Friday, January 31, 2014

A Brutal Society

We are constantly confronted with awful statistics about capitalism, but it is doubtful if anything beats the following example of the system's brutality. 'The world's 85 wealthiest people have as much money as the 3.5 billion poorest people on the planet - half the Earth's population. That's according to Oxfam's latest report on the risks of the widening gap between the super-rich and the poor. The report, titled "Working for the Few," was released Monday,  and was compiled by Oxfam - an international organization looking  for solutions against poverty and injustice.' (RT News, 21 January). Oxfam of  course is completely powerless when it comes to changing the nature of capitalism. Only a revolution in the basis of society can bring about a change in this insane ownership gap. RD

Old or New - it is still Marxism

Prometheus says: “I shall never exchange my fetters for slavish servility. ’Tis better to be chained to the rock than bound to the service of Zeus.”(Quoted by Marx)

Workers are confronted by a hodge-podge of ideas, a mish-mash of movements every one of basically saying “we” will bring salvation to the people and lead them to the promised land. In contrast the Communist Manifesto’s message is that “The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interests of the immense majority.”

The classic formulation of the self-emancipation principle is in 1864 Rules of the First International – “CONSIDERING, That the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves....”

It proclaims that we no longer want deliverers, that we no longer wished to serve as instruments of others , and that we have knowledge to understand our interests as much as any other.

Marx went further explaining in an address to the National Labour Union in the US :
“On you, then, devolves the glorious task to prove to the world that now at last the working classes are bestriding the scene of history no longer as servile retainers, but as independent actors, conscious of their own responsibility.”

When Marx denounces the shooting of Belgium strikers he declares:
“[the Belgian capitalist was so liberty-loving] that he has always indignantly repulsed any factory law encroaching upon that liberty. He shudders at the very idea that a common workman should be wicked enough to claim any higher destiny than that of enriching his master and natural superior. He wants his workman not only to remain a miserable drudge, overworked and underpaid, but, like every other slaveholder, he wants him to be a cringing, servile broken-hearted, morally prostrate, religiously humble drudge. Hence his frantic fury at strikes. With him, a strike is a blasphemy, a slave’s revolt, the signal of a social cataclysm.”

Marx is contemptuous of the attitude of the ruling class “we will grant but you must ask.” The General Council meeting after it had adopted its well-known address to Abraham Lincoln, which was to be presented to the US embassy, The minutes record:
“A long discussion then took place as to the mode of presenting the address and the propriety of having a MP with the deputation; this was strongly opposed by many members who said working men should rely on themselves and not seek for extraneous aid.”
The motion that was passed limited the delegation to Council members. Marx related to Engels:
“.. part of the Englishmen on the Committee wanted to have the deputation introduced by a member of Parliament since it was customary. This hankering was defeated by the majority of the English and the unanimity of the Continentals, and it was declared, on the contrary, that such old English customs ought to be abolished.”

The great thing about the Paris Commune for Marx about the Commune was that it was the working class who took over:
“It is a strange fact. In spite of all the tall talk and all the immense literature, for the last sixty years, about Emancipation of Labour, no sooner do the working men anywhere take the subject into their own hands with a will, than uprises at once all the apologetic phraseology of the mouthpieces of present society...”

He goes on to explain:
“That the revolution is made in the name and confessedly for the popular masses, that is, the producing masses, is a feature this Revolution has in common with all its predecessors. The new feature is that the people, after the first rising, have not disarmed themselves and surrendered their power into the hands of the Republican mountebanks of the ruling classes, that, by the constitution of the Commune, they have taken the actual management of their Revolution into their own hands and found at the time, in the case of success, the means to hold it in the hands of the People itself, displacing the State machinery, the governmental machinery of the ruling classes by a governmental machinery of their own. This is their ineffable crime! Workmen infringing upon the governmental privilege of the upper 10,000 and proclaiming their will to break the economical basis of that class despotism which for its own sake wielded the organized Stateforce of society! This is it that has thrown the respectable classes in Europe as in the United States into the paroxysms of convulsions ..the government of the working class can only save France and do the national business, by working for its own emancipation, the conditions of that emancipation being at the same time the conditions of the regeneration of France.”

Neither Marx or Engels commented at length about how a socialism  would operate. It is not possible to foresee under what particular concrete social conditions the revolutionary process might unfold. Socialist society is an economic system based upon conscious planning of production by associated producers. Nowhere does Marx say by the state. There is no room for a “socialist state” in socialism, even though there may be the need for a central direction of the socialised economy, which, however, is itself a part of the organisation of associated producers and not an independent entity set against them. Marx had no notion of a ‘workers’ state’ replacing the capitalist state. In communism, communal decision-making becomes a part of collective productive life. How repugnant to Marx would any idea have been that ownership of the means of production by a bureaucratic state machine would constitute ‘socialism’.

This is all made possible by the abolition of private property of the means of production. As soon as that private property is completely abolished, goods produced cease to be commodities. Value and exchange value disappear. Production becomes production for use, for the satisfaction of needs, determined by conscious choice of the mass of the associated producers themselves.

To be human is to be both social and at the same time a particular individual, a person. Indeed, Marx’s conception of socialism was founded on the possibility of ‘the free development of individualities’. Marx concentrated all his work on the achievement of a truly human society ,and. therefore of the notion of the truly human individual. Marx did not believe that there was a fixed, eternal ‘human nature’.  He knew that there was no human essence given in advance, a ‘human condition’ chosen for each human by God, or by genetic inheritance. Instead, he thought that we ourselves have produced human nature and by joint (communal) activity human individuals have made and remade themselves and their mutual relations. No human individual is an isolated entity.

The social form of human life in which we live sets people against each other. In a society  based upon self-interest, how can anybody take ‘the standpoint of socialised humanity’? The social whole confronts each of us as our enemy. The whole process, both the relations between people and the relation of people to nature, is hidden, distorted and mystified. The relationship between each individual human and the society in which they live is a great problem, pondered by philosophers, psychologists and political scientists. Somehow, amidst all the corruption and fragmentation of the modem world, we have remained – not much, not always, generally unknown to ourselves and with many mistakes and distortions – human. At the back of our minds, we still know it.

 In its early days Marx conceived a period of relative scarcity of a number of consumer goods and services, making it necessary to measure exactly distribution based on the actual labour inputs of each individual - labour time vouchers. But as production develops a situation that provides plenty  for all  any form of precise measurement of consumption will disappear.The principle that the full needs covering all different needs of different individuals will be satisfied will prevail . No incentive will be needed any more to induce people to work- 'from each according to ability to each according to need'. Work will have transformed itself into meaningful activity, making possible all-round development of each individual’s human personality. The division of labour between manual and intellectual labour, the separation of town and countryside, will fade away. Humankind will be organised into a free federation of producers’ and consumers’ communes.

Production is never individual production despite the grandiose claims of the capitalist 'entrepreneur’ . It is only the collective effort of human beings that enables them to get a livelihood from the world around them. So the central core activity – work – has to be organised socially. Every particular stage in the development of human labour demands certain sorts of social relationships to sustain it. The potential of new technology and automation  makes socialism much easier, by creating the possibility of  a 20-hour, 15-hour, or 10-hour working week for all. Human happiness does not depend on strenuous permanent activity, although perhaps a certain minimum amount of physical and mental activity seems to contribute to a healthy well-being including the growth of the mind. Paul Lafargue’s Right to be Lazy can be realised. The benefits of the wonders of robotics presupposes social organisation based upon co-operation and solidarity for the common good, i.e. socialism. If we don’t achieve that then the possibility is truly enslavement by machines,  potentially a lot worse.

 Socialists teach their fellow workers that unemployment, growing insecurity, lowered living standards and all the other afflictions of labour are not passing phenomena. Not even a future boom will eliminate these evils. The bigger the boom, the deeper, more widespread and devastating will be the consequent crisis. Only a clique of capitalist magnates stands in the way of abundance. To expand production and achieve full employment the workers have to wrest control of the factories and other major means of production from the hands of the employers and establish their own rule over industry and society. Production for profit must be supplanted by production according to a coordinated inter-linked plan determined by the needs of the entire people and directed by the associated producers themselves. This is the socialist remedy for capitalist chaos and misery.

Marx never envisage a ‘revolutionary’ process designed by some experts who thought up a new set of relations and to be brought into being by a clever bit of social engineering.  Instead of forcing people to live another way, the aim is to allow them to live as they truly are. Socialism is merely removing the obstacles to a way of life in which ‘humanness’, which already exists, would be allowed to develop. Every bit of Marx’s work is based upon his conception of communist society as ‘an association of free human beings, working with communal means of production, and self-consciously expending their many individual labour powers as a single social labour power’. Individuals will freely, collectively and consciously construct their social relationships. Their productive activity, instead of conflicting with social relations which isolate them from each other, will be clearly seen to be for each other. Needs will become human needs, without the distortion which the market and exploitation necessarily bring about.

Marx in his Note on James Mill in 1844 encapsulates his argument
1. People consciously assert their individuality when they produce for each other as human individuals.
2. In this act, and in the social nature of the objects they produce, they make manifest their human character.
3. As individuals, they establish and reaffirm their social nature and their freely created social relations through the satisfaction of other people’s human need.
4. In each directly communal act of production, they realise the character of everybody involved, as social individuals.

Elsewhere he writes:
“The theft of alien labour time, which is the basis of present wealth, appears to be a miserable foundation, compared to this newly developed one, the foundation prepared by large-scale industry itself ... Production based upon exchange value collapses, and the immediate production process itself is stripped of the form of indigence and antagonism. Free development of individualities ... in general the reduction of the necessary labour of society to a minimum, to which corresponds the artistic, scientific, etc. development of individuals, made possible by the time set free and the means produced for all of them.” [Grundrisse]

“Freedom in this sphere can consist only in this, that socialised man, the associated producers, govern the human metabolism with nature in a rational way, bringing it under their collective control, instead of being dominated by it as a blind power; and accomplishing it with the least expenditure of energy and in conditions worthy and appropriate for their human nature.” [Volume 3 of Capital]

How dare some so-called revolutionary activists dismiss Marxism as dated and irrelevant.  Socialism is not a dogma but a task. It anticipates a world whose social character is open, and transparent. Relationships like this have become possible because of the growth of modern industry. But socialism implies alterations in people, in their consciousness and self-consciousness.  Revolution is not a matter of switching governments or even a change of state form. Nor is only getting rid of one ruling class and replacing it with another. Nor is it redefining capitalism by altering the legal form of property. Socialism is not a change of political regime, which leaves intact the obstacles to humanness. Revolution is all about  people changing – people, themselves, consciously and deliberately altering their ways of living and their ways of thinking.

 Those who talk about the Party making the Revolution miss the point. Marx was convinced that ‘the proletariat constituting itself as a party’. The idea that socialists would seize power and exercise a ‘dictatorship’ over society belonged not to Marx but Blanqui and later Lenin. In 1874, Engels criticized the Blanquist idea of revolution in these terms:
"From Blanqui's conception that every revolution is a surprise attack by a small revolutionary minority, there follows of itself the necessity for a dictatorship after the success of the venture. This would be, for sure, a dictatorship not of the entire revolutionary class, the proletariat, but of a small number, who have made the surprise attack and who are themselves previously organized under the dictatorship of one or several individuals"
 The phrase ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ meant it was the working class en masse which would be the ‘dictator’, not some self-appointed vanguard. When discussing the Paris Commune Marx favoured the Communard notion of decentralised government and he never referred to the Commune as a state, but as a form of government which had tried to take over some of the functions of the state.
Marx never used the term ‘workers’ state’ and in reply to Bakunin’s jibe ‘There are about 40 million Germans. Does this mean that all 40 million will be members of the government?” Marx answers ‘Certainly! For the system starts with the self-government of the communities. ... When class rule has disappeared, there will be no state in the present political sense.’

Non-socialists can call themselves socialists for only so long, before their actions are found out and people discover what things really are. The “revolutionary party” is based on the idea that the working class needs a new group of leaders who vanquish the bourgeoisie for the workers and construct a new government.The working class is not yet considered fit to reorganize and regulate production. As the working class is not deemed capable of revolution, is  the revolutionary vanguard, the party, which makes the revolution for it.

These ‘well-meaning’  people , the Leninists and Trotskyists cannot realise that the failure of their parties is due to the fundamental conflict between the self-emancipation of the working class through its own power and the pacifying of the revolution through a new sympathetic ruling clique. They think they are the revolutionary vanguard because they see the masses indifferent and inactive. But the people are inactive only because they cannot yet comprehend the course of the struggle and the unity of class interests. Once conditions force them into action they will tackle the task of self-organization.

Friedrich Engels, explained:
"When the February Revolution broke out (in France in 18481, we all of us, as far as our conceptions of the conditions and the course of revolutionary movements were concerned, were under the spell of previous historical experience in particular that of the French Revolution of 1789. What all revolutions up to then (the bourgeois revolutions) had in common was that they were minority revolutions. Even where the majority took part, it did so-whether wittingly or not, only in the service of a minority; but because of this, or simply because of the passive, unresisting attitude of the majority, this minority acquired the appearance of being the representative of the whole people."

 Engels in 1853 guessing that on the next outbreak of revolution "our Party will one fine morning be forced to assume power" to carry out the bourgeois revolution. Then, "driven by the proletarian populace, bound by our own printed declarations... we shall be constrined to undertake communist experiments ... the untimeliness of which we know better than anyone else. In doing so we lose our heads-only physically speaking, let us hope."

Marx (and Engels).already by this time seem to have rejected this vanguardist model of revolution. They argued for open democracy, instead of conspiratorial secrecy and hierarchy, within the communist organizations they worked with; for democracy structured by mass meetings and recallability of delegates, as the basis for "proletarian dictatorship"; and, above all, for the conception that communism could not be imposed. by the will of political thinkers and activists but could only be created by a vast mass movement in response to actual social conditions.

Thus the General Rules which Marx drew up in 1864 for the International Working Men's Association, began with Flora Tristan's dictum, "That the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working class themselves." The International was intended to be the opposite of a sect, in both theory and practice. It proclaimed as its business, in Marx's words, "to combine and generalize the spontaneous movements of the working classes, but not to dictate or impose any doctrinaire system whatever."And, regarding organization, Marx argued against centralism, on the grounds that a centralist structure, -though appropriate to sectarian movements, "goes against the nature of trade unions," struggle organizations of workers. Typical of his attitude is his remark in a letter of 1868 that especially in Germany, "where the worker's life is regulated from childhood on by bureaucracy and he himself believes in the authoritarian bodies appointed over him, he must be taught above all else to walk by himself." In the same spirit, Marx refused the presidency of the International in 1866, and soon afterwards convinced its General Council to replace the post with that of a chairman to be elected at every weekly meeting.

 We should note the project of an "Enquete Ouvriere, " a questionnaire which Marx published in the Parisian Revue Socialiste in 1880, and had reprinted and distributed to workers' groups, socialist and democratic circles, "and to anyone else who asked for it" in France. The text has the form of 101 questions about working conditions, wages, hours, effects of the trade cycle, and also about workers' defense organizations, strikes and other forms of struggle, and their results. Though this might be described as the first sociological survey, its preface urges workers to reply, not to meet the data needs of sociologists or economists, but because only workers can describe "with full knowledge the evils which they endure" just as "they, and not any providential saviors, can energetically administer the remedies for the social ills from which they suffer." Strategy and tactics, to use the terms of more recent leftwing theory, can only be created by workers who know their concrete conditions, not by "leaders."
Intellectuals and academics can, however, play a role in the collection and transmission of information; thus, the results of the Enquete were to be analysed in a series of articles for the Revue, and; eventually,. a book.  He prefaced the French serial edition of the first volume of Capital with an expression of pleasure, because "in this form the book will be more accessible to the working class-a consideration which to me outweighs everything else."  The function of theory was to help the movement as a whole clarify its problems and possibilities; it did not, in Marx's view, place the theorist in a dominating (or "hegemonic," as the currently fashionable euphemism has it) position vis-a-vis the movement, but was rather what he had to contribute to a collective effort.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Motoring In Style

At a time when many workers may be thinking of trading in their old banger of a car for a less clapped out model it is worth reflecting on this news item. 'A classic Ferrari has become the most expensive car ever sold in Britain after it was bought for more than £24 million.  The Ferrari Testa Rossa, a 1957 model and the second prototype ever built, was sold by Derbyshire dealer Tom Hartley Jounior who has described it as "the   greatest car in the world," to an anonymous buyer.' (Daily Telegraph, 30 January) We are pretty sure that the anonymous buyer won't be a member of the working class. RD

The Bosses Game

In all capitalist societies, a tiny class of people owns the means of production and profits by exploiting the workers’ labour. United, the overwhelming tendency of the working class would be to fight for a decent life for all, which is incompatible with capitalism. Powerful united struggles of the working class would inevitably demonstrate the need to overthrow capitalism altogether. If a party does not want to abolish capitalist exploitation, it can only serve capitalism. Since the working class is the only class with the power to overturn capitalism, the capitalists use every possible divide-and-conquer tactic to prevent this development. Racism and nationalism has been major tools of the ruling class. Capitalism is the source of national oppression and only socialist revolution can put an end to this oppression and to all forms of oppression.  The Scottish  ‘nation’ is by no means homogeneous. It is made up of classes. The present referendum rivalry between the sections of the ruling class does nothing but divide working people and turn them away from their objective, the socialist revolution. As masters of production and of the economy, the bosses 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. For there is more to be done than merely reducing the gas or electric bill of Scottish homes.

Left nationalists pretend to be revolutionaries. There are no shortcuts to the socialist revolution, and those who enter the nationalist paths divert the coming of a socialist movement by chasing illusions. They want to rally the working class behind the nationalist cause. But nationalism disarms the workers. Shall we fight only to have a Scots-born bosses instead of English one? Shall we unite with these small Scottish homeland  exploiters in order to defend “their” nation against the bad, bad English? That is pure folly.  Nationalism is a vain attempt to rally the working class behind the cause of our home-grown capitalists seeking a better place in the sun. Nationalism does not oppose capitalism. The social revolution is an immense task and Left nationalists are intent upon making it more difficult. Independence (now) and socialism (oh, we’ll see, perhaps sometime later...). The socialist revolution is clearly not a task on the Left nationalists’ agenda. No one is going to hand workers socialism on a silver platter...least of all nationalists.

All of us to get rid of capitalism we need to unite in a single organisation. What’s the result of the referendum? Give the bosses the chance they never miss;  turn us against each other, all the better to rake in the PROFITS. We need unity and nationalism leads us into isolation.

 Nationalism is used to divide the workers among themselves so they can ignore their real enemy. The working men and women of the world have but on common enemy — the capitalist class of the world. It is better to be a traitor to your country than a traitor to your class! The history of Scotland is full of heinous acts whose only purpose was to increase the power of a handful of capitalists. In contrast to the Scots Nats and Left Nationalists, the Socialist Party says that workers all across Scotland can be united against their common enemy; that a real party of the working class can be built to  build a new system for workers – socialism.

Socialism is not a complicated doctrine.

The capitalists are using the present economic crisis to increase their power of exploitation and oppression. At this crucial moment we must struggle for the abolition of capitalism. With the present crisis, a growing number of workers are realizing that the capitalist system has nothing to offer them. While their living and working conditions get worse, a handful of rich men are raking in billions in profits. Workers are looking for a solution, and the Socialist Party offers an alternative: socialism, a system where exploitation  is abolished.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain differs from other political parties in  that it wants to completely change society’s economical organisation for the social emancipation of the working class. The main reason for the imperfections of to-day’s society, is the capitalistic way of production.  The Socialist Party seeks  the political organisation of the working class so that it may take possession of the public power and  transform to common property all the means of production — the means of transportation, the forests, the mines, the mills, the machines, the factories, the earth. The interests of the working class are the same in every country with capitalist way of production. The working class stands alone in the struggle for its emancipation.

We live in a world dominated by capitalism. The only viable way forward is to achieve a classless and stateless society on a world scale where people do not oppress and exploit each other.

We  make it quite clear as to our exact aim and object. We are socialists, and by socialism we mean, the common ownership of all the agencies of wealth production, and this involves the complete supercession of the capitalist system.  Socialism proclaims that no change beneficial to the workers of the shop floor, the fields or the offices can be carried out as long as the political and administrative leadership  are monopolised by the capitalist class, and as long as the producers, organized in a class party, have not taken control of public powers. Socialism maintains that there is only one solution: it’s that all the centralized labor instruments, such as the railroads, factories, textile works, mines, large farming properties, be given over to the associated workers, who will operate them not for the profit of a few capitalists. Capitalism has only known how to cause humanity war and misery; socialism will establish peace and happiness for mankind.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Business as Usual

Every year the president of the USA gives a State of the Union speech. It is usually the same old guff about how marvellous everything is inside capitalism, but this year there was a slight difference. "Those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by - let alone get ahead.  And too many still aren't working at all." (Independent, 29 January) It is indicative of how awful capitalism has become that even the president of the USA has to acknowledge it. Needless to say however he will carry on running capitalism the only way it can be run - in the interests of the owning class based on the exploitation of the working class. RD

Crime and Punishment

Prime time television is full of police dramas where highly trained policemen track down and arrest cunning criminals. It is doubtful whether Londoner Peter May's activities will be the basis of a new TV series though. 'May, 35, along with Jason Chan and William James, all residents of a squat in north London, were arrested on 25 October, just before midnight, after a member of the public called the police to report three men climbing over a wall at the back of Iceland in Kentish Town . Police arrested the men as they left the area with a holdall and trolley containing food.' (Guardian, 29 January) The total value of the items taken allegedly amounted to £33 and they were of low value, consisting of tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese and Mr Kipling cakes. Initially arrested for burglary, the three men were charged under an obscure section of the 1824 Vagrancy Act, after being discovered in "an enclosed area, namely Iceland, for an unlawful purpose, namely stealing food". Hardly crime of the century, is it? The food was awaiting collection for a landfill. RD

The State is No Saviour

The state as Engels described it, is “the ideal personification of the total national capital.” (Socialism: Utopian and Scientific) and he recognised “The more productive forces it (the state) takes ever into its possession, the more it becomes a real aggregate capitalist, the more citizens it exploits. The workers remain wage-workers, proletarians. The capitalist relationship is not abolished, rather it is pushed to the limit. (Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific)

 The nature of capitalism is distorted by those who draw their model of capitalism from its early competitive stage and describe its essence as the competition among individual capitals within a nation-state. Marx himself did not confine his analysis to a description of the stage of competitive capitalism, but grasped the basic laws of development leading to greater concentration and centralization of capital. Even in speaking of stock companies, he refers to this form of ownership as being “social capital” which represents “the abolition of capital as private property within the framework of capitalist production itself.” (Capital, Vol. 3) In the Soviet Union today the state had become the chief framework within which capitalist production is organized even though capital in the form of individual private property has been abolished. The ruling class in the Soviet Union can be described as state capitalists, since they command  the highly centralized Soviet economy and oppresses and exploits the working class directly through its stranglehold on the state apparatus. This class does not individually own the means of production, but this fact makes it no less a capitalist class. The central question to pose in determining whether the Soviet Union is capitalist or socialist is thus not whether the principal means of production have been nationalised, but which class holds real political and economic power. This power is held in state bureaucracy by the nomenklatura and apparatchiks , which controls and disposes of state property and gears the whole economy towards the maximization of surplus-value extraction, towards “accumulation for accumulation’s sake, production for production’s sake.” (Capital, Vol. l)

To understand more clearly the difference between socialism and state capitalism we need to start by understanding the difference between use value and value in commodity production. Use value refers to the useful aspects of products which satisfy human wants and needs, while value is the abstract worth given to products for the purposes of exchange and based on the socially necessary labor time that went into creating them. Surplus value is the difference between the value the worker creates with his labour and the value he or she receives in payment, this difference being pocketed by the capitalist.

Marx pointed out that in the case of slavery the slaves were oppressed and exploited in order to produce use values for the slaveowners. This is distinct and different from the exploitation of the working class by the capitalist class, whose goal, as Marx puts it, is “the production of surplus value as the absolute law.” Under socialism, although the value of products, based on socially necessary labor time, must be taken into account, still commodity production is made subordinate to the goal of producing use values for the working people, such as food, clothing, housing, health care, transportation.

The basic functioning of the Soviet economy revealed that the extraction of surplus value is indeed the guiding principle. The Soviet bureaucrats has been able to maximize capital accumulation  through the national economic plan. The real power of the state bosses is wielded through its control over the national economic plan, in which it is able to fix the rate of output and the rate of capital accumulation for the Soviet economy as a whole, and determine the utilization of the labor force and the total wages that will go to the working class.

 Despite its high level of organization, it would be misleading to characterize the state ruling class  as one monolithic class, since it is composed of a number of different, competing, and conflicting wings, just like any other capitalist county. Capital is always “private” in the sense that a capitalist class controls it and makes decisions about it in its own narrow class interests. But capital is not, in essence, an individual private affair. Moreover, the existence of capital as state capital by no means gets rid of the anarchy of production. There is competition among the different wings or special interests of the Soviet elite.

 Marx notes, that capitalism produces not only surplus value, but also the class relations between exploiters and exploited. It is not in the class interests of the Soviet working class to work hard to produce surplus value for the state bourgeoisie, and working-class resistance is taking a number of different forms. These include demands for higher wages, a constant search for better jobs, or just simply doing as little work as possible on the job. The lack of labor discipline has become a common theme in Soviet economic literature. Losses of working time are substantial. One of the results has been a continual drive by the Soviet bourgeoisie to intensify labour in order to raise productivity. Institutions like the trade unions, which are supposed to defend the workers interests, remained bound hand and foot to the ruling class.

Some  argued that the Soviet Union cannot be capitalist because the Soviet elite does not really enjoy great material privileges. The whole line of argument on material privileges, of course, is a red herring since it misses the essence of capitalism, which involves the accumulation of surplus value, not its consumption in the form of luxurious use values by the ruling class. As Marx states about the capitalist, “as far as he is personified in capital, it is not values in use and the enjoyment of them but exchange value and its augmentation, that spur him into action.” (Capital, Vol. l) But evidence was sufficient to demonstrate that there was a qualitative gap between the wealth of the Soviet ruling class and the income of the working people which cannot be justified on any rational basis according to the principle of bourgeois right. Moreover, if these privileges were justified as a material incentive to create greater loyalty and labour, why was the access to these privileges kept from public view?

Those Stalinists and certain Trotskyists who believed that the working class held state power in the Soviet Union were led into vulgar apologetics for glaring injustice, exploitation, and oppression in Soviet society, that led them to approve Soviet imperialist adventures abroad, whether slaughtering peasants in Afghanistan or napalming them in Eritrea. Such a stand betrays the interests of not only the Soviet working class which has accomplished so much in the past, but also the various peoples of the world who are oppressed and exploited by their Soviet “saviors.”

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

An Unheathy Society

The Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend is the centre of a major police investigation. Three nurses have been arrested on suspicion of falsifying records and earlier this month a 58-year-old man died after being forced to wait more than four hours in an ambulance. 'Now relatives of other patients who have died at the hospital and a nurse who worked there for eight years have come forward to voice their concerns about the standards of care. Lillian Williams, 82, an amputee, died at the hospital in August 2012. Her son, Gareth told ITV news: "Lillian was left Nil by Mouth on one   occasion for two days, without assessment, because it was a weekend and the   assessment teams didn't work on the weekends. It was nothing short of   torture."' (Daily Telegraph, 27 January) Needless to say all these victims of the NHS are members of the working class, if they were rich they could afford the best of health treatment. RD

Socialism - Will it happen?

The likelihood of achieving socialism in the next decade or two is remote; and many of us (albeit very reluctantly) accept that the fundamental changes we are working for will not come about in our lifetimes. The missing factor seems to be the absence of socialist consciousness which can create the revolutionary desire for change.

 Socialists hate capitalism with our heads and with our hearts, that is,  on rational, theoretical, but also on emotional grounds, because we see in it an out-dated social system, an anomaly, holding back those wonderful developments of technology and material resources that our knowledge could turn to providing the well-being of the people. We see in it a social system that carries within itself slumps and wars, poverty amidst plenty, oppression and repression. Socialists want to end it as soon as possible. We aim at replacing the present capitalist system by socialism, understood as a system where there will be social ownership of the means of production and distribution. We envisage socialism as a society where material wealth will be in the hands of those who produce it, where the exploitation of man by man will be ended, where production will be used not for private profit, where a new relationship of fraternity will develop between people and where individual men and women will find totally new possibilities to develop their capacities. A revolution means a change in political power and social relations; it does not necessarily mean a violent bloody insurrection. Our aim therefore is a peaceful transition to socialism : though we have always made it clear that an aim is not a guarantee and that the form of the transition to socialism does not depend on the working people alone. We do not stand for violence, but if violence should be used by the old ruling class against the people, then the people themselves will, with all legality behind them, have to find appropriate methods to deal with it.

As much as any other social group, Left intellectuals are subject to myth and mystification concerning their political beliefs; and nothing is more striking than the romantic illusions which have enveloped so much of the left-wing. Some political activists seem to expect that there will be a massive spontaneous uprising of workers in protest against the cumulative burdens being imposed upon them to accommodate capitalism’s way out of its crisis. Unfortunately, this is only wishful thinking. It is not that spontaneous protests will not occur, or that militancy will not spread. That may well be possible. Certainly,  when workers are in protest and resistance affords better opportunities for the  educational work of Marxists than in times of social ‘peace’. Taking comfort in prophecies of workers’ rebellion is a trap just as much as taking comfort in the evidence that capitalism is in its final crisis.  In both cases, capitalist solutions will prevail unless and until the working class is prepared to cope with the situation effectively. Before it can do so, the working class must understand its interest as a class and be class-conscious united. It is fundamental that we do everything possible to promote the growth of class consciousness, unity and a sense within the working class of its own power. No one  can offer a blue-print of the future but it should go without saying there must be discussion and exploration. The enemy is capitalism. To defeat capitalism we need all our resources, and the issue of the labour moment is how best to bring them together in unity for the common struggle.

 It is no easy task under the conditions of today to build a socialist movement without illusions, that is able to confront the gritty facts of social and political life without falling into despair and cynicism. Only a proof of  a practical viable alternative will convince large numbers of people of the possibilities of supplanting capitalism.  Socialists have always recognised their obligation to give support to strikes and other industrial  struggles. Such an obligation is of a two-fold character: to defend the immediate economic interests of  our class and to promote class and socialist consciousness. The second half of this proposition is something that a serious socialist is always careful that its efforts to aid a given strike do not in fact become an obstacle to it and  socialists proceed with good judgment and common sense. The workers show very good acumen in rejecting the many messiahs who come along with all the answers. They have assimilated the lesson that the trade unions is a valuable weapon in their fight against the employers, in that these organisations deliver some of the goods. This is why they are reluctant to abandon their organisations just because some group of individuals tells them to do so – no matter how learned these intellectuals might be.

No point in the Socialist philosophy arouses such controversy as that of the “class-struggle” and “class-consciousness.”

Marx said many years ago that strikes cannot be interpreted in terms of how little or how much is won economically, but that there is also a political character to them. They are resistances to life in this society. Some battles are won, some are lost, but all can be learned from. In a capitalist society, more are lost than are won. Occasionally, workers win great victories; more often, they suffer great defeats. Still more often, there are modest victories and modest defeats.

In German Ideology Marx wrote that a revolution is necessary, not only because bourgeois society cannot be over-thrown in any other way, but because without it, human beings cannot be transformed to create the kind of society that a future society can be. You do not create revolutionaries and then make a revolution. You make a revolution and that, in his phrase, gets rid of all the crap of centuries. And short of the revolution, you cannot get rid of that crap. If, in order for a revolution to take place, one first had to get rid of the racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry and division that are endemic in capitalist society, then the possibility of revolution does not exist.

Many understand working-class activity on the idea that consciousness leads to, or causes, action. It is just as valid to say that action leads to consciousness, But much more likely is that activity and consciousness interact in ways that are rarely predictable.

When workers in one department of a plant walk out to protest some grievance, their objectives are usually quite limited. But if that walkout triggers the shutdown of the entire plant, working people are then likely to raise their sights. They have learned, through their activity, that their grievance (and, presumably, other grievances) is shared by fellow workers throughout the plant. They have also learned that not only are their grievances shared but their power is also shared and is made more substantial by being shared. Suppose that a strike at one plant triggers strikes, either at other plants of the same corporation or at other workplaces in the same city. Suddenly, what began as a simple departmental walkout has become a general strike and has attained a whole new political dimension, requiring decisions by workers or strike committees on such questions as what production should be allowed and what should be stopped, how to ensure public order, how to deal with government attempts to break the strike, and so on. Under those circumstances it is only natural that workers, made more and more aware of their own power, also find that deeply held grievances and long hidden desires rise to the surface and become expressed in ways that would have been unthinkable before the actual struggle had begun.

The conclusion, of course, is that as long as the workplace is a place of continual struggle and conflict, then massive social explosions are always possible. Not inevitable, not limited to this or that country, but possible anywhere in the industrial world.

Tightening the purse strings

53 percent of Britons said they will have to curb their spending in 2014 in a struggle to pay rising household bills in the UK.

About 58 percent of those surveyed also expressed worries over the effect of higher bills on their finances.

59 percent said they would reduce the amount spent on food, 37 percent said they would reduce the amount spent on gas and electricity, and 66 percent the costs of socialisng with family and friends.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said the research shows that “The soaring cost of living will force millions of people to cut back on basic necessities,”

Monday, January 27, 2014

Superior Intelligence?

One of the crazy notions that is currently held  by defenders of capitalism is that the owning class are wealthy because of their superior intelligence. So how do they explain a hyper-wealthy billionaire venture capitalist who has  compared the treatment of super-rich Americans to the Holocaust? Thomas Perkins, who is thought to be worth around $8bn, made the startling comparison in a letter to The Wall Street Journal in which he wrote of 'parallels' between the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany and what he describes as the "progressive war on the American one per cent". 'The letter, which was published by the WSJ earlier this week, begins: "Writing from the epicentre of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its "one per cent," namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one per cent, namely the "rich."' (Independent, 26 January) "Superior intelligence"? More like total dumb ass!

Too Poor? Well Die Then

Bayer's CEO has caused a furore in the press by an undiplomatic remark. 'The CEO of pharmaceutical giant Bayer has sparked fury after announcing one of the firm's drugs was for 'western patients who can afford it'. Marijn Dekkers made the inflammatory comments after the Indian company Natco Pharma Ltd. were granted a government licence to produce a copy of Bayer's cancer drug Nexavar which they will sell for 97 per cent less than the original product.' (Daily Mail, 24 January) What should be really "sparking a fury" is not Mr Dekkers comment but the whole system that allows a company to withhold treatment of life saving treatment because the patient is too poor to afford it.  RD

Revolutionary Socialism

 It doesn’t matter how a dictionary defines the actual word when the word “revolution” is used people tend to think of violence and bloodshed. Without explaining ourselves and our case we risk being seriously misunderstood. Socialists should be clear by what is meant by the expression “revolutionary socialism.” Socialists use the term “revolutionary.” to distinguish themselves from “gradualists” and “reformers”. We mean by “revolutionary socialism” the capture of the political power by the working class as opposed to the capitalist class. This is the essence of revolutionary socialism. So, then, by “revolutionary socialism” we do not mean an appeal to arms and insurrection.

The Revolution has a positive goal, that the workers take possession of all the tools of production. No serious-minded person would venture to predict exactly how the Revolution will come about. Revolution is not the act of a few persons; it does not take place according to a preconceived plan but is produced by uncontrollable circumstances which no individual can command. We should not, therefore, intend to draw up a blueprint for the future.

The capitalist class live in splendour by exploiting the working class through the daily robbery of the enormous wealth the workers produce. In contrast to this, exploitation, oppression, poverty and misery characterise the lives of the working class. The capitalist class is a small class composed of those who own and control the financial institutions and means of production – the land, raw materials, machines, mines, mills, factories and farms. The capitalists are as a class, a useless, dangerous, parasitic minority that can be dispensed with. The working class is made up of those who are deprived of the ownership of the means of production and therefore are forced to sell their labour power as a commodity to the capitalist class. It is this class which creates the wealth of society and from which the capitalists extract surplus value. The ranks of the working class also encompass the old and disabled workers and semi-permanently and permanently unemployed workers forced to live on wefare. The working class has the power in its hands to forge a new socialist society out of the ruins of the old capitalist one, and it alone is capable of running society in the interests of the great majority. Despite various theories of the working class “dying away,” being “bought off,” or losing its revolutionary potential, the working class is suffering more than ever before from capitalist exploitation and oppression and is growing in size world-wide. The international working class has “nothing to lose but its chains and a world to win.” Through its own emancipation, it will smash the chains of capitalism which bind the people of the whole world.

There is no point in talking about the misery of today’s society. Any person in full possession of their faculties will agree that our life is not a happy one. It is often said that the idea of socialism, a fine ideal , but is unfortunately unrealisable. When it is said that socialism, as an idea, is all very nice but is unachievable, no more is being said than what the theologians and philosophers, priests and statesmen have always said about change and progress. Why do you believe this? Because you cannot envisage anything other than brutality and ignorance, wickedness and foolishness in the world. Look around you. Modern industry has filled the whole world with its riches and yet it has created an unbridgeable gulf between the wealthy and the poor, between capitalists and workers.

We often hear the objection that work is so repulsive and harmful to health that nobody would undertake it unless he or she was forced to do so by necessity. This remark which is thought to be the greatest objection to socialism is rather the most conclusive argument in its favour. In a society for which the common welfare will be worth more than all the treasure of the world, in a society which will spare no cost to ensure that work is carried out in such a way that people can do it without harming their lives, in a society which will prefer not to have work done which is not justified from the overall human point of view, in such a society, such inhuman work as exists in our society based on robbery with murder, slavery, unreason and injustice will no longer exist. The more you find in our society such work which man only carries out through necessity, which in other words only a slave does, the more you ought to consider socialism, without which this work will neither be changed nor abolished, to be the indispensable condition for freedom, justice and humanity.

Why is the oppressed worker, the starving millions, promised a paradise in the future? Day by day workers are betrayed by politicians who try to mend matters by asserting that if they were not in power the workers would have been still worse off. This theory of the “lesser of two evils” is an important trump in the hands of the reformists. They make out that they are saving the  working class and the whole of humanity from unheard of calamities, but what they actually attempt to do is to save capitalism. The working class to a certain extent is now beginning to lose confidence in the miracle-working effects of the government. It is the task of the Socialist Party to facilitate, to hasten the process of the liberation from the reformist illusions, to win the rest of our fellow workers to the side of the class struggle.

Religious Intolerance

A severely mentally ill British pensioner sentenced to death in Pakistan after being found guilty of breaching the country’s blasphemy laws is being denied independent legal advice to help him appeal against the threat of execution.  The retired grocery shop owner was found guilty by a judge after state-appointed counsel failed to raise vital expert medical evidence proving he was unfit to stand trial for allegedly claiming to be the Prophet Mohammed in a series of unsent letters which were handed in to police by a man with whom he was embroiled in a property dispute. He had travelled to his birth country when he was released from hospital after being sectioned in Edinburgh. Among his grandiose symptoms, which included claiming to be a holy man, were delusions that he was being bugged by the British, Pakistan and United States secret services.

Lawyers representing Muhammad Asghar, 69, from Edinburgh, were told they could not see him in prison this weekend in defiance of his constitutional rights despite having pre-arranged a visit through the jail authorities. Lawyers urgently need to get Mr Asghar to sign a secondary power of attorney allowing them to lodge an appeal by Thursday. Even if the papers are filed in time he still faces up to a five year wait until the case is reconsidered by the appeal court in Rawalpindi. The appeal itself could take at least a further year.

Mr Asghar lived in Scotland for 40 years and ran a grocery shop in Leith. He was a well-known member of Edinburgh’s Muslim community and worshiped at the Shah Jalal Mosque and Islamic Centre in the city. It is believed he has two daughters still living in Scotland whilst his wife is said to be unwell and living in Rawalpindi. Mr Asghar, who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia by a leading consultant in Scotland and is believed to be suicidal as well as at risk of revenge attacks by religious extremists, has seven days to lodge an appeal against his sentence which has prompted international outrage from human rights organisations. As well as being partly paralysed down one side of his body following a stroke he also demonstrates little awareness that he is mentally ill.

Despite a 2008 moratorium on the death penalty in Pakistan there is growing international unease over the country’s sacred religious laws.

Dr Usama Hasan, senior researcher in Islamic Studies for the Quilliam Foundation said the restrictions were a legacy of British rule although they were tightened under General Zia’s military regime in the 1980s.
“This case shows once again why the blasphemy laws should be reformed. The irony is that they date back to the British times when they were meant to keep the peace between different faith communities and prevent communal violence,” he said. “It has become a different issue now and the blasphemy laws are supported by religious conservatives and the Taliban and their supporters because they want a harsh and narrow interpretation of sharia law,” he added.

Experts say it is impossible to defend someone accused of breaching the religious laws without being accused of blasphemy. It is claimed up to five judges presided over Mr Asghar’s trial before the sentence was handed down behind closed doors. Dr Hasan said pressure could be brought to bear on the case. “Most people know that someone who is mentally ill is not responsible for their actions. If the case was properly championed there would be a lot of support and sympathy.”

Polluted Scotland

Friends of the Earth Scotland has published league tables which they claimed identify Scotland's most polluted streets.

Hope Street in central Glasgow is named as the area with the most serious nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution problem in the country. High levels of NO2 are linked to asthma and other respiratory problems.

Market Street in Aberdeen is claimed to be the worst in Scotland for particulate matter pollution (PM10). Health experts say long-term exposure to air pollution caused by particulates is linked to a higher risk of heart attack.

Dr Richard Dixon, director of FOE Scotland, said the research showed that air pollution was also a threat to health in smaller towns and villages. "We have air pollution problems in all of our big urban areas. Action is long overdue. We still haven't met health protection targets which we were supposed to meet in 2005 and 2010. But there are some surprising places in the results as well. For example, we're missing health targets in Crieff, in Perth, and even in small villages in some parts of West Lothian and North Lanarkshire. It's taken us a decade to talk about it, but do very little, and we need to see much more action if we're going to solve the problem and give ourselves the clean air we deserve."

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Football and Finance

Sport according to the dictionary should be "a pleasant pastime, amusement, diversion" - but this is capitalism wherein everything is distorted by profit. The extent of the risks faced by migrant construction workers building the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been laid bare by official documents revealing that 185 Nepalese men died last year alone. 'According to the documents the total number of verified deaths among workers from Nepal just one of several countries that supply hundreds of thousands of migrant workers to the gas-rich state is now at least 382 in two years alone.' (Guardian, 24 January) In their desperate efforts to make the world cup a financial success the Qatar owning class care little about the health and safety of the working class. RD

Living On A Pittance

The basic state pension will rise by £2.97 a week this year to be worth £113.12 a week.  But despite a fall in inflation in December, prices are still rising more than   twice as fast as the rate of pay.  And although there was a slowdown in the increase of fruit and meat prices, hikes in gas and electricity bills as well as rising petrol prices mean householders will continue to feel the squeeze. There are more than five million UK households living in fuel poverty, with people spending more than ten per cent of their income on energy to keep   warm. 'Members of fuel poverty alliance Energy Bill Revolution have written to Prime Minister David Cameron demanding that party leaders act on the "national scandal".  Age UK said least three million older people were worried about staying warm  indoors this winter, with six million anxious about rising fuel bills.' (Daily Telegraph, 24 January) RD

Dare to Be Free

The Wall Street and City of London money-sharks are riding high these days. The masters of capital, drunk with power, threaten and terrorise the people of the world. Capitalist society is built upon our sweat and blood, our misery and want. All our victories on the economic field are turned against us, and our economic slavery is reinforced by an absolute political dictatorship of capitalism. Thus our economic struggle must of necessity become a political one. The chain holding us down in wage slavery is our submissiveness.

There is a war raging between  the capitalist class and the working class.The war between the capitalist class and the working class is due to the system of wage slavery. The capitalist class is easy to identify. They are the handful of billionaires who own or control the factories, mines, fields and the banks. They are the class that owns and sells the products that we make and often cannot even afford to buy. We sell our labour to this class for a wage, and sometimes even short of that!

The bosses appetite for profits is looked after by the government. The government is run by the capitalists for the purpose of maintaining the flow of profits. This is done in a lot of ways such as tax breaks and subsidies. A system of courts and police protect the property and the profits of the capitalists from the struggling working class. Injunctions against picket lines and strikes. They all  government protect the capitalist right to dictate the terms of employment to us. Shrinking wages and threats of unemployment are the terms of our employment.  We have to eat. To eat we have to work. To work we have to work for the capitalists. To work for the boss we have to accept his terms. We are slaves of the wage system.

The workers movement includes those of us who are trying organise the whole working class under the banner of “An Injury to One is an Injury to All.” The socialist movement  aim to challenge the system of wage slavery itself. There is only class struggle and the screws are turned on us year after year. We are all one, all workers of all lands . We know not colour, nor creed, nor sex in the labor movement.  What keeps our class on the march to the goal is the solidarity of labour which will vanquish wage-slavery and humanise our working lives.

 Some say “The task is too difficult, the system is too big. I care only about my own factory, my own community, my own family and home.” But it is only by understanding how capitalism runs against the interests of all working people, of how capitalism must be fought by all the working class  and when people are armed with an understanding of capitalism as the enemy then we can we can make the revolution. Our only choice is to fight harder. Only by completely getting rid of this system of wage slavery and its law of profits and the system in which the capitalists own and control everything, including us and our labor can we advance to socialism. It is only by getting rid of the whole source of these problems, the system of capitalism, that we can build a new society run by and for all. If we stick to our principles we will be able to make revolution and to go forward to revolution, and to socialism.

A political party today must stand for  the freedom of the working class, or it must stand for capital and exploitation. It cannot possibly stand for both any more than it could for both freedom and slavery. The Socialist Party should be known for what it actually is and actually stands for. We bear no false label, carry no false banner, nor seek support under any false pretense whatsoever. We stand avowedly for the worker,  for the people who produce, who render needed service, and who are useful and necessary to the world. We do not champion the idea of a smaller capitalism, and side with the “little interests” against “big interests,” for it would still stand for the capitalist system and the perpetuation of wage-slavery.  The Socialist Party must stand fearless and inflexible and uncompromising for the working class upon the basis of the class struggle and wage the war against capitalism for the liberation of labor from its age-old bondage. The workers must go into politics on their own account, independent of all capitalist politics. They must take power and reorganise the economy on a socialist basis, eliminating capitalist wars, profits and waste, to ensure a rich living for all and provide security and ample means for the aged and infirm.  Socialism will bring undreamed of abundance for all people everywhere. The working class can open up the way to this new world. They are the majority. They have the power. All that is necessary is for the working class to understand it and to use it. The Socialist Party does not advocate violence. It advocates the organization of the working class to use its power at the voting stations against the capitalists. We firmly believe they will do so.

Fact of the Day

One in three Scots has saved nothing at all in the last three months.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Cancerous System

Capitalism is a ruthless social system wherein profit is more important than human life. 'Older cancer patients are being "written off" because of their age, a leading charity has warned. Macmillan Cancer Support said some patients were being deemed as too old for treatment and were not assessed on their overall fitness.' (Guardian, 24 January) The figures showed more than 130,000 people in the UK have survived for at least 10 years after being diagnosed with cancer at the age of 65 or above, so why this lack of care? The answer is simple. Young workers produce the surplus value that the owning class depend on, so when they are productive they get health care but as they age they no longer produce wealth. Goodnight, granddad!

A Good Year for Some

Last year was another tough one for members of the working class. Welfare cuts, wage freezes and homes re-possessed was the order of the day. For members of the owning class though it wasn't all doom and gloom. Christie's, the world's largest auction house announced that it had made £4.54 billion from auctions and private deals around the world last year, up by 16 per cent on 2012. 'The auctioneer sold 58 works for more than £10 million each and more than 731 works for more than £1 million apiece last year. Chinese buyers fuelled the boom, spending nearly two thirds more on art than they did in 2012, as sales of Asian art rocketed by 44 per cent to £600 million.' (Times, 23 January) RD

Muster under our Banner

"A uneducated worker in revolt is infinitely wiser than the learned philosopher who tries to forge an apology for his chains."

Blessed will be the day that we do away with wage labour. Wage-slavery is the fact. They who buy and  sell on the labour market are alike in that they are brutalised by its inhuman traffic in  human beings. Without this commerce in human life the capitalists of all lands  would  perish from the Earth.

The union movement has proven itself to be a powerful instrument of a defensive character and as a force that poses the possibility of a fundamental transformation in socio-economic relations  from wage labour to a free association of labor and common ownership of its product socialism.  labor has won through battles on the picket lines and through the enforcement of the contractual But what benefit have been gained has often been lost, due, not only to the operation of the laws governing the capitalist system itself, inflation for instance, but to counter attacks by the employers as a class and those it controls in parliament. The employing class, through their agents in control of the entire state apparatus, have erected a whole network of laws and regulations designed to hamstring the labor movement. The result being a reduction in  union membership. Organised labor is not only weaker in relation to the growth of the work force but it is weaker from a strategic point of view. Trade unionism hasn’t yet really broken out of the basic industries or state sector into the service industries.  Large layers of these workers, poorly paid and helpless before the onslaughts of inflation, the dangers of sickness, all the insecurities that are products of capitalist society, have fallen prey to the capitalist- inspired propaganda that the union movement is a narrow, a sectional power bloc, insensitive to their needs and concerned only with its own welfare. Labour has suffered a series of setbacks.There is an element of truth in the claim that current unions have alienated the younger workers and failed the youth. The situation has led some to see the key problem as being largely organizational and to project structural changes as the solution. However, regardless of largeness or smallness or whether expressing an syndicalist, anti-political-orientation, has had little bearing on union success.

As Big Business attempts to narrow the area of collective bargaining, the trade unions must fight to widen it and to open up the entire process of capitalist production and distribution to their scrutiny. The workers have the right to know the secrets of a factory, of the corporation , of an entire industry, of the whole economy, built by their labour.

The working class and the employing have nothing in common. One class does all the work, produces all, suffers all the hardships necessary to accomplish the task. The other class owns, but does not know, nor cares to know, how to produce wealth, yet persists by rights that it labels “legal” and otherwise to live upon what it does not produce. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people, and the few who make up the employing class have all the good things of life. One class works long hours under conditions generally and necessarily established by and suitable to the masters of industry, receives low wages, so that there may be high dividends and profits for the masters. For it must be borne in mind longer hours mean greater wealth produced, low wages mean greater profits for the capitalists. Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production and abolish the wage system. As long as one class performs no function in production only as parasites and social sponges, is too lazy and impotent to work, but lives in plenty—and our class, the wealth producers—produce all, makes all, mines all the minerals; in a word, makes life worth while and brings into being by its labor and travail all that life necessitates, and yet lives in want, is paid wages which at best and highest only represents a part of the entire product; a struggle is inevitable.Those who are serious and who respect themselves and their education will not dispute that labor with its hands and brains produces all wealth. As stated labour produces all wealth. Capitalism is based on the robbery of the workers. Those who own industries but do not work in them, pay wages to the workers and keep profits to themselves. But both, profit and wages, are only the product of Labor. Wages are part of the total product paid to labor. Profit, generally the biggest part, capitalists appropriate to themselves and call it their “legal share.” Socialists know nothing of “legal share” nor of “reasonable profits,” as all wealth acquired through capitalism is robbery.

The employers well realize that once the workers begin to seriously organise as a class, with class hopes and ideals, and look out for themselves as a class, with interests distinct and opposed to all other classes, that once the spirit of solidarity takes firm hold in the hearts and minds of the workers, their (capitalists) occupation as parasites will be gone. The danger and fear of having to go to work to live is an ever recurring night-mare that occurs to them ever in their hours of great revelry and riot. They would if reduced to extremes, be willing to make any concession always with the feeling that they can successfully juggle matters so as to keep their privilege. Compromise and reform to maintain power has been the one great weapon of the capitalists. It is a weapon and a means whereby they seduce the rebellious spirit of the workers. A time serving policy. They have much to fear and dread from a workers movement that declares ‘No Quarter’. You,  members of the working class, have witnessed the blood of your fellow workers spilled , it seems,  to grease and spur the machines in the mills of our masters. Their lives sacrificed all because human beings are cheaper than the application of health and safety which cost money and would reduce profits. Human life destroyed.  It is now time lose our chains, to end our miseries, and to  gain the world for all the workers, a world fit for men and women to live their lives in freedom of love and leisure.

The Socialist Party bids all workers rally to its standard.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Profits Before the Planet

For years, European governments have tried to set the global standard for climate-change regulation, creating tough rules on emissions, mandating more use of renewable energy sources and arguably sacrificing some economic growth in the name of saving the planet. But now  European politicians seems to be hitting their environmentalist limits. 'High energy costs, declining industrial competitiveness and a recognition that the economy is unlikely to rebound strongly any time soon are leading policy makers to begin easing up in their drive for more aggressive climate regulation. On Wednesday, the European Union proposed an end to binding national targets for renewable energy production after 2020. Instead, it substituted an overall European goal that is likely to be much harder to enforce.' (New York Times, 22 January) After all the fine words and political posturing the representatives of the owning class are putting the profit motive as their priority and to hell with the environment. RD

Donations Gratefully Received

Great play is made by defenders of British capitalism about how democratic the system is even though we learn that members of a dining club with private access to David Cameron and other Cabinet ministers have given £43 million to the Conservatives in just two years. 'The details were revealed following criticism over Downing Street's refusal this week to say how many "secret" guests David Cameron has hosted at his grace-and-favour country home, Chequers. The Leaders Group is made up of donors who each give at least £50,000 to the Conservative party ever year and are rewarded with private dinners, lunches and drinks parties with the Prime Minister and other influential ministers.' (Daily Telegraph, 23 January) So the whole thing is quite democratic - if you are an unemployed worker all you need to do is fork out 50 grand and you can have a word in the ear of the policy makers. RD

The Socialist Object

There is a real question of confidence. The confidence of the organised labour movement and of the working class in socialism, producing for themselves and for the needs of the people. The only solution for the working class, the only way they can attain all their political and economic objectives is by the overthrow of the rule class and not by palliatives. Our aim is to rally workers who aspire to socialism. The day for social reform has passed, if it ever actually arrived. The capitalist class are far more thoroughly organised and far too powerfully entrenched not to be able to yield the few concessions demanded of them. The language of the Socialist Party dwells expressly and uncompromisingly, on revolution. Socialism is not a reform, it is a revolution. Therein is the difference between the Socialist Party and all others. Or principles declare our object to be the formation of a working class party; the abolition of wage slavery; severance with all capitalist and reform parties; abolition of class rule; the establishment of the brotherhood of man.

What is the meaning of capitalism? It is an economic term applied by economists and sociologists to the system of our civilisation, by means of which men achieve economic independence and have the privilege of living idly upon the labour of others, who produce a surplus value above that which they receive for their own sustenance. A capitalist is one who profits by this system. If he works himself, it does not alter the fact that he has an income apart from his labour sufficient to sustain him for life without working for a living, and therefore his is economically independent. The working class under capitalism live in hope of creating an income and of increasing it through the appropriation of the surplus products of others who labor. They would like to achieve economic independence in the same manner as the capitalist class. Capitalism divides society into two antagonistic forces, because it is based upon two sets of conflicting economic interests. They each desire economic independence. One of these forces believes that it is justly entitled to the economic independence which it has, but which it manifestly did not create; the other force believes that it is being unjustly deprived of that which it creates and which it never possesses. Private ownership of the means of production and distribution is the seed of capitalism, of which wage slavery is the most degrading feature. This seed brought forth a bitter fruit in the class struggle, but the Socialist Party declares its intention to be the abolition of wage slavery by the establishment of a system of cooperative industry, based upon the social or common ownership of the means of production and distribution, to be administered by society in the common interest of all its members and the complete emancipation of the socially useful classes from the domination of capitalism. In socialism, private ownership and exchange being at an end, money would lose the functions which it possessed under capitalism and would be redundant.

The most widespread image of a so-called ‘socialist’ regime is one of state ownership and planned economy, directed by the ‘revolutionary’ party. This meant the virtual fusion of State and party, with the trade unions reduced to the role of a transmission belt for the State's requirements and  subordinated to purely a nominal role. Since the State was to be defined as ‘socialist’ and the party designated as ‘revolutionary’ the conclusion was that this was the same thing as power to the people. Of course, this was never the conception of Marx.

Reformist  generally accepted, without discussion, that the State represented Society as a whole; that its parliamentary institutions provided the means for popular opinion to express itself; and when that opinion became Socialist, or at least the majority of it, the State would become Socialist automatically. The State is not an autonomous, self-determined structure above the social and property relations of a particular regime. It is the fully conscious expression of the collective interests of the dominant class in a particular society, and takes the form of an articulated series of institutions.Therefore, to bring something under state ownership does not mean to ‘socialise’ it,  in the sense ,where ownership is transferred to the the whole society. To bring something under state ownership, simply by having the workers get their wages from the state rather than from private bosses, is not to transform social relations in a socialist sense. And genuine socialist planning  is to satisfy the real social needs of the working people and citizens, with decisions made democratically from the bottom up and vice-versa, in a process of interaction which is constantly readjusting. The path to Socialism is not through public ownership but through a fundamental change in class relations.

What socialism proposes is wealth for all and plenty of the good things of life for  everybody. A fine house to live in, nice furniture in it, and a lovely garden about it. A table spread with good things to eat. Abundance of clothes, comfortable to wear. Opportunity and means to travel all over the world. Leisure to rest, work and play . No poverty anymore with its filth and disease and crime.  With all these things, socialism assures a natural human development,  healthy men and women, a happy, energetic, progressive people.

You say all this is a dream? No, not dream at all, but an immediate possibility. By means of the vast new technology of this modern world, we can produce wealth enough for all without any trouble whatever. By means of  new machines  mankind can produce a hundred or a thousand times as much wealth as in the times of our fore-fathers. There is no doubt at all about this. Modern inventions have so increased the productive capacity of civilisation that there could be an  abundance of wealth by working only 3 or 4 hours a day. Socialism proposes to get this abundance for all.

In order to get this abundance for all we must take control of this vast new technologyand use them for producing new wealth for all instead of producing it for a few. The only reason we are not all well off now is that a few people own these great modern tools and refuse to let us work at them except when they can make a profit for themselves. If we collectively  owned these factories and mines and mills ourselves and all of us worked at them to produce wealth for our own use and happiness, all the troubles  of poverty would disappear at once. The only thing that lies between us and a world of abundance is this private ownership of the means of producing wealth. Therefore, what socialists intend is to take possession of the means of production and run them for the use of all. The Socialist Party seeks the abolition of wage slavery and establishment of the cooperative commonwealth. In every country, capitalism makes life harder for the workers to endure. Therefore, it generates the workers’ resistance. The world should be thought of as a combination of communes and regions that will  be self-administered  by its peoples. Upon socialism, depends the happy future of humanity and of civilization. The working class is called upon to save society from barbarism, the only alternative to socialism.

It is of no use to talk about what we propose to get nor even what we propose to do to get it, unless we know just how to do it. We say that people should come together in a political party and vote the capitalists out of power. It is easy as that. The Socialist Party appeals to our fellow workers on the ground of their self-interests, the ground on which all practical persons base their appeals to others. Being a very practical lot, we  indulge in no dreams or false hopes. We say to the worker - Come join our party, vote yourselves into power, use that political power to take back that which the capitalists have stolen from you, and then you will get all that abundance which modern inventions entitle you to. This is the object the Socialist Party,a  political party of the class conscious working class,  to gather together all those workers whose real interests lie in abolishing the private ownership of the means of production.

Making profits and leaving folk cold

Energy giant and Perth-based SSE, has revealed it expects profits to soar to £1.5 billion this year and that it will increase payouts to shareholders.

Just two months after a major price rise came into effect for its nine million customers, the Perth-based firm said it was on course to deliver a pre-tax profit increase of 8.8 per cent for the year to the end of March and would be likely to increase dividends handed out to its shareholders by 3 per cent. A price increase of £104.48 for SSE’s dual-fuel customers came into effect in November. The typical annual bill for SSE customers will be £1,304 by March, £13 higher than the UK average, according to comparison website Across the board, industry experts have calculated that the typical household utility bill has gone up by 168 per cent in the past decade.

MP John Robertson, who sits on Westminster’s energy select committee, said: “This is a disgrace. How can SSE possibly have another boost to their profits after losing so many customers? These energy barons are ripping off their customers and lining their pockets with the hard-earned cash of people struggling to pay their bills.”

Claire Osborne, an energy expert at, said SSE’s announcement was “like waving a red rag at a bull”. She said: “This will come as a shock to customers who have been told they must wait until the end of March for their prices to be cut in line with the government’s levy reductions.”

Citizens Advice Scotland spokeswoman Sarah Beattie-Smith said: “At a time when so many households are still struggling with high bills and public confidence in the energy companies is so low, it’s very disappointing that SSE have chosen to put their shareholders ahead of hard-pressed consumers.”

Socialist Courier wishes to inform Ms Beattie-Smith but making profits is what capitalism is all about.

SSE chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies said It is encouraging that SSE is on course to deliver real growth in the dividend and increases in adjusted earnings per share and adjusted profit before tax.”

 Npower chief executive Paul Massara claimed prices were high because the country’s “old and draughty houses” waste so much gas and electricity. His house won’t be, we wager!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Fantastic? For Some Maybe

Many members of the capitalist class weep salt tears about the plight of the working class but here is one who more accurately reveals their real view about the gap between rich and poor in capitalism. Kevin O'Leary, an investor on the US version of Dragons' Den, Shark Tank, was shockingly upbeat about the world's poor during a TV interview this week.'Acceptable responses to an Oxfam report stating that the world's 85 richest people hold the same amount of wealth as it's 3.5 billion poorest include 'shocking', 'despicable' and 'probably ought to do something about that'.But not for businessman O'Leary, who responded during US show The Lang and O'Leary Exchange: "It's fantastic, and this is a great thing because it inspires everybody, gets them motivation to look up to the one per cent and say, 'I want to become one of those people, I'm going to fight hard to get up to the top.' (Independent, 22 January) No tears from Mr O'Leary then!

Everything is possible

We live in a world controlled by a system which allows a small minority to oppress the great majority. This is capitalism which brings about great inequalities in living standards with more poor people now in the world than ever before, starts murderous wars and steals the resources of less developed countries while all the time causing perhaps the irreversible devastation of our natural environment. Either we get rid of this outmoded and decrepit system or it will destroy humanity. People know that capitalism is now useless  but few can see a way forward to a better type of society. The only viable solution is to achieve socialism, a classless and stateless society on a world scale where people do not exploit each other and where we live in harmony with our  environment. To create a socialist world it is necessary to overthrow the rule of capitalism and this can be done only through revolution.

All the capitalist parties, even those who call themselves socialist or workers’ or left-wing parties are dedicated to the continuation of the capitalist system of wage slavery and  are against the interests of the working class. The struggle cannot be one simply to remove one government and replace it by another government. The working class must  struggle for putting an end to the capitalist system. It is the capitalist system of exploitation and oppression, the system of wage slavery, that is the source of all the problems facing the working class. Revolution is not only a possibility, it is a necessity in order to prevent the continued destitution of the people.

The present economic crisis has shown that workers can take taking increasingly militant and powerful actions against the attack on their most basic rights and in defence of their conditions, wages and livelihood. This struggle must be deepened strengthened and escalated with workers workers taking the initiative in their own hands and relying on their own strength, unity and organisation. What millions and millions of men and women are calling for from the depths of their collective consciousness is an immediate radical change in the political and economic situation. They don’t worry over complicated doctrinal considerations, but with a sure instinct they call for the most substantive solutions: they expect much. They won’t be satisfied with a modest  concessions.

We proceed from an understanding that history is going somewhere. This separates us from most people who seem to think that history is going where the strongest social or political force is taking it. Where history is going depends on what is possible. What is possible, in the final analysis, depends upon the tools with which people create their means of life. This is historical materialism. The point is that although decent people may long for a better life and strive for a better life, they cannot get it until the material conditions, especially the tools, change and thus allow for it. The capacity to produce abundance for all is here, it is now. The struggle of the new world has broken out.

We should be filled with gloom and doom in the midst of the economic recession where the eventual ‘recovery’ will be for the bosses only but nevertheless there should be optimism and enthusiasm for the future.  The current economic crisis is incapable of showing any kind of real “recovery,” “boom” or even a distant light at the end of its tunnel for most people. For the working class hardships and suffering are only one side of the picture. The more important side is the growing resistance and struggle  for liberation, freedom and socialism that is promising a better day ahead. The past years certainly demonstrated this fact. For every act of repression and oppression by the capitalists there were dozens of examples of rebellion, resistance and revolution on the part of the people. For every effort to divide our struggle, there were new steps taken toward unity. The ruling class has been shaken by a new awakening on the part of workers. The realisation that the crisis is real and is here to stay for a long time was burned into the minds of many. The bosses’ attempt to make the workers pay for the crisis was increasingly met with strikes and other forms of rebellion  which often reflected the rank-and-file distrust with both the union leadership as well as the bosses.

The whole of society is being affected culturally, politically as well as economically. These are the things that are shaping the consciousness of millions.  we are not blindly optimistic. We can see that all is not rosy and that the road ahead is a tortuous one. Every class battle gives new hope  that the labour movement itself will change. From essentially a trade union struggle, it will change into a politically conscious movement against the capitalists and into a revolutionary socialist movement. The dawn of socialism, created by the workers and for the workers, is rising on the horizon. Turn toward it and let the socialist dawn inspire the final struggles ending forever all misery, dictatorship and war.