Saturday, November 30, 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 and wages cannot keep pace. To gather all the strength of the working class and to render the struggle against the capitalists becomes an imperative necessity. The Socialist Party of Great Britain  want a united working class because unity is the trump card against the bosses and the politicians. Unity is not an aim, but a means to reach the aim. The aim is to offer an effective defence against the rich and then to take the offensive to overthrow the ruling class. The question of defence is a practical question for every worker. Thus among the problems before the worker which must be solved, unity is one of the most urgent.

 For our part we we are against empty phrases about left-wing unity. The differences as to ends and means, objectives and tactics, methods and traditions are too deeply rooted unity to be a realistic objective. Nevertheless, this yearning for unity is still a healthy yearning.  Unity can only be for definite and limited aims, e.g., trade union rights, defence of the health service and so on,where there exists some agreement on the Left, irrespective of political differences on other issues. Unity is about uniting in defence of the gains workers have already made and which are now being removed. It is about saying to workers that the capitalists are intent upon lowering our wages — prepare and be ready to resist. Our wages cannot keep up with the cost of living so let’s close our ranks and let’s stop isolated action to better our chances of victory. We are suffering from unemployment — let the employed organise with the unemployed and compel the government to give to maintain our welfare benefits.

The conduct of class struggle is not a party affair but one for the trade unions. We propose that the trade union movement be left to the workers themselves, who form the organisations and have a direct stake in the attainment of trade union unity. We remain convinced that those workers who hold dear the unity of the trade union movement will help to overcome any splits in the trade unions and do not require political parties to impose unity. To mobilise our class for unity is the most important task at the present moment. It is removing the type of society that imposes the class struggle upon us which is the responsibility of a socialist party.

 Reformism accomplishes many things, but unfortunately the one thing it doesn't accomplish is to end the wrong-doings. One form of terrible oppression may end only to be replaced by another form. Despite mass demonstrations against war, one war just follow another.  Men and women won the right to vote but what good has it done them? Economic inequality has grown to obscene levels. In a world with billionaires, billions of people suffer poverty and worry if they'll have food and shelter and health care. The ruling class destroy the environment if it gets them more wealth. Piecemeal reform, which many hoped would eventually change the world, has not done so and it appears not likely to do so.

Do you want an egalitarian world? One in which everyone is treated as true equals? We can create a new society with no rich and no poor where all people who work reasonably (as they are able) to contribute to  society (be it economically, artistically or otherwise)  share (not buy and sell) the fruits of their labor according  to need. Our task is to make a revolution and to build a  movement (hundreds of millions strong) that has the explicit goal of removing the ruling elite from power in order to make society be the way those hundreds of millions of people want it to be. It involves introducing millions to the revolutionary vision. This unity we desire, this unity is why we were founded. However, the meaning of all this talk over the unity theme is that they turn to us and say: “Become reformists and then we can unite!” The Socialist Party has no intention of  transforming themselves into reformist corpses, and whoever believes that we will deviate even a hair’s breath from our principles in arriving at unity does not understand anything of our organisation .

The Socialist Party has always been inspired by one idea — the overthrow of capitalist society, built on slavery, exploitation and violence. In this struggle of labour against capital, the working class can win only by mustering all their forces against the common enemy.  This is why for the working class, in order to save itself from economic enslavement —unity is imperative  but only a unity of purpose.


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,"

Friday, November 29, 2013

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 class means gain and profit for the working class and ultimately for the whole human race. The thing that makes for the triumph of capitalism ultimately makes for its own downfall.

The more we understand about capitalism, the less we should sacrifice our own  life or anyone else’s for the benefit of any politician. We would be aware that this is a social system that operate to the benefit of a minority. That the problems of hunger, unemployment, war, are a direct result of the inadequacy of the system. The survival of capitalism rest entirely on the division of the working class. Capitalism have made us its casualties and victims.

Socialism can only be achieved by the working class and that we, the majority can now change the system to one more in harmony with the problems of the world.  Unless we know ourselves we cant even begin. Until workers want and understand socialism, it is impossible. Thus only conscious, majority, political action can achieve socialism. Minority action, whether on the industrial or political fields, cannot. The way to political power lies through the ballot box. A socialist working class can use the vote to win power just as today they use it to hand over power to capitalists. A Socialist party can have only one aim: Socialism. For a socialist party to seek support on the basis of a reform programme can only lead to compromise with capitalism

Every recession is in a sense a crisis of capitalism. The necessity of government action to prop up the economic order to insure “prosperity”, formerly was promised by the working of “free” capitalist enterprise but now the need is for increasing use of government to manipulate economic forces, for state capitalism, because capitalist industry is unable to function as of old. Recurrent breakdowns of prosperity are a typical spectacle of capitalist civilization. Men, women, and children starve or agonizingly approach starvation while wheat and corn rot, vegetables perish, milk and coffee are destroyed. The wheels of industry slow down while millions of workers eager to work are condemned to unemployment. Wants go unsatisfied on an enormous and oppressive scale, although all the means exist to satisfy the wants. Even in periods of the most flourishing prosperity, when there are also millions unemployed; their wants and many wants even of employed workers are unsatisfied. Capitalism has survived many depressions: they have, in fact, been the starting points of new shoots of growth. Always, in one form or another, capitalism creates an ideology to mask and justify its predatory character: it is a necessary device of class domination. But when as it must, and the hopeless reality it disguises is revealed, the economic crisis of  capitalism will become a class and political crisis, a lapse of faith in the old order and the belief in the Capitalist Dream crumbles. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

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.

Today we are again witnessing record levels of unemployment: workers are laid off and those who remain have to work harder as their employers try to retain their share of the market. Commenting on this practice at the newly-opened Eagle Jute Mill in 1930, the Dundee and District Jute and Flax Workers' Guide (June/July 1930), stated that:
. . . a number of women were sent from the Labour Exchange on Monday morning, 30th June, and were told they had to do the work of four women. And as they declined to be "preyed upon", they left.
The large reserve of young unemployed workers proved a useful source of cheap—or even free—labour in the Thirties, as one annual report of the Association of Jute Spinners and Manufacturers noted:
. . . the Ministry of Labour Trade Boards Divisional Office, Edinburgh, drew attention to two recent cases in which Dundee Jute firms had had juveniles on their premises without paying wages. The matter appeared to have arisen through permitting the juveniles to "look round" for a few days on the understanding that no wages would be paid unless, and until, the juvenile was taken on in a regular capacity. It was stated it was understood the practice was not uncommon in Dundee. (Association of Jute Spinners and Manufacturers, Fifteenth Annual Report of the Committee, 1933, p. 10)
Is today's YTS a great deal better? Employers may claim that they are taking on youngsters for social reasons, but they cannot deny that young workers are receiving pocket money for a week's exploitation.

The soup kitchens that were synonymous with the Twenties and Thirties have disappeared. So too have other features of capitalism's charity. Commenting on the dire poverty faced by some workers in Dundee in the 1920s, Mary Brooksbank recalled that:
Even the police had their Bootless Bairns Fund, for bootless bairns were a common enough sight in those days. (No Sae Lang Syne: A Tale of This City, p.29) 
Today you just have to stroll through the centre of any city to be confronted with numerous charities all with their collecting tins hoping that you will donate to the cause of Help the Aged, Shelter, Dr Barnado's and so on. All of them signs that workers suffer a great deal at the hands of this society that asks for payment before human needs are considered.

Since the 1930s, we have witnessed the proliferation of new generations of "luxury" consumer goods among working people. In the 1950s, workers increasingly began to possess televisions, cars and washing-machines—wow, the "affluent society" had really arrived! In the 1970s colour TVs and digital quartz watches went from being status symbols to commonplace items and the video seems to be heading the same way. The question is, can we really say that things have got better just because there are more consumer goods around? Often you will hear people claim that a new car is a sign that, "there must be a lot of money about" when in fact many people are up to their ears in debt as the home, the car and the household items are paid for on the never-never - mortgage or HP payments. The increase in consumer goods should not be related to what workers had in the 1930s, for it should be remembered that they then had more items than workers in, say, the 1850s. If we make comparisons we should be looking at the proportion of wealth the workers received then and receive now, from the total that workers in society have created. Now, as then, workers only receive a tiny fraction of the wealth they produce and while the employers reap the profits of our labour we are expected to be grateful for the tiny slice of the cake that is our wage or salary.

Class division
This, then, is the class divide: a conflict between owners of capital—be they mill-owners, land-owners, or shareholders in private or state-controlled industries—and the rest of us. This is the relationship that compelled our relatives in the 1930s to suffer the treadmill of wage-labour and poverty, to march for the "right to work" and which led to numerous demonstrations and cracked heads in strikes where the police clearly showed that their main function is to protect the capitalists' property rights. Looking back on the Means Test Demonstrations in Dundee on September 24 1931, Sara Craig recalled that:
. . . the policemen came on horseback and they were hittin' folk wi' their batons. They were hittin' the folk wi' their batons and chasin' them and breakin' up the crowds. (Ed. Billy Kay, Odyssey: Voices from Scotland's Recent Past. p. 13)
Only someone who had just crawled out from a hole in the ground, or had been beamed down from outer-space, would suggest that you can have a democratically accountable police force. Yet time and time again, the Labour Party and assorted left-wing romantics advocate precisely that. If anyone believes the myth of Dixon of Dock Green bobbies then they ought to ask themselves why the police's task-force was deployed against striking miners in the recent strike? Did they not defend the interests of the National Coal Board against the miners?

An alternative
The problems of poverty that we face today have led to so called solutions like "Right to Work" marches or voting Labour and expecting nationalisation to solve our problems. These "solutions" have been tried and they have failed and it is a tragedy that they have been repeated decade after decade. The sense of disappointment felt by Labour Party members and voters after 1945 must have been immense, watching the dream of the New Jerusalem fade as the Labour government showed it could not run capitalism any better than the Tories.

It is time we decided to get rid of employment and organise the production and distribution of wealth without the barrier of wages and money and the restrictions that capitalism places on our needs. One by one, this system of society stamps out the dreams, hopes and ambitions that we have at various points in our lives - they are crushed by the need to make ends meet. Common ownership is not some age-old dream of a perfect society but am immediate and realisable means of getting rid of the numerous problems that are our lot as wage-workers. The alternative to organising for socialism is the acceptance of our poverty where employers will continue to "fairly mak us work".
Derek Devine

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 the non-revolutionary politics presuppose the continuance of the capitalism, that is to say, the exploitation of the majority by the propertied minority and their class domination of government.

The central political issue of our time is the issue of the class struggle for socialism. Every other question is of altogether minor importance, since its answer can be found only in the solution of the central issue. The chief function of mainstream  politics is to deceive the voters as to the real and central issue which confronts them. So long as the people believe that their only significant political choices lie within the capitalist order, capitalism itself, no matter what internal shifts take place, is never threatened. Every device serves: two or more  parties, tweedledum and tweedledumber, splitting hairs over agendas they all agree upon. Whenever that sham is seen through, fringe parties like Ukip hi-jack dissatisfaction into safe channels still within the safe limitations of the capitalist state. These “outsiders" frequently adopt the practice of pandering propaganda and policies to the prejudices of their audience, without regard to the truth or correctness or workability of it, exploiting the electorate’s ignorance.

The baseness, hypocrisy and corruption of Westminster by the City of London speculators and the ruling class cannot be sufficiently expressed in words. There is no depth of dishonour to which they have not descended with their cronyism and greed. We are not here to play the filthy game of capitalist politics. Capitalism can only rule by corrupt means. The Socialist Party of Great Britain stands squarely upon its principles in making its appeal to the workers. It is not bargaining for votes. It is not in the market to buy or bribe votes. The Socialist Party wants votes, but only of those who  recognise it as their party and come to it of their own free will. We want all the votes we can get but only as a means of developing the political power of the working class in the struggle for freedom, and not that we may revel in the spoils of office, claiming MPs expenses and accepting retainers from lobbyists.

The Socialist Party breaks through the deceptions of capitalist politics. Socialist politics are based on principle. We cast aside all secondary reformist distinctions, and pose directly the central issue: the struggle for socialism, unlike the Left parties such as the Greens and the TUSC who enter elections with a programmes solely of “immediate demands”, designed to be acceptable to capitalism. All the Socialist Party’s propaganda, all its discussions, and its only demand, is for socialism. It shall not compromise nor offer concessions. We hold aloft only the socialist idea. The workers have never made proper effective use of their political power. Many have in their disillusionment renounced politics and refuse to see any difference between the capitalist parties financed by the ruling class to perpetuate class rule and the Socialist Party, organised and financed by the workers themselves, as a means of wresting the control of government and of industry from the capitalists.

 There is but one issue for the Socialist Party and it is the unconditional surrender of the capitalist class. Our manifesto is an indictment of the capitalist system which demands the abolition of that system. We  proclaim the identity of interests of all workers and appeal to them to unite for their emancipation. We declare relentless class war upon the entire capitalist regime in the name of the workers and demand in uncompromising terms the overthrow of wage-slavery and the inauguration of social democracy. The time has come for the workers of the world to shake off their oppressors and exploiters and put an end to their age-long servitude.

To this end it makes its appeal to workers and call upon them to vote on the single vital issue of socialism which confronts them and place the X on the ballot paper for the Socialist Party whenever and wherever possible. 

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 time after time, discovery was swiftly followed by conflict,”

Currently, the United States stations around 27,000 military personnel in Alaska, and Hagel says the US Navy will offer a new plan for its operations by the end of the year.

Gustavo Ampugnani, Arctic team leader for Greenpeace explained “We are glad that the Defence Department’s Arctic Strategy acknowledges the diminishing of the ice caps in the Arctic. But the approach shouldn’t be seen as an opportunity for business, nor to create better conditions to exploiting its resources. If countries grant leases to open more space for the oil corporations, this will speed up not just the industrialization of the Arctic but also investments in military presence, leading to a military race in the Far North. From our perspective, the best way to keep the region peaceful, stable and free of conflict … is to priorities the scientific work, in a cooperative spirit, to understand more how the Arctic ecosystem is key to regulating the global climate.”

The Terrorist Apologists

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

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


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 crisis. And in time of great stress the  offering of reforms to a restless and dissatisfied populace, helps to provide a  "breathing spell" to a badly harassed government.  As a fretful mother tries to quieten a  howling infant by placing a pacifier in the child's mouth and sometimes sweetens it by  coating it with syrup - so these reforms were offered with promises to do away with  "fear" that of the dispossessed and of those also who own and control.

But they did nothing whatever to help resolve the basic contradictions in the  economic system. The gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" remained and  even widened.

Over a century of reforms, which do not reform, leaves this society more affluent in  the upper levels and more poverty stricken in the lower. The fewer rich become richer  and the increasing many poorer. Despite growth in the Gross National Product,  despite an apparent rise in the general standard of living for some, the gap remains  and widens.

Capitalism cannot be genuinely reformed in the interest of the  whole of the society, socialists contend also that it be superseded by a better, higher,  social order. It is to this end that of changing the world that socialists direct their  efforts.

(l) Distribution of goods and services instead of exchange:"use" not "profit".
(2) Administration of THINGS instead of Government over people.
(3) A complete social body: not one divided into Rulers and Ruled.
(4) An entire economy administered democratically in the interest of the entire

Any socialist with a correct reading of Marx and  knowledge gained from his or her own reasearch into history knows that societies have  passed through various periods, with different social formulations, but ever possessing  rulers and ruled, until today man faces another "Eternal Order", capitalism. This present order, despite its cruelties and oppressions represented social advance and in  its early stages compared to its antecedents, was "liberal" and "progressive". It is no  more "Eternal" than Feudalism, Chattel Slavery. Capitalism's increasing and continual  crises indicate its time of dissolution: as it was with previous social orders: "Where wealth accumulates and man decay".

Growing affluence above among the few, abysmal poverty below the lot of the many. Chaos abounds and confusion reigns. Crime in the streets and warfare abroad. These and one thousand and one other distressing items are featured daily in the news media  and presently exercise more and more minds in the populace. The politicians cry "Reform, Law and Order", and the pity is that so many are thereby fooled.

Labour and Tory are two wings of the capitalist vulture. The choice between Labour and Tory is described as one between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Both are staunch champions of capitalism.  If there is so little difference between the two parties, what is to account for the overwhelming majority of the workers supporting one of them? Are they so utterly blind as not to see what is so plainly before their noses? Politics under any system is a struggle by conflicting groups or classes for control of the state apparatus. The “choice” between Labour and Tory is not a choice between “socialism” and capitalism. Trotskyism is dyed-in-the-wool reformism draped with revolutionary and scholarly phrases, their reformism shines through like a blinding light. Reformism is poison in the socialist movement.

The socialist case is that capitalism cannot be reformed in the interest of the  majority, but it can be abolished is reinforced in the language of history. A study of  history teaches that no society ever set itself the task of dealing with any situation or problem without that society having first developed the necessary and sufficient  conditions in process of emergence. Nor can any society be dissolved and replaced by a higher one until it has developed all those forces requisite for its replacement. These forces are now abundantly evident. A high technological perfection is seen in modern society - automation and new technology, which does  not come about automatically (it is often restrained because of the influence of  various vested interest.) Can the workers gain substantial economic concessions within the limits of capitalism? Reformist politics operate within self-imposed limits, the limits of capitalism and its class relations. If capitalism is progressing and increasing production, profits and employment, reformist labor politics have room for effective action.  But when capitalism is declining, and the capitalists are tearing down the concessions they had granted in the past, the limits within which such labor politics can function disappear. The concessions which it can win are mythical because capitalist decline is real. Reformist labor politics, which arise from the economic problems of the workers, are helpless to solve those problems.

It can be seen how the productive apparatus is capable of producing more than a  sufficiency for all. Capitalism does not produce unless it can sell its goods at a profit. The age long problem facing man - PRODUCTION - has been  solved. Poverty, chaos, war, and social strife can de eliminated by doing away vith the  root cause of these horrors. This is socialism's objective: To abolish capitalism, not  vainly attempt to reform it. Think, think, and think again  and join in this great, and only meaningful task.

Partly adapted from Bill Pritchard article
Fulcrum, Socialist Party of Canada

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 power bloc, insensitive to their needs and concerned only with its own welfare. Wage increases, hard fought wage increases to meet the rising cost of living, are being wiped out time and again. Big Business attempts to narrow the area of collective bargaining, the trade union militants must fight to widen it and to open up the entire process of capitalist production and distribution to their scrutiny. The workers have the right to know the secrets of a factory, of  the multi-national corporations, of an entire industry, of the whole economy, built by their labor. For the workers, independent labour political action is the beginning of their intervention into affairs that determine every single aspect of their lives and the future of their children.

It is easy to criticise parliamentarism and to criticise it justly, but criticism does not prevent it from existing. Those who strive to keep the working people out of the field of political action do not suspect that they are thus playing the game of the ruling class. By shouting, “No politics!” they are merely echoing the rallying cry that the capitalists has always given to the working-class. The property qualification for the suffrage and the absence of remuneration for office-holders, such as members of the Parliament, were nothing but means to keep workers out of politics. Even though that failed, we now have those “socialists” eager to accomplish what the ruling class could not.

Some socialists suggest the political struggle is insufficient and in its stead propose  the “general strike.” We must be clear, we are not talking about strikes that are the  inevitable product of a class struggle based on antagonistic interests. Even if  it  wish to, socialists cannot disarm the working class of the strike weapon.  It is the workers only means of defense or attack which it has for the protection of its immediate material interests, the strike is a right which the working people are right in jealously guarding. But while socialists should fully support this right for for all the workers, it is not their business to incite them to make use of it. It is not for them to urge or discourage strikes. It is for those immediately interested, those who will have to endure the consequences of their decision, to decide, without pressure of any kind from the non-interested. When those workers whose interests are at stake have decided upon a strike, we ought to aid them to gain every possible advantage from the situation in which they have placed themselves. That is, generally speaking, what is and what should be the conduct of socialists so far as concerns strikes. We acknowledge the strike as a weapon, but recognise its effectiveness should not to be exaggerated, it possesses limited power. Under the favourable circumstances it may  compel some employers to yield to union demands but it has never been able to produce any  radical change in the capitalist system. Here or there, there have been obtained some ameliorations but they have not been incompatible with the increasing prosperity of capital.

Many left militants think that a general strike of the most important trades would be enough to bring on the social revolution, that is, the fall of the whole capitalist system and the establishment of  socialism. Those militants who still cherish illusions and laud strikes as a panacea should understand that on the economic battle-field, the struggle is too unequal for the working-class despite tremendous strikes carried out with enormous resources and prepared with an incomparable talent of organisers and regardless of the great sacrifices, the self-denial and  energy of strikers, they lose the battle more often than win it, and when there is victory, the advantages that it reaps do not alter the fact that the gains proved very expensive and remain precarious.

Yet still a faction wishes to generalise the strike – a weapon good, at the most, only in particular cases – and to make the general strike the goal for the working class. It is time for such activists to take a reality check. On the political ground the working-class are more numerous than the employing class so it enjoys a real advantage and only a mere matter of propaganda and time for the socialist to convince his or her fellow workers to use their ballot in the right manner. Instead the militants rather confront the military power of the state, facing the provocations and arrests by the police, and risking the genuine threat of a massacre of the workers. But even if all these dangers and difficulties were avoided or overcome, the labour movement would inevitably be overwhelmed for success must be at the first attempt.  A conquered strike would result in an impotent, emasculate union movement. A defeat at the election polls is one thing, but the failure of a general strike is one of real sufferings and discouraged and disconsolate, defeated strikers withdraws from the movement into passivity and apathy.  A general strike is “All or nothing!” Workers should think twice about supporting such a gamble.

The political expropriation of the capitalist class today, is its economic expropriation tomorrow.  The state  in the hands of the working class the instrument of its liberation and transformation. Whether or not a revolutionary situation is destined to arise, the duty of socialists consists in educating his or her fellow workers, in rendering them conscious of their condition, their task and their responsibility, of organising them in readiness for the day when the political power shall fall into their hands. To win for socialism the greatest possible number of partisans, that is the task to which socialist parties must consecrate their efforts. What is necessary is to make socialists, to make the masses conscious of the economic movement in progress, to bring their wills into harmony with that movement, and thus to lead to the election of more and more socialists to our various elective assemblies.  In ordinary times, such as those in which we live today, any sort of action, except peaceful and legal action with a view to the instruction and organization of the masses, is sure, whether so intended or not, to have a deterrent and reactionary influence, and to interfere with the spread of socialist ideas. But this depends, not upon opinions, but on actual situations and circumstances. What is the use of talking of anything but socialism and to waste time talking about a contingent event that circumstances may force upon us in the future, but the time or character of which no man can define or describe to-day?

Instead of allowing ourselves to be led astray by romantic notions of the general strike, let us  examine the facts and see what conclusions they impose upon us. Socialism flows from the facts, it follows them and does not precede them. Socialism means the socialization of the means of labour and the abolition of classes. Its means, the transference to the political battlefield of the class struggle. Socialists are not worshippers of violence. Above all do we try to guard against the sporadic, meaningless and inevitably self-defeating violence that suffering and resentment are so likely to prompt. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

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 of any nation within capitalism.

A socialist economy in one country, say Scotland as many Tartan Trots advocate, would be compelled to act as a single “firm” competing on the world market with others, and, to that extent would be subject to the laws of capitalist economics. That is why “national socialism” or “socialism in one country” are contradictions in terms: they are economic impossibilities. The Socialist Party, however, views the revolution in our part of the globe as one link in the chain of revolutions which will emancipate the world from capitalism and establish world socialism. This conception stands in the center of the system of ideas which binds us together and animates all our propaganda work

We recognise that the peoples of the world have the same interest which is to end the barbaric capitalist system. We offer our support to the class struggles of workers from other countries who are confronting the same enemy. The Socialist Party of Great Britain are not advocates for Scotland’s independence. We are not Scottish patriots. There exists a fundamental difference of interests between the employing class and the workers. The Socialist Party must denounce the capitalist class and struggle against their henchmen in parliaments relentlessly, without exception, including in this independence referendum. We are anti-patriots but we understand a love of the village or town where we were born or brought up in is a natural sentiment. We who hate the existing nations have retained our little soft spots to the localities and neighbours we personally know.

Too often and from too many we have heard the denouncation of the foreign worker. They are the "scum of the earth" we are told.  Perhaps, a few may well be, just as are a few who have been born and bred in our own cities most definitely are. But we do know most migrant workers have never had a fair chance. They have been starved in body and mind, denied, exploited, driven like slaves from job to job. They have endured countless wrongs, injuries and injustices. They have learned the hard way that the law is for the strong, that it protects the class that owns everything and that the employers do not respect the law, but shamelessly break them. So should we cast blame on those who bend the law not to exploit others,  but simply for personal survival, to provide for their needs, to end their miseries and sufferings.

The fundamental struggle in the world is not a nationalist struggle but a class struggle. The class struggle is a political struggle and it is the class struggle that politically moves one social system to the next. Socialists do not support one nation state against another. We do not support foreign nationalist struggles any more than we support the Welsh and Scottish nationalists who want to cede from Britain. Workers must avoid conflating their own interests from nationalist organisations struggling for power and should oppose all other political parties to keep alive the case for Socialism as a separate political proposition in its own right. A SNP government in an independent Scotland as they do in a devolved parliament will try to straddle the class struggle and to represent one at the same time the interests of the owning class and we the people. Nationalist supporters expectantly and hopefully await the outcome. Socialists do not need to wait to prophesy failure. Try as they might no nationalist party can combat the laws of the capitalist system. Nor we do hold that if they are led by other men and women of more radical left leanings the outcome will be significantly different.

We have no enemies among the workers of other countries; and no friends among the capitalists of any country.  The workers of all countries are our friends and the capitalists of all countries are our enemies. The time has come for the workers to cease struggling for the interests of their masters and to fight for their own. Socialism groups men, poor against rich, class against class, without taking into account the differences of race and language, and over and above the frontiers traced by history. Nationalism has indeed proved to be a more potent political force this sad century than class consciousness. But, in face of its results, we re-assert the original socialist position that workers ought to act as a world-wide class with a common interest in working to establish a single world community without frontiers based on the world's resources being the common heritage of all humanity.

Monday, November 25, 2013

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 ownership and control of the whole of the world’s industry, the entire means of production becoming common property.  Socialism means a complete change in society in all its aspects.

Is it really possible to realise it?

Socialism is based upon the planned organisation of production for use by means of the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production, is the abolition of all classes and class differences. Without production, society cannot live and the first step to be taken would be directed toward assuring continuous production so as to satisfy the needs of the people. If, however, production is to be carried on for use, to satisfy these needs, the question immediately arises: Who is to determine what is useful and what would satisfy these needs? Will that be decided exclusively by a small board of planners? No matter how high-minded and wise they might be, they could not plan production for the needs of the people. Production for use, by its very nature, demands constant consultation of the people, constant control and direction by the people. Democratic control of the means of production and distribution would have to be exercised by the people to see to it that their decision is being carried out.  We believe in the ability of working people to manage their own productive institutions democratically. The workers cannot rid themselves of their sufferings without abolishing the domination that the machine has over them. They can do this only if they gain control of the machine itself. In doing so, they must destroy capitalism and proceed with the complete reorganisation of society. Profit returns would no longer enter into calculations. Capitalist production depends upon profit, upon the accumulation of capital and increasing opportunities for its profitable investment.

We, the workers, mental and manual, with our muscle, mind and skill, wrested raw materials from Nature and fashioned them into the things of social value. We are the creators. We build things great and small yet we who are greater than all stand in abject fear of our own creations. The starting point is a grasp of the elementary truth that men working in organised co-operation can produce far more than the same men working in independent isolation. The greater the number of co-operating workers, the more complete can be the sub-division and co-ordination of the labour process. The more complex the productive mechanism the wider the area from which to draw raw and incidental materials, and the more complete the technical realisation of natural potentialities, the greater will be the power of self-disposal of the community so equipped, and so co-operating. Interposed between us  and that enormous potential of abundance is the social obstacle of property and legal rights. We have damned ourselves because we have thought that the rights of the bakery owner and the bread seller were greater than the right of a person with an empty stomach. We are all prostitutes—and prostitutes for bread. Capitalism has failed, and so have efforts to reform it. That failure puts a campaign for the socialist alternative on the immediate agenda. The needs of people, not profit, are the driving force of a socialist society.

We speak of classes, but to be sure individuals own the instruments of production yet these individuals form a class bound together by common interests, as against the rest of society. Socialism does not mean mere governmental ownership or management. The State of to-day, nationally or locally, is only the agent of this possessing class and acts  in the interests of the employers. The Socialist Party indicts capitalism and challenges its political spokesmen of whatever name or brand to defend it. The Socialist Party denies the right of capitalism to exist. The division of society into property owners and property-less people lies at the root of the problems of the capitalist world.

Capitalism is founded upon production for profit. Whenever the owners of the world’s machinery of production and distribution fail for whatever reason to realize a profit, it is in their power to cease production or distribution and the world’s workers may starve for all they care. Capitalist society characterised by production for profit. Profit is derived from unpaid labour time. Workers’ labour power is purchased on the market by the owners of capital. The goods and services produced by workers’ socialised labour are  appropriated  by capitalists or the state. Wage-workers who, to live, must sell their labour power to the private owners of the means of production. They are parts of a competitive system, the motive of which is that of production for profit. The labour it uses is a commodity subject to all the laws of commodity production. The fundamental purpose of the Trade Unions, therefore, must be the pursuit of the interests of the wage-workers.They will continue to be produced so long as they can be sold for profit on the market. With socialism, production is planned (not necessarily centrally planned) and rational, and takes place for peoples’ use.

Capitalism is production for the market. The surplus-value created by the workers cannot be realized by the capitalist in the form of profit until the product has been sold on the market. For the capitalist there is no other way of disposing of the goods produced other than through the exchange market, the laws of which are not need nor beauty, nor quality. Capitalism produces only when there is a profit for the  owner of capital. When there is no profitable market for his product, the capitalist will not produce, no matter how great and urgent the need of the people for work, for food, for clothing and shelter, for a decent living standard, for security.

There can, in fact, be no social revolution without a fundamental change in the relation of the classes. In a revolution a class which held power loses it to the class which was previously below it.  For the first time ample leisure and a good standard of living can be the birthright of every child, whether it is born in Manchester, New York or Mumbai. A socialist system of production will by its superior efficiency make available not just ample consumables but (what is of infinitely greater importance) an greater wealth of leisure, enriched by the accessibility of all the cultural achievements of the human race.

 “Give us imagination enough to conceive; courage enough to will; power enough to compel; and then I say, the thing will be done.” - William Morris:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

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 10,000 nurses fight for only 460 jobs in Spain because of its economic recession.

This story is nothing new. The NHS has always relied significantly on foreign workers. In 1963 the Conservative Health Minister, Enoch Powell, who later led the call for stricter controls on immigration, launched a campaign to recruit trained doctors from overseas to fill the manpower shortages caused by NHS expansion. Some 18,000 of them were recruited from India and Pakistan. Powell praised these doctors, who he said, 'provide a useful and substantial reinforcement of the staffing of our hospitals and who are an advertisement to the world of British medicine and British hospitals.'

Under the proposed new legislation for charging migrant workers for using the NHS, these nurses may end up having to pay for using the services of the doctors and fellow nurses in the very same hospitals as they work!!


What's this crisis about?

The real credit squeeze

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 internal harmony of the capitalist system is shattered in the minds both of practical businessmen and of the theoreticians of capitalism.

Capitalism’s charlatans mistake the shadow for the substance and think that if only there is faith all will be well. They have not the slightest knowledge of the basis of economic crises. They fail to see that crises are not produced because of lack of faith, but that there is no faith because the markets are stagnant. At such a period everyone seeks to realise their assets into hard cash. Accordingly demands are made all round for obligations to be fulfilled. These demands sometimes overtake banks, who are unable to pay over, with the result that a financial crisis ensues. It is to stabilise the banks and ensure confidence that the recent bail-out and nationalisations and take-overs have been taking place in the financial world. But it is all in vain. So long as production is carried on for profit there is bound to periodically result “crises” on the markets of the world. Wall St and the City of London  may well seek reform of their regulation but they cannot avoid the convulsion that accrues from time to time, because the markets, both home and foreign, become congested. It is only when production is free from the market and orderly organised upon a basis of social well-being instead of private gain can we escape the anarchy of capitalism.

This system cannot ensure the harmonious growth of the economy, cannot ensure work and well being for all the working people, cannot avoid economic crises and the destruction of the productive forces and the values created by the sweat and blood of the working people. The strategy of the wealthy in the conditions of the crisis is aimed at intensifying exploitation, further increasing the concentration of capital and production, carrying out various changes to create the best conditions for the extraction of maximum profits, shifting capital to the areas of maximum capitalist profit whether at home or abroad.

The employers are shifting the burden of the crisis onto the backs of the working people and increasing the tribute it exacts from the whole of society. The exploitation of the workers is being intensified through the cutting of real wages, imposition of redundancies, the intensification of work through speed-ups etc., the imposition of worse working conditions, and so on, facilitated by the pressure of the vast reserve army of the unemployed. State expenditure is being transferred away from social spending such as on health, education, benefits and the burden of direct and indirect taxation is being increased to cover the state expenditure as a whole.

The capitalist class pretends that it has the solution to the crisis and promises “recovery” provided the workers accept the shifting of the burden of the crisis onto their backs. The government is demanding further sacrifices of the workers in terms of further reduction in real wages, further increases in productivity, etc., as the condition of ensuring recovery. But in reality neither has control over the course of the  crisis. The demand that the workers accept further unemployment and further speed-ups and further reductions in real wages, social services, benefits, etc., is simply a demand that the workers accept still more of the burden of the crisis on their backs so as to ensure the recovery of profits which is the real concern of business.

The motive of capitalist production is profit and the only issue of “recovery” for the rich is recovery of profits. Such “recovery” will not alter at all the condition of the working class as wage slaves, or change the conditions of the exploited in relation to the exploiters. The recovery of the profits  can only take place on the basis of the further intensification of exploitation, the further impoverishment and ruin of working  people.  Because of its political implications this point must be stressed, especially in connection with state spending on the social services. That capitalism is no longer able to finance an adequate welfare state, and is in fact driven to make severe cuts in this area, indicates not that spending on the welfare state is the cause of the crisis but signifies that capitalism can no longer provide the basic requirements (health care, education, social services, etc.) for the millions

Some on the Left imply that the Marxist analysis of economic crises can be put down to under-consumptionism which very briefly means capitalism reduces the ability of the people to consume these goods by continually driving down their wages and living standards until workers are unable to purchase the very goods they themselves have produced. As inviting as this explanation appears it is wrong.  Economic crises are due to the basic features of the capitalist system and one feature is the anarchy of production. Businesses decide what kind of things to produce and how many to produce either individually or in small groups. Production is not planned by any central agency. Over time, disproportions between the activities of various firms and different industries eventually occur. The effect of this unplanned method of production under capitalism causes either too many products or too few products on the market. If we take into account that even in modern monopoly capitalism with its high concentration of production and capital there are many thousands of independent productive units, every one producing for the unpredictable contingencies of a vast market, every one dependent on the decisions of millions of other private producers and consumers, and every one directed only by the desire to make the maximum profit, it is not so astonishing that this absurd system tends to break down. It is astonishing that it functions somehow, for some time. The whole process of production, normally a process of expanding production, can only continue if the mass of capitalist producers find on the market a sufficient demand to enable them to sell their product at what they regard as a reasonable profit and a sufficient supply of the means of production (machinery, raw materials and labour) and at such prices as will enable them to reproduce their capital, to continue their production on an enlarged scale.

This feature of capitalism – the anarchy of production and the arise of  disproportions in the economy affect the capitalists’ profits. When businessmen do not make the expected level of profits, they run down production. Order cancellations to sub-contractors, factory closures, and bankruptcies cause a chain reaction leading to economic paralysis, which is called a crisis. Part of the chain reaction of the economic slow-down and contraction is a falling level of working-class consumption. Another reaction is growing unemployment. However, it is the economic contraction which causes a decline in wages and working-class consumption and growing unemployment, not under-consumption by the working class that causes capitalist economic crises. Marx and Engels repudiated a crude, oversimplified theory of under-consumption. Marx points out that "crises are precisely always preceded by a period in which wages rise generally" and that this "relative prosperity" of the working class occurs always only "as a harbinger of a coming crisis." Engels stresses the point that under-consumption of the masses, i.e. the limitation of their consumption to the bare minimum, existed thousands of years before capitalism emerged, but only with capitalism does the new phenomenon of over-production emerge. Under-consumption is a chronic fact in capitalist society while crises recur periodically.

Why is the question important? The under-consumptionist line channels the working class away from militant class struggle and into dead-end reformism. Struggle is confined to making appeals through the system to this or that politician.

For the reason that if an organisation supports the line that under-consumption is the reason for capitalist economic crises then there is no need for revolution. All the working class has to do to solve its problems is to demand some tax relief and extra spending on the part of the capitalist state. It is a return to Keynesian intervention with increased government spending and investment in infrastructures. As long as the capitalists are in control, production is based on profits not social needs, and workers will never have cheap, abundant medical care, food, education, leisure activities, and so on. Just having higher wages or less taxes does not make capitalists produce more. Those can simply be “financed" by printing more money. Total production may remain the same while prices rises with the ensuing inflation.

In Marxist terms the real question at issue here is this: Is the capitalist system one founded on the production of goods and services to satisfy human needs, or is it one based on the production of surplus value in which the production of use values is purely incidental to the process?

As we know Marx answers this latter question in the affirmative. The production of wealth takes place only in so far as the production of surplus value takes place. So to the extent that goods, wealth and income are, via public spending, generated at the expense of surplus value, far from alleviating the crisis of capitalism such spending must only serve to aggravate its underlying contradiction – which takes the form of an inability to generate sufficient profit on the capital currently in existence. In financing its activities the state creams off a portion of surplus value from private capital. Even if we assume that taxation were reduced and private investment increased by an equivalent amount this would not necessarily lead to an increase in surplus value. For this would depend entirely on the conditions of production, the conditions for the extraction of surplus value, etc. Only by a concrete examination of these conditions can that question be answered one way or the other. If, on the other hand, the surplus value which was otherwise creamed off by the state was to lie idle in the hands of the capitalists this could clearly lead to no increase in surplus value. For such surplus value would no longer be capital but merely a hoard.

The progress of new technology, the growth of the productivity of labour, which is the necessary pre-condition of an improvement of the living standard of the people, of progress to a higher level of civilisation, becomes, under the contradictory conditions of the capitalist system, a curse, a cause of permanent economic insecurity, of mass unemployment and recurring crises. The cure of the evil is not to stop or to retard the development of productive forces, but so to change the basis of economic life that the satisfaction of the needs of the people, instead of capitalist profit, becomes the driving and regulating principle.

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 are among the highest in Europe. Many of those who are in work will be labouring for barely the national minimum wage. A top-up to the living wage would make a considerable improvement in their lives. This winter,they will encounter fuel poverty and food shortages. Many will need hand-outs from the increasing number of food banks in Glasgow. Yet, and let's be frank here, the so-called living wage isn't really a wage to live on at all.

The Living Wage Foundation calculates that it is the minimum required to allow a person to rent property, run a car and eat healthily. But then you might choose to include factors such as the ruthless exploitation by some landlords of the shortage of social housing, the extortion of the energy cartel, the vagaries of petrol prices and the onerous taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. A family of two parents and two children cannot survive on £7.45 an hour.

Celtic's group revenue increased by 47.7% to £75.82m this year and its profit before tax was £9.74m. The remuneration of its chief executive, Peter Lawwell, was £999,591. The members of the plc board each receive a £25,000 emolument for the onerous task of attending monthly board meetings and travelling all over Europe first class. They include Dermot Desmond, one of Britain's richest men, and Brian Wilson, the former Labour minister. (See here for list of directors)

Celtic FC  is a business, as is Rangers FC which also emerged from the Glasgow working class. Neither club has any connection to its origin any more. Bread and circuses and football is the circus. Football clubs are business designed to take money from the poor and give it to the rich, Celtic are no different. They are ideal for lining the pockets of the board.

Taken from here 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

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.”


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 that is underfunded but it is elderly workers who probably suffer the most. RD

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 others but when a slump arrives it greatly curtailed sales. It can only sell more if he can reduce prices, but if he reduces prices he must sell the material he has only hand below what he paid for it. The company might be willing to sell at a loss if it could collect its credits, but being in similar straits his debtors cannot pay either. They want an extension of time. Some may be worse off go out of business adding to the problem. In the meantime the bank is pressing for their loans to be re-paid. Finally, in desperation, the small producer decides to sell its goods at greatly discounted prices, even below costs, so as to clear at least part of its loans to the bank. Now the problem is to find customers for his special offers. Customers may buy more merchandise at the new sale price, but even if the raw materials, the fixed capital costs,  his plant and overhead expenses are far too heavy for regards the  reduced volume of sales even at the lower prices. Then the  the banks are no longer willing to make the same loans to him as before, at least, not on the same low-interest terms. The only alternative left is for the business to survive is to cut wages, increase the intensity of labor, lengthen hours, employ casual and temporary staff, and worsen working conditions. Which is exactly what all the other Little Businesses are doing, as well. Eventually there comes a time when the business goes under and the laid-off workers add to the lengthening unemployment lines, ready to under-cut one another for any opportunity for a job.

Big Business can cut costs not by simply cutting wages nor by worsening working conditions. A far better way is open to it: the way of new technology, and  the path of increased productivity though  the improvement of the means and process of production, so that labour can produce much more than before with the same amount of energy in the same time and for the same wage. There is a limit to the working day or to the speed of the laborer; there is little limit to scientific progress. Big Business is intimately interlocked in production sales and in finance. It controls the banks and financial institutions. It makes loans to itself, and, if necessary, the government will help it tide over any given situation with bail-outs.

 Big Business  takes advantage of the bankruptcy of others. It can buy out the auctioned materials or newly vacated factory sites for a song. It can expand its chain by purchasing all the branch outlets. It can merge and consolidate the smaller firms to itself. If can break the back of any rival. If extends the concentration and centralization of capital to the point that it manages the projects of the government itself. Big Business, in control, throws the effects of the recession , where it can, onto the shoulders of all others who do not possess the same amount of lobbying clout in government circles. In the case of the sub-prime mortgage scandal the Big Banks losses were underwritten by the government . The government will be left holding the bag, not Big Business.
Taxation is a universal necessity. The problem is not whether taxes should be raised, or the public debt increased, but rather who will contribute what share of the funds collected by government and through whom and for whose benefit will payments be made. It is one thing if Little Business is in control of government and wants to “sock the big corporations”, it is another matter when Big Business controls government, as it does and must under present-day circumstances. Is it no wonder that it is Big Business that ends up paying little corporate tax and using loop-holes to export its profits abroad? It is why it is the smaller businessmen who decry government spending and demand budget cuts for Big Business need not take a s trong position of cutting down government expenses during the crisis  since the burden will fall the heaviest on other sectors of the economy. Of course, Little Business will still  demand such measures as tax reduction and subsidies to help keep it going. They will demand protectionist policies to retain their domestic markets. Big Business, though, is already trans-national , they can beat off foreign rivals, they actively engage exporting and investing abroad. How can other countries pay for Big Business products unless  allowed to export themselves?

To pay social security and pensions, Big Business is once again more able to stand the tax strain than the other business groups. When they buy-out the smaller fish,  Big Business lays off hordes of workers. Thus, on the over-all picture, Big Business puts in less than its share and draws out more than its share. Why should it be opposed to such spending when once more the burden will be greater on Little Business?

Unable to defeat the influence of Big Business in the corridors of power, Small Businesses are left with the remaining way of cutting government spending and having what there is of it re-directed to their own benefit - by advocating slashing workers welfare benefits, of hurting those even more vulnerable than themselves!  So let us be clear what we say - A plague on both businesses.

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 was one of the first to come out and publicly support scientific consensus on climate change.
5.     Gazprom 
Russia’s Gazprom, a state-owned company, rounds out the top five dirtiest polluters. The company is the one of the largest extractors of natural gas. It most recently was the target of an action by Greenpeace activists protesting Russia’s oil drilling in the Arctic.