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Showing posts from November, 2012

Crimes of Carnegie

In the land of his birth Andrew Carnegie is commemorated by statues and grand buildings named in his honour. In Dunfermline, where he was born, there is a museum to remember him. This article expresses a different view of the Scottish "benefactor".

Condoning Crime in the Name of Philanthropy

Many thousands of misguided people are applauding the alleged philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie and of these by far the larger number are
workingmen. Manifestly they have forgotten, or they have never heard of the horrors of Homestead — or perhaps they are too ignorant to understand or too cowardly to profit by the bloody lesson.

The reckless prodigality of Carnegie with the plunder of his victims brings into boldest prominencethe crimes he committed when they protested
against his monstrous rapacity. Then what? An army of 300 Pinkerton mercenaries were hired by this bloody benefactor to kill the men whose
labor had made him a millionaire. He did not have the courage to execute his own murd…

Facts of the Day

The world's 1,226 billionaires have more combined wealth than 3.5 billion people - half the entire planet's population. The richest 10 per cent of the world's population takes 90 per cent of the world's income.
$21 trillion is estimated to have been transferred in the tax havens - 10 per cent of all the world's privately held wealth. This is also more than 10 times the total value of development aid given to the world's poorer nations in the past 20 years.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/11/20121126134721926547.html

God and the Socialist Party

The quest for the supernatural does not stem from an excessive imagination but from a limited one constrained by years of exploitation and oppression.

Being opposed to religion is not the same as trying to prevent people from practising religion. We're not interested in setting up an enlightened dictatorship. Socialists don't want to police peoples thoughts - rather, we seek to change peoples ideas by engaging with them. It would be stupid to think that, in a society based on the endless oppression and coarsening of the worker masses, religious prejudices could be dispelled by purely propaganda methods. To put it another way, rational argument alone will not convince people to abandon religion because religious conviction is not primarily arrived at through a rational process (people don't generally become religious because they've sat down and thought through the issues but due to indoctrination, spiritual experiences, etc.) We understand that ideas and consciousness…

Learning to organise

Shining shoes, mining and herding animals among the many jobs done by an estimated 750,000 children between five and 17 in Bolivia. Rodrigo Medrano Calle is a Bolivian labour leader who meets and lobbies top government officials. That's not surprising in a country where pay is often low, working conditions harsh and unions play a powerful role in society. Rodrigo is just 14 years old, and his union's members are all children, the Bolivian Union of Child and Adolescent Workers (Unatsbo), which represents thousands of under-18s.  In Bolivia, its successes include organising pay rises for children who sell newspapers on the city streets of Potosí from 6 cents (½p) to 12 cents a paper, using negotiations and the threat of strikes. And it's not just a Bolivian phenomenon: there are similar organisations in Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru and Colombia.

Bolivia's informal economy includes everyone from bricklayers to farmers to shoeshiners, who work without contracts and set schedu…

Fact of the day

One hundred and ninety million – that’s more than the populations of Germany, France and Poland combined - is also the number of children affected by vitamin A deficiency around the world. India represents 37 percent of victims, including roughly 80 million children.

An insufficient intake of this vital nutrient – found in foods like liver, carrots and kale – can be fatal and causes blindness in 250,000 to 500,000 children every year.

 Solving the problem of hunger does not necessarily tackle the question of nutrition. For instance, rice can represent up to 70 percent of caloric intake in many Asian countries, while cassava – rich in calories but also poor in nutrients – is the main food source for many Africans.

The SPC and OBU

The establishment of the Socialist Party of Canada in January 1905 was the product of a merger between the Canadian Socialist League and the Socialist Party of British Columbia. Other provincial socialist parties later joined. The new party adopted a programme of uncompromising class struggle. The party platform described an "irrepressible conflict" between capitalist and worker which was "rapidly culminating in a struggle for possession of the reins of government." The party platform specified no immediate demands, but called on workers to unite under the party banner in order to achieve three goals:
1. The transformation, as rapidly as possible, of capitalist property in the means of wealth production (natural resources, factories, mills, railroads, etc) into the collective property of the working class.
2. The democratic organization and management of industry by the workers.
3. The establishment, as speedily as possible, of production for use instead of pro…

KEEP IT QUIET

In order to boost profits the capitalist class have got to cut overheads anyway they can. A favourite with big-time high street retailers like C&A is to out-source production to Asian countries where the workers are unorganised, poorly paid and safety conditions are lax. "Survivors have described how a fire tore through a multi-storey garment factory just outside Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, killing more than 100 of their colleagues in one of the worst such incidents in recent years. ......Witnesses said many workers leapt from upper stories in a bid to escape the flames. Twelve workers died in hospital from injuries sustained in falls, officials said, bringing the overall toll to 123 dead and more than 150 injured. The blaze will focus attention once more on the conditions in which workers producing clothes for sale in the west work. Fires in textiles and garments factories across south Asia have killed hundreds in recent months. More than 280 die…

Independent class struggle not independence

Such words as "Independence", "My country", "Sovereignty"and  "Self-determination" all pertain to the ideology of nationalism that forestalls class-consciousness. All definitions are confusing. In fact what capitalism needs for its continual reproduction is not so much "a nation" as "a state". A "separatist" is bound to appeal to the prejudiced emotions of his "people" over a territory at all times in the name of a national "story" – christened "history" – invariably told about "the heroes". Winning "national independence" is a capitalist objective.

This ideology speaks in terms of "common bonds" – race, religion, language, economic interests – to define the nation-state. But such homogeneity is conspicuously absent in almost all the 195 countries1 on our planet. And all nations are class-divided. A change of capital's capital city does not make worker…

William Morris Again

News from Nowhere is an account by William Morris of a socialist returning home from a branch meeting of the Hammersmith Socialist League to fall into a deep sleep. When he awakes, he is in the socialist future. People are living in equality, and there is no money, no government, no marriage and no politics. The people live in harmony with nature, and work because they enjoy it, take pleasure in crafts, and have few conflicts with one another. Morris’s vision echoes Marx’s idea that under communism people would be able "to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner."

William Morris could be so easily dismissed as utopian if it were not for the amount of time, effort and money he expended on what he called ‘practical socialism’: printing newspapers, leaflets and pamphlets, organising meetings, giving lectures and building socialism as a political force. . He called himself a ‘dreamer of dreams, born out of my due time.’ Yet …

Exposing the ethics of the Co-op

On Thursday 22nd a dozen people, including members of benefit claimants' groups Black Triangle and the Crutch Collective, Clydeside Industrial Workers Of The World, Glasgow Anarchist Federation, Glasgow Solidarity Federation as well as other individuals took part in the hour long picket of the Co-Op Bank and supermarket on the same street in central Glasgow.

They gave out leaflets to Co-Op customers and the hundreds of people going pass on their way home from work. The leaflet highlighted the Co-Op's four year occupational health contract with Atos. Atos continue to make huge profits by continuing to assess most sick and disabled benefit claimants as fit for work, ignoring contrary medical evidence, to comply with Government targets for benefit cuts. The cuts are being imposed to make the poor pay again for the latest crisis in capitalism caused by the rich. They asked people to contact the Co-Op to tell the company, that sells itself as ethical, tha…

The Legal Class Struggle

Defence lawyers are protesting against a change to the legal aid system contained in the Scottish Civil Justice Council and Criminal Legal Assistance Bill, which will not only force anyone with a disposable income of more than £68 a week to contribute to the cost of their representation in summary cases, but will make lawyers responsible for collecting the money. "Due to the nature of criminal law, a huge number of the people you are dealing with have substance abuse problems, alcohol problems, mental health problems or learning difficulties,” says Cameron Tait, the president of the Edinburgh Bar Association “Trying to get these people to play ball, to turn up at court and to engage with the criminal justice system can be difficult enough, but when you are trying to get them to pay part of a fee they can’t afford, it’s going to cause an impossible situation. The underlying point is that the Scottish Government knows most of these contributions will not be paid and they want the …

GROWING OLD DISGRACEFULLY

Having spent a lifetime working for wages with all its stresses and strains even retirement brings no relief to the working class. "Tens of thousands of older people are condemned to care homes where they are not fed properly and are neglected by untrained staff, a health watchdog has found. .... In the most comprehensive study of its kind, the Care Quality Commission found a care system over-whelmed by sick patients and in need of radical change." (Times, 23 November) The study revealed that there are 500,000 people in nursing and care homes and that one in five is not even being fed properly. RD

bank nationalisation (2)

It appears that some still see a future in the banks to solve the problems of the recession - state-owned banks, of course. Alf Young of the Scotsman appears to be a a convert and waxes lyrically about the Bank of North Dakota which is owned by the state. He appears to infer that the low impact of the crisis on the state had something to do with the this bank. Young then nostalgically recalled the widespread trustee savings bank that once existed but fails to mention that at least one still remains.

It is a shame that he never read the Socialist Courier or he would have come across this post which would have enlightened him a bit more to dead-end hope of bank nationalisation. 

HYPOCRISY AND WEAPON SALES

The journalist Finian Cunningham highlights a piece of hypocrisy by the UK and USA governments. Whilst officially condemning dictatorship and praising democracy they do not let that deter them from a bit of billion dollar business in the sale of armaments. "Moreover, the Persian Gulf Arab dictatorships are a lucrative destination for the American and British weapons industries. The latter vital interest was underscored last week by the visit of British prime minister to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia -- whose sole mission was to sell $9 billion-worth of fighter jets to these regimes. The Pentagon is also planning to sell Saudi Arabia $6.7 billion-worth of military transport planes, on top of the $60 billion deal signed off last year. In an age of debt-ridden American and British capitalism, the Arab dictators are vital sources of cash." (PRESS TV, 12 November) RD

WHAT HOUSING PROBLEM?

Many workers are facing the problem of either having their house re-possessed for non-payment of mortgage arrears or cannot get enough money together to put up a deposit on a first home. No such problem exist for the international capitalist class. "A luxury Hong Kong apartment in a Frank Gehry-designed building has sold for an eye-popping price of nearly $60 million, the property developer said Tuesday, the latest sign of the city's overheated housing market. ..... The sale comes amid growing concern over surging property prices in Hong Kong driven by ultra-low interest rates and an influx of wealthy mainland Chinese buyers. Prices have doubled since the end of the global financial crisis in 2009, according to a widely watched index." (Associated Press, 13 November) RD

Facts for today

Two out of five households across the country are either in or close to 'fuel poverty'

One in 10 people has suffered some form of "food poverty" in the last 12 months.

Around 400,000 families in low-paid work will be worse off as a result of universal credit

James Connolly Commemoration, 1949

 The following is the text of a leaflet that dates from 1949, and was produced by the Dublin Socialist Group for distribution at events organised in the city to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the execution of James Connolly. The socialists who made up the Dublin Socialist Group later helped form the World Socialist Party of Ireland.



FELLOW-WORKERS ! TRADE UNIONISTS !

May the 15th, 1949 – thirty-three years after his death which you now commemorate, and less than thirty-three days after the roar of guns ushered in “The Republic of Ireland”. What relationship is there between these two events? That is the question which, on this day, it is only fitting that you should ask yourselves. Once a year you can march through the streets in your thousands to commemorate his death yet every other day of the year your actions – your very ideas – are, apparently, in violent conflict with all that the man lived for. Is that an unwarranted assumption? Emphatically, we reply: NO. The truth remains…

Grey Granite

 Book Review from the January 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard

Grey Granite by Lewis Grassic Gibbon (Canongate Press)

The novel Grey Granite, the third volume of Lewis Grassic Gibbon's trilogy A Scots Quair, is a text that fits rather snugly within the canon of twentieth-century literary modernism, even though it is rarely to be found on a university syllabus, at least outside Scotland.

 The plot primarily involves Chris Colquohoun and her son Ewan Tavendale, making a "new life" for themselves after moving to the industrial city of Duncairn from the country. While Chris works in a boarding house, Ewan goes to work at Gowans, the local steel works. The general relationships between these and other characters are obviously one of the main elements of the plot, but these relationships and the other events presented in the text are heavily coloured, if not determined, by Ewan's movement from an apparently self-reliant and individualist conception of his "self&qu…

Even the lawyers are striking

Lawyers in Edinburgh caused chaos in a court as they staged a walkout in a dispute over changes to the legal aid system.

Anyone with more than £68 of disposable income each week or with £750 in the bank will be expected to pay all or part of the cost of their defence in court under the plans, designed to cut £3.9 million a year from Scotland's legal aid bill. Solicitors say the move will risk miscarriages of justice and deny access to legal representation for all.

Edinburgh Bar Association and Glasgow Bar Association have already voted to take industrial action over the issue and in the first round of action, members at Edinburgh Sheriff Court walked out of the custody court at 11.45am yesterday and protested outside.

Sick Scotland

Scotland has had the worst mortality rates in Western European among working age men and women for more than three decades, a report revealed.

 The study, Still 'The Sick Man of Europe'? by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH), stated: "Mortality in the working-age population remains comparatively high and mortality for circulatory diseases and many cancer-related diseases is higher than in most other Western European countries."

Violent Scotland

Scotland is still the violent crime capital of Europe, despite offending falling as a whole. A quarter of crime is violent. The report found violent crime is higher per head of population in Scotland, than elsewhere in Europe.

 Domestic abuse, in particular, rose sharply in 2011/12 to almost 120 incidents per 10,000 population.

"Every society has the criminals it deserves.”
Emma Goldman

The Capitalist Game

The biggest football story recently has been the financial collapse of  Rangers and now a similar impending fate for Hearts. This is not just a sporting story but involves many of the failings that have been played out in the wider economy. Corporate failure, greed, arrogance, criminality and cheating are included in the list of accusations.

Jock Stein said that “football without fans is nothing”. Capitalist ideology tells us that the consumer is king and that the decisions of millions of consumers decide what production takes place. If companies fail it is because they don’t sell goods or services that people want or at a price they are prepared to pay. There is just enough truth in this to give it the credibility to make it widely accepted. What it leaves out, among other things, is that production also has to make a profit and that indeed this is the main reason any production takes place at all. Given the ownership of the means of production in the hands of only one group of peopl…

A Family Affair

Rahul Gandhi is the  general secretary of the Congress Party in India. Sonia Gandhi, his mother, is the party’s president. Rahul Gandhi’s late father was former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, himself the son of Indira Ghandi who was the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India.

In the Congress Party, democracy is a dynastic affair. Nepotism still dominates the Congress Party.

Sachin Pilot, who will run the Corporate Affairs Ministry, is the son of Rajesh Pilot, a minister in the Congress government in the 1990s. Milind Deora, a junior minister of communications and information technology since 2011, is the son of Murli Deora, a minister for petroleum and natural gas until recently. Jyotiradtiya Scindia, who now holds the energy portfolio, is the son of Madhavrao Scindia one of the most powerful members of the Congress Party until his death in 2001. Scindia is heir to the Scindia dynasty, which once ruled a large swath of central India and although…

Facts of the Day

How many people know that out of 150 countries, the United States have the fourth-highest wealth disparity? Only Zimbabwe, Namibia and Switzerland are worse. 93% of financial wealth is owned by the richest 20% of Americans.

The richest 1% have doubled their share of America's income in 30 years. From 1980 to 2006, the richest 1% actually tripled their share of after-tax income.

Only 4% of those raised in the bottom fifth make it to the top fifth as adults. Only about 20 percent even make it to the top half. 80% of black children who started in or near the top half of U.S. income levels experienced downward mobility later in life.

According to UNICEF, among industrialized countries only Romania has a higher child poverty rate than the United States. Just in the last 10 years the number of impoverished American children increased by 30%. While 12 percent of white children live in poverty, 35% of Hispanic children and 39% of black children start their lives below the poverty line.

 F…

Food for thought

Haroon Siddiqui enlightens us in The Toronto Star of the toxic aftermath of war. Falluja, Iraq, was the scene of two furious bombing campaigns to avenge the capture and mutilation of four American mercenaries. Instead of targeting the estimated 2 000 insurgents, the Marines, knights in shining armour that they are, levelled the city of 300 000. The city of Basra received eight hundred tons of bombs and one million rounds of ammunition in the first Gulf War. Radioactive residue is responsible for babies born with huge heads, eyes, stunted arms, bloated stomachs and defective hearts. Both cities are experiencing a staggering rise in birth defects. In September, 2009, Fallujah doctors reported that one quarter of the babies born there that month died within seven days and seventy-five per cent of them were deformed. In 2010 it was reported that the increases in congenital defects, leukemia, and infant mortality in that city were higher than in Nagasaki and Hiroshi…

No Borders

According to the Organization for the European Minorities there are 110 minority ethnic groups in Europe involved in conflicts and land claims with their respective governing majorities. That's EU only, not the rest of the world. To see a list of those go to Society for Threatened Peoples website.
Contrary to how it appears on a political map, the world is not and cannot be nicely partitioned into contiguous regions (or "countries") such that each country contains people of only one particular ethnicity. You would either have to engineer mass population migrations or expulsions, or you would have to forget about contiguous regions and end up with literally millions of tiny exclaves and enclaves.

People are not machines. They need  something to sustain them. By no means do they get this at work, they feel lost in this vast meaningless world of capital, just another cog in the machine, and they would be right. So naturally they seek meaning. Often they find meaning in the i…

Food for thought

In the business section of the October 6 Toronto Star a headline shouted that the job market was 'inching upward'. Another said, " Hudson's Bay jobs head South to the US", which tells us that 210 workers will lose their jobs. In addition, 22 000 Zellers workers will be let go as Target and Walmart take over the store leases (for $1.825 billion). There is no security in the capitalist mode of production.

Wow! China is a communist country after all. In its attempt to get a share of all that the Arctic promises, it actually stated that the Arctic, " is the inherited wealth of all humankind". I wonder if that applies to the Chinese people regarding the wealth of China! Behind the scenes, China is hard at work making trade deals, trying to get a foothold in impoverished Iceland to make her Arctic claims a little more legitimate. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

Asbestos in Canada, the world's foremost exporter of the deadly toxin is in t…

Bank Nationalisation

It is no co-incidence that the cries for banking reform invariably comes during economic depressions. The lubrication that keeps the capitalist machine running – the money markets – are dysfunctional.

As Marx identified “So long as things go well, competition effects an operating fraternity of the capitalist class…so that each shares in the common loot in proportion to the size of his respective investment. But as soon as it is no longer a question of sharing profits, but of sharing losses, everyone tries to reduce his own share to a minimum and to shove it off upon another. The class, as such, must inevitably lose. How much the individual capitalist must bear of the loss, ie, to what extent he must share in it at all, is decided by strength and cunning, and competition then becomes a fight among hostile brothers. The antagonism between each individual capitalist’s interests and those of the capitalist class as a whole, then comes to the surface…”

 Marx also pointed out that “the mone…

Food for thought

About seventeen per cent of Torontonians between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four were unemployed last year according to a report by the Toronto Community Foundation. The report attributes youth unemployment to the disappearance of mid-level jobs and increased employment among seniors. Under capitalism, it's a competition at all levels; if some people do well others will do badly. It's in its DNA.
Tim Hudak, leader of the opposition Conservative Party in Ontario is spouting the usual neo-liberal garbage as he sees an opportunity for power now that Liberal Premier, McGuinty, has resigned. Paraphrasing the disastrous (for workers) Mike Harris of the former Conservative government, Hudak is calling for smaller government (read less services), 'common sense', 'straight talk', and lower taxes (read more money for the capitalist class and, again, less services). No doubt many in the working class will fall for that claptrap again.
"Is lo…

EXPLOITATION AND HYPOCRISY

There are charities like WaterAid that want you to spend a few pounds in helping to have clean water for millions doomed to death because of the lack of clean water. You can read of children dying because they cannot have anything to eat and some dogooders asking you do something about it. Meanwhile in the real world the owning class live lives of extraordinary affluence. "RBS boss Stephen Hester is renting a £260,000-a-year Victorian mansion - on top of the two multimillion-pound properties he already owns. Hester, who has run the taxpayer-backed bank since 2008, has begun renting the five-bedroomed townhouse to live with new bride new bride Suzy Neubert, 47, according to reports." (Daily Mail, 30 October) The owning class live of working class exploitations and then construct charity organisations. Hypocrisy! RD

Them that got, are them that gets

Discontent has always provided fertile soil for nationalism. Many on the Left advance nationalism and support the nation-state as a bulwark against globalisation. This is a dangerous fallacy. Nationalism produces artificial borders between human beings based on arbitrary biological, linguistic and cultural differences, and it conceals class conflicts. There is no benevolent progressive nationalism. Nationalism is an opportunistic way to prey on people's prejudices and stereotypes. A  conception of national identity has long been useful to ruling classes wishing to divide their subjects in order to better rule them. Nationalism as a concept presupposes that a person places the interests of his or her nation above all others.

Behind the Saltire stands a ruling elite. In the end, everything that is done in the name of “Scotland” is done for the benefit of this ruling elite, even if it is at the expense of every other Scot. The flag is a tool the ruling class can use to tie all the S…

Tom Bell - Industrial Unionist

What they said before they became Moscow's men and followed the Moscow line.

British Advocates of Industrial Unionism
Glasgow Branch


Extract

The above body has come into existence to advocate the principles of Industrial Unionism, i.e., an economic organisation embracing all wage-workers, irrespective of the trade or craft to which they belong, and having for its object the taking and holding “of all the means of production for the entire working class.” ...

...What we aim at is an Industrial Union broad enough to take all wage-workers into its ranks, thus making an injury to one the concern of all. As the old handicraft form, of production has been brushed aside in the march of economic development to make way for the modern machine industry with its sub-division of labour and complexity of form, so craft unionism, which is a reflex of the former, must make way for an industrial organisation of the workers to suit modern conditions....

...The Industrial Unionist stands firmly on the…

A CUT RATE HEALTH SERVICE

In times of economic downturn the government searches eagerly for ways to cut expenditure and one of the easier targets is the National Health Service. "The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said that despite the Coalition's promise to protect frontline staff from cuts the NHS workforce has fallen by almost 21,000 since the Coalition Government came to power. This includes a loss of more than 6,000 qualified nursing posts – from a total of 312,000 nursing posts in the NHS. ..... Patient safety will be seriously undermined by falling numbers of nurses, with the RCN's chief executive warning that standards of care "are going to get a lot worse"." (Independent, 13 November) Bigger and better bombs but less spent on health services that is how capitalism operates. RD.

A CANCEROUS SOCIETY

The class division between the wealthy minority of the capitalist class and the impoverished working class not only decides what kind of life you live but also whether you live at all. "Each year 5,600 people in England miss out on having their cancer diagnosed at an earlier stage because of social inequalities, say experts. The findings in Annals of Oncology show a gulf between the richest and poorest remains despite efforts to improve cancer awareness and access to care. ..... Patients living in poorer neighbourhoods in eastern England were less likely to have their cancers picked up early than those living in more affluent parts of this region." (BBC News, 13 November) RD

Quote of the Day

"Written right across every page of human history is the declaration that no people can be free so long as the private ownership of the means of production and distribution endures. Self-determination under capitalism is therefore an impossibility, and demands for its realisation a preceding social revolution. Such a fundamental change of the internal structure of society liberates the social aspirations of the peoples of the world, shatters the exploiting factions, and rising from the age-long struggles free citizens of the world combine. Thus the League of capitalist groups sinks out of sight, joins the barbaric ages, to which it rightfully belongs, and on the basis of the social ownership and control of the means of life there rises the new order—the self-determining combined in the great Federative Republic of the Workers of the World."

 Arthur. MacManus, Red Clydesider,(1889 – 1927)

LAND OF THE FREE?

Patriotic Americans are fond of boasting about the great freedom enjoyed by their citizens compared to other countries, but recent figures show this to be an insupportable falsehood. "Correctional institutions across the U.S are bursting at the seams with more than two million Americans behind bars. The worst hit state, California, houses 140,000 inmates when its 33 adult prisons are only designed to hold a maximum of 80,000. Overall, the Bureau of Prisons Network is around 39 per cent over 'rated capacity' - their highest level since 2004 - with that figure expected to soar to 45 per cent above its limit by 2018." (Daily Mail, 26 October) RD

THE PRIORITIES OF CAPITALISM

All over the world capitalist governments facing an economic recession are eager to cut expenditures and are examining ways to cut pensions and welfare payments, but there is one area of government expenditure that shows no signs of cut-backs. "The USS Gerald R. Ford is the most expensive weapon ever created and will run about $11.5 billion, with three ships costing about $40.2 billion. Even given these generous estimates, the Navy figures that the USS Gerald R. Ford could cost as much as $1.1 billion more than planned, making it far and away the service's most expensive warship." (Business Insider, 25 October) In order to protect sources of raw materials, markets and spheres of economic and political influence the owning class must have up-to-date weapons of destruction. RD

THIS IS PROGRESS?

Away back in the 1960s newspapers used to speculate that with the advance of science and labour-saving gadgets the working week would be cut drastically and retirement ages would fall dramatically, but capitalism just doesn't work that way. "As they struggle to save for retirement, a growing number of middle-class Americans plan to postpone their golden years until they are in their 80's. Nearly one-third, or 30%, now plan to work until they are 80 or older -- up from 25% a year ago, according to a Wells Fargo survey of 1,000 adults with income less than $100,000. "It is so tough for Americans to save for retirement that the answer seems to be to work longer," said Joe Ready, director of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust. Overall, 70% of respondents plan to work during retirement, many of whom plan to do so because they simply won't be able to afford to retire full time." (CNN Money.com, 25 October) In the most devel…

FEED THE WORLD

One in eight people — 870 million worldwide — will go to bed hungry tonight. One-third of all child deaths globally are caused by under-nutrition. Most of the world’s hungry are farm families; 75 percent of the world’s poor are rural. In poor countries, people spend two-thirds of their daily income on food. When food prices rise, poor households eat less nutritious food. Malnutrition decreases learning capacity. 80 percent of our brain develops during the first 1,000 days of life; if malnourished, then it doesn’t recover.

The tragic irony is feeding the planet, now and in the future, can be done. According to estimates by several studies, there are already 3,000 calories available for every man, woman and child, which is more than enough to sustain us.

 Who cares what’s in store for the future, as long as the rich can pocket the money they make today? Who cares what their craving for more profits may bring tomorrow?

Ruling by Fooling

The Socialist Party constantly hammers home that the SNP are nothing but another party of the ruling class. The Scottish Saltire is a commercial asset. A brand label. It represents the economic and political interests of the capitalist classes. Many on the Left believe that Scottish nationalism is a progressive force, and can therefore be used. They either do not understand, or opportunistically refuse to accept the fundamental role of nationalism. Deceived by this, sincere people work in the nationalist movement only to discover that they have been misled and have been wasting their time. You can't be a good internationalist and a nationalist at the same time, just as you cannot be a good monarchist and at the same time a good republican. Workers have to make the choice.

Socialists are not working to divide the working class. We are working to get the whole movement on to the lines of class conscious revolutionary activity to achieve the social revolution. To socialists neither …

BEHIND THE STATISTICS

The recent economic downturn throughout Europe has led to the publication of staggering statistics about poverty. "Every fifth resident lives in poverty in Spain, new figures showed Monday, dpa reported. The national statistics institute INE said 21.1 per cent of the 47-million population lives below the poverty line, meaning they live on less than 7,355 euros (9,610 dollars) annually. ..... The number of minors aged under 16 living in poverty has increased to 21 per cent from 19.4 per cent in 2011." (Turkish Weekly, 22 October) Behind the grim figures lies the day to day to misery that capitalism forces on members of the working class. "A woman aged 53 jumped to her death from the balcony of her fourth-floor flat in Bilbao as baliffs arrived to evict her for failing to pay her mortgage. There are 500 evictions a day in Spain." (Times, 10 November) RD

Food for thought

From the Casino of capitalism -- The National Stock Exchange of India reported (Toronto Star, October 6, 2012) that fifty-nine erroneous orders prompted a plunge in equities that briefly erased about $58 billion in value, underscoring growing global concern about the integrity of financial markets. Senior managing director of Aquarius Investments that manages about $400 million, said, " India has joined the big league with this trading disaster. It's very surprising so many erroneous orders went through. Exchanges and regulators must be one step ahead as systems and technologies upgrade." No kidding, most people get concerned if they lose a few dollars! John Ayers

Dalgety Bay Cancers

Government scientific advisers have discovered a almost double the incidence of cancers among people living near Dalgety Bay in Fife, which is contaminated by radioactivity.Last month, the UK Government's Health Protection Agency (HPA) issued advice that public health risks from radiation at Dalgety Bay were low. But this has now been undermined by the report for the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (Comare), which advises ministers in Westminster and Holyrood.

 An expert report for a Department of Health advisory committee on radiation has found a marked increase in liver and blood cancers close to the site of the contamination. The report pointed out that liver cancers were concentrated in communities near the polluted foreshore. This "reinforces the suspicion" they were linked to the discarded radium that has littered the area for decades, the report said.

Radioactive contamination was first discovered at Dalgety Bay, a popular sailing reso…

Chinese Capitalism

"As a party member, I will work hard and teach other people how to get rich together and let more people benefit by getting rich," Wang Dongxin, the general manager of Jiangxi Luhuan Animal Husbandry, a pig-breeding company,  said to hundreds of Communist Party members in Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

Chinese president Hu Jintao said China was still in the "primary stage of socialism" and still needed to pursue "socialist modernisation" as its main task, aiming to double the 2010 per-capita income of both urban and rural residents by 2020. Hu has previously said China's modernisation drive under one-party rule would take "several, a dozen or even dozens of generations". [a generation is generally defined as about 30 years so it will be a long transition!- Socialist Courier]

The New York Times reported last month that the extended family of Premier Wen Jiabao had amassed assets worth $2.7 billion.

Hu Jia, a leading rights activist, sai…

Shell-shock

The term shellshock was not coined ­until 1915. By 1938, more than 128,000 men were diagnosed with the condition.

 “The condition was often given the more genteel term ‘neurasthenia’ for officers. Shellshock was considered by the military authorities to be a sign of weakness and a condition of the working class.”
explains Yvonne McEwen, honorary fellow at Edinburgh University and director of Scotland’s War Project