Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Revolution by the people for the people

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

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

The capitalists maintain their power due to their economic strength to control the government and use it as an instrument of oppression against the rest of society. It is on the issue of the taking of political power by the workers that the widest division of opinion exists. Whether this taking power by the working class, or the Social Revolution as it is called, will be accomplished gradually or suddenly, legally or illegally, peacefully or violently is the most vital question facing those in the labour movement. It is the view of the Socialist Party of Great Britain that achieving socialism is based on the education of the working-class. The socialist revolution cannot contently  rest upon its laurels after it has abolished capitalism; it must create the new types of organisation and administration  under which production is to be carried on and the relations of property are to be regulated. But this new social system cannot be implemented by a minority. In the enormous task of social construction, the immense majority of citizens must co-operate and create the various forms of social property and firmly established the foundations of the socialist order that is to be maintained not by the authority of one class over another but by free will of the community members,  a system based on free collaboration.  How can such a system be instituted against the will of the greater number? Any opposition or reluctance would hinder and obstruct socialist production, causing frictions, that the whole system would end in disaster. Socialism can only succeed by the general and desire of the community.  If the majority of workers are hostile to the ideas of socialism, it will be crushed.

The basic premises of socialism is that we live in a class society, that the dynamic force of that society is the class struggle, that the capitalist class maintains its position by control of the government, and that labour can only free itself by wrestling political power from the capitalists for the purpose of building a classless society. No member of the Socialist Party will disagree with these fundamentals. We further agree that the owning class are the ruling class because it controls the government. The government protects the capitalist class by protecting the source of its economic strength private property. It is the will of the capitalist class that the rights of private property be protected. It uses its control of government to write down its will and call it law. It uses its control of government to enforce its will, the law. The law is the voice of the ruling class. The process of government by which the capitalist class rule is called, democracy,  literally means “rule of the people”. But as we live in a class society in which one class maintains its favourable and advantageous  economic position because it controls the rule by the people, since the capitalist class is a small minority. The capitalist class controls the government only as long as  the majority of people support the present system and therefore the majority of the voters permit them to. The ruling class maintains the education system and owns the media that it uses to control the views and opinions of men and women, that pollutes and poisons the minds of the people. Capitalism controls the channels of information to teach the masses to vote against their own. interests. Why is such power necessary? Because we, the working class, outnumber the ruling class at the ballot box. Among the valuable things that capitalism has introduced is the idea of peaceful methods for settling disputes. In doing so, capitalism provided a weapon against itself. Democracy offers the revolution a weapon that is indispensable. Political agitation enables the revolution to be preached in the open, and thereby enables the revolution to be brought before the millions.

 Even if the whole working class abstained from voting, there would be not one single seat vacant, the capitalist candidates would then be elected unanimously by the capitalists themselves.

The Socialist Party is revolutionary because its purpose is to change the foundation of this society from an exchange of commodities to the cooperative commonwealth. The Socialist Party demands the unconditional surrender of the capitalist class. The Socialist Party preaches and teaches revolution, and only recruits those who accept revolution as the solution. The Socialist Party once it triumphs would forthwith dissolve as the political state is abolished and the workers without let or hindrance assume the administration of the productive powers of the land. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Burnt-out NHS

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

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

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

The “inexorable rise of managerialism” in the NHS has been a “major cause of dysfunction”, he added, and there is a need to return to clinical priorities. “I disagree with suggestions that managerial and process change holds the solution to sustaining high quality care and believe instead that it is only by working with doctors and other healthcare professionals that a solution will be found.

The Solution is Socialism

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

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

Mr Gurr, the charity’s Scotland development officer, said: “It is not scaremongering, it is reality and the coalition Government can ignore that as much as they want. They can focus on the 0.8% growth in the economy and decreasing unemployment throughout the country. That’s good. That is something we celebrate, but there is more work to be done. The rising cost of living means that those in work are harder-pressed than they ever were. We are seeing an increasing number of people who are in work, who had sustainable incomes five years ago but, because of the rising cost of living, are not able to make that income stretch as far as it used to. People in that position are unable to put food on the table, or have to use a food bank. Work doesn’t always pay a sustainable amount for a family of two or three or more.”

He added “For us as an organisation, the result of the independence referendum or the next general election is irrelevant...The time has now come for creative solutions.”

And all Socialist Courier can say is that the solution has been right in front of Mr Gurr’s face and the rest of the working class for a long time but he and they still fail to see it. Socialism not charity.

The passing of a brain-sucker

From the September 1919 issue of the Socialist Standard

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

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

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

The man who is set up as a model of "self-help" was helped by others all his life. The only direction in which he exercised self-help was in helping himself to the the product of the work of others.

A quotation from the full-page effusion on Carnegie's life in the "Daily Telegraph" (Aug. 12th) gives in a nutshell the story of his life and the cause of his success.
“He began the world without a penny. He retired from business sixty years after one of the richest men in the world—to put it no higher—with a fortune of some 90,000,000 . . . It was won by a man who had no training for his life-work. The greatest of iron masters knew nothing of metallurgy."(Italics mine.) No money—no knowledge of iron—yet the greatest iron master! How did he do it?
“To the progress of the industrial revolution, to the stupendous development of mechanical and scientific methods in manufacture, Andrew Carnegie owed his millions."

Here we have it. Carnegie's wealth was built up by the ingenious brains and hands of working men. In other words, the departed saint stole the product of others' toil. And what of the workers and thinkers whose discoveries brought about the industrial revolution? The main figures in it—Crompton, Cartwright, Stephenson, Kay, Jacquard, Harrington, Lavoisier, Koening, Roberts, Trevithick, Gutenburg, Cart, Bourseul, and a host of others, either died in poverty after lives of struggle against starvation, or—in the case of a very few—gained a niggardly recognition when they were on the brink of the grave.

Now let us see where the self-help came in. Carnegie's first "start" in life was due to another person. To quote again from the "Daily Telegraph":
“And now came the tide in Carnegie's life which, taken at the flood, led on to fortune . . . It was Col. Scott who first taught the youth how to make money earn more money . . . His mother mortgaged their house, into which had gone all the family savings. With the $600 thus raised Andrew bought Adams Express Stock, on his astute employer's advice."
Of course the stock paid well: Scott was in the "swim."

Carnegie's next step was to introduce to the Pennsylvania Railroad, through the agency of Scott (who was president of the company) T. T. Woodruff's invention of a sleeping berth (the forerunner of the Pullman car). He borrowed the money for his shares, and was "let in on the ground floor," "but the cars afterwards paid handsome dividends!" "Thus," he wrote, "did I get my foot on fortune's ladder. It was easy to climb after that."

Thus did he vindicate the glorious principle of self help! I may add that I find no record of Woodruff's name as one of those who got their feet on fortune's ladder. No doubt he went the usual way of inventors.

During the Civil War Carnegie's pal Scott (now Assistant Secretary for War) found him a lucrative job in the service of the Northern wage slave owners, and at the conclusion of the war he utilised the wealth he had acquired to go in for oil and "struck it rich."

Like Mr. Rockefeller, he was in at the start. In 1862, with several associates, he purchase the Storey Farm, on Oil Creek, Pennsylvania for $40,000. It proved what prospectors call a bonanza, and in one year paid $1,000,000 in cash dividends.

Having gained the early plums of the oil trade, the "self-made man" in the making turned his attention to steel. On a visit to England he saw the steel rails that were the result of the new Bessemer process (a process discovered by one of Bessemer's workmen whose name even is  not known!) introduced them into America, and another chunk was added to his fortune.

The process of the Trust in which Carnegie had the preponderating influence was largely due to the valuable patents which they controlled. The men who were responsible for the subjects of these patents, however, were but pawns in the hands of the financiers.

Working men have proverbially short memories, yet the name "Homestead" should suffice to recall to the mind the bludgeoning and shooting of working men that took place at Carnegie's works during the "Homestead" strike, when Pinkerton and his gunmen were called in. Though daily waxing richer Andrew the philanthropist (!) was not satisfied, and laid plans to increase the working hours. The men organised to resist the project, so he retaliated by refusing to employ any but non-union workers. According to the "Telegraph" "the strike was soon the crux of one of the ugliest scenes in all the bloodstained history of American labour quarrels." The military (to the number of some 8,000 soldiers) were eventually sent to the vampire's assistance "to restore order"! And such was the man who professed to be the ardent anti-militarist and apostle of peace, and who presented to the world the "Palaces of Peace." Like others of his kidney, he did not want war when it interfered with his accumulation of wealth, but when it suited his purse (as when he took part in the Civil War) his objections vanished.

By the irony of circumstance, the same day the papers were applauding the incarnation of self-help and genius in the shape of Carnegie, they devoted a few lines to recording the tragic death of poor Blakelocke, the American landscape painter. His life "was the story of genius doomed to poverty," says the "Evening News" (13.8.19). His greatest works were sold by him for a few paltry pounds to keep his wife and family from starvation. The same works were afterwards sold for hundreds of pounds. The same paper further states: "Worry and the hard struggle for existence eventually produced a break-down, and he was removed to an asylum."

Blakelocke is now looked upon as one of the greatest landscape painters of America, but his genius only brought him poverty and the lunatic asylum.

What a contrast! The unscrupulous and slimy Carnegie dies in the midst of vast riches, while the fine artist dies in the asylum! Self-help, forsooth!

After officially stepping out of business (although still drawing his dividends), Carnegie set out to make a name for himself in a new direction. He made arrangements to distribute libraries in various places to assist in the education of working men. It appears strange that one who was such a determined antagonist of his employees should suddenly blossom forth as their benefactor. The strangeness, however, disappears as soon as we look below the surface. Carnegie and his class require workpeople who have sharp brains and a good technical knowledge, as these make the most efficient wage-slaves—hence the library stunt.

Since 1901 Carnegie has been throwing millions away and doing his damnedest to spend his money, but all to no purpose: he dies worth nearly as much as in 1901! What a power of wealth this one man must have robbed the workers of, and yet they try to kid us that we do not produce enough!

Away with dreams and delusions; let us wake up and produce for ourselves. Perish the parasites and vampires.


To Socialist Courier, this sounds all too familiar.

Steve Jobs said of Bill Gates “Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.”

See here for more on Carnegie

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The State and its abolition

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

Notes on the State

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

Specifically, we live in a society which is divided on class lines: the owners of capital, the capitalist class, and the sellers of labour power, the working class. This relationship between buyer and seller of labour power is necessarily antagonistic and this antagonism expresses itself from time to time in struggle over the distribution of the social product. Because of this socialists argue that the state cannot remain neutral — a passive observer of the class struggle. Rather we say that the state must intervene on the side of the economically dominant or owning class, because the state is controlled directly or indirectly by this class. This puts us at odds with the views of the "pluralists" who argue that power is diffused throughout a plurality of institutions in society and that the state is neutral in relation to the class struggle. But although it is possible to demonstrate the unequal division of power and wealth in society, and hence show up the crucial weaknesses of this theory, we still do not arrive at an answer to the central question of what makes the modern state capitalist.

Ralph Miliband's study, The State in Capitalist Society, that came out in 1969 signalled a general dissatisfaction in academic circles with the original Marxist writings on the state and this was reinforced in subsequent studies. It was concluded that Marx had not developed a coherent account of the nature of the capitalist state, particularly in regard to its role in the process of capital accumulation and the reproduction of capitalist social relations; indeed, that many of the references Marx makes to the capitalist state were contradictory and theoretically confused: at times he referred to the state as an instrument of class rule; and then, more subtly, as a social regulator moderating and channelling social conflict; again, he talked of the state as parasitic, that is, the private property of individuals; and, finally, as epiphenomenon (simple surface reflection) of a system of property relations and resulting economic class struggle.

The claim that the state is simply an instrument of class power used by the economically dominant class to dominate subordinate classes is highly problematical and (possibly) ahistorical. Although the ruling class owns and controls the material and mental means of production, one cannot automatically assume that it thereby controls, runs, dictates to, or is predominant in the state as well. The ruling class is not a monolithic power bloc; it is fragmented, with differing and, at times, conflicting interests. Moreover, in certain historical circumstances, the economically dominant class has not held state power, for example, in nineteenth century Prussia where the aristocracy (the junkers) controlled the state although it was a declining economic force.

Numerous problems also arise with the view of the state as a factor of cohesion in society, regulating the struggle between the classes, either by repression or concession. The main difficulty with this approach is that it suggests that the conflict over the social product is resolvable, and if taken to its logical conclusion it precludes the possibility of revolution as the state, in its role as class mediator, can act to defuse crises arising out of the contradictions within the capitalist mode of production. It is also very much akin to the liberal view of the state as "nightwatchman". Likewise, the parasitic approach can only lead to demands for a democratisation rather than the abolition of government and, perhaps, this is why Marx dropped references to it in his later writings.

The ephiphenomenon aspect of Marx's views on the state is rooted in the metaphor of base and superstructure, that is, that the state in its legal and political forms is simply a reflection of the economic base of society. This implies that the state is a passive instrument in the class struggle or, at best, is a tool of the ruling class. To adopt such a position leads one either to the reductionism of the equation that class power equals state power, or, to ignore the role the state has played, and is playing, in organising the labour process and in creating the conditions for further capital accumulation. The epiphenomenon view thus places a straightjacket on the activities of the state, divesting it of any autonomy or freedom of action, something which is at odds with the historical development of capitalism.

Dissatisfaction with the classical Marxist texts on the nature of the state led to a reformulation of theoretical perspectives by a new generation of Marx students. The outcome has been by no means theoretically homogenous, in fact, a variety of perspectives have emerged which we will now attempt to synthesise.

In Marxism and Politics, Miliband offers three possible, but not necessarily interrelated, explanations concerning the relationship of the ruling class to the state. The first of these concentrates on the personnel of the state. Miliband argues that those who control the state share a similar or common social background and are linked together by economic and cultural ties. These links result in a cluster of common ideological and political attitudes, as well as common perspectives and values. Thus those who run the state apparatus are by virtue of their circumstances favourably disposed to those who own and control the economic means of life. Empirical evidence would tend to bear out some of Miliband's assumptions. In The State in Capitalist Society, he provides an impressive array of detailed information which chronicles the interconnections between the elite groupings in society. The state is largely run by people from similar social backgrounds and educational establishments, in spite of numerous Labour governments and so-called working class occupational mobility. But this approach inevitably leads to the reductionism mentioned earlier as it does not explain how the state is capitalist. Crucially it does not amount to a Marxist theory of the state as it discusses the state in isolation from socio-economic forces. Miliband's work serves only as a rebuttal to pluralist assumptions about political democracy.

To buttress the obvious shortcomings of this approach Miliband introduces an economic dimension to his analysis. This centres on the role of capital as a pressure group. Here capital, particularly "monopoly capital", uses its position as the major controller of wealth and, hence, of investment to demand the ear of government. The fear in governing circles of multinationals redirecting investment and causing large numbers of job losses ensures that they listen sympathetically to them. In some accounts of this process, particularly that of Baran and Sweezey and the "Communist" Party, the state and monopoly capital become fused; the former acting as a pliant tool of the latter. These views ignore the fact that the state often acts against the interests of certain sections of the capitalist class. The state passes reforms in the social and economic fields which capital dislikes, for example, high levels of unemployment benefit and spending on welfare services in general. Moreover this approach reduces the state to an epiphenomenal position, that is, the nature of the state is drawn from the immanent tendencies of capital accumulation. It also disregards the role of class struggle in shaping the way the state responds to certain issues and problems.

The problematic nature of the above approach and its corollary that small and medium size capitals should unite with the working class in a struggle to overthrow monopoly capitalism has been severely criticised by "structural Marxists" such as Althusser and Poulantzas, and this leads us to the third explanation offered by Miliband. Structuralists argue that "the state is an instrument of the ruling class because given its insertion in the capitalist mode of production (CMP) it cannot be anything else". Thus it matters little who constitutes the personnel of the state, or what pressure is exerted by capitalists, as the actions of the state are determined by the "nature and requirements of the CMP". In other words, a capitalist economy has its own logic or rationality to which any government or state must sooner or later submit, regardless of its ideological or political preferences; the existence of the capitalist mode of production constrains the state to act in ways favourable to the expansion and preservation of the economic system and against the interests of the working class.

The structuralist view has been further refined by the work of the "capital logic" school of Berlin. This approach derives the character of the capitalist state from the categories of the capitalist economy, the process of production and accumulation. The state is seen as a political force which is required to secure the reproduction of wage labour—to the extent that this cannot be done through market forces—and to ensure the subordination of labour to capital. This requires the state to intervene in areas such as factory legislation, supervision of trade union activities and social welfare. In this role the state is prepared to act not only against the working class, but also against individual capitals or fractions of capital which threaten the interests of capital in general.

Although it has a persuasive logic to it the structuralist view has a number of crucial weaknesses. Firstly, how constraining are the constraints? If total, then the outcome of that totality is economic determinism, as it would lead to a situation where human beings are deprived of any freedom of action or choice. Man however is not simply the product of economic forces, but a complex organism, whose actions are determined by many competing factors such as tradition, religion (where appropriate), altruism, nationalism, and so on. Secondly, and this follows from the first point, if we accept the structuralist position on the state, then we preclude consideration of how workers in struggle have affected the nature of the state and how it reacts to working class demands. In short, we could dismiss the last 150 years or so of the class struggle.

Similarly, the capital logic approach not only fails to account for the origins of the capitalist state, but fails to show convincingly how it can operate as the ideal collective capitalist. In short, how does it determine, and by what means, what are the "best" interests of capital? Moreover, in this scheme everything that occurs in a capitalist society apparently corresponds to the needs of capital accumulation, and even where modified by class struggle the interests of capital are always realised. The whole theory is deterministic, and can only provide a partial analysis to the central issue of what makes the state capitalist.

These explanations, although more systematic and coherent than some earlier Marxists' writings on the state, fail to explain the central issue of what makes the modern state a class state: the state of the capitalist class. The main reason behind this is the reductionism of the approaches. This means that a more adequate theoretical approach is necessary; one which takes account of the actual historical development of the state and how this development has been influenced by the balance of class forces at specific historical moments, and appreciates that the state can and does enjoy a fairly high degree of autonomy and independence in the manner of its operation as a class state. After all if the state is to act in the interests of the capitalist class it must be free to come to a decision as to what actually constitutes those interests. In doing so it may have to favour one fraction of capital against another in order to preserve or promote the long or short term interests of the sum total of the system's parts. This explains why particular social and economic policies are possible even though powerful economic groups are opposed to them.

This approach also allows for an account to be taken of the way the working class, through trade unions and other defence mechanisms, have affected the development of the state. For, given the nature of competitive capitalism, workers are forced to resist the encroachments of capital. The state must react in some positive way to workers' (reformist) demands. Failure to do so would lead to civil strife and political instability. Thus state forms and institutions, without this in any way threatening underlying capitalist social relations, are partly the outcome of working class struggle and cannot simply be attributed to the interests of the ruling class or a mere reflection of the changing needs of the capitalist mode of production.

Socialists, then, do not accept the pluralist view that the state is the property of no single class and that because of this it responds to the demands of all sections of society. We recognise that the modern state is comprised of a flexible set of institutions which operate subtly and is, ultimately, the executive committee for the capitalist class.
Bill Knox


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

Revolution without Revolutionaries or Revolutionaries without the Revolution?

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

The 1% will always rule, declares the prevailing assumption of mainstream political wisdom, while the rest of the us are manipulated to keep our mouths quiet, stay politically inactive, and work without complaint for our employers.  Capitalism has only structural inequality, permanent war, and economic instability to offer the majority of the people. It is a system that offers no future to humanity; well, at least,  not a peaceful, prosperous and just future.

 The message of the Occupy Movement protests of 2011 rejected the competitiveness, greed, and inequality of modern capitalism, asserting a vision of a society based on human solidarity, equality, and an end to violence and war. And, the Occupy voices dared to declare, we believe this vision is realistic and possible. Life should be so much more than just a grubby, competitive rat race, they declared, one in which privileged elites feed at the trough of their own unending sense of entitlement, while so many more struggle just to get by.

The Workers’ Occupy Movement

A variant of the syndicalist general strike is the factory occupation. Daniel DeLeon was constantly agitating for the workers not to walk out of the plant on strike but rather to take the plant over for themselves as the actual producers and lock out the employers. Not the general strike, but the general lock-out was his slogan as showing the road to power. The occupiers  must create committees for food, for sleeping accommodations, for sanitation, for negotiations, etc., all must be alive with activity. The men now eat, sleep and dream union and the strike. The strike becomes the essence of their lives. It prepares them for much higher struggles in the future; it trains them for the revolution There is no longer the problem of renting halls, of getting all the strikers down to the meetings, of establishing food stations, of going to the homes of scabs, of organizing strong picket lines, etc. A far closer communication among all the workers is brought about than ever before. It is an  ominous warning by the workers to the capitalists, that a revolutionary situation is brewing  that workers are not to be trifled with and that they were preparing themselves for the occupation of the factories permanently. The workers were declaring in their own way that they understood full well that they had created these factories and that the factories should belong to them. By staying inside the plant the workers prevent the capitalists from closing the plant down and shifting all their production to some other plant. This often necessitates the removal of certain parts from the plant and it is just this removal that is prevented.

Workers are beginning to get an inkling of the idea that the forces of production belong to the producers and not to the parasitic capitalists on Wall St who legally own them. In this sense, such industrial action are on a higher political plane than previous walk-out strikes rather than sit-in strikes, since they challenge the existing set-up of property rights which the old-style strike never did. There is no question  that factory occupations are a disruption of the old pattern of property relations. Previously,  the property of the boss was always considered sacrosanct. No one conceived of taking over the factory-plant, of locking the gates against the owners. The picket lines were carefully and legally kept outside of the property lines of the capitalists. But now the factories are becoming more and more considered as social  property.

 In the ordinary type of strike the passive worker need not appear on the picket line thus, often picket line and strike activity was left to merely the militant workers of the organization. Now, no one can desert. It becomes a shame and disgrace to leave the source of one’s wages and job and to quit the factory before the eyes of all one’s brothers in order to get home. Everything being open and before eyes of all, the situation can lead only to mutual encouragement and the heightening of the morale of the strikers, and all the sinister forces of capitalism that lead to capitulation and break-down of spirit of this or that section of the strikers, may vanish. Occupations not only keep all the workers together day and night and make it very difficult for the employer to break their ranks.  The besieged awaken sympathy and support for their heroic actions from the whole neighborhood. The factory becomes the center of attention. Families and the community cluster around the factory. No longer can workers be urged  to scab and go back to work, since the workers have never left their work and mean to stick to their jobs to the finish.

Scabs are kept out and there is now no opportunity for strike-breakers to march into the plant. The doors are locked and barricaded; the plant is occupied by the strikers. Should the strike-breakers charge the plant, it would mean that the property of the employer would be destroyed or damaged, any attempt to drive out those in the plant could only lead to smashing of the machinery. To drive out the workers in a big plant would be a very costly process to the owners. The plant would be wrecked. The attack would have to be made, often, in a most hostile environment. The plant, is therefore so to speak,  kept as hostage by its work-force.

Workers hold on to the factory because they fear the unemployed will seize the jobs from them. If the workers can keep open by force, plants that would otherwise close, it is not a far step for them to consider the necessity of opening the factories to those locked out of those factories closed by the recession. They may partially realise the slogan: "Open the Factories to the Unemployed", which in turn is a step towards achieving workers control over production.

They are also partly inspired by the fact that the workers have nowhere else to go. There are no jobs elsewhere. The skilled workers have no longer the opportunity to wander away to the plant of some competitor and get a job there. All must stick to the plant and stay there if they wish to continue working. The “sit-down” strike is a sign that the doors are shut to those who would like to escape from their work, from their locality, from their trade. They realize this themselves, when they shut the doors of the plant—and stay inside.

Taking control of the work-place  puts an end to the traditional trade union divisions  and enforces industrial unionism in practice. Rival union officials would force one set of men to scab on others and to continue working while picket lines were walking outside. Now all must stop work.  Moreover, the factory occupation greatly diminishes the role of the professional union official with their demand that all union/management talks take place under the eyes of all the workers in the plant.

Here are the  reasons why the lock-out by the workers can never be so effective until after the workers have taken political power. Workers may feel that to occupy is a infallible weapon in their hands but they will soon be disillusioned about its potency. The Achilles Heel of this particular form of strike struggle is that it would be far easier to starve them out than use force.  Also to be acknowledged is the fact is that while the those within that particular plant are united as never before, they are isolated from other work-places. And even if other factories in the same city or elsewhere were to strike in sympathy with them, each one of them would be isolated.  Workers can also be pressured to come out of the plants if a reign of terror is launched against their homes, their wives and children. If bloody violence breaks out in the  workers neighborhoods then it would be foolish for the workers to stay in the factory while their family and friends were being hunted down and thrown out of their homes.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Amassing A Fortune

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

Legalised Theft

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

Capitalism is a system based on exploitation. A handful of parasites live off the backs of the workers. Huge corporations and financial institutions are headed by a wealthy oligarchy that dominates the political and economic  life of this planet. This handful of capitalists control world industry and commerce  and make fabulous profits off the labour of working people. The capitalists and their spokesmen endlessly vaunt the merits of our country where “everyone has an equal opportunity.” The capitalists get rich, not because they have “taken risks” or “worked harder,” as they would have us believe. The more they keep wages down and reduce the number of employees, the more they can steal from us and the greater their profits. It’s the capitalists that get rich by appropriating the fruits of our labour. At the end of a work week the worker collects his pay. The capitalists claim this is a fair exchange. But it is robbery. In reality, a worker gets paid for only a small part of the value he produced. The rest, the surplus value, goes straight into the boss’s pocket. Capitalists do not pay us for the amount of work we do. They are only willing to pay us wages for part of the value we produce, only the wages which are absolutely necessary to maintain ourselves and our families. The rest of the value we produce, the surplus value, gets converted into their profits when they sell the products, the goods and services, we produce for them. This process is the exploitation of labour where a portion of our labour becomes their only source of profit. It is legalised theft.  It is the law itself that upholds the rights of private property. It is the law itself which upholds the authority of the bosses over us in our work. He is not free who, deprived of the instruments of labour, remains at the mercy of the privileged who are their owners. The working class makes its living by selling its ability to work. The capitalists own the
places and things that are used to create goods and services. They appropriate for  themselves all that is produced by the collective labour of the working class. This gives  rise to an irrepressible conflict, a clash of basic interests that can be solved by the  working class taking all power into its own hands.

The idea that everyone can get rich under this system is a lie invented by the rich themselves. Under capitalism, the only way to get rich is to trample on someone else. This is why workers have only one choice: either submit to this wage slavery or fight it! The working class has always fought against the capitalists and has a proud history of struggle. There can never be class peace between exploiter and exploited, between boss and worker. The capitalists will fight to the end to protect their system.  It is the the police, the courts, the prisons, and the armed forces that are used against us when we resist. The entire government is a tool of the capitalist class. The economic struggle has had to take on the government – legislative restrictions, trade union controls and court injunctions to impose those constraints

The working class, for its part, cannot eliminate exploitation and poverty unless it overthrows the capitalist system. It must wipe away the nightmare of capitalism. The history of capitalism is also the history of workers resistance. The capacity of the working class to take its destiny into its own hands has been repeatedly shown. Concessions have been wrenched from the capitalist class but concessions are never permanent and we are presently losing some of what the working class has won in the past

 Ownership of the means of production is decisive in determining who has power in any society. When socialists look at the issue of class we see that  every kind of society, from ancient times until now, is organised around its tools - it  means of producing things that satisfy people's needs and wants. Ownership of the  means of production is basic. Classes are large groups of people, who have a defined  relationship to the means of production, such as ownership. The result of the these differences in who owns what means a difference in who gets how much wealth.

Putting that control in the hands of those who produce the wealth, the working class, is the first step in creating the basis for real equality among all people. Only socialism can respond to the aspirations of the working class. The struggle for socialism is a worldwide struggle.

Should we be surprised?

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

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

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

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Economic Recovery?

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

The Practical Politics of Socialists

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

The capitalist parties are as rotten and bankrupt as the system they uphold. They can maintain themselves and that system only by piling additional burdens upon the people. The evils of capitalism will disappear only with the destruction of capitalism and the building of socialism. The Socialist Party of Great Britain dedicates to socialism. The only road is the socialist road. Socialism is not a reform, it is a revolution. We are not reformers — we are revolutionaries. Let it be understood that by revolution we do not mean violence or bloodshed.

The class-conscious socialist realises that it is neither reform nor conciliation, nor humanitarian ideals which can free the working class and overthrow capitalism, but only an economic and social revolution. So long as the the capitalist class has state power it will continue to attack  and attempt to corrupt every gain won by the working class – and it will sooner or later succeed in setting back the workers’ movement. They can increase their profits only by pushing  the working class down, only through more speed-ups, more wage cuts, more job automation, more attacks on the victories the working class has won in the past. Workers must never forget that their interests and the interests of this small number of  bankers and corporate billionaires can never be reconciled. That is why they need to set  their aim high and build for the day when they can overthrow these profit-mongers for good, establishing socialism. Under socialism the working class  will control the economy and take ownership of the factories, machines, farmlands, etc. No parasites will grow fat off the labour of others and the working class will be able to advance towards a bright future when all class distinctions in society will be eliminated. The working class is the most powerful force in society. Not only does it create the vast  bulk of society’s wealth, but it is welded together in the process of production and its daily battles. Standing in direct opposition to the owners, it is the most consistent  opponent of oppression in all its forms. When it enters these battles as a force fighting under its own banner, the working class brings with it and instills in others its strength.

What the workers have to learn is that the “impossiblist” socialists are in the end the only practical men, because the only real practical work for the people is the transformation of capitalism into socialism.

Buckie Ban?

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

Abbot David Charlesworth of Buckfast Abbey says of the monastery's tonic wine  "We don't make a product for it to be abused. That's not the idea. "It annoys me to think that these problems, all the social deprivation of an area of Scotland, is being put on our doorstep. That's not fair. I'm not producing drugs, which I know are going to be used abusively."

He added: "I've heard people say we should ban Buckfast. If you ban Buckfast, ban Scottish whisky. It's alcohol, much stronger. But oh no they wouldn't do that. So they are picking on a particular thing as a sort of conscience salver."

However the monastery does acknowledge a certain responsibility by  attempting to address problems, for example employing a youth worker in an area where the problems with the tonic wine were occurring. While Hampshire-based J Chandler and Co, which bottles and sells Buckfast, is taking legal action to stop the police adding its own anti-crime labels to bottles of the tonic wine claiming  it discriminates against its brand.

Let’s not be in any doubt, this is not about anti-drinking. The rich will swill their ports and brandies. This is about controlling workers  and saving some police time and hospital A&E expenses.

Edinburgh, Scotland - Edinburg, Texas - The same poverty

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

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

Acosta has learned to be creative with the children's meals. “ I used to buy Lunchables [lunch packs] for snacks, now I get a big pack of ham and cheese and we make our own. They say: 'Why can't we have Lunchables?' I tell them, 'This way they get more.' I buy larger packs of cheaper meat and stretch it out...The younger ones will have a tuna sandwich or Roma noodles, around 19 cents a pack. The older ones say 'This isn't even a meal.' ”

As these cuts begin to bite, even harsher reductions are in prospect. Republicans in the House of Representatives have proposed $38bn cuts over 10 years, in their latest version of a long-delayed farm bill that would also require new work requirements and drug tests for food stamp recipients. The House bill would deny Snap to 3.8 million low-income people in 2014, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office, and to an average of 3 million people a year for 10 years. Those who would find themselves no longer eligible include some of the nation's neediest individuals, working families, children and senior citizens. In addition, 200,000 families would lose access to subsidised school meals.

That would make it really difficult for people who struggle to find work like me to get back on their feet,” Acosta said.

Even since the November cuts took effect, those involved in emergency food distribution reported higher demand and longer lines, with new clients they had not seen before.  Demand is outpacing supply. Of the 58,000 clients fed by the San Antonio Food Bank every week, Cooper said, half are working families, many are underemployed, the rest are seniors and people who, through mental or physical disability, cannot work. There are a lot of veterans in Texas, some of whom have been disabled through military service. But on the whole, Eric Cooper, the CEO said “Hunger is biased towards women and kids. A divorce, a separation can put a lot of women in poverty.”

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Marxmas

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

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

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

Although Christians celebrate December 25 as the birthday of Christ, no one in the first two Christian centuries had any knowledge of the exact day or year in which he was born. Most Christians were more interested with the story of his death. However, early in the fourth-century, Church fathers, who were concerned about the popularity of Mithraism, designated December 25th, the traditional birthday of the sun god Mithras, as Christ's official birth date. The celebration of the birth of Christ also took over the pagan winter solstice holiday, which like the birthday of Mithras, fell in late December. From thereon, December 25th was to be observed at a holy mass, or "Christ's Mass." 336AD is the first recorded celebration of Christmas on December 25 occurs in Rome.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Scientific socialism

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

Marx’s economic theories were  killed off and buried generations ago; the university professors tell us so. Ideas must be met with ideas. The Marxist theory makes it clear beyond doubt that there will be crises as long as capitalism exists  and under the contradictory conditions of the capitalist system, there will always remain that curse of recurring crises. The cure of the evil to change the basis of economic life that the satisfaction of the needs of the people, instead of capitalist profit. Instead we are often presented with the “socialism” of those good people, on the Left,  who earnestly wish to remove the inconveniences and injustices of our present social state, but who also wish a little more earnestly to preserve the cause of these inconveniences, who wish at once to suppress or abolish the exploitation of the worker and to preserve the capitalist form of society.

Marx’s main contribution to political economy consists in this, – he started where his predecessors left off. With Marx, value and surplus-value became the key with which he unlocked the inner workings of capitalist society, moreover, showing capitalist society to be one of the many stages of social evolution. Marx dissolved the mechanical view of society, held by his predecessors, into an evolutionary conception of human history.  Marx welded the various categories into a chain of evolutionary causation of the rise and dissolution of the capitalist industrial system, holding to the view that behind the empirical movements and appearances there is a law, a principle, underlying and controlling them, and to which, despite all deviations, they conform. And science consists, not in describing empirical sensations, but in finding their law and causation, of grouping and interpreting them accordingly which is scientific socialism.

 The kernel of Marx’s economic ideas is the labour-time theory of value. What the worker sells on the market—his labour-power— is not and never will be paid “by results”; that is to say, by the total wealth or value-equivalent of what he produces. His wage is paid on “the cost of living”, and his cost of living is far less than the wealth or the value he contributes. This conviction that the working class is robbed of by far the major portion of the wealth it plays the essential part in producing and distributing is the basis of Marxist economics. The only thing which the worker can sell is his or her labour-power. What is paid under the form of wages is not, the price of the labour furnished, but is the price of the power made use of, a price that supply and demand cause to oscillate about and especially below its value determined, like the value of any other commodity, by the labor-time socially necessary for its production, or in other words, by the sum which will normally enable the labourer to maintain and perpetuate his or her labour-power - the cost of living. Workers furnish a value greater than that which they receive. The duration (or intensity) of labour required for a given wage,  exceeds the time necessarily occupied by the laborer in adding to the value of the means of production consumed, a value equal to that wage; and the labour thus furnished over and above that which represents the equivalent of what the laborer gets, constitutes surplus-labour. Surplus-labour then is unpaid labour. On the side of the capitalist, on account of the fierce war of competition with low prices as weapons which rages throughout the field of production, it is financial suicide for the employer to extract from his work-force less unpaid labour than his competitors do. Capitalists are personally powerless to ameliorate the state of affairs.

In order to live, one has to work and to be able to perform any sort of work, one must have at his or her disposal the instruments and the means of labour. Now, these tools and this material are the property of the capitalists. Those who are only in possession of  their own labour-power (or physical capacity for work) are compelled, being unable to live otherwise, to sell the use of that power to the capitalists.  Through their possession of the means of production, the capitalists are, in fact, masters of all who are unable to use their own labour-power themselves, nor able to live without using it. From this economic dependence flows the existence of two distinct classes: on the one hand, those who control the means of labour; on the other, those for whom the actual use of those means is the sole possibility of life - they are the capitalist and the worker.

 Socialists are not the cause of the existence of classes because they recognise their existence. Modern industry has  forced workers to understand the need  of association or combination in their disputes with the possessors of the means of labour, and thus the interests to be defended have to the workers less and less the false aspect of individualistic interests but they appear to them in their naked reality as class interests. Born of the conditions of life imposed upon them in a capitalist society, their class activity takes on a political character. Having strived for and come into possession of political rights, the workers are obviously led to make use of these rights on behalf of their own interests. Inevitably, therefore, the political struggle is a class struggle which cannot end until the political power is placed in the hands of the workers and lead to the disappearance of classes as a direct consequence. Therefore, the class struggle is not an invention of the socialists, but the very substance of the facts and acts of history in the making that are daily taking place under their eyes.

Whether or not a revolutionary situation is arises, the task undertaken by socialists consists in educating the working class, in rendering them conscious of their condition. To win for socialism the greatest possible number of partisans. The Socialist Party of Great Britain is the only party which pursues these aims in a practical fashion, by basing its tactics on the economic conditions of the environment. What is the use, therefore, of talking of anything but socialism? Why waste time talking about  events and  circumstances  forced upon us in the future, but of a character of which no-one can define or describe to-day? Instead of allowing ourselves to be led astray by our various fantastic notions, let us here as elsewhere examine the facts and see what conclusions they impose upon us. Socialism flows from the facts, it follows them and does not precede them - it is scientific.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Working Class Stupidity

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

Another Example Of Exploitation

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

It’s Up to Us

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

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

In a big business, there is always an owner or many shareholders that live off the work of others: these are the ones who really hold the power! The shop-floor management are only their watchdogs; they apply the rules the capitalist owners dictate; they “direct” the workers in such a way as to insure as much profit as possible, and when the industry is facing difficulties, they are charged with the laying-off, or they do the “pushing” to raise production; they also try to create division among the workers as they fight against their union or try to buy off their representatives. That is but one aspect of the capitalists’ power. As masters of production and of the economy, they control the state and the mass media. All the big newspapers, radio and television defend the outlook of those who invest in them, and they try to turn the people away from the true problems. The owners of capital continue to control production.

The basis for the profits of the capitalists is the exploitation of labour week by week, month by month and year by year.  The capitalists engage in most vicious fights with one another in order to enrich themselves at the cost of other capitalists where many are reduced to bankruptcy, while a minority get richer and richer and on the basis of maximum exploitation of the working class. Capitalists have only one reason for being – to accumulate more and more capital. They are therefore always looking for ways to increase the productivity of labour. The capitalists strive to make the working class servile to capital. They wish the capitalist system would remain forever. The working,class is basically disunited. There are no united struggles of the entire working class, and the capitalists’ agents have been able to split the working class into as many sections, trades and crafts as possible. As a result, there are struggles being fought of a trade, craft or section of the working class in isolation from the entire working class, but against the entire capitalist class. To fight any battle with the capitalists, the unity of the entire working class is absolutely necessary and essential.

Those who are deceived by the propaganda that we should pose“minimum” demands is to plead with the government for reforms and the “maximum” demand to overthrow the capitalist system, must wake up and see through the anti-working class consequences of this policies. These groups that have been talking about “minimum” demands for decades upon decades.  The capitalists will only undertake reform in order to strengthen the capitalist system. They do pick up reformist demands and put them into practice. There are many demands of the which are good for the capitalist system, and it is for this reason that they pick them up. But the real demands of the working people will never be taken up by the capitalists.  The capitalists will never agree with the right to sell labour power at the price agreeable to the labourer. They will never improve the working and living conditions nor will they provide job security and full employment. These are unachievable hopes. As far as the Socialist Party is concerned, it does not matter how much actual riches any one capitalist has hoarded and how much these leeches  are paying taxes or hiding off-shore.  Too often the slogan of “equalising of the distribution of wealth” means the equalising of wealth amongst the capitalists.

If a party does not want to abolish capitalist exploitation, it can only serve capitalism – its role is similar of that of the foreman in the plant. All the things that are tied to the state, the army, the laws, the injunctions, the taxation systems, are according to the needs of the capitalist class, not according to the will of politicians. In regard to the parliamentary circus and the disputes among politicians , one must see that the capitalists as the ringmaster and the elected  politicians as the performing seals.

If the Left truly had at heart the interests of the workers, why don’t they denounce the very essence of exploitation, the capitalists system? They call themselves “socialists,” but that doesn’t mean anything – these are hollow words. One is not truly a socialist who does not want to abolish the private ownership of the means of production and who does not want to expropriate the capitalists.  They fight each other for their own interests instead of attacking the system itself. The workers should oppose notions that workers should leave politics to the political leaders and party cadres. Building the unity of the working class is its own task. The working class will emancipate itself. The social revolution is an immense task. To achieve victory over capitalism the working class must organise itself on a solid base and have a political party under its own direction!

The exploited have aspired to a better life where the living conditions of all would be in keeping with society’s ability to use the wealth of nature. They have yearned for a society where all injustice would be banished forever, a society with no trace of corruption, a society in which the weak would no longer be oppressed by the strong, a society in which one class would no longer be exploited by another. Humanity has reached a turning point in its history. The dreams of the past have become real possibilities for a future that can already be foreseen, because the material conditions necessary for achieving them are growing steadily. Working people are becoming increasingly aware that this society can only’be achieved through revolution. Only a socialist  revolution can put an end to the capitalist relations of exploitation that are now the fundamental obstacle to further progress for mankind. This is the meaning of the struggle for a society of abundance, of justice and of freedom: socialism. The expropriation of the capitalists and the socialisation of the means of production will lead directly to the abolition of society divided into classes with opposing interests. The abolition of classes will in turn lead to the withering away of the State, and to its extinction, for the State is not, and can never be, anything other than the instrument of dictatorship of one class over others.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Quote of the Day

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

The Uncaring Society

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

Marx and Economix

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

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

When the feudalism began to break up that this form of production gradually gave way to production for profit, which is the essential mark of capitalism. Production for profit required two things: someone with enough resources to buy means of production (looms, spinning-machines and so on); and, secondly, people who had no means of production themselves, no resources by using which they could live. In other words, there had to be “capitalists,” who owned means of production, and workers whose only chance of getting a livelihood was to work the machines owned by the capitalists.

The workers produced things, not directly for themselves or for the personal use of their new “lord,” the capitalist, but for the capitalist to sell for money. Things made in this way are called “commodities” – that is, articles produced for sale on the market. The worker received wages, the employer received profit – something that was left after the consumer had paid for the articles, and after the capitalist had paid wages, the cost of raw materials and other costs of production.

What was the source of this profit? Marx pointed out that it could not possibly come from the capitalists selling the products above their value – this would mean that all capitalists were all the time cheating each other, and where one made a “profit” of this kind the other necessarily made a loss, and the profits and losses would cancel each other out, leaving no general profit. It therefore followed that the value of an article on the market must already contain the profit: the profit must arise in the course of production, and not in the sale of the product.

There has to be some factor in production which adds value greater than its cost (its own value). What is meant by “value.” In ordinary language, value can have two quite distinct meanings. It may mean value for use by someone – a thirsty man “values” a drink or a particular item may have a special  “sentimental value” for someone. But there is also another meaning in ordinary use – the value of a thing when sold on the market, by any seller to any buyer, which is what is known as its “exchange value.” What gives products their normal “exchange value” on the market? Why, for example, has a yard of cloth more exchange value than a pin?

Exchange value is measured in terms of money; an article is “worth” a certain amount of money. But what makes it possible for things to be compared with each other in value, whether through money or for direct exchange? Marx pointed out that things can only be compared in this way if there is something common to all of them, of which some have more and some less, so that a comparison is possible. This common factor is obviously not weight or colour or any other physical property; nor is it “use value” for human life (necessary foods have far less exchange value than motor cars) or any other abstraction. There is only one factor common to all products – they are produced by human labour. A thing has greater exchange value if more human labour has been put into its production; exchange value is determined by the “labour-time” spent on each article.

But, of course, not the individual labour-time. When things are bought and sold on a general market, their exchange value as individual products is averaged out, and the exchange value of any particular yard of cloth of a certain weight and quality is determined by the “average socially necessary labour-time” required for its production.

If this is the general basis for the exchange value of things produced under capitalism, what determines the amount of wages paid to the actual producer, the worker? Marx put the question in precisely the same way: what is the. common factor between things produced under capitalism and labour-power under capitalism, which we know also has an exchange value on the market? There is no such factor other than the factor which we have already seen determines the exchange value of ordinary products – the labour-time spent in producing them. What is meant by the labour-time spent in producing labour-power? It is the time (the average “socially necessary” time) spent in producing the food, shelter, warmth and other things which keep the worker from week to week. In normal capitalist society, the things necessary to maintain the family of the worker have also to be taken into account. The labour-time necessary for producing all these things determines the exchange value of the worker’s labour-power, which he sells to the capitalist for wages.

But while, in modern capitalist society, the time spent in maintaining the worker’s labour-power may be only four hours a day, his power to labour lasts eight, ten or more hours a day. For the first four hours each day, therefore, his actual labour is producing the equivalent of what is paid to him in wages; for the remaining hours of his working day he is producing “surplus value” which his employer appropriates. This is the source of capitalist profit – the value produced by the worker over and above the value of his own keep – that is, the wages he receives.

The term “exchange value” has been used, because this is the basis of the whole analysis. But in actual life things hardly ever sell at precisely their exchange value. Whether material products or human labour power, they are bought and sold on the market at a price, which may be either above or below the correct exchange value. There may be a surplus of the particular product on the market, and the price that day may be far below the correct exchange value; or, if there is a shortage, the price may rise above the value. These fluctuations in price are, in fact, influenced by “supply and demand,” and this led many capitalist economists to think that supply and demand was the sole factor in price. But it is clear that supply and demand only cause fluctuations about a definite level. What that level is, whether it is one penny or a hundred pounds, is clearly not determined by supply and demand, but by the labour-time used in producing the article.

The actual price of labour-power – the actual wages paid – is also influenced by supply and demand; but it is influenced by other factors as well – the strength of trade union organisation in particular. Nevertheless, the price of labour-power in ordinary capitalist society always fluctuates around a definite level – the equivalent of the worker’s keep, taking into account that the various grades and groups of workers have varying needs, which are themselves largely the result of previous trade union struggles establishing a standard above the lowest minimum standard for existence. The labour-power of different grades of workers is not, of course, identical in value; an hour’s work of a skilled engineer produces more value than an hour’s work of an unskilled labourer. Marx showed that such differences were in fact accounted for when articles were sold on the market, which, as he put it, recorded a definite relation between what the more skilled worker made in an hour and what the labourer made in an hour.

How does this difference in value come about? Marx answers: not on any “principle” that skill is ethically better than lack of skill or any other abstract notion. The fact that a skilled worker’s labour-power has more exchange value than the labourer’s is due to exactly the same factor that makes a steamship more valuable than a rowing-boat – more human labour has gone to the making of it. The whole process of training the skilled worker, besides the higher standard of living which is essential for the maintenance of his skill, involves more labour-time.

Another point to note is that if the intensity of labour is increased beyond what was the previous average, this is equivalent to a longer labour-time; eight hours of intensified labour may produce values equivalent to ten or twelve hours of what was previously normal labour.

What is the importance of the analysis made by Marx to show the source of profit? It is that it explains the class struggle of the capitalist period. In each factory or other enterprise the wages paid to the workers are not the equivalent of the full value they produce, but only equal to about half this value, or even less. The rest of the value produced by the worker during his working day (i.e. after he has produced the equivalent of his wages) is taken outright by his employer. The employer is therefore constantly trying to increase the amount taken from the worker. He can do this in several ways: for example, by reducing the worker’s wages; this means that the worker works a less proportion of the day for himself, and a greater proportion for the employer. The same result is achieved by “speeding up” or intensifying the labour – the worker produces his keep in a smaller proportion of the working day, and works a larger proportion for his employer. The same result, again, is achieved by lengthening the working day, which increases the proportion of the working day spent in working for the employer. On the other hand, the worker fights to improve his own position by demanding higher wages and shorter hours and by resisting “speeding up.” Hence the continuous struggle between the capitalists and the workers, which can never end so long as the capitalist system of production lasts.

 Also to be noted is that the “surplus value” created by the worker in the course of production is not all kept by his employer. It is, so to speak, a fund from which different capitalist groups take their pickings – the landowner takes rent, the banker takes interest, the middleman takes his “merchant’s profit,” and the actual industrial employer only gets what is left as his own profit. This in no way affects the preceding analysis; it only means that all these capitalist sections are, as it were, carrying on a certain subsidiary struggle among themselves for the division of the spoils. But they are all united in wanting to get the utmost possible out of the working class.

Then there is another most important factor in the development of capitalism – competition. Like all other factors in capitalist production, it has two contradictory results. On the one hand, because of competition to win larger sales of products, each capitalist enterprise is constantly trying to reduce production costs, especially by saving wages – through direct wage reductions or by speeding-up or other forms of rationalisation. On the other hand, those enterprises which succeed in getting enough capital to improve their technique and produce with less labour are thereby contributing to the general process described above – the reduction of demand owing to the total wages paid out being reduced.

Nevertheless, the enterprise which improves its technique makes a higher rate of profit for a time – until its competitors follow suit and also produce with less labour. But not all its competitors can follow suit. As the average concern gets larger and larger, greater amounts of capital are needed to modernise a plant, and the number of companies that can keep up the pace grows smaller. The other concerns on to the wall – they become bankrupt and are either taken over by their bigger competitors or are closed down altogether. “One capitalist kills many.” Thus in each branch of industry the number of separate concerns is steadily reduced: big corporations appear, which more or less dominate a particular field of industry. Thus out of capitalist competition comes its opposite – capitalist monopoly.

Fewer Festive Feasts

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

A Scottish Government report identified 55 food banks and soup kitchens in eight towns and cities, but the overall Scotland-wide figure is likely to be much higher.

Many Scots turning to food banks in recent years are not long-term homeless, but have run into “one-off” money difficulties, as wages slump and benefits fall. Ewan Gurr, Scotland Development Officer with the Trust explained “The number of men, women and children living on a financial knife-edge due to a lethal cocktail of rising living costs, welfare reform and minimal employment opportunities is unacceptable...”