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Showing posts from September, 2014

To Save the World - Socialism

The World Bank recognizes we’re on the track for a 4 degree warmer world—by the end of this century. Kevin Anderson of the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research explains a 4 degrees Celsius warming (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) is ‘incompatible with any reasonable characterization of an organized, equitable and civilized global community’. Why haven’t the peoples of the world mobilised to save the planet? The answer is we have not done the things that are necessary to lower emissions because these things fundamentally conflict with  capitalism. The actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe—and would benefit the vast majority—are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our media outlets. The climate change denialists may be wrong but as Naomi Klein writes “but when it comes to the scope and depth of change required to avert catastrophe, they are right on the money.”  To avoid …


TO THE PRINCES OF THE CHURCH. From the February 1915 issue of the Socialist Standard You prate of love and murmur of goodwill,
Turn sanctimonious eyes toward your God,
Write on your walls the text "Thou shalt not kill,"
Point out the path your "Prince of Peace" once trod,
While all the time, with murder in your hearts,
You lie, cajole, and bully that the fools
Who heed your words may play their foolish parts
As slaves of Mammon, as the War-Lord's tools.
On many a field, in many a river bed,
Of Flanders and of Poland and of France,
Your bloody-minded words bear fruit indeed.
Preachers of Death! the thought of maimed and dead
Will nerve us when our hosts of Life advance
To crush for ever your accursed breedF. J. Webb

Failing Faith and Hope

Thomas Walkom, writing in The Toronto Star details the failing 'faith and hope' in president Obama – he promised to close Guantanamo and didn't; he promised a short sharp war to defeat the Taliban, never happened; he authorized drone strikes; he permitted the National Security Agency to snoop on American citizens, among others; he promised openness but went after whistle blowers like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. As the Socialist Standard said at the time if his election, "Welcome to the New Boss, Same as the Old". John Ayers.

Fantasy And Reality

From time to time the world's media turns its attention to such issues as climate change and the environment. We have such attention at present. 'World leaders including US President Barack Obama are holding a summit on climate change at the United Nations. The aim at the New York meeting is to galvanise member states to sign up to a comprehensive new global climate agreement at talks in Paris next year. "Climate change is the defining issue of our time. Now is the time for action," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said ahead of the summit.' (BBC News, 23 September) After millions of words are spoken and pious resolutions are passed we can confidently predict the outcome will be the same as in the past - nothing! As long as the profit motive is the driving force of capitalism the environment is of little concern. RD

Billionaires And Poverty

Millions of workers throughout the world struggle to survive but it is not all doom and gloom in capitalism - some people are doing exceptional well. 'The population of dollar billionaires across the globe has increased by a net 155 to 2,325 in the past 12 months, according to the latest census....' (Times, 18 September) The Singapore-based Wealth-X, a consultancy that tracks the number of the extremely rich has come up with the following figures for billionaires. US 571, China 190, UK 130, Germany 123 and Russia 114. RD

Blast from the Past

BRUTAL ATTACK ON A SPEAKER. From the August 1931 issue of the Socialist Standard
We learn from the "One Big Union Bulletin" (Winnipeg) that repeated brutal attacks have been made by Communists in that city on speakers of the newly re-formed Socialist Party of Canada.
We have recently experienced similar tactics in Glasgow, not, be it noted, from Communists, but—or so it is believed—from certain religious fanatics.
On Monday, June 29th, after a meeting at Clydebank our speaker, A. Shaw, was attacked by four individuals, one of whom finally knocked him unconscious with a piece of lead pipe. Comrade Shaw was badly shaken up by the assault, and it was some days before he fully recovered.
The gratifying feature is that listeners, whatever their political or religious views, do not usually sympathise with such methods, and further very successful meetings have been held at Clydebank.
We do not often have cause to complain of attempts to interfere with our meetings. Except at times …

The Call (poem)

The Call

From the December 1918 issue of the Socialist Standard

Come from the slum and the hovel,
From the depth of your dumb despair;
From the hell where you writhe and grovel
Crushed by the woes you bear;
There are joys that are yours for the taking,
There are hopes of a height unknown,
A harvest of life in the making
From the sorrows the past has sown.
Come from the dust of the battle,
Where your blood, like a river, runs,
Where helpless as driven cattle
You feed the insatiable guns.
You fight when your masters bid you,
Now fight that yourselves be free,
In the last great fight that shall rid you
Of your age-long slavery.
There's a murmur of many voices
That shall roll like thunder at last;
The shout of a world that rejoices
In a harvest ripening fast.
For the slaves their shackles are breaking
With wonder and ecstasy;
There is life, new life, in the making
In a new-won world made free.

F.J. Webb

Understanding Socialism

The Socialist Party aims at achieving a parliamentary majority. The working class of this country will not attempt to reach socialism in any other way, unless events proves to them that this approach has been closed down. At the bottom of this strategy is the expectation by our fellow workers for a bloodless revolution. Surely therefore the first job of a socialist movement must be to capture the state machinery so to disarm the capitalist class to thwart any attempt  obstruct the introduction of socialism.  It is a socialist pre-condition that the emancipation of the working class must be the act of the working class although this is not necessarily is confined to voting for socialism. In tandem with political action will be industrial organisation.

 The Socialist Party has no need for Marxist theoreticians, great, clever scholars. We are not required to be the mentors of the working class – only of it. They alone will resolve the question of their own freedom. They alone are the re…

No Reformism

What we see today is a wholesale embrace of the anti-working-class policies to replace the old discredited ones. The leftists are now attempting to build or support openly class collaborationist populist parties. It is not coincidental that this patching up the capitalist political system is occurring just when this system is once again proving itself to be unreformable. Temporary ups and downs cannot hide the fact that the global economy constantly founders where exploitation is rampant. The gap between the capitalists and the increasingly impoverished working class is widening, and the so-called middle class are disintegrating. Reformism is a proven failure and  that the mainstream parties are moving to the right. The left’s rehashed reformism has even less viability. Its programme is worse than illusory: it is dangerously misleading. Reformism reactionary policies dressed up with progressive terminology. Reformism by its very nature means class collaboration. This is, of course, n…

Spoil the Referendum !

Few people know what the word “democracy” means. If asked, they tend to say things like “being able to express your opinions”, “doing what you like”, etc.. Very few people are aware that the meaning of the word is ‘rule by the people’. If people are asked whether they think that parliamentary democracy actually brings about rule by the people then most are sceptical. They have a healthy contempt for politicians because it is known through long experience that the measures they enact are not usually in the interests of the people. What is very clear is that whoever forms the government they serve the interests of the capitalist ruling class. It is the owners of the means of production who exercise real power. They have power to make the decisions that have a major impact on the lives of the rest of us. Yet most go on voting because they have a vague feeling that the civil liberties we do enjoy are somehow dependent on people voting in elections. Although most of us have serious doubts…

The World Struggle

Left nationalists will argue that Scottish nationalism is somehow progressive and different to British nationalism and therefore Scots should vote Yes in the referendum. We say that this is a dangerous poison that is being spread by Leftists. It has served to divide workers. We argue that every nation state is by its very nature anti-working class. There can be no community of interests between two classes in antagonism with one another, the non-owners in society and the owners (the workers and the capitalists). And the state ultimately exists only to defend the property interests of the owning class at any given point in history – which is why modern states across the world send the police and army in to break strikes and otherwise seek to protect the interests of the capitalists and “business” at every turn.

Basically, the SNP is just another reformist party angling for support on a programme of reforms styling itself on the Nordic social democrats. They are endeavouring to outbid …


The Socialist Party would like the future society to be a society without bosses or bureaucrats.   We reproach our adversaries for being unable to think beyond present conditions and of finding socialism unattainable. When we are told that some people won’t want to work, there are a string of reasons to show that  it is ridiculous to think that healthy people would wish to withdraw from the need to produce for the community when work would not be oppressive, exploited and despised, as it is today. Our task is that of “pushing” people to demand all the freedom they can and make themselves responsible for providing for their own needs.  We must encourage people to do things for themselves and to think by their own initiative and inspiration. Everywhere socialists must endeavour to combat hostile organisations of capitalism, and win the confidence of the workers.  Education and agitation, are the indispensable weapons in the Party’s arsenal because the primary and decisive main weapon o…

Nationalism is irrelevant

Many nationalists say that class is as irrelevant as it is outmoded, that it is much more realistic to talk of common national origins, such as Scots or Welsh, or whatever. By doing so, the nationalists hope to gloss over the obvious fact that in any nation state—independent or dependent—there exists deep conflicts between different sections of society and no amount of patriotism or flag-waving will overcome them: Scottish employers do not treat their workers any better than, say, Japanese employers would. Employers, no matter their national origins or colour, are only interested in getting as much from their workforce for as little as they can pay: profits come before patriotism.

Nationalists deny the operation of the class struggle by insisting that there is a community of interests between the workers and management with both working towards a common end. (To a certain extent this is true, both are working for a common goal — the enrichment of the shareholders!).

National independ…

Rejecting Capitalism

The rich and their retainers in the media love to put down and revile poor people who depend on welfare payments, ignoring the fact that their wealth has a lot to do with the poverty of their fellow men and women. The epithets are numerous. Skivers (as opposed to strivers), ‘wedded’ to welfare (single mums), welfare queens (hinting at some kind of secret opulence),  free-riders, spongers, scroungers and loafers.  Underlying these labels is the insinuation that members of the  demonised underclass are mentally weak-minded or criminal but above all they are responsible for their own situation. The wealthy, we are told, deserve to be rich, no questions asked, because they are hard-working, ambitious and smart. Any correlations with  wealth/corruption, wealth/tax-evasion, wealth/inheritance, wealth/criminal acts is conveniently over-looked.  Plunderers who profited from appropriating the Commons wealth malign and punish the poor while they fill their tax-haven bank balances. The “robber …

A Crazy Society

It was just a short article in the daily press but it sums up what a crazy system capitalism really is. 'A treasure trove of art, jewellery and other valuables from the estate of the reclusive heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon will go on sale at auction following  her death earlier this year at the age of 103.  Experts invited to assess her collection at her country home of Oak Spring Farms, in Upperville, Virginia, were stunned at the scale of the riches she had amassed, including little-seen Picassos and Van Goghs, personalised Chanel handbags and even a vintage 1950s fire engine.' (Sunday Telegraph, 14 September) Mellon never worked for this fortune, she inherited her vast wealth from her grandfather. It is estimated that her fortune is probably worth about $100 million although countless hard-working people are trying to survive on less than $2 a day. RD

A Lesson from the Past

Editorial from the February 1979 issue of the Socialist Standard which expresses much the same message as we have been trying to convey about the present independence referendum in Scotland.
On March 1 voters in Scotland and Wales will be called upon to decide for or against the proposal to set up elected assemblies, with limited powers, in these areas. Some see this as a step towards independence for Scotland and Wales and are calling for a "yes" or "no" vote depending on how they view this prospect. Others (more realistically) see it as an attempt by the Labour government to buy off the nationalist sentiments which have increasingly manifested themselves in recent years. We in the Socialist Party say that both the proposal and the referendum are quite irrelevant from a working-class point of view.
The social problems which face wage and salary earners in such fields as housing, schooling and transport, and the constant struggle to make ends meet from month to mon…

Socialists for world socialism

As a socialist party our goal is for the working class to establish socialism. The goal is of a world in which the working class organises and controls its own destiny. Socialism cannot be imposed from outside – it can only be made by the working class.

 A separate parliament in Scotland would be a capitalist parliament, still bound hand and foot to the multinationals. It would not provide Scottish workers with any greater control over their own lives. They would remain an integral part of international capitalism. An Edinburgh sovereign parliament will leave the workers in exactly the same position as before. The Scottish people are being urged to reclaim their past radical tradition, and vote for a Scottish independent parliament with full control of economic and foreign policy. Nationalism is being promoted as an alternative reformist platform.

Scottish nationalism is a reaction of a small section of the Scottish capitalist class to what they perceive is the declining fortunes of …

Who own the North Pole part 75

Russia has dispatched a group of ships from its Northern Fleet to the Arctic, with the aim of restoring a permanent base in the region, Russia media say. The detachment includes two amphibious vessels and an anti-submarine ship.  Russia is boosting its naval presence in the Arctic as regional powers seek to claim its rich natural resources.

"The main aim of another expedition of the Northern Fleet's vessels to the Arctic region is to deliver personnel, equipment and inventory of a Northern Fleet tactical group, which from this year on will serve on the New Siberian Islands on a permanent basis," said fleet commander Adm Vladimri Korolev in a Defence Ministry statement.

Hard Times For Some

One of the illusions pushed by politicians and the media was that during the recent economic downturn - "We are all in this together." This illusion is easily exploded by some recent figures about MPs expenses. 'Despite the furore of the expenses scandal just five years ago, MPs claimed £103m in 2013/14 -  up from £98m the previous year and slightly more than they did at the high watermark of £102m set in 2008/09. Higher staffing spend is one of the reasons that MP expenses claims have started rising since they were brought down when a tougher system was introduced in the wake of the scandal. In new figures, the parliamentary watchdog revealed that almost 170 MPs employed relatives or partners - a slight increase since last year.' (Guardian, 13 September) We are all in this together. The working class are in the economic mire and the MPs are up to their necks in bumper expenses. RD

The Socialist Party Welcomes Revolutionaries

Revolution is often viewed as protests and barricades, strikes and  factory occupations. The basis of the revolution is seen as  the General Strike, which begins in a small way, spreads in sympathy strikes and develops into the overthrow of the entire system, the culmination of hundreds of industrial struggles in which workers gain experience and an ever-stronger sense of solidarity, and rests on their ability to take and hold the means of production in face of the combined forces of the state.

For sure, ideas are conditioned by people's material experience, but this does not mean that industrial struggle will, in itself, automatically produce socialist consciousness; the abolition of the wage labour and capital relationship and its replacement with free access, and no amount of struggle could have conjured these concepts out of the air. Spontaneity is of no use when attempting to dispose of capitalism. The ownership of the means of life cannot be settled at the factory gate beca…

The Drive For Profits

All sorts of well-meaning organisations exist in efforts to stop the deforestation of the Amazon basis, the melting of the Artic region and other examples of how capitalism worsens the environment. Alas they are doomed to failure. 'The rate of destruction of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil has increased for a second year running. Brazilian government figures show deforestation was up by 29% in the 12 months up to the end of July 2013. Satellite data showed that almost 6,000 sq km (2,315 sq miles) of forest were cleared during that period.' (BBC News, 11 September) In its ruthless drive for profit capitalism cares little about the environment. RD

Recovery For Whom?

The press and TV are lauding the government for what they are describing as an economic recovery, but what has been a period of boom for the capitalist class has seen a worsening of conditions for many wage earners. 'The cost of borrowing will increase before workers benefit from a real rise in their wages, the governor of the Bank of England said yesterday. Mark Carney said that interest rates were likely to rise from their record low of 0.5 per cent in the  spring of next year, possibly before the general election in May.' (Times, 10 September) He went on to say to the TUC in Liverpool that inflation-proof wage increases would not arrive until the following summer, indicating a financial squeeze on homeowners with mortgages. RD

Our Socialist Future

“The day has passed for patching up the capitalist system; it must go...” - James Connolly 

What do the workers of Scotland gain when power passes from the bankers and manufacturers of the City of London to Charlotte Square of Edinburgh? Real life to-day gives the answer: the lust for profit has led capitalism into an unparalleled economic crisis, millions of workers have been thrown on the streets to starve, while the capitalists, exploiting the defencelessness of working folk, are cutting the wages of those still in employment. People must know their history and their future. They remain ignorant of the truth because the truth would damage and be dangerous to the landowners, industrialists and financiers.

We, in the Socialist Party, firmly and permanently established the simple, clear truth: the life of the working people of town and village, cannot be changed for the better while the conditions exist which make it possible for one man to live on the labour of tens and hundreds and …

Capitalism or Socialism?

Socialism means the liberation of the whole of humanity. The Socialist Party struggles not for any class privileges, but for the abolition of classes and class-rule. We oppose not only the exploitation and oppression of wage-workers, but also every form of exploitation and oppression.

The struggle of the working-class against capitalist exploitation is necessarily a struggle for political power. To make this struggle of the workers conscious and unified is the purpose of the Socialist Party. In all lands  the interests of the working-class are identical. The vast majority of people live by, or are dependent on, the sale of labour power to industries and businesses owned or dominated by capitalists. They own no tools of production and they own no property. With the development of globalisation for the world-market the position of the workers in each country becomes increasingly dependent on that of the workers in other countries. The liberation of the working-class is, therefore, a ta…

Against the Nation

According to David Attenborough: “It seems our planet is being transformed, not by natural events, but by the actions of one species, mankind...In the past we didn’t understand the effects of our actions. Unknowingly, we sowed the wind. Now, literally, we are reaping the whirlwind. But, we no longer have that excuse. Now, we do recognise the consequences of our behavior. Now, surely we must act to reform it, individually and collectively, nationally and internationally, before we doom future generations to catastrophe.”

Capitalism has given humanity certain tremendous attainments, but only its disappearance can allow humanity to enjoy them. Only socialism will be able to lift humanity to the level of the material bases of civilisation. But capitalism survives and all the enormous acquisitions turn more and more against the interests of humanity.

 Socialism seeks to build communities and organisations that encourage solidarity, compassion and altruism; a democratic economy in which soc…

For one world - For world socialism

The left-wing "trot" out their old stale position that socialists are duty-bound to support struggles for "national liberation". They replace the Marxist principle of international class struggle with the doctrine of international struggle between states. As a result "socialism" became associated with militant nationalism rather than with the working-class internationalism it had originally been. The political struggle they present as a struggle, not between the working class and the capitalist class, but as a struggle of “patriots” — workers and capitalists together — against foreign rule and domination. They call upon the entire population, employer and employee alike, to combine in a common struggle to achieve independence. Any supposed "Marxist" who tells workers that they have more in common with their own ruling class than with the workers of other countries is a fraud. Any supposed "Marxist" who argues against the fundamental i…

There is no foreigner but the capitalist (Part 2)

The slogan “no borders” is currently a utopian fantasy as it is tantamount to advocating the abolition of national states under capitalism. Capitalism needs states – to regulate relations between businesses; to impose common laws and currency which aid capital accumulation; to organise labour markets and the provision of education, transport and health-care and to try to prevent recession turning into economic collapse. In fact the deeper the crisis, the greater the tensions between rival companies, the more the competition heats up, the more the state is needed to impose some sort of ‘order’. The national state also has a role to play in aiding and assisting in the exploitation of the workforce – hence the use of immigration controls. On the one hand those who own and control the wealth want the freedom to make as much profit whenever wherever, and however they want. But at the same time the system is based on oppression and exploitation, so they demand the right to restrict the fre…

There is no foreigner but the capitalist (Part 1)

Millions of workers are driven to emigrate to wealthier countries because of the desperate dire conditions in home-lands. The capitalist class realise that these workers can serve as an alternative labour supply for the industrial reserve army, since native-born workers, through their past struggles have come to expect higher wages and benefits. One very basic idea, unity of the working class is critical. In all capitalist societies, a tiny class of people owns the means of production and profits by exploiting the workers’ labour. United, the overwhelming tendency of the working class would be to fight for a decent life for all, which is incompatible with capitalism. Powerful united struggles of the working class would inevitably demonstrate the need to overthrow capitalism altogether. Since the working class is the only class with the power to overturn capitalism, the capitalists use every possible divide-and-conquer tactic to prevent this development. The employing class hope to k…