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Showing posts from 2014

Spend, Spend, Spend

We are constantly being reminded that the UK is going through an economic recession, but dire as these times might be it would seem that the owning class can still spend millions in the auction houses. 'A £40m van Gogh, £15m Patek Philippe watch and a £5m Stamp: How 2014 saw super-rich investors make series of world record purchases at auction houses. Very rare 19th century stamp from British Guiana sold for £5.6m in June . 114 bottles of Romanee-Conti Superlot sold  for £1m  - £1,100 per glass.' (Daily Mail, 30 December) People starving while some parasite spends over £1,000 for a glass of wine. Capitalism is crazy. RD

No Cuts Here

At a time when the government seems especially keen on making welfare cuts, witness the NHS, Old Folk's Homes and libraries there is one area that seems untouched by any cuts. SNP ministers have been accused of enjoying a luxurious lifestyle at some of the world's grandest five-star hotels. 'Among those to enjoy top treatment while on government business are Humza Yousaf, the minister for Europe  and international development. He stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Qatar - which boasts its own inclusive island and the Middle East's largest chandelier, decorated with 2,300 crystals The stay cost almost £1,400.' (Times, 29 December) RD

An Unpredictable Society

Capitalism is an unpredictable society only a couple of years ago it was predicted that there was going to be an oil and gas boom, but this has turned out to be a complete fallacy. 'The oil and gas industry is set for a year of mergers and takeovers as a result of the plummeting oil price, a business consultancy has predicted. PwC said 2015 may bring the first hostile takeover in the sector in living memory. It warned of "uncertain times" for the estimated 440,000 people employed in the UK's oil and gas industry. The oil price has fallen from $115 a barrel in the middle of the year to about $60.' (BBC News, 29 December) Market forces dictate slumps and booms not the "experts". RD

A Dire Future

'Almost 7,000 homes and buildings will be sacrificed to the rising seas around England and Wales over the next century, according to an unpublished Environment Agency (EA) analysis seen by the Guardian.' (Guardian, 29 December) It is reckoned over 800 of the properties will be lost to coastal erosion over the next 20 years. The properties, worth well over £1bn, will be allowed to fall into the sea because the cost of protecting them would be far greater. But there is no compensation scheme in place for homeowners to enable them to move to a safer location. RD

The Goal of the Working Class

Slavery existed long before capitalism. When members of competing tribes were captured, they often became slaves. A form of slavery still predominates today. It is called wage-slavery. Workers are forced to sell themselves (actually, their labour power) in order to survive. Economic necessity prevents the overwhelming mass of humanity from being truly free. The corporations and businesses own the economy — the factories, the transport, the retail stores, etc. Workers own only their ability to work and the few personal possessions they have been able to accumulate in a lifetime of toil. When some read the word slavery, they think it couldn't possibly be that people are literally slaves today - slavery seems like an outmoded form of life from previous centuries. They blithely assume that "wage slavery" is merely a metaphor. Whatever we feel, slavery is very much a fact of life for all people in the world today. A person is a slave if he has lost control over his life and …

Winter Of Discontent

It is difficult to imagine a more disastrous Christmas occurring. 'AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ8501 travelling from Indonesia to Singapore goes missing with 162 people on board, the company says.' (BBC News, 27 December) Snow and ice in the French Alps have stranded 15,000 vehicles, snarling up holiday traffic to and from ski resorts. Rail passengers have been told to expect delays at some London stations after thousands faced major disruption on Saturday. Overrunning engineering works meant trains in and out of King's Cross and between London Paddington and Reading were cancelled on Saturday. A fire has broken out on a Greek ferry leading to the forced evacuation of 460 passengers and crew. A far from Merry Christmas. RD

Cancelled Operations

The worsening of the NHS can be gauged by these alarming figures. 'More than 300 patients a day are having operations cancelled as the National Health Service runs out of beds, official figures show. Surgeons were forced to delay planned, "elective" procedures 3,113 times in the first two weeks of this month.' (Sunday Times, 27 December)This is an average of 311 each working day and a rise of almost 50% on the same period two years ago. The numbers are up 16% in the last year alone. Cancelled operations - it is difficult to think of anything more severe. RD

Boast Of ThenYear

"You've been driving a cab for ten years. I've been in the Cabinet, I'm an award winning broadcaster, I'm a Queen's Council. You think that your experiences are anything compared to mine?" Modest and charming David Mellors effortlessly alienates the UK's driving fraternity." (Independent, 26 December) Mellors sums up politicians' opinion of their all-consuming importance. RD

The Spirit Of Christmas

'A major in South-Western France has been accused of a shameful lack of Christmas spirit after banishing homeless people from the city centre by placing metal cages on public  benches.' (Daily Telegraph, 26 December) It seems  that 34 year-old Right wing major Xavier Bonnefont, Angouleme's major has little sympathy for the homeless. He believes the homeless will just use the facility for drinking alcohol. This sums up the contempt that many officials have for the working class. RD

Which side are you on?

Why can’t we ensure that everyone has good food to eat, that everyone can access medical services, that all youngsters get the education they desire, that our elderly live in security and dignity, that working conditions are safe and that the environment is protected. The answer is that we live under CAPITALISM – a global system based on the exploitation of the majority by the minority. And the solution to all these problems is SOCIALISM – a global system based on mass democracy. Socialism has nothing to do with state control. The governments of the United States and China control a similar proportion of their economies – about 30 percent – and neither nation is socialist. Both the U.S. and China are capitalist nations with economies based on the private ownership of production. Socialism is based on the collective and democratic control of production. There are no socialist economies in the world today, no nations where the working-class collectively controls production. Not any – n…

NHS Legal Costs

MPs are demanding that the NHS complaints system should be "completely overhauled" in   the face of rising litigation costs that now take up a greater bill for clinical negligence claims. 'The NHS complaints system should be "completely overhauled" in the face of rising litigation costs that now take up a quarter of the annual £1 billion bill for clinical negligence claims, an MP is demanding. The amount paid out by the NHS Litigations Authority has already doubled in five years, with legal costs of £250 million. In 2009-10 the total bill for claims was £650 million, with £150 million of it going to to cover legal costs.' (Times, 26 December) The incompetence of the NHS is leading to an immense legal bill. RD

A Depressing Future

Failures in giving people with mental health problems the treatment they need are a significant factor in the growing pressure on accident and emergency departments, a minister has said. 'The care and support minister, Norman Lamb, who has long championed the rights of those with mental health problems, said patients with conditions such as depression and anxiety often still faced discrimination and often did not get the help they needed. As a result they added to the strain on hospital A&E departments, which have seen record numbers of patients waiting more than four hours for treatment, he said.' (Guardian, 25 December) Depression and anxiety should be easy targets for treatment in todays medical atmosphere. RD

Queuing For Treatment

A picture in the Daily Mail summed up the perilous state of the NHS. It depicted thirty patients standing shivering in a queue outside their GP surgery in the cold at dawn, in the desperate hope of getting an appointment. In the wake of our front page picture yesterday, readers have come forward with their own experiences of trying to visit a family doctor. 'In total, there were 37.4million failed attempts to book an appointment last year, affecting 4.7million people. Others are getting consultations lasting two minutes!' (Daily Mail, 24 December} RD

The Cost Of Cuts

As part of their cost-cutting the government have a completely inadequate nursing home for the elderly programme. One patient waited a full year to be discharged despite being well enough to leave hospital."Elderly people are being trapped in hospital beds for up to eight months after they have recovered because nursing homes places are unavailable. One patient waited a full year to be discharged despite being well enough to leave hospital. (Daily Telegraph, 24 December) Capitalism's cost-cutting leads to crazy situations. RD

A World in Common – A Future We Can Have

The co-operative commonwealth, common ownership, and the sharing of the commons are overlapping and sometimes poorly understood concepts. Socialism is one of the most complicated political ideas out there, not because it is so hard to understand, but rather because there are so many variety of interpretations of it. Private property is very different from personal property. People have always had personal-use items (homes, clothes, toys, tools, etc.) that they keep, share or trade, and this will always be so, regardless of the type of social system. The important question is who owns the natural resources, tools and technology that people need to survive. Is it privately owned or commonly shared? Common property is also confused with public property. Common property is not property at all, because no one owns it. It is shared or “owned in common.” In contrast, public property is private property that is owned by the State. Because the State claims to represent all the people, State o…

Developing Depression Among The Young

Statistics Canada recently issued some interesting information on young people. Only one in five children in Canada who need mental health services ever receives professional help; about 3.2. million young people in Canada aged twelve to nineteen are at risk for developing depression; One in four will experience clinical depression by age eighteen; in Canada 75% of mental disorders develop by age 24, fifty per cent by age 14; suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people, after accident, accounting for almost a quarter of all deaths among 15-24 year olds. The pressures and insecurity of life under capitalism affect parents and children. Psychologists and other mental health workers do help patients to cope with the stress of life better but removing the cause would be preferable. Socialism offers security, stability and fulfillment. John Ayers.

Dying For Work

One of the illusions beloved by the media is that the working class are a work-shy, lazy bunch of parasites, but the facts completely contradict that notion. "At least 15 migrants die in "shameful" Calais conditions in 2014. Guardian investigations reveals death toll over 12 months with many desperate trying risky routes into UK to escape makeshift  camps without sanitation at French port." (Guardian, 23 December) Workers in those Calais camps are so desperate for work that they risk their lives in pursuit of employment. RD

A Twelve Hour Wait

According to a leaked letter a "worrying increase" in the number of patients waiting on trolleys for up to 12 hours before they are admitted to hospital is being blamed by NHS bosses on the vulnerable nature of the health service in winter. Latest figures show a doubling in the number of patients forced to wait up to 12 hours for a bed on a ward, and the head of the NHS in England has warned that any patient forced to wait that long should be classed as a "serious incident". "There should be a zero tolerance of over 12-hour waits for admission and such a wait should be classed as a serious incident, and we would expect a full root-cause analysis to take place, - Prof Sir Bruce says in the letter. It is signed jointly by Dr Kathy McLean, medical director of the NHS Trust Development Authority, and Professor Hugo Mascie-Taylor, the medical director of Monitor." (Guardian, 24 December) RD

American Nightmare

When Martin Luther King gave his famous "! have a dream" speech many foolishly thought that was the end of race discrimination in the USA. 'US police have clashed with protesters in St Louis after an officer shot dead a black teenager near where Michael Brown was killed in August, a death that triggered national protests. A crowd of about 100 people gathered at the scene early on Wednesday following scuffles the night before. ..... For weeks there have been protests about alleged police brutality.' (BBC News, 24 December) In fact here a few recent facts about racial discrimination in that country. Only two black billionaire exist in a country of 500 white billionaires. Only 9.8% of over 25 age blacks have a degree and 37% of prison inmates are black. More a nightmare than a dream. RD

We need socialism

The monetary system doesn’t work anymore and is obsolete. Money has outplayed its role on this planet. It turns out that it’s not money we need. We cannot eat money, or build houses with them. Money, private property and the exchange economy is just a hindrance in making the resources available for everyone. The Socialist Party envisages a new worldwide social system where the world’s resources are considered the heritage of all the inhabitants of this planet. It’s not a utopian dream, it’s just a possible direction for society to take. It is the the next step in the evolution and development of society, if we want it to be.
Many believe that socialism means government or state ownership and control. Who can blame them when that is what the schools teach and what the media, politicians and others who oppose socialism say? Worse, some who call themselves socialist say it, too—but not the Socialist Party. Socialism is a concept that neither individuals nor the government, should have o…

A Money Making Business

On the face of it seems as if Russia and Ukraine are at daggers drawn, but business is business and the state energy firm Naftogaz said Tuesday it had transferred $1.65 billion to Russia's Gazprom - the second tranche of a debt repayment agreed under a deal  that saw Moscow resume gas supplies to Ukraine earlier this month. 'In November, Moscow, Kiev and the European Union reached a deal under which Russia would restart flows to Ukraine over the winter in return for Ukraine paying $3.1 billion in two tranches by the end of the 2014. Russia started pumping gas to Ukraine in early December after halting them six months ago due to the dispute over prices and unpaid debts.' (Moscow Times, 24 December) RD

Immigration Desperation

The desperation of immigrants to Italy can be gauged by the latest statistics. 'The Italian navy rescued at least 1,300 migrants in several operations late on Christmas Day, among them a Nigerian woman who gave birth while on board one of the rescue vessels, local media have said . Most of the migrants were on boats adrift off the coast of Sicily and were expected to be brought ashore later Friday. Italian media said one man was found dead on board one of the boats. At least another 1,000 migrants were also rescued by the Italian navy on Christmas Eve.' (Guardian, 26 December) Italy has been trying to cope  with a massive rise in the number of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, the majority of them from Eritrea or war-racked Syria. According to the interior ministry, 167,462 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea between the start of the year and 17 December. RD

Food Bank Reality

Despite the claims of various economists that the worst of the recession is in sight the growth of food banks in Wales would seem to contradict that notion. 'The number of people using food banks in Wales has continued to rise, according to latest figures for 2014. In the six months to September, 39,174 people were given three days' emergency food from the network of centres run by the Trussell Trust. This is a 20% rise on the same period in 2013.' (BBC News, 24 December) RD

Orbiston –The New Babylon

Since the beginning of civilisation, men have repeatedly attempted to build better societies than the ones they have known. The industrial revolution had changed both the prospects and livelihoods of the majority of workers, and rather than increasing their opportunities, they had led to greater uncertainties. The earliest communitarian movements attempted to transform this by forming religious and secular communities with participatory governments and to produce an equilibrium between the private and common ownership of property and work.
The word ‘socialism’ originates with the followers of Robert Owen who is still popularly regarded as “the father of British socialism”. It is not always remembered, however, that the socialism he advocated was co-operative or community socialism. Owen did not think along the lines of the later socialists. His approach was basically apolitical and he rejected the notion of class struggle as a means of social change. Instead, he believed in communitar…

Build the Social Revolution!

The debate of revolutionary or reformist approaches to social change have been argued through the ages. After several years of capitalist crisis and the imposition of anti-working class austerity, socialism still seems as far from the political agenda as it has ever been. We live at a time when resistance to capitalism and the struggle for a better world are almost totally detached from any striving for socialism. Instead we hear the calls for the British Left either to “reclaim Labour” or to build a new “Labour” party (e.g. Left Unity.) The capitalism versus socialism distinction is largely irrelevant for many political campaigners who see socialism as constituting neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for overcoming the specific injustice they happen to be concerned about. This is also true of many that call themselves “socialists” but who we can label as Left reformists. While they may still believe in a vague and distant vision of socialism, this vision is so vague and d…

Black Snow! Time Is Running Out.

Scientists have just become aware of a new aspect of global warming – nearly invisible particles of carbon resulting from incomplete combustion in diesel engines. Some particles are being swept by wind from industrial centers to the Arctic. This phenomenon, called black snow, reduces the ability of snow and ice to reflect sunlight. In fact, in one month this process, called albedo, dropped twenty per cent. A team of French government scientists reported that the arctic ice cap, that is thought to have lost an average of 12.9 billion tonnes of ice a year between 1992 and 2010 due to general warming, may be losing an extra 27 billion tonnes a year because of black snow causing the sea level to rise several centimeters . To put it bluntly, time is running out, and since socialism is the only real solution, we must act fast. John Ayers.

The Election Scramble

As we near the general election we can see the contract between the Tories and the Liberal Democrats beginning to crack up. George Osborne has ben accused by his Liberal Democrat deputy Danny Alexandra of planning the "wilful destruction of key public services if the Tories win the general election". "Danny Alexandra, a loyal ally of the Chancellor since the coalition was formed in 2010, said Mr Osborne would make £60bn of unnecessary cuts by 2020." (Independent, 23 December) Alexander claims that his Treasury boss wants to "shrink the state", he warned that even deeper cuts would be needed to deliver the Tories planned "unfunded" £7.2 bn income tax reduction. RD

Teacher Shortage

In times of economic recession one of the first actions a government takes is to make welfare cuts and education is one of the most likely targets. Teachers numbers have fallen in half of Scottish areas this year. 'The largest fall was in in Fife, which lost 67 teaching posts in 2014. This was followed by Edinburgh where 63 teachers were cut, then 44 in the Borders, 29 in Dundee and 28 in South Lanarksire. ..... Overall, the number of teachers in Scotland have fallen by more than 205 to 50,824 over the course of this year.' (Times, 23 December) RD

Avoidable Deaths

Hospital specialists have protested at plans to reduce funding for specialised operations and treatments NHS trusts provide, including some cancer care. 'Some 345 specialists have written to NHS England saying the changes could mean longer waiting lists and avoidable deaths, the Daily Telegraph reports. Under the plans, centres treating more patients than expected would receive just half the extra treatment costs.' (BBC News, 24 December) Avoidable deaths, so what? Think of the money the owning class are saving. RD

It is Not Enough to Be Anti-Capitalist

The anti-capitalist movement has produced some tremendous figures, Susan George and Naomi Klein to name only two, yet the ideas of the leading writers and thinkers of this movement has still failed to present a convincing alternative which challenges capitalism and lays the basis for a new world, a socialist one. They and ourselves in the World Socialist Movement may share a similar aspiration which involves humankind sharing the resources of this planet, but it is only possible by production for use on a world scale, not be re-formulations of tax-laws. If there is no alternative to capitalism, why fight it?  The Socialist Party is entitled to ask the question “anti-capitalist but pro-what?”
Capitalism has stopped “delivering the goods” for quite a while now. Malcolm X once said “Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture and can only suck the blood of the helpless”. Capitalism is marked by wage labour. If the means of production are managed by some group ot…