Friday, December 11, 2020

Merry Christmas? (2020)

From the December 2020 issue of the Socialist Standard

Is your stocking hung upon the wall? Are you all pepped up waiting for your fraction of a family (depending on the apparatchiks latest government edict) to arrive and share the festive fun with you? Or will they be deterred from coming by the incessant government propaganda pouring out of the telescreens – Obey! Disarray! Dismay! Rule of Two Four Six Eight! Or will they be dissuaded by the militarised police cruising up the street on the lookout for unessential food purchases such as Christmas pud? ‘Police will enter homes and break up Christmas dinners if families break lockdown rules – and there will be riots, predicts police commissioner’ (Mail Online, 28 October). Or will they decide to celebrate the event now known as Super Spreader on their own?

Santa’s reindeers exceed the rule of six so some two at least are going to lose their jobs, seasonal as they are. They’re going to be in company with many many workers whose jobs and industries have been destroyed in less than twelve months. It’s still a capitalist society. Until the majority decide to choose socialism, a moneyless society where goods are made for use, not for profit, workers have no choice but to continue to sell their labour power, physical and mental. If you give your heart to capitalism it will break it over and over. With Santa in the sleigh they’re pulling they would still be over the limit , so it looks like the Gang of Four will be pulling the sleigh this year. It’s not bad news for everyone though: ‘Billionaires’ wealth rises to 10.2 trillion amid Covid crises’ (Guardian headline,, 7 October).

Put the Third Man in the Moscow Mule and the Streetcar in the fridge. Tis the season to be merry, stuff it, Ma let’s hit the sherry! All our troubles we can bury. Let’s stay drunk till February! A reliable source provides information that in New Zealand the seasons partying begins on December first and continues happily for eight weeks after that. The Antipodeans may well be harking back to early Germanic peoples whose midwinter festival, Yule, took place around a similar period. For the sensible many not of a religious bent there are many party alternatives to help lift the Winter mood. There’s Saturnalia, a Roman festival; Koliada, a Slav winter festival or the Iranian Shab-e Yalda.

Some where in the world, whether they know it’s Christmas time or not, someone is getting slayed. Even Madame Arcati’s crystal ball couldn’t reasonably predict this future. At the time of writing the outcome of events which assume significance for many are unknown. The USA presidential election, Brexit, Covid84, what further level of incompetence the global governments can sink to, the result of Strictly Come Dancing (shudder). Given the negative state of the world it’s not surprising if many decide to emulate the supposed behaviour of the ostrich and ‘bury their heads in the sand’. When Rip Van Winkle awoke the American Revolution had occurred. As with most revolutions the net result was a change in the folks telling you what is good for you and a more intrusive state interference in people’s lives. Being woke in 2020 means feeling the warm glow that Christmas always used to claim for itself. Now, it’s the virtuous satisfaction that comes from unthinkingly subscribing to the latest ‘progressive’ shibboleth which dissuades independent thinking.

Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol, In Prose, Being A Ghost Story Of Christmas,’ 1843 (and a progenitor of awful ‘feel good’ television films that play on a loop once October arrives) set many of the traditions for a post-Victorian Christmas. Despite Scrooge’s apparent change of demeanour from a mean, grasping, exploitative loan shark he still remained a member of the capitalist class underpaying Bob Cratchit (a wage slave selling his labour power to Scrooge) even after the wage rise he was given. Upon reading this insight into the plight of the poor (all deserving) did the Victorian middle classes cry, thank god it’s them not me? Worth noting still is the warning of ‘Christmas Present’ when showing off two of Man’s children named Want and Ignorance. ‘Christmas Present’ admonishes his audience to beware of Ignorance the most. Ignorance needs to be converted to education so that chaotic capitalism can be replaced by a sane socialist society as soon as possible for everyone’s sake.

‘Eat, drink’ depends on whether the supply chains are still intact and irrational locust behaviour hasn’t swept the shelves cleaner than vultures on a wildebeest carcass in the Serengeti. Be merry? The human spirit is always able to find something positive in the most dire of circumstances. Acceptance of a bad situation while saying, gosh it’s terrible but there’s nothing we can do about it, is not acceptable however. After one of the most dramatic years which continuing on may have profound negative societal changes in global society it is no longer good enough to complainingly accept what is being implemented. Contrary to what a Tory leader once said, there is an alternative.

A 1961 British film, ‘The Day the Earth Caught Fire’, has the planet heading toward the Sun following some drastic efforts caused by USA and Soviet nuclear testing. Awaiting the result of alleviative action, the newspaper, around which the film revolves, has to prepare its headlines for two possibilities: ‘World Saved’ and ‘World Doomed’. Spoiler alert. World saved. Probably. Merry Christmas?

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