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One World Dreamers v World Socialism

The fact is we live in a capitalist world. One of the crucial elements of this capitalist system is the flow of capital, commodities, and labour around the world. While it might seem for a second that the removal of borders would better facilitate all this, the opposite is actually true. From the perspective of the ruling classes of the world, particularly those of the strongest nations, breaking down borders would be a disadvantage for a number of reasons.


Multi-national corporations often rely on tariffs and protective trade policies to protect their market share and profits. For all their love of the “free-market,” corporations will run to the protection of their government when they feel threatened by foreign competition and these corporations have the greatest influence in politics.

Capitalists need a world in which they can freely move capital around, yet at the same time have access to cheap labour as well. Immigration is a major source of cheap labor, and borders and immigrat…

a war of words

Language is a battleground that socialists are often called upon to enter. Calling a party, socialist or communist, or claiming to be one, does not mean that the party is really socialist or communist.

For Marx and ourselves socialism is the society succeeding capitalism and contrary to the widespread erroneous idea, socialism is not a transitional society towards an ultimate aim called communism. For Marx socialism is communism, refers to the same social formation, simply being another term, like the terms Republic of Labour, society of free and associated producers or simply Association, Co-operative Society, union of free individuals, are all equivalent terms for the same society.

The “dictatorship of the proletariat” is not synonymous with socialism. the conquest of political power by the proletariat is not the end of the proletarian revolution, it constitutes, in fact, only the “first step" in the revolution” (Manifesto) which continues through a prolonged period till the c…

Who Are The Work-Shy?

Some sections of the media are fond of portraying the British working class as a feckless, work-shy bunch of state benefit scroungers but recent events expose that as complete nonsense. 'An astonishing 4,000 people braved the bitter cold to queue for work at a new £84million shopping centre. Long lines of desperate job seekers started to build up two hours before the jobs fair opened and the turnout was so big that organisers had to introduce a one-in one-out policy. The Whiteley Shopping Centre in Hampshire is set to open in May and will be home to 56 shops.' (Daily Express, 29 March) Feckless? Work-shy? That is an apt description of the British owning class. RD

a bit of right history

Mussolini concluded his "march" to power in Italy in 1922, and Scottish imitations did not take long to formulate themselves. Many in the upper echelons of Scottish society had great respect for a man who had arrived in power having crushed the left following. It should therefore not be of any great surprise that it was an aristocratic figure, the Earl of Glasgow, who oversaw the establishment of the British Fascists (BF) in Scotland and provided them with a headquarters in Glasgow. Their membership card stated their basic principles, of opposition to communists who are ‘in the pay of the Soviets of Russia’ and determined to ‘murder’ the present ruling class and replace them with a cabal of ‘Jews and Fanatics’. A list of fascist ‘pledges’ is on the reverse side of the card, with members promising to ‘support the King and the British constitution’, ‘end class hatred’, act and think like ‘a Christian’ and ‘to join my fellow Fascists in opposing [communist] force by force if a…

Frugality And Fancy Living

While the majority of the Chinese working class live a frugal existence the ruling elite of the Communist Party lead lives of luxury and opulence, but wary of the collapse of the Soviet Union party leaders are trying to curb the worst excesses of the elite. 'In the four months since he was anointed China's paramount leader and tastemaker-in-chief, President Xi Jinping has imposed a form of austerity on the nation's famously free-spending civil servants, military brass and provincial party bosses. Warning that graft and gluttony threaten to bring down the ruling Communists, Mr. Xi has ordered an end to boozy, taxpayer-financed banquets and the bribery that often takes the form of a gift-wrapped Louis Vuitton bag.' (New York Times, 27 March) RD

Picasso And Penury

The billionaire Steven A. Cohen was feeling a little depressed - he had just been fined $616 million - so he decided to cheer himself up a little. 'Less than two weeks after SAC Capital Advisors, the hedge fund owned by the billionaire trader Steven A. Cohen, agreed to pay the government $616 million to settle accusations of insider trading, Mr. Cohen has decided to buy a little something for himself. A renowned art collector, Mr. Cohen has bought Picasso's "Le Rêve" from the casino owner Stephen A. Wynn for $155 million, according to a person with direct knowledge of the sale who was not authorized to speak publicly.' (New York Times, 26 March) This obscene accumulation of wealth exists in the same society where kids are starving, dying for the lack of clean water and trying to exist on less than $2 a day. RD

Not so red

Ideas of reaction and bigotry can often be just as powerful as those of solidarity and class unity. The celebrated Forty Hours Strike in 1919, when English tanks occupied the centre of Glasgow and which culminated at the ‘Battle of George Square’ also witnessed violent anti-black rioting. On 23 January 1919, tensions among dock workers at the Broomielaw over the ‘employment of Chinese and alien coloured seamen on British ships’ spilled over into a battle with sailors from Sierra Leone, with ‘revolvers and knifes’ used. The role of the two seamen’s unions on the Broomielaw was essentially of deep seated hostility to immigrant labour, which they saw as driving down wages and conditions. Shipping companies did exploit the differentiation in wages between white and African workers, yet it’s unclear if much attempt was made to challenge this by the organised Left or from within the labour movement. The racist riots were ignored by Forward and the Socialist Labour Party’s The Socialist.


Da…

The Dignity Of Labour

National and local politicians are always coming up with schemes to run capitalism more efficiently. Here is their latest brain wave. 'Most local authorities will offer new those who qualify for emergency assistance a one-off voucher redeemable for goods such as food and nappies. Many of the 150 local authorities in England running welfare schemes will issue the vouchers in the form of payment cards, which may be blocked to prevent the holder using them for alcohol, cigarettes or gambling. ........ Councils that will start using the scheme include Hampshire, Manchester, Bristol and Darlington.' (Daily Telegraph, 27 March) By "more efficiently" of course they mean cheaper. Is there no limit to the indignities that the working class must suffer? RD

They Call It Progress

The expansion of Chinese capitalism has led its owning class to search the world for sources of raw materials and markets. 'Ecuador plans to auction off more than three million hectares of pristine Amazonian rainforest to Chinese oil companies, angering indigenous groups and underlining the global environmental toll of China's insatiable thirst for energy. ...... Critics say national debt may be a large part of the Ecuadorean government's calculations. Ecuador owed China more than £4.6bn ($7bn) as of last summer, more than a tenth of its GDP. China began loaning billions of dollars to Ecuador in 2009 in exchange for oil shipments.' (Guardian, 26 March) The fact that indigenous people have lived undisturbed for thousands of years in the area means nothing to the Ecuador and Chinese capitalist class. Displacement and the destruction of a way of life for thousands means nothing compared to profit. RD

imagine no countries, no borders

Immigration has once again resurfaced as a headline grabbing issue, with the “fear" of a “flood" of Eastern Europeans arriving in Britain.


The movement of peoples for survival has been going on since the dawn of time. Even birds migrate. Human beings have been looking for a place where their basic needs will be met since the time when there were no countries, no borders. With the formation of countries as the result of the development of private property ownership migration has become even a greater struggle to survive.

The capitalst class have always sought migrant workers to fuel expansionary periods of economic growth, while saving upon the bill for reproducing and maintaining these workers. Migrant workers are a useful as part of the reserve army of labour because they can quickly be expelled when surplus to requirements. The state uses migrant workers to fill gaps in the labour market but does not pay any of the costs of them or their families settling. In some cases …

National Liberation or libation

The division of the global population into entities called “nations” is overwhelmingly taken for granted. For the vast majority of people it is taken for granted that they are members of a nation-state; they take pride in its alleged accomplishments; they suffer when their nation is embarrassed or humiliated (and for Scottish football’s Tartan Army that is indeed a common occurance!) It rarely if ever occurs to them that the nation-state system is a recent creation in human history, that most human societies have had no concept of the nation whatsoever, and that the rise of the nation-state system corresponds to the international development of capitalism, a particular political form that regulates, controls and disciplines people in a way that facilitates their exploitation by capital. capitalism has stamped our sense of belonging, our need for community with others, with national state forms. In truth, the countryside, the culture and the language with which we are brought up is pa…

Lots Of Potential

Another politician we are expected to revere, as he is a potential Prime Minister after all, is colourful Mayor of London Boris Johnson. He was exposed recently on TV by the interviewer Eddie Mair. '"You're a nasty piece of work, aren't you?" asked Mr Mair. Mr Johnson looked surprised and distinctly uncomfortable as the presenter asked him about his being fired by The Times newspaper for making up a quotation; being sacked from the Tory frontbench for telling "a bare-faced lie" to the party leader Michael Howard about his affair with the journalist Petronella Wyatt and the claim that he agreed to provide a reporter's address to his friend Darius Guppy, a convicted fraudster, so the journalist could be beaten up.' (Independent, 25 March) None of this was directly denied by Johnson. Lying, making up quotes and assisting in an assault threat? Sounds like good Prime Minister material to us. RD

His Lordship's Expertise

The media love to stress how complicated modern society is and how we need the expertise of the statesmen and politicians to guide us through its complexities. Lord Heseltine is a case in point, one of the Government's senior advisers, has been consulting with George Osborne on regenerating British cities. The majority of Lord Heseltine's recommendations in his regional growth report were accepted by the Chancellor in last week's budget. Listen to this "expert". 'Complacent British may not have 'national will' to secure economic recovery, Lord Heseltine suggests. British people may be so rich that they do not have the "national will" needed to lift the country out of the economic downturn, Lord Heseltine has suggested.' (Daily Telegraph, 25 March) All of you "rich" British surviving on dole money, pensions and minimum wages are considered by the wealthy peer too rich to care. Some expert! RD

Facts are chiels that winna ding

Poverty


630,000 individuals are in households experiencing absolute poverty
970,000 are living in households that are in “relative poverty”
160,000 children live in absolute poverty
260,000 children live in relative poverty
658,000 households livie in fuel poverty (defined as people using more than 10% of the family income to pay their energy bills)
2,000 more deaths of people aged 65 in Winter 2008/09 compared to the summer months (The Poverty Site)
143,000 Scottish people are claiming Job Seekers Allowance, 215,000 are officially unemployed; while 1.573m Scots are classified as ‘economically inactive’ (ONS, June 2012).

Results

 Poor health, poor education, bad housing, reduced social opportunities, higher rate of alcoholism, addiction and mental illness. Men living in the most deprived areas have 18.8 years lower life expectancy and women 17.1 years than for those in the least deprived areas. In Tayside 2011 saw a significant increase in malnutrition, with 182 reported cases.

&#…

the Independence Referendum

Nationalism and the referendum increasingly dominates Scottish politics and its newspapers. We now have the date of the referendum which will be the 18th September 2014when Scot voters will be asked the Yes/No question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"


By re-drawing the map the nationalists promise economic prosperity. The unionists prophesise economic catastrophe. Socialists say experience shows that either way, the working class will lose out.

Independence is nothing but a dead-end. It doesn’t bring us closer to socialism, only farther away from it. Separation is no stepping stone to socialism, despite what phony “Marxist” theoreticians may say. It maintains and reinforces the divisions within the working class – a real boon for the capitalist class which do their best to keep us divided. The people on the Left who are pushing this option fall right into class collaboration. Under capitalism there is necessarily a division between rich and poor, a ruling class…

A CRUEL REALITY

Television advertisements delight in showing us the latest domestic electric and gas heaters with all the hi-tech gadgets. Behind this modern and comforting image there lurks a cruel reality however. 'Millions of Britons are facing fuel poverty due to soaring energy bills, experts warned today. More than nine million people will spend more than 10 per cent of their household income on fuel in three years, they said. ........... Annmarie Blomfield, of energy assessment company One Green Place, said fuel poverty kills thousands of people every year.She said almost 8,000 people die from living in cold homes with more than 1.6 million children in households which struggle to keep warm.' (Daily Express, 19 March) Dying in a cold home never features in those slick adverts. RD

Who's scoring?

Money counts as the Championship League last eight shows. It is a reflection of the Deloitte's Football Money League. Real Madrid (1st), Barcelona (2nd) and Bayern (4th). There's Juventus, 10th on the money list and Italy's biggest spenders, Galatasaray enough financial clout to "rent" Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba as short-term "ringers" – and Paris Saint-Germain, have spent more than anyone in football over the past 18 months. The exceptions are Borussia Dortmund founded on low ticket prices and a working man's club ethos and, especially, the fact that, apart from Marco Reus, nobody in the starting eleven cost more than £5 million. This status was somewhat forced upon them by the wild overspending that sent the club into administration a decade ago. Malaga also previously faced unpaid wages and lawsuits.
Football has reached the point where it must choose between becoming an elitist sport, dominated by a handful of rich clubs and leagues, or…

Food for thought

A report by McMaster University (Hamilton) and the United Way tells us that barely half the adults in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton have full time jobs with benefits and expect to be working for the same employer in one year's time. The rest work either full or part-time with no benefits or job security or in temporary, casual or contract positions. Insecure or precarious' work has increased fifty per cent in the last twenty years. There has been a forty per cent increase in temporary work since 1997 and a forty-five per cent increase in self- employment. This is causing major life decisions like moving in with a partner, having children etc. increasingly difficult. This, of course, is due to the squeeze on workers to make the workforce more 'flexible' to suit the profit makers that is the neo-liberal agenda. We need to educate these people that they do not have to drop living standards to the lowest common denominator and make them clas…

No Forgiveness for Blair’s Useful Idiots

Making up a reason to invade a country was the easy part for Tony Blair. Sticking to a pretend story for ten years — that is truly the sign of a sociopathic statesman.


Ten years ago, between January and April 2003, it is estimated that an unprecedented 36 million people around the world took to the streets in protest against the Iraq War. 50, 000 of them marched in Glasgow. Scottish Labour Party leader Johann Lamont was not one of them. Instead she was part of those political cheer-leaders who supported Tony Blair and voted for the invasion of Iraq. In her own words she “voted on the grounds of listening to the evidence in front of me and on my conscience.”


She was one of many “useful idiots,” who willfully played along with preposterous WMD claims and allowed themselves to get carried away with the imperialistic fervor surrounding a new call to war, abdicating their responsibilities to humanity. How can we believe her pleas of ignorance when millions of us screamed the facts until …

One or None

It is 200 years since the birth of David Livingstone, perhaps the most famous of missionaries. One biography describes David Livingstone as "Africa's Greatest Missionary".

An interesting claim considering that estimates of the number of people he converted in the course of his 30-year career vary between one and none. Livingstone himself later wrote off his sole convert as a backslider within months of his baptism.

Preaching revolution

The only reasonable position to adopt towards any religion is one of unbelief. For secular humanists, criticism of religion is a process towards the eventual "triumph of reason". But they ignore the material circumstances which give rise to superstition. The socialist analysis of religion derives from our basic materialism that traces how religions have evolved, from their possible beginnings in ancestor worship in primitive societies to established social institutions. Under capitalism people feel, rightly, that they are governed by forces they can't control but attribute this, wrongly, to forces operating from outside the world of experience. Churches of all types are then at hand for the sustaining of fear and superstition. For the socialist alternative to our lives being controlled by impersonal forces we must bring about a society in which humans consciously control the forces of production.
Humans made God in their image and attributed to him the powers which they…

Food for thought

According to Canada's finance minister, Jim Flaherty, leaders from the G20 nations have made progress in balancing fiscal discipline and economic growth in their Moscow meeting. He said, "Refrain from competitive devaluation and resist all forms of protectionism and keep our markets open." That should make capitalism work. However, some fear that some are deliberately trying to weaken their currencies to appear more competitive starting a currency war that could derail the global recovery. Japan, the world's third largest economy, has been accused of trying to lower the yen to stimulate its economy. Doesn't it make more sense to abolish the system that requires currencies at all? John Ayers

MODERNITY AND OLD PROBLEMS

If any area in the world seemed to sum up modernity and progress it would probably be Silicon Valley in California with its high technology industries, but behind that modernity lurks an old problem - poverty and homelessness. 'A shanty town of tents and shacks stretches over 28 acres near the airport at San Jose, the area's second city, and one Silicone Valley chief executive said he had seen advertisements in San Francisco for people to rent floor space on the condition that they brought their own sleeping bags.' (Times, 16 March) RD

Nationalism - where does it end?

Socialist Courier has already drawn attention to the unintended consequences for the nationalists in that where does separation stop in this post and here too.

The Guardian now reports, that politicians in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles have begun talks among themselves about their own "home rule". The councils are investigating plans to model themselves on the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands or the Falklands, which are crown dependencies and largely independent from the UK government, or to mimic the self-rule deal struck by the Faroe Islands with Denmark in 1948. Other less radical options include pressing for control over all their local fisheries, merging local health and social services, and taking control of the sea bed from the Crown Estates in London to help the islands profit from the boom in windfarms, on land and offshore, and marine energy projects about to start off northern and western Scotland. The three island groups are poised for a huge growth in…

CITY OF LUXURY AND SLUMS

Capitalism is a social system that cruelly contrasts wealth and poverty but probably no city in the world illustrates that conflict more than Mumbai in India. The world's tallest block of flats entitled World One, a 117-storey complex offering flats at £10 million has recently been completed there. 'On the streets below, about 4 million of Bombay's inhabitants defecate in the open because they have no lavatory. ....... Mumbai has the seventh largest number of billionaires of any city but by 2025 the World Bank predicts they will share it with 22.5 million slum-dwellers.' (Times, 16 March) RD

DEATH AND THE NHS

Many supporters of the National Health Service in the UK argue that the NHS is envied throughout the world. If so it doesn't say much for how those countries treat their workers when they are sick.'More than 20,000 hospital deaths could have been prevented if warnings about high mortality rates had been acted on quickly, a government adviser has said. Professor Sir Brian Jarman has accused ministers and officials of ignoring data on high death rates for a decade. Sir Brian is working on the government review of 14 hospital trusts with higher-than-average death rates in the wake of the Stafford Hospital inquiry.' (BBC News, 16 March) RD

Food for thought

In Guatemala City, cemetery space is so scarce that mummified bodies are exhumed over unpaid cemetery rents. Should a relative come to claim them, they are placed in a mass grave. Even dead, you can be evicted! What a system!
Recent flooding in Bangladesh and the eastern coast of the US has hammered home to many what we face in the years to come, unless we act on climate change now (don't hold your breath). Experts expect about 250 million people will be forced to move by 2015. Think of the problems that will cause. Why not prevent it now?
Ontario's new premier, Kathleen Wynne (Liberal) said she hopes for cooperation from her rivals Tim Hudak (Conservative) and Andrea Horvath (NDP) in her attempts to solve problems in running the province. She said, "I believe that there is a lot of common ground with the Tories and the NDP..." Sure, the common ground they are all committed to is running the day to day affairs of the capitalist system in the int…

The Blair Legacy

As the 10th anniversary of the Iraq Invasion approaches what was the cost?
In dollars and cents it is estimated that the war cost the United States $1.7 trillion (£1.1tn). Its involvement in Iraq according to other sources has so far cost the US $810 billion (625 billion euros) and could eventually reach $3 trillion.
But in the cost of lives the war killed at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians and may have led to the deaths of four times that number, said the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

Another estimate quoted is at least 116,000 Iraqi civilians and more than 4,800 coalition troops died in Iraq between the outbreak of war in 2003 and the US withdrawal in 2011 (31,000 US military personnel were injured).

About five million Iraqis were displaced.
In 2006, estimates by researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, published in The Lancet, said 655,000 people had died in the first 40 months of the war.
In 2008…

The Walking Dead

The Orange Order endeavours to dismiss any suggestion of class struggle as the following ditty demonstrates:


"Let not the poor man hate the rich
Nor rich on poor look down
But each join each true Orange Order
For God and the Crown."

Food for thought After thought

Speaking of television, another SPCer read Sid Caesar's autobiography. Originally, Admiral Television sponsored his, "Your Show of Shows" and, because it was a smash, the demand for Admiral TV sets skyrocketed. So Admiral dropped its sponsorship as they needed the money to pay for the production of more TV sets. That's what I like about capitalism; it's so sane! John Ayers

Food for thought

Defenders of capitalism argue that competition results in improvements in products and certainly one can point to many examples. However there is another side to capitalism's tarnished medal. An SPCer recently found his television set had broken down and it was cheaper to buy a new one than get it fixed. Here again, it can be said that improvements have been made. Today, for a price, one can buy TV sets that do just about anything except cook meals. The problem is that the TV had only lasted ten years, which is average these days. TV, like cars and many other products, are not made to last, so one will be compelled to buy a new one; in other words, planned obsolescence. In fact, competition drives the manufacturers to cheapen any product as far as possible in order to compete and we wind up with advanced technology made out of garbage. If you want quality, go for socialism! John Ayers

Nationalism? No change

One of our companion blogs, Patience and Perseverance, writes:


“ It seems as if Salmond & Co are losing their enthusiasm for Independence? They intend to continue to use the £ sterling, hang on to the coat tails of the Windsors as head of state, and now: dual citizenship, what next? Given the foregoing, it would seem that the pursuit of Scottish Independence is going to be a pointless exercise” [we can add also the continued membership of the EU and Nato]

Indeed, the blog highlights how its alleged radicalism has become more and more watered down by the day as the SNP become more and more desperate for a “yes” vote.
The nationalisms that divide the world at present are the byproducts of fairly recent historical developments. Usually, they grew up as a particular section of the capitalist class sought to establish its dominance over the economic activities of the territory it inhabited. To do so successfully, it had to subordinate the state power to its own ‘national’ interests. …

HARSH REALITY

Politicians love to paint a picture of a Britain of steadily improving standards of living and a gradually more equitable society, but recent statistics show that this is a complete fraud. 'Millions of families will be no better off in 2015 than they were in 2000 due to a devastating attack on household finances, according to Britain's leading think tank. The average worker will have suffered the worst squeeze on incomes in memory by the time of the next General Election, warns the Institute for Fiscal Studies.' (Daily Mail, 14 March) RD

Food for thought

Last year the government announced that those Canadians born after March, 1958, will have a longer wait for Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). Instead of collecting at 65, it will be at 67 years of age (even guaranteed pensions are not guaranteed in capitalism!) The government said the changes are necessary because the number of seniors will almost double by 2030 to 9.4 million. So, if you are in a low-income bracket and coming up
for retirement in ten years, you may have to work a little longer. Another example of a reform disappearing. John Ayers

RIP SWP?

The  resignation statement of 71 SWPers with many others expected to follow. One now ex-SWP prominent member wrote .

"One is simply astounded by how inadequate, corrupt, stupid, narrow-mindedly bureaucratic and delusional the leadership of the SWP has proven to be."  Members of the Socialist Party could have told them that years ago. He goes on to say "It is not just that having covered up serious sexual allegations, and so disastrously failed at least two female comrades, they can admit no fault. It is not just the absurd, scholastic, apolitical explanations they give for doing so, or the tragic retreat into bunkered dogma that has accompanied this. It is not just that they lie with impunity. It is not just that they ducked a real debate, with their absurd rules limiting faction speakers at aggregates, and their gerrymandering of conference. It is not just that even now many of them are desperate to get the accused back into the leadership as soon as can conveniently …

Semantics

EU legislation to protect the marine environment which bans the dumping of waste at sea.

Minutes from an internal Ministry of Defence committee - released as part of a Freedom of Information request - note a discussion on the interpretation of the OSPAR convention on waste dumping. Members concluded that they could avoid breaching the legislation by saying that Depleted Uranium cannon shells were "placed" not "dumped" in the sea. 6,700 shells have been fired from the range, containing nearly 30 tonnes of DU whih is toxic and radioactive and has been linked to increases in cancers and birth defects in Iraq, where it has been used as a weapon. It has also been linked to health concerns among members of UK armed forces exposed to the shells.

Its not what you say but how you say it !!!

Food for thought

On January 30th. Employees at several "Best Buy" stores in Ontario, showed up for work at the usual time, to find the doors shut and notices on them informing them that they were unemployed. Rapid developments in the means of communication have meant that companies that sell electronics are losing out to the 'net', where goods can be purchased cheaper. As to why the workers were not informed of the impending lay-offs sooner, we can only surmise that the owners feared that they would not work so conscientiously if they knew of their fate. No doubt, the laid-off felt they had been treated unfairly, as indeed they had. But where is it written that life under capitalism is supposed to be fair? John Ayers

THE ROOTS OF WAR

The first world war was supposed to be the war to end all wars. 1939 showed the nonsense of that notion, but some claimed the second world war was a war to end fascism and to protect democracy. That now looks like an equally stupid idea. 'As Austria prepares to mark the anniversary of its annexation by Nazi Germany, an opinion poll has shown that more than half of the population think it highly likely that the Nazis would be elected if they were readmitted as a party. A further 42 per cent agreed with the view that life "wasn't all bad under the Nazis", and 39 per cent said they thought a recurrence of anti-Semitic persecution was likely in Austria.' (Independent, 10 March) Wars are not fought for splendid humane principles they are fought for markets, sources of raw materials and political and geographical reasons. Foolishly workers today are still conned by the nonsense of nationalism and capitalism. RD

Only the Red Flag

A country’s flag is a commercial asset, said the proponent of the British Empire, Cecil Rhodes. It represents the economic and political interests of the capitalist class. The ruling class praise love of country in order to beguile the proletariat, so that it should sacrifice itself in defence of the wealth hich the ruling-class has stolen from them. Capitalists are always nationalist, since they must exploit the proletariat of its own nation, but at a certain times of the economic development it must assume a certain international character, in order that the surplus of goods which it has captured from the wage-earners may be sold.

The rising capitalist class of the eighteenth century was only able to overthrow the aristocracy and seize power by proclaiming the brotherhood of nations and by calling on them to make common cause against tyrants; to be a patriot meant for bourgeois revolutionists not to love France, Germany or Italy, but to love the revolution. When the revolution was …

hot rocks

Geo-thermal energy could be a triple win for the world: clean, reliable, locally-produced power. Iceland's energy needs are  presently met by 40% geotherm but you need not be a volcanic island like Iceland to access the geotherm potential.

Recently, scientists have stated that 40% of Glasgow’s heating needs could come from geothermal power located in local abandoned coal mine shafts. There are many such mines throughout the country, and some of them are located deep enough below ground level that they have accumulated water. This water is warm enough it can be pumped up to heat buildings and homes.

Glenalmond Street in Shettleston, uses a combination of solar and geothermal energy to heat 16 houses. Water in a coal mine 100 metres (328 ft) below ground level is heated by geothermal energy and maintained at a temperature of about 12 °C (54 °F) throughout the year. The warmed water is raised and passed through a heat pump, boosting the temperature to 55 °C (131 °F), and is then dist…

Food for thought

In "The conscience of a Corporation" (Bill Keller, New York Times,) tells us about a corporation led by a Christian, David Green, who founded "Hobby Lobby" stores in the US. It remains closed on Sundays, and promotes faith in all markets. It sticks decals over Botticelli's naked Venus in its art books and in-house health insurance does not cover contraceptives. Obama's Affordable Care Act requires companies with more than fifty employees to offer health insurance, including birth control. In a legal case on the matter, in which Hobby Lobby argues exemption on religious grounds, opposition counsel states that it is not a matter of 'does the corporation pray? Or does the corporation go to heaven?' Such is life in a religious state! Maybe it would just be better to get health care for all those who need it. John Ayers

HUNGER IN THE USA

Whenever one hears of children going hungry it is assumed this is a reference to some backward country in Asia or Africa, but recent events show that it applies to even advanced countries like the USA. 'Child poverty in the US has reached record levels, with almost 17 million children now affected. A growing number are also going hungry on a daily basis. Food is never far from the thoughts of 10-year-old Kaylie Haywood and her older brother Tyler, 12. At a food bank in Stockton, Iowa, they are arguing with their mother over the 15 items they are allowed to take with them. .......... The family are among the 47 million Americans now thought to depend on food banks. One in five children receives food aid.' (BBC News, 6 March) It speaks volumes about the nature of capitalism when even the most advanced country in the world has hungry kids. RD

Where now Venezuela?

The eulogies for Chavez keep coming, "one of the greatest revolutionaries in the history of mankind" .

There was certainly a campaign by his many enemies to discredit and distort Chavez, and indeed the misrepresentations of what he stood for come also from his friends.

In his own words Chavez explained that:
  "I don’t believe in the dogmatic postulates of Marxist revolution. I don’t accept that we are living in a period of proletarian revolutions. All that must be revised. Reality is telling us that every day. Are we aiming in Venezuela today for the abolition of private property or a classless society? I don’t think so. But if I’m told that because of that reality you can’t do anything to help the poor, the people who have made this country rich through their labour – and never forget that some of it was slave labour – then I say: ‘We part company.’ I will never accept that there can be no redistribution of wealth in society. Our upper classes don’t even like paying…

We are indeed all Jock Tamson's bairns

With every generation you (nearly) double your number of ancestors because every individual has two parents – going back just 10 generations (200-300 years) you are likely to have around a thousand ancestors.

"When genetics researchers talk about common ancestry between people they usually mean that they are tracing the inheritance of particular sections of DNA or genes.And we know that different sections of our DNA have different patterns of genetic ancestry. This means that researchers can get very different estimates of how recently we share ancestors, depending on what they are looking at...
...look at mtDNA to follow ancestry passed along the female line. For mtDNA, everyone alive today shares a common ancestor who lived between 160,000 and 200,000 years ago.everyone alive today shares a common ancestor who lived between 160,000 and 200,000 years ago....
...look at Y chromosome DNA to follow ancestry through the male line, the most recent estimate is of a common ancestor who l…