Thursday, December 30, 2021

Vaccine Gift to the World

 "We're not trying to make money. We just want to see people get vaccinated."

Cobervax is an open-source alternative to Big Pharma's patent-protected vaccines. Instead of being produced for profit, this shot could ultimately be manufactured around the world and made cheaply available to all.

Texas Children's Hospital, Houston's Baylor College, and the Indian pharmaceutical company Biological E. Limited says the new vaccine is at least 90% effective against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and 80% or more effective against its Delta variant. The ambition is to create a low-cost, open-source alternative to expensive and limited-supply mRNA vaccines for developing and under-vaccinated countries. 

Peter Hotez and Maria Elena Bottazzi won't personally profit from vaccine which they were instrumental in developing.

"Our Texas Children's Center does not plan to make money on this, it's a gift to the world."

Texas Team Applauded for Giving What Big Pharma Refuses: A Patent-Free Vaccine to the World (commondreams.org)

The Good Book

 


No true Christian can remain indifferent while hundreds of thousands of his or her Christian brothers and sisters are ill-fed, badly housed, illiterate, and without proper medical care. 

Pained by the sight of so much suffering, Christians must turn to socialism as the solution.

 Capitalism, the system under which we are now living, may be described as a way of life in which, "One soweth, and another reapeth"(John: 4; 37). 

Well might we say to the wealthy few who own our large estates and factories what Jesus said to his disciples:

 "you…reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor"(John: 4; 38).

 The capitalists cease from resting only to eat, while you cease from working only to rest, and eat only when you can. 

Do you believe that Jesus favoured such injustice, he who said, "by their fruits ye shall know them"(Mathew: 7; 20)? 

The fruits of capitalism can be seen even by the blind; they are poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, crime, greed, and disease. Could Jesus have wanted us to live like this?

SOCIALISM MEANS BROTHERHOOD:

"all ye are brethren." (Matthew"23;8)

"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."(Matthew: 22; 39)

"All things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." (Matthew: 7; 12)

"Let everyone who possesses two shirts share with him who has none, and let him who has food do likewise." (Luke: 3; 11)

"Give to every man that asketh of thee." (Luke: 6; 30)

SOCIALISM MEANS JUSTICE:

"Give and it shall be given unto you...for with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." (Luke: 6; 38)

SOCIALISM MEANS BEING FOR POOR PEOPLE AND AGAINST THEIR OPPRESSORS:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor...to preach deliverance to the captives." (Luke: 4; 18)

SOCIALISM MEANS OPPOSITION TO THE GREEDY RICH:

"Woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation."(Luke: 6; 24).

"No man can serve two masters…Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew: 6; 24)

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."(Matthew: 19; 23)

THE GOLDEN RULE

"as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise"(Luke: 6; 31)

It has to become the rule which all men and women follow in their daily lives.

Some Anti-War Poetry

  The following are the voices of socialists who saw through the propaganda at the time. 


THE QUESTION.
From the March 1911 issue of the Socialist Standard

What is a Labour man? He who has sold
His class and their Cause in the shambles of Gold,
For pelf, and a place in the council of Greed,
Weaving snares for those dupes Want and Ignorance breed,
Where the offspring of Toil, from the cot to the grave,
Are consigned to the mart of the modern wage-slave.
Here "organised Labour" support and applaud
The Thugs of all progress, Cant, Falsehood and Fraud;
And, like autumn leaves borne on the blast of the storm,
They are whirled in the vortex of futile reform.
Against the class currents they struggle in vain,
Till they sink, where no trace of their efforts remain.
When Knowledge imparts to the people her power.
Slavish fear shall depart from their hearts in that hour;
And thrusting aside tyrant forms of the past,
Revolution shall crown them with glory at last.
The Labour pest, hurled from its seat of ill-fame,
Shall be hailed a political relic of shame.
Then time in its fulness will give Freedom birth,
When the Socialist era shall gladden the earth.
F. G. Thompson 

TO THE ADVOCATES OF MILITARISM.
From the May 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard

Compel them to come in, for there shall be
A feast well-spread, to suit the taste of all-
Ruin and pain and untold misery;
The downward trend, the devastating fall,
From every higher impulse; robes to wear
Woven of fraud, hypocrisy and lies.
Compel them to come in that all may share
This wolfish feast of bloodstained infamies.
Not yours the chains of slavery to break;
You heed no woman's sorrows, no man's groans,
No flag of freedom in the breeze unfurled.
Your passion is destruction, you would make
A world-wide graveyard full of dead men's bones.
Whence reeks a stench that sickens all the world.
F. J. Webb.

NO MAN'S LAND
From the May 1917 issue of the Socialist Standard

Grey, desolate, and bare of shrub or tree,
Deep-holed and scarred by many a giant blow;
A grave yard breath of rank mortality
Hovers around in restless ebb and flow;
Dim shapes the colour of the earth they cumber
Lie motionless and silent, writhe and moan;
Dismembered limbs, mixed with war's other lumber,
Weirdly entwined, across the waste are strewn.
Such is this "No Man's Land." The light of day
Brings in its train horrors no tongue can tell,
Sights, scents and sounds that all the senses stun;
And when night falls the will to rend and slay
Creeps from its lair the hideous list to swell
Of bodies rotting in the morrow's sun.
F. J. Webb

IN TIME OF WAR.
From the February 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard

If at this time of brute force paramount,
When death itself is made the creed of men;
When love is held of small or no account,
And beauty scorned alike of voice and pen;
There yet should be, hidden amid the crowd,
Some finer spirits, shrinking and alone,
Who hear the voice of Wisdom cry aloud
Before Life's temples, stricken, overthrown;
Now should they lift above the noise and strife
Their song of hope, of confidence supreme
In love and beauty; now indeed should scan
The wide horizon of a boundless life,
Wherein the poet's song, the dreamer's dream
Shall stem the mad brutality of man.
F. J. Webb.

THE LUST OF WAR.
From the October 1914 issue of the Socialist Standard

Wars and rumours of wars are round about,
And hell let loose, and death and dumb despair;
The groans of dying men, the victor's shout,
Mingle, befouling what was once so fair.
I feel again the old contempt arise
For men and all men's ways of greed and waste;
World-weariness lies heavy on my eyes;
The joy of life is bitter to the taste.
Is it not tragic, pitiful as well,
That men should dabble in their comrades' gore
To slake their masters' blood and money-lust;
Should suffer all the pains and pangs of hell,
Binding their fetters tighter than before,
Grinding their faces in the blood and dust.
F. J. Webb

TO THE PRINCES OF THE CHURCH.
From the February 1915 issue of the Socialist Standard

You prate of love and murmur of goodwill,
Turn sanctimonious eyes toward your God,
Write on your walls the text "Thou shalt not kill,"
Point out the path your "Prince of Peace" once trod,
While all the time, with murder in your hearts,
You lie, cajole, and bully that the fools
Who heed your words may play their foolish parts
As slaves of Mammon, as the War-Lord's tools.
On many a field, in many a river bed,
Of Flanders and of Poland and of France,
Your bloody-minded words bear fruit indeed.
Preachers of Death! the thought of maimed and dead
Will nerve us when our hosts of Life advance
To crush for ever your accursed breed.
F. J. Webb

The Call
From the December 1918 issue of the Socialist Standard

Come from the slum and the hovel,
From the depth of your dumb despair;
From the hell where you writhe and grovel
Crushed by the woes you bear;
There are joys that are yours for the taking,
There are hopes of a height unknown,
A harvest of life in the making
From the sorrows the past has sown.
Come from the dust of the battle,
Where your blood, like a river, runs,
Where helpless as driven cattle
You feed the insatiable guns.
You fight when your masters bid you,
Now fight that yourselves be free,
In the last great fight that shall rid you
Of your age-long slavery.
There's a murmur of many voices
That shall roll like thunder at last;
The shout of a world that rejoices
In a harvest ripening fast.
For the slaves their shackles are breaking
With wonder and ecstasy;
There is life, new life, in the making
In a new-won world made free.
F.J. Webb

Hiroshima, August 1945

Forty years ago the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in Japan. The following poem was written by a member of the Socialist Party of Great Britain shortly after he heard the news of the bombing.
Like a blast from hell the atom bomb came,
And a city in ruins was hurled;
On wings of fear, it thundered its name,
Through a shocked and war torn world;
This atomic force with transmutable breath,
Its first warning sign we see,
Garden of plenty, or desert of death;
What is this world to be?
The challenge is vital, and urgent the hour;
When this Capitalist era must pass,
And workers control this atomic power,
So misused by the ruling class;
This nuclear power from the atom was wrought,
It evolved in the womb of time,
Born of the labour of man's social thought,
Its baptism, Fire, blood and crime;
Dark is the future if our governments command
This scientific genie of might,
Secret diplomacy knows no remand,
From chaos and abysmal night;
The Capitalist powers are still planning our fate,
And with their lies seek to stifle our fears,
Turning worker against worker, in blind bonds of hate,
For their new orgy of blood sweat and tears;
A Socialist world, no other solution,
Presents itself to mankind;
The workers must strive for a world revolution,
And cast off those fetters that bind;
This atomic force with transmutable breath,
For good or for ill must abide,
Garden of plenty or desert of death?
The workers themselves must decide.

Walter Atkinson

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

2022 - The Year of the Squeeze


 Millions of families are facing a "year of the squeeze" in 2022, the Resolution Foundation predicts. According to the Resolution Foundation, millions of families are facing a "cost-of-living catastrophe" next year.

Resolution Foundation chief executive Torsten Bell, said: "The overall picture is likely to be one of prices surging and pay packets stagnating. In fact, real wages have already started falling, and are set to go into next Christmas barely higher than they are now.” "

Higher energy bills, stagnant wages and tax rises could leave households with a £1,200 a year cut to their incomes. A 1.25% increase in National Insurance contributions will cost the average household £600 a year while the higher energy bills cap - which comes into force in April - is expected to add an additional £500 to spending. The impact of the failure of firms in the energy sector would see another £100 added to energy bills. In recent months, wholesale gas prices have risen to unprecedented levels. Last week, they hit a new record of 450p per therm, which experts think could take average annual gas bills to about £2,000 next year. Meanwhile, the cost of living in the UK surged by 5.1% in the 12 months to November - the highest increase in 10 years - Office for National Statistics data showed. Inflation is set to peak at 6% in the spring.

The Resolution Foundation warn that real wage growth, which was flat in October, "almost certainly started falling last month and is unlikely to start growing again until the final quarter of 2022". The Foundation said wage growth had stalled in 2021 and in real terms wages were likely to fall for most of 2022. It forecast a rise of 0.1% over the year, once inflation was taken into account, but said it expected that by the end of 2024 real wages would be £740 a year lower than if the UK’s pre-pandemic pay growth had continued.

UK households warned of ‘year of the squeeze’ as cost of living soars | Household bills | The Guardian

Fact of the Day

  Pfizer, Moderna, and BioNTech alone are making a profit of $1,000 every second from their COVID-19 vaccines.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Truckers Unite

 According to the American Trucking Associations, the lobbying organization for large trucking employers, the US has a shortage of 80,000 truck drivers. This claim has been repeated consistently over the years and has recently been cited by industry groups in favor of a bill in Congress to lower the commercial driver’s license age requirement from 21 to 18. 

But truck drivers are quick to highlight the low pay, poor treatment and tough working conditions they endure throughout the industry as prevailing issues for employers who claim to have trouble finding and retaining enough drivers.

“The industry has recycled this narrative about every three months for over 20 years. There is no truck driver shortage,” said Desiree Wood, the president of Real Women in Trucking. “It is indeed a pay shortage and work conditions issue.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics published an article in March 2019 discussing the widespread and constant claims of labor shortages in the trucking industry, but found that if wages rise in the industry, any long-term labor shortages would be improved. “As a whole, the market for truck drivers appears to work as well as any other blue-collar labor market,” the report concluded.

Nearly 2 million Americans work as truck drivers, a rate that has steadily increased over the years from about 1.57 million truck drivers in 2000. States issue more than 450,000 commercial driver’s licenses per year.

While more Americans are working as truck drivers, wages have drastically declined since the passage of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, which deregulated the US trucking industry.

When adjusted for inflation, median wages for truck drivers in 1980 were about $110,000 annually. In 2020, median annual wages for truck drivers were $47,130. Nearly 40% of US truck drivers were covered by union contracts in 1983, which dropped to 10.1% in 2020.

 Many trucking companies also misclassify drivers as independent contractors, shifting overhead costs on to workers and burdening them with massive amounts of debt for their vehicles, gas and fees.

Billy Randel, chief organizer of Truckers Movement for Justice, explained that most truck drivers work 60 to 70 hours a week without overtime pay, as many of the hours are unpaid wait times, from waiting to load and unload, to department of transportation inspections, or having to clean out trailers before picking up a new load.

“We’re fed up and we’re tired of having no voice and we’re the power in the industry. Nothing moves without us,” said Randel. “There are too many drivers out here who are homeless and they stay on the road because they have no place to live. There are too many drivers that actually qualify for federal food-stamp assistance. We want to end the sharecropping outright, and take back the power drivers once had when we were organized many decades ago.”

‘This used to be a great job’: US truckers driven down by long hours and low pay | US economy | The Guardian



Monday, December 27, 2021

Quote of the Day

 “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Italy's Declining Population

Births in Italy last year hit their lowest level since the unification of the nation in 1861, the national statistics office said this month, with the figure falling for a 12th consecutive year.

There were 404,892 births in Italy last year, the ISTAT statistics office said, down 15,192 from 2019. There were 746,146 deaths in 2020 as the population fell to 59.3 million.

ISTAT said the slump in births had continued this year.

Pope says Italy's plunging birthrate is a 'tragedy' (yahoo.com)

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Trump's "Blue-Collar" Image

 


Donald Trump still struts on the American political scene. It seems probable that he will stand again for president in 2024. This article considers one important aspect of his popular appeal – his ‘blue-collar’ image.  

In 2018 a book appeared entitled Trump, The Blue-Collar President. The author, financier Anthony Scaramucci, who served as the White House Director of Communications in July 2017, highlights the absurdity of the image he himself helped create by crowning ‘the Billionaire Blue-Collar President.’ Not for a single day has Trump ever been a blue-collar or even a white-collar worker. His only work experience before entering politics was as a dealer in real estate. In office he consistently pursued policies extremely favorable to business and the wealthy. 

And yet Trump did to some extent succeed in creating an image of himself as a friend of blue-collar workers. How did he perform this astonishing feat?

One thing he did that helped enormously was tapping into the long American tradition of anti-intellectualism. Let me explain how this works. 

Substitute targets

Life as a wage-slave – the humiliation of abject dependence on an employer, the unfree nature of work for a boss, the unending struggle to make ends meet, the pressure of competition – is bound to generate suppressed or open feelings of resentment, anger, and hostility. Politicians and propagandists for the capitalist class strive to prevent such feelings from striking home against their masters by redirecting them toward other targets. 

A variety of substitute targets are available. Foreign powers are an old standby, as are ethnic, racial, and religious minorities. In a previous article I discussed the retargeting of hostility against welfare recipients or ‘the poor,’ pictured as feckless parasites living off a hardworking ‘middle class.’ Another substitute target much favored by ‘right-wing’ demagogues is people with higher education, academics, and intellectuals, often lumped together as ‘the liberal intellectual elite’ (obscuring the existence of conservative intellectuals).

Richard Hofstadter, author of a classical study of anti-intellectualism in the United States,[1] speaks of ‘the traditional businessman’s suspicion of experts working in any area outside his control, whether in scientific laboratories, universities, or diplomatic corps.’ In fact, capitalists exert a considerable degree of control even in these spheres: over universities, scientific institutes, and many other organizations by means of financial support and seats on boards of trustees, over diplomacy by means of participation in closed forums like the Council on Foreign Relations. But no doubt anything less than complete and direct control causes them some discomfort. They are fully conscious of themselves as a ruling class, and whatever is outside their control is a potential threat to their position.[2]

One anomaly in the position of the capitalists is that despite their enormous economic and political power they do not monopolize social status or prestige, which can also be won through achievement in science or the arts.[3] In some ways this is a weakness, but it enables capitalists to retarget popular resentment against intellectual and cultural elites that they view as potential rivals. 

Is it not a bit risky for members of one extremely wealthy and powerful elite to play the card of anti-elitism against other elites? Might it not suggest questions about their own anti-elitist credentials? Apparently not.

In general, lies are more convincing when they contain a grain of truth. Thus, some welfare recipients do obtain benefits by means of fraud, although their sponging hardly bears comparison with the gross parasitism of the capitalists who denounce them. Here again, the scapegoating of intellectuals works because the poorly educated do have grounds to resent those more highly educated than themselves. They are resented for their pretensions of cultural, intellectual, and moral superiority, because they look down on people who lacked their own educational opportunities. At best they feel patronized, at worst they are mocked and ridiculed. This may hurt even more than economic exploitation. 

The special appeal of Donald Trump to the poorly educated has been analyzed in these terms by Janet McIntosh.[4] She criticizes commentators who mock Trump’s style because it lacks polish and is marked by disorganized syntax, spelling and grammatical mistakes, idiosyncratic use of punctuation and capital letters, limited vocabulary, and overuse of intensifiers [words like ‘very’].

Such mockery evokes sympathy for Trump among poorly educated voters, who may remember being ridiculed for similar stylistic shortcomings by sarcastic schoolteachers. 

Identity politics

This brings us to another reason why Trump was able to create a ‘blue-collar’ image for himself. The sole alternative to Trump and the Republicans offered by the two-party electoral system and the corporate media is the Democratic Party establishment, represented – as McIntosh notes – by ‘liberal politicians like Hillary Clinton,’ who ignore ‘the economic grievances, wage insecurity, and working and housing conditions’ of workers, especially white workers, thereby driving them into the Trump camp.

Of course, there are other voices, outside the establishment, ours among them, that do not ignore the problems faced by workers. But these voices are excluded from the mass media and are rarely if ever heard by the majority of Americans. The far-reaching alternatives that they offer do not appear ‘practical’ or ‘realistic.’

This problem is exacerbated by the rise of the trend known as ‘identity politics’ and its speech code of ‘political correctness.’ This trend concerns itself with several kinds of social injustice – above all, racism, sexism, the oppression of sexual minorities, and prejudice against the handicapped. The set of issues addressed has expanded over time and will probably continue to do so. An attempt is made to combine the various issues in accordance with the principle of ‘intersectionality.’ 

Matters of class, however, receive little attention in identity politics. At best, ‘classism’ is tagged on at the end of a list that starts with racism and sexism and includes heterosexism, able-ism, age-ism, and so on, without recognizing that class is central to the whole structure of social inequality, the grid on which other forms of inequality are measured. Usually, however, class is ignored altogether, producing a grotesquely distorted view of society, as when a destitute white heterosexual man is considered more privileged than a wealthy black lesbian. At worst, identity politics merges with the dominant culture in the worship of capitalist ‘success’ and idolization of black, female, and gay celebrities who have ‘made it.’   

Many blue-collar workers share Trump’s scornful rejection of ‘political correctness.’ As McIntosh puts it, they feel offended when ‘hyper-educated liberals’ assume that they are prejudiced against nonwhites, women, or gays just because they ‘do not know the new lingo and have not cultivated exquisite verbal sensitivity.’ 

Effective opposition to demagogues like Trump will never come from the ‘liberal left’ of the Democratic Party establishment and its tame media, but only from a movement that offers the working class a real alternative to capitalism. 

Notes

[1] Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, first published in 1966. The most recent edition was released by Vintage in 2012.

[2] However, the anti-intellectualism of ‘the traditional businessman’ is not shared by high-tech entrepreneurs, who are highly educated and may fear that they themselves will become targets of anti-intellectual demagogy.

[3] Academic honors are more prestigious in some countries than others (more in Germany than in the United States, for instance). 

[4] Janet McIntosh and Norma Mendoza-Denton, eds., Language in the Trump Era: Scandals and Emergencies, Cambridge University Press, 2020, pp. 9-18.

Stephen Shenfield

World Socialist Party of the United States

Quote of the Day

 “As we go into 2022, we're faced with an even bigger supply crunch – there aren't enough vaccines in the world. In this situation of scarcity, it's the most powerful with the biggest bank balances that fight their way to the front of the queue and developing countries are, once again, left behind.” - Max Lawson, co-chair of the People’s Vaccine Alliance

Modern-Day US Slavery

 Farmworkers in the US, especially immigrant workers, have few protections. They were excluded from the National Labor Relations Act passed in 1935, and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Workers in America’s agricultural fields are regularly subjected to abuses ranging from high occurrences of sexual assault and harassmentwage theft and safety issues including injuries, fatalities on the job, and exposure to hazardous chemicals.

The H2-A visa program is an often used avenue for exploitation of migrant workers in the US, as it ties immigration status to employment on a temporary basis with no pathways to permanent citizenship. Many of these workers are forced to take on debt to recruiters to enter the H2-A visa program, with several cases of debt peonage, forced labor, and human trafficking reported through the program.

“It’s really the structure of the program that facilitates this kind of stuff happening, often with impunity,” said Daniel Costa, director of Immigration Law and Policy Research at the Economic Policy Institute.

He cited a severe lack of labor law enforcement in the agricultural industry as a driving factor in widespread abuses of workers, and the lack of regulating recruiters outside of the US who connect migrant workers with temporary jobs. Inspections conducted by the wage and hour division of the US Department of Labor declined significantly over the past few decades due to underfunding, and the low number of inspectors responsible for overseeing a vast number of employers.

“If you’re an agricultural employer, there’s only around a 1% chance that you’ll be investigated for anything in any given year, so they can pretty much get away with not treating your workers the way they should,” added Costa.

In June, farmworkers from Mexico were transported through a trafficking network from Monterey to work on farms in GeorgiaThey paid the traffickers 20,000 pesos, about $950, loaned from their mother, taking frequent trips back and forth to Monterey, before being told it was safe to leave. Then they were finally transported across the border.

Initially, the worker was told they would be working on a blueberry farm, but was sent to a corn-farming operation instead.

“We arrived at the house where we would live and had to clean the rooms ourselves. There were roaches, spiders, mosquitoes, and the mattresses were covered in lice,” the worker said. “The bathrooms and showers were dirty and clogged. The kitchen was horrible. We had no air conditioning in hot weather.”

The worker began work daily at 3 or 4am and worked until 3 or 4pm with just one 15-minute lunch break, making just $225 for 15 days of work. Some of the workers were promised up to $12 an hour in pay but instead were ordered by armed overseers to dig up onions by hand for $0.20 per bucket.

After 20 days at the corn farm, the worker was sent to a cucumber warehouse where they weren’t paid anything for their work and then transferred to Texas before escaping the operation and returning to Mexico in July.

‘A lot of abuse for little pay’: how US farming profits from exploitation and brutality | US news | The Guardian

Saturday, December 25, 2021

A Day to be Jolly? (1965)

 

From the December 1965 issue of the Socialist Standard


Today Christians celebrate the birth of their Christ. It is therefore appropriate once again to examine the Christian religion and its relations to socialism and the working class.

Christianity is a comparatively recent religion but it is thick with the debris of man’s earlier superstitions. The pagan influence on the Christmas festival is especially well marked, for December 25th was a holy day long before Jesus Christ was even thought of. Primitive man worshipped the sun because the course of his life was dominated by the yearly round of that planet in the heavens. This practice was widespread but especially in northern countries mid-December was thought to be a critical time, as the days became shorter and shorter and the sun itself weaker. Great bonfires were lit to give the sun god strength and, when it became apparent that the shortest day had passed, there was great rejoicing. Thus the Roman winter-solstice festival, held on December 25th in connection with the worship of the sun-god Mithra, was known as the birthday of the unconquered sun-god.

December 25th was not generally introduced into the Western Church as Christmas day until the fourth century and it was even later before it was accepted in the Eastern Church. Several Christian sects had previously fancied the 24th or 25th of April as a suitable “holy” period—thus arbitrarily connecting Christ’s birth with the vernal equinox rather than the winter-solstice—while still other factions chose alternative solar festivals. However, St. Chrysostum (5th century) gives a very practical reason why December 25th was to be preferred. “On this day the birthday of Christ was lately fixed at Rome, in order that while the heathens were occupied in their profane ceremonies the Christians might perform their holy rites undisturbed.”

Man's consciousness is a reflection of his material environment. While he was struggling to find his feet in the universe it was understandable that he should interpret phenomena which he could not comprehend in supernatural terms but, in the twentieth century, such irrational relics from the past can be of no value to the working class.

Christians have argued against the materialist conception of history by claiming that the driving force behind the universe is a god’s will and that, while everything else may be subject to change, God and his religion remain constant. Yet the briefest examination of Christ and his theories shows him clearly as a product of his times. For example, he plainly shared the then common belief that disease was due to infestation with demons and he told his followers, “In my name ye shall cast our devils”. Again, religion has always been the willing tool of the ruling class. The church today holds chattel slavery to be immoral. But when Constantine the Great accepted the Christian religion the pope of the time received him with acclamation and no one suggested to him the need to surrender his slaves, of which he held thousands. Similarly, the Christians’ god today dutifully reflects the interests of capital. Thus for hundreds of years the popes excommunicated those who put their money out at usury and denied them Christian burial because of this “grievous sin”. Yet, strangely, since Pope Benedict XIV’s condemnation in 1745, God has not moved his spokesmen to breathe one word against this practice.

We are told that the Bible is God’s word. This being the case, his laconic message could not be clearer—“Thou shalt not kill”. The record of the Christian churches in this century alone illustrates that they have never hesitated to take sides in Capitalism’s bloody quarrels. In the first world war the workers were urged to slaughter one another with God on their lips: “God of our Fathers . . . Be thou the rampart of our costs, the frontline of the battlefield”. And in the second world war Christians intoned in harmony with capitalist interests in both Germany and Britain. “You have every reason to say prayers for the F├╝hrer. May God preserve him, because we need an eternal Germany.” (Reported in the Daily Mail, May 9th. 1944.)

On the other hand in the Church of England Newspaper, February 23rd, 1940, we find a thoroughly English god rallying under the Union Jack: “It is to the living God therefore we must look for deliverance in the present hour. He it is Who delivered our fathers from the ‘Invincible’ Spanish Armada; He appeared on our behalf in 1914-18; and He will help us now if we call upon Him with a true heart.”

Capitalism is a dirty business, based as it is upon the misery of the majority of mankind. But it is well served by its priesthood, always ready with the facile lie and the glib distortion to endorse the actions of the bourgeoisie and persuade the workers that their present lot is part of some unalterable, God-given system.

Clearly then the Christian religion is a most versatile creed. Is it possible that it could be adapted again to serve the interests of a socialist society? The answer is no, for at all times Christianity and Socialism are contradictory. Socialism involves a rejection of leadership and the determination that the workers themselves must achieve socialism. Conversely? Christianity is rooted in a blind faith in leaders, both worldly and supernatural. The priests urge their flocks to remain servile and reap the blessings of poverty. They say that it is not up to the workers to consider the system which robs them, throws them into unemployment, subjects them to war and disease; that it God’s province. The Bishop of Barcelona orders: “Have confidence in your Bishops, who have received from God the mission of commanding; learn to obey . . . do not change a word of the directives that the Holy Church gives you through the Bishops. Be obedient!”

Again, within capitalist society there is a continual class struggle which can only be abolished by the establishment of a classless society—socialism. But Christians believe that there is a harmony of interests under capitalism. Pope Leo XIII in his Encyclincal on Labour asserted: “If one man hires out to another his strength or his industry, he does this in order to receive in return the means of livelihood, with the intention of acquiring a real right, got merely to his wage, but also to the free disposal of it . . . Socialists . . . strike at the liberty of every wage-earner, for they deprive him of the liberty of disposing of his wages.” The good pope has a point—in that socialism will certainly deprive everyone of the “liberty” of wage-slavery. However, with typical Christian charity (towards the bourgeoisie) he chooses to overlook the fact that under capitalism the workers are forced to sell their labour power to the owners of the means of living. This is not, as the pope suggests, a case of fair exchange but is based upon the appropriation of the surplus value created by the workers by the master class.

Yet there are those who still maintain that Socialism and Christianity can somehow by synthesised, given the right leader as a catalyst. The Labour Party has always taken this line and the so-called Christian Socialist Movement lingers on. desperately trying to create some sort of comprehensible amalgam out of conflicting idealist and materialist theories. Their analysis of capitalism is based upon the contention that it is an “evil” system, rooted in sin. But in their literature, we find: “Capitalism has served mankind by accumulating capital, so making large scale production possible and increasing wealth generally . . .” Thus these Christian gentlemen admit that what they call “sin” and “ evil ” have been of service to man. This inconsistency is the inevitable result of trying to accommodate Christianity and Socialism—the utopian and the scientific.

Christmas is supposed to be a time of good cheer when the harsh reality of this world is briefly forgotten. But it is impossible to disregard capitalism even at this time of the year. We address our Christmas message to the working class, about to enjoy yet another wretched holiday under capitalism—the system they chose to perpetuate when they voted for the Labour and Tory parties

 John Crump