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Democrat November-December 2012 (Number 132)

Arthur Smelt says

Nobel not so noble

The word noble has many meanings one of which equates the word with honour and high moral qualities. Nobel is the surname of Alfred Bernhard Nobel (1833 to 1896) a Swedish chemist and industrialist. His attempts to find a safe way to handle nitro-glycerine resulted in the invention of dynamite. He built a network of factories to manufacture and market his explosives. Nobel registered more than 350 patents, many related to explosives.

He was said to be a pacifist but was called the 'Merchant of Death' for inventing explosives which were subsequently used in war. However, the massive fortune he made from explosives and oil he bequeathed to setting up Nobel Prizes to be awarded to individuals who made outstanding contributions to society in the world of science, physics, chemistry, physiology, medicine, literature and peace.

Of course Alfred Nobel is no longer with us and the prizes are awarded by four institutions, three Swedish and one Norwegian. Lately these institutions seem to have lost their way. A peace prize awarded to Barak Obama seems most incongruous when his government, amongst other things, continues with others, the lunatic war in Afghanistan and the use of Drones to bomb people in Pakistan resulting in the loss of many innocent lives in a country not at war.

Then we have the award to the EU. This corrupt, inefficient, wasteful, dictatorial, bureaucratic plutocracy, is by its policies bringing disruption and chaos to the lives of millions of people who are becoming increasingly angry about what is happening. What is also infuriating to the man and woman in the street is the way in which politicians, elected to represent the public interest are being sucked along like the sycophants most of them are.

Seumas Milne writing in the Guardian says: "What have been mercilessly revealed by the crisis are the inbuilt flaws at the heart of the EU. The neo-liberal model of deregulation and privatisation has failed across the western world is built into the structure of the EU by treaty. Freedom of movement for capital without freedom for public intervention and investment has become a fatal obstacle for recovery."

The privatisation of everything in sight under EU directives is causing endless problems. Contrary to bringing about efficiency and economy the reverse is happening. When profit comes before people, widespread malpractice, corruption and rackets of every description evolve. At the present time various rackets connected with tax evasion are beginning to emerge. Not long ago an American doctor of medicine exposed the extent to which drug companies bamboozle the public with their products, some of which have not been thoroughly tested for harmful side effects. Private medicine, again in the USA has been found carrying out treatments and operations not for therapeutic reasons but for profit. The owners of private prisons have been found out attempting to bribe the judiciary to incarcerate as many of those accused of crime as possible to boost the income of those companies running prisons. Where profit is paramount above all else, this kind of abuse is inevitable.

For some time now we have been witnessing and experiencing serious climatic disasters around the world. The recent Sandy hurricane which hit the Caribbean and the United States and our own serious flooding problems are telling us there is something we should be acting on now. If profits continue to come before people and the planet the consequences will be disastrous. Nobel should be encouraging altruism not ruthless capitalism.