By Anton Johnson
WALKING through central London last Saturday following a union meeting I was struck by the crowds of people rushing about eager to consume, spend money they did not have on things they did not need, stepping over rough sleepers who were asking for money simply to have food.
The crowds seemed oblivious and spellbound by the bright Christmas lights in the shops and street. Capitalism has adopted quasi-religious festivals in order to get working people to consume and get into greater debt on belief that they will be happy if they have the next item. This has manifested itself into addictive behaviour an automatic response to a carefully orchestrated campaign by business, which starts in October when shops put up Christmas decorations and announcements.
Christmas of late though does not come to many who are poor, the elderly who cannot afford to stay warm because of the high prices and the growing number of homeless people due to the economic crisis. Even with the rising number of closed shops and empty shop units, whether in Oxford Street or another shopping centre in another town, people appear oblivious to what is happening to them and around them.
The scene of today’s Christmas is another sign that this current system not only fails people but destroys people – the pressure the system places on people and families sees so called pictures of tranquillity translated into ones of domestic violence, alcohol abuse, despair, loneliness, misery, poverty and suicide. It’s a day that puts emphasis on the model family that many do not relate to and excludes many such as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) people.
It is worth noting and congratulating the London Queer Social Centre organisers who this year are organising an event that LGBTQ people who are “orphans” from their families because of their sexuality, to come together in a communal setting.
There is an alternative to this institutional misery – and Communists have the answer.
In the USSR of the 1920s the Bolsheviks, as part of the process to transform society on revolutionary lines, saw that organised religion was a shackle on the minds of the working class punctuated with festivals that they were obliged to participate in to keep them from thinking – just like today.
The Soviet government launched an Anti-Religion campaign that included the abolition of Christmas. Children would protest to their parents not to dupe them and not have Christmas in their house, churches were systematically demolished or converted to more useful purposes for the people.
By freeing the people from the organised religion and festivals such as Christmas their minds were free to engage in the process of creating a new world – one that made remarkable achievements, while the rest of the world was in squalor caused by the crash of 1929. The people of the Soviet Union enjoyed full employment, were free from the spectre of homelessness and starvation and had a first class health service that was free and accessible – unknown anywhere else in the world at that time – a achieved through science and planning not superstition.
That world is an age ago and by the scenes in London and other cities it looks as though capitalism has seduced people with tinsel and flashing lights, messages to spend to be happy and superstition. We as communists need to keep on showing the examples that people can and did achieve an alternative to the current horror. The examples are in recent history.