Sunday, December 23, 2018

Rear View: Much Ado About Nothing (2018)

The Rear View Column from the January 2018 issue of the Socialist Standard

Much Ado About Nothing
The capitalist class, as a result of their control of the means of mental production, focus the attention of the working class on things that are often of little concern or consequence e.g. reality television, royalty or republicanism.  In an article titled Meghan Markle Can’t Save the World we read: ‘A just world will not only be one where outmoded institutions like the monarchy no longer exist, no matter how glamorous, charming, and well-meaning today’s royals are. It’s also one where we won’t need any more celebrity humanitarians’ (jacobin.mag, 1 December).  Yet a world without royal parasites would not necessarily be a just world.  Napoleon III ceased to rule France in 1870 and the USA did away with the monarchy a century earlier (although Trump is doing a good impersonation of George III), but neither can be considered just.  That will have to wait until we focus on securing a world without war and want, one without states and their leaders royal or otherwise.


As They Like It
Freedom fighters, past and present, so often championed by the Left for seeking justice, whether successful or not, play Game of Thrones often at the cost of working class lives.  What has the replacement of one set of rulers by another achieved?  Enter stage Left King and Queen Ortega, the recently deposed King Mugabe, and soon to be crowned Evo Morales.  ‘. . . Bolivia, along with Nicaragua, is now the only presidential democracy in the Americas to place no limits on re-election. Last month, a senior minister shared an image of a placard which invited Morales to stay in power until 2050’ (theguardian.com, 3 December). Elsewhere (unz.com, 30 November) we are reminded that ‘all three South African Presidents supported Robert Mugabe.’ Socialists would instead point to the election of the Mandela to power.  This event was supposed to see the grinding poverty of the townships ended, but he, Mbeki and Zuma have turned out to be powerless to run capitalism in a way that would end exploitation and poverty.  Mbeki is responsible for the premature deaths of up to 365,000 AIDS victims. King Zuma has his palace.


‘You take my life if you do take the means whereby I live’
Socialists are in agreement with Shakespeare here.  This is precisely the position for the great majority of us today. The means whereby we live — society’s natural and industrial resources — are monopolized by a minority who thus form a privileged class. This is the basis of present-day society the world over,  Workers die slowly or prematurely in the service of King Capital.  Everything is for sale.  ‘The widely condemned slavery in Libya goes beyond the sale of human beings as some ‘slave masters’ engage in organ trade, a private legal practitioner reveals. Organ trade is the trade of human organs, tissues or other body parts for the purpose of transplantation.  According to Bobby Banson, he has seen videos, where at least one person caught up in the slavery alleged that body parts of his colleagues were harvested and sold abroad. “One of the persons I heard, said the truth is that they are not sold to go and work, but their human parts are harvested… kidney, liver are in high demand in these areas”‘ (ghanaweb.com, 2 December).


First we kill all the lawyers
Tempting, but no: the law is an instrument of the owning class, that pretends to be for everyone, but is only for the rich.  Prince Laurent, brother to the King of Belgium, ‘says proposed pay cut would breach his human rights’ (theguardian.com, 1 December)!  Apparently, the prime minister is threatening to cut his annual £280,000 government endowment.  ‘Laurent’s lawyer insists that “in humiliating ways” the prince has been stopped all his life from getting a job, in a manner damaging to his “image and, dare I add, his health”. “In this traditional view, a prince was not allowed to work (it would testify to ‘a desire for money’, a reproach that some people dare to repeat today, which is the world upside down!),” the lawyer writes.’  Anatole France knew better, writing of ‘the majestic egalitarianism of the law, which forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.’ The law isn’t an ass. It’s an instrument of class domination, a very powerful one which will continue until a majority of us come to understand and desire socialism.  Then the world will be truly turned upside down.


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