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Showing posts from November, 2013

The Left Unity Question

The Left is currently going through a particular transitional stage. Because of the recession and the types of resistance against austerity that sprung up, a fairly wide section of workers are now, under the pressure of reality, and are beginning to give way to a different political perspective. “Left Unity” is at present a growing popular slogan amongst political activists.  Many articles are being devoted to this issue but the more that is written or spoken about the unity, the more this subject is obscured by misunderstandings and confusion. That unity is desirable is not disputed for a moment by the members of the Socialist Party of Great Britain but we are faced with the question of unity at the present time with the existence of divided, parallel organisations and the question even if it is possible to attain unity, of how it is to be brought about.

The capitalists and their State are attacking so it must be counter-attacked. The ever increasing cost of living never slackens an…

Poverty to blame for bad health

Poverty and not Scotland's lack of sun is mainly to blame for a catalogue of illnesses associated with low levels of vitamin D, a new scientific study suggests.

Previous findings identified links between Scotland's lack of sunlight and conditions such as multiple sclerosis and depression. However, a study commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in Scotland and the Scottish Government claims the country's inhabitants do get healthy levels of sunlight.

According to the researchers, the study gives added credence to other documented links between vitamin D levels and wealth, with those from deprived areas and with the lowest incomes exhibiting lower levels of the vitamin. The researchers said that "There is a link between vitamin D levels and socioeconomic status, with those deprived areas and with the lowest incomes exhibiting lower levels of vitamin D,"


A 'Greed Is Good' Mentality

Politicians like to portray themselves as humane caring people who desire a more caring society, but from time to time the mask slips and they reveal their real goals. Here is an obvious example when the Mayor of London was addressing businessmen. 'Boris Johnson has  launched a bold bid to claim the mantle of Margaret Thatcher by declaring that inequality is essential to fostering "the spirit of envy" and hailed greed as a "valuable spur to economic activity". In an attempt to shore up his support on the Tory right, as he positions himself as the natural successor to David Cameron, the London mayor called for the "Gordon Gekkos of London" to display their greed to promote economic growth.' (Guardian, 27 November) RD

Yours For the Revolution

We must remember that society as it is today does not mean that it was always so. Capitalism distorts the vision of a future society and we can only see a different system in terms of our present one. Socialists advocate a system of society where each will contribute to production and partake freely of need. Sounds too fantastic to be true ? We have heard that before but just think for a moment of the fantastic things we have come to accept as normal under capitalism. It is now quite normal for thousands of people to starve to death as food is destroyed.

Knowledge is power. Only as the workers have knowledge and intelligence can they solve the problem of their own political and industrial freedom. The capitalists have educated the workers to their advantage to-day, but for their undoing tomorrow. Education of the workers for the benefit of the capitalist class means gain and profit only for the few, the upper class of to-day. Education of the workers for the benefit of the working cl…

Then and now

From the June 1986 issue of the Socialist Standard
In March, I went along to the Dundee Rep to watch the world premiere of They Farily Mak Ye Work, a play based on the life of Dundee's jute-mill workers from the First World War to the early Thirties. The play covered some of the important events of the period such as the Mill Workers' Strike of 1922 and the Means Test demonstration of 1931 but what impressed most was the quite remarkable resilience displayed by workers enduring quite dire poverty in their day to day lives.
When I left the Rep. I wondered if there were many people who had been left thinking, "Ah great, another fine play about the inter-war depression . . . I'm glad things are very different now". While in some respects life has become more comfortable for working people in the 1980s, it would be mistaken to suggest that there have been fundamental changes since the 1930s.
Exploitation Today we are again witnessing record levels of unemployment: wor…

The Revolutionary Vote

Socialist Party politics is utterly different in nature from all other politics. Its aim is not to improve conditions or gain reforms or stop corruption or accomplish any other end within the framework of existing society. It is the expression of the interests of the working class to overthrow the existing system and to establish a new society.

Conventional politics revolve within the structure of the existing order. Non-socialist political parties, pleading for votes and begging for office, represent different sections of the ruling class vying for their own share of profits and privilege. Different groups of employers and business seek the lucrative control of the government and the state bureaucracy such as local councils. Their various think-tanks dream up different theories of how best to maintain the existing order and keep the support (or at least the tolerance) of the masses by securing this or that reform or a concession for this or that section of the population. But all th…

Who owns the North Pole Part 66

The United States warns that it will defend its sovereignty in the face of strengthening international interest in newly opening shipping lanes and natural resource extraction opportunities as the region’s ice disappears.

 US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel says experts now expect a tenfold increase over those numbers along what is known as the Northern Sea Route.

“With Arctic sea routes starting to see more activities like tourism and commercial shipping, the risk of accidents increases. Migrating fish stocks will draw fishermen to new areas, challenging existing management plans,” Hagel told a security conference in Canada on Friday, where he announced the new strategy. And while there will be more potential for tapping what may be as much as a quarter of the planet’s undiscovered oil and gas, a flood of interest in energy exploration has the potential to heighten tensions over other issues.” He added “Throughout human history, mankind has raced to discover the next frontier. And …

The Terrorist Apologists

Fact of the Day

6 media conglomerates control 90% of what Americans read, watch and listen to.
232 media executives are in control of 277 million Americans main sources of information
The 2010 revenues of the Big Six was  $275.9 billion - which is $36 billion more than Finland’s GDP.
The Big Six control 70% of cable TV, the remaining 30% is shared amongst 3,762 companies

http://occupyeducated.org/2012/05/16/six-media-companies-control-90-of-what-we-read-watch-and-listen-to/

NO RECOVERY FOR SOME

It is often difficult to get up-to-date figures about poverty in Britain but a recent survey backed by public money has come up with some current statistics. 'Nearly nine million people across the UK are living with serious debt problems, according to a new report. The Money Advice Service (MAS) also said very few people were making any attempt to get professional help. The problem is particularly acute in five English cities, where more than 40% of the population is struggling to repay debt. According to the survey, 18% of Britons, 8.8 million people, consider they have "serious" financial issues.' (BBC News, 27 November) These figures give the lie to political nonsense about a so-called economic recovery. RD

Against Reformism

Socialist are often accused of being opposed to reforms, social legislation ostensibly  designed to ameliorate some more or less intolerable situation such as the NHS or Social  Security. However, to the contrary, the World Socialist Movement is NOT opposed to reforms per se, any more than they ADVOCATE them. Socialist do not support or agitate for  reforms precisely on the grounds upon which they are ostensibly presented, for they  do NOT CURE the ills to which they are addressed. We further argue that the
interest of the ruling powers lies in attracting votes for their various political  programmes. Witness all the reform promises, offered by the politicians in an election  year. They are a necessary policy of governments seeking a broader base of support in  their efforts to maintain a sufficient degree of viability in the capitalist system: to keep  order in a social system whose nature is to engender disorder: to maintain an unstable
equilibrium in a system continually facing cr…

Against the General Strike

“Solidarity for ever,
  For the Union makes us strong.”

The union movement has proven itself to be a powerful instrument of a defensive character and as a force that poses the possibility of a transformation  from wage labour to a free association of workers and common ownership. The labour movement has won through battles on the picket lines but has often been lost, due, to counter attacks by the representatives of the employers as a class in control of parliament, and the state in its totality. The employers, through their agents in control of parliament and the entire state apparatus, have erected a whole network of laws and regulations designed to hamstring the labour movement. Organised labour is weak in relation to the power of the ruling class. Large numbers of workers, poorly paid and helpless before the onslaughts and insecurities that are products of capitalist society, have fallen prey to the capitalist- inspired propaganda that the union movement is a narrow, a sectional po…

No way, nae chance

Alex Salmond today announces the SNP policy statement on independence. Socialist Courier makes our own announcement on nationalism and Scottish independence.

Modern capitalism is a highly integrated international system. Production is organised across national boundaries, trade and finance operates on a world scale. No single country can be outside of this system. Contrary to the romantic  dreams of some nationalists, there is no way that Scotland can simply pursue its own economic destiny within its own frontiers. Indeed, many national states are now too small to function adequately in terms of the needs and pressures of modern capitalism. Thus the capitalist ruling class are compelled to think in terms of international cooperation and even planning, hence the importance of the EU to the corporations. There are not many who can deny that we live in conditions of a world economy. Capitalists all strive for world power. Self-determination of any nation can therefore never be a reality…

Socialism means...

What is socialism? What do the socialists want? The simplest way to find the answer to these questions is to ask yourself: "What do I want? What do the millions like me throughout the world want?"

Socialism is not a utopian ideal, a blueprint for society that exists in the minds of some people. It is a social necessity and it is a practical necessity. It is the direction that the people must take in order to save society from disintegration, in order to satisfy their social needs. To be a socialist, means to be conscious of this necessity, to make others conscious of it, and to work in an organised manner for the realisation of the goal. By socialism we understand the system of society the material basis of which is social production for social use; that is, the production of all the means of social existence — including all the necessaries and comforts of life — carried on by the organised community for its own use collectively and individually. We mean the common ownershi…

The welcomed immigrants

With training numbers cut, budgets frozen – it costs on average £70,000 to educate and train a qualified nurse in England – and the winter coming, foreign nurses represent a quick fix. Public spending cuts combined with nursing training places falling from almost 21,000 in 2009 to fewer than 18,000 this academic year means there is a significant shortfall in hospitals.

 One NHS employee said: “If you need a lot of nurses quickly, then the best thing to do is jump on a plane and bring them back from an EU country. They’re happy and the hospitals are happy.”

Howard Catton, RCN director of policy, said: “When employers are getting on planes to recruit nurses, you know you have a crisis in workforce supply. That is happening right here, right now.”

Forty trusts have already recruited from overseas in recent months, resulting in more than 1,360 nurses coming to work in England. A further 41 hospital trusts will follow suit. Spain and Portugal are the most popular sources. As more than 10,…

What's this crisis about?

Since the current recession arrived  economic academics and commentators have all of a sudden forgotten their earlier proclamations of having solved economic instability and now become "crisis conscious." These economists had believed that crises could be avoided, the swings of the economic pendulum damped, the irregularities of the cycle ironed out, the days of boom and slump ended, by some adaptation of the monetary or credit system, by state intervention, by increased "elasticity" of wages or by a more equal distribution of incomes with the help of taxation; in other word, by reforms which would improve the workings of the capitalist system without touching its basis - private property in the means of production. Their various proposals for guaranteeing a healthy economy and full employment were based on the conviction that nothing is fundamentally wrong with the economic system. It is a symptom of the general crisis of capitalism that this naive faith in the i…

The Hoops seek Loop-holes

Ten days ago, at Celtic's annual general meeting a motion by the Celtic Trust calling for Celtic to ensure that each of its employees is paid the living wage of £7.45 per hour rather than the minimum wage of £6.31 per hour was thrown out by the rich men and money-changers who hold sway at Celtic Park. Jeanette Findlay of the trust stated during the debate that preceded this act of corporate and social irresponsibility that it was a decision that "shamed you and shamed us". Two of the three main reasons cited by the club for rejecting the living wage proposal were these: that it would cost £500,000 annually to implement, and that no other British club does it. Lest we forget; in the last two seasons, Celtic have spent around £10m on fees and wages for three strikers .

Celtic support still occupies the lowest rung of Britain's socioeconomic ladder. Its bedrock is in neighbourhoods of Glasgow's East End and Lanarkshire where the indicators of poverty and illness ar…

Salmond v Nehru

At a fund-raising do,  Salmond quoted Pandit Nehru, the first prime minister of an independent India: "A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance."

Socialist Courier can counter with our own Nehru quote: “What exactly is nationalism? I do not know, and it is extremely difficult to define. In the case of a country under foreign domination it is easy to define what nationalism is. It is anti-foreign power. But in a free country it is something positive. Even so, I think that a large element of it is negative or anti-, and so sometimes we find that nationalism, which is a healthy force, becomes—maybe after liberation—unhealthy, retrogressive, reactionary, or expansive.”

AN UNHEALTHY NHS

Half a million elderly people a year are being unnecessarily admitted to hospital as emergency patients because of stark failings in community care, an official Government report has warned. 'The review, into NHS and social care services in England, found almost one in 10 over 75s had been taken to hospital with avoidable conditions - a rise of over 20 per cent in just five years. The Care Quality Commission, which carried out the analysis, said their findings suggested that some GPs, care homes and community health services were failing to treat vulnerable people "in the way they deserve". Inspectors found safety concerns in one in five nursing homes. Problems included failing to give out medicines safely, not carrying out risk assessments and understaffing." (Independent, 21 November)The report also identified a link between high staff turnover and number of reported deaths of residents. No matter where you look at the NHS it is a service t…

Big Business Versus Little Business

It is the historic function of Big Business is to expropriate Little Business. To survive a recession Big Business swallows up all the other businesses. It does this directly by forcing others into bankruptcy, or by mergers and consolidations. It does this indirectly by its control over government.

A recession, however, does not strike in all directions with the same force nor with the same effect. One factor which separates Big Business from all other businesses, and that is that within the framework of continued capitalist society it is practically invulnerable to bankruptcy - too big to fail.  It alone has the capital and reserves necessary to stand the strain. It has the full and complete support of government in any crisis. If Big Business goes, the whole economy goes. And so Big Business can not be allowed to go.

A typical small enterprise has usually expanded its plant on the basis of bank credit given it when times were good and turnover active.It has also given credit to oth…

The Dirty Five

A new study from Climate Accountability Institute has 'named and shamed' at least 90 corporations which it says are responsible for almost two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions
The top 5 corporate offenders 1.     ChevronTexaco   Unsurprisingly, Chervon Texaco is the top emitter of man-made carbon emissions among investor-owned companies. The multinational energy corporation is active in more than 180 countries and is one of the world’s largest corporations. 2.     ExxonMobil Oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil comes in close second among investor-owned companies. In the past, ExxonMobil has been accused of downplaying the global warming threat as well as funding groups that refute climate change. 3. Saudi Aramaco Third place goes to state-owned Saudi Aramco. Owned by Saudi Arabia, Saudi Aramco holds the world’s largest oil field and is estimated to be one of the world’s most valuable companies. 4.     BP Oil tycoon company BP comes in fourth place. Ironically, the corporation …

The Green economy or Greed economy

Scotland will become the first state in the world to put a price on the value of its natural environment and the benefits it provides. Academics have estimated that nature is worth between £21.5bn and £23bn a year to Scotland’s economy, but Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond wants a far more in-depth study. He pledged to calculate the monetary value of Scotland’s natural capital, the cost of depleting it and to communicate its importance across business and society. He will also set up collaborative projects to take “tangible action” to protect Scotland’s natural capital.

Supporters of the scheme argue that because most development decisions are based on narrow economic considerations, in terms of the direct costs and benefits, natural resources such as peat should be valued in the same way to ensure their importance is not overlooked. Peat bogs act as water regulators, soaking up rainfall and slowing water flows, helping to curb the frequency and intensity of floods. They also p…