From Socialist Worker, 5 April & 1 May 1969.
Transcribed by Christian Hogsbjerg, with thanks to Ian Birchall.
Marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
WHY IS BRITAIN the most loyal and devoted ally of American capitalism? Behind political subservience lies economic dependence.
Recently Fred Catherwood, director of the National Economic Development Council, talked about US capital’s penetration of the British economy:
‘United States controlled companies account for 13 per cent of industry capital expenditure, with the highest proportion in cars, petroleum, computers and office machines. By contrast, US investment in other Western European countries accounts for only 4 to 5 per cent of capital investment in those countries.’
In a recent PBP pamphlet, Professor Dunning suggests that this process is likely to continue at an increasing tempo. He estimates that by 1981 a quarter of the British economy will be controlled by American capital.
Obviously, this type of thing must influence the Foreign Office response to de Gaulle’s plea for Britain to adopt a more independent stance on world affairs.
With so much belonging to American capitalists around, it does not pay to do anything that might antagonise them. Better behave as Uncle Sam’s obedient poodle.
WHAT WITH BARS TO the windows at Hornsey College of Art and iron gates at LSE, it seems as if the penitentiary-look is the contemporary style for places of higher learning. Doubtless Dartmoor will provide the architectural inspiration for university buildings, of the future.
But it would be interesting to know if the authorities in their enthusiasm for bars – and not the kind in which I take an intense personal interest – had bothered to consult the fire prevention officers first.
For example, are the governors of Hornsey aware that 22 people recently perished in Glasgow because they were unable to make a quick exit through the windows?
PETER SEDGWICK of IS has recently attacked the theories of. Herbert Marcuse, the philosopher of student revolt. One of the most fascinating questions to arise is: Where is the best place to have sexual intercourse?
In his book One-Dimensional Man, Marcuse suggests that the environment of capitalism and its technology militate against sexual fulfilment. He compares the prospect of making love in a car or on a Manhattan street with doing it in a meadow or near a lovers’ walk.
In the former, capitalist technology intrudes whereas with the latter, place and purpose harmonise.
But Peter argues that Marcuse has made a false comparison. Had Marcuse compared ‘a damp, cold, bug-ridden meadow’ with, the erotic environment usually provided by capitalist technology – namely, a bed – then ‘nature’s advantages might have been less apparent.’
From my own practical experiments on this interesting theoretical problem, I am inclined to corrie down on the side of spring mattresses.
SEDGWICK'S critique of Marcuse on the whole range of current political and philosophical issues is, I think, correct.
It would be a pity, however, if Marcuse’s mistakes on contemporary problems should lead us to forget his exposition of marxism which is the finest, clearest yet written. His book Reason and Revolution has been my constant companion since 1955.
Now it has been re-issued by Routledge & Kegan Paul as a paperback. Let me recommend it to all readers.
IN 1968, capital gains reached an all-time record: an expansion of £7000 million in a year. Shareholders, without lifting a finger, saw their fortunes grow enormously. They could eat their cake and still have it, spend their money and still have more at the end than at the beginning.
Thus the rich could enjoy themselves in luxurious idleness, turning day into night, night into day, gadding around in fast cars, without a thought about where the money was coming from.
But there are sometimes exceptions. The Times mentioned the sad case of a former managing director of Bowmaker Ltd., the industrial bankers, who was staying in Her Majesty’s rest centre at Wormwood Scrubs. He had been found guilty of some financial irregularities. Nevertheless the breeze of the rising stock market gently wafted through the prison bars, and The Times reported:
‘A prisoner serving a sentence of seven years’ imprisonment at Wormwood Scrubs has repaid £200,000 to the people he defrauded and has had his sentence reduced by two years; ... The value of the shares held by nominees (for the prisoner) during his prison sentence had increased to such an extent that he has been able to repay the money.’
Doubtless, the former managing director must have been very happy. But what about the poor bloke in the next cell? Might he not, by comparison, consider himself to be an honest thief since, at least he has worked for his money?
KARL MARX believed that within the framework of capitalist society criminals make a contribution which bourgeois respectability is loath to acknowledge. In his Theories of Surplus Value, he argues that the criminal breaks the monotony of capitalist life, arousing moral and aesthetic sentiments. Without violations of the law as the theme, much of great literature could not have been produced.
Also, Marx argues, the criminal helps to advance technological innovation:
‘Would the locksmith’s trade have attained its present perfection if there had been no thieves? Would the manufacture of banknotes have arrived at its present excellence if there has been no counterfeiters? Would the microscope have entered ordinary commercial life had there been no forgers? Is not the development of applied chemistry as much due to the adulteration of wares, and the attempts to discover it, as to honest productive effort? Crime, by its ceaseless development of new means of attacking property, calls into existence new measures of defence and its productive efforts are as great as those strikes in stimulating the invention of machines.’
Marx contended that criminals, also helped to increase the number of jobs available. Without their activities, there would be no need for judges, policemen, jailers, probation officers, professors of criminology and countless other occupations.
If all these people were to suddenly lose their jobs, think of the chaos there would be. Judges, now getting £14,000 a year, would not merely be unemployed but unemployable. What a pitiful spectacle it would be to see Lord Justice Parker signing on at the Labour Exchange.
LET ME ISSUE a serious warning to IS branches in the London area. They are liable to be visited by a dangerous wrecker. He is described in a leaflet as
‘Mr R. Tearse, a third-rate inefficient shop steward from London, who heads the Militant Workers’ Federation – the Trotskyist strike-promoting organisation. There is probably no one less qualified to lead a strike anywhere.’
I am quoting from an article by J.R. Campbell in the Daily Worker of April 10, 1944, which was reprinted as a leaflet for free distribution so the masses could be aware of Tearse’s nefarious activities.
At that time, the Communist Party was supporting Conservative candidates in parliamentary by-elections and strikebreaking in industrial disputes. Campbell’s complaint about Tearse was that he was inflaming relationships between workers and employers, advising trade unionists to disregard the negotiating machinery for remedying grievances, and being abusive to the official leadership.
A quarter of a century later, Roy Tearse is still doing the same things. Will the man never learn?
Last updated: 16.7.2011