Saturday, May 31, 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 attitude. We should  show how it could be done but of course, not in a serious, not in a palpable and practical way, but on paper, by means of harmless theories and ideal descriptions. Our constant propaganda, our clearing away of prejudices will effect much more than all speculation about the future state of society. Its general outline is already given by the present actual nature of things. The determination of its specific forms and details must be left to future times.

Capitalism is a system in which there are different classes—exploiters and exploited, rich and poor. The interests of these two classes are clearly opposed. The exploiters try to increase the exploitation of the workers as much as possible in order to increase their profits. The exploited try to limit this exploitation, and to get back as much of the wealth as possible of which they have been robbed. The ending of the exploitation, the cruelty and injustice caused by class society in its various forms, has long been the dream of men. It found expression in the, in the writings of men like John Ball, the Levellers and Gerald Winstanley, the co-operative movement and Robert Owen and the Chartists. But so long as modern, large-scale production did not exist, the  end of the exploitation of man by man could remain only a dream. It was capitalism, in the search for greater profits, which mastered natural forces expanded the production of goods on an enormous scale, united the scattered, individual production of men into highly developed, large-scale factory production, thus establishing the basis on which socialism can be built. The age-long dream of the thinkers and the fighters of the past can only be transformed into reality when the working class wages the struggle to take political and economic power from the capitalist class and sets about building a socialist society.

The means of production—the factories, mines, land, and transport are taken away from the  capitalists. They are transformed into social property. This means that they belong to and are worked by the whole of the people, that the fruits of production likewise become social property, used to advance the standard of life of the people. No longer can some men (the capitalists) by virtue of the fact that they own the means of production, live off (exploit) the labour of others (the working class). No longer are. the workers compelled to sell their labour power to the capitalists in order to live. The workers are no longer property-less proletarians. They now collectively own the means of production and work them in their own interests and in the interests of society. Socialism is organised on the basis of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”. This means the greatest advance in human history of all time.Socialism cannot be imposed on the people from above. It develops from below.

Common ownership ends exploitation of man by man because it is through private ownership of the factories, mills and mines, and land that the wealthy minority exploit the people. The solution is to end the private ownership of the means of production and replace it with social ownership and production planned to meet the people’s needs, that is, socialism.

The Earth, the Sun, the soil and seas, and the people are power enough to satisfy all reasonable needs of the masses. Socialism does not seek to establish eternal laws, permanent institutions or unchangeable forms; it seeks in general the salvation of mankind. The indispensable means toward attaining that object is mental enlightenment.

There can be no question that every socialist should defend every democratic right won in the course of the long years of struggle. There can be no question of every socialist to defend everything within the constitution of whatever country which will facilitate a peaceful revolution on the basis of popular consent to majority rule. But does this mean that the similarity of socialist and capitalist constitutions is such that there is no difference? That capitalist and socialist democracy are the same? The most basic proposition of socialists is that capitalism, even in its liberal democratic forms, remains a system of domination and exploitation. It is a system which involves a concentration of economic power, based on the private ownership. A fear exists amongst the moguls and magnates of capital that a democratic onslaught of the working class against their privileges and powers of exploitation may dispossess them.

Unable to break up organised labour by a frontal assault, Big Business is seeking to weaken and undermine the unions by legislative means. The main front of the war upon the labour movement is now concentrated on the political field where the capitalist rulers are strongest and workers are so pitifully weak. It is clear to every realistic observer of politics that the post-war era of reforms is dead and buried. The political agents of the employers are today driving in the opposite direction. Their programme, dictated by the needs of capitalism to master the world and to degrade the living standards of workers must become increasingly  dictatorial. Instead of conceding new concessions to the people, the capitalists have resolved to withdraw the old ones wherever they can. Added to this, the submissive attitude of some union leaders makes the capitalists more arrogant and contemptuous and all the more determined to crush the workers’ organisations. And it helps sow confusion and demoralisation in the ranks of the workers.

Friday, May 30, 2014

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

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, as the development of capitalism has made countries more and more dependent on each other, both through the specialisation of industry or agriculture, and also by the force controlled by the Great Powers to suppress or control the smaller nations.

The history of "independent" Hungary, Poland, and the Balkan States shows that the realisation of "political independence" by a country leaves the workers' conditions untouched and actually worsens them in many cases.

The appeal to the worker in this Manifesto to "rally to the cause of a Workers' Republic for Scotland" is made "so that we might win you away from the service of the imperialist gang who direct their activities from London." If the worker is to be won for Socialism, it is by getting him to understand the principles of Socialism, and not by appealing to him to concentrate on Scottish affairs. Socialism is international.

The uselessness of the Manifesto is shown by their anarchist attitude towards Parliament :-
"We claim that no useful working-class purpose can be served by sending men to Parliament."
They advance no arguments to support their claim. They offer no other method. They ignore the fact that the political machine is the instrument whereby capitalists wield power.

Their simple statement is that the workers can exercise "governmental power" because they are the only necessary class in society.

It is very simple. But what are the obstacles to this necessary class exercising the power of government?

The first obstacle is working-class ignorance, which is used to vote capitalists and their agents into political supremacy.

The second obstacle is the force which is used by the capitalists in control of Parliament to keep the workers in subjection.

The stupidity of preaching that because the workers are necessary to Scotland they can exercise governmental control is to invite the butchery of the workers.

Socialist education demands that besides advocating the establishment of Socialism, the obstacles that stand in its path must be pointed out, in order that the workers can march along the road to their supremacy. This Manifesto does not explain how the workers are kept in slavery, and it offers no road out of it. The meaning of the class struggle has yet to be learned by the Scottish Workers' Republican Party, The Manifesto closes with this gem: "Scotland for the Scottish Workers; the World for the World's Workers"!
A. Kohn 

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 capitalist nation.

Marx and Engels supported certain nationalist struggles on the basis that it would help further development of the capitalist mode of production and opposed others which would retard that development. However, capitalism has now spread to every corner of the globe and every country is ruled by the laws of capitalism whether they like it or not.

 Every country is a capitalist country in this day and age for the simple fact that to survive, they must play by the rules of the capitalist system. If a nation is no longer exploited, in order for the national bourgeoisie to continue existing, they must exploit other nations. The fact that an oppressed nation is no longer dominated by American capital (lets face it, in most cases anti-imperialism is actually often another name for anti-Americanism) doesn't make the socialist revolution closer by one single step. Organising around "the nation" instead of your class is inherently class collaborationist, and doesn't advance working class liberation a single step. Whether foreign or local, all employers have the same interests and their relationship towards the workers is no different. Foreign or local, it is the same struggle.

Nationalism is a crucial means of suppressing the animousity between workers and employers so that the working class would put aside its “sectional” class interests and instead identify with the business and the nation’s interests. The unity of the nation becomes the lofty goal to which all special group and class interests have to be subordinated. We are lectured that what is good for the economy is good for the worker.

Capitalism, due to its competitive nature, breeds the narrow and intolerant spirit of nationalism. This is caused by the fact that the capitalist class of the various nations, in seeking profits in foreign markets, have to depend upon their national States to back them up. Capitalism created the nation-state and the interdependence of world economy as one single unit  but in a contradictory fashion. On the one hand the capitalist nations are dependent on one another. But on the other hand they compete against one another. America doesn't invade and make war on countries or overthrow foreign leaders to replace them with leaders favourable to American capital because America is mean-spirited. It is because America is the home of the greatest concentration of capital, especially finance capital, and in order to survive the ruling class MUST do these things. China is the biggest threat to American imperialism today not because of its supposed Maoist socialist ideology but as a capitalist competitor in the control of cheap labour, raw materials and world finance.

It is the propaganda of the employers and their allies that promotes national chauvinism, the idea that people of one nation are superior to the people of other nations. This is the same national chauvinism that, along with male chauvinism, is used to promote divisions among workers in this country. It is national chauvinism, a false patriotism, that in effect advocates that workers from the various nations should compete with one another for the sake of profits ... profits that go to the very people who exploit all workers! We oppose those ideas that seek to divide the peoples of the nations! The worldwide struggle for socialism is also a worldwide struggle. The unity of all workers, across national boundaries, is truly celebrated with the Internationale not the Flower of Scotland.

Nations and the concept of nationhood are not eternal phenomena that have always existed. New ones have arisen, old ones have disappeared. National states did not exist before or under feudalism, for feudal conditions were not conducive to the development of large national communities. Oh, we know the instant response - What about William Wallace and Robert the Bruce in the Wars of Independence (wars are named by historians many years later to fit in with a desired image). The power in these times was the king and he demanded the fidelity of the nobility. The Scottish peasantry that made up the foot soldiers of any Scottish army fought not for the king, certainly not for his nation, but his clan chief. A look at Scottish civil wars will demonstrate that loyalty to ones clan came before obedience to the crown.

For left nationalists, though, independence and “socialism” go together and that this struggle must be waged simultaneously. But if they speak so often of independence it’s because, according to their logic, independence is essential to socialism and in fact, some rank it high above socialism. They put the question of socialism on ice. They shelve the question of socialism and replace it with immediate struggles and demands for reforms. Many of the Trotskyist groups, for example, have become Scottish separatists. The Trotskyists say they want to “radicalise” the movement for independence yet the SSP convenor sits alongside business leaders in the Yes campaign. One telling characteristic of Trotskyists is that, though they are forever dividing, they always end up uniting to divide the working class movement. They become in favour of Scottish independence because this point of view is currently quite popular among Scots but also because they believe that it is an easier way that they can enter through the back-door of various organisations, a favourite technique of taking control. As far as they are concerned the working class is too retarded to take up the socialist struggle. It needs a transitional programme of wishful promises. When they recommend national independence they merely pass a capitalist tool of exploitation from the hands of a foreign corporations to those of a Scottish boss.

The argument that the Scottish people will benefit more from independence is a fallacy. It is as if the folk in Edinburgh’s Niddrie or Pilton benefit by having the financial centre of Charlotte Square on their doorstep. It is the question of who owns and controls these resources which matters: otherwise the argument becomes one of whether we want our exploiters to have an English or Scottish accent, or a mid-Atlantic drawl. A Yes vote at the referendum is simply handing the keys of Scotland Inc. to its Edinburgh offices. We should not over-look the fact that the savagery of establishing capitalism in Scotland were perpetrated by Scot upon their fellow

 None of our natural resources will be put to a sensible or beneficial use until the working class itself has gained control of the use of these valuable and irreplaceable resources. No socialist would suggest that the idea of one world state/government would be desirable or practicable but a network of cooperating yet autonomous geographical local communes, districts and regions with bottom-up structures alongside federated industrial unions of workers’ councils is a feasible possibility beyond the concept of nations.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

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 revolutionary class, and bourgeois ideology, including nationalism, was progressive. This ideology played a progressive role essentially in the 16th, 17th and 18th century, i.e., in the classical period of bourgeois-democratic revolution of the pre-industrial era. It was a powerful ideological and political weapon against reactionary feudal forces, the native or foreign absolute monarchs and their retainers, who resisted their emergence.

Nationalism preaches to the people of a nation or national group that regardless of class they have more in common with one another than they do with the people of other nations Nationalism helps bind the working class to the employing class of its nation. Nationalism serves the capitalist in the sense that they are seeking a market for their goods, and their national market is always primary. And nationalism serves to secure to the native business-man his domestic market. “National interest” is called upon to stifle class struggle. The universal idea of independent organisation of the working class, of the autonomous class goals followed by workers in the class struggle, of international class solidarity of the workers of all countries and all nationalities, is opposed to the idea of national solidarity. Nationalism is a thoroughly deceptive and mystifying ideology to prevent or retard independent class organisation and class struggle by the workers.

Ironically nationalism ultimately does not serve the real interests of the mass of that nationality or serve the nation. Experience has repeatedly shown that the national bourgeoisie will betray the people every time. This is true and has been proven correct over  and over again. Nationalism delivers the people into the hands of the exploiters of their own nationality.

The growth of Scottish nationalism has been born out of frustration. The programme of the SNP is blaming the problems of the Scottish people on "the English".  The fact that it has certain "radical" policies is neither here nor there. The idea that Scotland would be able to enjoy a genuine independence under conditions of international capitalism is false, so much so that the SNP have long talked of "Independence in Europe". All national states, no matter how big and powerful, are subordinate to the world market.

Since when is the working class worried by the trade problems of its own native employers? Since when do socialists counterpose solidarity with the business interests of their own employers to international solidarity of the workers of all competing capitalist countries, against all capitalist competitors?  Is the “independent” capital accumulation by Scottish employers a “lesser evil” as against English or European or American owners appropriation of workers surplus value?

The role of socialists is to defend and promote the interests of  the working class. The destruction of capitalism is the workers struggle and its victory is a new world not a new nation. While supporting the aspirations of people for greater control over their lives, the task of socialists is to combat the divisive nature of nationalism. Socialists must tell the workers the truth. And the truth is that nationalism (no matter how it is dressed up in "socialist" garb) represents no way forward for the working people. Our opposition to independence is based on a class opposition. An independent capitalist Scotland would not solve a single problem facing the working class. The problems of the Scottish workers flow not from being linked to England, as the nationalists argue, but because of the crises of capitalism which weighs just as heavily on the workers and their families across all borders. The exploitation of working people is a product of capitalist society and can only be removed by the socialist transformation of society. This, in turn, requires the unity of all workers, irrespective of nation, colour, creed, sex or language. It is essential to struggle against any attempt to divide the workers' movement along national, religious or sectarian lines. One cannot fight nationalism by pandering to nationalist and separatist prejudices. It is the task of socialists to sweep away the national barriers, not erect new ones.

We oppose all the agents of the ruling class and all the policies that are designed to help the ruling class. Left nationalists capitulate to nationalism and say “revolutionary parties” should represent only a section of the working class and be organised along national lines, and not united class lines. The Left nationalists deal with the question of Scottish nationalism exclusively from the point of view of political forces as they are – or more correctly: as they appear to be – to-day. But in the coming years, there will be many shifts and upheavals in Scotland’s and Britain’s political life, some of momentous character, as the class struggle sharpens and the crises of capitalism deepen. The main purposes of the Socialist Party’s education is to raise the level of class consciousness of the working class, not to fix the Party’s position by the present level of workers’ consciousness. Our Party case must reflect our socialist aspiration not the current backwardness of the working class.

In The Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels insisted that ‘the working men have no country’. They argued that the nation state was alien to the interests of the proletariat and that in order to advance their interests workers must ‘settle matters’ with the bourgeoisie of each state, that workers must challenge the power of their ‘own’ capitalist class directly.  This opened the possibility of internationalism – assertion of ‘the common interests of the whole proletariat, independently of all nationality’. Internationalism implied uncompromising opposition to the local state and its dealings with the rulers of other capitalisms – other members of the ‘band of warring brothers’ that constituted the bourgeoisie at a world level. It also implied practical activity by workers to organise in mutual solidarity across national borders and in solidarity with those subordinated by colonial powers. This was not a merely a matter of abstract identification with the oppressed. Marx maintained that workers must free themselves of patriotism and national superiority in their own interests, for without discarding these aspects of ruling class ideas they would never themselves be free. Marx and Engels maintained this approach throughout their political activities.  It was also the position taken by others who made a major contribution to Marxist theory such as Rosa Luxemburg.

Nationalism ties the working people to their own ruling class; world socialism unites the working people of the world against their rulers. Class unity must be established between the oppressed and exploited regardless of nationality and race. Marx said “labour in the white skin can not be free as long as labour in the black skin is branded.” And in referring to the need to overcome the hostile attitude of the English worker towards the Irish workers, Marx wrote: “He...turns himself into a tool of the aristocrats and capitalists against Ireland, thus strengthening their domination over himself.”

Socialists do not fan the flames of nationalism that further divisions between the working class. The Socialist Party promotes working class internationalism to unite the workers of the world.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

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. What is called bourgeois democracy is the only exploitative system in which the political power (to form political parties, right to vote, to stand for election) are not the monopoly of the ruling class. Theoretically, the working class have the legal right to use their majority of ballots in any way they choose. Therefore, it is even more essential for the capitalist class than it was for the ancient slave-owners or medieval nobility to convince the masses of people that the state rules on behalf of all citizens. The more potential political power the oppressed possess, the more urgent it is for the ruling class to insure that that potential power is not transformed into actual power. In many countries this is assured chiefly by the myth that fundamental differences exist between and divide the two major parties. 

Many dismiss the revolutionary potential of the working class and advance false notions such as workers because they have secured a high level of wages and because real wages continue to rise steadily have acquiesced to a capitalist existence (which the recent recession and downturn in living standards has now disproved); that union leaders have been bought off and turned into  partners in plunder who head-off industrial struggles (again events around the world have exposed that this is an exaggeration); that automation, technological change is constantly reducing the work force and thereby destroying the working class as a vital revolutionary force (the impact is simply re-focusing the participants involved in struggles, presently fast-food and the low paid sectors); that poverty is not a real factor and, at best, afflicts only a small section of an underclass; that, in any case, impoverished people are too downtrodden and demoralised to play an important revolutionary role (and this too is shown to be mistaken as the so-called skilled  workers and “middle class” are hit by austerity cuts.) 

These ideas have led many radicals to believe that the working class is thoroughly corrupt, or completely dominated by the ruling class through the collaboration of the union bureaucrats. They have also led many to think that the workers are essentially stupid or dulled by society. The conclusion is that the struggle for social change must center on the “more enlightened sections” of the working class and on its “revolutionary" leaders, rather than the broad masses of working people. For sure, the media are busy spewing forth the line of the ruling class  to brain-wash the oppressed of the omnipotence, and invincibility of the oppressor. When members of the Left demand to be the vanguard leaders of the workers’ movement the status quo supporters, the professors and journalists, are only to happy to reinforce the misconceptions and undermine workers self confidence in their own capabilities and power. 

The capitalist class has done a magnificent job of obscuring the facts about poverty and about the actual conditions of the working class in general. It has fostered the illusion that there are only isolated pockets of poverty, and that poverty therefore is a personal failing. It has convinced a large section of workers to believe the tale that other workers, particularly in the state sector are for the most part, over-paid and privileged parasites because of powerful union protection. But slowly but surely these attitudes are changing. People are recognising aordinary average workers are suffering equally in this recession while the wealthy and powerful are benefiting. Unskilled and skilled are being replaced by new technology or finding their work out-sourced abroad. Millions are finding through short periods of unemployment that is growing longer in duration, and millions who once worked full time with company benefits are being told to work part-time with no sick or holiday pay that they have more in common than they previous held. They are discovering that the government, regardless of who is in office, is not a neutral arbitrator but the representative of the employers. The capitalist class, locked in a competition battle on a world scale with other employers, are forced more and more to refuse concessions to its workers. This creates the conditions for wider and wider sections of the working class to lose their illusions about the role of the State. The intensification of the class struggle leads to a greater politicalisation of the working class. Independent political movement on the part workers for freedom will lead to direct conflict with the ruling class. The working class is the only class that has the potential power for defeating capitalism. 

The Socialist Party will encourage every  tendency among the people to defend and resist employers. The Socialist Party will attempt to unify working people into a mighty avalanche that can unite with their fellow workers the world over to final victory over capitalism.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

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 organised state terrorism and violence.

But even in the industrialised countries of Western Europe and North America these rights are merely a fraction of rights and liberties that people demand and deserve today. Moreover, the economic subjugation of working people by capital and the direct relation that exists between civil rights, on the one hand, and property, on the other, make these rights devoid of any real or serious meaning. Besides, the experience of people in these countries during times of economic crisis clearly shows that the survival of even these nominal rights directly corresponds to the economic circumstances of the capitalist class, and that they readily come under attack whenever they have got in the way of profitability and accumulation of capital.

Genuine individual and civil liberties can only be realised in a society that is itself free. By eliminating class and economic subjugation, the social revolution will open the way for the most far-reaching freedoms and opportunities for the individual's self-expression in the various domains of life.

In this capitalist society religion will never die out. This is, above all, an age of fear, and fear and superstition are age-long twins. Only the social revolution will destroy religion by abolishing its effective causes. Today gods and capitalists stand together: Tomorrow, gods and capitalists will fall together.

Human equality is a central concept and a basic principle of the free socialist society that must be founded with the abolition of the class exploitative system of capitalism. Socialist equality is a concept much wider than mere equality before the law. Socialists equality is the real equality of all people in economic, social and political domains. Equality not only in political rights but also in the enjoyment of material resources and the products of humanity's collective effort; equality in social status and economic relations; equality not only before the law but in the relations of people with each other. Socialist equality, which is at the same time the necessary condition for the development of people's different abilities and talents and for society's material and intellectual vitality, can only be realised by ending the division of people into classes. Class society by definition cannot be an equal and free society.

As long as capital dominates human society, as long as people have to sell their labour power to the owners of means of production and work for capital in order to make a living, and as long as the system of wage-labour and the buying and selling of human labour power survives, no labour law, no matter how many clauses it contains in favour of workers, will truly free labour. They who buy and they who sell in the labour market are alike de-humanised by the traffic of human beings. The workers' true freedom is the abolition of the wages system and the creation of a society where all contribute, voluntarily and according to their abilities, to the production of necessities of life and the welfare of all, and share in the products of this collective effort according to their needs.

Socialism is the enemy of Nationalism

Book Review from the December 1980 issue of the Socialist Standard

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 difficulty in arguing against the Czech separatists since they were too nationalists, regarding the nation not only as a legitimate political form but even as the suitable framework for "socialism". However, within the Social Democratic movement, there were people who insisted on the world-wide nature of socialism and on the incompatibility between nationalism and socialism. They called themselves "intransigent internationalists". Among these were the authors of two pamphlets, first published in 1912, recently translated into French and published together as a single book: Otto Strasser, editor of a local German-language Social Democratic paper in Reichenberg (then in Austrian Bohemia, now in Czechoslovakia and called Liberec) and Anton Pannekoek, a native of the Netherlands then active in the Social Democratic Party in North Germany.

In his pamphlet L'Ouvrier et la nation (The Worker and the Nation), Strasser takes the various arguments of the nationalists as to why workers should regard themselves as part of a nation with a common interest (such as language, land of birth, national character) and demolishes them one by one. He also attacks those Social Democrats who argued that the best way to beat the nationalists was to meet them on their own ground by showing how the Social Democratic programme was in the "national interest". This (which was in practice the policy of the Social Democratic Party) was, said Strasser, self-defeating and should be opposed.

Pannekoek's pamphlet Lutte de Classe et Nation (Class Struggle and Nation) is more theoretical. He accepts the definition of nation given by Otto Bauer, the Austrian party's leading theoretician, viz. "a human grouping linked by a common destiny and a common character". He sees, however, nations as the product of the era of the rising bourgeoisie; at that time capitalists and workers did indeed have a "common destiny" against the forces of feudalism. But, with the development of capitalism, the class struggle more and more breaks out between capitalists and workers shattering their "common destiny".

For the workers the nation then comes to be replaced by the class as the "common destiny". Becoming class conscious, therefore, involves rejecting nationalism. He describes the "national conflict' in multi-national States such as Austria as merely an aspect of the competition between the capitalists within such states, with the different sections using language and nationalism to try to win mass support for their vested interests. He advocates that workers speaking the same language finding themselves divided between two different states (he gives as an example Ukrainian-speakers who were then to be found in both Austro-Hungary and Russia) should not form a single cross-frontier party, but should join the Social Democratic party of the state in which they happened to live, in order to help the struggle to win political power in that state.

Pannekoek emphasises the world, rather than inter-national, character of socialism:
The socialist mode of production does not develop opposing interests between nations as is the case with the capitalist mode of production. The economic unit is neither the State nor the nation, but the world. This mode of production is much more than a network of national production units linked with each other by an intelligent communications policy and by international conventions as described by Bauer on page 519. It is an organisation of world production as a unit and the common affair of the whole of humanity (Pannekoek's emphasis).
For him, "nations" will only survive in world socialism as groups speaking the same language and even then a single world language may evolve.

For all their criticism of the national policy of the Social Democratic parties, Strasser and Pannekoek were themselves Social Democrats and (at this time) shared many of their illusions, particularly that a socialist party should have a maximum (socialism) and a minimum (social and democratic reforms within capitalism) programme. This mistaken belief that socialists should try to combine the struggle for socialism with a struggle for reforms comes out occasionally in the text of both pamphlets. But this does not detract from the fact that both pamphlets put essentially the socialist case against nationalism.
Adam Buick

Monday, May 26, 2014

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 the majority, organising at the point of production and in the localities. This would not mean a State takeover of the means of production, but workers’ control of all aspects of society and at all levels, local, regional and world-scale. Such a society does not exist in any country today nor has done in the past.

A brief glance at the situation in our country – a situation comparable to that of a good many other countries – reveals without doubt that the employers are committed to increasing and intensifying the exploitation of their workforce. Economic conditions of recession mean unemployment, the lowering of living conditions and social miseries of all kinds. If we look at the activities of the State, we see an increase in the powers of repression: the police can do anything they want and what was formerly illegal has become legal in regards to the constant surveillance. As for  migrant workers, they are being treated like cattle, imported and exported according to the needs of capitalist production. It is just not a “just society” we live in.

 The capitalist to remain competitive requires to reduce the costs of production and to increase productivity, in other words, to produce as much merchandise with the least possible work and, more important, paying the lowest possible wages. Why does the bosses want to remain competitive? Simply because it wants to develop its markets, accumulate profits and invest them everywhere in the world. Remaining competitive is the desire of all the world’s capitalists. They all want to monopolise international markets as well as to open to investment other regions around the world. But rivalry has its limits. When facing competitive rivals, many capitalists nations generally find no better strategy than to trigger-off a war in order to eliminate  bothersome competitors and thereby expand their own international spheres of influence. Capitalism has only one function and that is to employ and exploit workers for profit.

How do we get out of this vicious circle of crises, wars and more crises and more war? The one and only way is the socialist revolution and it is part of the socialist’s responsibility to clearly indicate the road to revolution. Of course, capitalism produces unemployment. Of course, the only answer to unemployment is employment. Of course security and full employment are not possible under capitalism. Of course, the answer is destroy capitalism and build socialism. Of course, this is only possible with revolution. Nor should workers be diverted by such false slogans as ‘workers management’ meaning also control of unemployment by initiating redundancies if the market demands it. The fight for employment is the fight for dignity and will be learned in the lesson there is no end save the end of capitalism.

The Socialist Party’s aim is to assist in the organisation of the working class in the struggle for power and the transformation of the existing social order. All its activities, its methods and its organisational structure are subordinated to this purpose. The Socialist Party is a democratic political party open to all those who understand and accept its declaration of principles and object.  Our purpose is to rally workers who aspire to socialism not to take office. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

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 action of the workers of another industry engaged in a trade dispute, though no law has been passed to prevent the employers in one industry from helping the business owners in another industry during such a dispute.

The more the workers unite their forces and commence to struggle against the capitalist offensive, the more the struggle becomes a political struggle, not between the workers and any group of capitalists, but between the workers and the capitalist state representing the capitalist class as a whole. The solution to the basic problems of  people can only come as the result of a transformation of our society. That is, only socialism can provide the context to build a society free from exploitation, racism, oppression and war.  It is through the state apparatus that the  capitalists exercise their dictatorship. The rule of capital cannot be ended without the overthrow of this apparatus. The working,class is basically disunited. There are no united struggles of the entire working class, and the capitalists have been able to split the working class. As a result, struggles are being fought in isolation from the entire working class, but against the entire capitalist class. The unity of the entire working class is absolutely necessary and essential. It is the most urgent responsibility of the class conscious workers to take up the task of uniting the working class against the capitalist class and their system and to to organise the un-organised workers. Solidarity and unity are the very soul of the workers movement.

The capitalist system dominates our lives from birth to death. Its domination is based on the fact that the means of production – the mines, the buildings, the machines, and the vast majority of land – is the private property of the small but powerful capitalist class. Workers do not own the means of production. Therefore workers are forced to sell their labor-power to capitalists in order to survive. The capitalists do not pay us for the amount of work we do. They are only willing to pay us wages for part of the value we produce, only the wages which are absolutely necessary to maintain ourselves and our families. The rest of the value we produce, the surplus value, gets converted into their profits when they sell the products, the goods and services, we produce for them. This process is the exploitation of labour where a portion of our labour becomes their only source of profit!  Our daily experience in production is one of struggle, not peace! Furthermore, our understanding of capitalism shows that the interests of the propertied capitalist class are opposite those of the property-less working class. Greater profits and wealth for them means lower wages and deteriorating living conditions for working people.

Is this robbery? Yes, it is! What’s more, it is legalised theft! It is the law itself that upholds the rights of private property, especially their right to steal part of the value of our labour. It is the law itself which upholds the repressive authority of the bosses over us in our work. And it is the force of the police, the courts, the prisons, and the armed forces that are used against us when we resist. The entire government is a tool of the capitalist class.

The history of capitalism is the history of workers  resistance, at first individually and then collectively in unions. The wages and benefits we enjoy above subsistence are largely the result of militant struggle by the working class. The economic struggle has had to take on the government – police attacks, court injunctions, spies in the unions, government troops. Concessions have been wrenched from the capitalist class – the right to form unions, the right to strike, protective legislation against unfair dismissal or discrimination. But concessions are never permanent. We are seeing them being chipped away. We losing some of what our class has painfully won in the past. The current attacks on unions shows that the capitalist class knows what we know – that the strength of the working class lies in its organized will to fight. Confronting them are the mass organisations of the working class, the unions. But the unions are not united!

The history of capitalism is also a history of the workers’ struggles to abolish capitalism and build socialism. A truly socialist society is one in which  capitalism does not exist. It does not have two classes of people, a lower class composed of people who work for their living, and an upper class of people who live off the work of others, no person exploits another. In a socialism  the only people who live on the work of others, and who have the right to be dependent upon their fellows, are children, people who are too old and frail to support themselves and the sick and the disabled.

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! 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

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 changed, because they have a vested interest in it.

Karl Marx wrote that “philosophers have only interpreted the world differently, but the point is to change it.” The working class will change the capitalist world when they understand it. There can be no doubt about the paramount importance to the workers of political education. For the workers to be conscious of the present situation of their class, how it grew out of the past, and whither it tends in the future, that is what really matters. In this respect, there are some encouraging signs. We do not envisage that the struggle for socialism is a piecemeal process as advocated by the gradualist reformers. Our aim is the unity of the working class movement, and, its political unification into one party based on socialist principles. No small groups of conspirators could bring about the changes we believe are necessary; this will take the power of the great majority of the people organised and determined to make a change.

Capitalism produces its own grave-diggers, the masses of the wage workers and they reach a point where it is no longer possible to live, they see the limitations of the trade union struggle in the persistence of insecurity.  Socialism grows from the conditions of existence in capitalist countries. It grows from the injustices and suffering of masses of the people through poverty, war and repression of the right of the people to strive for a better way of life. It grows because of the contradictions of capitalism itself, which cannot expand and increase its profits without imposing heavier burdens on the working people, dragging them into wars, economic crises.

Marx said “Capitalism brought into being by the laws of historical evolution will be destroyed by the inexorable working of these same laws.”

 Private ownership must go, common ownership must take its place. The day has passed for patching up the capitalist system; it must go. With socialism the state will disappear and the principle will operate of  “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Under a system of ownership and administration by a majority of the people one set of human beings could no longer exploit and cruelly abuse others for personal profit. Socialism is a reorganisation of society on the basis of ownership by the working people of the land, mines, factories, means of transport, as well as the health, educational and cultural services required to fulfill their needs. The Socialist Party maintains that there can be no fundamental change in the living conditions of the people while a minority holds economic power in the natural resources of society and in the right to exploit the majority for individual advantages. The basis of exploitation — the use of men and women for personal profits and power — lie in the capitalist system. Reforms do not remove the villain of the piece from the scene of action. The fundamental basis of a true socialist society must be change from a capitalist system of ownership, exploitation and control to one of ownership, administration and control of the affairs of society by the men and women who produce its wealth. Socialists consider it necessary to provide for material needs in order that men and women may develop their highest mental and spiritual facilities. A plant grows to its most perfect flowering and finest fruit in good soil.

Socialists do not want bloody revolution. Revolution means change. There have been revolutions in the arts, in industry and social relations which have not caused bloodshed. The Socialist Party believe that the new system of social ownership and administration can be introduced by capturing the State machine through parliament to express the will of the people. The Socialist Party view commits us to the possibility of a peaceful transition to socialism. That is, without armed insurrection. We, nevertheless, consider that the class struggle, that is, the struggle against the capitalist class on the industrial field, for supremacy in the political field will intensify,and be marked by great mass struggles, political and industrial. In these struggles, the unity of the working class will be cemented and their political consciousness will be raised to the necessary level for them to understand the need for the transition to socialism. The class struggle exists whether we wish it or not. While capitalism lasts, so too will the inevitable class struggle proceed. The change from capitalism to socialism, from capitalist dictatorship to rule of the social democracy, is a revolution, the most far-reaching revolution in human history. What tactical methods are used, whether by majority vote or if we are obliged to exercise other means, cannot alter that fact.

 The Socialist Party accepts that workers all over the world, no matter what their nationality, have common problems and common bonds, that the rich men who control General Motors, for example, rob both British and American working men and women and that therefore we have common interests with American workers and the workers of other lands against the common enemy. We rejoice when we learn that the workers of other countries have had victories which improve their standard of living or widen their liberties, we sympathise with them in their defeats. It is this spirit of international working class solidarity which will facilitate our triumph.

 Your chance of a happy life for yourself and your children depends on the ability of workers to change the present order of society where everything is subordinated to the greed of a few men for profits. To introduce a system of society where industries are run not for profit but for the good of mankind, a system of society where unemployment will be unknown, where children will be able to secure the maximum education irrespective of the financial position of their parents. In this society, socialism, the wealth of the World will really belong to the people of World and be used for their benefit. Capitalism is a wasteful, irrational system which operates not on the basis of producing what is good for the people, but only what shows the biggest profit. Great inventions are held back because they would affect the profits of the capitalists, while millions of pounds are spent every year to convince people to buy what they don’t want. Once the shackles of private profit-making are removed the World will progress to unheard of production of goods and peoples’ talents, and this will provide plenty of everything for everyone. Mankind’s nature, shaped today by the hard battle to survive will begin to change, human selfishness will disappear. If we want a society that serves all people, we must create a system to ensure that happens.

“Love life,” Tolstoy said. “Life is the only true god.” The inspiration for socialism is love of humanity: love for one’s fellow men and women: a desire to help them to attain a social system which will provide a good life for every man, woman and child. Socialism recognises human welfare as the supreme good. By helping to achieve socialism you will he fighting for your future as well as the future of your family, your co-workers and your neighbours. You will also get great satisfaction out of such activity because every gain made is a gain for thousands, for millions. The engineer, the nurse, the research worker know the thrill of helping others and they will understand how we feel when we see socialism advancing, knowing that every little success brings closer the world socialist system which will benefit all mankind. We would like to share with you the joy of our activity and our accomplishments. We would like you to have the proud title of member of the Socialist Party and the World Socialist Movement.

Friday, May 23, 2014

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 existence of money does not fit into the picture of a socialist society. In a communist society all the world’s resources will be for the free and common use of everybody to satisfy their needs - like air today. This is incompatable with the existence of any form of money because for things to be bought, sold or bartered, they have to belong to one part of society alone (individual, company, workers collective, state, etc.), this presuppose non-owners being denied free access. As the Left Communists Amadeo Bordiga asked "for how is property to be defined if not by the exclusion of the other from the use and enjoyment of the object of property?". So even if the bosses were kicked out and workplaces run along collective lines, the continued existence of exchange would act as a barrier to satisfying human needs. It is not a question of transferring property titles but of the simple disappearance of property. There will be no exceptions to this rule. Buildings and land will no longer belong to anyone, or if you like, they will belong to everybody. The very idea of property will rapidly be considered absurd. Anti-capitalism is not workers managing the economy in place of capitalists  but the abolition of ourselves as a class. Non-owning bosses taking the place of owning ones is no more anti-capitalist than a management buy-out. The role of the personification of capital persists, in the firm bought out by its management. This is because capitalism is a mode of production not a mode of management. Therefore anti-capitalism has to go beyond opposition to those who manage it to opposition to the social relations as such as the abolition of wage labour.

Socialism has nothing to do with the former USSR or present-day Cuba or North Korea. These are capitalist societies with only one capitalist – the state. Socialism is where our activity – and its products – no longer take the form of things to be bought and sold. Where activity is not done to earn a wage or turn a profit, but to meet human needs. As there will be no division between owners (state or private) and workers with the means of production held in common, decisions can be made democratically among equals. As production is not for goods to be sold on the market, there are no market forces to pit different groups of workers against each other or compel economising on environmental impacts. We will work only as long as we decide is necessary to produce the things we need at an intensity we are happy and healthy with, not how long the boss demands of us according to the norms of the labour market.

Many people think that socialism sounds like a good idea but doubt it would work in practice. The principle concern most people hold as to whether a socialist society could exist without the implicit threat of destitution, enforced by the wage system, is that people would work and produce. However, there is ample evidence demonstrating that we do not need the threat of destitution or starvation hanging over us in order to engage in productive activity. For most of human history, we have not had money or wage labour, however necessary tasks still got done. In hunter-gatherer societies, for example, which were overwhelmingly peaceful and egalitarian there was no distinction between work and play.

Even today, huge amounts of necessary work is done for free. In the UK, for example, people carry out unpaid care work or carry out voluntary work at least once a month. Almost every useful type of work you can think of is also done by some people for free, not as "work" for wages, demonstrating that they are not strictly necessary. Growing food, looking after children, playing music, fixing cars, sweeping, talking to people about their problems, caring for the sick, computer programming, making clothes, designing products… the list is endless. Phenomena like the free software and open source movement, too, demonstrate how collective organisation for a socially useful goal can be superior to production for profit. And that people don't need wages to be motivated to produce. Studies show that money is not an effective motivator for good performance at complex tasks. People having the freedom and control to do what they want how they want, and having a constructive, socially useful reason for doing so is the best motivator.

Socialism is not  a future ideal, it is the living embodiment of our present day struggle. In socialism goods will be freely available and free of charge. The organisation of society to its very foundations will be without money. ‘Needs’ as in ‘from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs’ are self determined, encompassing everything from the physiological to the psychological to the social, and everyone has an equal right to have their needs met.

And without the profit motive, any technological advancement which makes a work process more efficient, instead of just laying workers off and making those remaining work harder like happens at present, we can all just work a little less and have more free time.

Once more, the point is that money is only useful in a society still dominated by private property and commodity production. If everything was held in common what would be the point in money? Money is only necessary as long as trade is necessary, in socialism there will be no need to trade as everything will be under collective ownership.