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Issue #1682      April 29, 2015

Culture & Life

Privatisation, demons and profiling

All over the world, but particularly in developed countries, capitalists are pushing hard for the privatisation of every government service and every publicly-owned enterprise, regardless of how much money it generates for the government’s coffers. At the same time, capitalist governments of all political shades have yielded to the demands of big business and cut corporate tax rates to the bone.

Protests in Manchester.

Reduced government income is the inevitable result, with consequent cries of alarm to the effect that “we are living beyond our means” and that governments can no longer afford such “luxuries” as a pension people can live on (if they are particularly frugal, of course). Capitalism, however, is not concerned about the privations of the poor and the under-privileged. It is only interested in finding new sources of profit – and they are becoming harder to find.

Desperate, big business is seeking to take over the provision of all government services, from running prisons to mending roads. As private security firms proliferate, even the provision of police services is being surreptitiously handed over to “cops for hire”. Maintaining order at rock concerts and sporting events is farmed out to the private sector, or if police actually provide the service, they charge for it.

In London, staff of the National Gallery responsible for the security of the paintings and the public (there are millions of visitors every year) have taken strike action against plans to hand their jobs over to a private operator. Giving the contract to whomsoever offers to do it for the least amount of money is not the way to get an efficient, well-run operation. But it is capitalism’s preferred method. Go figure.

Another looming strike in the UK is among workers employed by the Royal Family at Windsor Castle, no less. Three years of pay restraint on the part of the workers (the Royals, needless to say, are not troubled by calls for “restraint”) has left the Royals’ employees being paid below the widely-recognised living wage. Doesn’t stop the Royals from insisting that the workers carry out extra unpaid duties, however, like giving tours of the castle.

Leaving Royalty for the world of business, a French TV interviewer caught out a Monsanto lobbyist in a blatant lie on air, which brought the interview to a stormy close. Lobbyist Dr Patrick Moore claimed that Monsanto’s notorious weedkiller Roundup, linked to rising cancer rates in Argentina and doubtless elsewhere, was not just safe for humans, but you could drink a whole quart (almost a litre) of it with no ill effects. However, when the interviewer produced a glass of Roundup and challenged the good doctor to drink it, Dr Moore refused, saying “I’m not stupid” (debatable, given his earlier claims). He then argued with the interviewer before leaving in a huff. It sounds delightful. I wish I’d seen it.

We all know about the fundamentalist religious preachers who assailed the Harry Potter books for encouraging children to treat witches and wizards as fictional (when it seems there not), thereby apparently leaving themselves open to possession by these malevolent forces. Now a right-wing Catholic web site,, has attacked the new “demonic” range of Cheetos crisps, claiming that consuming the crisps shaped like monster faces and with pictures of vampires and demons on the packet is “dabbling in the dangerous world of demons”.

A spokesperson for said: “We view these crisps as dangerous as by eating them, children will be nourished by demons.” For heaven’s sake!

Kam Brock, a Black business-woman from New York, was forcibly drugged and locked in a mental hospital for eight days because first White cops and then White doctors would not believe that her high-powered career was real. Her ordeal began when the former Citigroup banker drove her BMW through Harlem. White cops pulled her over – a Black driving a BMW has to be up to no good. It’s called racial profiling and it’s a key part of New York police training.

When she objected, the cops accused her of being high on marijuana (no weed was found in her vehicle, but that didn’t phase the cops) and they impounded her car. The next day, when she went to collect her car, she confronted police about her treatment. Instead of an apology, she was forcibly sedated, handcuffed and sent to Harlem Hospital. There, she was locked up in the psychiatric ward as an “emotionally disturbed” person.

During her week confined in the mental facility she was given forced injections of powerful sedatives. On her release they handed her a bill for $13,000 for medication! She is now suing them.

She would be only too aware that it would not have happened if she’d been White. A White woman driving a BMW would not have been pulled over in the first place. Isn’t America wonderful?

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was attacked by Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal at the Arab summit in Cairo for supplying arms to the Syrian government. In a letter to the summit, Putin had said, “We support the Arabs’ aspirations for a prosperous future and for the resolution of all the problems the Arab world faces through peaceful means, without any external interference.”

US client Saudi Arabia, is the main backer – supplying money, arms and “volunteers” – for imperialism’s insurgency campaign against the Assad government. In a spectacular case of wilful self-delusion, the Saudi foreign minister accused Russia of being responsible for “the tragedies befalling the Syrian people”. Actually, the Saudis know that it is Russia’s support for the Assad government that has thwarted Saudi plans to replace the Assad government with a compliant pro-Saudi, pro-imperialist regime.

Did you see where Cuba wants to “take economic and academic relations with Russia to the levels that existed during the Soviet era”? And during a recent visit to Cuba, the President of the International Relations Committee of the Russian Senate, Igor Kosachov, indicated that Russia is keen to see Cuban students once again studying at Russian universities, in post-graduate courses or for masters degrees.

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