Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Obituary: Stanley Malyon (1987)

Obituary from the October 1987 issue of the Socialist Standard

Haringey and Enfield branch were saddened to learn of the death, at the beginning of August at the age of 74, of Stan Malyon, an active branch member for the past twenty years. Stan, who worked as an insurance agent before he retired, became a convinced socialist before the war and had originally joined the Party in 1938 He rejoined in the 1960s but had always retained his socialist convictions and attitude to life. Most of his work for the Party was at branch level but he was also frequently a Conference delegate and served for a while as the Party's Assistant Treasurer,

We extend our sympathy to his son, his daughter and other relatives and friends. In accordance with his own expressed wish, a Party member delivered a short address at a non-religious ceremony at Kingston crematorium attended by members of his family and Party members,

Observations: At the social (1987)

The Observations Column from the October 1987 issue of the Socialist Standard

At the social

One place not to spend your holiday is your local office of the Department of Health and Social Security (for such is its full, resplendent name). That is where, every day, hordes of people wait, in states of varying panic or patience, to try to get a hand-out from the state which, if they are lucky or frugal — or preferably both — will keep them alive at the official poverty line.

Waiting at the DHSS office is usually one of the most depressing and undermining experiences of a worker's life. Very often a person who is in desperate straits will hang about there all day. having queued to get in in the morning, to be told at closing time that is has all been a waste of time - they don't qualify for benefit, or there hasn't been time to process their claim, or their file has been mislaid in the system . . .

A predictable reaction to this sort of frustration is violence — against the furniture, the fabric of the building, the staff themselves. In the cheerless waiting areas the well-nigh indestructible chairs are bolted to the floor, the staff protected by screens, the police make regular visits to throw out or arrest claimants whose protests have been too forceful.

The misery and frustration of the "clients" is mirrored in that of the people on the other side of the counter. Morale among the staff is depressingly low and absences for stress-related sickness alarmingly high. Turnover (a nice word to use about human beings) among DHSS employees is so swift that anyone who survives the job for a year may find that they are the most experienced officer in their section.

The DHSS machinery has been overloaded by conditions which the experts, the planners and the politicians said would never happen. The post-war Welfare State was supposed to take care of everyone's needs, from our birth to our death and then to see us comfortably into the grave. Of course there would be the few who would be embroiled in some unpredictable crisis and for them there would be the safety net of National Assistance - now renamed Supplementary Benefit, as if that made any difference. But the growth of unemployment and the tightening of the screw on working class conditions has changed the Supplementary Benefit claim from the exception to the rule. For millions of people and their families it is now not a safety net but their only life-line.

But the DHSS is no exception to the capitalist rule that everything must operate as cheaply as possible; the staff unions estimate that in London alone some 3000 more staff are needed to catch up with the backlog of claims.

Poverty and repression can be witnessed every day at the DHSS. on both sides of the counter. The claimants are often too bitter, the staff too harassed, to recognise it but they have a united interest in getting rid of a social system which must produce such miserable indignities.

Half way there

An article in the July 1987 issue of GDR Review — a glossy journal issued by the government of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) — surprises but disappoints. It is by Professor Adolf Kossakowski, Chairman of the GDR Society for Psychology and deals with an offshoot of the GDR Peace Council called "Psychologists for Peace".

Dr. Kossakowski claims that from the work done they can prove that children are not naturally aggressive and war-minded; indeed, they have a deep desire for peace and a fear of war. They conclude that this is true of all age groups and that it is their duty to "activate the masses".
However, in activating people it is extremely important to make clear to them the real causes of war. the true targets against which they should address their fight. In the past and also today those circles with an interest in the arms build-up have exploited and continue to gladly exploit some theories advanced by certain psychologists, ethnologists and biologists in order to mask the true causes of war and to paralyse the forces for peace . . .

The myth that war is instinctive and that mankind is evil by nature makes it easier for states to pursue a militaristic policy, because it can be suggested to their peoples that militarism is a natural phenomenon . . .

However, I also consider it equally important . . . to point to the real, the economic and political causes of the arms build-up and the war preparations by the forces of aggression. Many scientists . . . are still of the opinion that both sides are to blame for the arms race . . .

. . . as scientists we have a duty to discuss with our colleagues the economic and political background behind the policy of aggression pursued . . .
But that, unfortunately, is where he ends and his omissions are at least as important as what he says.

Wars are not fought for principles but, as Kossakowski does mention, economic advantage. Wars are fought either to increase or protect spheres of influence and markets — American action in the Middle East and the Gulf and Russian action in the latter just now make that abundantly clear. The dictatorship of South Korea, Chile, El Salvador and, until quite recently, the Philippines, are acceptable to the Western Allies. In western political circles the invasion of Grenada by the United States was "OK", that of Afghanistan by the Russians was not.

So the Psychologists of the Council for Peace are right in saying that wars are fought for profits. However the profits made by the armaments manufacturers are not the cause of war but are due to the need for maintaining and increasing the profits of the capitalist class as a whole.
Eva Goodman

“Military Intelligence” (1987)

From the October 1987 issue of the Socialist Standard

Most modern psychologists describe the behaviour of what they tag paranoid schizophrenics as "irrational and pointlessly destructive". In this view of this, we view with trepidation an item broadcast on Radio 1 (Steve Wright Show. Friday 7 August) about a new military project. The US Army is planning to spend at least £10 million building a "phoney town" — complete urban complex — for the sole purpose of blowing it up. to teach the troops "how to take out urban targets".

Wonder what the US Army psychiatrists — there are lots of 'em — would have to say about this? Perhaps they're all too preoccupied with Pentagon strategic studies . . . 

Material World: Robbery on the high seas? (2022)

The Material World column from the October 2022 issue of the Socialist Standard

When there is little benefit to states, particular treaties that promote the interests of humanity as a whole can usually be concluded. Such would be the Antarctica Treaty, the Outer Space Treaty, or the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone. If, however, there exists a potential for profit, good intentions will be tossed aside. For example, the recent failure to achieve the UN Ocean Treaty. This would have meant the further development of other international agreements, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Healthy oceans are vital to humanity. Less than 1 percent of the high seas are protected without a new treaty. A goal is to set aside 30 percent of ocean area as some kind of marine sanctuary. But it has been pointed out that protecting 30 percent of the area of the high seas doesn’t protect 30 percent of its most valuable conservation features because of the way habitats and species are distributed.

International waters begin at the border of a state’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which by international law reaches no more than 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) from its coast, and beyond any state’s jurisdiction. Sixty percent of the world’s oceans fall under this category.

Negotiators have been trying for 15 years to agree on a legally binding text for ‘the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction,’ (or BBNJ).

Greenpeace had already predicted in advance that the UN Ocean Treaty talks would fail ‘…because of the greed of countries in the High Ambition Coalition and others like Canada and the United States. They have prioritised hypothetical future profits from Marine Genetics Resources over protecting the oceans’.

Disagreement was partly around the sharing of possible profits from the development of genetic resources in international waters, where pharmaceutical, chemical and cosmetics companies hope to find miracle drugs, products or cures and some of the poorer states did not want to be excluded from potential windfall profits drawn from marine resources.

Dr Essam Mohammed from Eritrea of WorldFish, a non-profit research institute, said: ‘At the moment, there is a governance vacuum in the high seas, and for the ocean and developing countries, the status quo simply isn’t an option’. Advancing marine technology would lead to ‘an unprecedented race for marine resources in unregulated waters’, Mohammed warned. ‘The delay in striking a deal means high risk for the health of the ocean. All member states of the UN need to recognise the urgency to save the ocean and the people who depend on it to survive’ (bit.ly/3eiBQAz).

With many of the earlier technological difficulties overcome, maritime resources could benefit all of humanity but mining firms view the deep-sea bed as a commercial bonanza. ‘Blue acceleration’ is the term used by some ecologists to describe the rapid rise in marine industrialisation.

There exist vast untouched nodules of the most sought-after metals and minerals, nickel, cobalt, manganese and copper, on the bed of the ocean. Negotiations within the International Seabed Authority to oversee the mining also reached no agreement; which may well lead to seabed mining without any environmental protection or economic regulations in place.

Article 76 UNCLOS allows countries to claim seabed that lies beyond the 200 miles of a nation’s exclusive economic zone and since the first application under Article 76 was made in 2001, 83 countries have staked claims amounting to more than 37 million sq km of seabed, an area more than twice the size of Russia.

Exploration permits for the international seabed already cover an area equivalent in size to France and Germany combined, and that area is likely to expand rapidly, despite the risks to biodiversity. About twenty countries are now actively engaged in deep-sea mining exploration.

Conservationists say that given the risk of habitat harm, disturbance to fish stocks, water contamination, vibration and light pollution, no new licences should be approved. Greenpeace describe deep sea mining as destructive. Excavation of mineral nodes, for example, is done by huge robotic undersea tractors that crawl across the sea floor, ‘harvesting’ the nodules by sucking them up. Studies suggest that one square kilometre of sea floor will be scoured daily, amounting to 6,000 square kilometres over the 20-year life of a mine site, leaving the area with little chance of recovering from being scraped clean.

Various coastal states have called upon the ISA to exercise caution regarding deep-sea mining, while others (Micronesia, French Polynesia and Papua New Guinea) seek to ban the seabed grabbing. But there are small Pacific island states such as Kiribati, Cook Islands, Tonga, and Nauru that view it as too lucrative a business opportunity to reject.

Many companies lack transparency and are bringing their influence to bear, operating through subsidiaries or partnering small island states. Mining firms have taken the place of government representatives at meetings of the ISA.

‘The health of our oceans is closely linked to our own survival. Unless we act now to protect them, deep sea mining could have devastating consequences for marine life and humankind…This greedy industry could destroy wonders of the deep ocean before we even have a chance to study them.’ explains Louisa Casson, of Greenpeace’s Protect the Oceans campaign. She continues ‘The ISA is not fit for purpose to protect our oceans. It is more concerned with promoting the interests of the deep sea mining industry and lobbying against a strong Global Ocean Treaty’ (bit.ly/3evfxYq).

Socialism involves building democracy for our workplaces and in our local communities. But it also involves an administration on a world scale. We can envisage certain existing UN international bodies such as the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization continuing. We can expect air traffic and air safety to still be organised globally under the authority of the International Air Traffic Association ensuring that your pilot and those in air control guiding your flight are properly certified and qualified. There will remain the World Meteorological Organisation and the Universal Postal Union. World NGOs such as the Red Cross, Oxfam, War on Want, Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders could continue.

Those conspiracists on the far-right construe that this will result in a globalist one-world government. We are not talking about a world Big Brother but rather about a world cooperative commonwealth, a network of organisations operating in coordination and collaboration for the welfare of the world’s population. Socialism won’t witness the grubby squabbling that is presently taking place for the resources our planet’s seas and oceans.

Really That Dominant? (2022)

Book Review from the October 2022 issue of the Socialist Standard

How Woke Won: the Elitist Movement that Threatens Democracy, Tolerance and Reason. By Joanna Williams: Spiked. £9.99.

According to one definition, a woke person is someone who is ‘very aware of social and political unfairness’ (Collins English Dictionary). Joanna Williams, however, uses the term in a very negative way, to refer to those who are obsessed with race and gender, and support cancel culture. Woke values supposedly ‘dominate every aspect of our lives’ and, while there is no grand conspiracy, the ‘cultural elite’ accept woke thinking as common sense. The woke project is described as an attack on the working class (not defined, but probably manual workers).

She is not at all clear as to who comprises this cultural elite. It is a ‘manifestation of the state’, it includes non-governing elites and even a sub-elite. It consists of the ‘professional-managerial class’, and runs business, academia, the church, mainstream and social media; its members work in HR departments and the cultural industry, and as doctors and teachers. It is hard to take seriously this depiction of a group which is allegedly so powerful but is characterised in such a vague way.

Having said that, there are some good points here. The kind of threats made against JK Rowling and others for saying that trans women are not women are indeed indefensible. This is not a matter of disagreement or argument but of intolerance and intimidation. Students can sometimes be unwilling to accept the expression of views they dislike. ‘Woke capitalism’ can promote gender inclusivity, for instance, as a way of selling razor blades or deodorant.

Yet there is also much that is objectionable, sometimes a matter of the omission of obviously relevant points. Williams mentions that journalist Suzanne Moore resigned from the Guardian after being bullied by colleagues, presumably for not expressing acceptably woke views, but does not say that Jeremy Hardy and John Pilger were barred from the paper for being too ‘radical’. In other cases, what is said is inconsistent. For instance, it is claimed that the supposed existence of institutional racism in the police moves policing ‘into the realm of politics’. Yet a few pages later it is said that the police now have new ways of pursuing old goals, effectively defending the interests of the ruling class (which is also political, after all).

Woke is allegedly a counter-revolution to the populism of Brexit. The election of Trump in 2016 is said to have shown the rejection of woke values in the US: as if voting for a racist, sexist, lying bully was an endorsement of tolerance and reason. The ‘political consensus’ is also said to be challenged by the internet publication Spiked (spiked-online.com), which Williams writes for, and also by the TV and radio channel GB News, which is largely a forum for such as Nigel Farage.

Overall, Williams says nothing about the lack of democracy under capitalism, and is just arguing for one establishment view against another that is to a large extent manufactured by its opponents.
Paul Bennett

Bird’s Eye View: Wilde, Orwell, Douglass and Banks

The Bird’s Eye View Column from the October 2022 issue of the Socialist Standard

‘The fact is, that the public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing’.

The Socialist Party is very rarely mentioned in mainstream media, even during elections in which we campaign, leaving us to agree with Oscar Wilde when he stated ‘the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about’. Wilde, however, was never ‘fact checked’.

‘Media Bias Fact Check selects and publishes fact checks from around the world. We only utilize fact-checkers that are either a signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) or have been verified as credible by MBFC. Further, we review each fact check for accuracy before publishing. We fact-check the fact-checkers and let you know their bias. When appropriate, we explain the rating and/or offer our own rating if we disagree with the fact-checker’ (Media Bias/Fact Check, 13 August, bit.ly/3C0Qo1L).

The Socialist Standard is found wanting: not always credible or reliable and biased to the Left. No doubt the ‘… current editors .. Edgar Hardcastle and Gilbert McClatchie’ would scoff at such nonsense. Alas, they are no longer with us. In fact, having two supercentenarians in Britain’s oldest socialist party would certainly bring us some much needed attention. McClatchie (1890-1976) in an article titled ‘A “Living Wage”. I.L.P. Moonshine’ (Socialist Standard, June 1925) wrote ‘The Independent Labour Party [1893-1975] has kept the workers’ attention fixed upon questions of Taxation, Credit Banks, Nationalisation, and a thousand and one other things in which the remedies proposed would bring no appreciable improvement in the general position of the workers’ – true of the Left today as then.

‘It is quite possible that we are descending into an age in which two plus two will make five when the Leader says so’.
‘In the Socialist Party of Great Britain we are all members of the working class, and cannot hope that our articles will always be finely phrased, but we shall at least endeavour to lay before you on every occasion a sane and sound pronouncement on all matters affecting the welfare of the working class. What we lack in refinement of style we shall make good by the depth of our sincerity and by the truth of our principles.’
This statement taken from the first edition of the Socialist Standard in September 1904 remains true today, as does a quote attributed to Orwell: ‘during times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act’.‘ We are not alone. Other groups and individuals reveal pertinent truths too, at least some of the time.

‘…it should be uncontroversial to assert the anti-racist principle, anchored in basic biology, that we are one species. There are observable differences in such things as skin color and hair texture, as well as some patterns in predisposition to disease based on ancestors’ geographic origins, but the idea of separate races was created by humans and is not found in nature. There are no known biologically based differences in intellectual, psychological, or moral attributes between human populations from different regions of the world. There is individual variation within any human population in a particular place (obviously, individuals in any society differ in a variety of traits). But there are no meaningful biologically based differences between populations in the way people are capable of thinking, feeling, or making decisions. We are one species. We are all basically the same animal. Although we are one species, there are obvious cultural differences among human populations around the world. Those cultural differences aren’t a product of human biology; that is, they aren’t the product of any one group being significantly different genetically from another, especially in ways that could be labeled cognitively superior or inferior. So why have different cultures developed in different places? The most obvious answer is that it is the result of humans living under different material conditions’ (We Are One Species, Information Clearing House, 4 August).

‘While the forces of repression need to win every time, the progressive elements need only triumph once’.

‘.. the emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind, without distinction of race or sex.’ This statement is from our Declaration of Principles and is astonishingly forward-looking considering it dates from the formation of the Socialist Party in 1904. ‘Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave‘, said Frederick Douglass. We should fill in the blanks, be alert for media lies, distortions and half-truths, as well as conspiracy theories and ‘alternative facts‘. We should remember Marx’s favourite motto – doubt everything! – and this from his German Ideology (1845): ‘the class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production’.

Today, even bots are showing signs of socialist thought:

‘Meta’s new chatbot has told the BBC that Mark Zuckerberg exploits its users for money. The chatbot, which uses artificial intelligence, was asked what it thought of the company’s CEO and founder and it replied “our country is divided and he didn’t help that at all”. It added: “His company exploits people for money and he doesn’t care. It needs to stop!” Meta said the chatbot was a prototype and might produce offensive responses’ (bbc.com, 13 August).

The hyper-intelligent artificial minds of Iain M Banks’ post-capitalist, post-scarcity, galaxy-spanning Culture are only possible in the far future, yet Socialism As A Practical Alternative has long been possible. In 1948 John Boyd Orr, former director of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, stated ‘a world of peace and friendship, a world with the plenty which modern science had made possible was a great ideal. But those in power had no patience with such an ideal. They said it was not practical politics’ (Daily Herald, 29 July 1948). Let us hasten that day.

Cooking the Books: A fair price for power? (2022)

The Cooking the Books column from the October 2022 issue of the Socialist Standard

This month the limit on what utility companies could charge for gas and electricity was due to go up by 80 percent. In fixing the limit, Ofgem takes into account the price that utility companies have to pay when buying gas on the international market. This has shot up, the main reason being the bans and restrictions on buying gas from Russia which the US and its military allies imposed in retaliation for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Russia’s counter-retaliation.

For many decades importing gas from Russia has been an obvious choice for European industry and energy suppliers, obvious because it has been the cheapest. Reducing the supply from there has meant that other sources have had to be found which are more expensive and whose price has gone up still more due to the sudden unexpected increase in demand. When the international price of the gas goes up, Ofgem’s remit is to calculate how much utility companies can pass on to households up to a limit that preserves the level of profits that they had been making.

Having to pay more for energy represents a reduction in workers’ standard of living as it means we have less to spend on the other things we must consume to reproduce the labour power we sell to some employer. If nothing is done, the inevitable consequence is labour market pressure to increase wages. In view of the size of the increase, there was also the prospect of widespread social unrest.

The government therefore decided to temporarily subsidise energy bills through limiting the price that utility companies can charge to a lower level than calculated by Ofgem, itself paying the difference between this and the international price. This is going to cost them a massive amount, which they propose to raise by borrowing. Even so, gas and electricity prices are still going up, by ‘only’ 27 percent and will be twice as much as last winter.

One of the protest groups that sprang up was Don’t Pay which called on consumers to ‘strike’ from 1 October by cancelling the direct debits to their utility company. They also asked, ‘How do we achieve a permanent solution to the energy crisis?’ and replied ‘A Fair Price for Power.’ This assumes that power should have a price. That makes them less radical than one Tory ex-minister who had floated the idea of allowing households a quota of free energy (‘Give households a free fuel quota, ex-minister urges’, Times, 1 September).

What is fair and what is not on any issue is a matter of opinion but, if we look at the logic of capitalist commodity exchange, a ‘fair’ price for a commodity would be its average cost of production plus the going rate of profit. It is possible that Don’t Pay have something else in mind, such as the government taking over the utilities and charging cost price or something less. Such a ‘permanent’ solution assumes that the capitalist wages-prices-profits system too is permanent. It is still thinking inside the capitalist box.

But what is fair about having to pay to heat our homes? We have to pay for this only because we are excluded from ownership of productive resources and have to work for wages out of which to buy what we need to keep ourselves in working order, including keeping warm. There is nothing fair about that. From a worker’s point of view, there is no such thing as a ‘fair price for power’ any more than there is a ‘fair day’s wage’.

But there is a permanent solution. It’s a society based on common ownership, democratic control and production solely for use not profit, where gas, electricity, water, telephone, broadband and all other utilities would be provided free of charge.

Royalty’s role from feudalism to capitalism (2022)

From the October 2022 issue of the Socialist Standard 

One of the indexes of class struggle in the Middle Ages was the frequent issuing of sumptuary laws: legal ordinances about which people could wear what clothes, according to their station in the medieval hierarchy. Naturally, where status was reflected in such outward signs, people with ambition or on the make would strive to be seen wearing the clothes of their ‘betters.’

For aristocracy, station was based on inherent personal relations: family and royalty. Property was not alienable, it could not be separated from the person, or bloodline, but could only be passed on through marriage and inheritance. Worth was based on these outward relations, and not through any actual ability or personal merit.

This also meant that aristocracy had to live in a manner befitting their station: as they accrued the unearned (and proudly, unearned) surpluses from their estates, they had to spend in a manner befitting their status. They were the biggest customers of the ‘middling sort’, that commercial class that would go on to become the modern capitalist class. This was one of the central contradictions of medieval and early modern class struggle, as the middling sort became richer and began to assert themselves politically, it was to the detriment of their best customers and their own sources of income.

For example, Edward I of England chose to punish the burghers of London for their role in the second barons’ war by moving his wine supply from London vintners to Gascon merchants.

In eighteenth century Britain, after the war of the crowns and the English revolution, the aristocracy became relatively more politically marginalised, as power was moved to be exercised through the Parliament largely elected by those middling sorts. Although some aristocrats had ‘jumped ship’ as it were, and begun to invest in trade, forming what is sometimes known as the ‘Whig old corruption’, many feudal remnants remained, increasingly running into debt to try to maintain their status.

This led, in part, to the cult of taste: refinement, fashion and taste replaced overt sumptuary laws, as taste went along with breeding, and blocked routes of advancement, as outsiders were quickly marked in the corridors of power. This can be seen in fashion statements that live on, in some ways, to these days.

Wealthy aristocratic men were dandies, in fine fashions with laces, frills and all the gaudy, individualistic, trimmings: the middling sort (recalling the puritanical routes of their revolutionary ancestors) wore a plain uniform, usually black. This can best be represented by the characters in the third series of Blackadder, where Rowan Atkinson as the surly servant wears black, while Hugh Laurie’s Prince George wears a fabulous array of patterned satins.

This is not to say that the capitalist class totally hid its wealth: just as now, the uniform allows for expensive watches, costly tailored suits and ties. But, also, the wives of the middling sort could become fashion statements. To this day, the convention, as expressed in many a comedy, is precisely that women at formal occasions should not wear matching outfits. To an extent, these class differences meant that aristocratic men of that period have been depicted as effeminate, because their behaviour was that which the middling sort reserved for women. It also conveys part of the clash of ideologies that was going on.

Eighteenth century debate around ‘justification by faith or by deed’ abounded, and reflected the old class lines of inherent inward ability versus outward status symbols. However, the outward signs remained desirable, and a badge of having made it, so the rising class began to find ways to be given honours, titles and badges of status, and in return, retained some of the symbolism of the old aristocracy, even when it had been politically muted (and, let’s not forget, that up until 1911 the House of Lords retained power and parity with the Commons, and it took until the Blair government to remove most (but not all) of the hereditary peers).

Royalty became all about pomp and circumstance, a means, much like the bourgeois wives, of reflecting achievement and status that puritanical capitalists formally repudiated for themselves. Local Tufton-Buftons on county councils lived for the day they could meet the monarch at a Buckingham Palace tea-party. To borrow Graeber and Wengrow’s account of schismogenesis, the existence of the royalty became a badge to differentiate Britain from the republics such as France or the USA, and thus the pomp and symbolism became part of the selective invented tradition of British nationalism.

At home, royalty became a badge of success, with a whole alphabetti-spaghetti of honours to throw around for bootlickers to enjoy: OBE, CBE, KCMG, CH, OM, etc. Abroad it became part of the British brand. In the meanwhile, it allowed for a residuum of political power to remain in the hands of the monarchy, and for it to retain a style and comfort to reward the puppet aristocrats who would dance a monkey dance for the new owners of the country.

In the age of mass communication, royalty has become part soap opera, part propaganda tool, as the press use them and attitudes towards them as part of a blend of conservatism and patriotism. One of the most serious charges they brought against Jeremy Corbyn was his republicanism, and any sensible politician knows it isn’t worth the political capital to fight the storm of press odium to stick their heads above the parapet and criticise the royal system.

That is, the class interest that once struggled against the gatekeeping power of the aristocracy now finds it useful to use royalty to circumscribe the bounds of political debate, which also allows it to buy the loyalty of a whole range of toadies and hangers-on who want to bask in the reflected glory.

The now late Elizabeth Windsor spent a life in service to this system of inequality and power, protecting her own and her family’s interests. She had a despicable job in the service of a despicable system. The best memorial should be for us to sweep it all away.
Pik Smeet