Sunday, February 10, 2019

How to Oppose Religion (2016)

From the November 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard

The christian and the socialist put two radically different messages to workers. One is that this life ‘down here’ is only important as a preparation for the next life after death which, depending on whether or not you adhered to the precepts of Christianity, would either be eternal bliss or eternal hell-fire. The other is that this was the only life we are going to have and that workers should therefore concentrate on making it the best possible; which can only, be lastingly done on the basis of the common ownership and democratic control of the means of living. This – socialism –  is what workers should be striving for rather than preparing themselves for some non-existent future life.

There are two ways of opposing religion. One is to refute it as untrue, to show that there are no rational grounds, because there is no convincing evidence, for believing either in the persistence of life after death or in the existence of supernatural beings. This is the approach of the secularists and freethinkers and of course what they say is true, but this leaves the impression that religion is merely an erroneous belief. It leads to concentrating on refuting religious beliefs as such in a purely ideological battle while leaving everything else, including class society and capitalist relations of production, unchanged.

The second way to oppose religion is to explain its origins, development and role in materialist terms as an ideological product of the changing material economic and social conditions under which people have lived. This approach reveals religion to be a reflection of people’s lack of control over the conditions governing the production of their material means of survival and that it survives precisely because people lack this control.

On this analysis, opposition to religion cannot be separated from opposition to the  economic and social conditions that give rise to it. Religion won’t disappear simply because secularists and freethinkers, or for that matter socialists, refute it as untrue. It will only disappear when people are in a position to control the production of their means of life. This requires the end of the class ownership of the means of production and the end of production for the market with a view to profit and their replacement  by common ownership and production directly and exclusively for use.

In other words, religion cannot disappear until the conditions of which it is an ideological reflection disappear. Criticism of religion leads, or ought logically to lead, to criticism of society. As Marx put it in the famous passage in the Introduction to his 1844 Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: “Religion is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusions about its condition is the demand to  give up a condition which needs illusions. The criticism of religion is therefore in embryo the criticism of the vale of woe, the halo of which is religion.”

Letters: A Workers’ Declaration (2016)

Letters to the Editors from the November 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard

A Workers’ Declaration

Dear Editors

I hope one day there is a workers’ declaration that goes something like this: We the workers of the world declare all the raw-materials of Earth, the means of production and distribution, the means to a good life, to be ours.

The world is no longer owned by the non-producing class. The Earth no longer belongs to the one percent. Today the world belongs to all the human race. The fruits of the labours we the producers of goods produce are ours.

We the workers understand that capitalism doesn’t work for us. And all the reforms in the world are not going to make it work for us.

We the producing class, the workers of the world, the 99 percent, understand a World Without Money is the system that is best for us. And for all the animals, the oceans, the atmosphere, the earth.

We are now the owners of planet Earth. We are the masters of this world.

So much of our labour yesterday was wasted. We put a stop to that nonsense—in a non violent, peaceful, radical, intelligent way. We will never again waste our raw-materials. No more will we waste our labour, our lives, our time, our genius, our industry, our potential, our love.

In everything we produce for ourselves we will produce nothing but what our best endeavours can produce. Everyone of us will have the means to enjoy a good life.

We the workers of the world with the right ideas have conquered the capitalist system.

We have dismantled and abolished capitalism. And have established a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the best interest of the human race.

We the workers of the world build every building. Lay every railway track. Bake every pie. This world is ours by right. Because we make it.

We the workers of the world hereby declare that from this day forth our labour will turn the raw materials of Earth into the things we need and want for a civilized system of society. For all of us to enjoy. And our children to enjoy. And their children. And their children. And their children. Until Earth’s raw-materials—which belong to humankind—can sustain humankind no more. And we live on Earth no more.

Until that day comes, we, the workers of the world will make Earth if not paradise then as near as makes no difference.
Lee Heath, 

More Brexit

Dear Editors

Is your socialist idea different from that horrible globalisation Britain has courageously escaped from – can you imagine thousands and thousands of Brits turning up in, say, Poland, wanting jobs, housing, schooling, medical care, etc? Don’t you think they would say, how big do you think this country is . . ? You could fit Britain into one US State.

Have you read America Rules by Tom Hana? Then let me know if you think the EU has been good for any of the citizens of the 28 member states. I said citizens, not politicians. They are a different species.

Ireland is a member, and this numpty lot have refused a tax refund! I’d still like to know how the EU can make Ireland charge its citizens for water when they levied it on the car tax in 2003. They must not have told the EU.

I think a good percentage of Out voters did so instinctively. They knew it wasn’t fair.

Mrs L. McKenna, 
Co Donegal, Eire.

First of all, let’s be clear. The Socialist Party is opposed to all forms of capitalism whether it is organised according to a free enterprise or state capitalist model, whether it is nationally or globally structured or whether it is administered by left wing or right wing governments. But socialism will be a global society (of course with as much local devolution as people want) where people will be free to move from one part of the planet to another. This is clearly incompatible with capitalism but will be possible under socialism.

We have not read the book you mention although we tried to search for it on the internet. Whether the EU has been good for the citizens of the member states is obviously a matter of opinion. Europhiles in each country can point to many positives, Eurosceptics can do the opposite. It’s like having an argument as to which of Fianna Fail or Fine Gael in Ireland or the Conservative or Labour parties in Britain is better. In that sense it’s a political debate within capitalism and while we understand the importance such issues have to some people, we don’t adjudicate on these matters. The issues at stake – if they are really issues at all – are tiny.

Taxation is a contentious issue in most countries; what is taxed and who is taxed and who gets to decide these things and who enforces taxation. In many countries there is anger about the very low effective taxation rate levied on multinational companies who can use both their economic clout and employ legal trickery to get away with derisory levels of payments. Also, as in the case of water charges in Ireland, nobody likes fresh taxation especially on such a basic human resource such as drinkable water. However, most of these controversies miss the point about the fundamental nature of taxation within capitalism; that ultimately it is a charge on capital, and some sections of the owners of capital (the capitalist class) are keen to transfer the burden to other sections.

Only when we collectively realize that what are presented as contentious issues such as immigration, taxation, etc. are not the real defining issues of our lives, can we plan a much better society. 
Editorial Committee.

Trade or Environment? (2016)

From the November 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard

‘Everything is now monetised’. You often hear that expression nowadays. It amounts to the same as the old expression, ‘money makes the world go round’. In her speech to the Conservative Party Conference in October Andrea Leadsom’s re-iterated this idea, but the Environment Secretary had little else to offer.

The speech was dominated by income figures and ‘economic potential’, as she put it. ‘Grow, buy, sell’, she said.

There was nothing of any insight from her into the problems or solutions that confront us concerning environmental degradation. Of course, you may not have expected complex analysis and argument, but you would have been excused for thinking that you were listening to the Trade Secretary. You would expect the Environment Secretary to at least address some of those problems and solutions as if she did know something about them, other than how much money could be generated from them.

She announced a 25 year plan for the environment but, again, gave little detail, (probably because there isn’t any). The suspicion must be that any legislation to be introduced will give favour to commercial interests. Perhaps the recent handing out of the first fracking licence is stage one of that plan; and this from a government that wants to leave the environment in a better state than they found it. Well, we’ve heard that before: Cameron’s ‘greenest government ever’, (surely he meant meanest), has come to nothing.

The inherent problems in tackling the issues are difficult enough in themselves. The problem of having to fund the infrastructure projects necessary to rescue the environment, and the requirement to turn a profit demanded by private industry (effectively in charge of all infrastructure projects in Britain), only serve to make the solutions more difficult, or even impossible, to achieve. The curse of spiralling costs and contract re-negotiation reflect this very well, as we can see across all sectors – HS2, Crossrail. Thames Water Ring Main, Hinkley Point etc.

There never seems to be enough funding. But a lack of it isn’t the problem. The problem is the idea of funding itself. While the system of production for profit remains in place there will never be enough funding, and we will move further and further away from the kind of environment we should all want to live in.

The socialist point of view is quite clear. Remove money, remove funding from the equation, and you remove the main barrier to technological advancement and, as concerns the environment, to a safe, secure future. A system of production for use, a moneyless society, a socialist society, would provide a real opportunity to create a sustainable and secure environment.

Tweedledum and Tweedledummer (2016)

Editorial from the November 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard

On 8 November, American workers will be casting their votes for the next US President. Aside from the minor candidates, Jill Stein of the Green Party and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, the contest is between Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s Frankenstein Monster, and Hillary Clinton, the devotee of US corporations and Wall Street.

Donald Trump, the billionaire political conman who poses as the workers’ champion, has been preying on the anger, insecurities and, in some cases, the desperation of American workers, many of whom are still suffering from the effects of the 2008 financial crash. He claims he will bring jobs back to the US and scapegoats immigrant and Muslim workers for America’s social and economic ills. He appeals to the more conservative voters by supporting gun ownership and opposing abortion. With the release of a video produced in 2005, which reveals Trump boasting that his celebrity status allows him to grope any woman he wants, many high ranking Republicans have dumped him. Further allegations by women, who have come forward to accuse him of sexual assault, have added to the discomfort of the Republicans.

Many in the Republican Party hierarchy have never favoured his candidacy, regarding him as an aberration. Yet, his populist style of politics has, in some form or other, been pursued by Republican and Democrat politicians in the past. He follows in the footsteps of Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and George W Bush among others.

Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders, the so called ‘Democratic Socialist’ from Vermont, to become the first woman Presidential nominee. She has positioned herself as the progressive candidate supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and is pro abortion and is in favour of gun control. As a New York Senator, she voted for the Iraq War. However, her candidacy has been dogged by question marks over her use of a private email server when she was Secretary of State and controversies over foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation. Despite this, her candidacy has received endorsements from high ranking members of the political and corporate establishments, including many Republicans. Her campaign has received donations from Wall Street interests.

Despite the animosity between Trump and Clinton that has been revealed in the election rallies and TV debates, there is one fundamental issue in which they both agree and that is in the need to support US capitalism. Whoever wins, the US government will continue to manage capitalism as before, promoting the interests of the US capitalist class at home and abroad. American workers will continue to work for their bosses, and if a profit cannot be made, then unemployment looms. Workers will still be sent to fight wars on behalf of the capitalist class. Sadly for the American working class, it will be business as usual when the new President takes office in January 2017.

Yet it need not be this way. American workers have another choice. They can unite with workers worldwide to gain political power and wrest control of the Earth’s resources from the capitalist class and convert them from private property used for the production of profit to the common heritage of all humankind.

50 Years Ago: Railway shareholders support nationalisation (1988)

The 50 Years Ago column from the February 1988 issue of the Socialist Standard

Mr William Whitelaw, Chairman of the London & North Eastern Railway, wants the railways nationalised. He stated this in an interview reported in the News-Chronicle (December 29th, 1937). He thinks that it would eliminate competition, reduce costs, and be good for the shareholders. He says that if fair terms were offered there would be no opposition from the people with money invested in railway companies, and adds: "As a large stockholder myself 1 should have no hesitation whatever in taking Government stock instead of company stock."

In view of the fact that several classes of railway stocks have paid little or no dividend for years, and future prospects for many other classes look none too bright, the idea of State purchase will perhaps commend itself to those who own the railways. But what of the workers? What have they to gain? — in spite of the Daily Herald's joy that Mr Whitelaw had been "compelled by the logic of events to accept the full policy that the Labour Party has advocated for 15 years and more." (Daily Herald, January 6th. 1938.)

Labour Party schemes for State ownership perpetuate the parasitism of a propertied class living by owning. Until that has been got rid of the working class will continue to be barred from the big improvement in the standard of living which Socialism will make possible.

[From an article " 'Socialism' to Please the Railway Shareholders" Socialist Standard February 1938.]

Designed for living? (1988)

From the February 1988 issue of the Socialist Standard

One of the many intractable problems that face workers in their day-to-day existence under capitalism takes place within the area of housing production. Unable and incapable of meeting workers' housing needs capitalism forces them to either sink or swim according to the private or government dictates of housing provision. So not only do workers have to cope with the very real problems of lack of space, of repair and maintenance, of housing obsolescence and unfit habitation, they also have to cope with the constant financial pressures of mortgage and rent demands where the inability to meet the often high amounts involved means repossession and subsequent homelessness.

Similarly, since the end of the nineteenth century, workers have seen every housing reform supposedly enacted in their interests fail. The state has not been able to end the housing shortage, provide the wide and different housing workers require throughout their lives, nor alleviate the dangers to health and overcrowding within the decaying inner cities. In fact, the state's interference has more often than not contributed to the worsening of the problem.

If workers want a constant reminder of the futility of reforms as such then they could do no worse than study the history of housing reforms both before and after they were enacted by Parliament. A similar lesson could well be learnt by the reformers themselves. The high number of often well-meaning individuals who attempt to alleviate the housing problem under capitalism have taken on a job for life; one that will result in regular frustration and hopelessness. In fact, taken globally, and bearing in mind all the various housing reform bodies now in existence. the housing problem as it affects the world's working class could hardly be worse.

So what of the latest reform popularly known as "Community Architecture”? In their writings this new set of reformists regard community architecture as a major contribution to working-class housing. Through government grants, charitable organisations and the involvement of "investment and development" capitalists, the proponents of community architecture claim that they will simultaneously alleviate the entrenched urban blight under which most of the working class have to exist as well as engineer, through the process of worker participation, some mythical sense of "community spirit" which, we are told by one of its strongest advocates, Prince Charles, existed before the Second World War.

But then Prince Charles and the class he represents did not have to live in pre-war working-class housing. Were not high-rise, high density housing of the first three decades after the war held up as models of community architecture in their own day? Did not the reformers then point to the utopian towers of glass and concrete as the solution to the TB. damp and insanitary filth and grime of workers' housing of the 1930s? So placed in its historic context the community architecture of today is largely the result of the failure of the last set of housing reforms which ushered in the pre-fabricated housing that councils are now blowing up.

And what of the phrase "community architecture"? It is as though it had been coined by an advertising agency trying to brighten up the tarnished image of the businessmen and women who masquerade as architects at the Royal Institute of British Architects. For does not the word "community" imply some strong notion of of classlessness? Does it not also imply that there is a strong and active democratic control by that community over what is built, where it is built and for whose social needs it is meant? Are the supposed recipients of community architecture in control over their own lives; are they able to live in the best environment society can currently produce? Is the technical advice freely available to them? Are the materials and craft skills (the latter reified under capitalism to the degrading tag of "operatives") directly and freely accessible? The answer is, of course, no to all these questions — because "community” and "community architecture" under capitalism are illusions.

The reality for workers is that there is no direct access to land, materials and technical advice. The capitalist class monopolises it for themselves. Workers' access is governed by their ability to pay and at the end of the day, architectural awards or no architectural awards, the standard and quality of accommodation is little different from that provided by the likes of Wimpeys or Barretts: workers get the housing that befits their class position.

And what of the word "architecture"? Does — or has ever — the working class lived in housing that could be described as architecture? Are workers' housing the sort of houses architectural historians waste their time writing about or are lavishly illustrated in magazines like Country Life? The answer is, again, no. Workers live instead in buildings. It is the capitalist class who can afford to live in "architecture". Workers' houses are only studied by a few eccentric social historians while the workers themselves are out visiting Blenheim Palace and the thousands of other architectural gems that make up “Our National Architectural Heritage".

We should not, after 80 years, in a world that has the potential to house the world's population adequately and with dignity, have to again and again re-quote Engels' solution to the Housing Question and why all reforms have and will fail:
  The so-called housing shortage which plays such a great role in the press nowadays, does not consist in the fact that the working class generally lives in bad. overcrowded and unhealthy dwellings. This shortage is not something peculiar to the present; it is not even one of the sufferings peculiar to the modern proletariat in contradistinction to all earlier oppressed classes. On the contrary all oppressed classes in all periods suffered rather uniformly from it. In order to put an end to this housing shortage there is only one means: to abolish altogether the exploitation and oppression of the working class by the ruling class.
(The Housing Problem)
William Morris envisaged a socialist society that produced buildings based on craft skills and natural materials. Whether this or other forms of building techniques will be used by a future socialist society will be for them to decide, as they set about building a society fit for human beings to live in. But what generally can be said is that in a society freed from the utter absurdity of buying and selling, of commodity production and of classes, people will be in control of their lives and the society in which they live. It is only within this form of society that any real meaning for the term community architecture can be contemplated or sanctioned.
Richard Lloyd

From crisis to complacency (1988)

1987 Edition
Book Review from the February 1988 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Energy Question. Gerald Foley (Pelican £4.95)

When the review copy of this book arrived I took my old one down from the shelf to compare them. The latter was published in 1976 and must have been written not long after the 1973 Arab-Zionist War and the quadrupling of oil prices in world markets.

The conclusion of most experts then was that there was too little oil and too many customers. Commodity markets — tin. coffee, copper, palm oil — boomed because the scarcity was believed to extend to everything except people; there were, it seemed, too many of us. Catholics rejected this view because God would not bring people into the world without means for them to exist.

Colin Clark, an adviser to the Pope on economic demography, had concluded that the world could feed ten times its current population to American standards and thirty times to Japanese standards.

But the majority of experts inclined to the view that scarcity was coming to haunt us. Oil and other sources of energy, along with most minerals and fertile soil, were in short supply and getting shorter Interested parties joined the chorus: producers of oil and minerals used the scare to jack up prices. Vegetarians argued that if we gave up meat there would be plenty of nut-cutlets for us all. Even Gerald Foley wrote in the early edition: “It is inevitable that the future will be more vegetarian than the past".

Twelve years on we are assured that there is too much of everything. Primary commodity prices have crashed: copper producers like Zambia and tin producers like Malaya are in economic difficulties. Europe is drowning in wine and olive oil lakes and there are mountains of meat and fruit and grain.

And energy, whose input equals half a ton of coal-equivalent for every man, woman and child in Britain for food-production alone:
  The energy picture is very different from that of 1976. when the first edition of this book was published. The atmosphere at that time was one of crisis. Now the anxiety seems to have completely disappeared. A decade ago there were worries about whether industrial society would reach the year 2000 without a major upheaval in its ways of obtaining and using energy; now the consensus is that the turn of the century will see business very much as usual.
Now why should all that be? Had some new element come onto the scene to change all the equations about energy? Nuclear energy had promised, or rather its PR officers had promised a future of free or nearly free energy. But that dream had already gone sour by 1976. The American nuclear industry, operating on a purely commercial basis, had already stopped ordering nuclear power stations and many of the utilities who had ordered or who were operating them were facing bankruptcy. Countries like Britain and France who continued to order or operate them were doing so for political reasons, like obtaining war supplies of plutonium from the Magnox stations, or as a counter to the power of the mining unions in the British government's case, or to the power of the Arab oil producers in the French case. Gerald Foley has no doubt as to the real reason:
  When the oil crisis arrived in 1973, there was a widespread misapprehension that it was connected with resource depletion. In fact, it was almost entirely a matter of economics and world politics, [ibid]
A couple of pages later he puts it even more bluntly: "In retrospect, it is clear that the energy crisis was to a large extent a creation of the major energy interests".

1976 Edition
So all that tizzy of excitement over self-sufficiency in the late sixties and early seventies was based on a false premise. All those flat-plate solar collectors on every roof and Cretan windmills in every backyard, methane digesters and Pelton Wheels and hand mills for grinding your own corn. Still, this book deals kindly with them and is careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Houses are still being built with big picture-windows facing north — the planning laws and building regulations say nothing about orientation; the heating requirements of most houses could be cut by three quarters for a modest expenditure on insulation and of most factories by an even bigger factor.

The "energy crisis"' did, nevertheless, produce substantial economies in the use of fuel, particularly in the US. American motorists spurned the gas-guzzler cars in favour of the Volkswagen Beetle in sufficient numbers to bankrupt Chrysler and force General Motors and Ford to redesign their products. In Britain the small ads columns were full of oil fired boilers that hard-pressed householders could not afford to run. Alternative and sometimes desperate measures: paraffin stoves, electric storage radiators, log stoves, rarely offered a real solution.

Now it is: as you were, and oil is once more among the cheapest of fuels. The chapter: "Planning for Scarcity" in the 1976 edition has been changed to: "From Crisis to Complacency". The point is still there but the emphasis is different. Gerald Foley comes up to the jump but refuses it. If he had only questioned the Market Economy itself. But if my aunt had wheels she would be a bicycle. The author is not in the business of political/economic analysis or he would have written a different book.

What he has written, and rewritten, is a compendious trip, historical and geographical, around the subject and provides a massive amount of material for us non-specialists to analyse. The tables and graphs are particularly comprehensive.
Ken Smith

Sad History (1988)

Book Review from the February 1988 issue of the Socialist Standard

The World Since 1945. T. E. Vadney (Penguin £4.95)

One day we shall be able to look back at books like this and the events they describe and wonder why people put up with capitalism for so long. For this history of wars and coups and massacres shows a society based on conflict and competition, where governments and ruling classes try to outmanoeuvre each other. Satisfying the needs of the earth's population is not one of capitalism's priorities.

Vadney focusses on political events, by which he means primarily the various aspects of great power rivalry, so that the lives of ordinary men and women rarely enter the narrative — except, of course, when they form cannon fodder for the rulers. Thus at least a million civilians were killed in South Vietnam between 1965 and 1974. In the period covered in the book, about 25 million people have been killed in war and other conflict in the Third World, to say nothing of the millions who have died in artificially-created famines.

Time and again Vadney shows how economic and strategic motives underlie political actions. The American Marshall Plan of 1947, for instance, was intended to boost the economies of the Western European states, with the ulterior aim of enabling them to afford American imports and to compete with the Russian-bloc countries. In 1954, the US staged a coup against the government of Guatemala, which was nationalising land much of which was owned by American companies. The truly global nature of capitalism is evident too: for example, the Jamaican economy in the 1970s was very much at the mercy of the global recession, in spite of the government's efforts to control things.

A couple of points which Vadney treats as if they were virtually obvious show how some things which socialists have been saying for years eventually become commonplace. Firstly. China after 1949 practised 'national capitalism' (read 'state capitalism'). Secondly, the countries of Eastern Europe have ruling classes with far greater power and material rewards than ordinary workers.

Rather than the author's pessimistic closing remarks that vested interests which benefit from the status quo will block any attempt to change and improve things, the appropriate conclusion to draw is that any social system whose history is to be told in these terms must be abolished as soon as possible.
Paul Bennett

Letters: More about “human nature” (1988)

Letters to the Editors from the February 1988 issue of the Socialist Standard

More about “human nature”

Dear Editors.

I was very interested to read in the December 1987 Standard, Richard Headicar's letter containing his criticism of an article appearing in the September issue of the Standard, with the title "Society Without Exchange", which I regard as being very fair comment. However. I must say that I find your reply to his criticism most unsatisfactory with regard to the question of the human nature-human behaviour syndrome.

It is, I think, as important for us to make separation, for the purpose of analysis, between these two terms, and to define exactly what we mean by both, as it is in the field of political economy to make a separation and a clear definition, between the terms labour and labour power. The terms human nature and human behaviour are not interchangeable terms because they mean and connote different things.

They are not, however, mutually exclusive. The one (human nature), cannot exist without the existence of the other (the phenomenon of human behaviour) and vice versa. They are complementary. In complete contrast are the terms socialism and capitalism which not only mean different things but the phenomenon which each term connotes is mutually exclusive. The one can only exist in the complete absence of the other.

In the short paragraph at the end of your reply you say: "This leaves us with very little which can be properly called human nature As far as the case for socialism goes, it is so insignificant as to justify the phrase that it does not exist”. May I point out what can only properly be called human nature (in contrast to human behaviour) is the sum total of the biological attributes common to all members of the human species. Far from being insignificant this unique combination of biological attributes is not only not insignificant, it is the most amazing and important biological event (apart from the emergence of organic matter itself) that has ever taken place.

After three thousand million years of biological evolution by natural selection a species has emerged which has the biological potentiality of determining the future course of the evolutionary process, conceptually thinking matter had arrived, making it possible for all kinds of human behaviour the prerogative of the human species, instead of being the prisoner of natural selection for the first and only time in the history of the solar system. It is quite true that "human behaviour is what our opponents are really referring to when they say that 'human nature" would make socialism unworkable". But that is because they are in a state of confusion about the whole question of the human nature-human behaviour syndrome.

May I add that I use the term human nature as I have defined it on the basis that there is only one human nature applicable to all members of the human species. And this I claim is a concrete fact verifiable from all the evidence from all branches of natural and related sciences. On the other hand there is no such thing as one simple human behaviour which is applicable to all members of humanity. Animals, including homo sapiens, do not and in fact cannot inherit behaviour genetically. Behaviour is learned and developed by the organism as it grows and inter-relates with its environment. Therefore it is much nearer the truth to say, that whilst there is only one human nature, there are many human behaviours.
Yours fraternally.
H D Walters 

Nailing males?
In our otherwise excellent journal, occasional lapses are the more remarkable. Why do we attack "insecure, immature males" for attempting to take advantage of female colleagues at office parties (Season of Goodwill, December 1987) and not passive, compliant females who are far greater in number?

Nailing the working class on their acceptance of capitalism is our priority, the destructive behaviour of individuals within it is effectively dealt with by Ben Elton.

Yours for socialism,
Janet Carter 
Walthamstow. London