Sunday, August 26, 2012

A WORLD WITHOUT NATIONALISM

During two world wars millions of workers died, often because they imagined they had a country. Today we find all over the world the same nonsense of nationalism. A hatred of people who do not speak the same language , behave differently or have a different life style. Here are some dreadful examples. "A French police were yesterday breaking up gipsy camps and deporting illegal immigrants found in them. .... One hundred people were evicted from a site in Lyon, with similar round-ups happening in other major cities including Marseille. deportations were aimed at ridding France of 'illegal' communities. ..... Greece has also begun a crackdown on immigrants, with Athens claiming the country faced an 'invasion'." (Daily Mail, 9 August) We are human beings we have no country. We are humans! RD

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thai Class

Numbers don't lie and show the social disparity in Thailand.

80% of land in the country is in the hands of only 10% of land owners. Economist used an indicator called the Gini index to measure the disparity. In the range of 0 to 1, the closer the index is to 1, the greater the disparity. On land ownership, the national disparity is .941, meaning the country is mired in a deep, deep problem with land ownership inequity. The biggest land owner has more than 2.8 million rai, the study found. For individuals, the top 20% own an average of 62.5 rai, which is 729 times higher than the lowest 20% who own an average of less than one rai.

The richest 20% own more than half of the value of all household assets ( which include houses, lands, cars and cash worth about 18 trillion baht.)

Stocks and shares are owned by only a handful of powerful business families.

Thai politicians are big landlords themselves. According to their declared assets with the National Anti-Corruption Commission, the MPs own 27,035 rai combined, worth more than 15.7 billion baht, according to MPs' own estimates. The real market value is believed to be much higher. Also, the numbers do not include the land that might have been put under other people's names.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

THE HAVES AND THE HAVENOTS

Capitalism is a world-wide system and its basic set up applies everywhere so recent figures about wealth distribution should come as no surprise. "A study by the United Nations suggests the gap between the rich and the poor in much of Latin America is widening. The report by the UN Agency for Human Settlements says that the richest 20% of the population on average earn 20 times more than the poorest 20%." (BBC News, 22 August) RD

FUTURE PROSPECTS?

A constant theme pursued by supporters of capitalism is that modern society provides great opportunities for the youth of today, but recent statistics show that this is far from true. "One in six 16 to 24-year-olds in England were not in education, employment or training at the end of June this year, new figures show. .....With 968,000 young people out of education and employment or Neet, it is the second highest June rate for more than a decade." (BBC News, 22 August) RD

The Gravy Train

Malcolm Rifkind, former Cabinet minister takes home £246,359.27 per year on top of his Westminster salary. He is a director of asset management and farming companies, does consultancy work and makes media appearances, reportedly working on non-Westminster duties for an average of 15 hours a month. 

 However, Gordon Brown was the top-earning MP, with £900,000 a year from work as an academic, author and speechmaker. 

 Labour’s David Miliband earns £410,176.60 from speeches and consultancy work.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

WHAT ARE THE OWNING CLASS UP TO?

Have you ever wondered what the owning class do in their spare time? After they have eaten the best possible meal, drunk the best possible wine and shagged the best possible film star they must get a bit fed up moving from one of their mansions in France or California - oops here is something to do. "An 1873 dime from Carson City, Nevada, is displayed on Friday, August 10, 2012, in Philadelphia. The dime sold at auction for $1.84 million. The rare coin was minted in Carson City, Nev., during a one-day run of dimes. An anonymous bidder won the pristine coin, said Chris Napolitano, president of Stack's Bowers Galleries, which auctioned it during an American Numismatic Association convention. ... "Generally speaking, in the coin auction business, you might get a couple of people fighting each other" as they bid, he said Friday. "On this one, we had four or five buyers over a million dollars. We had a fair amount of buyers pursuing it." (gulfnews.com, 10 August) C'mon you have got to do something when you live a life of useless exploitation. RD

Sunday, August 19, 2012

THE CURSE OF NATIONALISM

The majority of people in China and Japan own little or nothing but their ability to work. They are members of the working class. This does not stop them from falling into the stupid nonsense of nationalism. "Anti-Japanese protests have taken place in cities across China after Japanese nationalists raised their country's flag on disputed islands.Thousands of people took to the streets in Shenzhen, Guangzhou and a number of other cities demanding that Japan leave the islands in the East China Sea. In Shenzhen, some demonstrators attacked Japanese restaurants and smashed Japanese-made cars." (BBC News, 19 August) With world socialism there will be no countries and none of this nonsense. RD

Friday, August 17, 2012

THE NATIONALIST ILLUSION

We live in a class-divided society, wherein a small minority own the means of producing and distributing wealth while the vast majority have to work for wages and salaries and produce the surplus value that the owning class live on. How do the owning class manage this con trick? One of their ploys is religion. You may be poor in this world but when you die you will go to paradise. Another diversion is nationalism. In the recent Olympic games the media played on this prejudice all over the world. "From table tennis and shooting to diving and swimming, the gold medals have poured in, and hundreds of millions of Chinese have been glued to the wall-to-wall coverage of the Games on state TV. ...."With each gold medal that China wins, I feel my heart leap," said saleswoman Huang Weiwei as she ate lunch in a Beijing fast-food restaurant, her eyes fixed on a wall-mounted TV showing the Games." (Yahoo News, 4 August) Nationalism is a wonderful illusion that the owning class use to disguise their exploitation. It is an accident which country you were born in, in fact it is probably an accident that you were born at all, but it presents the illusion that you and your exploiters have something in common. RD

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

BAGS OF TROUBLE

The difference between the wealth enjoyed by the owning class and the working class is immense, but a recent example of how clueless the privileged elite are about this grotesque gap was recently exposed. "Marie Claire fashion director Nina Garcia sparked some shock yesterday, when she recommended that her Twitter followers spend 'a few weeks' salary' on an Hermes Birkin. The tweet read: 'This is the bag that you can spend a few weeks' salary on and not feel guilty. It is going to last you a lifetime.' Given that the accompanying link directed fans to the Moda Operandi website, where the luxury bags cost between $14,500 and $74,000, the statement revealed her to be vastly out-of-touch with the average American's earnings, which ring in at a more modest $26,364." (Daily Mail, 3 August)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

IN PRAISE OF CAPITALISM

Every day in the press and on the TV we get the same message. That capitalism is a wonderful system and the only possible one, but it is doubtful if anyone has ever beaten the writer Charles Murray in his blatant support of the profit system. "From the dawn of history until the 18th century, every society in the world was impoverished, with only the the thinnest film of wealth on top. Then came capitalism and the Industrial evolution. Everywhere that capitalism took hold, national wealth began to increase and poverty began to fall." (Sunday Times, 12 August) This defence of capitalism makes no reference to its inevitable economic conflicts that lead to wars, to its world hunger in a world capable of feeding everyone and its staggering differences in wealth distribution. RD

The Pix and Mix Race

The last ice age ended relatively very quickly and by 9,000BC and possibly even earlier, the ice had gone. Between  8,500BC and 4,500BC, it was possible to walk to Scotland across the lost sub-continent of Doggerland, now submerged under the North Sea, and it looks as though that was when family bands of men, women and children reached the farthest north-west of Europe. Lying at the farthest north-western point of the vast Eurasian landmass, a place on the edge of beyond, Scotland had to be the end of many journeys, the narrowing or point of a huge funnel. Until the 16th century, it was not possible to go any further.

Tiny variations in our DNA can tell geneticists a great deal about our ancestry. These markers or lineages can be both dated and located in the part of the world where they arose. There are no fewer than 100 different male and female lineages present in the modern population. Scotland turns out to be a tremendously diverse nation. There is no Scots pedegree, just another mongrel people .

Every Scot is an immigrant. For example, we have tested men whose male lineage originated in the ancient kingdom of Thrace on the Black Sea, the home of the gladiator-hero, Spartacus. We have men from the Roman province of Illyria on the Adriatic. Further afield, there are men and women from Siberia whose ancestors lived on the banks of the Yenesei River that flows into the Arctic. There are Scots with an ancient lineage from Anatolia, and also one man whose marker came from the medieval West African kingdom of Denanke. We have Saracens from the Near East and women from the biblical kingdom of Sheba on either side of the Red Sea. Germanic, Teutonic, Alpine and Saxon Y chromosome DNA make up about a third of all male ancestry in Scotland, and there exists a very colourful fringe of smaller lineages such as Berber, Arabian, Kurgan and Balkan. Significant Irish lineages came to Scotland after c450AD, and by the end of the 8th century, Vikings were sailing the North Sea first to raid and then to settle.

It also looks as though most female lineages arrived earlier and that the ancestors of Scottish women have been here longer than the ancestors of most Scottish men. It strongly suggests that later migrations to Scotland were largely male affairs, what one historian has described as waves of small groups of men in small boats.

http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/heritage/scotland-s-dna-tracing-the-nation-s-ancestral-history-1-2465715

Monday, August 13, 2012

SOCIALIST IDEAS

When did you first hear of the notion of a world without money or ownership? I think in my case it was about 1951 but this author had heard of it much later "Ken MacLeod, the well-known Scottish science fiction writer, has featured the Socialist Party of Great Britain in his novel The Stone Canal where an SPGBer answering the charge of sectarianism from a follower of Trotsky exclaims: "How can a member of a split from a split from a split from the Fourth International call us sectarian?" Every one should read The Stone Canal better still every one should read Anti-Duhring. What a beautiful new world is possible. RD

Sunday, August 12, 2012

As Others See Us

Ken MacLeod, the well-known Scottish science fiction writer, has featured the Socialist Party of Great Britain in his novel The Stone Canal where an SPGBer answering the charge of sectarianism from a follower of Trotsky exclaims: "How can a member of a split from a split from a split from the Fourth International call us sectarian?"

He has made number of internet postings in defence of the Socialist Party against what he considered inaccurate criticisms and where he eloquently put the the Party's case although he has his own reservations about the SPGB.

1) "World Socialist Party are honest-to-goodness pre-World War I Second International-type "Maximalists." "

Ken MacLeod: They themselves don't identify with any current in the pre-WW1 Social Democracy, apart from the original Socialist Party of Canada, which had an 'impossibilist' majority. They acknowledge some commonality of analysis with present-day 'Left Communists', the situationists, genuine anarchist-communists, and Bordigists. The difference is in their programme, in their rejection of vanguardism, insurrection, etc.

"They will send you a free literature pack, if you ask, just like the SLP will. And until a majority of workers of the world send away for such literature, them read it, then become ideologically committed to socialism by means of intellectual study, the World Socialist Party doesn't see much point in standing candidates for parliamentary election, either! "


Ken MacLeod:
The SPGB, which has identical views to the WSP, most certainly does stand in elections. It gets the about the same level of support for its 'unrealistic' program as the Trotskyists (with very rare exceptions) get for their carefully crafted platforms of transitional demands i.e. from tens to hundreds. Their Euro-election candidate in West Lothian a few years back got about 900 votes.
They expect a majority of the workers of the world to become socialists, but they don't expect them to become socialists by sending off for and then reading literature packs. They expect experience, as well as (obviously) encountering the arguments of a growing number of already convinced socialists, to do the job.

"Against the DeLeonist formula of labor vouchers, they argue that Marx is out of date, and that socialism will be an immediate overnight transition to a moneyless post-scarcity economy"
[http://www.worldsocialism.org/labvouch.htm]

Ken MacLeod: Correct, they do.

"One fine silliness is the SPGB's assessment of Trotsky. Among other idiocies, they attribute to the Bolsheviks [as well as the Mensheviks] a two-stagist theory
"[http://www.worldsocialism.org/trotsky.htm]

Ken MacLeod: Where's the idiocy in that? The Bolsheviks did have a two-stage theory up April 1917. The difference with the Mensheviks was over whether the bourgeois-democratic republic would be won in alliance with the bourgeoisie, or against it ('the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry').

"They also have spiels about Lenin's "distortions" of Marxism" [http://www.worldsocialism.org/dictwrng.htm]

Ken MacLeod: It is, as a matter of fact, perfectly true that Marx used the words 'socialism' and 'communism' interchangeably (in reference to a future society); that he did not use the word 'socialism' to mean 'the lower stage of communism' as distinct from the higher; that Lenin did use (if not introduce) this usage; and that Lenin's definition of 'socialism' or the 'lower stage of communism' differed from that of Marx in that it included wage labour ('All citizens are transformed into hired employees of the state [...] and get equal pay') and commodity production, thus equating the transition period with the first stage of communism.

"They have the same anti-Leninist bugs up their ass but with less hypocrisy: the World Socialist Party never solidarized with the Stalin purges of the Moscow Trials"


Ken MacLeod:
Damn right they didn't, in fact they tore them to shreds at great length in October 1936.

"and they never had a hyperauthoritarian leader like DeLeon nor (as far as I can tell) any leaders at all."

Ken MacLeod:
Correct. Not bad for an organization set up in 1904.

"You have to admit, a program like theirs more or less takes care of itself ;)"


Ken MacLeod: I know from experience that it's very difficult for people who have learned about Marxism via Trotskyism to *even understand* what the SPGB is saying, despite the clarity of their explanations.

2) On Tue, 17 Feb 1998, Ken MacLeod wrote: But as to the more serious possibility of 30 billion, the FAO has said for decades, and still says, that current techniques alone could feed five or six times the present world population. Check out 'Feed the World' at http://www.worldsocialism.org/ for lots of relevant references.

"This is a bizarre cult that was started by the "Socialist Party of Great Britain" prior to the Russian Revolution."


Ken MacLeod:
One thing the SPGB is not, is a cult. Their stubborn insistence that socialism will be made by a socialist majority may, I admit, seem a little bizarre to some.

"It is a little bit like the DeLeonists, who are also fond of simpleminded solutions. What MacLeod and the SPGB leave out are the environmental impacts of the "green revolution," which include--among other things--water pollution, increased global warming, degraded food quality, and increased health risks due to pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides."


Ken MacLeod: Another thing the SPGB is not, is ecologically insensitive. Of many possible cites, here's one from the very document I quoted:- "Which methods are sustainable? Environmentalists rightly show how many of our current productive methods are not 'sustainable' in that they damage the environment for future generations. For example, they now advocate a range of farm practices designed to reduce the need for high inputs of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Integrated plant nutrition with a combination of organic and mineral sources of soil nutrients with tillage and crop rotation can increase crop production; and integrated pest management (IPM) reduces the need for chemical pesticides by making use of biological controls to minimise disease and damage by pests. Such methods could only be used to their full when we remove the market forces that drive producers to the short-term, cheap methods. This short-termism has prevented progress on a whole range of environmental issues."

3) "OTOH without transitional demands you end up with something like the SPGB (never heard of 'em? can't say I'm surprised). They have been around about as long as the British Labour Party and they have correctly pointed out that the problems of society are caused by capitalism and the solution is socialism FULL STOP. They won't be drawn into any fight for partial demands because that means compromising with capitalism."

Ken Macleod: In the interests of clarity among the vanguard of the international working class :-) let me point out that this isn't strictly accurate. The Socialist Party of Great Britain and its Companion Parties in the World Socialist Movement believe that the job of a socialist party is solely to make more socialists (and of course to get elected to all the representative bodies of the world and abolish capitalism when they convince a couple of billion people that it's a good idea.) They have no objection to workers, and socialists, getting involved in fights for partial demands but don't believe the party should do that. They regard the strategy of transitional demands as elitist and manipulative, as well as downright silly...The party doesn't support anything (apart from World Socialism) because that might lead people to support the party for the wrong reasons. (The exact opposite of Leninism :-)

"I don't get it. Not having a program will encourage people to support the party for the right reasons? How are they going to know what those are?!"


Ken MacLeod:
Hmm. This is getting disproportionately complicated. The SPGB and its companion parties have as their objective the replacement of global capitalism with a likewise global society of common ownership, voluntary work and free access, which they call socialism. They believe that such a society can be achieved if and only if a majority of the workers of the world understand and want it, in other words if most of the world proletariat are convinced socialists. Contrary to rumour, they do not insist that the workers be convinced one by one by members of the party. This socialist majority will (they say) elect socialist delegates to whatever democratic institutions exist, with the sole objective of legally abolishing capitalism. The SPGB et al are well aware that if such a majority existed it could do as it damn well pleased, but they consider that a democratic mandate would smooth the transition. They are also aware that the socialist majority might have to use force to impose its will, but consider this unlikely. Hence the sole purpose of the party is to (a) argue for socialism, and (b) put up candidates to measure how many socialist voters there are. They are unique among political parties in calling on people not to vote for them unless they agree with what they stand for. (Hundreds of thousands of workers have enthusiastically not voted for them.) They don't see it as the party's task to 'lead the workers in struggle' or to instruct its members on what to do in trade unions, tenants' associations etc, because they believe that socialists and class-conscious workers are quite capable of making decisions for themselves. If this sounds difficult to understand, it's because you haven't risen beyond a Leninist level of consciousness :-)

4) "BTW, as you well know, the SPGB is a unique beast and therefore not too relevant. They predate the Russian revolution which they are proud to have denounced within hours. Their programmatic base is an academic,undialectical and abstract 'Marxism'. They have no conception of strategy or tactics, or indeed any understanding of the need to get involved in the class struggle. For 90 years they have been doggedly slogging away building, by arithmetic progression, their little band by holding debates,educationals and tea parties. They are amusing and innocuous and highly irrelevant."

Ken MacLeod: The jibe about the Socialist Party of Great Britain (SPGB) having denounced the Russian Revolution within hours of hearing about it originated, AFAIK, in a footnote to David Widgery's "The Left In Britain". Here is the central passage of the first recorded response of the SPGB to the Russian Revolution:-
'Whatever may be the final outcome, the Bolsheviks have at all events succeeded in doing what all the armies, alll the diplomats, all the priests and primates, all the perfervid pacifists of all the groaning and bleeding world have failed do - they have stopped the slaughter, for the time being, at all events, on their front.
How much more than this they ever intended to do the future may reveal. They may have higher aims, yet to be justified by success or condemned by failure; but it is an astounding achievement that these few men have been able to seize opportunity and make the thieves and murderers of the whole world stand aghast and shiver with apprehension.'('The Russian Situation', Socialist Standard January 1918, reprinted in 'Russia Since 1917', SPGB, n.d. (late 1940s?) Your other comments on them are similarly second-hand and unjust, IMHO.

5) "Fascinating stuff. I know very little about them except that they strike me as remarkably otherworldly. But, I've not come into enough contact with their stuff to be reasonable. For a few dollars you can get almost everything they have in print, and probably free sample back issues as well. Their website's front pages do look a bit icky, but dig deeper. Their pamphlets are not otherworldly at all. Wrong, maybe, but that's another question."

Ken MacLeod: It has occurred to me that by 'otherworldly' you may mean 'a complete lack of practical engagement with politics' - in which case, the description is apt. They comment, often intelligently, on political developments but they do not seek to influence them. The eventual outcome of politics in a society which has political democracy and a wage/salary-earning majority is the replacement of the market by a consciously and collectively negotiated organization of production. The response of Marx and Engels to this proposition was to get stuck in to the development of working-class politics. The response of the impossibilists to this proposition is to get stuck in to convincing the majority of its truth.

6) Ken MacLeod:The older Socialist Party, the SPGB, has never campaigned for bans on racist bookshops and paper-sellers.

"On the subject of the SPGB - do they still exist?"


Ken Macleod: They certainly do. I voted for their list in Lothian yesterday. (Better them than the Tartan Trots of the SSP.)

Link to Socialist Standard interview with Ken MacLeod

Review of Ken MacLeod's Stone Canal

and review of Dystopia

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Over-worked footballers

Footballers play an increasing number of matches every season. Some teams are involved in two or even three competitions at the same time, leaving players with inadequate recovery time between matches. There is much information about how long it takes to replenish glycogen, the primary energy fuel for muscles during intense physical exertion, such as match play. Players’ glycogen levels can return to normal pre-match levels within 36 hours if they follow a proper dietary regimen, take the proper supplements, and get adequate rest. But glycogen replenishment is only one piece of the puzzle. Multiple physiological mechanisms play a vital role in a full recovery, and some of these parameters may actually take a week or longer to be normalized, depending on the load of physical exertion. For example, following exhaustive exercise, the immune system is depressed and several neurological mechanisms suffer changes. These changes are not fully understood, but they take time to be fully restored. Also, following back-to-back competitive matches, players may experience debilitating effects for several days—or even up to a week—including muscle tears and severe soreness.

Dr. Tobias Moskowitz, professor of economics at the University of Chicago and author of the bestselling book Scorecasting, warned about the economic imperatives that are pushing players to their limits.

“The economic incentive is there for more games and the hefty schedule that is in place. The fans want to go to and see as many games as possible, generating more revenues from ticket sales. You also have higher TV revenues from more advertisements. All of that adds up, and the players don’t get paid per game,”
Dr. Moskowitz said. For the owners of the teams and the league bosses who control the game, it really does not matter if the players play too many games. “It may be that the league and players have to be willing to accept fewer financial rewards in order to obtain a more humane calendar,” Dr. Moskowitz said.

In the first phase of Euro 2012, participants played an average of three matches in less than ten days. Dr. John Ivy, a world renowned exercise physiologist at the University of Texas, said he highly doubted that a player would have been able to have a full recovery when that many matches were scheduled in such a short period of time.  The organizers surely did not have the physiological interests of the players at heart. Exhausted and completely drained, prior to the European tournament, from having just participated in a full season of football in their respective club team competitions, Dr. Ivy said " I would bet my money that most of these guys playing in this year’s EURO tournament were not physically and mentally at their best after playing a full season.”

A study by Swedish researchers from the University of Linkoping examined the correlation between European footballers’ exposure to match play in the months before the 2002 World Cup and their injuries and performances during the World Cup. The researchers observed that players who underperformed in the World Cup had played more matches in the weeks prior to the competition compared to those who performed better than expected. Researchers also observed that almost two-thirds of the players who had played more than one match a week during the last 10 weeks of the season either incurred injures or underperformed in the World Cup. The root and solution to the problem may be closely connected to the gross commercialization and the exorbitant amount of money that revolves around football.

The players united will never be defeated!




Adapted from here

Friday, August 10, 2012

world capitalism

The Olympics has been a frenzy of patriotism for Team GB. No doubt when the Commonwealth Games arrive in Glasgow a similar outpouring of nationalism for the Scottish athletes can be expected. In the independence referendum we will also meet those illusory phrases “national economic interest,” “national security,” and “national unity.”  In the patriotic fog we will be urged to ignore class divisions and join with the bankers and bosses, sacrificing our own worker interests for the “good of the nation.”  The capitalist economy can never work for all of us, because it’s designed for the wealthy. To be patriotic, workers are told they must nobly sacrifice to save the economy and the nation. A load of Bull.
 Nationalists pit Scottish workers against their class allies in other countries. It’s a way of diverting workers’ anger toward other countries’ labourers and away from the real cause of the economic crisis — the profit system. We have much more in common with sweat-shop workers in India, strikers in Spain  and protesters in Greece, than with capitalists from Scotland. Working people can improve their conditions by uniting with their mates across borders, instead of swallowing patriotic slogans against their own class interests. Paid propagandists whose job is to mystify and distract us while the ultra rich steal what little we have left. We have all heard reams of economic analysis. Many countries have announced that they are running out of money, and the solution they offer, everywhere on the planet, is pretty much the same.  People worldwide are told to expect less employment, lower salaries, reduced pensions and benefits, higher retirement ages, health care that is less available, more expensive, and lower quality, fewer government welfare services, etc.  You have heard the endless mantra, that we all must tighten our belts.

“Shared sacrifice” means accepting speed-ups, redundancies, and pay cuts. It means agreeing to austerity without rocking the boat with protests and strikes — all for the good of “our” national economy! The notion that a company or corporate executive or wealthy entrepreneur is bound by an allegiance to their country of origin is passé. The elite capitalists of today are bound to one another, not to countries. They meet at the same conferences, like the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, or the The Bilderberg Group annual geopolitic forum. They stay at the same 5-star hotels, lease the same private jets, dine at the same 5-star restaurants, meet up with Bono and Geldof, and ceaselessly travel the globe together, with homes on every continent, taking up residence according to the season. Their allegiances extend beyond the borders of their nation-states of origin, and they could care less about the toiling class in any particular country where they do business. The common denominator of global corporations is cheap labour; they hover like bees around honey, wherever cheap labour is to be found,  combing the world for the loosest regulations. They are a transglobal community who have more in common with one another than with their supposed country-men back home. Whether they maintain primary residences in Edinburgh or London, Moscow or Mumbai, the super-rich are a nation unto themselves. Several thousand people control the world of finance and politics. They control food, energy, employment, real estate, health care, the police, the army, and the air force, and we control nothing. This global ruling class controls the levers of decision-making of the IMF, World Bank, the EU, and the WTO. World capitalism is a multi-headed hydra. International capitalism has been able to break free of nation-state constraints to maintain class power worldwide sharply in its favour and to undermine the strength of working class movements around the world. The gap between the richest 1% and the rest of us is the greatest it's ever been and growing. Yes, there is class warfare and the rich are winning.

The labour movement can be seen as in crisis, with trade union membership falling and increasingly discredited by their complicity with capitalist austerity programs. New fronts of anti-capitalist activity have been opened, away from the traditional structures.  The recent Occupy Movement is a reminder that the class struggle is still alive. The fatally compromised nature of trade unions under capital points the way toward different means of building struggles. Again an  example is the Occupy movement's clarion call of the 99% against capital. Yet for all the class struggle that’s been staged in the streets and squares, and despite what has been accomplished, those who govern and manage capital are still effectively making it harder for working people to survive. The changing shape of the labour market has called into question the labour movement as the chief conduit of struggle against capitalism. For example, an increasing amount of workers are employed in precarious conditions, and in part-time, temporary and fleeting forms of employment not immediately associated with the traditional base of trade union membership. These workers, the precariat as they have been called, do not fit so easily into the template of "workers". Their sense of individual identity and collective position as workers in the capitalist system is less pronounced. 

Did the workers cause the recession?  We lived exactly as we lived when we were being told that times were good. Whatever happened to the global economy was not caused by us. That is a fact. Yet it is also a fact that we are being forced to pay for it, for decades to come. Meanwhile, the rich really are getting richer.  Not even they deny it. How exactly is that happening, when all the rest of us are hard pressed to feed the family? The rich cut wages and pay everybody less, while demanding greater productivity.  Then they charge us more for everything. So their profits are soaring. The war of the rich against the rest of us has been going on since time immemorial.  This is blatant theft by the ruling class and amounts to class war on a global scale, and they have, quite literally, all the big guns. So don’t expect anything to get better with or without a sovereign government in Edinburgh.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


August branch meeting in the

COMMUNITY  CENTRAL HALLS

304 MARYHILL ROAD, 8.30pm

“The Curse of Religion”

Speaker

John Cumming


Religious superstitions are not just silly outmoded belief systems, like astrology, fortune- telling and other stupid pastimes.
They are dangerous delusions which can prevent understanding of the world as it really is. Whether it is the Voodoo Mumbo-jumbo coming from Rome, Mecca, or any other “holy” place, all religions are quite good at keeping workers appropriately deferential, docile, and slavish…Religions assert unreasonable and unreasoning certainty based upon no evidence whatever. Consequently, socialists cannot be believers in any form of religious superstition.
John Cumming.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Food for thought

The development of drones is making war too easy to wage. David Kepes writing in the Toronto Star reports that drones are appealing because they save the lives that would otherwise be committed to action, it's easier to expend dollars than human lives and easier to get funding, and because if we can go to war for less, we will. Bright prospect to look forward to in the future!
On that topic, the American 'War from Above' touted to be so clean and accurate that it's almost anti-septic, was taken to task in The Toronto Star, June 23, 2012. According to the drone database compiled by the New American Foundation, the non-military fatality rate for Pakistan is seventeen per cent, not counting missile attacks such as the Majalah tragedy. The true count of civilian bodies will never be reported or known but it is heavy, even under Peace Nobelist Obama!
The Ontario budget finally passed. The ruling Liberals are in a minority position and so have had to rely on the support of the NDP to get it passed. One sticking point for the Liberals was the NDP proposal of a wealth 2% surtax on those earning more than $500 000. Big deal! And some believe this is a socialist party!
Information keeps popping up re the Harper governments massive omnibus bill. Environmental amendments account for 170 pages of the total 425. For example, the Tories are no longer required to report on their green (?) progress (nothing to report anyway!), less protection for fish, cut Parks Canada employees, reduce or eliminate the number of monitoring programs for water (not important, eh?). The Tories see environmental protection as a hindrance to economic growth. The only part of environmental that applies to this government is the "mental" part.
Noticeably absent in the Greek financial tragedy is any action on the part of the wealthy class. Shipping magnates have their tax-free status enshrined in the constitution and oil, gas, media, and banking magnates are showing their patriotism by NOT buying government bonds to help the country. (New York Times, June 10).
The Toronto and District School Board is looking to close school cafeterias that take in less than $35 a day in an effort to save $600,000 a day. Apparently, serving up nutritious food for their students doesn't seem to be a consideration. Not too surprising in a money driven world but disappointing that those charged to look after our children are oriented in such a way. And, of course, we all know about the 9 year-old girl in Scotland who posted pictures of the crap food served in her school on the internet only to be banned from doing so. Again, good food was not a consideration. Saving face was.
We all know that India is the latest capitalist economic miracle/poster boy. The economy is booming and 'all boats get lifted by the rising tide', right? Well, not exactly. The New York Times June 17) reports, "Despite India's Plenty, Poor Still Go Hungry". Apparently, infrastructure to get food to the needy does not take priority over infrastructure that is necessary to make a profit. This, we know, will never change in this system.
The Rio + 20 summit has been and gone and little or no progress is still the watchword, only serving to remind us, if we needed it, that nothing is happening. World leaders attended the first one but were conspicuous by their absence at the latest one. No problem, it's of little importance anyway. It does also let us know how far we have slipped. Little was reported in the leading newspapers but in 1992, every paper had an environmental reporter covering the event. Canada's environment minister, Peter Kent, commented, "There is a lack of familiarity with the good news that Canada has to report." Well, we are waiting! John Ayers

A DISABLED SOCIETY

Capitalism is a cruel unfeeling society wherein profit is much more important than human compassion. "A private care home for severely disabled people put its own profits before basic humanity, a scathing inquiry into abuse has found. Regulators, police, social services and the NHS are all heavily criticised in an official report for failing to pick up warning signs about the treatment of patients at the Winterbourne View home in Gloucestershire. It was published after 11 members of staff at the home pleaded guilty to almost 40 charges of neglect and ill treatment of people with severe learning difficulties in their care." (Daily Telegraph, 7 August) The scandal only came to light after an undercover reporter for the BBC's Panorama programme filmed abuse taking place after being tipped off by Terry Bryan, a former senior nurse. The footage showed frail and confused residents being forcibly pinned to the ground by groups of staff, beaten, soaked with water, trapped under chairs and having their hair pulled and eyes poked. Yes, capitalism is truly a "caring" society! RD

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Food for thought

The development of drones is making war too easy to wage. David Kepes writing in the Toronto Star reports that drones are appealing because they save the lives that would otherwise be committed to action, it's easier to expend dollars than human lives and easier to get funding, and because if we can go to war for less, we will. Bright prospect to look forward to in the future!
On that topic, the American 'War from Above' touted to be so clean and accurate that it's almost anti-septic, was taken to task in The Toronto Star, June 23, 2012. According to the drone database compiled by the New American Foundation, the non-military fatality rate for Pakistan is seventeen per cent, not counting missile attacks such as the Majalah tragedy. The true count of civilian bodies will never be reported or known but it is heavy, even under Peace Nobelist Obama!
The Ontario budget finally passed. The ruling Liberals are in a minority position and so have had to rely on the support of the NDP to get it passed. One sticking point for the Liberals was the NDP proposal of a wealth 2% surtax on those earning more than $500 000. Big deal! And some believe this is a socialist party! John Ayers

THE ECONOMICS OF THE MAD HOUSE

 

There are many reasons why we should abolish the capitalist system of society and introduce world socialism, but surely there is no greater reason than this. "An unparalleled number of severe food shortages has added 43 million to the number of people going hungry worldwide this year. And millions of children are now at risk of acute malnutrition, charities are warning. ...... For the first time in recent history, humanitarian organisations have had to respond to three serious food crises – in West Africa, Yemen and East Africa – in the past 12 months, according to Oxfam. Almost a billion people are now hungry – one in seven of the global population – and the number of acutely malnourished children has risen for the first time this decade." (Independent, 5 August) While millions starve food is destroyed to keep up prices. Capitalism is a mad house. RD

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Food for thought 2

In Britain, thieves are ripping up railway and telephone cables, stealing lead of church roofs, prying off manhole covers, blatantly carting away ramps for the disabled, and causing children to shiver in schools by stealing heating pipes. This is in response to a soaring demand for copper and lead as developing countries race to build skyscrapers, factories and other infrastructure. It's pointless to blame greed when it's endemic to the capitalist system.

Well, Egypt finally got its democracy -- you can choose who you like for President as long as we, the army aristocracy, get to vet all the
candidates and reject whoever we don't like, and as long as, when you have chosen a president, we get to suspend the elected assembly and make up our own constitution. That's what will happen until the working class realizes that only a socialist revolution will do the trick. John Ayers

Food for thought

In "Rich-Poor Divide in Toronto Hospitals", (Toronto Star, June 13) reporter, Carol Goar, highlights the findings of a recent survey. There are two -- "The first is that very low income people are using the parts of the health care system that are in its greatest crisis; the second is that to reduce hospital use, people need the ability to pay for healthy food, buy medicine, and live in a healthy place where they can receive home care." In other words, if you do not have the money you will not get the health care you need. Another example of capitalism's sickness!

Actress Halle Berry has been ordered to pay ex-husband, Gabriel Aubrey $240 000 a year to support their four-year old daughter..."in the comfortable surroundings she has become accustomed to." How many starving children would that feed. It makes one wonder if there isn't something wrong with the system under which we live!

A snippet in The Toronto Star recently focused on the United States of Anger. In 2011 there were one thousand and eighteen hate groups operating there, an increase of four hundred and eleven in that year. There was a thirty-five per cent increase in prosecutions of hate crimes during the first three years of Obama's administration, according to the justice department. That's what we like about capitalism -- it brings people together in peace and harmony!

SUB-STANDARD CARE

Many workers suffer awful social problems inside capitalism but undoubtedly the group that most feel the effects of its unfeeling cruelty are the old and the sick who have to rely on the state for treatment. "Complaints over care provision have risen by nearly a quarter in a year, a report said yesterday. The biggest complaint was the quality of care, with the poor attitude of some care staff also a common grievance, according to the Local Government Ombudsman for England. .... The Ombudsman said it had received more than 1,000 complaints about adult social care in the 2011/12 financial year – a 22 per cent rise on the previous year." (Daily Mail, 1 August) RD

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