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Showing posts from 2013

Revolution by the people for the people

War sometimes breeds revolution. Continued for any length of time, it seems to defeat revolution. The working class should not adopt the same methods as the capitalists. Socialists do not hide the fact that we are consistent enemies of capitalism unlike those “friends of labour” in the ruling class who mask their anti-worker agenda with fake promises.

The most important issue confronting the working class to-day is the question of the proper method, the proper tactics, to adopt in order to attain our aim, the overthrow of the capitalist system. Our aim is to take into our possession of the tools of production and the means of distribution from the capitalist class and operate them for the benefit of the whole of society. It is important that this question should be openly and widely ; that the uncertainty which now divides workers should be dispelled and we arrive at a position upon which all workers may unite. Without the organisation to realise our objective it will always remain a…

The Burnt-out NHS

Doctors in Scotland are suffering “stress and burnout” as growing NHS workloads take their toll, medical leaders today warned.  BMA Scotland chairman, Dr Keighley has warned that the fall in hospital bed numbers over a number of years has led to rising waiting lists and more pressure on Accident and Emergency.

Health boards and the Scottish Government are struggling to deal with the pressures of an ageing population, Westminster-led funding cuts and rising expectations from patients which include a shift towards a seven day working week in hospitals. New contracts are now being proposed for doctors, along with “radical” changes to training and greater weekend working. Dr Keighley insisted doctors are ready to look at new ways of working.

The crucial contact between doctors and patients has particularly suffered, according to Dr Keighley.

The “inexorable rise of managerialism” in the NHS has been a “major cause of dysfunction”, he added, and there is a need to return to clinical prior…

The Solution is Socialism

The number of people turning to food banks for emergency aid is expected to hit at least 55,000 by the end of the financial year, the Trussell Trust charity said. Any economic growth is being undermined by rising living costs, welfare cuts and a lack of jobs, the charity says.

Scotland now has 43 food banks which helped around 39,000 people with emergency supplies between April 1 and December 23.

Mr Gurr, the charity’s Scotland development officer, said: “It is not scaremongering, it is reality and the coalition Government can ignore that as much as they want. They can focus on the 0.8% growth in the economy and decreasing unemployment throughout the country. That’s good. That is something we celebrate, but there is more work to be done. The rising cost of living means that those in work are harder-pressed than they ever were. We are seeing an increasing number of people who are in work, who had sustainable incomes five years ago but, because of the rising cost of living, are not abl…

The passing of a brain-sucker

From the September 1919 issue of the Socialist Standard

On the 12th of August the death of Andrew Carnegie was reported, and all the capitalist newspapers united to diffuse an odour of sanctity around the man whose fortune—like all other great fortunes—was built up by the sucking of other men's brains.

It was on the shoulders of others that Carnegie climbed to affluence. Unscrupulous, alike in his dealings with his fellow capitalists and his workmen, he crushed out all who stood in his path, until he came up against a more powerful combination than his own, then he stepped quietly down and out of business, leaving Morgan, Rockefeller & Co. a clear field.

Carnegie came at the first flush of the era of speculation and "high finance" in America, and the tide swept him along with it. The keystone of his success was his ability in appropriating the product of other men's brains (as well, of course, as the product of their hands), or, as he himself repeatedly expressed…

The State and its abolition

This is from the Spring 1985 issue of the World Socialist. The author was a one time member and secretary of Edinburgh branch.

Notes on the State

Central to socialist thinking on the nature of the capitalist state is the concept of class. Drawing on the writings of Marx, socialists argue that we live in a class-based society, in which a small minority own and control the means of producing wealth to the exclusion of the rest of the population.

Specifically, we live in a society which is divided on class lines: the owners of capital, the capitalist class, and the sellers of labour power, the working class. This relationship between buyer and seller of labour power is necessarily antagonistic and this antagonism expresses itself from time to time in struggle over the distribution of the social product. Because of this socialists argue that the state cannot remain neutral — a passive observer of the class struggle. Rather we say that the state must intervene on the side of the economical…


Capitalism is a social system based on economic slumps and booms. It is notoriously difficult to forecast when these will occur but that doesn't stop so-called experts having a go. 'John Philpott, director of The Jobs Economist, said: "This time last year we  correctly forecast that 2013 would be a year of 'hard slog' for UK workers, with longer hours for no extra real reward. For the majority of workers 2014 is unlikely to feel much better.' (Times, 27 December) Despite politicians rosy forecasts for the future we reckon that Philpott's forecast won't be far off the mark. RD

Revolution without Revolutionaries or Revolutionaries without the Revolution?

Our object is simply to get our political ideas across to as many people as possible, and to do so in a clear way. In a society where popular is overwhelmingly controlled by corporate power dedicated in their essential outlook to maintaining the capitalist status quo, those who advocate social change face an uphill battle to get a fair hearing for their ideas. Serious debate in the mainstream media with  opponents of capitalism is rare. Politics isusually reduced to a few minutes of sound-bites. Genuine socialist views are marked taboo and the media are free to label  whoever they wish as a “socialist”, a world invariably used as a put-down.

The 1% will always rule, declares the prevailing assumption of mainstream political wisdom, while the rest of the us are manipulated to keep our mouths quiet, stay politically inactive, and work without complaint for our employers.  Capitalism has only structural inequality, permanent war, and economic instability to offer the majority of the peo…

Amassing A Fortune

At a time when millions of people are trying to survive on the equivalent of $2 a day it is worthwhile looking at the immense wealth of the super-rich. 'Warren Buffett spent most of 2013 amassing fortunes of over £23 million a day through investments into food manufacturing giants like Heinz, which he bought earlier this year. The investor topped the Wealth-X 'gainers' list for 2013, having made a staggering £7.7 billion since January to bring his estimated net worth to a cool £36 billion.' (Independent, 25 December) At least the Independent did not insult its readers by claiming he "earned" £23 million a day but used the term "amassing". RD

Legalised Theft

Those who seek short-cuts may all too easily lose their course. Organisation means getting together with a common understanding and a common end in view, and working systematically for the attainment of that end. For the workers to organise effectively, they must have a correct understanding of their position in society and of the conditions under which they live and work. If they fail to understand these things, they will either not organise at all or will organise in an ineffective manner. The effectiveness of their organisation depends on the correctness of their understanding. The better they understand conditions the more effectively they will organise. To change society and end oppression, we need a plan to get from where we are now to liberation - a strategy that will work and which will address the fundamental issue of who are our friends and who are our enemies, that explains how we will go about uniting all who can be united to end the existing order of things.

Capitalism i…

Should we be surprised?

Performance in maths, reading and science is more than 10 per cent higher in private schools in Scotland than in the state sector, new figures have revealed.

81% of pupils at Edinburgh’s Merchiston Castle, above, received A passes – though only 15 sat Highers, the rest sitting A-levels in S6. 69% of the 175 pupils who sat Highers at George Heriot’s in Edinburgh got As.

 Not one pupil at Castlebrae Community High or Craigroyston Community High both in Edinburgh, achieved five Highers or more. 1%In 2013, Wester Hailes Education Centre moved up a notch from 0%. All schools who have catchment areas of working class housing schemes.

Economic Recovery?

A slight fall in the unemployment figures has led to politicians talking about an economic recovery, but for large parts of the British population this is a complete myth. 'Advisers at the homeless charity Shelter are taking 500 calls a day from distraught people. ... The anxiety and emotion that pours into the headsets of crisis advice workers in this crowded fifth-floor Sheffield call centre offers a snapshot of the UK's worsening homelessness crisis. Advisers at Shelter's helpline are processing more calls than ever. Last year there was a 15% increase in the volume of calls - a reflection, staff think, of the degree to which people are struggling with rising house prices, soaring rents, cuts to housing benefit and the long shadow of the recession.' (Guardian, 23 December) Perhaps a shift answering these desperate calls to the Shelter helpline would help politicians to get a better picture of the real situation for thousands of homeless worke…

The Practical Politics of Socialists

The bankers and corporate CEOs who run the country are caught in a crisis. The working class
 is being roused to action as its anger and struggle mounts, gathering  momentum especially over the last few years. To advocate a strategy whose admitted aim is the reform of  capitalism is to mislead the working class. Workers have the power to cripple the capitalists. If the workers don’t work, the capitalists don’t profit.  As the only productive class in society, as the only class which produces and distributes the things necessary for life, the working class is the only class which literally holds in its hands not only the ability to destroy the old capitalist society, but the ability to build the new socialist society. Some people who call themselves socialists, however, do not believe that the working class will play this role.  Their position comes down to the old romantic notion of a handful of heroic revolutionaries making the revolution for the people, rather than the people, led …

Buckie Ban?

Buckfast has become a by-word for Scotland's hard drinking culture and the violence and vandalism that is linked to this culture. Strathclyde Police reported that  Buckfast, also known as Buckie, was mentioned in 6,496 crime reports from 2010 to 2012. It certainly attracts far more attention than any other drink with less than 1% of sales in Scotland. Successive government ministers including the current Scottish Justice Secretary, have highlighted it as a "problem" drink. The Scottish Parliament has heard calls for "Buckie" - as it has become known - to be banned and for the caffeine content to be reduced. One bottle contains as much caffeine as eight cans of Coke as well as 15% alcohol - a cocktail that some experts suggest makes Buckfast particularly potent.

Abbot David Charlesworth of Buckfast Abbey says of the monastery's tonic wine  "We don't make a product for it to be abused. That's not the idea. "It annoys me to think that these …

Edinburgh, Scotland - Edinburg, Texas - The same poverty

In Edinburg, Texas, 200 miles south of San Antonio, Denise Acosta, 36, a mother of four children aged 14 and under, described how being laid off from her job as a healthcare administrator seven months ago  had caused a crisis.  An $800 medical bill, no longer covered by insurance, meant Acosta quickly fell behind on the $1,200 monthly payments on her house, then the car. She lost both, and was forced to move in with her sister.

In October, the family's food stamp scheme, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme (Snap) benefits were $113 a month, a sum that lasts them about a week and a half. In November there was a $11 cut for each family member. An expansion of the programme designed to keep low-income Americans out of hunger put in place when the recession was biting deepest, was allowed to expire in November, cutting benefits.

Acosta has learned to be creative with the children's meals. “ I used to buy Lunchables [lunch packs] for snacks, now I get a big pa…

Merry Marxmas

God rest ye merry socialists, let nothing you dismay
Remember there's no evidence there was a Christmas day.
When Christ was born just is not known, no matter what they say,
Glad tidings of reason & fact, reason & fact,
Glad tidings of reason & fact. 

There was no star of Bethlehem, there was no angel song,
There could have been no wise men, for the journey was too long,
The stories in the Bible are historically wrong,
Glad tidings of reason & fact, reason & fact,
Glad tidings of reason & fact. 

Much of our Christmas custom comes from Persia & from Greece,
From solstice celebrations of the ancient Middle East,
Our so-called Christmas holiday is but a pagan feast,
Glad tidings of reason & fact, reason & fact,
Glad tidings of reason & fact. 
author unknown

Although Christians celebrate December 25 as the birthday of Christ, no one in the first two Christian centuries had any knowledge of the exact day or year in which he was born. Most Christians were more i…

Scientific socialism

It is a symptom in a crisis of capitalism that the naive faith in the harmony of the capitalist system is shattered in the minds both of practical businessmen and of the theoreticians of capitalist economy. Yet the conventional economists still believe that crises can be avoided, that the swings of the economic pendulum dampened down, the irregularities of the trade cycle ironed out, by some adaptation of the monetary or credit system, by state intervention, by a more equal distribution of incomes with the help of taxation. In short, by reforms which would improve the workings of the capitalist system without touching its basis - private property in the means of production. The various proposals are based on the conviction that nothing is fundamentally wrong with the economic system. A economic crisis is not so much to be explained as to be explained away.

Marx’s economic theories were  killed off and buried generations ago; the university professors tell us so. Ideas must be met wit…

Working Class Stupidity

Glasgow gamblers spent more than £800 million to feed slot machines in one year. At the same time the number of bookmakers in Glasgow leapt by one-fifth as Scots became addicted to the casino machines. New figures show there are now 250 betting shops in the city, up from 210 shortly after gaming laws were loosened in 2005.

Another Example Of Exploitation

Capitalism distorts everything it touches. It even distorts the English language. The use of the term "earned" is a case in point. 'Jonathan Ruffer, the philanthropic fund manager, is believed to have earned close to £12m last year after another bumper performance by his botique investment firm. Pre-tax profits at Ruffer Management rose 6% to £115m.' (Sunday Times, 22 December) How did Ruffer "earn" a million quid per month? He didn't of course. He exploited men and women of the working class by that staggering figure. That is the basis of the capitalism system. RD

It’s Up to Us

Hunger, poverty, unemployment, racial and sexual discrimination, and many other forms of repression, from the restriction of the most basic democratic rights like freedom of speech and association to the hideous barbarism of torture and genocide, are still the lot of the majority of the people of the world. Far from diminishing with the progress of science and technology, the various forms of misery endured by the masses are growing. The gulf between the rich and the poor, between the powerful and the dispossessed, is steadily widening.

The working class has a historical mission to unite its class behind one revolutionary banner and to overthrow the capitalist class, a class which has seized political power through treachery, robbery, plunder, genocide and vicious exploitation of the whole working class. The capitalists are acutely aware of the working class. They have made it known that workers have no right to fight against capitalist exploitation, no right to organise itself into …

Quote of the Day

"..the welfare state is being destroyed by the coalition government. In the east end of Glasgow where I live and work, I meet people in dire material need. One woman was forced to stop work by severe angina. During the tests introduced by the Department of Work and Pensions, she missed a medical appointment and was fined a week's benefits. Unable to pay her gas bill, she took a £50 loan from a high-street shark and had to pay back £75. She has no savings and cannot afford shoes and clothes. Easterhouse Baptist Church has started a cafe one day a week. Tea and coffee is free, as is fruit for children, and hot snacks are cheap. A widow with three children stays the whole time, because the cafe is warm. A middle-aged man paying the wretched bedroom tax comes in once a fortnight. He cannot afford even the cheap snacks on a weekly basis. Recently, a man walked into the church not having eaten for three days...." - Bob Holman, The Guardian

The Uncaring Society

Capitalism is a callous uncaring society wherein the only priority is production for profit and the fate of the wealth producers is of little concern. A particularly awful example of this callousness was revealed recently. 'A project is being launched to raise awareness of malnutrition among elderly people, with government backing. Nearly a million over-65s in England suffer from untreated malnutrition, says charity Age UK - almost all of whom are in the community.' (BBCNews, 22 December) After a lifetime of producing profits for their masters the working class are often thrown  on the industrial scrapheap to suffer poverty, loneliness and even in some cases malnutrition. RD

Marx and Economix

Marx saw the aim of the working-class party as the preparation for and organisation of revolution – the overthrow of the ruling class of capitalist – and the organisation of a new system of production, socialism. A working-class party explains why, so long as capitalist production, continues, the struggle between classes must also go on, while economic crises and wars inflict terrible sufferings on the workers; but that the conflict and sufferings can be ended by changing the system of production, which involves the overthrow of the capitalist class.

Capitalism evolved out of feudal times. The typical feudal form of production was production for local consumption: food, clothing and other articles were produced by the serfs for themselves and for their feudal lords. Any surplus was sold in exchange for articles brought in from other countries or from other parts of the country. But the main part of production was still for consumption by the producers and the lord who had feudal righ…

Fewer Festive Feasts

Desperate Scots are turning to food banks and soup kitchens in soaring numbers across the country, new research has found. More than 20,000 people have received food handouts in the last six months alone Hundred of people in Glasgow are expected to go hungry over the festive period, with the numbers turning to food banks at a worrying high. New figures from charity The Trussell Trust, which runs four food banks in the city, show the numbers accessing their lifeline services has more than doubled. Some 27,603 meals have been handed out by just three food banks in the city in the last three months. Since September, 1417 have been fed by the Truss-ell Trust food bank in Scotstoun, 1365 by the Govanhill branch and 285 by the service in Parkhead. That is 29 people a day, compared to 12 people a day in the first six months of 2013/14.There are more than 15 food banks in the city run by other groups and churches. 

A Scottish Government report identified 55 food banks and soup kitchens in eigh…