Sunday, October 29, 2006

Showing the voters how valuable you are.

One thing workers don’t have to do is show the voters how valuable they are.
The world would be in chaos if workers stopped work. Shops would soon be depleted; patients in hospitals would soon be in greater distress, as would be the workers themselves.

Workers, who strike, generally do so to maintain or improve their standard of living or conditions in the workplace. Striking worsens the conditions for their families but they have on other alternative (outside of replacing Capitalism with Socialism), therefore, lots of deliberation usually takes place before any strike.

Not so the MPs, they don’t have to strike, have you ever heard of the MPS going on strike?

They don’t have to, they just hold reviews and then vote themselves an increase, saves them striking and allows them to get on with running the country.

This could be why we maybe don’t realise they are there, so, in order to make sure they are noticed, they are set to award themselves £10,000-a-year “communications budget” just days after it emerges they make around £200,000 each from their generous existing pay and expenses package.
Nice to know they will always be available without interruption “ should workers try to hold the country to ransom” as I have known them to say.

A lack of awareness! The Blight has been visited on thousands more

A lack of awareness that the Iraq war is about oil has blighted thousands more.

‘Praise Bush and the Iraq war’
The war in Iraq is not a disaster?
Scotland on Sunday: October 29th 06
In an article from Chris Stephen in Antonio, he reports,
Fully one quarter of Americans describe themselves as Evangelical Christians, and their support for president Bush remains rock solid.

The war is about getting rid of a dictator? No!. Well how about, defence of the homeland? No! What must I do to get you to support the war? Let’s try this, religion.

Well according to Pastor John Hagee, a rising star of America’s TV evangelists, the Iraq war is the beginning of biblical prophecies that culminate, possibly very soon, in a mighty struggle between good and evil at Armageddon.

"Listen up, president of Iran," booms the pastor. "We are going to be your worst nightmare, Mr Ahmadinejad. The pharaoh threatened Israel, he ended up fish-food in the sea. When you say Israel is going to disappear in a sudden storm you may be predicting the way you disappear."

The 5,000-seater church, patriotically decked out in red carpet, white walls and blue seats, is packed and the crowd are immediately on their feet, arms raised, shouting hallelujah.

This belief lies at the core of the teachings of the bespectacled pastor, who argues that Christians and Jews must make common cause against forces of darkness he identifies as Arabs, Russians and even a future president of the EU. Christians who fail in their duty will be "left behind" when the obedient are summoned to heaven.

Still not convinced? Why not give Socialism some thought?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Dawkins gets some backing

I noticed Richard Montague giving Richard Dawkins some critical support on SOYMB over an attack by Terry Eagleton which was long on hyperbole but light in substance .A good read Richards posting was too,entitled So called Marxist defends religion
Dawkins I am still a bit ambivelent about, not so much with his latest book The God Delusion ,but more the pseudo science,almost ,in my view psychobabble, of his Memes and Selfish Genes subject .
I happened to be malingering off my work enough to pop into the London Review of Books, and was pleasantly surprised in the letters page to find normally laid back and relaxed, A.C .Grayling the philosopher gave Eagleton a good thrashing also .
Made my day so it did.Such simple pleasures I have.Enjoy both of those.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Iraq war is about oil, or has it become a war for something else?

Socialists among hundreds of thousands of others were opposing the war that eventually and inevitably took place in Iraq.

Socialists say “No war but the class war”.

However, most people were against this war.
Leafleting the demonstrators I was reminded that everybody knew the war was about oil, so why bother to hand out leaflets reading what everyone was aware of?

Well is everybody aware?

Not, The MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow.

He was branded a “disgrace” after he pointed out how some people might regard the anti-war movement as pro-Saddam Hussein.Adam Ingram, Armed Forces Minister cited the example of an old Jew, who had lived under three dictators, including Saddam.
“He tried to explain why dictatorships had to be removed and he was howled down by those who would call themselves the anti-war coalition, who some would say were pro-dictator.”Rose Gentle a mother whose soldier son was killed in Iraq, to her this is an illegal war, and she campaigned against Adam Ingram during an election and will no doubt concur his example a disgrace
Mr Ingram said: “I would say to you: listen to the facts ... some would say that, not me.” Could it be, he thinks the war was about removing a dictator or, he agrees with President Bush who is reported in the same article as saying, emphatically, that the fight in Iraq was “vital” to security at home, saying that if the US-led coalition failed, the extremists could use Iraq as a base from which to create a “radical empire from Spain to Indonesia”
No mention of oil from either of them in the same article, if anyone has lost track of what is going on ‘Economic causes of the Gulf War’ is worth a read

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Who is helping who?

Edinburgh July 2005 socialists were circulating among the thousands of Make poverty history demonstrators pointing out the fact that you can’t legislate problems of poverty, homelessness and other similar facts out of existence.

Global aid was called for as a solution, however, the effectiveness of global aid is in question, Malcolm Bruce chairman of the
Conflict and Development: Peace building and Post-Conflict Reconstruction committee said “some conflict-prone states are rich in resources which can sustain warlords, encourage foreign adventurism and lead to the failure of the state and increased poverty for the many as the few get rich.”

I listened to an interviewer ask her interlocutor, “if all the money is going to aid warlords why should people contribute”, reply.
“It still leaves a lot of people who need help”
Is there not enough warlords getting help?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Marx 'n animals

I was sent this by a friend and thought I too must share.

‘The creatures, too, must become free’: Marx and the Animal/Human Distinction

It has been claimed that Marx completely lacked respect for animals, thinking of them as inferior beings. Lawrence Wilde argues that, on the contrary, Marx had a respectful attitude towards animals and non-human nature in general. Marx’s attitude to the non-human is intrinsic to his humanistic outlook, grounded in an understanding of the human essence, for which maltreatment of animals is contrary to a communistic vision. Wilde approaches the question of Marx’s attitude to animals and nature within the wider context of Marx’s ethics.

Friday, October 20, 2006

This little "Feller"

My Amigo at the side here is a celebration of finally getting my broadband modem to load up in OpenSuse mode.This is the code which cracked it for me.Inspired by Piers and his persistence with Ubuntu, as recounted in Border Fever, it was just a matter of time before simple Patience and Perseverence cracked it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ever so Bonnie land


Poverty is spreading

across Scotland despite investment by the Executive

POVERTY is spreading across Scotland, with new pockets of deprivation springing up outside the big cities, according to new figures.


Stop the War supporters around the country are planning to join the blockade of the Faslane nuclear base on 6-7 November.
The mobilisation is
part of the Faslane 365 campaign, which aims to blockade the base for a whole year.
Keep your eyes peeled for the members of the Socialist Party,genuine socialists,not nationalists,who support One Commonly Owned, Free Access,Class-less world, without a means of exchange,who are opposed to all war, including the so called, "wars of national liberation",favoured by Left political opportunists.
We hope to be leafletting this activity.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What is ??

What is Socialism What is Capitalism?
What is Socialism?

Central to the meaning of socialism is common ownership. This means the resources of the world being owned in common by the entire global population.

But does it really make sense for everybody to own everything in common? Of course, some goods tend to be for personal consumption, rather than to share—clothes, for example. People 'owning' certain personal possessions does not contradict the principle of a society based upon common ownership.

In practice, common ownership will mean everybody having the right to participate in decisions on how global resources will be used. It means nobody being able to take personal control of resources, beyond their own personal possessions.

Democratic control is therefore also essential to the meaning of socialism. Socialism will be a society in which everybody will have the right to participate in the social decisions that affect them. These decisions could be on a wide range of issues—one of the most important kinds of decision, for example, would be how to organise the production of goods and services.

Production under socialism would be directly and solely for use. With the natural and technical resources of the world held in common and controlled democratically, the sole object of production would be to meet human needs. This would entail an end to buying, selling and money. Instead, we would take freely what we had communally produced. The old slogan of "from each according to ability, to each according to needs" would apply.

So how would we decide what human needs are? This question takes us back to the concept of democracy, for the choices of society will reflect their needs. These needs will, of course, vary among different cultures and with individual preferences—but the democratic system could easily be designed to provide for this variety.

We cannot, of course, predict the exact form that would be taken by this future global democracy. The democratic system will itself be the outcome of future democratic decisions. We can however say that it is likely that decisions will need to be taken at a number of different levels—from local to global. This would help to streamline the democratic participation of every individual towards the issues that concern them.

In socialism, everybody would have free access to the goods and services designed to directly meet their needs and there need be no system of payment for the work that each individual contributes to producing them. All work would be on a voluntary basis. Producing for needs means that people would engage in work that has a direct usefulness. The satisfaction that this would provide, along with the increased opportunity to shape working patterns and conditions, would bring about new attitudes to work.


What is Capitalism?

The word capitalism is now quite commonly used to describe the social system in which we now live. It is also often assumed that it has existed, if not forever, then for most of human history. In fact, capitalism is a relatively new social system.1

But what exactly does 'capitalism' mean?
Class division

Capitalism is the social system which now exists in all countries of the world. Under this system, the means for producing and distributing goods (the land, factories, technology, transport system etc) are owned by a small minority of people. We refer to this group of people as the capitalist class. The majority of people must sell their ability to work in return for a wage or salary (who we refer to as the working class.)

The working class are paid to produce goods and services which are then sold for a profit. The profit is gained by the capitalist class because they can make more money selling what we have produced than we cost to buy on the labour market. In this sense, the working class are exploited by the capitalist class. The capitalists live off the profits they obtain from exploiting the working class whilst reinvesting some of their profits for the further accumulation of wealth.

This is what we mean when we say there are two classes in society. It is a claim based upon simple facts about the society we live in today. This class division is the essential feature of capitalism. It may be popular to talk (usually vaguely) about various other 'classes' existing such as the 'middle class', but it is the two classes defined here that are the key to understanding capitalism.

It may not be exactly clear which class some relatively wealthy people are in. But there is no ambiguity about the status of the vast majority of the world's population. Members of the capitalist class certainly know who they are. And most members of the working class know that they need to work for a wage or salary in order to earn a living (or are dependent upon somebody who does, or depend on state benefits.)
The profit motive

In capitalism, the motive for producing goods and services is to sell them for a profit, not to satisfy people's needs. The products of capitalist production have to find a buyer, of course, but this is only incidental to the main aim of making a profit, of ending up with more money than was originally invested. This is not a theory that we have thought up but a fact you can easily confirm for yourself by reading the financial press. Production is started not by what consumers are prepared to pay for to satisfy their needs but by what the capitalists calculate can be sold at a profit. Those goods may satisfy human needs but those needs will not be met if people do not have sufficient money.

The profit motive is not just the result of greed on behalf of individual capitalists. They do not have a choice about it. The need to make a profit is imposed on capitalists as a condition for not losing their investments and their position as capitalists. Competition with other capitalists forces them to reinvest as much of their profits as they can afford to keep their means and methods of production up to date.

As you will see, we hold that it is the class division and profit motive of capitalism that is at the root of most of the world's problems today, from starvation to war, to alienation and crime. Every aspect of our lives is subordinated to the worst excesses of the drive to make profit. In capitalist society, our real needs will only ever come a poor second to the requirements of profit.
Capitalism = free market?

It is widely assumed that capitalism means a free market economy. But it is possible to have capitalism without a free market. The systems that existed in the U.S.S.R and exist in China and Cuba demonstrate this. These class-divided societies are widely called 'socialist'. A cursory glance at what in fact existed there reveals that these countries were simply 'state capitalist'. In supposedly 'socialist' Russia, for example, there still existed wage slavery, commodity production, buying, selling and exchange, with production only taking place when it was viable to do so. 'Socialist' Russia continued to trade according to the dictates of international capital and, like every other capitalist, state, was prepared to go to war to defend its economic interests. The role of the Soviet state became simply to act as the functionary of capital in the exploitation of wage labour, setting targets for production and largely controlling what could or could not be produced. We therefore feel justified in asserting that such countries had nothing to do with socialism as we define it. In fact, socialism as we define it could not exist in one country alone—like capitalism it must be a global system of society.

It is also possible (at least in theory) to have a free market economy that is not capitalist. Such a 'market economy' would involve farmers, artisans and shopkeepers each producing a particular product that they would exchange via the medium of money. There would be no profit-making and no class division—just independent producers exchanging goods for their mutual benefit. But it is doubtful whether such an economy has ever existed. The nearest that may have come to it would have been in some of the early colonial settlements in North America. Some Greens wish to see a return to this kind of economy. We do not think that it is a viable alternative for modern society. Such a system would almost inevitability lead to capital accumulation and profit making—the definitive features of capitalism.2

1. For a brief historical account of how capitalism came into existence a couple of hundred years ago, see Marx and Engels' Communist Manifesto. ↩
2. For more detailed accounts of what capitalism is, see Marx's Wage Labour and Capital, Marx's Value, Price and Profit, or Fredy Perlman's The Reproduction of Daily Life. ↩

Top What is Socialism?

More are hungry despite world leaders' pledge

This report produced by Philip Thornton, Economics Correspondent published: 16 October 2006 in the Independent makes chilling reading for most people.

For socialists of course there is no surprise about the figures,and the damning indictment of the social and economic system of capitalism which their conclusion should represent.

Thornton indicates that,

Today should have been a day for a celebratory feast. Exactly 10 years ago 176 world leaders at the World Food Summit pledged to halve the number of undernourished people by 2015.

Instead it is a day for commiseration and recrimination. More than 850 million are still hungry - some 18 million more than in 1996. And while issues such as debt forgiveness, a better trade deal for Africa and climate change have grabbed the headlines, food has been left off the menu.

The head of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the body charged with leading international efforts to end hunger, will today launch a thinly veiled attack on rich countries' failure to provide desperately needed funding and political leadership.

Jacques Diouf, the Senegalese who has led the FAO since 1994, will say: "More than 850 million people still remain hungry and poor. Action should be supported to improve rural livelihoods by reversing the decline of public investment in agriculture over the last two decades."

He said decisions taken at the G8 summit in Gleneagles last year on debt forgiveness had released resources for investment in the sector. "But much still remains to be done, and innovative actions are welcome," he said. "Increasing the volume of public investment in agriculture is [an] absolute necessity."

However, instead of a ministerial summit, there will be a musical performance from one of the 24 FAO goodwill ambassadors, who include Ronan Keating and Dionne Warwick, and a 5km race through Rome's historic centre which could attract up to 5,000 runners.

Poverty action groups condemned the failure of political leaders to use today to kick-start talks on boosting funds for agricultural development.

ActionAid said official aid to agriculture and rural development fell from $6.7bn (£3.5bn) in 1984 to $2.2bn in 2002. "The political rhetoric of world leaders has not been matched by concrete steps to guarantee the right to food," said Julian Oram, its food policy analyst.

"Rather than redoubling efforts to meet the 2015 targets on eradicating hunger, world leaders have chosen to stay home and bury their heads in the sand. There seems to be no political will to tackle hunger."

He stressed that the FAO should not take all the blame, and that "governments are letting it wither on the vine".

The FAO said it had made huge achievements since it was set up in 1945, and pointed out that the target of cutting the absolute number of affected people was much tougher than the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the proportion of undernourished.

In Asia and the Pacific the number fell from 570 million to 524 million between 1991 and 2002, while the proportion decreased from 20 to 16 per cent. Both measures fell in every Asian country except North Korea, where the number had doubled.

But sub-Saharan Africa remained the most food-insecure region in the world. The absolute number of undernourished rose 22 per cent, from 169 million in 1991 to 206 million in 2002.

A spokesman for the Department for International Development said: "Addressing hunger is not just about increasing the amount of food available. Having no job or income, being unable to farm effectively or being chronically sick all play a key role in chronic hunger."

He said DfID had committed £30m a year to a welfare safety net that had helped to take more than 7 million people out of annual emergency relief.

"We are building on this approach with African governments to help take 16 million Africans affected by chronic hunger out of emergency relief and give them long-term social protection by 2009," he said.

Food facts

* 852 million people still go hungry. In 1990 the figure was 824 million

* Six million children die from hunger each year

* We have enough food to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories per person per day

* Rich countries provide $330bn (£1.78bn) in subsidies a year - six times the money they give in aid.

There is no surprise to socialists who assert that if one is born poor, they will die poor.If born poor ,they are more likely to die prematurely.Even in the richest nations in the world real poverty exists ,with relative poverty and in contrast to the wealth of those countries immisseration occcurs even in work ,in many cases little more than benefit equivelent minimum wages are a sop and pretence at being meaningfull work.

The socialist view of capitalism is that it is essentially a half-way house in production relations on the road to post-scarcity society. when the world has developed its productive abilities to the point of abundance—which it did decades ago—capitalism fulfils its historical role and is of no further use. But to describe capitalism as merely "obsolete" scarcely conveys its sheer destructive power or the tragic effects on individuals of its continued existence. As capitalism consolidates itself all the way round the globe, its frequent booms and slumps—one of its unavoidable features—also become global. The disasters get bigger, and nastier.

Whether the world succumbs this time to an economic seizure, or endures this crisis in order to face the next one, there is no comfort for workers in capitalism's discomfort. What's bad for the rich is worse for the poor. That capitalism is chaotic is evident. That the poor had better abolish it before it kills them is a point we need to stress with all possible urgency.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Socialist Standard October 2006

3 Editorial
4 Pathfinders
Water Worlds
1,2 and 3.
5 Letters
Ted Grant; Royalty;
5 Contact Details
11 Cooking the Books
Salt sellers
 16 Reviews
Human Cargo;
Marx's Das Kapital;
A Rebel's Guide to Marx.

 17 More reviews
The Revolution Will
Not Be Televised

 18 Obituary
Joe Richmond

 18 O.& D.O.P.
Our Object and
Declaration of Principles
18 50 Years Ago
Mass Suicide

19 Greasy Pole
Life after Blair?
20 Voice from the Back

20 Free Lunch by RIGG
Cartoon. More

6 Left, Right and Centre
As the Party Conference season begins we look at politicians' politics.

8 Bored with politics?Link to page 8 article
Politics is not just about
the antics of career politicians - or at least doesn't have to be.

10 Will Labour lose?
The present Labour government appears to have run out of steam, but trading one group of career politicians for another is not the answer.

12 Keynes's World (A Capitalist Utopia).
Maynard Keynes imagined a society that would be centred on the pursuit of enjoyment rather than accumulation, but like other reformists he couldn't fathom a future without money and commodities.

14 Zionism: myth and reality.
Zionism misled many Jewish workers with its promise of a "homeland for Jews".
A recent book examines the fate of the million or so non-Jews in the state Zionism established.

what is in a name?

Shakespearean rose namings notwithstanding,
little else is sweeter
than a courier rebranding from a mean mistreater.

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