Self-reliance – a Great Marxist-Leninist Principle in the Construction of Socialism and the Defence of the Country

The planting of cubes of maize - Stavri Cati

The planting of cubes of maize

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Introduction

This article first appeared in New Albania, No 6 1977. It is being reproduced here in an effort to counter the false claim that Albania, during it’s period of Socialist construction, was a state that was purposely isolating itself from the rest of the world, as well as putting the concept into a contemporary context.

Yes, Albania could quite easily have bought more powerful friends in the block in Eastern Europe dominated by the, then, Soviet Union. But to do so it would have had to throw any principles the Party of Labour of Albania had out of the window and kowtow to forces that were working against the development of Socialism throughout the world.

Yes, it could easily have joined the capitalist/imperialist grouping of countries, dominated by the United States but including countries like the UK, Germany and Italy – the latter two countries against whom the Partisans had fought in the National Liberation War and the first of which was constantly seeking to undermine the society with armed ‘regime change’ (although the term wasn’t around at that time) by using fascist and pro-capitalist nationalist groups to infiltrate the country to commit sabotage and murder.

In the period from 1944 to 1990 Albania had an understanding of what independence meant. They had achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912 but it wasn’t until the defeat of the Nazis on 29th November 1944 that the country could say it was finally able to determine its future.

The fact that the future the country wanted to build was that based upon the dictatorship of the proletariat with the aim of establishing Communism meant they had to face enemies (including erstwhile Socialist states) that couldn’t countenance such opposition to the way they saw a different future.

So whilst self-reliance is crucial to the development of any Socialist state (in the past and in the future) as in Albania for the 46 years of its Socialist construction, it also has relevant lessons and important points for many people of the world in the third decade of the 21st century.

‘Globalisation’, hailed as the best way to increase the wealth levels of the poorest of the world has only led to the exact opposite. Economies that did have a certain amount of independence thirty or forty years ago now find that everything they do is determines by some faceless group who gamble on the price of the goods they produce and having to deal with the inevitable price cuts that comes with this form of the ‘free market’.

This has effected in more serious and fundamental ways the countries in the economic ‘south’ but even the most established capitalist countries have felt the effect.

The campaign to get Britain out of the European Union was part of that fight back. Obviously not from the racists, the xenophobes, the ignorant, the frightened, the narrow-minded, the ‘nationalists’ of Scotland, Wales and Ireland who want ‘freedom’ from England but voluntary bondage to the EU and the opportunist politicians (such as our home grown Buffoon).

There were many who saw the history of the economic decline (both industrial and agricultural) of Britain since the mid-1970s as being a direct consequence of the country’s membership of the gang of European capitalists. Decisions made in their clubhouse were for the benefit of the capitalist system in general and had nothing to do with the conditions of the workers and the general population of their respective countries.

It won’t be easy for the people of Britain to build a country where the decisions are taken at a local level (as it wasn’t easy – and proved to be ultimately fatal to the Socialist society in Albania) but in the process it’s possible the British people will realise we need neither the cold comfort of united European capitalism to organise our society nor capitalism itself.

That self-reliance is something worth fighting for.

Self-reliance – a Great Marxist-Leninist Principle in the Construction of Socialism and the Defence of the Country

Self-reliance is a great Marxist-Leninist principle. It has a profound political, ideological, economic and strategic character because it is linked with the fate of socialism and its defence. This principle is linked with the strengthening of the state of the dictatorship of the proletariat and keeping it pure, against every danger of retrogression to capitalism and revisionism, because the implementation of this principle is closely linked with the preservation and strengthening of political independence, with the creation of a strong and independent economy, with the development of a national socialist culture and the preparation of an invincible defence. In the field of foreign politics, this principle is connected with the construction of an independent policy, to prevent it from becoming an appendage of the foreign policy of some other party, state or country.

The implementation of this principle is also linked with the preservation of national sovereignty and territorial integrity, not to make concessions or not to create different joint economic or financial companies with the monopolies of the bourgeois or revisionist states and to reject any offer of ‘aid’ or ‘credit’ from them.

At the 7th Congress of the Party of Labour, Comrade Enver Hoxha said, that for us, the principle of self-reliance is a law of the construction of socialism and its defence, as well as an imperative necessity in this direction. This is related to the fact that both the revolution and the construction of socialism can never be exported or imported. The internal factor is the determining and decisive factor both in the struggle for the triumph of the revolution and for the seizure of power by the working class under the leadership of the Marxist-Leninist party, as well as in the struggle for the construction of socialism and the defence of the country. The external factor also has its own importance, but, never is it fundamental; it does not exert its influence directly, but through the internal factor.

This principle eliminates from the Marxist- Leninist thesis on the decisive role of the people, led by the Marxist-Leninist Party in the victory of the revolution, in the construction of socialism and the defence of the country. Speaking about this question at the 7th Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania, comrade Enver Hoxha said among other things, that ‘self-reliance, demands, first of all, that we strongly rely on the creative, mental and physical energies of the people, led by the Party’.

For Albania, this principle, is, at the same time, an imperative necessity because the Albanian people are building socialism in the conditions of a savage imperialist-revisionist encirclement and their all-round blockade, in the conditions of the pressure which the big economic-financial and energy crisis which has the entire capitalist-revisionist world in its grip is exerting on its economy, in conditions when US imperialism, Soviet social-imperialism, the whole of world reaction, modern revisionism and old and new opportunism are hatching up plots and plans to overthrow socialism and restore capitalism in Albania and to perpetuate it in their own countries.

Self-reliance means: first, to rely on your own manpower and the creative energies of your people, under the direct and indivisible leadership of the Marxist-Leninist party; second, to rely on the natural wealth and the material-technical base created in the country; third, to rely on the internal resources of material and financial accumulations.

Self-reliance is not at all a temporary policy, merely dictated by certain external circumstances; it has always been and remains a general course in the policy of the PLA for the construction of socialism and the defence of the country, a course which has always been consistently implemented in every step of life, in the political or economic fields, in art, culture, education, science, defence, everywhere, in all fields and sectors of social life.

In Albania the construction of socialism and the defence of the country are realized by firmly relying on our own forces. This is a living reality, a reality which is based on several objective and subjective factors.

Today, the Albanian economy has a powerful material-technical base. Industry, as the leading branch of the economy is capable of broadly utilising the natural resources, energy and raw materials. The extracting and processing industries have been developed and not only does Albania meet all the internal demands and those of export, but conditions have been created so that apart from the output of pig iron and steel, other minerals will also be gradually processed, so that they can be exported like this and not as crude mineral, or so they can be processed further locally. Today, the engineering industry produces 85 per cent of the spare parts and in 1980 will produce 90 per cent of them; it is capable of preserving the exploitation of the material-technical base created in Albania and, together with the chemical industry and other branches it is gradually assuming the qualitative advance to produce machinery, the instruments of labour, that is to create the level of the independence of the economy with the principle of self-reliance requires.

The socialist agriculture, as the basic branch of the people’s economy is developing at rapid rates as a modern and multi-branched economy and it increased the production of bread grain by giving priority to this sector, thus meeting all demands for bread grain locally. Together with the light and food — processing industry, it has managed to fulfil 85 per cent of the country’s demands for mass consumption goods and in 1980 it will fulfil 95 per cent of them.

As a result of the entire development of material production, internal accumulation has increased a great deal, on the basis of which such possibilities have been created that during the 6th Five-year Plan (1976-1980) colossal investments have been made, chiefly from local resources, equal to those which have been made during the entire twenty year long period from 1951 to 1970 in Albania.

Self-reliance is a general and permanent course, a principle for every socialist country, big or small, a principle which is applicable both in the struggles for liberation and the proletarian revolution, as well as in the construction of socialism and the defence ol the Homeland. Not only does it not exclude cooperation and reciprocal aid between revolutionary forces and socialist countries, but it presupposes it. This is an internationalist duty of great importance not only to the interests of the country which receives this aid, but also for the country which gives it.

Remaining loyal to the teachings of Marxism-Leninism, the PLA has continually exposed all those ‘theories’ and enslaving practices of the two superpowers and the other imperialist powers, which, under the mask of ‘fraternal aid’, ‘development’ and ‘progress’ exert pressure on and enslave countries. They spread all kinds of false theories which weaken the conviction of the peoples in the possibilities of the construction of a sovereign life, and in general, in their existence as nations and free countries and they sow and spread the psychosis that allegedly without relying on one big power you can not develop as a free and independent nation. Their theories and practices are out and out reactionary and rapacious. This is clearly proved by the concrete neo-colonialist activity both of US imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism, as well as by the whole of world imperialist and revisionist reaction.

The bourgeois and revisionist propaganda has long since been speaking in the most unrestrained manner against socialist Albania, against the consistent implementation by the PLA and the Albanian people of the principle of self-reliance, accusing them, that allegedly, with the course they are following, Albania is isolated, that the advance along this course spells isolation, autarchic development etc. With this they are trying to cultivate the feeling of subjugation towards them and to legalize the policy of imperialist expansion and exploitation of other countries, to transform the countries and peoples into colonies, as they have, in reality, transformed all those who drag behind their chariot. As the Party of Labour of Albania and Comrade Enver Hoxha have always stressed, Albania has never accepted and will never accept the so called aid of the imperialists and revisionists, which, in reality, means nothing else but the subjugation of whoever accepts and receives it. ‘The imperialists and the revisionists’, said Comrade Enver Hoxha at the 7th Congress of the PLA, ‘call a country isolated which has closed its doors to invasion through enslaving credits, through the tourists and spies, through the decadent culture and degeneration. From this angle we are truly an isolated country and we will remain such with full consciousness.’

In reality, the entire economic-social development of socialist Albania and the correct and far-sighting policy of the PLA, with the high prestige which it has won for Albania throughout the world, reject all these calumnies. The correct Marxist-Leninist policy of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania is respected and evaluated by the revolutionary and progressive forces, just as they evaluate all the achievements and progress of Albania during these thirty three years of free and sovereign life. Today, Albania has diplomatic relations with more than 80 different states of the world and with more than 40 of them it maintains relations of economic and cultural exchanges.

The Party of Labour of Albania and the Albanian people have always followed a correct road in the economic, cultural and social development of the country, relying on their own forces, and this is why the rates of development in Albania are higher and more stable than in any other country of Europe and amongst the highest in the world.

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Elbasan Martyrs’ Cemetery

Elbasan Martyrs' Cemetery

Elbasan Martyrs’ Cemetery

More on Albania ……

Elbasan Martyrs’ Cemetery

All the major towns in Albania will have a Martyrs’ Cemetery and the one for Elbasan is towards the east of the town centre. When it was constructed it probably would have been very much in the countryside, the built-up area around it now seems to be relatively recent, within the the last 20 years or so.

The Memorial Park

It’s accessed by a gateway from the road and you go through an arch and along a tree line path which then comes out to a very wide (virtually the whole width of the site) parade ground. On the right edge of this parade ground can be found the museum building. This is the space that would have been filled with people during significant dates such as Martyrs’ Day (5th May) and Liberation Day (29th November).

Moving forward there are 5 steps up to another flat area. On the wall on both sides of these steps a large star, now painted red, faces the visitor. Just above these stars, and therefore flanking the approach, are two very old, tall and established palm trees. Unfortunately, the one on the right is defunct but that on the left is looking very healthy indeed. The tombs to the fallen are to the left and the right of the steps, five rows on either side, perpendicular to the principal monument. In the centre of this space (which is longer than the parade ground below) are two flower beds, containing both shrubs and flowering plants. These have the effect of breaking up this central space and channel anyone who is approaching the monument on wreath laying commemorations.

The lapidar

In front of you is the monument itself, constructed on a platform that’s reached via 3 wide and 10 normal steps from the previous level. The lapidar consists of a tall, narrow obelisk on the left to which is fixed a concrete panel at the lower part, extending about 5 metres to the right at 90 degrees. This structure is at the very back of the platform.

The obelisk gives the impression it’s divided into two parts but is joined together by a middle section that is inset slightly. The left-hand side is slightly taller than the right. There’s nothing there now but I would have assumed that somewhere at the top of that pillar there would have been a star, perhaps a stand alone Red Star attached at the very top. This obelisk is wider at the bottom than it is at the top a fact which can only be appreciated by observing at it from the side.

The large, rectangular, concrete panel extends from the bottom section of the obelisk. This is about 5 metres long and 2 metres high. The bottom of the panel is raised off the ground and towards the right-hand side it rests on a concrete block which spreads out diagonally downwards to the platform floor. This is both functional but also adds another level of aestheticism to the simple design.

This panel has seven, equidistant horizontal ribs cut into the concrete which are interrupted by a large rectangular box towards the right edge. At the top of this box, in large red letters are the words ‘Dëshmorë të kombit’ which translate as ‘Martyrs of the Nation’. Beneath this heading, in seven columns, is a list of names in alphabetical order of the first name. These names are in black.

This list and heading are probably not original. There has obviously been an attempt to restore the slogan and the list but it hasn’t been completed by a professional artist, more by someone keen to reinstate what had existed when the monument was first inaugurated.

Elbasan Martyrs Cemetery - Lapidar and Eternal Flame

Elbasan Martyrs Cemetery – Lapidar and Eternal Flame

The same goes for the colouring. The obelisk, up to the height of the panel, has been whitewashed as has the façade of the panel itself. The lines in the panel have been coloured in red. This would have unlikely to have been the case originally. Most lapidars were not painted – apart from possibly the highlighting of the red star. It also quite possible that the monument suffered from vandalism in the 1990s and this colouring has been added during some ‘restoration’ process.

From the highest platform two wings protrude back towards the garden and entrance to end at the point that the final set of steps start. On the left-hand side, about 7 or 8 metres in front of the obelisk and slightly to its left is a reverted, truncated pyramid which is the Eternal Flame. This has also been painted white and there’s a star which has been cut into the concrete near the top – this having been highlighted in red.

At the base of this structure a red band has been painted on all four sides. The area surrounding the Eternal Flame is splattered with white paint, indicating more enthusiasm than skill.

I don’t believe the Eternal Flames were ever actually ‘eternal’ and were only lit on special occasions.

The Tombs

There are approximately 25 tombs in each row, making it a monument to roughly 250 partisans who fell in the National Liberation War – there’s a similar number of names on the large panel.

Unfortunately, the condition of the tombs in some of the Martyrs’ Cemeteries can be quite variable, but in Elbasan they all seem to be in a very good condition. The grass was obviously being regularly attended to and free from weeds or any wind-blown rubbish. There were bright, red flowers growing (at the time of my visit) at the head of virtually every tomb. In some other places there might be the occasional artificial flower laid by a family member but in Elbasan everyone was treated with the same level of respect – by the community, by the municipality.

Elbasan Martyrs Cemetery - The tombs

Elbasan Martyrs Cemetery – The tombs

The letters on the plaques bearing the name of the individuals had been highlighted in red – as were the stars that seemed to be on most tombs. This work of highlighting in red again doesn’t look professionally done but, at least, the work was carried out with feeling.

The day I visited this Cemetery, there were two or three women who were generally cleaning and tending to the gardens and the overall impression here, which unfortunately is not the case everywhere, is one of cleanliness and an element of respect.

Museum

Elbasan Martyrs' Cemetery Museum

Elbasan Martyrs’ Cemetery Museum

In the more substantial Martyrs’ Cemeteries throughout Albania there is very often a small building which would at one time have been a museum. Unfortunately, I have yet to visit any cemetery where the museum is open as a museum or where there is anything other than a few old photos to see. (There seem to have been developments at the cemetery in Pogradec but on my last visit I wasn’t able to find out either way.)

In Elbasan the museum building is empty of anything that would have told the story of the National Liberation War. However, the room itself is clean – which is not always the case. For example, the museum which is at the entrance to the Cemetery in Kruja was filthy and there was obviously some dead animal rotting away inside at the time of my visit.

However, back to Elbasan. On the wall facing the entrance are the words Lavdi Deshmoreve (meaning Glory to the Martyrs) attached to the wall in large red letter. The two words are separated by a large red star. There is also a red star high up in the centre of each of the side walls.

The only articles in the room itself were two busts of People’s Heroes. In one back corner was a bust of Qemal Stafa. He was the leader of the youth wing of the Communist Party of Albania (later to be renamed the Party of Labour of Albania) and one of its founding members. He was killed by the Italian fascists on 5th May 1942 in Tirana.

Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of the other male depicted in the bust which was in the other corner.

Location

To the east of the main town, on Rruga Kozma Naska, just after Rinia Park. This road runs parallel and slightly to the north, more or less, of the main road heading in the direction to Librazhd.

GPS

41.11821902

20.09195399

DMS

41° 7′ 5.5885” N

20° 5′ 31.0344” E

Altitude

136.1

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A year since Britain first heard of covid-19

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?

A year since Britain first heard of covid-19

It was in the final week of January 2020 that people in Britain became aware of a new virus that was starting to get out of control in China. Was that the first time we came across the term covid-19? If not once we learnt that designation it should have started to ring alarm bells. We were hearing about it at the end of the first month of 2020 but it must have been around for a few months before that.

For most people it probably registered as something serious – but not that serious. We had been told for years that science knew that something like this was bound to happen at some time (we had had three or four ‘near misses’ already in the 21st century) and that our governments were aware and prepared for any such eventuality. How wrong we were.

In criticising the Buffoon and his Government for its actions (or more normally its in-actions) throughout 2020 the term ‘too little, too late’ has often been used. That critique might well have been valid since the end of March last year but it’s more important to remember what had happened (or not happened) in the years – even decades – before the dawn of 2020.

The National Health Service (NHS) had been undermined and parts of it privatised ‘secretly’ through the back door. Care of the elderly wasn’t a concern for any government, whatever their political colour, although they recognised there was a problem, said they would fix it – and never did a thing.

There was no preparation for the likes of a pandemic. No rational stock piling system of necessary equipment (which meant that some of it was ‘out of date’ when needed as there had been no rotation of materials). And, most importantly, no strategy of any kind of how to deal with such a crisis, which took into consideration the myriad of potential problems, and no structure that could be set into motion at the flick of a switch to deal with all related matters from the care of the sick to the dissemination of clear and concise information.

‘Too little, too late’ could be used to describe the situation in Britain since the 1980s.

As a consequence what do we have a year down the line?

  • the highest per capita death rate of any country in the world
  • an untold number of fatalities waiting to happen due to the health system being turned over, for months, almost exclusively to dealing with the covid virus
  • an NHS which is on the point of collapse
  • an NHS workforce that is being pushed to its limits, not just during the winter (a perennial problem for years) but throughout the year
  • an educational system that was unfair at the start and becoming even more so
  • young people totally confused about their futures
  • an increasing level of unemployment, the level of which we won’t know about for a good few months yet
  • an economy that wasn’t that healthy before now in free fall
  • an unimaginable debt which will be pushed into the future (on top of the debt created to pull the capitalist system out of the mire caused by its innate greed which led to the 2008 financial crisis which had also been pushed into the future) and which the young will be expected to pay for – whether they know or realise it or not
  • a number of vaccines which might (or might not) protect people, which might (or might not) make them less infectious, which might (or might not) deal with the many variants that are popping up everywhere, which might (or probably won’t) be distributed worldwide to populations who need the protection from a vaccine much more than the majority of people in the richer, capitalist countries

And still we’re no closer to actually placing the pandemic behind us than we were this time last year.

Will the next 12 months be like it was in the film ‘Groundhog Day’? Quite possibly. But there will almost certainly be one important difference. Bill Murray’s character learnt from the mistakes he made – the Buffoon in Britain, and all the rest of the Buffoons in government in the rest of the world, are unlikely to be as receptive.

The next pandemic

It might be strange to look at potential pandemics in the future whilst in the middle of one that has ben raging for over a year now but unless we are constantly aware that pandemics are likely to become the norm (rather than the exception) we will be in danger in forgetting how things had been managed in the past and make the same mistakes in the future.

The new mosquito bringing disease to North America – but no need to worry about malaria, this species brings with it all mosquito carrying diseases except malaria. Will that mean the world’s pharmaceutical companies will increase efforts to look for a way of combatting disease carrying insects. When it was just effecting the poor they didn’t really care. Now it might start to threaten the richer countries in the northern hemisphere it becomes a different matter. But even if they do come up with a prophylactic or cure it won’t be the poor that gets the first option – just see how matters are playing out over the covid vaccine.

Infection and mortality rates

Ten months since the first lock down the same slogans are being revived. If everything that people are expected to do now, so long after the first infections were identified in the country, is merely to achieve the same aim, that is, to avoid the NHS from being overwhelmed, then really we’re no further forward than we were in spring of 2020. It means that we have just being playing a waiting game in the hope that the virus would ‘tire and just go away’, burn itself out. By not being pro-active and basically marching on the spot we are no better off than those in the 17th century who prayed to the Lord for salvation from the Plague. The risk averse approach of most scientists to lock everything down (and the criticism that we haven’t locked down society enough) also shows that progress in science and medicine over the centuries hasn’t been able to come up with strategies which use that increase in knowledge for the overall benefit of society. Crossing our fingers and praying that all would turn out well would have been as effective.

Mixed messages have been emanating from the Buffoon and his Government since the pandemic hit Britain ten months (or so) ago. This has only served to cause confusion and despair – and not least one of the reasons some people are not sticking to the restrictions. One of the tactics the Government has been using from the very beginning to get compliance is by promoting an environment of fear amongst a sizeable proportion of the population – and they seem incapable of not stoking those fears (even if they are not based upon any identifiable factual information).

Such is the situation over the new ‘variants’. New UK covid variant may be 30% more deadly, says Johnson. But the following day; ‘More deadly’ UK variant claim played down by scientists. Following the science – or what?

Number of patients on ventilators passes 4,000 for first time. Going back six months or so it was stated that knowledge gained at the beginning of the pandemic had meant fewer people were being put on ventilators. The numbers are announced but not the reasons for this going back to the original approach.

How is the virus changing

There’s a new variant almost every day now. Will this make it harder to get to ‘herd immunity’? Perhaps – but there is still hope.

After the virus being ‘stable’ for the best part of a year it’s now throwing up potential problems by having to be described by its various ‘variants’. How did they evolve and what do they mean?

Why being more transmissible rather than more deadly isn’t good news.

The Vaccination Programme

I’m sure there’s going to be many strange stories in relation to the vaccination programme/s in Britain and other parts of the world. So this one to start.

Doctors told to throw away leftover covid vaccines rather than giving second doses. But then it does come from The Telegraph.

The British Government is intent on going for the big centres (ten more to open in England – and presumably more to follow) rather than concentrate on a local level. It might be a short term ‘solution’ – we’ll have to see how matters pan out over the next few months – but it might be missing a golden opportunity to develop a structure that can respond to such epidemics in the future.

The jockeying for position in the ‘vaccination queue’ – and also a cynical opportunity to gain some level of popularity. Priti Patel ‘working to get jabs to front-line roles’.

Now there might be justice and validity in many of these preferences but such a discussion shouldn’t be just out for the loudest to get what they want. Once a vaccine was considered the only get out of the pandemic there should have been a ‘task force’ which looked at all the options and could come out with arguments for why the the roll out was focussing on some groups rather than others.

In a rational society that would include not vaccinating some people in the UK until more vulnerable people in other parts of the world had been vaccinated first. But no British government would ever have the nerve to stick to a principled stance. This is even though a pandemic means that if we don’t get to grips with the virus in all parts of the world the chances of a future outbreak can never be ruled out.

UK to look ‘very carefully’ at vaccine dosing after concerns raised over level of protection. But when Israel is involved in the issue it would be useful to remember that the country is basically Pfizer’s poodle and will say anything to keep on the right side of the pharmaceutical giant – as long as it doesn’t involve extending the vaccination programme to Palestinians.

Queue jumping becoming more common – and inevitable as long as there’s no proper and clear strategy about vaccination and as long as the ‘free market’ is allowed to determine matters. Wheelchair firm tells of access to jabs ‘through a back door’.

On 21st January Radio 4’s World at One aired various views on the question of ‘one dose or two’ – and the gap between them.

The North/South divide hasn’t gone away. Claims supplies ‘diverted from the North’ raise concerns.

Why combining the Oxford vaccine with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine could make it more effective.

Why the UK’s ‘lumpy’ roll out shouldn’t be a concern – this article also addresses the matter of the moral obligation of vaccines being sent to poorer countries.

Vaccinations in the rest of the world

Surprise! Surprise! The richer countries are grabbing all the stocks of vaccines and ignoring the (probably) most needy in the world. The World Heath Organisation (WHO) calls this a ‘catastrophic moral failure’.

This issue was discussed on Radio 4’s World at One on 18th January.

So, how and when will lower-income countries get access?

Israel has become the ‘poster boy’ when it comes to the speed in vaccinating it’s population. But always with Israel, what you see is only the tip of a very dirty iceberg. Some of those details came out on Radio 4’s World at One on 18th January.

On 19th January Radio 4’s World at One looked at the Israeli response to its ‘obligations’ to the people who’s land they illegally occupy and proposals for vaccinating Palestinians against covid. In this short piece its interesting how the Israelis cite an agreement of the 1990s but ignore how their actions in the intervening 25 years have made any commitments to the health service in Palestine an almost impossibility. For a deeper look at Israeli attitudes to the Palestinian people the report by B’Tselem makes interesting reading.

This one for EU bashers. EU vaccine woes mount as new delays emerge.

Testing

Even with a number of vaccines the general (scientific) consensus is that testing is also needed to get on top of the pandemic. In the UK it’s almost impossible to know where we stand on this issue. Plans are made, ambitious goals are set, failure is the result. Now to add to the general confusion in the education sector Ministers are now set to halt plans for daily covid tests in English schools.

‘Collateral damage’

The ‘vulnerable’ old are dying, the young are getting the dirty end of the stick from the ‘efforts’ by governments to cope with the pandemic. If a measure of a society is how it deals with its old and young then Britain doesn’t (not surprisingly after so many years of institutionalised selfishness) come out too well. Another report emphasises this by coming to the conclusion that one in four UK young people have felt ‘unable to cope’ in pandemic.

One law for the rich and ‘famous’ – one for the rest of us

This story got worse as the days wore on but initially tennis stars’ arrival angers stranded Australians. Even those so-called ‘celebrities’ that come from humble backgrounds rapidly take on the spoilt brat approach when they have a healthy bank account.

Politicians drank on Senedd (the devolved Welsh Parliament) premises despite booze ban. Probably wanting to avoid waste!

(This eventually led to a few resignations. However the point isn’t what they did it’s the idea that there are those who think that because of their position in society they are not covered by the same restrictions as the vast majority of the population. Here I’m not referring to young people going to raves – they’re doing it because they don’t trust those in government and are prepared to take risks.)

The issue of masks

From arguments way back in March that mask wearing possibly had more negatives that positives we are getting to a situation where some high-tech (and more expensive) mask is the way forward. Wear medical-grade masks if you can’t socially distance, Britons told. Whether this will take supplies from places where it might be more useful or who will actually have to pay for this more expensive equipment is not addressed. We will soon have a situation in Britain as it was in World War Two with people walking around with a gas mask in a box hanging from their shoulders.

Poverty in Britain

Poverty is easy to resolve – you just stop al the wealth being collected into a few hands and create a society which works for the benefit of the majority. I accept easier to say than do – and experienmts in the past have not achieved what they set out to do. But what is certain is that there will never be a solution to poverty under capitalism – it’s very existence depends upon inequality. And even if some ‘go up’ it only means that others will have to ‘go down’.

But that doesn’t stop the likes of the privileged Buffoon coming up with another meaningless and impractical suggestion. His latest is that girls’ education is the key to ending poverty.

At the beginning of January the Resolution Foundation brought out a report of how 2021 will be for the poorest in society, in their report The Living Standards Outlook.

Poorer pupils falling behind during lock down. Again, Surprise! Surprise! But nothing gets done about it, such as general provision of computers and connectivity.

Travel restrictions

This is another of the ‘will they, won’t they’ stories. UK shuts travel corridors and requires negative covid tests to enter. Whether at this stage of the pandemic this will have any real effect must be debatable. What is not debatable is that this provides an ideal opportunity for bandits around the world to make money out of the crisis with the provision of expensive tests to those who ‘need’ to travel.

More on covid pandemic 2020-2?