Keep It In The Family
The Make Poverty History movement has been taken seriously by at least one member of the African capitalist class.
“Most of his country’s citizens survive on less than 60p a day, but that has not stopped the son of the President of Equatorial Guinea spending nearly £1 million on three luxury cars during a massive shopping spree in South Africa. Teodorin Nguema Obiang, the Minister of Forestry, Environment and Housing in his Father’s Government, bought a black Bentley Arnage and a cream Bentley Mulliner worth £600,000 last weekend. He then added a white six-litre Lamborghini worth £275,000 to his new fleet, according to The Star newspaper.” The Times (21 July). Mr
Obiang’s family have made poverty history – for their family at any rate. But what about the working class in that country – 60p a day? We might earn about £60 a day but the capitalist class in Britain enjoy the same class differences. How many of you spend a million pounds on a shopping spree?
An Honest Ambassador
President Bush took the unprecedented step of appointing the US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton during a recess of the US Senate. He deemed this necessary because of an opposition easy to understand when you consider Bolton’s contempt for the UN. “In 1994, during a convention in New York, Mr Bolton declared:
‘There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that’s the United States, when it suits our interests and who can get others to go along.’” He also said: “The only question for the United States is what’s in our interest. And if you don’t like that, I’m sorry, but that is a fact.” The Times (2 August)There is nothing remarkable about this. It correctly sums up the US position in world politics, but what the Senate object to is the honesty with which they are expressed. Politicians are never fond of honesty, it sets a dangerous precedent!
A common objection to socialism is that people are too lazy and wouldn’t work thus making socialism impossible. This “lazy man” objection to a new society doesn’t seem to square with the findings of a report prepared by the office supplier Esselte. “Nearly a third of British wage slaves work more than 50 hours a week; 4 per cent more than 70 hours; and more than a third take work home according to a survey of 2,611 people.” The Times (4 August)
Good News From Uganda
Amidst all the despair about world poverty we have managed to discover from the letter page of an African newspaper some good news. “About two thirds of the world’s population are hungry, while millions die from starvation every year. Why in a world of potential plenty, is so elementary a human need as food neglected? … The law that governs everywhere is “no profit, no production”. Uganda Observer (4 August) Yes, even in so-called backward Africa, workers are learning that capitalism causes poverty.
A Bleak Future
Despite the well-meaning activities of the Make Poverty History campaign and various promises from G8 the future looks grim for the poor in Africa. “The proportion of malnourished people in sub-Sahara Africa has remained at about 35% since 1970, the International Food Policy Research Institute said. But population growth means the number affected rose to 200 million by 2001. … It warns that the number of malnourished children could grow from 38.6 million now to 41.9 million by 2025.” BBC News (12 August) Well meaning charities are not the answer to this horrendous social problem. As the socialist letter writer to the Uganda Observer noted “the law that governs everywhere is no profit no production”.
What is your view?
We are socialists and obviously we detest a society where people are forced to lie and cheat in order to survive, but what about successful liars and cheaters who have done well inside capitalism? Here is the PR Guru Max Clifford who has made millions lying and cheating. “Do I say, No, my client isn’t gay when I know that he is? Of course. Does telling the truth matter? If it’s showbiz…rock’n’roll … then absolutely not.” The Times (16 August) It isn’t just show business though, here is Sir Harvey Jones a former chief executive of ICI commenting on modern capitalism – “Business is getting more corrupt. It is less a calling, less a profession. The stock market … has purely become a gambling den. The Times (15 August) These people have benefited from capitalism and yet can see how corrupt it is. You haven’t benefited at all, so why do you support it?