Friday, November 3, 2017

Throwing Stones in the Russian Glasshouse (1963)

From the July 1963 issue of the Socialist Standard

If the Dally Worker were content to uphold Russia as the best capitalism they know they could have cosy arguments with the admirers of other parts of the capitalist world. Without any of the contestants ever giving or receiving a mortal wound; it would be a rule of the game never to attack capitalism itself. But being cursed with the obligation of claiming that Russia is Socialist they simply do not remember that it is basically like the rest of the capitalist world and frequently hurl stones at the British Government which land plomp in the Russian glasshouse.

In their issue of January 19th they let themselves go about the Tory administration. "Tell Macmillan and his crew: In the the name of Britain—go!” This was followed by columns of ripe, corny, political questions about “duds, deadbeats and diehards ” (with a passing crocodile tear about the Labour Party’s “problem of leadership")—just the sort of stuff that the “ ins" and “ outs ” of capitalist politics have been exuding for a century.

But they also went into a specific charge about the wickedness the Government has in mind. “Tory plan is more arms and dearer food.”

“Meat, butter, cheese, bread, eggs and many other items would rise,” a “savage cut” in the workers standard of living. And the Tories, after spending £17,000 million on armaments in eleven years “now propose to spend even more.”

The only thing the Worker forgot was that this twofold charge is one that can be validly levelled at every government there is or has ever been—including the government of Russia.

For just about half a year ago the Russian government suddenly announced that meat and meat products were to have their price increased by 30 per cent. and butter by 25 per cent. But there was no “go man go” to Mr. Kruschev in the columns of the Worker, only a laboured editorial sympathising with Mr. K’s government because of the difficult decision they had to make about higher prices, and “proving” that it was all for the best because the Russian government's ultimate grand design is to achieve the highest standard of living in the world. (Can’t you hear Macmillan uttering likewise?).

And Russian capitalism also spends money on armaments. According to the Daily Worker of December 7th, 1961, Russian armament expenditure in 1962 was being increased from an originally planned figure of £3,690 million, to £5,360 million. The increase alone is just about the amount spent by Macmillan’s government in the same year. No chicken feed like £17,000 million in eleven years for Mr. Kruschev but something more impressive; say two or three times as much at very least.

Well, its a hard life trying to pick and choose between the different capitalist groups.
Edgar Hardcastle

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