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Showing posts from May, 2014

The Patriotic Illusion

Deluded workers in the USA might puff out their chests and with patriotic fervour sing "Home of the brave and land of the free", but this is complete nonsense. 'Americans are born free but everywhere they are in chains. More than two million are locked up - making America easily the world' biggest jailer, with a quarter of all incarcerated human beings on earth.' (Times, 30 May) That is the fate for many of those patriotic Americans - exploitation and incarceration. RD

Hookers And Pushers

Usually governments are eager to point to any economic growth in any industry and make claims that their wise governance has led to this growth, but the present government has remained strangely quiet about two recently booming industries. 'Drugs and prostitutes to boost economy by £10bn. ..... After an overhaul of the national accounts to meet a diktat from Brussels, the Office for National Statistics will for the first time this year include drugs and prostitution in its estimate of the size of the economy.' (Times, 30 May) The increased productivity of illegal drug pushers and hookers is one area that the government  makes no claims about. RD

Understanding Capitalism

We cannot understand the world and our part in it with the education we receive. Our ideas have to correspond to reality if we are to organise to fight against this brutal capitalist system. We have beliefs based on our understanding and analysis of the world situation and we put those ideas forward for debate.

Capitalism is built on deliberate misinformation and strange fantasies. Capitalist apologists deny inconvenient facts to justify their beliefs, and outright lie, if it suits their agenda. A private property world can never be a free world. A society based upon warring classes is a world of strife and hate. To set the working class thinking for themselves, and to hold before them the ideal of mutual aid  based upon mutual interests, is to render real service to the cause of humanity. Our political platform demands from society the satisfaction of all reasonable human needs. Our opponents want us to elaborate clearly the practicalities of that idea. They don’t like our critical …

The Socialist Alternative

Amongst  the million words that have been spewed over the airwaves during the recent elections it is good to report at least one sensible message amongst the usual reformist nonsense. 'The leaderless Socialist Party of Great Britain wants "real socialism" and claims mainstream  parties break promises and accept an unfair society. Candidate Brian Johnson said: "What the Socialist Party stands for is a stateless, classless, leaderless world, a world without money, free access to the means of living and production for use on a global scale. "Such a system is not going to operate just purely at a national or European scale. We're looking far beyond Europe, we're looking at the globe in its fullest perspective."' (BBC News Wales, 5 May) RD

A First Class Flight

Next time you and your family cram yourself on to a cut-rate cheap flight to Spain for your family holiday remind yourself that it doesn't have to be such a grim experience. There are better ways to travel. 'Etihad Airways has unveiled an ultra-elite new class of service that includes The Residence - a lavish seven-star cabin on the A380 - scheduled to launch in December in addition to First Apartments (which are exactly what they sound like). The Residence contains three rooms (living room, bedroom, and bathroom), a butler trained by the Savoy in London, and a dedicated VIP concierge team.' (Yahoo Travel, 5 May) There is one small drawback we should mention. The above flight from  Abu Dhabi to London start at $20,000 one way. RD

Same old story from 1925

Confusion in Scotland
From the October 1925 issue of the Socialist Standard
A correspondent sends us the Manifesto of the Scottish Workers' Republican Party, and asks for our opinion of it.
The object of the Party, founded by the late John Maclean is a Workers' Republic for Scotland.
The Manifesto sets out the slave position of the working class, and urges that the workers must carry through the Social Revolution.
The chief fallacy of their position is their insistence upon a Scottish Workers' Republic. This demand is both reactionary and Utopian. The struggle of the workers of the United Kingdom must be a united one. The workers are under the domination of a class who rule by the use of a political machine, which is the chief governing instrument for England, Scotland, Wales, etc. To appeal to the workers of Scotland for a Scottish Workers' Republic is to arouse and foster the narrow spirit of Nationalism, so well used by our masters. Economically the demand is Utopian…

For Working Class Independence

We accept neither the Union Jack nor the Saltire,
For the workers unity grow stronger everyday.
One weapon that we need is the peoples’ unity,
And we’ll build socialism from sea to sea.

 Nationalism is indeed reactionary because it serves the preservation of existing power relations once they have been successfully implemented. The rise of nationalism was the capitalist class way of routing feudalism during the rise of capitalism. Capitalism was the great integrating force that broke down the barriers of feudalism. From the very beginning, therefore, the nation was a particular development of class struggle. In its origin, the fight for the nation was fundamentally a question of whether political power would rest in the hands of the new class of merchants in the sea-ports or remain with the aristocratic land-owners – could the rising capitalist class overthrow the feudal state, replacing it with their own particular state form, ruling over a creation that was essentially their own: the c…

Food For Thought

On Monday, March 24, an Egyptian court sentenced 529 people to death because of an attack on a police station that left one policeman dead. The court held two sessions. In the first, the judge shouted down requests for defence lawyers to review the prosecution's case. In the second, security guards barred lawyers from the court on the orders of the judge. About 150 people were tried in absentia. The accused were said to be supporters of ousted president, Mohammed Morsi. Meanwhile, the Egyptian foreign ministry said, " The country's judiciary is entirely independent as it is not influenced in any way by the executive branch of the government. This shows that a change of government has changed nothing and human rights are still being trampled on. A fundamental change from the capitalist relations is the only change that is needed, not more of the same, John Ayers.

Bloated Prisons

"Among the casualties of a failed war on drugs that has spanned more than three decades are bloated prisons that cost the nation nearly $90 billion a year. With only five per cent of the world's population, the United States holds twenty-five per cent of its prisoners; more than two million people are locked up in this country" (Toronto Star, March 29). The proposed solution is to reduce sentences for non-violent crimes. The real answer, of course, is to take the money out of the equation and have a sensible policy for dealing with the drug problem – can't happen in this system. John Ayers.

Political Hypocrisy

Politicians love to portray themselves as great lovers of the family and never avoid the chance to be photographed by the press kissing babies, but behind this comforting image lurks a grim reality. Five million children in Britain could be "sentenced to a lifetime of poverty" by 2020 because of welfare reforms, according to research from Save the Children. 'Cuts to benefits, the rising cost of living and years of flat wages have created a "triple whammy" for children, the charity said. It argues that children have borne the brunt of the recession in Britain, and now represent the "face of poverty" in the UK. Policies such as the "bedroom tax"combined with the slashing of tax credits and council tax relief mean "the social safety net no longer acts as a sufficient backstop for poor families", claims the Save the Children report.' (Independent, 28 May) RD

Against Nationalism

Socialists are internationalists. They understand that national oppression is just one particular aspect of the outrages of capitalism and that national oppression cannot be ended until the elimination of class exploitation. It is nationalism that can divide the workers so that the workers of one nationality are struggling against the workers of another nationality for a few illusory crumbs the rulers throw out exactly for that purpose. It is nationalism that can pit groups of workers against each other, while their mutual oppressors make off with both their purses for sun and fun. Nationalism means exclusiveness and implies that ones own people are better than all others. Nationalism is part of the capitalist ideology which developed with the emergence of nations and the rise and development of capitalism. The concept of nationalism is a historical category. It grew up in the epoch of the rise of capitalism and the overthrow of feudalism. The ascending capitalists were then the revo…

Recession What Recession?

A couple of recent news items illustrate the immense wealth of the world-wide owning class even in a period of so-called economic recession. 'The world's most expensive flat has reportedly been sold in London for £140m. According to Property Week, the penthouse in the One Hyde Park development was snapped up by an eastern European buyer.' (International Business Times, 2 May) 'A hedge fund manager has plunked down the most money ever paid in the U.S. for a residential property to land a massive seaside estate in the Hamptons. The East Hampton property was bought by Jana Partners hedge fund manager Barry Rosenstein for a staggering $147million smashed the previous record of $120million paid for a Greenwich, Connecticut home only two weeks ago.' (Daily Mail,3 May) No worries about a "bed room tax" here! RD

The triumph of socialism

The revolutionary hope of our class has once more found an awakening, with stirrings of renewed struggle. But an opportunity must be grasped or it will not be realised. People require revolution. But revolution needs organisation. Two paths are open to the workers. One is the path of class struggle; the other is the path of class collaboration. Common among people are a number of illusions preventing them from seeing the underlying cause of their problems and from looking toward a socialist solution. One of the most dangerous of these illusions concerns the idea of national interest, which in reality is the interest of the capitalists and their servants, not the people and  designed to protect the money and property of Big Business.  
People are coming to understand things, but their understanding proceeds slowly in the face of the almost total control of the press, radio, and television by the capitalist class. Socialists refute the lie that capitalism can provide individual freedom…

Thirteen Avoidable Deaths

At a recent meeting of a US government sub committee, General Motors CEO, Mary Barra, was asked why it took the company ten years to fix a defective ignition switch that caused thirteen deaths and would have cost 57c to fix. A small spring inside the switch failed to provide enough force causing engines to turn off when they went over a bump. Since February, General Motors has recalled 2.6 million cars over the faulty switch. Mrs Barra hesitated to give a definitive answer but the truth is obvious – as long as capitalists are selling products for profit, making money is more important than safety. We need a society that puts safety first. John Ayers

Human rights mean the right to be human

The Socialist Party strives for the triumph of the social revolution and argues that advances of human society in economy, science, technology and standards of civic life have already created the material conditions necessary to set up a free society without classes, exploitation and oppression, i.e. a world socialist community. It is useless attempting to confine socialism to its bare economic formula. People insist on knowing what its outlook is on the other aspects of human life.

 Apologists for capitalism claim that respect for individual and civil rights is a hallmark and a lynchpin of their system. The truth is that out of the  billions of people who live under the rule of capital today, only a fraction, and that only in a handful of countries, can be said to enjoy any sort of stipulated and fairly stable individual and civil rights. The lot of the overwhelming majority of people in the capitalist world is a more or less absolute lack of political rights, despotic regimes and o…

Socialism is the enemy of Nationalism

Socialism is the enemy of Nationalism
Book Review from the December 1980 issue of the SocialistStandard
Nation et lutte de classe by Otto Strasser and Anton Pannekoek (Union generale d'editions, Paris.)
Before the first world war, Austria was a multi-national empire in which the Emperor and his bureaucracy ruled not only over Germans and Hungarians but also over Czechs, Poles, Ukrainians, Croats, Slovenes and others. As a result theoretical discussion of "the national question" became a speciality of Austrian Social Democracy. The problem was particularly acute in Bohemia where Germans and Czechs lived side by side and where a language quarrel raged over schools, jobs in civil service, signs in railway stations, and so on. Even the Social Democratic Party was not immune, the Czech party splitting in 1905 into those who wanted a separate Czechoslovakia and those prepared to work with the German-speaking party within the Austrian Empire.
Orthodox Social Democracy found diffi…

Barbering Without A Licence!

The militarization of the police, border guards and other agencies in our society is highlighted in the figures published by the Toronto Star (March 29). In 1980, SWAT teams were deployed three thousand times in the US. Now the figure is 50,000. The Homeland Security disbursed $35 billion in 2002-2011 to police forces for heavy weaponry. And the result of all this force? In a Swat sweep in Florida, thirty-four people were arrested for 'barbering without a licence'. In Keene, New Hampshire, $286,000 was spent for an armoured personal carrier to patrol the Pumpkin Festival and other 'dangerous situations'. It would be hard to make this stuff up, but in capitalism, expect the unexpected, especially from the Great Pumpkin in the sky! John Ayers

A Dangerous Society

Capitalism is a dangerous society. If it doesn't kill you in one of its wars, starve you to death in a world hunger it can get rid of you just by breathing. 'Nearly half of all Americans live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution, according to an American Lung Association (ALA) report released Wednesday. Nearly 148 million people live in areas where smog and soot particles make it unhealthy to breathe the air, according to the ALA's annual study on US air quality.' (Guardian 30, April) In Britain the pollution levels cause the deaths of many thousands. 'Ambulance calls for people with breathing problems rose by 14 per cent in London, where pollution levels reached the maximum alert level.' (Times, 26 May) RD

Anti-capitalist to the core

Capitalism is a system based on production for profit, not for human need. This system is driven by the necessity to accumulate profit, which means that capitalists compete with one another, both nationally and internationally. The capitalist class is a ruling class whose ownership and control of the means of production is based on the exploitation of the working class. Thus, a small minority rules society. Competing capitalists produce war, poverty and crisis. The struggle between the classes will produce the overthrow of capitalist society. The working class has the capacity to end exploitation and oppression. Capitalism needs the working class; the working class does not need capitalism. The working class the predominant social class numerically and in terms of potential strength once it has achieved self-confidence and a militancy, plus political co-ordination. Independent working class action can create a society based on production for human need, democratically controlled by t…

More Religious Nonsense

Two completely unrelated events have recently occurred which a couple of religious leaders have construed as some sort of divine intervention. The Austrian singer Conchita Wurst , who is a drag artist, triumphed at this year's Eurovision with the song Rise Like a Phoenix; and over 50 people were killed by flooding in the Balkans. 'However, Patriarch Amfilohije of Montenegro said he believed the floods, which have forced almost 150,000 people from their homes, were divine punishment for her success. .......  Patriarch Irinej, the spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Serbs, also reportedly said that "God is thus washing Serbia of its sins". (Sunday Express, 25 May)) In a world torn by military conflict, poverty and hunger you would think the holy men's deity would be too busy to tune into TV's Eurovision, wouldn't you? RD

More Religious Hypocrisy

The Church of England has admitted it is struggling to sell its investment in Wonga because it could lose up to £9m in a disposal. The admission comes almost a year after the archbishop of Canterbury, pledged to sell the Church's indirect holding in the payday lender, which he said "destroyed" lives. 'The Church, which last summer promised to "compete Wonga out of existence" but was a day later revealed to be an investor, said on Friday that it may not be able to sell its stake for "some considerable time". (Guardian, 23 May) On a Sunday morning the archbishop will wax eloquent about "blessed are the poor" and the old story about a rich man having as much difficulty entering heaven as a camel getting through the eye of a needle, but he wont reveal that the Church Commissioners manage £6.1bn of church assets and they are concerned that an early disposal of Wonga got set them back £9m. RD

The Vatican Under Fire

The present Pope is trying his best to project a new caring image of the papacy to wipe out the previous bad publicity about financial and sexual deviance in the Vatican, but some of the stigma will just not go away. 'The Vatican on Friday faced criticism from a United Nations panel for the second time this year over failures to report priests accused of sexually abusing children to civil authorities or to ensure redress for victims. The panel, which is monitoring the Holy See's compliance with an international treaty prohibiting torture, called on the Vatican "to take effective measures" to monitor the behaviour of individuals under its control and prevent abuse.' (New York Times, 23 May) Maybe the Pope should play to his strengths - and call for a miracle! RD

Warning: Class Warfare Ahead

Humanity has reached a turning point in its history. The dreams of the past have become real possibilities  because the material conditions necessary for achieving them are here now. Socialist society is based on the free association of all individuals who work together to produce the goods necessary for their collective well-being, there will no longer be any no separation between private and common interest. exist. If socialists are to place a practical utopia at everyone's reach it means to create a mass movement, to give it the form of a real collective will of the spontaneous transformation of human relationships.

The economic struggle against the capitalist offensive inevitably raises the question of politics, because in every large-scale struggle the capitalist class mobilises all the forces of the capitalist state against the working class. They have placed on the statute book laws, which prevents the workers in one industry coming to the assistance, with industrial actio…

Who Owns Scotland

“Setting a target for completing the register of land ownership will bring closer the day when there is a definitive answer to the question: 'Who owns Scotland?' ” Dr Alison Elliot Land Reform Review Group
Registers of Scotland has been asked to finish the register in a decade.”

Does it really take 10 years to answer this question. Socialist Courier can quickly answer it right now.

Who owns Scotland? - Not you!

Food For Thought

The Russian daily newspaper, Izvestia, published a letter written by the late Mikhail Kalishnikov a few months before his death in which he pours out his anguish about his invention, the AK-47 rifle, " The pain in my soul is unbearable. I keep asking myself the same unsolvable question – if my assault rifle took people's lives, it means that I, Mikhail Kalishnikov, son of a farmer and Orthodox Christian, am responsible for people's deaths. The longer I live, the more often that question gets into my brain, the deeper I go in my thoughts and guess about why The Almighty allowed humans to have devilish desires of envy, greed, and aggression." Another example of someone who makes a fortune and isn't happy, but it is humans and the system they are forced to operate in that creates such a situation. A cooperative socialist world would have no need of rifles, envy, greed, or aggression. John Ayers

Doing Anything Will Take A Lot O Money

The UN International Panel on Climate Change has agreed to state in its upcoming report that global warming has inflicted irreversible damage to corral reefs and arctic sea ice and warning of serious climatic effects if we stand still and do nothing. Unfortunately, 'doing' anything will take lots of money that can only come from profits and thus practically nothing will be done until the effects of warming impinge on profits. By then, it may well be too late, not to mention the death and damage done in the meantime. John Ayers

Together Towards Socialism

The right of private property, the right of a few to own and control the means by which all must live, the right of the owners of the means of production to utilise it to exploit the rest of the community in the interest of their personal profit, the right to determine what shall be produced and how, regardless of the misery and wretchedness of those who produce it, the right to exploit, the right to rob, the right to cause crises, the right to compete and the right to cause wars. These so-called rights are the basic cause of capitalist ills.

And the answer? The abolition of the right of private property, and instead the common ownership of the means of production, so that all may enjoy the fruit of their labour, and consume it, thus eliminating economic crises and the crises of military wars. The Socialist Party want to see society changed. We want to see it transformed from a thing of wars and recessions, to a real brotherhood of man; but powerful, wealthy people don’t want it chan…

Nation Health Disservice

The inadequate NHS being badly funded and understaffed is typical of how the owning class treat the working class but even by their standards the following story is appalling. 'A dying man was left for nearly five hours in an ambulance in a hospital car park because NHS staff were too busy, an inquest heard yesterday. Michael Bowen, 58, died of a seizure two hours after being finally admitted into the hospital's strained accident and emergency department. An inquest heard how the Welsh NHS hospital would 'frequently' keep patients in ambulances in the car park because of a shortage of beds.' (Daily Mail, 23 May) Such treatment would of course be unthinkable for members of the owning class who enjoy the best of all possible medical treatment. RD

Smash Cash - Abolish Money!

The Socialist Party is against all forms of capitalism whether private, state or self-managed. In its place we want a classless, stateless and moneyless society based on solidarity, co-operation and the principle ‘from each according to ability, to each according to need’ - a truly libertarian  society. Socialism has got nothing to do with state control of the economy, nor for that matter with workers owning their own factories and exchanging products with other workers. Socialism is the abolition of all forms of the state, exchange (buying and selling) and property - including "collective property". In short it is a moneyless. classless, stateless world community.

In socialism the community is expected to distribute and allocate its social product – the members of the community are expected to produce for the common pool and to consume from the common pool, without exchanging their produce among themselves. There is no room for selling and buying or seller and buyer. The e…

The struggle is for a new society

A great number of workers remained indifferent to socialism and many are opposed to it. In regard to socialism and its aim many workers believe that it consists of nonsensical attempts toward the destruction of every thing that is good about civilisation. Reformist generally accept, without discussion, that the State represent society as a whole; that its parliamentary institutions provided the means for popular opinion to express itself.

However, the path to socialism is not through nationalisation by the State ownership or some government-controlled quango board, but through a fundamental change in class relations. Those who demand the nationalisation or municipalisation of certain services, do not trouble themselves at all about the lot of the workers engaged in them. The offices and workshops of the State and municipality are prisons quite as bad as private workshops, if not worse. State employees, like workers in private employment, strike and engage in a struggle with the explo…