Thursday, January 7, 2016

On the scrap heap (1984)

Book Review from the March 1984 issue of the Socialist Standard

Capitalism and the Construction of Old Age: Chris Phillipson (Macmillan Press Ltd. 1982 p/b £4.95 188pp).

The aim of this book is stated quite clearly in the introduction:
In placing the emphasis on the elderly and capitalist social relations this study is less concerned with age as a biological and psychological problem. We are rather more interested in old age as a problem for a society characterised by major inequalities in the distribution of power, income and property.
The book is well laid out, well referenced, has clear concise headings and manages, on the whole, to provide a good critique of the problems faced by the elderly in a society where one's usefulness is seen in terms of production.

The author shows quite clearly how elderly workers are manipulated according to the fluctuating demands for labour power under capitalism. Thus, after the second world war, during a labour shortage appeals were made to the elderly to continue working and that withdrawal from work caused premature old age. Twenty years later, at a time of high unemployment, the elderly were encouraged to retire early.

The chapter dealing with women in retirement and old age is particularly useful and shows how the older woman provides often part-time and unskilled labour to fit in with the requirements of the workforce during a time of labour shortage, only to become unemployed and expected to stay at home and care for the sick and the old when public services are cut. The author states:
Because women are viewed as marginal to the labour force, very few attempts have been made to look at the problems they may experience in leaving paid work (p. 68).
and in the following chapter:
The fact that women outnumber men in old people’s homes may in itself to some extent explain the low standards of care and privacy: degradation on the "inside", reflecting external beliefs about the rights of women in general, and elderly women in particular (p. 73).
The author points out that under capitalism provision for the elderly has no positive investment function and produces negative returns on investment by keeping persons alive and consuming resources even longer than they would have done without that care.

There are several references throughout the book to the differences between the experience of “working class" and “middle class" retirees. Although higher paid workers may not suffer the extremes of poverty in retirement experienced by low paid workers the author, nevertheless. misses the point that every worker who has to sell his or her labour power is a member of the working class. The "middle-class" label is an attempt to split slightly better paid workers from poorly paid workers and blunt class-consciousness by appealing to snobbery, self interest and privilege.

The author highlights the failure of the health service and social services to cater for the elderly person's needs and the prejudice and hostility shown towards the elderly and to staff working in the geriatric services:
The historical division between the acute and chronic sick has made medicine both unprepared and unwilling to respond to the needs of an ageing population . . . the elderly also suffer from the bias in medicine “away from environmental factors and in favour of the illness model" (p. 119).
There is an interesting chapter dealing with political struggle and organisation which describes the Tooting Action for Pensioners campaign, in a borough where one in five of the inhabitants is elderly. Despite their campaigns St. Benedict’s Hospital, Tooting has been closed: spending cuts in health and social services nationally have been imposed: there has been increasing pressure on elderly workers to retire early; the value of the pension has been reduced by severing its link with wages. Clearly, reform within the capitalist system has not proved very effective.

There is a brief look at the experience of the elderly in Russia and China, which are wrongly described as socialist societies. However, the author describes how inducements were paid to the elderly to remain at work in parts of Russia where the labour shortage was acute in the 1960s, and that the amounts paid varied according to the area (pp. 163/164). A socialist social policy is seen as one which "will make growing old a natural part of the life-cycle, rather than one which is experienced as wholly unnatural and to be feared" (p. 16).

Despite its faults this book is of value as a lucid exposition of the plight of the elderly in a capitalist society, and is increasingly relevant with larger numbers of workers surviving to old age. Comparatively little has been written about the elderly under capitalism and Capitalism and the Construction of Old Age covers the subject well.
Carl Pinel

Urban wasteland (1984)

Book Review from the February 1984 issue of the Socialist Standard

Paul Harrison, Inside the Inner City: Life under the Cutting Edge (Penguin, 1983)

This analysis of life in the inner city, seen by the author as “a microcosm of deprivation, of economic decline and of social disintegration in Britain today” (p.21) supplies ample evidence to support his claim that absolute poverty exists in Britain. He complains of a society which has not “learned how to distribute its rewards with equity" (p.76) and speaks of the need for a socialist society where economic change could he planned and full employment maintained. In this he embraces a myth that the Labour Party has got anything to do with socialism, that socialism is a form of equitable capitalism.

Ironically, Harrison claims to be in the business of shattering myths and yet this one about the Labour Party undermines much of his responses to the poverty that he quite precisely describes. He is aware that we exist in a society in which the interests of the capitalist class arc paramount and in which private profit is the underlying rationale, but he still believes that a benevolent capitalism can be achieved through “radical reforms in income distribution and income support" (p.203). It is again ironic that he does not grasp the futility of a reformist programme, given that he spends much of his time cataloguing the failures of previous reforms to combat the poverty endemic to British society.

He argues that the problems that beset the poorest members of society have been intensified by the policies of the present Conservative government and much of the report is a polemic against Thatcherism and “monetarism". Instead of attacking the root causes of poverty, as he constantly claims to do, Harrison accepts the parameters of capitalism and proposes a scries of reforms to mitigate the intense poverty of the poorest members of the community. He claims that we exist in a class divided society but that class is seen in terms of manual versus non manual workers and between owner-occupiers and tenants and dismisses the claim of those whose position is "more laughably, to assert that 'we're all working class now’"(p.426). This is another myth that Harrison embraces for his view of class is as divisive of working class interests as if it were seen in terms of race or sex. It may be true to argue that there are members of society incapable of commanding the same level of resources as others but the class divide lies between those who own and control and those who constitute the total of the working class. It is with the deprivation of that whole class relative to the productive capacities of society to which Harrison should address himself. The inability of the working class to consume the wealth they create will exist as long as capitalism exists for the working class have been legally deprived of that wealth by the ownership and control of the capitalist class. To concentrate solely on the absolute poverty of one section of the working class might tend to suggest that the rest of that class can be complacent about what they have managed to acquire of the wealth created within society.

Harrison proposes a massive renewal and rehabilitation of public and private housing, an improvement of amenities, transport and the environment. and the training and education of the unskilled and the underskilled. He argues for “the importance of compassion and a far greater measure of equality" (p.430) and proposes a "fair" distribution of work and financial rewards, including workers’ control, profit sharing and joint decision making. With this he hopes to achieve “not only a more humane and civilised society, but also a more stable, more efficient and more competitive economy." (p.433) In this his hopes are as futile as any other reform of capitalism.

This is a useful report in that it pinpoints the existence of absolute poverty and disproves the notion that we live in a welfare society. It is also successful in highlighting the lack of democracy within society and drawing attention to the failure of the mixed economy to satisfy the interests of society's members. Where it fails is in being content to propose a reformist programme to deal with the problems rather than seeing the inner city as highlighting the deprivation of the whole working class. Harrison had earlier spoken of a need to combat "the widespread lack of class-consciousness" and to create an "awareness of the root causes of exploitation and inequality" (p.304) but he seems to despair of achieving this end and laments the lead offered by the political left. Rather he should look towards the working class themselves organising to fulfil their common interests and to reject the promises of would-be leaders and their programmes of reforms of a society which cannot possibly work in the interests of the working class. Harrison has succeeded in exposing the poverty and alienation of a section of the working class but it is only part of the poverty and alienation suffered by all members of that class. In this the inner city is a “microcosm of deprivation", a deprivation endemic to the class system.
Philip Bentley

Uncommon at Greenham (1984)

From the January 1984 issue of the Socialist Standard

In August 1981 a group of women, children and men left Cardiff to march over a hundred miles to Greenham Common to protest against the planned siting of American Cruise missiles there. Some women decided to stay on and set up a peace camp from which men were excluded but which attracted the support of many other women from all over the country as well as abroad. The mere existence of the camp was not enough to wake people up to the horrific reality of nuclear weapons and a number of demonstrations were organised to get attention from the media and the public. In one of these the base was blockaded and completely encircled by hundreds of women linking arms; in another, women climbed over the barbed wire fencing, got inside the base and climbed on top of a missile silo where they remained singing and dancing until the police dragged them away. They also decorated the fence with pictures of children and loved ones and went to London where they lay down in the streets to symbolise the fate of those who would die in a nuclear attack.

Although these actions were undertaken in the name of “peace and life", and more particularly in the name of children's lives, it is difficult to accept that the women involved had fully thought through the implications of such words. If so, why demonstrate just at Greenham Common and not in front of the Israeli embassy, or the Lebanese one, or indeed almost any other to draw attention to all the people being killed in wars waged or supported by governments; why not decorate Asian and African embassies with pictures of the little children starving to death in those countries at the rate of about 30 every minute of every day? Indeed, if peace and life are the prime concern, why oppose just nuclear weapons and not all weapons? In fact, the word “peace" has been used by the Greenham women in a vague, undefined manner which has enabled thousands of people to identify with the movement while making purely personal interpretations of the word, ranging from the withdrawal of Cruise missiles from Britain to an unconditional rejection of all wars. The unifying principle that has spurred these women into action and kept them going in the face of all kinds of difficulties has not therefore been identity of aim. but rather identity of emotion. What we have here is strong emotion — shared, controlled and organised.

Nuclear weapons release strong emotions in people, and particularly in women, partly because the possibility of total annihilation is an entirely new concept. Schools and history books have taught us that wars and massacres are a normal, acceptable part of “civilised” life and children are kept too busy learning by heart the dates of the great battles to have time to ask questions. But the idea of a nuclear holocaust is new and has shock value.

In the book Greenham Women Everywhere, by Alice Cook and Gwyn Kirk, a whole chapter is devoted to letters and personal statements by women describing how they are haunted by nightmares and frightening visions of destruction. desolation and loss. Fear, as well as a discovery that many others shared their fears, was the spur that led woman after woman to join a group, to go on a march, to support the peace camp at Greenham. Once together they found they shared feelings of anger and confusion and that none of them was ashamed to weep or express emotion. They were put off by the local CND meetings, with the dry, impersonal atmosphere of the committees and the formal, unemotional approach which, to them, was typical of the way men organise things. The women found that when they got together, when they marched, sang or danced, held hands or linked arms, something quite different happened. Their negative feelings of anxiety, fear and helplessness were magically turned into "feelings of strength", "feelings of calm and centredness”. On one occasion, standing together in silence after a demonstration, they were "ecstatic, overtaken by the brilliant feeling that we’d actually done it”.

Emotion is also the key factor when the Greenham women attempt to communicate with the rest of the world, as they try to get others not so much to understand their ideas but to share their feelings. This is particularly hard work with the people with whom they have most contact, the police, but it is also hard work with most of the rest of us who have been brought up to resist and suppress our emotions or at least to regard them as the weakest, most unreliable part of ourselves.

This applies particularly to men and is indeed the reason why they were excluded from Greenham. It was not, as some people believe, because the majority of women there felt that men were biologically violent and aggressive and therefore incapable of wanting peace. They did not think this. They did, however, think that men. because of their social conditioning, would find it difficult to join in the kind of activity they had chosen for themselves and to really accept non-violence as a strategy even in the face of police brutality. And from the women’s point of view the exclusion of men worked. From acting on their own and in their own way, the women there have derived tremendous feelings of strength as well as a new sense of identity as women. From the point of view of getting practical results, the emotional approach has not been more successful than the more formal one of organisations dominated by men: the first Cruise missiles were flown in just over a month ago, right on schedule. Men have achieved a form of personal satisfaction in fighting for lost causes, a sense of solidarity with other men. feelings of importance and possibly careers in politics. Now women have created their own version of solidarity, their own feelings of strength, their own niche in the continuing social struggle.

If feelings of strength are to be of any use, however, they must surely have some real impact on the world or else they are little more than self-indulgence. So the Greenham women may feel strong, but the nature of their actions shows that they are not. They protest and they demand their "rights", but in doing so they are recognising the power of a superior authority to whom their protests and demands are addressed. Indeed they are saying to this authority that it need have no fears, that it is not in any way being threatened, only pleaded with. The Greenham women do not have the sort of strength that says "I have had enough of the way things have been run, I shall now take matters into my own hands". No. They are still not much different from the beggar who relies on the rich, powerful person to treat him with pity. Beggars have never been choosers, nor will they ever be. As long as workers beg, as they do when they protest or make demands, nothing will change. Only when we take things into our own hands will they go the way we want.

Is this to say that emotion is to be rejected as futile and irrational? Not in the least. Emotion is an essential part of human experience: it is thanks to our emotions that we can empathise with others and support one another when we unite to achieve a common goal. The experiences of the Greenham Common women clearly testify to this, it would be foolish, however, to imagine that a simple venting of our emotions will achieve any more than does a more impersonal approach. The reason formal organisations never seem to get anywhere is not because they lack emotion. but because they lack understanding. If your car does not start in the morning, you do not beg it tearfully to understand your plight, nor do you present it with a formal letter giving all the logical reasons why it should work. Both approaches, in this case, would appear equally irrational as a car is obviously not capable of taking an interest in you, your motives or your feelings. It has its own laws and unless you understand them, you will not get it to start. A social system, although made up of human beings, is in fact more like a car, or any other machine, than it is like a human being. Many of the human beings caught up in this machine become themselves, at times, mere automatons: "The police, the armies and the courts are all ‘only obeying orders’", writes Gwyn Kirk. They cannot respond to individual people or specific situations, and nor can the system itself. It is a huge, complex machine with its own laws and unless you understand them neither emotional action nor activity through formal organisations will make it do what you want.
What we want to change is immense. It’s not just getting rid of nuclear weapons, it’s getting rid of the whole structure that created the possibility of nuclear weapons in the first place. If we don’t use imagination nothing will change. Without change we will destroy the planet. It’s as simple as that.
(Lesley Boulton, June 1982)
The way things are organised is neither natural nor inevitable, but created by people. People have a wealth of skill, intelligence. creativity and wisdom. We could be devising ways of using and distributing the earth’s vast resources so that no one starves or lives in abject poverty, making socially useful things that people need — a society which is life-affirming in all its aspects.
With these words Alice Cook and Gwyn Kirk conclude their book on the Greenham women. What they say here they want is also what socialists want; and when enough of us want it we will be able to combine those two remarkable human capacities, the emotional and the rational, in order to take things into our own hands and run our own society, our own world, in the interest of all mankind. Only then will "peace and life” be possible.
Christine Moss

An Irish Holocaust (1995)

From the August 1995 issue of the Socialist Standard

Like most historical events the so-called famine in Ireland in the last century is shrouded in myth. It is commonly believed that not only was there an actual shortage of food but that the British government was solely responsible for the shortage. Needless-to-say, the facts tell a different story.

This year, in Ireland and probably in places like Boston and New York, the 150th anniversary of events in Ireland in the years 1845/49 will bring organised ceremonies of remembrance of the Great Famine that was to lay the foundations of bitter memories and abiding hatred.

In scale it was probably as great as those terrible events of a hundred years later in Nazi Europe which accounted for the state murder of some six million people who were, by religion, or tradition, Jewish. The method of killing in Ireland was not death camps but the utter despair and terror of parents watching their children die, or, perhaps worse, predeceasing their children, which was common to both cataclysmic obscenities. Both arose out of the material conditions of a society where the nourishment of human life was obliterated by the needs of wealth and power.

If that latter contingency belonged to the past, if life today was lived as it could be with the guarantee of the material needs of a full and happy life for every human being, then we might weep for all the victims of class society and build their memorial, in the categorical assurance that such evils have been banished forever.

But they haven’t: famines, real and contrived, are an endemic feature of world capitalism. Dying parents in one part of our world watch stark-eyed children stare .  .  .  hear their futile cries of pain and puzzlement, as mercy ushers them into peaceful death while, in the same place, life-saving food for which the starving do not offer a market is shipped to places where it can be converted to profit.

In Ireland in 1841 census returns showed a population of some 8.1 million people and forecast that, by the end of another decade, that figure would have increased by a further million. Life for the serf-like Irish peasantry was frugal beyond our imagination. Their diet was potatoes, enhanced sometimes by other root vegetables and, for those affluent enough to possess a cow, a bit of butter. It is a compliment to those basic foodstuffs that visitors to Ireland not infrequently remarked on the good physical condition of the people. But life was grindingly hard and physical security non-existent.

Landlordism was at the centre of the Irish economy. Outside of the province of Ulster, the peasant was simply a tenant-at-will, that is to say their tenure and their rent were arbitrarily determined seasonally by landlords or, more often, by their rapacious agents. Holdings were generally tiny, sometimes as little as a quarter of an acre, and any attempt at improvement, either of husbandry or habitation, drew the threat of eviction or higher rent.

Potato blight was common and in the years of the great Hunger the whole of Europe was seriously affected. Today the blight is exorcised by the use of chemical fungicides but then, in most countries where farms were larger farmers grew a number of varieties of potatoes thus assuring that if one species was blighted the others would escape the blight. Given the size of peasant smallholdings in Ireland, this natural antidote to the problem of blight could not be applied and a single variety of potato represented the tenuous hold on life in rural Ireland.

The ravaging of the crop by blight was not uncommon. For the pathetic smallholder and his family it meant months of semi-starvation and an increased burden of debt until the new season’s crop would appear. In 1846 there was a rich crop and the promise of a bumper harvest brought joy to the burdened people. But the promise was not realised for, almost overnight, the blight returned and turned hope into despair as the landscape became infested with putrefying vegetation and the atmosphere filled with the evil smell of decay.

Hope was abandoned: witnesses have testified to the despair of men, women and children sitting on fences, in the dank, overcast day wailing almost ritually at the sight of their life’s support turning to a foul-smelling mucilage. There would be no rent for the agent, and the landlords, doubtless prompted by the 1846 abolition of the Com Laws, were anxious to evict their miserable tenants and turn their estates into cattle ranches.

In the following year, 1847, not only did the blight return but, because of the shortage of seed potatoes and mass evictions from the land, the acreage under cultivation was down and the prospect of saving some potatoes offered even less hope.

For those fit enough to travel, places like Liverpool and the northern cities of England offered hope but the place where: “they say there’s food and work for all and the sun shines always there ” was the eastern seaboard of America.

Coffin ships
Helped often by landlords anxious to get them off the land, they left in their thousands and their need to travel provided an attractive market for speculators who could provide any form of shipping space for these miserable poor. Such were the conditions in the hulks playing the long, pitiless Atlantic crossing as to test the fit. But the starvelings embarking in these “coffin ships” were not only ill-fitted to face the cold, insanitary journey of endless nights and days; they travelled with death as a companion in their midst in the form of typhus and relapsing disease resultant from the conditions they had already experienced.

Until 1854, when the Passenger Acts were strengthened by Act of Parliament, most British ships carrying Irish emigrants provided only the most basic facilities for cooking at sea and sanitary provision was minimal or non-existent. It is estimated, from passenger lists, ships’ logs and medical records in the ports of arrival, that some 25 percent of Irish emigrant passengers on British ships were fatalities of the Atlantic crossing.

Those who did survive nourished a hatred of “England” (Irish folk patriotism always singularised England as Perfidious Albion) that would survive the generations and ensure that rebellion in Ireland was not only funded but most forcibly stimulated. From the Fenians to the plastic buckets of Noraid the folk memory of more than a million sad refugees matured to anger and bequeathed the memory of the other millions whose lives had been torturously forfeited to a semi-feudal landlordism and an equally brutal capitalism.

Food exported
In reality there was not a famine in Ireland during the terrible years of hunger and disease. What did happen was the staple food of the poor was blighted with disease and such was the system of landlordism that there was no fall-back root crops available to the peasantry. It was the rapacity of the feudal aristocracy that imposed this frugal living on the people. They were mainly English but the vile agents who carried out their sentences— for eviction in the prevailing conditions was almost certainly a death sentence— were often Irish.

We say there was not a famine because the well-documented record reveals that during the starvation years, when people ate dogs, cats and rats and when a few instances of cannibalism were reported, enough food to feed twice the number of people in Ireland was continuously exported. Cattle, sheep, pigs and the thousands of tonnes of cereal crops left Ireland during each of the famine years.

James Connolly is among the writers and historians who give us an insight into the grim mathematics of economic murder that capitalism wrought in Ireland in the years between 1845 and 1849:
The first failure of the potato crop took place in 1845 and between September and December of that year 515 deaths from hunger were registered although 3,250,000 quarters of wheat and numberless cattle had been exported. From that time until 1850 the famine spread, and the exports of food continued. Thus in 1848 it was estimated that 300,000 persons died of hunger and1,826,132 quarters of wheat and barley were exported. ” (Labour in Irish History, p. 102.)
That Connolly’s figures may err on the low side is contested by some other writers and would seem to be borne out by the figures he quotes, earlier in the same work, for the yearly value of the Irish potato crop which was approximately £20 million while, in the year 1848, when the entire potato crop was a total loss, the value of Ireland’s agricultural produce was £44,958,120.

The historian, Curtis, points out that while half of Ireland’s 8.1 million population was entirely dependent on the potato at the time of the potato blight, “three quarters of the soil was under wheat and other crops”. (A History of Ireland, Edmund Curtis, p. 367.)

L. M. Cullen, an apologist for capitalism, unwittingly shows the cause not only of the Irish “Famine”, but of most subsequent famines elsewhere, when he draws attention to the fact that in much of the country a retailing system existed. “Here the problem was not one of the absence of a food market but of the lack of an income on the part of the poorer members of the community. ”

With the exception of the counties Antrim, Down and, to a lesser extent, Armagh, the lifestyle and culture of the comparatively new system of capitalism was foreign to Ireland. But the London parliament, consisting then of free marketeers like the contemporary brigands Portillo, Lilley and their compassionless ilk, preaching the brutal gospel of laissez-faire, did not see the economic murder of the poor as a valid reason for disturbing the free play of the market. In the light of public outcry in Britain and elsewhere, the government did reluctantly introduce some relief schemes but because they had to circumvent market interests they were often absurdly ineffectual and a starving people continued to watch the export of the food that could save their lives.

It is a pattern—market forces dictating that food should be exported from a famine-stricken area towards consumers who can pay, leaving those who can’t pay to die of starvation—that has been followed ever since under capitalism: in Bengal, in the Sudan, in Bangladesh and in Ethiopia.
Richard Montague

Welsh Nationalism (1964)

From the April 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard

In 1925 was formed Plaid Cymru, the Welsh nationalist party. One of its aims was to achieve Dominion status for Wales.

Today Plaid Cymru has become a national party and a real challenge to the Liberal and Labour parties. Plaid Cymru claims that English domination is the cause of the social ills, such as bad housing, old age poverty, unemployment and rural depopulation from which the people of Wales suffer. What is the attitude of the Socialist Party of Great Britain to Welsh nationalism? Do we support the aim of Welsh independence? The Socialist and the nationalist see society from different points of view. For the Socialist present-day society is divided into two classes: a capitalist class who own the means of production, and a working class who, having no property, are forced to work for the capitalists. The interests of these two classes are opposed and between them there is a class struggle. This transcends national boundaries.

For the Socialist the propertyless working class have no country. The nationalist, on the other hand, sees the inhabitants of one particular area as a unit having a common interest. He ignores the class division of society and the class struggle. For him the nation is all-important. He encourages the worker to believe he has a country. Thus Socialism and nationalism are opposed. They are irreconcilable. Nationalism is in fact one of the means which capitalism uses to blind the workers to class society. It is a delusion which Socialists seek to dispel. For this reason the Socialist Party is opposed to Welsh nationalism and does not support the demand for Welsh independence.

The cause of unemployment and other social ills is in capitalism and its production for profit. When there is no profit to make from production, then production stops and unemployment spreads. Unemployment is inevitable under capitalism.

Plaid Cymru sees the cause of Welsh unemployment in a mythical English domination. Here again the nationalist is mistaken. He sees poverty not as a class problem but as a national problem: a problem to be solved not by class emancipation but by national emancipation. Socialists are committed to exposing this way of looking at social problems. We deny that English domination is the cause of poverty in Wales and consequently hold that national independence is not the solution.

Plaid Cymru promises that if it forms the government it will introduce various social reforms designed to improve the lot of the people of Wales. We say that such reforms will fail. For it is the social system, and not the political regime, which will determine how people will live in an independent Wales. It is obvious that Plaid Cymru, despite its talk of “co-operative Welsh Socialism,” intends that capitalism in one form or another should continue after Wales has achieved independence. This means that poverty also will continue. National independence will merely mean that the capitalists of Wales will pay their taxes to a government in Cardiff instead of to a government in London—a change of no interest to the workers of Wales.

What then is the solution? Since these social problems arise from capitalism nothing short of the complete overthrow of this system will be sufficient. The Socialist Party therefore urges the workers of Wales to unite with workers elsewhere to set up a world Socialist system where the peoples of the world will co-operate to produce for their needs on the basis of the common ownership and democratic control of the means of life. This will be a society without frontiers, without nations and without war. This is the real alternative to capitalism and nationalism.
Adam Buick

Fake "socialism" ends in Albania (1991)

From the August 1991 issue of the Socialist Standard

The dramatic events in Eastern Europe in 1989 and 1990 found at first little echo in Albania, the small Balkan state which had often been described as one of the last strongholds of Stalinism. Over the last nine months, however, political and economic changes have affected Albania too, though, as elsewhere, it remains to be seen just how far-reaching they are.

For many years. Albania was isolated politically as well as geographically. It had diplomatic relations with neither Russia nor America, and was the only East European state to support the Chinese government in the Sino-Soviet dispute. The country was ruled in classic Bolshevik style. The Party of Labour (the "Communists") ruled with an iron fist, and the Party Leader, Enver Hoxha, was a brutal dictator. Industry was state-owned, workers laboured long hours for a pittance, rationing was widespread, there was a ubiquitous secret police, and any speaking out of line was ruthlessly punished.

Relations with China gradually deteriorated in the 1970s, as China became more friendly with the USA and Yugoslavia. A number of Albanian leaders were removed from office after the arrest of the "Gang of Four" in China in 1976, as Hoxha sought to defend his position. He died in 1985, to be succeeded by his deputy, Ramiz Alia.

Hoxha’s policies had in fact become slightly more flexible in his last few years, as the drive for economic development made closer links with other countries imperative. Diplomatic and trading ties were begun with a number of states, and the border with Greece, which had been closed since the Second World War. was reopened. Albania was also linked for the first time with the European rail network. Italian ships were allowed to call at the Albanian port of Durres. Under Alia, these policies were continued, as Albania received valuable foreign exchange through export of oil and iron ore.

These developments proceeded only slowly until last year. Then comprehensive new laws were passed, decentralizing the economy and permitting overseas investment and some kinds of private enterprise. The UN Secretary General visited Albania, and so did a top Chinese leader, no doubt passing on advice about the economic reforms in China. The state-capitalist regime in Albania was being relaxed just a little, its inefficiency being plain for all to see.

At the same time, the Party of Labour was supposedly made more democratic, but it (and its leaders) retained a stranglehold on power. Then last December things began to move faster. There were demonstrations on the streets, and Alia had to concede the formation of opposition parties and "free" elections for 31 March this year. But this did not defuse the situation, and the strikes and demos continued. In February a giant statue of Hoxha in the capital was pulled down—in the circumstances, a highly symbolic action in a country where there were still few ways of expressing political opposition. Another possibility was emigration, and many Albanians hijacked ships and fled to Italy across the Adriatic, though many were forcibly sent back.

The March elections gave the Party of Labour a majority, with two-thirds of the parliamentary seats. But their success was confined to the countryside, and in the towns the opposition (spearheaded by the Democratic Party) won most of the votes. Even Alia failed to be elected in Tirana. But around two-thirds of the population live in small villages where the Democratic Party, which had been in existence for less than four months, could make little impact. The election result was greeted by violent protests in the towns, and at least three protestors were killed by police.

A new constitution was published, abandoning all the spurious claims to being socialist and allowing private businesses to be set up (but few people had the resources to do so). In May a general strike began, and workers demanded pay rises of up to 100 percent, far more than the government was prepared to offer. The Party of Labour was split, with Alia prepared to give more concessions, while hardliners who still revered Hoxha set themselves against any changes whatsoever. At the beginning of June the government collapsed, unable to stop the strikes or restore order. A coalition government took control, run by the Democrats and the "Socialists" (as the Party of Labour has been misleadingly renamed). New elections are to be held next summer, while the government tries to tackle the appalling economic problems and the expectations aroused by the dramatic events of the last six months.

It is too early to know what will transpire in Albania, and clearly a lot can happen between now and next years elections. Popular support for the various parties may fluctuate widely, and the old ruling class will be challenged by the new private capitalists. Ordinary workers have gained some freedom to protest and organise. Yet again the failure of state capitalism has been exposed, and the rapidity of political change has been remarkable. In whatever guise. Albania is likely to be integrated more and more clearly into the world capitalist system.
Paul Bennett

The maxims of Enoch Powell (1965)

From the August 1965 issue of the Socialist Standard

"When I see a rich man I give thanks to God".

To Mr. Enoch Powell capitalism is emphatically not a dirty word. To him it describes a social system before whose uncontrollable processes he stands in awe. In competition, the profit motive, “market mechanisms”, he sees capitalism as containing all that is morally right, socially beneficial and historically progressive. What Mr. Powell deplores above all is any attempt on the part of the state machine to interfere with the economic forces of capitalism. Society should never question what capitalism itself represents as economic necessity, for in its infinite wisdom capitalism knows what is best for humanity.

An example of the kind of government action that Mr. Powell deprecates is the attempt to arrest the movement of the labour force from areas of industrial decline to areas of industrial growth by imposing regional development. Also, he sees the intervention of the state in maintaining uneconomic services on, say, the railways as harmful. The law of economic viability ought to be allowed to run its course. The North-East of England and unprofitable railways should be discarded, for what is dead should be buried. Only what is commercially advantageous is socially best.

Another area of industrial life where Mr. Powell feels the state has no good cause to show its face is in wage bargaining between employers and workers. Here again, he says, the "free play of the market” is the best deciding factor; Mr. Powell mocks the attempts of the government to “plan” incomes as much as he attacks their attempts to plan economic growth. He thinks that Government action in these fields is only likely to frustrate the freedom of people to do what is best for themselves.

Mr. Powell has never carried his ideas to the point where he has refused to serve in governments that have attempted intervention in these various fields. He was part of the government that sent Mr. Quintin Hogg (complete with cloth cap) on a tour of the North-East as part of an attempt to formulate a plan for revived industry in that area. It was the same government that set up Nicky, Neddy and at least paid lip-service to the idea of an “incomes policy”. During this time, Mr. Powell held ministerial rank and was part of the Cabinet.

The case of Mr. Powell presents a curious and unashamed throwback to the ideas of early 19th century laissez faire capitalism. In fact, since the 19th century, the state machine has continued to grow and expand its field of influence through all branches of social and economic life including welfare and pensions, defence, nationalised industries, civil service, treasury, the law, housing, education, transport, science and technology, etc.

Mr. Powell has said that the disadvantage of the state is that it is not directly involved in competitive profit-making and is therefore “devoid of the incentives which tend to sharpen people’s minds in a competitive situation about what might be the right and what might be the wrong course’ . . .  It is this very detached position of the government’s which allows it to view and act upon what it calls the collective “national interest”, plus, of course, the interests of itself as a political party in power. Part of the function of the state has been to try to mitigate some of the more savage effects of capitalism’s jungle laws, by the distribution of doles to the unemployed, subsidised housing, for example.

The intervention of the state in economic affairs, such as nationalisation, rent control, agricultural subsidies, etc., do not compromise the nature of capitalism; they are attempts by the government to facilitate its smooth running.

The tendency in capitalist society is quite the reverse of what Mr. Powell would like to sec. Far from diminishing its influence, the state machine expands and becomes more complex. It is doubtful whether Mr. Powell's views can ever have a practical place in the policies of a future Tory government.

One effect that Mr. Powell’s views do have at the present time is to help to preserve within the Tory Party its conservative identity and pander to traditional prejudices such as distrust of bureaucracy and the mythical virtue of conservative freedom. In practice, Tory governments of necessity administrate capitalism in much the same way as Labour governments. The policies they carry out are prescribed for them not by political principle, but in the main by the economic dictates of the situation in which they find themselves.

In spite of the fact that when they are faced with the realities of government the spurious differences between the Labour and Tory Parties tend to evaporate, as separate organisations they require the front of a separate identity. It is men like Mr. Powell who in the Tory Party help to provide the image of traditional conservatism. Whatever the actual policies of Tory governments in power, his views cater to the emotional requirements and sentiments of Tory Party membership.

Similarly in the Labour Party, the function of a politician like Mr. Michael Foot is that in spite of what the Labour government has done since it took office, the views of Michael Foot tend to create the impression of a “radical left-wing” party who are guardians of working-class interests. This is inspiring to Labour Party workers and helps to provide cohesion within the organisation.

Mr. Powell has said, “When I see a rich man I give thanks to God. What do I feel when I see a poor man? It is that he would be poorer still if there were not the opportunity and the national incentive to people to succeed, to become rich, to make profit”. What, in fact, Mr. Powell is advocating is complete subservience to the economic tyrannies of capitalist society, and more than that, all the class privileges and under privileges that it implies.

Mr. Powell accepts the criteria of profit, commercial advantage, and the opportunities for sale provided by “market mechanisms” as the best motivating force behind the provision of community requirements. In fact, nothing could be more remote from the realities of life under capitalism.

In practice, the private ownership of wealth, commerce, and the profit motive prevent society’s free use of its productive techniques and ensure that a vast proportion of social labour is inefficiently applied to functions that have nothing to do with meeting human needs. The profit motive is not something that facilitates the widest possible distribution of wealth, hut is in itself an economic barrier against the application of man’s accumulated knowledge and techniques in production. An example of this can be found in “National defence", which Mr. Powell concedes is the proper concern of the state. The need for “National defence" arises from the situation where the modern nation states, Britain, France, America. Russia, etc., are competitors over markets, trade routes, sources of raw materials, spheres of national influence, etc. In order to maintain security in a competitive world, governments must maintain standing armies, navies and air forces; they must divert research and technology into the improvement of means of destruction such as nuclear weapons. The government must maintain an armaments industry and ensure housing, food, clothing, transport, etc., for all the personnel involved.

Measured against these facts of everyday life. Mr. Powell’s maxim that competition stimulates production is true only within extremely narrow limits. In practice, economic rivalry carries with it the burden of a vast appendage of wasteful functions which from the point of view of real material needs are utterly useless. Competition and economic rivalry both within nations and between nations generate fear, insecurity and enduring frustration, and result in hatred and violence. The fact of workers being in competition within a nation over jobs, housing, etc., can provide the seedbed of enmity and race prejudice. Between nations, it is not merely that economic rivalry results in all the material wastefulness that is involved in war, but it also causes the destruction of human life itself. The Americans and Vietnamese who are killing each other now are doing so against a background of all that Mr. Powell eulogises as competition and economic rivalry. The effort that capitalist society puts into war and the preparations for war is only one aspect of the material waste and human misery that results directly from production for profit.

The profit motive is not a liberating factor in production but one that stultifies production. The profit motive sets the limitations on what is possible in production and distribution. Against this end, the real material needs of the community take second place. Man under capitalism provides food, housing, clothing, health services, education, etc., within a tight economic framework conditioned by the prior requirements of profit. It is against this background that the enduring problems of society such as housing shortages, ugly urban environments and the fact that two-thirds of the world’s population do not get enough to eat must be understood.

Mr. Powell has talked a good deal about freedom, but the kind of freedom he seeks to maintain is the freedom of entrepreneurs to wield an arbitrary power in pursuit of their narrow private property interests in the most fundamental of human activities—the production and distribution of wealth. Socialists also want freedom, but freedom of the whole community to deploy its productive resources and all the talents and skills of the working class—be they scientists, professional workers, craftsmen, technologists of whatever— in the long overdue work of solving our problems. But Socialism involves more than the possibility of material comfort. Above all, Socialist freedom is the freedom of the individual emancipated from his working-class status and all the indignities of economic servitude and exploitation that Mr. Powell finds so worthy of approval.
Pieter Lawrence

Who Decides What and How? (2016)

From the January 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard
Does complexity rule out meaningful democracy?
When socialists speak of democracy we mean something very different from the concept the mainstream media provides. Instead of giving you permission to vote for some toff or careerist to serve and define your political interests (improbably) for five years we insist that any meaning democracy must entail the involvement of the community at every level in political/economic decision making.
When confronted by this definition of democracy our rulers and their media are incredulous and produce a torrent of reasons why this is impractical at best and political madness at worst. Most of the objections are ideological and do not deserve any serious consideration but there is one that has to be discussed: Does our technological culture depend almost entirely on the expertise of a minority of specialists whose knowledge cannot be easily understood by the ‘layman’ and is therefore inaccessible to democratic debate and decision? Are these ‘technocrats’ the only ones with the talent and ability to make decisions concerning, for instance, scientific research and technological application?
What happens today
Before we attempt to answer this let us consider how such decisions are made in the present economic system. Science and technology are usually financed in two ways within capitalism – either via the state (universities and the military) or through so called ‘private’ investment by big business. These two approaches are motivated essentially by the same desired end – to enhance the wealth and power of the capitalist class. Any benefit enjoyed by the wider community is merely a by-product of this economic dynamic. Over the years within many industries scandals have been exposed as a result of the contradiction between the economic imperatives of profit and the integrity of scientific research. Scientists are human and as such are subjected to the same cultural and political pressures as the rest of us. When science is subverted by economic and political interests then disaster is always a possibility.
Although the owners of the capital that is invested in these industries do take some notice of their tame ‘technocrats’ they listen much more attentively to their accountants. When couched in such phrases as ‘cost benefit’ in terms of the expected return on investment it sounds almost rational – if we are prepared to tolerate the obfuscation and inevitable dangers this entails. The point being, in terms of this debate, that it’s not primarily the ‘experts’ who make decisions about research and technological application but investment advisors (motivated solely by the need to enhance their clients’ investment portfolios).
Politicians share this perspective when deciding how their masters’ tax dollars are to be spent in terms of state investment in science and technology. In other words, in this respect, the technological experts have no political power at all. It would seem that this particular criticism of socialist democracy is specious since whenever the experts’ advice conflicts with economic expectations they are side-lined or ignored completely.
How it could be
Would socialism represent an improvement in the rational application of science and technology to production for need instead of profit?
The decision of the allocation of resources within socialism would have three stages: Dissemination of information, debate and vote.
The first part would rely on the expertise and talent of those involved within the relevant industries, in this case scientists and technologists. Because of the absence of political pressures they would be free to articulate candidly about the benefits and risks of developing certain productive technologies. There would have to be an element of trust in taking this advice but as in criminal trials this will be balanced by experts who take a different perspective.
A debate by the wider community would then take place using this information and evaluating possible contrasting opinions. Again, as in present day trials, the community will be asked which course to take based on their assessment of which evidence they find the most compelling. As is the case now mistakes will be made but at least they will be the result of honest error rather than Machiavellian political intrigue and corruption which is so ubiquitous today. Within this political culture scientists (and their spokesmen/women) will not exhibit the sometimes arrogant and elitist attitudes they do today – after all their future and that of their children will depend on the decisions made. Being a scientist will mean incorporating the ability to communicate about their work with others (as indeed some of the greatest scientists do presently).
Undoubtedly the level of education, both political and general, would be much higher within socialism – we do not concur with the elitist position that only a minority of the community will ever have the intelligence to make these important decisions. Again, if we live in some kind of elitist meritocracy (as the propaganda would have us believe) then the obvious political and scientific disasters that decorate capitalism’s history would imply the failure of this illusory bourgeois approach to ‘democracy’.
We maintain that no meaningful democracy is possible until the decisions concerning the production of the means of life are taken under the democratic control of the whole community. That this is a possibility will make the motivation for democratic activity so much more exciting – in contrast to the obvious impotent and cynical gatherings which parish, county, regional and national councils/governments now represent. Production for profit is the antithesis to democracy because it can only ever work in the interests of the parasitic minority. Democracy is still a concept that waits patiently in the wings of history’s theatre, ready for the consciousness that will finally bring it to centre stage.

Another Victim of Capitalism (1997)

TV Review from the October 1997 issue of the Socialist Standard

Among all the protracted TV coverage devoted to the death of Princess Diana. (BBC and ITV all day. every day) several important questions remain unanswered. Not just why she should have received countless hours of TV airtime devoted to her work with the poor and needy when millions across Britain— who have done just as much and rather more besides— never get mentioned and probably never will get mentioned.

And not necessarily the type of questions that have been concerning the media either—like whether Dodi Fayed’s bodyguard was drunk, what speed the car was going at when it crashed or whether MI6 are competent enough to kill renegade princesses. No, there are other questions, at least as relevant as any of these, that spring directly to the fore of the inquisitive mind.

One of the most obvious is this. Which person in modern human history has received the most attention from, and been the subject of more media predictions by astrologers, numerologists, spiritualists, soothsayers and other crystal ball gazers, than Princess Diana? And furthermore, why did not a single one of these professional fraudsters prophesy Diana’s fatal accident? And just as bizarrely, why has no-one apparently noticed this? The British media, increasingly including the TV media, feeds the working class a meaty daily diet of tricksters and charlatans who claim to have the future in their hands. And yet when further incontrovertible evidence emerges of their complete inability to do what they claim they can, we don’t hear a peep from their media pimps. How odd.

Shooting from the hip
More questions, and of greater import still. Who or what really killed Diana? Was it the press? Or, as Andrew Neil and others have seemingly implied, the public who actually watched the news and bought the papers? Frankly, neither of these explanations is truly plausible. The media could hardly be described as sole agents in her death as they were merely responding to the competitive impulses engendered by circulation wars and the market (as indeed were the paparazzi). But in that case, were not the buying and watching public themselves to blame?

This idea is even less plausible.There has not been a single UK national newspaper or TV channel which has not pursued Diana at some time or another to sell papers or attract viewers and advertising and thus make more profit. In that situation, where is the choice for those who want genuine news? Wherever people looked, there she was on the most ‘‘serious’’ of TV channels and newspapers commonly available.

Even if it can be argued that the bulk of the working class have tended to gravitate towards those sectors of the media offering the more sensationalist type of coverage of the royal family it is risible to claim that the newspapers were only providing what the "real culprits’’—the general public—wanted. Firstly, this totally ignores the effect the media has in determining what is on offer to the public and the undercurrent of bias and manipulation with which they steer the public towards certain ways of thinking and acting. Secondly, it is little more than pathetic to suggest that the media was just bowing to "popular demand" as if they—or any rational person—think that majority opinion at any one moment in time and on any issue in today’s society must be followed to the letter.

Given the spurious and hopelessly distorted levels of democracy currently in existence in countries like Britain, majority opinion at any time can be taken to be just that and no more because whatever majority opinion exists on a subject is refracted through a distorting prism called the economy where there is no democracy at all. The resulting picture is often mangled and disfigured beyond recognition as a result. It would be ludicrous to take an opinion and defend it on all grounds simply because it is currently that of a majority. The media have certainly not done so in the past so why use this excuse now?

Taking some examples, if the majority of people had been calling for Diana’s imprisonment or worse on grounds of treason would that have been okay and would the media have led the charge simply on the grounds of giving the public what it wanted? Extending this logic further, if the majority of the population was overtly racist would we all have had to start going round killing black people and would the media have campaigned for the setting up of concentration camps? Hitler had majority constitutional backing at one key point in Germany’s history—was that all right too? Of course not, and the media must know it. Democracy is a qualitative not just a crudely quantitative phenomenon.The bottom line is that if you know something is wrong you argue and fight against it, not pander to the worst sort of prejudices going. What the media have been doing is merely using the public to divert attention from their own alleged complicity in the whole affair.

Which brings us back to what really did for the "people’s princess". Avoiding the trap of scapegoating, it was clearly the pressures and conflicts brought about by present-day society itself, not just isolated parts of it. At root we live in a money and status-obsessed society which elevated the wretched girl to the ridiculous and fantastical heights of being a royal princess, stuffed her mind full of some of the most ridiculous notions and "rules" imaginable until she became possibly the world’s most visible neurotic, and it was this same hierarchical and profit- hungry society which hunted her to death in the pursuit of the great god Mammon.

Socialists are unremittingly hostile to hierarchy and privilege (far more so of course than Diana herself— despite the claims of Trevor McDonald and his like) but that does not mean we have no sympathy at all for those outside the working class who are also sometimes victims of a mad. uncontrollable system. For let there be no mistake. Diana the Princess of Wales was not merely killed by “the media", the "paparazzi" or the amorphous "general public". Diana, in truth, was created by capitalism and then killed by it too. But what are the chances of a week's constant TV discussion of that?
Dave Perrin

What makes you angry? (1992)

From the July 1992 issue of the Socialist Standard

Are you irritated? Annoyed? Angry? What causes this? Standing in a ten-year supermarket check-out queue? Your children scattering their toys and clothes all over the house? Gameshows on television? A social system where the many are economically exploited by. and for the benefit of, the few?

Everything’s relative. To be a victim of a capitalist’s pension fraud rates rather higher on the cosmic scale of things to get upset about than does burning the breakfast toast. Whilst the one event is an obvious effect of a social system based upon production for profit where the continuing accumulation of wealth overrides all other human considerations, capitalism can’t be held responsible for burnt toast. Unless it’s a result of having to rush in order to fulfil one’s obligations as a wage slave.

My local newspaper gives front-page prominence to the news that in the town where I live a clothing store run by the WRVS for the distribution of free second-hand clothing to the poor and needy is closing. One volunteer said that she never knew there was so much poverty until she started working for the scheme. Although 10,000 items of clothing had been distributed during the last twelve months, she was distressed that the powers- that-be knew nothing about the needs of people affected by the recession.

Still, it’s all relative. According to the 480-page, 43rd edition of Britain—an Official Handbook published by the governmental Central Office of Information, Britain is a prosperous society enjoying unprecedented wealth (Wolverhampton Express & Star, 9 January). Little mention is made in the handbook of the effects of recession or of rising unemployment. It’s unlikely that those members of the working class queueing up for free hand-me-downs, or buying from charity shops, are among the one in four who now own shares.

A few hundred British Telecom shares doesn’t put you in the capitalist class. Try giving up your paid wage slavery, assuming you have some, and living off the share dividends. You'll quickly discover that you’re still a member of the majority who are forced to sell their labour power in order to survive in a capitalist society. Even if you have “taken advantage” of the many privatisation share offers of recent years, statistics show that most people take a quick profit and run.

The number of people owning their own homes, says the Handbook, has risen almost four-fold compared to 40 years ago. If you have actually paid off your mortgage you are one of the fortunate minority. Most “home-owners’” houses and flats are still owned by building societies. As more and more families and individuals find themselves unable to maintain their mortgage repayments and have their homes re-possessed, the effects of living in a “private property” society become devastatingly clear.

Still, it’s all relative, isn't it? Compared to conditions in other parts of the worldwide capitalist system life in the geographical economic unit called Great Britain remains reasonably safe and civilised. Or does it? What odds on your being one of those members of the working class who lose their life in one of the 600 work-related fatalities every year? Or being seriously injured in one the 100,000 work- related major accidents every year? Money spent on health and safety in the work-place reduces profits—and profits are more important in a capitalist society than workers’ safety.

If you believe that the odds on your becoming one of the above statistics are too long to worry about, those on your being, or becoming, in serious debt are much shorter:
High interest rates, easy consumer credit and poverty have driven 2.5 million British households into debt. Research published by the independent Policy Studies Institute shows that 12 per cent of British households have problems with debt. The report rejects stereotypical views of people running up huge debts on credit. It concludes that poverty, rather than excessive consumer spending, forces many families into financial difficulties. Mr Berthoud. a senior research fellow at the PSI, said, “We don't find that buying lots of videos. televisions, cars and so on is very strongly implicated in debt; we do find that not having much money to live on, running out of money at the end of each week, what we call hardship, is implicated in debt”. Poorer people are no better off than they were in 1979. (The Independent, 27 February 1992).
It’s all relative. But need it be?
A house may be large or small; as long as the surrounding houses are equally small it satisfies all social demands for a dwelling. But let a palace arise beside the little house, and it shrinks from a little house to a hut. However high it may shoot up in the course of civilisation, if the neighbouring palace grows to an equal or even greater extent, the occupant of the relatively small house will feel more and more uncomfortable, dissatisfied and cramped within its four walls. (Wage Labour and Capital. Karl Marx).
The majority working class has no cause to feel satisfied with capitalism. The time has come for the working class to translate its dissatisfaction into positive political action.
“But what", you ask, “of socialism?" It is too facile to sneer at the idea of “civilising” capitalism. What do you imagine the trade unions are about? Or the welfare state? It is a plain fact, which we should all recognise, that there has been no comprehensive programme (Bolshevism apart) (sic) to replace capitalism as the dominant system in this country since the early 1830s when there was massive but brief support for Robert Owen’s niillenarian vision. Two lessons surely stand out from the past 13 brutal years. One is that it is better to have a “civilised” capitalism (sic) than the kind sponsored by Margaret Thatcher or John Major. The second is that, with the internationalisation of capital, there cannot be Keynesianism, let alone socialism, in one country. (Joe England, Tribune, 24 January).
This is the “solution” offered to the working class by all other political parties—reforming capitalism, civilising capitalism. It is not the solution presented to the working class by this particular party, the Socialist Party. All it takes to do away with all the ills of capitalism is a politically aware and motivated working class which wants and understands socialism.

There was a man I used to have business dealings with. I never met him, we used to converse over the telephone a lot. After the company employing him went bust I never heard from him again. I read in the newspaper that he had run a rubber pipe from his car exhaust and gassed himself. The inquest was told that he owed creditors lots of money, and letters from his bank were found beside him. I still feel sick when I think of the unimaginable, the pressures on an individual that forces him into doing that. It’s said that you can be poor and still be happy. The evidence to show that you can only be poor and miserable, or worse, in a capitalist society is all around us. What makes you angry?
Dave Coggan