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Raymond Challinor

Challinor’s Choice

(29 March 1969)

From Socialist Worker, No. 115, 29 March 1969, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

But whose hand on the steering wheel?

PONDER OVER these figures: the Ford strike cost the company £34m in lost production and the men £3½m in wages.

In other words, the workers – the producers of all the wealth – are only paid £3½m while, by their labours, they create £34m of cars.

What a phenomenal rate of exploitation!

High cost of green cheese

MOON-MANIA – or perhaps it should be called ‘astroenteritis’ – has so far cost the United States $25,000m. Assuming Russia’s expenditure has been of the same magnitude, then this reach for the stars has taken the equivalent of four per cent of the total world output of goods and services for a year.

As two-thirds of mankind suffer from poverty, the rulers of Washington and Moscow indulge in expensive firework displays.

Encapsulated within the nose-cone of their space programmes are all the contradictions of capitalism. It has been said that socialism is the language of priorities; neither the White House nor the Kremlin know how to talk it.

Instead they squander scarce human material and intellectual resources. When Thorstein Veblem wrote about conspicuous consumption, the desire of the rich to flaunt their wealth before the less fortunate, he had no example of ostentatious waste so vivid this.

Military minds – all of whom, far more than Morgan, are suitable cases for treatment – visualise the day when they will have rockets with atomic warheads orbiting the earth, able to descend at the touch of a button. It will be, like having a nuclear sword of Damocles continually whirring above our heads.

Added to its military and economic roles, its contribution to the arms race and the permanent war economy, the space programme also has its imperialist aspects.

Remember Cecil Rhodes, the great British coloniser. When, because other European powers were grabbing large tracts of Africa for themselves, he saw fewer and fewer parts of the continent where he could plant the Union Jack, Rhodes looked up at the night-sky and said, ‘I would annex the planets if I could.’

Now Cecil Rhodes’ dream may become a reality. But with a subtle difference: the 19th century colonisers made lush profits from exploiting natural resources and cheap labour; no such attractive prizes await the first space pioneers.

All they are likely to gain is lifeless and worthless moon-dust – an appropriate symbol for the age of imperialism.

A deathly hush

OF COURSE all socialists deplore the Russian government’s occupation of Czechoslovakia. The death of Jan Palach and the others who have subsequently incinerated themselves are a symptom of the desperate hopelessness, the intense feeling of frustration created by the Kremlin’s imperialist policy.

But the British press, while giving big coverage to Palach and the other Czechs, has failed to report other cases of self-immolation. Who, for example, knows about Mrs Alice Herz, aged 82, who set fire to herself as a protest against US aggression in Vietnam and died in Detroit Receiving Hospital?

Other Americans have behaved in the same way, including a father who set himself alight in the presence of his small son at the front of a United States Recruiting Centre.

Yet, these cases go unreported in the British press. To give information about them might arouse further opposition to American policy on Vietnam.

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