Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Voice From The Back: Coal, steel and blood (2002)

The Voice From The Back Column from the February 2002 issue of the Socialist Standard

Coal, steel and blood

For generations apologists for capitalism have churned out the lie that modern war is caused by different ideologies. We have been told that the First World War was a war against militarism and the Second was a war for democracy against fascism. The socialist view is that war is the logical outcome of economic rivalry and now one of the pillars of capitalism confirms our view, inadvertently while he discourses on another subject. As Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, the Italian economist who is now a major influence at the European Central Bank, has written: “It can hardly be denied that establishing joint supra-national management of coal and steel – the two fundamental natural resources of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, over which France, Germany and the rest of Europe fought cruel wars was a highly political project.” Observer (9 December).

The cause of poverty

For almost a hundred years the Labour Party have argued that poverty can be abolished inside capitalism. Socialists have always argued that capitalism with its class divisions and production for profit is the cause of poverty. The latest figures on Labour’s failure to deal with poverty inside capitalism illustrate our point. “More families are classified as very poor now than under the last full year of Conservative government, according to new research. The number of people living in households with less than 40 per cent of the average income in 1999-2000 was 8.3 million, 100,000 more than in 1996-97, a study published today by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says.” Times (10 December).

Terror thugs and terrorist teachers

Under the heading “Terror thugs groom future suicide killers” The New York Post (11 December) reported that kids between 4 and 8 years of age were being taught how to be suicidal terrorists by the Palestine terrorist group Hamas. What they didn’t report is that the US government are also guilty of “robbing kids of their childhood”. “On another front, the Pentagon has succeeded in establishing its first Military Institute, as a public middle school in Oakland, CA. The school’s 1,200 cadets, whose average age is twelve, wear uniforms, perform military drills, and are instructed by military approved teachers.” (WWW.CITIZEN-SOLDIER.ORG).

Who needs the brain scan?

One of Labour’s election boasts was that it would improve the NHS, but what is the reality? “A medical scanner costing millions of pounds is being used to treat pets at an NHS hospital which does not have enough nurses to treat its patients . . . News of the animal treatment scheme comes as the Bedford Hospital Trust has warned it will have to close an operating theatre to avoid a £3 million deficit by the end of the financial year.” Observer (23 December). It is good news for well-heeled pet owners though. A London divorce lawyer was delighted that her 13-year-old poodle had a brain scan and prompt medical treatment at the hospital. This must be a great consolation to workers waiting for treatment on Labour’s new, “improved” NHS.

Inappropriate tears

After the horrendous events at the Twin Towers the outgoing Mayor of New York Rudolph Giuliani talked about the site being devoted to a memorial to those killed. The new mayor Mike Bloomberg would now like to distance himself from such foolish, unelectable sentiments. “Mr Bloomberg all but ruled out using the whole site for a memorial. He said that the value of the 16 acre property and the demands of the area for jobs and businesses meant that it would be inappropriate to devote the whole of the space to a single monument.” Times (5 January). Sympathy, condolences and sentiment are all very well, but inside capitalism profit is the driving force, so let us not have inappropriate tears. Although as human beings, they are the only ones we’ve got. Nearly 3,000 human beings died that morning. We still cry, inappropriately, of course, at the madness of capitalism.

Scandal? What scandal?

Under the headline “Scandal of NHS beds auction” (Observer, 6 January) reported that more than 10,000 private patients were treated last year in the UK’s NHS hospitals. That these patients jumped the queue for treatment and cited the case of NHS patients having to wait six months to a year for a heart by-pass operation while for a fee of £15,000 “they can be operated on almost immediately by a surgeon of their choice”. So where is the scandal? Inside capitalism if you are poor you can be homeless, if you are rich you can live in a beautiful house. If poor you will probably get a sub-standard education, if rich you can get the best that money can buy. That is the way capitalism operates – if you can afford it you can buy the best medical treatment, if not get to the back of the queue.

This is progress?

All the slaughter, maiming and terror of the recent Afghanistan conflict was justified according to the Western press by the wonderful improvements in human rights in that country. A report in the Brussels newspaper (Le Soir, 19 December) would seem to indicate that this is far from the truth. “Public executions, stonings and amputations are going to continue in Afghanistan in accordance with the Sharia law, a top Afghan magistrate has stated, while promising more fairness and clemency than during the time of the Taliban. “For example, the Taliban used to hang the bodies of victims in public for four days”, the judge Ullah Zarif explained, “we will only expose them for a short time, say 15 minutes”. As for those guilty of adultery, they will certainly be stoned ‘but we will use smaller stones’, judge Zarif said.”

1 comment:

Imposs1904 said...

That's the February 2002 issue of the Socialist Standard done and dusted.