Re Pathfinders in the July issue. Since 1960 all aircraft carriers and since 1955 all submarines in the United States Navy have been nuclear-powered. Their safety record (I understand) is impeccable, although one must remember that this is a “not-for-profit” organization.
The history of steam boilers in the 19th century was one of explosions on locomotives, factories and ships until effective standards of design were recognized.
Uses were found for boiler waste – ash and clinker from coal was used for breeze blocks, soot for fertilizer.
Surely with world socialism standards for reactors would be advanced and uses found for nuclear waste?
Your suggestion that socialism might develop safer and more reliable nuclear reactors is certainly reasonable, given that it wouldn’t be trying to do nuclear on the cheap and skimping safety standards in favour of bigger profits. However nuclear power is not so nearly carbon efficient when one factors in build and decommissioning costs. It’s also difficult to imagine how one could dispose of or indeed utilise waste which is toxic for tens of thousands of years, in any social system or with any known science. The most tempting solution would be to lob the stuff into space, however the consequences of a rocket explosion on launch or in the stratosphere hardly bear thinking about. Socialism might very well decide, for this reason alone, that nuclear power is just too hot to handle and look to a combination of other technologies, including reduction in energy consumption. – Edtiors
Thank you for publishing my letter on plain English in the July Socialist Standard. Unfortunately (and also ironically, given the subject-matter), you omitted part of a sentence in the editing/typesetting process, leaving it meaningless. The sentence in question actually read as follows in my original email (the section omitted is highlighted in italics):
An “issue” is a bone of contention, but there is certainly no contention (at least among socialists) that a lack of money in the capitalist world is nothing less than a major problem for the vast majority of the population suffering from the affliction.
It is infuriating to listen to those sociologists and similar ‘social scientists’, particularly the contributors Professor Laurie Taylor has on his Thinking Allowed programme (BBC Radio 4). These academic circles define the world in a multitude of classes, minutiae of people’s behaviour and so on. They publish books etc on post-communist societies and countries, which reinforce the view that communism has existed. These learned intellectuals stick to the accepted view that communism equals totalitarian state government with central control by a ruling elite. In their lazy thinking that’s it and any advance can only be to liberal democracy or, if they are a little radical, to social democracy.
These so-called intellectuals have never bothered to address what is communism/socialism. They don’t seem willing to make the effort to find what Marx and others meant in defining communism/socialism. Because they are part of the intellectual establishment and its output of publications reinforcing stereotypes, they effectively lie or at least mislead about the real meaning.
These people give legitimacy to the view that communism/socialism has existed and is now replaced with a better system. They obfuscate the definition of Marxism on the grounds that we have moved on to the better system of ‘democracy’ but they also misrepresent even this. How do we attack these closed-minded academics and get them to try original thought to their convoluted and erroneous conclusions?
Congratulations to Stefan on the excellent article, ‘Money – a waste of resources’ (Socialist Standard, July). In my view this is just the sort of empirical approach needed to clinch the argument for socialism, and one that I’ve promoted via www.andycox1953.webs.com.
Theory has its place, but let’s face it, more often than not, a theoretical exposition on Marx’s labour theory of value or the class struggle is likely to be met with a snort of derision or a glazed expression. Facts on the other hand have a kind of primacy that demands a considered response. Hence the urgent need for a robust, wide-ranging, and up-to-date database which Socialist Party members and others can access.
A word of caution, however, should be added at this juncture: When constructing a database, one is likely to come across countless factual inconsistencies. Stefan’s source, for example, has it that there are ‘145,000 people working at casinos and other gambling joints (in the US)’. In my webs.com database, I cite a source (‘Economic Impacts of Commercial Casinos and On-Line Gambling’ by Alijani, Braden, Omar and Eweni, 2002 (?)) which produces statistics showing that there were 364,804 commercial casino jobs in the US in 2001 (205,151 in Nevada alone).
Andy Cox (by email)