The Sting in the Tail column from the December 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard
Working Lunch (1)
Boots the Chemists recently commissioned research about office workers taking lunch and came up with some alarming figures:
The survey found more than 25 percent of office-based workers take a break of 30 minutes or less and 20 percent regularly skip lunch altogether. Four out of five regularly eat lunch at their desk. Of these, more than 70 percent continue to work while they eat, and almost 90 percent still answer the phone (Independent, 7 August).
So much then, for those opponents of socialism who claim that socialism won't work because it is “human nature to be lazy”!
George Orwell in 1984 speculated about a language called “Newspeak” that would make clear thinking impossible. This allowed those in power to describe the Ministry of War as the Ministry of Peace.
In the Herald (1 November) we learn of a Mr Marcus Harrison sending out electronic mail messages supporting the Gun Lobby against the views of the Snowdrop group. It is a prime example of Ncwspeak in action:
As a professional communicator. I know how to distort information and manipulate facts . . . Of his offer ‘to distort facts' he argued that was no different from what the media, political spin doctors, or PR people do.
Mr Harrison describes himself as “a writer/director/producer with 20 years experience in marketing and PR”. He may describe himself as a "professional communicator” and liken himself to “spin doctors and PR people”. but, like the rest of that media circus, he is just a bloody liar.
Working Lunch (2)
A photograph on the front page of the Herald (25 October) depicted the Queen and a rather elegant lady in designer clothes. The caption explained all:
The Queen and Mrs Jolanta Kwasniewski, wife of the President of Poland, prepare to go into a working lunch at Buckingham Palace, Prince Edward was also present. The Queen later made President Aleksander Kwasniewski a Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George.
The last working lunch Scorpion attended the gaffer threatened us all with the Order of the Boot and the P45.
It is about time the Queen, Prince Edward, the Polish President and his elegant wife were given the same Order by the working class.
The Roman Catholic Church has a dreadful record of scientific suppression. Nicholas Copernicus, the 16th century Polish astronomer, was threatened by the Inquisition because of his heresy of proclaiming that the earth orbited the Sun. instead of the other way about. Indeed less than sixty years after Copernicus' death, the Italian scholar Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for similar ideas.
The modern RC church is very adaptable. It now embraces the Copernican view, and a hundred years after the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species it even accepts evolution!
The Pope has lent his support to the theory of evolution, proclaiming it compatible with Christian faith. It is likely to cause controversy among the religious right.
His recognition that evolution is 'more than just a theory' came in a written message he sent to a meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, a body of experts that advises the Roman Catholic Church on scientific issues ”(Herald, 25 October).
Wow. what next! A papal endorsement of Marx’s Labour Theory of Value or The Materialist Conception of History? We think not!
Let’s face it, critics are an unloved bunch. With hindsight, everyone can look back at those critics who sneered at Van Gogh. Stravinsky and Darwin. They got it all wrong.
But criticism is a very important social function. Everyone should criticise everything. The basis of all progress is criticism. All of those critics who got it wrong were frightened of change. The socialist critic embraces change and says that we live in a society that must be changed.
Well researched, knowledgeable and practical criticism is a pre-requisite for a better society. But even an artist such as Van Gogh can rage against the inequalities of property society. Read his letters to his brother; you may then appreciate just how valid some of his criticisms were whatever your view of his paintings.
A Modern Tragedy
We understand, from those who know such things, that politicians seldom write their own speeches. Recognising this, and being of a kindly disposition towards the beleaguered in our midst, we offer the following lines to the leader of the Tory Party:
"Friends, Tories and Countrymen
Give me your vote
You did love me once
Whence this most foul calumny ?
Have sudden lost you. sweet reason?”
A reference to anything as flattering as reason appertaining to his Tory supporters may convince them to support Honest John again—however briefly.
If we were given to prediction we imagine a nice comfy seat in the House of Lords for John Major. Meanwhile, beyond this farce, continues the tragic reality of workers working for wages and heaping up profits for the owners.