Transatlantic Gobbledegook

A reader in the USA, though full of praise for Socialist View asks: “There is one thing I’d like to query. How is it you regularly highlight President Bush’s gaffes? If this is a British journal how come you don’t focus on British politicians and their lack of eloquence? Or are British politicians models of fluency?”

In reply, we highlight President Bush’s gaffes for two reasons. Firstly, he is an elected leader, and as we reject the concept of leadership, believing that workers are more than capable of sorting out their own affairs, he serves as an excellent example of the folly of trusting in leaders. Secondly, we find his gaffes amazing and amusing – though admittedly it is not amusing to have such an imbecile at the head of a military superpower, with his finger on the nuclear trigger. As for your query regarding the eloquence of British politicians, we must confess that we have a right bunch of gloopy bastards running British Capitalism plc from their executive meeting places in the Houses of Commons. One such is John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister and Member of Parliament for the Hull East constituency.

On Thursday, 4th July, Mr Prescott appeared on the BBC Question Time programme, and baffled the audience with a barrage of mind-boggling waffle. Below is a partial transcript of the answers he offered the audience.

On the question of cheap housing for nursing in the wake of rising property prices he said, “ The massive rise in house prices has caused us very real difficulties. We have put extra money available to meet some of those requirements, but the scale is far greater quite frankly, and we are now looking very seriously now at how you can actually do more that what we’re doing at the moment. Because the whole quality of life affected by public services are being affected by that, and if you want to provide houses, you can’t just provide it by simply giving the subsidies between the market price and what people can afford. We’ve got to do something much more effective than that. There’s going to be a statement by Gordon Brown on our public expenditure, then a number of statements flow from that. Let us wait and see. I’d like to see a step up and hopefully I’d be able to promise you that.”

Asked to explain the government’s stance on ID cards, Bulldog Prescott blurted: “We’re in, in fact, a situation where we’re going to try, consult about things. The piece I mean about the illegal trafficking that goes on, in immigration in some places, tremendous fraud that goes on, it will be used in those circumstances to help that. There is card benefit. Everyone knows how much we get caught on our credit cards and things like that. It can help with things like that, but a judgement hasn’t been made. But let me be clear. Forty-three people have some identity in a passport. Thirty-eight million people, I think, are the ones who have driving licence, so that’s an awful lot of our population and I must say, when I was a seaman, I had to have an ID card for ten years.”

Of course, Prescott is not alone in expressing such waffle. It’s a fair bet that the majority of MPs in the House of Commons, caught unawares, would struggle to answer the simplest of questions. Indeed, so afraid is the government of being caught on the hop that the questions asked at Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons are actually put to the Prime Minister three days in advance.

Not only doe British MPs speak a load of twaddle, they are first class liars, hence the socialist quirk: How do you know when MPs are lying? Answer: When their lips move. Moreover, they are amongst the most disingenuous people in the country.
Back in 1999, Michael Meacher had this to say to a fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference: “One of the things I would argue for over the question of second homes- and let me say I am someone who has a second home so I am not denigrating the possession of a second home [is that] people like me who are privileged should not be in the position to rob other people of a home which is a basic right.” It was later revealed that Mr Meacher had in fact 9 homes (he boasted he had 12) valued between £250,000 and £500,000.
At that same conference, incidentally, Jack Straw, the then Home Secretary, said to the assembled faithful: “We will be giving the police the money they need to recruit 5,000 more officers.” However, Alan Milburn MP had written to Straw three days earlier saying: “I must stress…the package does not provide for 5,000 additional officers. There should therefore be no reference to this.”
And, forgive us for dwelling on that year, but only weeks after this, an all party committee of MPs condemned Labour’s Stephen Byers MP for his “regrettable habit” of giving “potentially misleading information” – a skill Mr Byers has perfected to a fine art these past three years.
But to your initial question: why do we highlight George Bush’s gaffes? Again, because here is the most powerful man in the world, the No. 1 representative of US Capitalism basically telling the workers of the world ‘hey, this is what you get when you vote for capitalist politicians.’ Or in his own words:

"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier — so long as I'm the dictator." —George W. Bush, 19/12/200



Nowhere in this book, or in his previous Third Millennium Press publications, does Melvin Chapman claim to be a socialist - he is indeed dubious of word ‘socialist’ - but throughout Question Everything, as in his previous publications, we find the author clearly propagating the case for a world without money and articulating many of the arguments Socialist Party members have been using against their political opponents for decades

Chapman, for instance, tears into the concept of leadership on a number of occasions, arguing that we have been conditioned to accept that we are ‘intellectually deficient’ and in need of betters who are “capable of organising and directing us”. And they of course can not control events because it the system that controls them; they too are “conditioned by the economic and political structures in which they were born.”

He is also critical of the reformist mentality, informing us how “No reform, nor attempt to improve the system…can do more than ameliorate its inconsistencies.”

He is derisive of what passes for democracy in capitalist society, observing that there “can be no democracy in a complex system designed to justify inequality, a system in which the power of money carries the right to govern, in which the governed accept their own inferiority, lack of self-respect and sense of worth, a system in which crime, conflict, nationalism, racism, ethnic cleansing…is inevitable.”

“Only in self government can there be freedom with order.” And ‘freedom’? Chapman insists that “Freedom lies in a society in which we can work together free of the social structures that inhibit consensus and in a social, political and economic environment that does not actively promote differences and confrontations.” The rub is that “Freedom depends upon knowledge…knowledge upon information…[but ] information is not knowledge… {because it is}limited and controlled….The individual has to have the facilities to understand and interpret, to know what there is to know and what questions to ask”

Chapman is at his best in attacking the logic of the profit system, for instance noting how “the money system has enabled the human species to develop the technology with which it dominates the earth, but it has become an excuse for ignoring the factors that impede its own social advance.” Highlighting the alienation the money system gives rise to, he comments: ”This creature Man…has allowed itself to be treated – and to treat itself – as of less consequence than a few copper coins, a few electronic pulses, no more than a dollar a day.”

He challenges the assumption that without money no one would work, pointing out how “the money system has given work a bad name, with connotations of long hours, stress, tiredness, monotony…even in this acquisitive society of ours, most of us do some sort of voluntary work…working for others is enjoyable provided that we do not feel that it is augmenting other people’s interests at our expense.” In a moneyless world, he maintains, “the man/woman power available would be virtually limitless. There would be plenty for them to do…our fellow man, our environment, our towns and cities, our talents and potentialities… there would be enough to keep us occupied for generations.”

He continues: “We assume that without money there would be anarchy, but it is the chaotic complexity of the money system and the governments required to maintain it that is anarchic.” There then follows a lengthy section in which Chapman envisages the benefits of a money less world before concluding that “the greatest benefit of all would be in the reduction or elimination of the anti-social emotions of greed, hatred, selfishness and aggression, which the money system makes inevitable and we would be able to treat ourselves and each other as the sort of human beings that we claim to be.”

A lot of this book is given over to how capitalist society conditions our consciousness; how it determines the way we think and act. Chapman is adamant we can overcome this conditioning and achieve the maturity needed to help forge a better world. And this ‘maturity’ he contests, lies “in the ability to question our inherited assumptions and to replace our primitive responses, our need to compete with an eliminate each other, by recognition of our responsibility to ourselves and to the wider universe. To free ourselves we have to “run the gauntlet of inherited impediments.”

The books great weakness lies, perhaps, in the suggestion of how we can get from capitalism to the moneyless world of free access to the benefits of civilisation. For Chapman, “the actual process of getting rid of money would require no more than the creation of a single International currency, followed by the gradual reduction in interest rates and an expansion of the quantity of money in circulation until it ceased to have any value.” Here, a closer scrutiny of the workings of capitalism and the implications of such a process, might have prompted the author to rethink this statement.

Moreover, emphasis on the democratic road to a money less world, how it must be the free and class conscious decision of the majority, would have enhanced this short book.

Accepting that Chapman does not claim to be a socialist and criticism aside, this work does have its merits in revealing, quite succinctly in places, the insanity of capitalism and in advancing the benefits of establishing moneyless system of society.

This self-published, short print-run book is available from the author at: Third Millennium Press, 51 Newton Road, Bath, BA2 1RW. No price is given.



“When abuses like this begin to surface in the corporate world, it is time to reaffirm the basic principles and rules that make capitalism work: truthful books and honest people, and well-enforced laws against fraud and corruption. All investment is an act of faith, and faith is earned by integrity. In the long run, there's no capitalism without conscience; there is no wealth without character.”

Thus spoke President George W Bush to Wall Street on 9th July in the wake of the biggest corporate fraud in history as stock markets around the world were reeling from the news that WorldCom, the US phone company, had admitted to a $4 billion hole in its accounts. As WorldCom’s share price fell from $60 to $2 it was further revealed that Xerox, the multinational photocopying and printing company had similarly overstated its profits by $billions.

At the end of last year energy multinational Enron, caused panic on the world’s stock markets when it emerged the company had hidden debts of $9 billion. Other financial scandals have involved Global Crossing, Arthur Andersen, Tyco and Adelphi Communications, prompting many investors and economists to wonder just how deep corporate malfeasance is and whether any company offering shares can really be trusted.

The truth is that there must be thousands of firms out there telling porkies about their profits in an attempt to raise their stock market rating. And there are reasons for this. Because capitalism is a ruthlessly competitive system, each company aims to maximise its share of its respective market and to get the better of its competitors. When a company inflates its profits its share price increases. More people are prepared to buy shares in profitable companies and ‘profitable’ companies find it easier to borrow with a view to investing in newer technology that can win them a greater share of profits and undermine the efforts of their competitors. The problems, however, is that future profits are purely guesswork. No one can realistically predict demand (it’s not a natural science). And when a company can’t meet the expectations of its shareholders, panic sets in, with all concerned running away from the sinking ship with whatever they can carry.

Bush would do well to remember that it is not ‘truthful books and honest people… that make capitalism work”, but the drive to make profit, whether it be through the creation of false needs, warfare, artificial scarcity or planned obsolescence. And if there were ‘well-enforced laws against fraud and corruption’ in the corporate world, Bush himself would never have become president and America’s prison population would be twice its present size.

More importantly, however, Bush’ speech focused on a few individuals, giving the impression that a few nefarious persons had tarnished the good character of capitalism – a move totally designed to distract from the real nature of the beast. Capitalism is an oppressive and exploitative system in which human needs come a poor second to the requirements of profit, a system that consigns billions to lives to abject misery. It’s indifference to the hardship of the real wealth creators is evidenced in the present instance by the fact that while the ‘honest’ bosses at WorldCom have pocketed $millions in the perpetration of their scam, the company now wants to sack 17,000 of its workers; the same workers it encouraged to invest their hard-earned retirement funds in company shares in the full knowledge those same shares would lose value. Prior to the recent scandal these retirement plans-cum-shares shares were worth almost $220 million; at the moment they are valued at $4.4 million. “No capitalism without conscience” Mr Bush?

Neither was there room in Bush’s lecture on corporate ethics to Wall Street for mention of the practices of monopolies and oligopolies, of the market power of the likes of Exxon-Mobile, Ford or Wal-Mart, whose revenues are larger than the national budgets of many countries; whose power is such that even the US government is afraid to curtail their shenanigans. While Bush can lecture Wall Street on corporate ‘ethics’, given half the chance these bastards would apply for a patent on the very air we breathe. Where there are profits to be had, honesty and conscience, ethics and values are swept under the carpet and trodden upon.

So is current crisis evidence that the capitalist system about to come tumbling down? No. Its foundations are as sturdy as ever. Production for profit continues apace and will still be impinging on every aspect of our lives for quite some time to come. What the recent scandals do reveal is that corporate greed is endemic to the system and that financial regulators were not regulating all that well. Indeed, US Capitalism PLC may come away from this fiasco stronger than ever, with corporations, in the wake of Bush’s speech and the now widespread demands for tighter regulations, winning more the confidence of investors.

So put away the bunting and party-poppers and calm down. Capitalism is going to have to be dismantled the hard way – with a class conscious majority bringing about its end by democratic means. This is one storm capitalism will weather.