Monday, November 20, 2023

Letters: My Cupboard is Bare (2008)

Letters to the Editors from the November 2008 issue of the Socialist Standard

My Cupboard is Bare

 Dear Editors,

Gordon Brown was said to be a great economist. Whatever model he used to predict an end to boom-and-bust capitalism was wrong, however. His thinking was worse than one who thinks-not. Recently he stated that Labour were committed to reducing poverty at the same time as he doubled the income-tax burden on the poorest earners in society. In Manchester he said this was a “mistake”. Are we to take it that the man is simply an idiot? No, he is not an idiot, but a man is revealed by his work. Like most in his position his primary interest is in the retention of power and privilege. The working-poor, whose income-tax he doubled, do not bother voting, (as he knows) for we, the low-paid, realise that there is no-one worth voting-for.

There is no important difference for us, the drivers of buses, the cleaners of houses, the makers of windows, the maintainers of property, the workers in offices, all the low-paid working-men and women of this country, between the Labour and Conservative Parties. What politicians call spin we call bullshit and we want no part of it. Middle-England, on middle incomes, voted Labour into power, and for that voting-base income-tax was reduced in an attempt to retain support for Labour. The books were balanced at the expense of the worst-off, without risk of making the Labour Party worse-off. It was no “mistake”, but rather a ploy so transparent that at the next election even fewer of the ordinary hard-working women and men of this country will bother to vote. The real “mistake” made was that of a government without ideology which assumes those of us who vote-not, think-not.

The front page of the Guardian (30 September) reported that “opposition from ordinary Americans killed the bill” to bail-out their failing banks. Over here, we are repeatedly told by the chancellor that the economic cupboard is bare. This is certainly true of my cupboard. Yet the cupboards in the homes, second homes and yachts of those who have caused and profited-from the banking crisis overflow. If the British government makes yet another “mistake” of having ordinary hard-working British citizens bail-out British banks and the greedy millionaires who helped cause the problem it will be one mistake too far and I for one may be looking to my pitchfork rather than the ballot-box. Somehow I do not think I will be alone.
Stephen Haigh, 

We trust that your threat to use your pitchfork rather than your vote is just poetic licence. Editors.


Dear Editors

I read with interest your article on Belgium (September Socialist Standard). It is also of interest to socialists to note how the ruling classes in Belgium used and in some instances continue to us language to divide and rule. By forcing the majority of Flemish (Dutch) speakers to speak French in education matters and totally ignoring the small minority of German speakers in the East around Eupen they managed to get workers at each others throats just by virtue of the fact that they spoke a different language.

Whether socialist society decides to use English, Spanish, Chinese, Esperanto or any other language as a means of communicating with places which speak a different language will be entirely a matter for the people concerned to decide and will not be imposed by the ruling classes. What is for sure is that in socialism all people will be free to speak and learn whichever language(s) they chose. And I dare venture to say that the enjoyment and pleasure gained by learning a new language because you choose to will be immense compared e.g. to the occupants of a country being forced to learn and/or use the language of someone else choice e.g. British colonies being forced to speak English, state capitalist occupied Czechoslovakia being forced to learn Russian or Hungarian speakers in current Romania being forced to speak Romanian in the Ceaucescu state capitalist dictatorship.

Of course some people in socialism may choose to speak only their own native language(s) and rely on a phrase book if they decide to travel, what is for sure is that that will be a personal choice rather than one forced by economic necessity as in capitalism e.g. Polish speakers being forced to speak and learn English if they want to work in the UK (economic migrants). Of course in socialism people will be free to choose where they want to live and work but that choice will be a matter of personal preference rather than economics driven.

Language of course also plays a part in that scourge of the working classes, religion. Much of the church’s hang up about sex probably derives from young lady being erroneously translated as virgin at some point in history. Also they were as thorough as any East German Stasi thug in preventing information getting to where it could harm them. People were burned at stake for the “crime” of publishing or possessing bibles in the English language at a time when literacy was not widespread. So afraid were they that the bible should be stripped of its mystique if common people who didn’t speak Latin could read it in their own patois.
Colin Brown, 

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