Wednesday, January 03, 2024

The hopes and fears of all the years

So this is Christmas. Celebrating the winter solstice goes back to hallowed antiquity from the Stone Age hunter-gatherers whose lives revolved around the seasons to the Saturnalia when Roman masters served their slaves in orgies of feasting and drinking in which all the rules of society could be temporarily broken. In the Middle Ages the Catholic Church, itself largely a product of the feudal era, turned the old pagan holiday into a Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of the founder of their faith in pageants and parades that heralded the coming spring.
In Britain Jesus seldom gets a look in these days. Though still fun for the kids the modern festival has been largely been reduced to eating and drinking and a ritual exchange of cards and gifts.
This orgy of consumerism is, of course, a welcome break from the drudgery of work. A chance to put one’s feet up, eat and drink and enjoy the life the rich enjoy in their mansions every day of their worthless lives. But for the homeless, unemployed and destitute victims of the capitalist crisis, it’s just another day of despair. The festive clich├ęs of the politicians and the princes of the church mean nothing to them. Meanwhile the Palestinian Arabs fight to stave off a brutal Israeli enemy in Gaza.
In Britain millions of people of many faiths or none at all have taken to the streets to call for an end to the fighting. People from all walks of life are now campaigning for Palestinian rights and freedom. They are taking on corporations that profit from the Israeli occupation, the Sunak government that still refuses to hold Israel to account and the media that does not report the truth.
Palestinian solidarity protests have been held every week in London and in many other towns throughout the country. Huge marches, the biggest in Western Europe, have rocked London. They must continue until the guns fall silent and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian Arabs are recognised once and for all.
  Over Christmas we get the usual drivel from the Established Church, whose clergy reserve their most pious platitudes for the supposed birthday of the ‘Prince of Peace’ on 25th December while ignoring his teachings for the rest of the year. 
These modern Pharisees talk about the “poor and needy” while ignoring the words of the Nazarene who drove the money-changers out of the Temple and told his followers to “go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven”. 
They tell us to think about those needier than ourselves and many of us, will indeed, give generously to beggars or charities. But what we should be thinking about is those much wealthier than ourselves and the capitalist system they uphold and how they’ve got the money to spend every day of the year like Christmas, living off the backs of workers forced to make do with the miserable crumbs left at the rich man’s table.
   But the days when people listened to the rich men who told us that the greatest virtue of humanity was the possession of the largest amount of money are over.
    The ruling class maintains that capitalism is the only game in town. And it is – but only for themselves. Capitalism, in the final analysis, is simply a system designed to perpetuate the rule of the rich to ensure that a tiny handful of parasites can live the lives of Roman emperors on the backs of the millions upon millions of working people. There is only one answer to the crisis and that is socialism. Speed the day!

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