Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Sting in the Tail: Open Letter (1992)

The Sting in the Tail column from the February 1992 issue of the Socialist Standard

Open Letter

The Scorpion's Nest, 
52 Clapham High Street 
1 February 1991

Botanist and TV Personality 

Dear David,

We read how you told the annual conference of the CBI that, instead of cutting their profits, environmental care could, by using "new technologies", bring them new profits.

Bet this went down well with the manufacturers of the necessary equipment (Mr Heseltine told the conference that the market for this could be worth billions) but possibly the companies you hope will buy it weren’t quite so enthusiastic.

You see, David, capitalism is a very competitive system and every company must keep its costs down even at the expense of the environment. That's why we have pollution but maybe you knew that?

And those profits you spoke so approvingly of, they are the unpaid labour of the useful class In society. It's legal robbery, David, but perhaps you didn’t know that?

Anyway, although we enjoy your TV programmes it's obvious to us that you know more about the environment than you do about the economic laws of capitalism which make such a mess of It.

Words of Wisdom
  "The 1960s were good years for liberalism; a fair amount of money was spent on poverty programs and relatively nothing happened. Enter new leaders and new priorities. Why didn't earlier programs work? Two possibilities are open:
1. We didn't spend enough money, we didn't make sufficient creative efforts, or (and this makes any established leader jittery) we cannot solve these problems without a fundamental social and economic transformation of society; or 2. the programs failed because their recipients are inherently what they are — blaming the victims."
(Stephen Jay Gould in Ever Since Darwin Page 47.)

Dismal Johnny

The press made great play of the different style of government we could expect with the demise of Margaret Thatcher and the advent of John Major.

Mrs Thatcher, it was said, was the hard-edged, no-nonsense type of prime minister while Mr Major would prove to be a decent, compassionate man with a social conscience.

A couple of years ago Mrs Thatcher in one of her photo opportunity visits to the depressed North East of England reprimanded demonstrators and branded the unemployed as "Moaning Minnies". In January Mr Major claimed that such problems as rising unemployment and evictions were being exaggerated by "Dismal Jimmies".

His speech to Newcastle businessmen was made on 8 January. Next morning It was announced that the Ravenscraig Steel Mill In Lanarkshire was to close with the loss of 1,200 Jobs.

Doubtlessly there will be some Moaning Minnies and Dismal Jimmies among the ungrateful families of steel workers who will fall to appreciate the different styles of Thatcher and Major.

Bitter Harvest

George Bush began the year with a visit down-under during which he extolled the "warm kinship" between Americans and Australians.

But when angry Australian farmers demonstrated against US subsidies to American farmers which they claim costs them 1 billion dollars a year in lost overseas markets, the "warm kinship"rapidly cooled.

Bush told the demonstrators:
  While I don't like having to use these remedies, I will safeguard the Interests of American farmers.
The Guardian 3 January 
So free-marketeer Bush defends subsidies to American farmers while at the same time he is bitterly denouncing the EEC for subsidising Its farmers

1992 will provide the usual bumper crop of bare-faced, hypocritical politicians. That is one harvest that never falls!

Hard to Credit

The news that Canada's Labourites, the New Democratic Party, had won the provincial elections In British Columbia was interesting only because the party they ousted was the Social Credit Party.

Social Credit was a 1930's movement whose case was built around the notion that banks "create credit" by lending money they do not have. Why, they argued, shouldn't governments do the same? The resulting increase in purchasing power would bring prosperity, banish slumps, etc.

Parties holding this view sprang up all over the world but although most of them have vanished some modern books on banking and economics still peddle the nonsense that banks lend more than they have, so this unsound theory is still around and not only In Canada.

Still Clueless

Channel Four's "A Week In Politics" (22 December) had four Labour ex-cabinet ministers discussing the problems a Labour government will face if elected. Present were Tony Benn, Denis Healey, Barbara Castle and Merlyn Rees and they went at it with typical sound and fury.

Benn said Labour must "face-down" International finance and not the unions but Healey replied that "excessive union demands" must be resisted and cited some left-wing councils who wore currently doing that.

"Labour should spend its way out of recession" said Benn, but Healey rubbished this and warned that people might have to "make sacrifices". Castle claimed Labour could finance extra spending by cutting ’Tory waste" while Rees urged a return to Keynesian intervention.

So despite the lessons of decades in cabinet and over 100 years as MPs between them, the four still believe, whatever their differences, that Labour can solve capitalism's contradictions. Some people never learn.

Happy Families

The new statistical bulletin Homicide In Scotland 1986 - 90 reveals that of the 589 people accused of killing in Scotland during that period only 193 were strangers to the victims.

A further 271 were lovers, friends or acquaintances of those killed, but the other 125 comprised 45 husbands or wives, 32 sons or daughters, 23 parents, 4 brothers or sisters and 21 other relatives!

So our own families are among the most dangerous people we know and yet capitalism's apologists tell us that the nuclear family "holds together the fabric of society".

1 comment:

Imposs1904 said...

The February 1992 issue of the Socialist Standard done and dusted.