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Showing posts from June, 2014

The Revolutionary Vote (1/3)

The Ballot as a Weapon(Pt 1)

“Even where there is no prospect of achieving their election the workers must put up their own candidates to preserve their independence, to gauge their own strength and to bring their revolutionary position and party standpoint to public attention. They must not be led astray by the empty phrases of the democrats, who will maintain that the workers' candidates will split the democratic party and offer the forces of reaction the chance of victory. All such talk means, in the final analysis, that the proletariat is to be swindled.” Karl Marx

“I’d rather vote for something I want and not get it than vote for something I don't want, and get it.”  Eugene V. Debs

Socialists want a revolution but one involving much more than a change of political control. We want a social revolution, a revolution in the basis of society, a sweeping, fundamental change in political and economical organisation. No-one can be exactly sure which form the revolution…

Together Workers Can Go Forward

Anti-capitalists - what are they fighting against? The horrors of capitalism are as old as capitalism itself and not simply a product of the last few decades. The reduction of people to commodities, sweat-shop labour, the long hours of work that destroy the lives of women, men and children, the land-grab and destruction of people’s livelihoods as poor farmers are driven from the land are characteristic effects of capitalism throughout its history.

Marx long ago pointed out that the way capitalism functions hides from people what is really happening. Those who buy and sell on markets see only the interplay of goods on those markets, not the human activity that lies behind this interplay. Those whose incomes come from dividends and interest, or playing on the money markets, believe money itself has a magical ability to grow which has nothing to do with the toil of people in factories, fields, mines and offices. Capitalists who live off the labour of workers believe they provide work fo…

Federated Freedom

Socialism is not a religion but a method of understanding and changing the world. This is a speculative essay on how socialism may perhaps organise its decision making and should not be treated as party policy as our position is that when socialism is established, how it is organised will be determined by the majority at the time and not in advance by a small group as ourselves. We are also sure that there will be many adaptations to suit particular conditions and specific situations, taking into account the history, the geography and local customs.

Marx’s theory of socialist revolution is grounded on the fundamental principle that “The emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself.” Marx held to this view throughout his political activity, and it distinguished his theory of social change from that of both those who appealed to governments and industrialists to change the world for the benefit of the working class and of those who relied on the determ…

An Uncaring Society

That capitalism is an uncaring, harsh society is hardly a debateable subject but the following news item takes a bit of beating even by its inhumane standards. 'The mummified body of an elderly woman has been discovered in her flat where  she had lain undiscovered for six years. Anne Leitrim, who was in her 70s, had not been seen since 2008 and neighbours had assumed she moved out of the area because her home appeared empty.' (Daily Telegraph, 27 June) And how did they discover her body? Her remains were finally found when bailiffs visited the property in the 1980s-built block to collect unpaid debts. RD

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 difficulty in arguing against the Czech se…

'The Good Old Days' - Glasgow in the Nineteenth Century

'The Good Old Days' - Glasgow in the Nineteenth Century
From the April 1973 issue of the Socialist Standard
The accommodation in which my family lived up to my teens was a crumbling Glasgow tenement at whose age I will not hazard a guess, though some idea of it can be gained from the knowledge that the lavatories were added many years after its original construction.
I recall my mother telling me that there used to be dry latrines in the back-courts which were emptied by men with leather-lined wicker baskets. This information, even then when I was ignorant of social problems, filled me with disgust: to think that men should find it necessary to take up such employment in order to gain cash sufficient to purchase the bare necessities of life.
Doubtless some of those early sewage workers considered themselves better off than their neighbours, for they had a steady job with little chance of being made redundant. As an added bonus they at least were outside in the streets away from…