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Showing posts from August, 2013

Unity for Socialism

“Compromisers and schemers will still erect parties to serve their personal ends and satiate their lust for being worshipped; intellectual mannikins will still perch themselves upon the shoulders of the workers and imagining their high altitude is the result of transcendent ability on their part will call the world to witness how great they are; but they will be deprived of their power to delude the real revolutionist by the simple fact of the existence of a political party of Socialists dominated by and resting upon the economic movement of the working class.” James Connolly

A worker does not live alone on a desert island but is a member of a social community. We  cannot do without food, clothing and shelter.  In the earliest period of history society was based on the clan or tribe. Everything was pretty much owned and shared in common. There was no privately-owned property, no government, no rulers and ruled, no laws in the sense in which we know them today.

A feature of the present…

Against Capitalism, Against Reformism

Making profits is shrouded in great mystery by the capitalists. They seek to make the workers believe that it is through some occult power that they make the processes of production yield them profits and build up great fortunes for them. There is no mystery about the source of profits.

The capitalists do not create wealth out of the aid in juggling with industry. They make profits because they purchase the labour-power of the workers for less than the value of the goods the workers produce, that is, they do not pay the workers the full value of their labour. There is not other way of making profits out of industry. When the workers are educated to the real nature of the profit system they lose all respect for the masters and their property. They see the capitalists in their true colours as thieves and parasites, and their "sacred" property as plunder. They see state, church,media and educational establishments  as tools of the exploiters and they look on these institutions with…

Desperate to work

Morrisons, the supermarket chain, advertised 250 vacancies at a new store in Kirkcaldy. Jobseekers were charged 21p a supermarket jobs hotline with more than 10,000 calls in an hour - an incredible rate of almost three calls every second. Jobseekers were charged 21p every time they left a message on the hotline. One applicant ended up with a £40 telephone bill.

The desperate job seeking has mirrored the opening of Asda in Glenrothes when nearly 7000 people were said to have expressed interest in positions and 400 people secured part and full-time jobs at the store.

Fife has the third-highest unemployment rate in Scotland, 7.8% of residents are unable to find work.

Who Are the Freeloaders?

During the present downturn of the economy the National Press is even more eager than usual to cut government expenditure and to them that means welfare benefit cuts. 'At last somebody from the Labour Party has admitted the truth. Our welfare system really does support a lot of people who choose consciously not to work. That somebody is Lord Hutton, a former Work and Pensions Secretary, so he should know what he is talking about. ....... Politicians of all parties should have the guts to put the contributory principle back at the heart of the welfare state and ignore the squeals of outrage from all the freeloaders. This newspaper has been making these points for years.' (Daily Express, 28 August) Those they  refer to as "people who choose consciously not to work" are of course unemployed members of the working class. They would never refer to the owning class as "freeloaders", although that of course is what they are. RD

Nothing stays the still

Life moves and changes. Marxist philosophy holds that the material world – matter – is primary. Ideas – consciousness – are the reflection of this objective reality. Marxism is a guide to action, based on practice. It recognises all things in nature and society as constantly coming into being and passing away. One social system grows into another. A new social order is in the making. We put Marx's concept of the association of free and equal producers to the forefront of our conception of socialism and the administration  of economic life. This is the  basic standpoint the Socialist Party of Great Britain.  Our aim is a world where every region may have its own particular and distinct customs, but are still a part of a world-wide system, based upon a society where everyone owns and  everyone has the equal right to control the natural wealth, the factories and plants in which this natural wealth is processed, and the transportation networks (such as roads and railways) and store-h…

The National Ill-Health Service

When the National health Service was introduced in 1948 it was greeted as a wonderful aid for workers who could not afford basic health care, but with the passage of time it has been exposed as a cheap substitute for worthwhile medical assistance. 'Tens of thousands of patients are dying needlessly in hospital every year from kidney failure linked to dehydration, NHS  officials have revealed. They calculate that up to 42,000 deaths a year would be avoided if staff ensured patients had enough to drink and carried out simple tests. NICE, the NHS watchdog, is today issuing guidelines to staff to help them prevent deaths from the condition " known as acute kidney injury" which is common in the  elderly and patients with  heart disease,  diabetes and blood infections.' (Daily Mail, 28 August) Is even a glass of water too much to ask for an ailing worker. RD

Fight War Not Wars

The monster of war has raised its ugly head again, or at least the escalation of a civil war by the threatened intervention of the UK/US. The American, British and French governments, on the hollow pretext of stopping the use of chemical weapons will  launched a massive air attack on Syria. The victims of similar past campaigns in Serbia, in Iraq and in Libya are forgotten. It again exposes the futility of the United Nations to avert war.

Many people's gut reaction is simply that war is crazy. Socialists share this anti-war sentiment. but like a voice crying in the wilderness, we also maintain that capitalism and war are inseparable.The weakness of the anti-war movement is that the majority want nothing more than a return to capitalist "peace" rather than the overthrow of the system that causes war. Speaker after speaker sees the immediate situation of open conflict as the problem, the simple solution of which is to simply pull back the troops. It doesn't go beyond …

Dare To Dream

IN MEMORY OF DR MARTIN LUTHER KING (50 YEARS ON)

 Fifty years since the dream Martin Luther King shared with a nation
 Of equality for all and an end to discrimination
 As we reflect fifty years later the question we must now ask
 Is what progress have we really made in the half century that’s passed?

 I have a dream of no poverty or deprivation
 An end to prejudice, injustice and discrimination
 No abuse or harassment causing devastation
 Where challenges to these are not met with confrontation

 I have a dream that we’ll rise up in unity
 Act like one strong and determined community
 Live in a world of equal opportunity
 Where progress is anticipated eagerly

 I have a dream of access to jobs and employment
 Where we are assessed on our achievement
 Where those with the power to decide don’t cast judgment
 Based on class or gender or age or skin pigment

 I have a dream that every one of us each and every day
 Will rise up to those blocking us from progressing on our way
 That we’ll ex…

Who owns the North Pole 63

Cashing in on climate change 

 In preparation for Arctic routes, shipyards in South Korea, Singapore and India are building ice-strengthened cargo ships and tankers. Some of these are equipped with dual-directional technology that enables them to use a high efficiency bow on open seas, and an icebreaking stern when moving backwards through ice.

 The Chinese media refer to the Northern Sea Route as the "Arctic Golden Waterway". Professor Bin Yang of Shanghai Maritime University estimates the route could save his country $60bn to $120bn per year. The "Malacca dilemma" results from China's dependence on the Strait of Malacca between Indonesia and Malaysia for over 80 percent of its oil imports. This leaves the country's energy supply vulnerable to interruption. Another major chokepoint is the Suez Canal, which is controlled by politically unstable Egypt. Ships wishing to use it must also transit the pirate-infested Arabian Sea. Then there is the Panama Canal,…

Syria, war and the class war

There is nothing clear about anything at this point in time of what actually took place in Syria. We have only the conveniently supplied rebel footage, which when viewed objectively, tells us nothing much at all, except that many appear to have been killed but not how they died. More importantly, they do no indicate which side was responsible. The entire event conveniently happened on the same day as the UN inspection team arrived? Is that a coincidence?

An expanded war in Syria could become regional or global with uncontrollable consequences.  Syria, Lebanon, Iran, the Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, the United States and the NATO countries. Just creating a “no fly zone” would involve bombing urban areas and unavoidably killing large numbers of people.  Both sides in Syria have used horrible weapons and committed horrible atrocities. It is just as insane to arm one side in a conflict that involves similar abuses by both? An escalation in the war making the Syrian people wo…

Organise, agitate, and educate

“The social revolution...cannot take its poetry from the past but only from the future...” Karl Marx

It is impossible to provide more than a basic picture now of what the new society will look like or even what the struggle that will bring it will be like. We can assume general principles but particular details will depend on the actual conditions at the time. We can say that within the old society's forms the forms of a new society are incubated.

We can improve our lives and society by overturning the capitalist system. We can eliminate exploitation and injustice by replacing capitalism with a rational and humane system – socialism. Hunger in the midst of plenty is the distinguishing mark of the capitalist system of production.Socialism is a social system where social wealth is genuinely controlled by society and for the benefit of society; where the common good, not profits, becomes the chief concern; where the everyday working people become the rightful masters of society. Ther…

Capitalism: the enemy of the people

People are hungry in their hearts for new ideas. They know our present path can’t last. It’s produced a world of want, while a tiny handful have the vast majority of the cash, resources, and our politician’s ears.  A failed past, is offered as the way forward  with too few to remind us we’ve already been there.  Issues and fights we long ago believed we had won have returned with a vengence. Workers are once more struggling to maintain a “livable” wage against company policies of pay-cuts. We fought for pensions now we fight to protect them being increasingy  taken away.  Again, the struggle is for a eight hours day - eight hours work for the unemployed, the part-time temps and casual workers on zero-hour contracts and a eight hours for obliged  to perform unpaid overtime to keep their jobs. The struggle has returned for decent affordable housing for those foreclosed on and unable to pay the rising rents due to the housing crisis. The struggle for workers health and safety is now glo…

More Political Bombast

We should be used by now to politicians making ridiculous claims, but the following takes a bit of beating. It comes from the Liberal Democrat pension minister Steve Webb. 'He makes the claim, which he admits "will shock or offend some" in the introduction to a new book titled, "Liberal Democrats Do God". "The most fundamental reason why Christians should feel at home in the Liberal Democrats is that the character of God, as revealed in the Christian Gospel, would suggest that God must be a liberal," Mr Webb write.' (Sunday Telegraph, 25 August) So be careful, fellow workers where you put your cross on the ballot paper on election day. God has got his eye on you. RD

The Workers Song

The Workers Song

Yeah, this one's for the workers who toil night and day
By hand and by brain to earn your pay
Who for centuries long past for no more than your bread
Have bled for your countries and counted your dead

In the factories and mills, in the shipyards and mines
We've often been told to keep up with the times
For our skills are not needed, they've streamlined the job
And with slide-rule and stop-watch our pride they have robbed

Chorus:
We're the first ones to starve, we're the first ones to die
The first ones in line for that pie-in-the-sky
And we're always the last when the cream is shared out
For the worker is working when the fat cat's about

And when the sky darkens and the prospect is war
Who's given a gun and then pushed to the fore
And expected to die for the land of our birth
Though we've never owned one  handful of earth?

All of these things the worker has done
From tilling the fields to carrying the gun
We've been yoked to the …

Labour Conquers All

There are but only two “nations”. To which nation do you belong? Do you belong to the nation that lives by working, or to the “nation” that lives by working the workers. One ”nation‘s” motto is “Workers of the world, unite.” That means Scots, English, Pole and Romanian, Asian or African or American, black and white and brown. The other “nation” stands for elitism and  inequality.

Bill Gates, Richard Branson, The Queen do not belong to our “nation”, no matter where they are born or where they live; no matter where you were born or where you live. Our country is the world. Those who perform useful labour are our compatriots. The “foreigners” are the class enslaving and grinding down the lives of our brothers and sisters for profits.

 Every plutocrat, every profiteer, every exploiter, every oppressor will tell you that you must be loyal and patriotic to their particular “nation". Are you their ally or is your allegiance to your class, your own “nation”?  Workers must be united and a…

Oh my Darling Party Line

Crazy Capitalism

Few visitors to the Socialist Courierblog will need to be told of the great frequency and seriousness of mental and emotional disturbances which afflict large masses of the working population, including not only those who receive psychiatric treatment but also the members of the families living in the same household.

Marxists approach the topic of illness as a whole in society, rather than dividing it along the traditional line between body and soul. It means recognising the unity of the physical and mental sides of a person, and talking about whole ranges of different types of ‘illness’ which may be neither particularly physical nor psychological. This approach would reveals how mental and physical health stems more from the economic demands of the system of production. Mental illness is always a sign that basic human needs are not being satisfied; that there is a lack of love, a lack of reason for being, a lack of justice; that something important is missing and, because of this, p…

Your Choice - Mending or Ending Capitalism

In America Obamacare, reforms to the health system of that coutry has been called “creeping socialism” by the free-marketeers and the American public has been barraged by propaganda against any form of “socialized medicine”. The problem of medical costs for people in the United States is a severe and often tragic one. In the UK we possess the much acclaimed National Health Service. The NHS is very far from perfect, but it works far better than the health system in the US, where almost all care is bought and sold in the market place. The NHS is the centrepiece of the welfare state. For over 90 percent of the population it provides their only access to health care. It is immensely popular, despite its inadequacies. The well being of workers concerns the ruling class and, for sure,  this is reflected in the priorities of the NHS. Acute medicine for the able bodied of working age is better funded and includes the most prestigious areas of medicine. Those caring for the elderly and the ph…

The SPGB and the Unions

The object of the Socialist Party is to achieve socialism. The purpose of a trade union is to make the best terms for its members with employers.

There are those who hold that the working class are in a constant state of latent revolt, seething to go forward to revolution and these people imagine it is only the timidity or corruption of leaders, or perhaps the defects of organisation that keeps them subdued. The truth is the opposite, of course. The working class may be discontented but they are far from the next step of making a change to their existence. How absurd to suppose that they are in a state of incipient revolt, and would fight, much less go on general strike for, if they will not even vote for their principles! Even more absurd is  to suggest that the indifference of the workers, their apathy and their reluctance to do anything for their emancipation, would all be removed simply by disbanding the existing trade union organisation and forming others with new names. A thing…

Give socialism and peace a chance

Modern wars as a rule have been caused by the commercial and financial rivalry and intrigues of the capitalist interest in the different countries. Whether they have been waged as wars of aggression or they have been hypocritically represented as wars of “defence,” they always have been made by the ruling classes and fought by the masses.

War is not the cause of the troubles of society. War is an essential part of capitalism. War is a symptom.

The conflicts of capitalism lead to war and the only way to get rid of war is to remove the cause of war. The only possible struggle against war is the struggle for the socialist revolution. No one who upholds capitalism – whether directly, as an open adherent of the capitalists, or indirectly, from an reformist position – can fight against war, because capitalism means war.

 War breed a sinister spirit of unreason, race hatred, and  patriotism. They obscure the struggles of the workers for life, liberty, and social justice. They cut the bonds o…

Something To Look Forward To?

Record numbers of care homes have been issued with official warnings after inspectors found "unacceptable"and illegal failings which left the most vulnerable at risk. More than 900 notices have been issued by the health watchdog in the past year, indicating that institutions could be closed or prosecuted without urgent action to improve standards. 'Inspectors found staff falsifying medical records and failing to investigate claims of abuse, while residents were put at risk from scalding water, and left in filthy and unheated rooms. The figures from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) show that the number of official warnings issued has risen by 43 per cent, from just over 600, in just one year.' (Daily Telegraph, 19 August) RD

The Rise Of Foodbanks

While politicians praise themselves for the wonderful job they are doing the harsh realities of capitalism tell another story. 'The number of people seeking help from foodbanks has risen by 78 per cent over the the past six months, Citizen Advice said.' (Times, 19 August) RD

What is crime? What is law?

Crime is an inevitable outgrowth of capitalism. The ideology of the cash nexus between man and man are the prime social incentives to crime.

A criminal is literally a person accused and convicted of being harmful to society. But is he really harmful to society than the old gent in the wig who pronounces sentence upon him? A crime is an act forbidden by the law of the land all laws devised by the strongest force in a community, and in the last analysis, made for the protection of the dominant class. This means that law has not been evolved to protect society but rather a tool developed through the class struggle used to protect that class which dominates the State. Within propertied society the law’s most important task is to protect the right of possession; that is why by far the largest class of crimes may be called crimes against property. One of the first rules of capitalist society is that where people offend against the laws of property the solution is to punish them into submi…

Working Class Holidays

. The travel agencies produce glamorous brochures of wonderful holiday idylls being enjoyed by fortunate workers but Adecco the employment agency have come up with some interesting statistics on the subject. 'A third of office workers do not take all their annual leave, with some feeling guilty about asking for time off, research suggests. Almost one in seven take their full entitlement only because they are required to, according to a a survey of 1,000 workers.' (Times, 19 August) Again this hardly suggests the press notion of work-shy workers. RD

Alienated Lives

Why are Scots sicker than the rest of the UK?

Dr Phil Hanlon and researchers at the Centre for Population Health have compared life, incomes and health outcomes in Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester. They found “deprivation profiles” were almost identical, but premature deaths in Glasgow were 30 per cent higher.

This excess mortality ran across almost all ages, males and females and deprived and non-deprived neighbourhoods. It was not, surprisingly, lung cancer, heart and liver disease were not the factors tipping Glaswegians over the UK average.  It was higher levels of drug and alcohol misuse, suicide and death through violence.

Why are some Glaswegians so prone to self-harming and life-shortening behaviours?

Chief Medical Officer Harry Burns cites the work of Aaron Antonovsky, who maintained that a sense of coherence (SOC) is necessary for adult health. The  medical sociologist defined the SOC as “the extent to which one has a feeling of confidence that the stimuli deriving from on…