| In which our columnist spars

Some notes on recent articles

It’s near the end of the year, and there are just so many good articles in the latest issues of The Daily and the Tribune that I want to comment on. So, instead of delivering full responses, I’ll opt for some light jabs at some Daily and Tribune columnists.

I always respect Brendan Steven, the writer of “Right Minded.” He never hides his politics and this makes him a worthy political foe. In his recent article (“In defence of George W. Bush,” the Tribune, Opinion, November 15), he defends Bush even after many of his right-wing colleagues have abandoned the poor Texan – much like I still defend Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky even if this means going against the stream even among leftists. However, Stevens, we will never be “capable of objectively assessing George W. Bush’s presidency” because his policy is a class policy. It stood for one class – the capitalist – and against the other – the working class. He will always be praised by the class he represents, and reviled by the opposing class. This is a fact. I’m sure deep down, you are very well aware of this – that we live in a class society and the two of us stand on opposite sides.

Vicky Tobianah, on the other hand, in her latest piece (“Learning to network,” the Tribune, Opinion, November 15) is a typical representative of a layer of youth that is eager to be successful in society by being in “a picture with politicians,” by knowing how to “shake hands and make small talk” with people in power – in other words, by rubbing shoulders with the upper class. It’s a sad society we’re living in where the working principle among the youth is: “If we can’t sell ourselves, we won’t be even considered.” Tobianah, you don’t have to sell yourself – your soul and your mind – to the highest bidder. We can choose not to be a commodity, but this will require more perseverance, determination, and confidence than we can even imagine if we limit ourselves to the aforementioned sell-yourself principle.

I eat McDonalds. I drink Coca Cola. I use Motorola. And I don’t use Apple, just because I’m hooked on Microsoft. With such criteria, I’m one of the activists that causes Adrian Kaats to “barf in [his] mouth a bit” (“Apple, Ikea, Motorola…”, Commentary, November 15). I am well aware of all those companies’ exploitations – labour and environmental. The problem isn’t that there’s a bad capitalist and there’s a good capitalist. The problem is, in this era of finance capital, that they’re all in the same boat, connected directly or indirectly. The problem is not consumption: the problem is production.

We cannot choose to boycott some companies, and it’s even more ridiculous to attempt to boycott capitalism altogether. Regular Joes and Janes, the workers who live hand-to-mouth, cannot afford to boycott capitalism. They have to overthrow capitalism; which, in the last analysis, entails the expropriation of these major companies and the banks by the workers. “Sacredness of private property!” cry the owners. Who can better guarantee the sacredness of property other than its creators, the working class? While people crave jobs, the owners shut down factories. While people need roofs over their heads, houses are being foreclosed and left empty in the name of the sacredness of private property.

There go my jabs. I almost threw a left hook there near the end, but it was a feint. Watch out for my real left hook next time.