capitalism has new bosses to sort out its problems.

Do summit talks help in this? Experience says no. Eisenhower was one of the latest of the exponents of top man-to-top man chats, but when he left office the world was as far from a secure peace as ever.

In truth the representatives of the ruling class rarely, if ever, talk peace. They talk commerce, strategy, compromise; sometimes threats. Sometimes war. If Kennedy can be taught anything in this, he is probably learning fast


Lord Home in Portugal
Lord Home; according to the people who know him, is a most charming and amiable fellow. A master, perhaps, of tact. An expert at disguising any inner feelings which may embarrass his host. Just the chap, in fact, to send out to be chummy with a dictator.

Lord Home must have needed all of his resource during his Portuguese visit. If at any time he touched on the massacres in Angola, it was doubtless with the greatest of delicacy.

There is no reason to get het up about this. The Foreign Secretary did not go to Portugal to discuss ways of expanding democracy. He went to talk about the usual things: economic interests, strategic zones and bases, exchanges of weapons and so on.

These are the real interests of the nations of capitalism. Beside them, high flown concepts like democracy are insignificant. True, some governments—like the British—profess a deep concern for freedom. But their actions expose their hypocrisy.

Diplomats are the administrators of this hypocrisy. We may sometimes wonder at their cynicism, but we would be wrong to blame them for the faults of an entire social system. Nobody should support capitalism with one hand, and hold up the other in horror at its brutality and suppression.


Stick to your business
Mr. Walter Padley, President oi U.S.D.A.W., made the headlines recently for his statement at the Bournemouth Conference of his Union. “Passionate speech brings triumph to Mr. Padley'’ they said.

Was his passion for a £1 a week rise, or for shorter hours? No, he was pleading the cause of the Leader of the Labour Party—of which he is an M.P.—in opposition to the Unilateralists.

The conference spent a whole day discussing Unilateralism. What has this got to do with Trade Unions? Trade Unions were formed long before the Labour Party, with the definite object of fighting encroachments on their members' conditions of work and standard of living by the Capitalist Class, not to solve the problems of a Capitalist Party like the Labour Party. Although the prime aim of the Trade Unions when they formed the Labour Party was to get representatives in Parliament, we now find the tail wagging the dog.

In our view, the sooner the dog has a tail amputation the better. Then perhaps Trade Unions will discuss at Conferences what they are really there for.


New Cunarder
This month, the invitations to tender for the contract to build a replacement for the Queen Mary will go out to the shipbuilders.

There seems to be little prospect that the new Cunarder will be very profitable. The government are sinking £18 million in the venture to keep British shipowners in the scramble for the transatlantic sea traveller.

Cunard argue that the best way of doing this, and of boosting British prestige, is to build a 75,000 tonner. Other shipping companies have their doubts about this.

Some workers may object to the government’s subsidy because they think that it comes out of the income tax and other taxes which they grumble about so much.

Let us set that one at rest. However much the State takes from a worker's wage packet—and however much they leave in it—he still receives, on average, about enough to live on.

The burden of taxation is borne by the capitalist class, which is as it should be. They can afford taxes, and it is their State machine.

The attitudes which the political parties have struck about the new Cunarder may cause some surprise. Why should the Tories be justifying a State subsidy for such an eminent private enterprise? Should not Labour be pleased that the government is helping to build a British prestige winner, and giving work to depressed shipyards to boot?

This is not the first time the requirements of capitalism have persuaded political parties to abandon what they call their principals.


A New Market For Russia
The involvement of the Russian bloc in Cuban affairs must be seen in the context of their desire to penetrate a Latin American economy which hitherto had been the exclusive preserve of Western Capitalism. But even with their huge increase in commerce with Cuba itself, their share in Latin American exports and imports last year was still only about 2 per cent of the area’s total trade, as against 47 per cent for the United States and 29 per cent for Western Europe. However, Russia has embarrassingly large exportable surpluses of petroleum and her highly industrialised satellites, East Germany and Czechoslovakia, urgently require outlets for manufactured goods and capital equipment. Meanwhile within Russia there is a growing demand for foodstuffs such as sugar, coffee, beef and bananas.

Most Latin American countries are utterly dependent upon the export of one or two main crops or raw materials only. Yet it is just these commodities that have suffered a prolonged decline in price in recent years bringing about a continent wide economic crisis. An important factor contributing towards this decline has been the hardening of U.S. tariffs against so many of the products that she herself produces. An even more significant factor, perhaps, has been the increasing competition from the emergent African states and Portuguese colonies. Because of their closer ties with Africa and the somewhat shorter distances for freight the Common Market has many advantages in further developing trade with Africa. We can expect, therefore, that Russian capitalism will seek to profit from this situation with increasing vigour and success.

1 comment:

Imposs1904 said...

That's all of the July 1961 Standard on the blog.