Friday, November 30, 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 murderous designs so he commissioned another monster, Frick, by name, with bloodless veins and a heart of steel, to commit the crimes while he went to Europe and held high carnival with the titled snobs there until the ghastly work was done. It was one of the foulest conspiracies ever concocted against the working class and the very though of its atrocities, after nearly 10 years, fires the blood and crimsons the cheek with righteous indignation. Not only were the Pinkerton murderers hired by Carnegie to kill his employees, but he had his steel works surrounded by wires charged with deadly electric currents and by pipes filled with boiling water so that in the event of a strike or lockout he could shock the life out of their wretched bodies or scald the flesh from their miserable bones.

And this is the man who proposes to erect libraries for the benefit of the working class — and incidentally for the glory of Carnegie.

Will the workingmen of this country accept any gift from the hands of Andrew Carnegie, red with the blood of their slain comrades? That some of them have already done so is to their everlasting shame. The employees who a few days ago received, with expressions of gratitude, the bonded booty, to be held in trust for them until they become paupers, have debased themselves beyond expression. They may have to work for Carnegie, but they are not compelled to recognize as a gift the pennies he throws them in return for the dollars he stole from them, and when they do they are guilty of treason to their murdered brothers, and are better described as spineless poltroons than as self-respecting workingmen.

Some years ago, when Carnegie endowed the first library for the alleged benefit of workingmen, I objected. And I object now with increased

Such a library is monumental of the degeneracy of the working class. It is a lasting rebuke to their intelligence and their integrity.

 The workingmen of New Castle have led the revolt. Let their splendid example be followed wherever a Carnegie library is suggested. Let mass
meetings of workingmen be held and let the horrifying scenes of the Homestead massacre be sented to stir them to a sense of indignation at
the vulgar and insulting display of the spoil exploited from their class.

 Let honest workingmen everywhere protest against the acceptance of a gift which condones crime in the name of philanthropy. Let them put themselves upon record in terms that appeal to the honor of their class and the respect of all mankind.

 We want libraries and we will have them in glorious abundance when capitalism is abolished and the workingmen are no longer robbed by the philanthropic pirates of the Carnegie class.

Then the library will be as it should be, a noble temple dedicated to culture and symbolizing the virtues of the people.

Eugene Debs.

March 30, 1901. 
Taken from here 

For more on Carnegie see an earlier post on Socialist Courier

Thursday, November 29, 2012

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.

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 come from our interaction with the real world, not from some outside force or god. From our perspective, people 's ideas change as a result of the struggles they engage in. If that were not the case there would be little point in our engaging in propaganda or activism - we simply would be unable to convince the huge number of people in the world of our ideas.

Likewise it is obvious the workers of the world won't just wake up one fine morning, decide religion is bollox and go out and wreck the avenues where the wealthy live. So it is certainly worth engaging with these sorts of beliefs through propaganda. Of course ideas are always produced by the material and social conditions of the day. We'd be very poor materialists if we failed to spot that! But even so, ideas themselves do carry weight and are worth engaging with, or opposing, both individually and as part of an overall belief system that is equally a product of the times. We should strive to educate people, not ignore their ignorance.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

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 schedules. Many adults are part of this market, as are the great majority of child and adolescent workers. Child workers are in a legal blindspot: their work is prohibited and so they have very little defence if employers exploit them through long hours, physical or verbal abuse or refusing to pay a decent wage. "If you have to work, then you have to work exploited,"  Luz Rivera Daza, an adult counsellor for Unatsbo, said . "This just makes you more vulnerable."

In a country where poverty is widespread and the minimum wage is $150 a month, living expenses can overwhelm a family. Young workers seem to be everywhere. In the countryside they help their parents in the fields, herd sheep and llamas, or do the brutal work of mining or the sugar cane harvest.

Rodrigo believes that instead of attempting to end many forms of child and adolescent work, the goal should be ending exploitation by creating part-time, safe and better paying jobs for young people who want them. "Why should there be a minimum age if the work is voluntary?" he asked. "The work of a child or adolescent is not bad – it helps society, it helps a family, and it helps us grow as people."

In Marx's time, working class children spent the greater part of each day slaving in factories. Clearly, this had to cease immediately. However, Marx did not believe that all this time was better devoted to classroom learning. This, too, would stunt the child's development. Instead he favoured an education that "will in the case of every child over a given age, combine productive labor with instruction and gymnastics, not only as one of the methods of adding to the efficiency of production but as the only method of producing fully developed human beings." In capitalism, parents have considerable control over their children's health, education, work but, given the parents' own problems and limitations, this power is seldom used as well as it should. In Capital Marx quotes approvingly John Bellers a 17th century English writer, on this subject: "An idle learning is being little better than the learning of idleness... Labor being as proper for the body's health as eating is for its living; A childish silly employ... leaves the children's minds silly." In the Gotha Programme Marx writes that "technical instruction, both theoretical and practical, will take its proper place in working class schools." (our emphasis)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

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 production for profit.
The party regarded its " impossiblist" position as the most revolutionary in the world and refused to join the Second International on the grounds that the International was a reformist body.
It is not generally recognized that the Socialist Party of Canada patterned itself after the Socialist Party of Great Britain, a sister "impossibilist" party formed in 1904. The SPGB was dedicated to "making socialists," and its Declaration of Principles was drawn from the writings of William Morris and the French Impossiblist Guesde. The SPGB provided some of the SPC's most famous speakers, including Moses Baritz and Adolphe Kohn.

The Socialist Party of Canada was small and carefully organized. Its members were well-informed and had been required to pass an examination in socialist principles before admission. Organized by means of constant correspondence with headquarters in Vancouver, the few thousand party members studied the writings of Marx and Engels and Liebknecht and Kautsky and others in weekly educational meetings of their locals.  The SPC's 'class-struggle college' on Pender Street in Vancouver, introduced members to the main currents of Marxist theory as they developed out of the First and Second Internationals." SPC 'worker-students,' were immersed in Marx's economic writings (reprints of Capital, Volume ! and Value, Price and Profit being the textbooks of choice) and other texts of the 19th-century.

Monday, November 26, 2012


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 died in one at a site in Karachi, Pakistan, in September." (Guardian, 25 November) The report goes on to say "there was no immediate response from C&A." Surprise, surprise. RD

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 workers "independent". The transfer of political power takes place between two rival "nationalist" minorities but belonging to the same exploiting and ruling class who own and control the means of production and distribution all over the world. It is not "independence" but "interdependence" that is the order of the day. Nationalism is not a thing that ought to concern the working class. Wherever we live and work, our only concern ought to be socialism.

All nationalistic ideas simply seek to turn back the wheel of history by fettering the ongoing and inevitable process of capitalist globalisation. “Re-structuring”, “down-sizing”, “rationalising”, “re-engineering” and "out-sourcing" are the euphemistic labels under which big corporations are shrinking the world over. New ideas, beliefs, fashions, attitudes and opinions are formed, reformed, challenged and  defied almost every minute. Shifts in consumer demand, new technologies, and new distribution methods that change their markets, are giving challenging times to the corporate giants. Nation-states which played a predominant role in human affairs in the past few centuries have lost their old importance.

William J. Amelio explained "I live the worldsourced life. As CEO of Lenovo ..., I am an American CEO based in Singapore. Our chairman, who is Chinese, works from North Carolina. Other top executives are based around the globe. A meeting of my company's senior managers looks like the United Nations General Assembly. My company is like some of the world's most popular consumer products. It may say "Made in China" on the outside, but the key components are designed and manufactured by innovative people and companies spread across six continents. ... The products of companies that practice worldsourcing may be labeled "Made in Switzerland," or "Made in the U.S.A." or "Made in China," but in the new world in which we all now live, they should more truthfully be labeled, "Made Globally". ... In today's world, assessing companies by their nation of origin misses the point." (Forbes Magazine 17 August 2007)

However, capitalist globalisation  is not synonymous with globalisation of the interests of capitalism.

 It is now crystal clear that as capitalism is a universal and cosmopolitan phenomenon but so also is the working class. The working class cannot emancipate itself nationally. The world is a “global village”. Each region may have its own particular and distinct customs, but they are part of a greater system of society that is world-wide. This system of society is capitalism and every region and nation operates within this system of society in one way or another. One country cannot establish socialism. No country is completely self-sufficient in the resources people need to satisfy their needs. No country can really isolate itself from the rest of the world in a peaceful manner, so a peaceful “socialist nation” would be easy prey for the outside capitalist world. Just as capitalism is a world system, socialism will have to be a world system. Socialism will be a world without countries. Borders are just artificial barriers that belong to a past and present that is best left behind. Socialism is not an island in the middle of capitalism, but a global system of society that will replace capitalism.

That "the emancipation of labour is neither a local nor a national but a social problem, embracing all countries in which modern society exists, and depending for its solution on the concurrence, practical and theoretical, of the most advanced countries" (IWMA Rules) should be the guiding principle of the working class of the world.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

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 he was also every bit as much a political organiser as Keir Hardie. His socialism was imbued with environmentalism and an understanding of the brutalising nature of the modern city. He railed against pollution, the destruction of ancient buildings, shoddy goods and poor design. He was a ‘green’ long before the term was invented.  His vision is inspiring. His politics are uncompromising.

Socialist Courier suggests the following for further reading, an article by Colin Skelly written for the Morris Society.

A Revolutionary Socialist by Adam Buick
A critique of Paul Meiers biography of Morris by Adam Buick

Stephen Coleman,
 "The Economics of Utopia: Morris and Bellamy Contrasted."
 "What Can We Learn from William Morris?"
"William Morris and 'Education Towards Revolution': 'Making Socialists' versus 'Putting Them In Their Place.'"

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, that they will be losing their custom until they cancel their contract with Atos.

Most interest came from older women who perhaps know from experience what the Co-Op is really about. Maybe they know the reality of the Co-Op's claim that they have always been ethical, because they have always provided affordable prices to those in need. In past generations the Co-Op mostly employed women. Their exploitative employment practices are still the same as any other business. Historically the Co-Op has played a significant role in the daily lives of many working class people. But it's contribution to working class emancipation has been marginal at best and at worst has added to illusion that such an aim can be achieved within the capitalist system. Like any other business it is open to the pressures that come with the fluctuations of the marketplace and has made workers redundant when the markets are down. Like any other bosses the Co-Op management have made older workers redundant, using the excuse that they would be incapable of coping with the introduction of new technology, that was never introduced, because managers had nothing better to do than manage workers like cogs in a machine.

Co-Op management tried to placate the protesters with more empty words about ethics, rather than taking action against Atos. They have refused to rule out Atos from the bidding process for their new occupational contract, that starts next year, despite the unethical behaviour of Atos being well documented. If the Co-Op were interested in ethics they would have already publicly rejected an Atos bid. Their decision on who to award the new contract to will be based primarily on cheapness even though the profitable Co-Op do not have to do this out of economic necessity.

Atos and the police have been monitoring anti-Atos activity to try to manage dissent towards ineffectiveness. Now the Co-Op are up to it as well to help their Atos partners. The communications from Co-Op management, the hiring of extra security staff and the ludicrous number of police present for the picket show that the Co-Op are extremely worried about their ethical image, no matter how fake, even from the dent that can be caused to it by a relatively small group and one action. We must be doing something right. Just imagine what actions against the Atos contract by larger groups in more that one place could do.

From here

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 profession to take the hit." Unlike in England, those contributions will not be refunded in the event of an acquittal.

Andrew Houston of McSporrans explained “We are concerned that people on relatively modest incomes are going to have to make that contribution in straitened economic times,” Houston says. “Will they think: ‘Instead of paying I’ll just plead guilty to get it over and done with’? Then they’d be forfeiting the right to challenge the prosecution.”

If defence lawyers decide it is no longer worth their while to take on summary legal aid cases, those accused of crimes will either have to defend themselves or be represented by the Public Defence ­Solicitors Office. The problem with that is the PDSO is run by the state, it’s not independent – so you would have the situation where the state was prosecuting and effectively the state was defending as well and that is not a fair and equal system of justice. Reports also suggest that more guilty pleas are proferred by PDSO clients.

14 firms in Scotland last year received more than £1m in legal aid payments and reports showing the country’s legal aid bill is higher than that of Italy, a country with a population of 61 million, it’s little wonder people find it difficult to believe they are motivated by anything other than concerns for their own profit margins. Scandals involving lawyers who have made “false” or “excessive” claims have helped perpetuate the image of legal aid as a giant racket. Law Society president Austin Lafferty accepted the industrial action was a “hard-sell”. “People don’t think of lawyers being any kind of deserving case,” he said. “But the moment you get a call from the police saying your 19-year-old son has been caught up in a fight and he’s going to be in a police cell until Monday, when he’ll be in court charged with breach of the peace, then we are one of the emergency services – then you want the best lawyer you can get.”

While defence lawyers are aware the public sees them as belonging to the wealthiest section of society, they claim the cuts mean that – when it comes to summary cases (which make up the bulk of their work) – they may be paid a lower hourly rate than a plumber. Defence lawyers receive a fixed rate of £485 in the sheriff court and £295 in the district court, which covers all preparation and court attendances up to and including the first half hour of any trial (their fee is halved if their client later changes his plea to guilty). Every time a case is adjourned they lose out because they are being paid a fixed fee. On the first day of the trial the lawyer is paid just £100 in the sheriff court. The daily rate rises if the trial runs to a second or third day but few do. The fee was frozen from 1998 to 2008 and then cut to the £485 figure. Few professions anywhere that has had a pay freeze for a decade followed by a pay cut.

Cameron Tait said  “There are proposals to shut down sheriff courts around the country, so people in rural areas will have to travel far to get to court, the Procurator Fiscal’s office is understaffed and underfinanced – ­justice is in crisis.”
Oliver Adair, the Law Society’s Legal Aid convener says the non-payment of legal aid contributions will disproportionately affect rural firms which are already operating on tight profit margins and don’t have the volume of the business to make up for any loss of revenue. If those firms go to the wall, people in rural areas will find it more difficult to find representation.

Not only have they been asked to stomach a succession of cuts but they are being ignored on matters of fundamental importance, such as whether or not the need for corroboration – the historic requirement for two separate sources of evidence to secure a conviction – should be scrapped.

Tait believes if lawyers don’t take a stand now, the weakest people will suffer most. “We need to protect the independent criminal bar because we are the safety net for the most vulnerable people in society – people who can’t speak up for themselves, people who can’t represent themselves,” he says. “That’s such an important part of the criminal justice and such an important part of democracy as a whole – and it’s being eroded.”

Saturday, November 24, 2012


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. 

Friday, November 23, 2012


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


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

Thursday, November 22, 2012

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.


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 the truth, however unpalatable it may be.

We have not the least desire to advance any claim to James Connolly, nor do we consider ourselves the especial inheritors of all of his ideas. But to-day, when everybody acclaims him and sings his praise, we think it very necessary to re-state the simple but vital fact, namely, that JAMES CONNOLLY WAS OF THE WORKING CLASS. His ideas are not, and never will be, the sole preserve, nor in the custody, of any particular section BUT THE WORKING CLASS. Here it is as well to recall – when many are clamouring to bask in the light of the but recently-discovered glory of Connolly – that his ideas were vehemently denounced, and his very person attacked, by the representatives of those interests who, to-day, so anxiously press their claim to his name. We would not be so much concerned at this were it not for the fact that the workers have been “taken in” by these spurious claims. You, fellow-workers, have been duped; for you have supported political parties which have acted in the interests of any and every class in and out of this county but the working class. And you have supported them and placed them in power mainly on the strength of their nationalism and Republicanism. You, who now march to-day in memory of James Connolly, have you forgotten his “Labour in Irish History”? Have you forgotten the thoughts he put on paper in order that you might the better be able to wage your struggle against a social system which condemns you to poverty and insecurity? We think you have forgotten. At the cost of remembering the symbolic moment of his death in a national struggle you’ve forgotten the toiling years of his life on behalf of the working class. Connolly didn’t struggle, and write and speak, and organise, in order that the workers might adhere to this or that Republican constitutional formula; no, not for that. There was no James Connolly if such a man did not desire and work to change the world, not its paper constitutions.

And you, fellow-workers, who, in your Trade Unions and political parties stoutly maintain that you strive to follow in his footsteps, do you direct your efforts towards changing the world? Evidence that you do is certainly very much lacking; for on every occasion you’ve entered the polling-booth you’ve either returned you out-going set of masters or merely changed them for a new set. Not yet have you evinced any great desire to get rid of the master class AS A WHOLE. And that, simply, is what is meant by “changing the world”.

FELLOW-WORKERS ! As you may march, as you may stand at the meeting-place, to-day, why not summarise your present position in your own mind – after twenty-seven years of native government, and after twenty-seven days of “The Republic of Ireland”? Line up your wage-packet (assuming you’re not one of “the 75,000”) alongside the cost-of-living figure: which is higher? Dwell a little on the plight of the thousands “living” in the tenements – that is, of course, if you happen to be blessed (!) with a suburban (!!) “working class house”. Recall the thousands who are unemployed (if you’re not one of them, of course), and remember they’re the ever-present threat of capitalism which hangs over your head – you may join their ranks to-morrow. Again, tuberculosis and other medically-classified poverty diseases are capitalism’s constant threat to the health and happiness of your children. And topping these and the other social evils you know only too well the experience is the threat of another capitalist war – yes, another, and promising to be everything (and much more) that all the previous wars of history weren’t together.

That is the real world you live in. Say – if you wish – that you reside in a portion of that world known as “The Republic of Ireland”. So what? Does that alter your position one bit? Of course not. And that world, reflected in the capitalist system of that country and the conditions of the Irish working class, surely deserves to go. And it will go WHEN THE WORKING CLASS WILLS IT. If James Connolly can be said to have left a message for the working class, it is this: THE WORKING CLASS MUST ACHIEVE ITS EMANCIPATION ITSELF AND IT CAN ONLY DO SO THROUGH THE ABOLITION OF THE CAPITALIST SOCIAL SYSTEM.

We are not given to lip-service, and much (judicious) quoting of Connolly, but the following, we think, is by no means out of place, and we especially commend it, on this particular occasion, to those who – to put it bluntly – have made a good thing out of such practices.

 “Ireland as distinct from her people is nothing to me; and the man who is bubbling over with love and enthusiasm for ‘Ireland’ and yet can pass unmoved through our streets and witness all the wrong and suffering and the shame and the degradation wrought upon the people of Ireland:
aye, wrought by Irishmen upon Irishmen and women ithout burning to end it, is a fraud and a liar in his heart, no matter how he loves that combination of chemical elements he is pleased to call ‘Ireland’”. 'The Coming Generation' 1900 [our emphasis]

Fellow-workers, there is but one way to really commemorate Connolly, and all those – whoever and wherever they may been – who have fought and died for and on behalf of the world’s workers, and that is by striving to abolish capitalism and establish SOCIALISM, THE COMMON OWNERSHIP AND DEMOCRATIC CONTROL OF THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION (the factories, mills, mines, railways, etc.), BY AND IN THE INTERESTS OF THE WHOLE OF THE COMMUNITY WITHOUT ANY DISTINCTION WHATSOEVER. By devoting your time and energy to the achieving of such an aim you will be truly commemorating Connolly and all those of his kind every day.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

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" to a more collective and class-conscious position. From an encounter (and argument) with an English socialist school teacher (who is largely, it seems, inspired by William Morris), Ewan comes first to an objective and rational recognition of a collective working-class interest which then develops through sympathy and empathy into a deeper subjective and emotional recognition of his shared experience with, and inclusion in, the working class. It is important to recognise that this movement from an exclusive individualist conception of his self to an inclusive class-conscious conception of self does not entail any loss of individuality. Rather it is in some sense a dialectical process in which the individual ego is lifted up, surpassed and preserved in the intersubjective collectively.

Later, though, Ewan's individuality, preserved in the initial movement into class-consciousness, suffers some loss on his entry into and identification with the Communist Party, after which everything else is subordinated to their interests and aims. Part of the reason for this is the Communist Party's own identification of itself as "the working class" - that is, they substitute themselves for the class they see themselves as representing. This is, of course, an inevitable result of their vanguardism. Placing themselves in a position of leadership over the workers they then come to substitute themselves for the workers. As such, while ostensibly working for the overthrow of a hierarchical capitalist system, they come to institute a new hierarchy (quite apart from the fact that they would only bring about state capitalism rather than socialism if they succeeded in their aims); instead of serving the interests of the workers, they use the workers to serve the interest of the Party. This means that the workers remain in a subservient, subaltern position in relation to the Communists even while apparently struggling to free themselves from all hierarchical domination.

Structurally, any vanguardist party, whatever its explicit intentions, is doomed to repeat this process, so betraying the revolutionary project it espouses. All this is made abundantly clear within the novel, in episodes in which the Communists lie to the workers in order to try and manipulate them for the Party's own ends as well as in the clearly-stated attitude of Jim Trease, a Communist leader: "For it's you and me are the working class, not the poor Bulgars gone back to Gowans."

This is a novel with plenty to interest socialists, as should be clear from the above. It provides ample illustration of the hopelessness of the ideologies and strategies of both Labourist and Leninist parties and, by implication at least, of the necessity for the working class to organise and educate themselves for socialism, without leaders or hierarchies and against the constant capitulations and and political myopia that are the necessary results of reformism. I must finally state, though, that this is not simply a historical document or a political treatise. It is a wonderful example of literary modernism offering as much aesthetic pleasure as it does anything else, with great believable characters, full of human ambiguity, and a use of language that is simultaneously down to earth and poetic.
Jonathan Clay

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

Monday, November 19, 2012

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 people, these people thereby being called capitalists, and the exclusion of others, who must be required to provide workers for these owners, it is the relations of this production that, more than anything else, determines the wealth and income of the respective classes. This in turn determines to a large degree the pattern of consumption, which is further conditioned by advertising and monopoly suppliers etc.

Commodification and all its contradictions have since spread over an increasing variety of human activities. Sport has for some time become a global industry, more and more determined by the demand for profit. Sport must have room for chance, accident, unexpected triumph and unexpected failure while sporting contest subject to the requirement for profitability more and more implies certainty and the elimination of the possibility of monetary loss.

Adapted from here

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 royal titles and privileges have been abolished, members of such families enjoy residual prestige and status. Two others supporting Rahul Gandhi are Jitendra Singh, from the royal family of Alwar in Rajasthan, and R.P.N. Singh, from the royal family of a small principality in Uttar Pradesh. Rahul's advisors are headed by Kanishka Singh, the son of S.K. Singh, a foreign secretary under Rajiv Gandhi.

In his book “India: A Portrait,” Patrick French observed that all members of the 15th Lok Sabha (the lower house of Parliament elected in 2009) under the age of 30, as well as more than two-thirds of the 66 members of Parliament under 40, had in effect inherited their seats. And 33 of the 38 youngest members got there “with the help of mummy or daddy.”

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.

 For every dollar of non-home wealth owned by white families, people of color have only 1 cent. Median wealth for a single white woman is over $40,000. For black and Hispanic women it is a little over $100.

Friday, November 16, 2012

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 Hiroshima in 1945. In Basra, half the pregnancies between 2004 and 2006 resulted in miscarriages, and birth defects increased 17-fold. War is the absolute worst thing that humans could ever wage against each other. If socialism could eliminate that one thing, it would be worth trying for that alone. That it will come with so many more benefits, just makes it all the more desirable. SPREAD THE WORD! John Ayers

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 idea of the nation. It is no coincidence that a person with a immensely draining and alienating repetitive job, will tend to cling desperately to an idea of nationality, as they find meaning and comfort in it when there is no meaning in their work. The presence of nationalist ideas is an indication that some groups in society feel its real material interests are being frustrated by forces outside or even inside the nation. The idea of William Wallace as an exponent of democratic patriotism gives to a medieval man the mind and sensibilities of a later, modern age. Wallace never fought for an abstract “people” or even “nation”, but always in the name of a legitimate power of which he was but the temporary protector or “guardian”. He battled and died for John Balliol.

There never has been, and never can be, socialism in just one country. Socialism will be one world-wide community without national boundaries, a united humanity, sharing a world of common interests, would also share world administration. This is the socialist alternative to the way that capitalism divides the planet into rival states and sets people against each other. But this does not rule out local democracy. It is sometimes said that world administration would mean power of central control over local democracy and that the objective isto create a super-state. In fact a democratic system of decision-making would require that the basic unit of social organisation would be the local community. However, the nature of some of the problems we face and the many goods and services presently produced, such as raw materials, energy sources, agricultural products, world transport and communications, need production and distribution to be organised at a world level.

Socialism will be a co-operative world wide system. Nations and frontiers and governments will disappear. Groups of people may well preserve their languages and customs but this will have nothing to do with claiming territorial rights or sovereignty over pieces of the world surface. To move forward, the dispossessed majority across the world must now look beyond the artificial barriers of nation-states and regional blocs, to perceive a common identity and purpose.

Because political power in capitalism is organised on a territorial basis each socialist party has the task of seeking democratically to gain political power in the country where it operates. This however is merely an organisational convenience; there is only one socialist movement, of which the separate socialist organisations are constituent parts. When the socialist movement grows larger its activities will be fully co-ordinated through its world-wide organisation.

There is but one world and we exist as one people in need of each other and with the same basic needs. There is far more that unites us than can ever divide us along cultural, nationalistic or religious lines. Together we can create a civilisation worth living in, but before that happens we need the conscious cooperation of ordinary people across the world, united in one common cause — to create a world in which each person has free access to the benefits of civilisation, a world without borders or frontiers, social classes or leaders and a world in which production is at last freed from the artificial constraints of profit and used for the good of humanity — socialism. There is in reality only one world. It is high time we reclaimed it. In socialism there will be just a free world for a free people. It could be like that now, so why not do something about it ? The world is ours for the taking. So why not take it?

"...By creating the world market, big industry has already brought all the peoples of the Earth, and especially the civilized peoples, into such close relation with one another that none is independent of what happens to the others...It follows that the communist revolution will not merely be a national phenomenon but must take place simultaneously in all civilized countries – that is to say, at least in England, America, France, and Germany.... It is a universal revolution and will, accordingly, have a universal range...The nationalities of the peoples associating themselves in accordance with the principle of community will be compelled to mingle with each other as a result of this association and thereby to dissolve themselves, just as the various estate and class distinctions must disappear through the abolition of their basis, private property."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

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 the news again. A motion has been tabled in the federal parliament to take steps to eliminate the industry. Even if all exposure to asbestos were to end today, as many as 2,600 new cases of asbestos related cancers would show up annually. At present about 150 000 workers in Canada are being exposed to it on a regular basis. But it is very profitable, isn't it and it creates jobs, doesn't it? (especially in the undertaking business!) John Ayers

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 moneyed interest enriches itself at the cost of the industrial interest in the course of a crisis” Bankers are enriching themselves at the expense of industry and workers, in other words. So whats new?

The economist David Harvey has explained that the losses of the crisis are finally distributed between factions of the capitalist class, and between the working and capitalist classes, and whatever the power struggle that ensues, the necessary result will be the destruction of value (closure of workplaces, the laying off of workers, destruction of surpluses, defaulting on debt, cutting of state services, and so on) so that a new round of capitalist accumulation can begin. The sad but inevitable reality of capitalism.

Some in America seek a solution in the likes of the State Bank of North Dakota. That the bank owned by state authorities weathered the recession was perhaps more a reflection that the state’s economy is primarily based on agriculture and oil, both involved in current boom times. Nor was the state particularly exposed to the sub-prime disaster “North Dakota really didn’t participate in subprime to a significant degree. I mean, that was–you know, it was sort of a flyover state. All of the aggressive subprime lenders apparently didn’t think there were enough folks in farms that they could get to lever up to take on these dodgy loans.” explained  Yves Smith. author of the book ECONned and creator of the website

In Scotland, we have the almost unique bank success story of the Airdrie Savings Bank, the UK's last remaining independent savings bank  The bank was founded in 1835 and was born out of the general "thrift" movement prevalent at the time.

 Bucking the trend of the credit crunch, Airdrie Savings Bank has increased its lending for the third year in a row, according to its latest annual results, it lent a record £48.5m - a 35% increase on 2010.  It lent 24% more in 2010 than it did in 2009. Yet we still witness that “North Lanarkshire has been particularly rocked by the recession, including above-average redundancies, because the economy is not as diverse as some and there remains a heavy reliance on sectors that seem more susceptible to economic shocks” as one report describes. Not much of a success story.

What socialists say about the banks is not regulate them, nor nationalise them, but make them redundant. Abolish them, along with all the rest of the complicated, financial superstructure of the capitalist production-for-profit economy. The mythology surrounding the power of banking helps those who take the view that this vast institution is so necessary that the prospect of a world without money would be unthinkable. Let’s abolish capitalism and live in a moneyless, propertyless world without banks. That means moving from a demand for ‘regulation change’ to one for ‘system change’. Perceived wisdom is that it should be easier to make socialists in a recession when the shortcomings of capitalism are more evident. This capitalist recession will eventually end and the economy at some time in the future will inevitably return to growth. If there are more socialists at that future time, then at least one positive outcome will have resulted from this sorry and preventable mess.

“…no kind of bank legislation can eliminate a crisis” Marx

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

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 low-wage coal mining a unique skill?" asks Thomas Walkom (Toronto Star, Oct 13, 2012). Early in the 20th century, he tells us that when the workers in the gold mines of Northern Ontario went on strike, French Canadians were brought in, and when they struck, the Finns arrived, then the Ukrainians, the Poles, the Italians, and after them, the Cornish miners from England. In each case the tactic was to bring in workers who did not make common cause with those already there and who would work for less. That was one hundred years ago so it's depressing to hear that the coal mines in BC are bringing in two thousand Chinese workers. They will be dependent on their employer for work visas and so less likely to complain about poor conditions and low pay. Now that the Harper government has allowed temporary migrant workers to go virtually unlimited, this is a scenario that will be repeated often. This just shows that nothing changes in capitalism -- the driving force will always to be to produce ever more surplus-value in whatever way it takes. John Ayers


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 Scottish people together, to bind Scots into believing that all that their government does is in their interest. You may wave the Saltire. Or you may look behind the flag and see who is trying to pull your strings and manipulate your emotions.

 Socialists reject the very notion of nationalism. We believe that there is no common interest between the people of a particular nation. The world is divided into two great classes, the workers and the bosses, their common class interests are so great that their cultural differences are irrelevant. We believe that human culture is much too varied to be neatly boxed up into any number of national identities. We embrace diversity and acknowledges the right of all to choose their own culture, language and beliefs. We believe that this can only be achieved by ending the fundamental division of our society, the class division. The Socialist Party challenges the very idea of classifying people into nationalities by concentrating on the common class interests that unite workers across national divides. Nationalism can never address the workers' real problems.

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


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 bed-rock of the class struggle, and; declares, that so long as the means of production are in the hands of a numerically small class, the workers will be forced to sell their labour-power to them for a bare subsistence wage. Consequently, between these two classes a struggle must go on until the toilers come together on the political as well as on the industrial field and take over for themselves that which, being the result of their labour, justly belongs to them...

....Industrial Unionism in recognising that there never can been anything in common between the employing class and the working class, instils into the workers’ mind a sense of class solidarity on the economic field and promotes unity on the political field. With these two separate though complementary movements, the political to destroy the capitalist political State, and the Industrial to back up the political and form the Parliament of Industry in place of the defunct class State,— the workers could forthwith lock-out the employing class and accomplish their freedom...

333 Westmuir Road, Parkhead.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


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.


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

Monday, November 12, 2012

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)


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


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


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, 25 October) In the most developed capitalist country in the world the working class are working harder and longer that they did in the 1960s. RD


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 race nor creed should separate the workers of the world. We believe that the co-operative commonwealth cannot be reached till capitalism is overthrown by the workers. Socialists re-affirm "It is better to be a traitor to your country than a traitor to your class!"

It is not possible to achieve a socialist society in Scotland. This is because, if such a society were realised, it would be easily crushed by the capitalist states that surround it. A socialist Scotland is sustainable only if socialism has been realised world-wide. At the present time most that socialists in Scotland can do is create an organisation to spread socialist ideas.

It is too easy to simply place the blame for the failures of capitalism upon the shoulders of the banks and financial speculators. Such criticisms are a form of simple minded nationalism. The acute economic and financial problems currently besetting Scotland are a product of world capitalism.

Parties like the Scottish Socialist Party clamour for a state-capitalist solution to Scotland's problems but there is essentially no difference between their position and the position being held by the SNP. Both want a capitalist solution within a national framework. Their differences are rooted in mere modifications as to how wealth is to be distributed. Modifications in wealth distribution fails to change class relations. Neither want a real revolution in the character of the production process -- a socialist solution. There cannot be a "socialist" solution except within an international framework. In short the Scottish working class need the revolutionary awakening  mobilisation of the Europen, North American and Asian working class. Other than that a capitalist solution is the only solution possible.

The SSP call for more and more state spending as the means towards the solution of the problems of the working class. In other words it calls for the growing expansion of the capitalist state as the solution to social problems. In other words they want a stronger more all-embracing capitalist state. They are forever offering solutions that endeavour to make capitalist society more efficient. They want to save capitalism not overturn it. The SSP mislead the voters when they claim to have a "socialist" alternative to the policies of the SNP and the Labour Party. Nor are the nationalist policies of the SSP actually sustainable.

 Consequently the SSP are incapable of implementing nationalist policies nor social revolution. No-where in the world has capitalism been reformed out of existence. Nor can it be. The politics of the SSP are inherently opportunist. They fail to make clear that it is the character of capitalism that is the fundamental problem -- not incompetent governments. Socialists support the socialisation of the forces of production on a world basis. Consequently we don't support nationalist solutions to what are global problems

However, we should emphasise that the Socialist Party does not envisage a socialist world from which all the existing variations between different communities and cultures have been stamped out. That is total uniformity – with all people speaking the same language, reading the same books, watching the same television programmes. On the contrary, we assume that different communities each with their own history, literature and language may well desire to preserve their different cultural, environmental and artistic characteristics.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


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 resort, in 1990. It is thought to come from radium used to illuminate the dials of aircraft disposed of in the area after the second world war. More than 2500 radioactive hotspots have been found on the foreshore in the past 22 years, more than 1000 since September 2011. They have ranged in size from tiny specks to lumps as big as half-bricks and include some of the most lethal found on public beaches. Parts of the foreshore have been closed for the past year and an official ban on harvesting shellfish has also been put in place.