The Socialist 21 November 2018 |
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"A cathedral to nature"
The grand front entrance to the Natural History Museum, photo by Nancy Taaffe (Click to enlarge)
The Natural History Museum was built as "a cathedral to natural history". It's a great example of architecture that is not dedicated to religion but the natural sciences.
Half of the facade has living wildlife depicted in the stone, climbing the pillars and framing the windows. The other half of the building has fossils and animals long since gone.
Recently, I saw the wildlife photographer of the year exhibition here. The exhibition is rather beautiful, but heavy in the air is the struggle by animals against the ravages of capitalism.
Many of the photographers are environmentalists trying to stop wildlife extinction.
One photograph actually made me cry, it was of a chimpanzee holding her dead baby. The caption said she walked around with it for days on her back. Eventually she ate it.
It's not good that the exhibition charges so much to get in and is corporately sponsored. But these places are great examples of what culture could be in a socialist society.
Nancy Taaffe, Waltham Forest, London
Packed trains are unsafe
London's packed trains and tubes are unsafe. On an overground train recently I found myself having to push my way to the door to try and get out at Canada Water.
I couldn't help but be annoyed at the passenger in front who was going so slowly the doors were closing. Guiltily, I then realised the young woman was (a) close to collapse and (b) very partially sighted.
Another commuter managed to keep doors open as I guided her the last few yards through door then along platform until she could sit down. Another young man was already sat beside her with other commuters assisting because he too had fainted in the crush.
We need decently funded, non-privatised public transport, schools and services. We need a general election. And teachers should vote Yes in the National Education Union strike ballot too!
Martin Powell-Davies, Lewisham, London
Universal credit - universal poverty
We held a great Socialist Party stall recently against Universal Credit, now being rolled out in Salford. There were plenty of gut-wrenching stories.
I came home to listen to a Radio 4 programme about the subject. It's even worse than I thought.
The programme gave the example of a couple, both were NHS workers, paid monthly on fixed hours. If their wages are paid into the bank early because the payment date falls at a weekend, they are deemed to have had two payments in one month and Universal Credit payments are stopped!
So Universal Credit turns a couple working for the UK's biggest employer into zero-hour workers! Two things: the NHS should pay them both a living wage so they don't need to claim, and we need to get Universal Credit scrapped!
Paul Gerrard, Salford