The News in Review from the June 1961 issue of the Socialist Standard
Man in Space
Russia's daring young man did all the right things, at the right time.
Sent looping round the Earth, he sang a patriotic song: ("The motherland hears, the motherland sees, the motherland knows . . . ") On the rostrum beside Mr. Khruschev, he was the star turn at this year's Moscow May Day parade.
Gagarin's exploit, Commander Shepard's flight, and the arrival of the Russian Venus rocket shot, have put spaceships right back in the news. Such things are interesting, not to say exciting—but have they been worth anything?
We all know that Russia and the United States are feverishly applying the knowledge which their space probes give them to the production of more accurate missiles. Some of these were paraded before Gagarin in the Red Square on May.
Without a doubt, the quest for more accurate and more powerful weapons is the main incentive in the space programmes of the great powers.
Incidentally, they may also gain knowledge which has little or no military value. But there is no guarantee that even this will not one day be misused.
There is one thing the space shots have to teach everybody. Capitalist society is bound to distort human knowledge for inhuman ends. Scientific investigation can only come into its own when this world is sanely organised.
80,000 pounds is an awful lot of money.
We may think that the Milan Football Club, who paid that amount to Chelsea for Jimmy Greaves have a millionaire somewhere behind them.
They have. So have Juventus, Naples and other Italian clubs. This is why they can afford such enormous wage bills, and can offer irresistible financial bait to British footballers.
Greaves put it in record that he did not want to leave England, but Milan were offering him such a high signing-on fee that he really had no choice in the matter.
Helpless, the English fans moan as their golden boys take off for sunnier lands. They blame the clubs, the Football League, the Italians, for being a lot of poachers.
But the millions who weekly cheer their favourite club, support, almost to a man, the social system in which whoever pays the most money takes the best choice. They can hardly complain when that principle is extended to football.
Because, whatever the match programme may say, football is not a sport. When we hear it discussed in terms of transfer fees, gate money and the rest, we know that it is as much a business as any gas works or marmalade factory.
Whatever happened to that nice, level-headed young man Mr. Kennedy?
When he was campaigning for the United States Presidency he seemed so calm, so cool tempered. He sounded so peaceable. Lots of Republicans, in fact, thought that he might want to be too soft on the Russians.
The invasion of Cuba changed all that.
President Kennedy inherited the plans for the landing which the Eisenhower administration had laid. He chose to go ahead with them—and when the invasion failed, with typical acumen, he pointed out that his predecessor must take part of the blame.
This is the sort of ruthlessness and cynicism which we have come to expect from capitalism's leaders. And we have grown familiar with the assurances, as they are climbing to power, that they are anything but ruthless and cynical men.
Each time, the working class fall for it. Kennedy promised an era of sanity and calm judgement in foreign policy. In their millions, American workers voted for him.
Will they profit from the lessons of reality? Probably not. The signs are that Kennedy will be reviled not so much for agreeing to the Cuban expedition, as for the fact that the whole thing was a flop.
Ignorantly patriotic, the working class will forgive almost anything but that.
How did the strait-laced City Editors of Fleet Street come to be making jokes about Lady Chatterley?
Penguin Books recently announced a record profit, for which the trial—and the sales—of Lady C. can take much of the credit. At the same time, Penguin offered £450,000 worth of shares to the public, the more prosperous of whom applied for them to the tune of £67 million.
Now a lot of the people who tried to get Penguin shares are known, in Stock Exchange jargon, as stages. Hence the little jokes about gamekeepers, and Lady C. in the City columns.
The stags have been rampant lately, in shares other than the Penguin issue. They specialise in going for shares which can be easily applied for—sometimes by completing a newspaper coupon—and which are likely to rise quickly on the Stock Exchange. Some of them apply many times over for the same shares.
The snag is that the stags often pay up with bouncy cheques. The idea is to sell the shares at a profit before the cheques have had time to be cashed.
This is the sort of speculative boom which preceded the 1929 crash. Many sage economists have since told us that it aggravated matters in 1929—and that it could never happen again.
But whoever heard of investors refusing the chance of a profit? The stags have shown that capitalism is the same old animal as it ever was.