Tuesday, September 30, 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 economic collapse capitalism requires unfettered expansion yet what is needed to avoid society’s collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature. No amount of technological “fixes” will do the trick.

People must confront the perverse and dehumanising logic of capitalism. Socialists have long talked of the class war between capitalists and workers , now we must refer to the war between capitalism and our planet. Humanity’s survival requires a new economic system. Trying to protect the existing social system is  dishonest and delusional because a way of economics based on the promise of infinite growth cannot be defended.  Socialists must build a movement that advocates system change not climate change. Don't expect much help from mainstream environmental groups such as the Nature Conservancy.  Don’t places any hope in the “enlightened billionaires” who have expressed interest in environmental protection policies. Could there be anything crazier than expecting rich people to save us by geo-engeering projects.

Naomi Klein points out the obvious lesson: hope lies not with a new climate movement but with a coming together of all the living movements to pursue “the unfinished business of liberation” when awareness and political engagement aren't only for activists but become part of everyday life.  She continues that the situation may not look too promising now, but we have to be ready for the “moments when the impossible seems suddenly possible” to be “harnessed not only to denounce the world as it is, and build fleeting pockets of liberated space. It must be the catalyst to actually build the world that will keep us all safe. The stakes are simply too high, and time too short, to settle for anything less.”

No one has magic powers of prediction but put all the bad news together and the apocalyptic downward spiral set in motion by fossil-fueled capitalism may never be reversed in time to save the human race from extinction. Capitalism’s achievement  has been to give us the ability and the process of exterminating ourselves and maybe every other living things as well. Throughout the world, people of all countries need to act with urgency to switch to a genuine socialist economy that aims at sustainability rather than endless consumption and growth, an economy based on renewable energy rather than fossil fuels, an economy devoted to life rather than to profits, an ecologically sound economy that functions as a part of the ecosystem with its people interacting in a cooperative way. The question facing us all is whether we stick with the capitalist rat-race and perish as a species, or abandon that rat-race and survive?

Monday, September 29, 2014



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 breed
 F. 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.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Blast from the Past


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 of high feeling, such as the war years, when outdoor socialist meetings were often made impossible by the joint efforts of the authorities and the patriots, we find audiences ready to give us a hearing. Our great advantage over the other political parties is that we allow our opponents to state their case on our platform. Audiences, knowing this to be our practice, are less willing to tolerate obstructive methods from our opponents. If other political parties extended the same liberty to opponents they would have less trouble than they sometimes get.

There are, of course, exceptional cases. Those who deliberately set out to smash up meetings or to attack socialist speakers can contrive to seize opportunities for so doing. As explained by Mr. Harry Pollitt in the "Daily Worker" (29th January, 1930); it is the deliberate policy of the Communist Party to smash up its opponents meetings by force. If that policy has not been attended by any success the explanation can be no doubt be found in the smallness of the Communist Party membership, which makes it a very risky proceeding for the would-be smashers.

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

Saturday, September 20, 2014

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 revolutionary force. The task of our party, which is of the working class and in it, is to accelerate that movement.  We are disappointed by our inadequacies, our lack of impact that is so necessary today.

Our task is to remember the history and heritage which out of class relationships and struggle is ours. We have the duty to say: there is no easy road, there is no gradual road. Nor does the Socialist Party accept the view that crises necessarily brings revolution prefer to put it the other way: revolution prevents catastrophes. We do not share the view that, in some automatic way, out of chaos comes progress.

Bankrupt capitalism has out-lasted its time.  It has inflicted untold evil on the world and it must go. That is the job of our Party. It is your job too, all of you, wherever you are, to struggle for the emancipation of the working class.

The prolonged survival of capitalism, with all its dire consequences, is due to the influence of the reformist current in the labour movement, falsely calling itself “socialist.”  It is the bitter fruit of opportunist class collaboration. We of the Socialist Party have nothing to do with these brands of so-called “socialism” or “communism.” and explain that socialism will not fall from the skies. Neither will it be gained by any appeals to the good will and compassion of the capitalist exploiters. It is by the class struggle and the experience and education arising from it that the socialist society will be realised. There is no other way. And every attempt to find another way, by supporting the capitalists, by conciliating them, by collaborating with them, in peace or in war, has led not toward the socialist goal but to defeat and disaster for the workers.

Friday, September 19, 2014

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, not the first time in history for the left when the gradualists preached the utopian dream where capitalism would be made humane by legislative measures supported by our class enemy. Today another act of class treason is being advocated by supposed friends of labour. Capitalism is eating away at past gains made by the working class.

As the struggles accelerate and consciousness grows, the left reformists are capable of misleading workers creating obstacles to the formation of the world party of socialist revolution. The Labour and Trotskyist parties tried to derail the workers’ struggles. The cynicism they leave  contribute to the steady decline in their ability to resist capitalist assaults. Reformist parties may retain their electoral strength but rarely do they retain workers’ committed loyalty as they jettison even their past paper-thin claim to “socialism” and the working class. Aware of the looming danger of credibility gap they gravitate even more closely to the power of the big business. The vacuum created leads to new formations and electoral blocs such as Left Unity and the  Green Party to replace the former leaders.  They use the terms “socialist” and “radical” to  in order to disguise their own flavour of palliatives that won’t trouble the capitalist class despite the hackneyed use of the description “anti-capitalist” to offer the impression of some revolutionary content. These radical reformists draw to them people who are not yet politically aware to understand the concept of socialism and class struggle which helps to perpetrate illusions in  capitalism and its state.

The emancipation of the working class is the task of the working class itself; it is a task it must carry out in opposition to the vanguard cadres offering themselves as our “condescending saviors.” Reformism is not a moderate or slow way to achieve socialism, but a barrier to reaching it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

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 that it gives us any real power over our lives we go through with the ritual. Somehow it is easier to go along with the crowd than to stand out by abstaining or as we advise, spoiling the voting paper.

“Working Men of all Countries, Unite!” because it is the struggle of workers against the bosses which will propel mankind forward to the socialist society and which will liberate all peoples  from the reign of classes forever. This struggle of the working class takes place on a global scale to defeat the capitalists on a world-wide scale.  This principle simply means the solidarity of one worker with another, irrespective of nationality and support for the struggles of workers in other countries.

The Socialist Party wishes to make it clear that we consider the referendum not from the point of view of nationalism, but from the point of view of socialism and from the desire to find the best method of struggle for socialism.  We do not accept that the struggle for independence is more important than the struggle for socialism. A century or more of experience of reformist, national liberation governments has amply demonstrated that this neither gives the  people power nor poses any threat to the rule of the capitalist class. On the contrary, the nationalism of  governments has helped perpetuate the rule of capital by taking off some of its sharpest edges and by holding out the false hope of bringing about more fundamental changes within the present capitalist system. As a socialist party we have always asserted, there can be no real democracy – no rule by the people as a whole – while the means of production are owned and controlled by a small minority, the capitalist class. Their control of the economy and the state means that they can resist and obstruct any serious threat to their class interests. A century or more of experience has shown that attempts by nationalists parties to change capitalism are doomed to failure.Resistance to oppression and exploitation is a constant factor in every country who have acquired their independence. There are many left nationalists in Scotland , people who wish to see Scotland become a “socialist” country. But there is more to the achievement of socialism than that.

 Socialism is the answer to Scotland’s problems and that only through socialism will exploitation and  alienation be done away with. To say this may only be to state a truism, a truism that is equally valid in England, and in every country in the world.  It is quite clear that we can only achieve real control over our lives by getting rid of the capitalist system as a whole and this can be done only by means of genuine socialist revolution.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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 all the other parties by proposing that the wealth from North Sea Oil be divided among five million plus people only, instead of fifty million, and paint a picture of how, given self-government, oil revenues will provide a paradise in Scotland. Predictably the nationalists claim that their first priority is to launch a "war on poverty". The important thing to note is that the nationalists are merely making promises, and politicians have always found that far easier to make than fulfil. They pretend to the workers that should independence come then all the oil revenues will automatically go into the Scottish exchequer and be used mainly for the benefit of the workers. They must know that the capitalist class in Scotland would insist that oil revenues be used to reduce the burden of taxation which rests on them. The other people to benefit from Scottish independence would be the local politicians, who would be able to award themselves grander titles and grander salaries.

Should a sovereign Scotland be established Scots will discover that they cannot will or legislate away those problems of capitalism. No country in the world, no matter how independent or rich in resources, has yet succeeded in eliminating poverty, unemployment, insecurity, etc. For the working class there will be wages while they are working and pensions when they are too old or infirm. It is of no concern to workers in Scotland whether they are governed from London or by a separate independent government in Edinburgh. This is because the cause of the problems they face is the capitalist economic system of production for profit, not the form of government. And the capitalist economic system would continue to exist in a constitutionally independent Scotland.

The goal of the socialist movement is to establish a real world community without frontiers. The Left Ntionalists proclaim themselves visionaries but they cannot see beyond the narrow confines of the nation-state, conceived in medieval times and as outmoded as the clan system it replaced. It is the Socialist Party who are the true men and women of vision, who look forward to and struggle for a new world of common ownership and democratic control of society's resources, and uncluttered with the frontiers and class divisions which go hand-in-hand with "the nation".

We don’t want or care about Scottish independence any more than we care or support a “United Kingdom”.  We do want world socialism, where the means of life will be owned in common by the whole of the world socialist community. The real liberation struggle for freedom is the class struggle.


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 of the working class is its large numbers. Only through the majority can the workers be victorious. This presupposes the long existence of unified activity and organisation, and this in turn is only possible by organising openly and democratically.

 The working class have time and again displayed the will to learn and acquired the ability to fight in defense of their living standards against the corporations and in defiance of the government. The more the class struggle develops then the more the workers can begin to see through capitalism.  However, the current discontent has not translated into support for the socialist option. At the present time the socialist alternative does not appear so attractive to many. First of all, the word “socialism” in the popular consciousness was closely associated with the old USSR. While these regimes were not socialist we never stop hearing that these countries typify socialism. Not only did supporters of the ex-Soviet Union ceaselessly repeat this to cover up the exploitation of workers in their societies, but the capitalist media also took up the same refrain, since there was nothing better than to point their finger and say, “Look, that is socialism,” knowing full well that the police-state structure and the faltering economy was unlikely to interest workers. As a result many workers are hesitant to endorse the socialist aspiration or remain sceptical about whether it can ever be established.

This situation presents an important challenge for the Socialist Party. If more workers are to be won to the cause of socialism it is clear that we must greatly advance in our ability to explain the advantages of a socialist society and how we can achieve it. It is clear we must improve our explanation of our fundamental socialist ideas. We must combat the capitalist misrepresentations  and distortions of what socialism is. Working people are looking for change but they are yet to be convinced that socialism can provide them with a better life – greater democracy and improved material well-being. The Socialist Party must push forward the discussion of the experiences of socialism to date and the clearly define and depict the type of society we would like to see. A new socialist society does not exist in some text to be mechanically implemented. Education, debate discussion and agitation are essential if the socialist movement is to win over more workers so that the unconscious working class, that is a “class-in-itself”, is transformed into a conscious “class-for-itself”. We must never cease to expose the brutal class character of capitalism and demonstrate the advantages of socialist democracy. In the battle of ideas every member of the Socialist Party has a part to play to counter the enemy propaganda and state the socialist attitude on every social question. No one can stand aside.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Nationalism is irrelevant

Birds of a feather
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 independence" means  nothing to wage-slaves. The class war must be fought out by workers against the capitalist class of the world. If the working class of any country are too apathetic or spineless to stand erect against international capitalism, it does not matter by whom they are enslaved and exploited. The Scottish working class, when it organises on class lines, can have but one object, to throw off the capitalist yoke. The English or Welsh or Irish working class, opposed to a different group of the same capitalist class, can only prosecute the class war for the same object. For the working class of all countries, "national independence" is an irrelevance compared with their great need for a real International.

Nationalism and  independence means nothing to the wage-slave because poverty and degradation are the same in all the nations; class organisation is everything because on its growth and perfection, and, above all, its international character, hangs the hope of working-class victory over sordid, tyrannical, and bloody-capitalism, and the establishment of the one-and only socialism.

Monday, September 15, 2014

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 barons” will brook no interference with their will.

 These moguls and magnates presume to know best what we should teach children and how it should be done; how to defend the country’s borders against alien invasion, organise international trade and the national debt, how to provide health-care and welfare, ‘create’ jobs , revise the tax laws, control and curtail the unions, and, of course keep the country on the moral religious and racial straight and narrow so they look into a mirror at the reflection of themselves.  Some are philanthropic, others parsimonious; some are pietistic; some paternalist. There billionaires may not be a Tycoon Party in politics but every mainstream party represent their interests. They fund the politicians and the think-tanks and who pays the piper always clls the tune.  Some  may donate to liberal causes while others finance right-wing crusades.  But all of them subscribe to one thing: a belief in capitalism. The business autocrats have grown into an aristocracy. The capitalist class include reformers like Zuckerberg and Gates, as well as reactionaries such as the Koch brothers. What they share with each other and their robber baron ancestors is a god-like desire to create the world in their image to enhance their power.

We live in dangerous times, and this is something that few in politics or the media are willing to admit. Governments continue to be proxies and cheer-leaders of the capitalist class risking yet  another catastrophic economic crisis. Glorified financial scammers dictate the rules of the game and the structure and operation of any given economic environment. Many people are now not only working for lower wages, but often for fewer hours, and hours determined in an arbitrary fashion.

Socialism seeks to solve the problem of human misery by economic and social revolution. The capitalist class has never stopped–and will never stop–its efforts to destroy and weaken the workers’ movement. Revolutionary workers must be guided by the principle, an injury to one is an injury to all. We must advance labour solidarity in all battles against the capitalist class. Revolutionary workers must build toward independent political action by an organised working class. The Socialist Party’s main task is to dispossess the capitalists and establish socialism. But that doesn’t mean we can just sit around and wait for socialism, nor can we make capitalism work like socialism.

The Socialist Party has to win a hearing for our views from our  fellow members of the working class. We don’t care where a person is born, as long as he or she can fight alongside us for socialism.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

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 month, arise from the fact that the means of wealth production are monopolised by a minority class. They are caused by capitalism and cannot be solved by any amount of tinkering with its political superstructure.

As a mere political or constitutional change the setting up of elected assemblies in Scotland and Wales will contribute nothing towards helping to solve the problems facing wage and salary earners, either there or elsewhere. Since these problems arise from the way in which society is at present organised they can only be solved by a change in the social system: by the social revolution involved in replacing class monopoly and production for profit by the common ownership and production solely for use of socialism. Revolution not devolution, is what is required.

Even if the elected assemblies were to be other than glorified county councils completely dependent, like all other local authorities in Britain, on the central government for funds, or embryo parliaments of an independent Scotland or an Independent Wales, we would still say that whether or not they are to be established is an irrelevant issue.

The basic argument put forward by the SNP and Plaid Cymru is that the problems of wage and salary earners living in Scotland and Wales arise from the fact they they are governed from London rather than from Edinburgh or Cardiff. The absurdity of this claim is matched only by that of the Tory and Labour Parties which attribute these problems to the fact that the rival party is or has been in power.

It makes no difference where the governments which enforce class monopoly have their headquarters—London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Brussels or Timbuctoo. An independent Scotland or Wales would inevitably be a capitalist Scotland or a capitalist Wales where the means of production would continue to be governed by the laws of capitalism. And where the problems facing wage and salary earners would therefore continue to exist, as the eloquent example of Ireland where unemployment and emigration have continued despite nearly sixty years of political independence, clearly shows.

Because we regard Scottish or Welsh independence as an irrelevancy does not mean that we are therefore to be counted among the partisans of the maintenance of the United Kingdom as a single political unit. What we are saying is that, since the problems facing wage and salary earners are not caused by the way in which the political superstructure is arranged, changes in this superstructure—such as separation or union—are irrelevant. Hence our conclusion that workers should avoid taking sides in arguments over such issues.

What we do stand for is neither an independent Scotland or Wales nor a united Britain but a world without frontiers. Socialism cannot be established in a single country for a simple but sufficient reason: capitalism, the system it will replace, is already a world system. It exists in state capitalist Russia and China as well as in the West, and quite clearly dominates all so-called "national economies" through the operation of the world market.

Even the politicians recognise this in a vague, roundabout way. Are they not always telling us that "our" problems arise from the fact that "our" goods are not competitive enough on the world market? When you realise that politicians in America, France, Germany, Japan and all other countries are telling the same story then it becomes clear that there are no national solutions to today's social problems. They cannot be solved within the borders of particular States but only on a world scale, in a world without frontiers based on common ownership and democratic control with production solely for use not sale or profit. Only on this basis can the highly-developed, world-wide productive apparatus turn out the abundance of wealth that it is capable of, so permitting society to implement the long-standing socialist principle of "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs".

Recognising the potential class weapon that is the vote socialists in Scotland and Wales will be going to the polling booths and writing "SOCIALISM—SPGB" across their ballot papers. we urge all others who realise that world socialism is the only solution to their problems to do likewise.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

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 British capitalism. They seek the subsidies of North Sea oil revenues and a corporate tax structure more suited to their own needs. They entice the Scottish worker with offers of a reformist programme financed by an illusory budget. They present the promise of  panacea to Scots without having to fight capitalism. The argument that the Scottish people will benefit more from North Sea Oil after independence is a fallacy. None of our natural resources will be put to a sensible or beneficial use until the working class itself has gained control over the use of these valuable and non-renewable resources. The SNP advocate industrial harmony and an end to class conflict and promise wealth beyond our wildest dreams. For whom, exactly, it must be asked.

The question of independence threatens relations between English/Welsh and Scottish workers. Scottish workers are placing their trust in the local employing class rather than in unity with workers. United working-class action cannot be easily achieved by emphasising the supposed national differences in consciousness which distinguish some Scottish workers from their English brothers. And certainly it is not aided by combining with sections of the Scottish bosses in campaigns for Scottish nationalism. Scottish workers are led to identify with Scottish businessmen and landowners on the basis of  shared ‘nationality’.  Working class unity enables us to combine our tactics for defending our class with the strategy of liberating our class.

Socialists do not fall into the trap of the potentially ‘progressive’ facade of nationalism. The success of the right-wing Ukrainian and Russian nationalists shows the danger of believing that radical nationalist slogans always lead to radical results. Scottish nationalism does not strengthen the campaign for socialism or creates a united, class-conscious working class, but fragments and weakens it. If England derives significant material benefit from the exploitation of Scotland then how do we explain the low living standards in Newcastle and Liverpool and the concentrate prosperity of some Edinburgh and Aberdeen areas.

 To those who are in the ‘Yes’ camp, we are saying independence will not improve your condition one little bit. Only class struggle can do that. Any success or otherwise of any workers’ movement in Scotland depends on close ties with similar movements in England (and elsewhere) . We are not defending the unity of the United Kingdom in any way. That would be an endorsement for the status quo, something we do not support. We do not argue that the present constitutional arrangement benefits ordinary people. The liberation for Scottish workers can come about only by over-throwing capitalism itself. If this is not done no amount of separatism can ever succeed in bringing freedom, only diversion. Instead of tragically wasting their time fostering nationalism workers should be struggling for a socialist society. Social problems can only be removed by a conscious, majority desire to change the basis of society. Reformism and nationalism has not brought us any closer to resolving the fundamental contradictions of capitalist society. The socialist movement has a function which is practical, political and educational. The Socialist Party enters the political field in order to expose and oppose every party whose policy works against the interests of the working class.

“If they [the protectionists] speak consciously and openly to the working class, then they summarise their philanthropy in the following words: It is better to be exploited by one’s fellow-countrymen than by foreigners.” Marx, 1847

The above was shortened to form the editorial of September's  Socialist Standard

Friday, September 12, 2014

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 because such methods leave the coercive state in the hands of the owning class. When workers are sufficiently class conscious to capture the political machinery for socialism, they will have already used their knowledge to bring their workplace organisations to a similar state of development. They will talk not of mines for the miners or factories for the factory workers, but of the democratic control of the world's resources by the whole community.

The only movement in the interest of the great majority that can ever be successful is one they understand, desire and vote for. Industrial action for political ends can produce conditions of chaos. But chaos is not socialism, and so long as the great majority do not want socialism, socialism cannot be the outcome. Good intentions will not solve social problems but there is a revolutionary alternative: we must end capitalism. But there is a real question of confidence. The confidence of the organised labour movement and of the working class in the creation of socialism. The working class have to set to with a will producing for themselves and for the needs of the people.

Despite all the vows that recessions like the Great Depression of the 1930’s would never happen again, the world is in the grips of another social, economic and political crisis. Mass unemployment is once more a reality. Union rights, a whole range of social welfare services, are under fierce attack. Humanity itself is threatened with environmental destruction. Never have we stood in greater need of fundamental solutions. The Socialist Party aims to replace the present capitalist system with a society from which the domination and exploitation of one class by another will be eliminated, in which economic planning will supersede unregulated private enterprise and competition, and in which genuine democratic self-government, based on economic freedom, will be possible. The mainstream politicians, Labour and Conservatives offer nothing but platitudes and policies that punish the people for the crimes of an economic system where a humane society could never be met within the framework of capitalism. The Socialist Party’s goal is a socialist world based on common ownership of our resources and industry, cooperation, production for use and genuine democracy. Only socialism can turn the boundless potential of  people and resources to the creation of a world free from tyranny, greed, poverty and exploitation. The socialist option is the only alternative. Deepening economic crises and growing social problems are inevitable as long as profits dictate the course of humanity. Capitalism has failed, and so have efforts to reform it.

The needs of people, not profit, are the motivation for a socialist society. The Socialist Party trusts in the ability of working people to manage their own productive institutions, democratising all levels of society enhancing the power that people can exercise over their own lives and offering people decisive power in every level of decision making. The Socialist Party invites all people to join us, as we join them, in our common efforts to eradicate a social system based on exploitation, discrimination, poverty and war. The capitalist system must be replaced by socialist democracy. That is the only hope of humanity.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

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 thousands of people. The brutal forms of social life which are built on greed, envy, incessant strife, and which senselessly exhaust the labour energy of the working people--these shameful conditions can be changed only by the working class.  For this purpose the working class must take over political power; it must take over all the land and everything that it produces and yields when intelligent, planned human labour is applied to it--everything useful to men that is hidden in the bowels of the earth; it must take over all the means of production: technology, factories,transport; it must take over everything that has been made and is being made by the labour of the workers.

The basic cause of capitalist ills are the right to private property, the right to exploit, the right to rob, the right to over-produce and cause crises, the right to compete, and cause wars. Capitalism, with its mass production, its handful of billionaires getting more and more wealth, needs to sell, must sell. to compete with America. To do that, the capitalists must intervene in the  affairs of all other countries, to ensure that their policies are adapted to Wall Street’s and City of London’s interests. The recurring crises seek to force the workers on to the defensive, to bring about wage cutting and worsening conditions, while it becomes more and more difficult for the little people to make ends meet. Is it surprising that workers can see no difference between the leaders of capitalism, irrespective of their political affiliations. Workers know that they are exploited.

And the basic answer? Common ownership of the means of production, so that all may enjoy the fruit of their labour, and consume it, thus eliminating the economic crises and military conflict. It is the socialist answer. Socialists are not out to create a blood-soaked revolution. Socialists work for the improvement of the conditions of the people. Our direction of building up a class-conscious working-class Socialist Party is that we agitate, educate and organise! Workers’ understanding of social science teaches them that in the long run, such is capitalist development, that improvement can only be attained by changing basic social relations, by a shift in ownership and control from the few to the many, all-embracing socialisation when the whole of society is changed by the elimination of the private ownership of the entire means of production. Any violence accompanying the change will be determined not by us, who hate it, and want it not, but by the possible resistance by the few to the will of the people for it. John F. Kennedy said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

The development to socialism is also inevitable – what is in question is how much more of the ills caused by capitalism, from wage servitude to war, we have to go through, and that depends upon all of us, upon you. A few owners rule the vast numbers of dispossessed without hope under capitalism. The future, however, is full of hope but only with socialism. It is necessary to end the very system under which a tiny number of men exercise domination over the lives of the people, to end the exploitation of human labour. It is necessary because unless it is done, we face the  consequences of returning economic crises, of more war and weare threatened by the global environmental catastrophe.

“We, of the socialist working class realise that as we suffer together, we must work together, that we may enjoy together.”- James Connolly

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

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 task in which the workers of all lands are equally concerned. Being aware of this fact the Socialist Party proclaims its solidarity with the class-conscious workers of all lands.

The capitalists know and fear the working class  on the fact that more of our class are increasingly reaching the correct conclusion about the economic, political and military history. That correct conclusion being that the natural resources and the means of production now in their hands, and which are the source of their economic and political power, must be taken from them. The workers everywhere have been penetrating the lies of capitalism. Capitalism robs the toilers of what they produce and places restrictions upon the development of the productive forces themselves. The main task of all capitalist governments is the suppression and exploitation of working people. Capitalists understand and sense the revolutionising effect upon the millions of workers in the growing crisis of the capitalist system.

Instead of a profit-making apparatus to fatten a few while millions suffer privations, socialism is for the benefit of the actual producers. Socialism marks the birth of the first era of prosperity for the workers. Under capitalism everywhere wealth piles up automatically in the hands of the parasitic owners of the industries, while the masses live at the bare subsistence.

Working people will be guaranteed security, democracy, equality and peace only when our world is run on an entirely different basis than it is now; only when a socialist system replaces the present capitalist one. The new socialist system would mean that all people would collectively own the factories and farms and they would plan production and distribution for their own needs.  How can workers be possibly be “exploited” when there is no ruling, owning class, no class to get a rake-off from the worker’s production?

 Socialism abolishes the chaos and anarchy of capitalist production and social organization; it does away with the dog-eat-dog competition of capitalist industry, breeder of economic crises and war. It sets up instead a planned system of modern industry and social relationships in harmony with the world’s eco-systems. Under capitalism science is a slave to the class interests of the bourgeoisie. Thus biology justifies the mad class struggle and war; economics puts an unqualified blessing upon wage slavery; history proves that capitalism is society perfected; psychology explains away poverty on the basis of inferior beings, etc. Capitalist science is also a veritable fortress of metaphysical concepts of every kind. But socialism strikes all these fetters from science. The working class exploits no subject class. Therefore, it has no interest to degrade science into a subtle system of propaganda, but on the contrary to give it the freest possible development. Capitalist science is unplanned and anarchic, the hit-or-miss task of whoever may be. But socialism organises science. Socialist re-construction is not only a plan of economy but also  the process of the rationalisation of life.

 Religion has been a part of every system of exploitation that has afflicted humanity—chattel slavery, feudalism, capitalism. It has sanctified every war and every tyrant, no matter how murderous and reactionary. Its glib phrases about morality, brotherly love and immortality are the covers behind which the most terrible deeds in history have been done. Religion is the sworn enemy of liberty, education, science. Capitalism tries to preserve religion in order to check the rebellion of the workers. Such monstrous systems of trickery and exploitation will be totally foreign to a socialist society because there is no exploited class requiring the escapism of religion and because childish superstition is impossible in a society based upon historical materialism.

The future socialist society will be stateless. With private property abolished (but, of course, not in articles of personal use), with exploitation of the toilers ended, and with the capitalist class decisively beaten there will then be no further need for the State, which in its essence, is an organ of class repression and then in the words of Engels, the State “withers away” and be replaced by a scientific technical “administration of things.”

 In socialism the guiding principle will be: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” That is, the distribution of life necessities—food, clothing, shelter, education, etc.—will be free, without let or hindrance. Production will be carried out upon the most efficient basis and freed from the drains of capitalist exploiters, will provide such an abundance of necessary commodities that there will be plenty for all with a minimum of effort. There will then be no need for pinch-penny measuring and weighing.  Technology freed from capitalist anarchy and exploitation, will develop a high efficiency and lay the basis for genuine mass prosperity.

This social development can only be opened by revolution. Our socialist revolution revolution marks the birth of real democracy. For the first time working people become free. Under chattel slavery, feudalism and capitalism they were oppressed and enslaved, merely the forms of this slavery changing with the varying modes of exploitation. All the capitalist “democracies”  are only the dictatorship of the employers, masked with hypocritical democratic pretenses. But the social revolution, by doing away with private ownership of the social means of production and distribution and by abolishing the exploitation of the workers, destroys the very foundations of enslavement and lays the groundwork for the establishment of a true democracy in which there are neither oppressors nor oppressed.

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 social ownership replaces private ownership. The people who work in them and the communities in which they are located should control economic enterprises. We can work together in enterprises and organisations that exist in local communities, but which also connect with like-minded world-wide groups to produce the things we need.

Our planet is one intertwined community with interests that can only be satisfied through mutual respect and cooperation and socialism acts on the principle that an injury to one anywhere and everywhere is an injury to all. Socialists seek to halt the environmental destruction. We can exist in harmony with our environment if we get rid of capitalism and promote respect for nature and understanding the interdependence of all forms of life.

The Socialist Party supports and is in favour of all steps taken to unite the workers into one political and one industrial organisation that transcends all borders. Socialists seek to eliminate borders not create any more. Adding another will not make any of the workers’ social problems magically disappear. We have no interest in building separate nations. Capitalism has had the effect of turning us into a global working class while dividing us by nation and race to compete for crumbs. The time is now that we should begin to act like one working class.

Apart from the occasional squabble over the share of spoils, both Scottish and English capitalists are class-brothers with a common interest - the subjugation and exploitation of the working class, EVERYWHERE. Why should we alienate one part of our own world-wide class by forming a common front, by compromising and making concessions with either faction of the ruling class rather than make common cause against nationalist employers and land-owners, the enemy of socialism. Why help to change a flag and constitution yet leave the auld enemy, capitalism, with its poverty and exploitation intact? Why should socialists assist an elite that are eager to speculate with the sweat and toil of workers on the markets of international capitalism? The struggle against the nationalists goes hand-in-hand with the struggle against capitalist exploitation. They are two sides of the same coin!

Whether we in Scotland are governed by London or Edinburgh we will still have to hire ourselves out as wages slaves. The social problems we face are not caused by the wrong party being in power but by the social and economic system under which we were born and exist. With independence the boss-worker relationship remains. The class struggle exists and will continue to exist as long as the wages system, the foundation stone of capitalism, continues to exist.  A new sovereign Scottish government would soon settle down to its job of administering capitalism in the interests of its masters, the property owning class. Capitalism calls the tune and makes governments dance.

Many people are disgusted with the present society and culture. Unemployment continues to be a major issue and workers are lucky to even have a regular job. The conditions of work and pay are totally left up to the decision of the capitalists. Yet, the working class has been unable so far to transform the hatred of capitalism into action against it.

Through our words and actions we can demonstrate that the realistic alternative to capitalism is an expansion of democracy. In order to build the peaceful, ecologically sane world we desire, our tactics are non-violent.  We can replace capitalism with a system based on social ownership, equal human entitlement and workplace democracy. Building an economic democracy is the key to human survival.

Let’s not like the sheep that is shepherded toward its own slaughter. The facts are clear. The verdict is in. Capitalism need for growth and profit is responsible for our misery. Socialists seek only to take those actions in this very day that would move us one step further along towards our  the desired goal. And what goal is that? Social Revolution. The capitalists’ greatest weapons are our own apathy, our class ignorance and our fear. 

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

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 idea for the workers of the world to unite to overthrow all their exploiters and oppressors is clearly not Marxist. Nationalism is political poison for workers everywhere.

Nationalism has been a dangerous diversion from the class struggle and led to workers supporting the killing in wars of other workers in the interest of one or other state and its ruling class. It is of the essence of nationalists that when prevented from building up their own wealth they may well build their own independent capitalist state.  Nationalist struggles are class struggles under an ideological smokescreen, but not of the working class. They are either struggles by an aspiring capitalist class to establish themselves as a new national ruling class or struggles by an established but weak national ruling class to gather a bigger share of world profits for themselves. There is no reason why socialists should support independence movements. Socialists do not allow themselves to be used as tools of some capitalist.

Rosa Luxemburg's contribution to the debate on nationalism was her opposition to the idea of the  "right of nations to self-determination" based on the experience of the Polish working class in its struggle against its ‘oppressed’ native capitalist, has been largely forgotten. Although being Polish herself she chose to participate in the class struggle in Germany instead of advocating a "free" Poland and allying herself with the national bourgeoisie.  Luxemburg accused Lenin as having "thrown the greatest confusion into the ranks of socialism." and she goes on to explain: "The Bolsheviks have supplied the ideology which has masked the campaign of counter-revolution; they have strengthened the position of the bourgeoisie and weakened that of the proletariat...”

Rosa Luxemburg presented the Marxist case in regards to nationalism:
"A "right of nations" which is valid for all countries and all times is nothing more than a metaphysical cliché of the type of "rights of man" and "rights of the citizen...When we speak of the "right of nations to self-determination", we are using the concept of the "nation", as a homogeneous social and political entity… In a class society, "the nation" as a homogeneous socio-political entity does not exist. Rather, there exist within each nation, classes with antagonistic interests and "rights"."

In a statement from 1916 by some members of the SDKPL,  the political party of Luxemburg, they show a remarkable degree of understanding on this issue:

"The so-called right of self-determination is also used with the proviso that it will become a reality for the first time under socialism and is thus an expression of our striving for socialism. This proposition is open to the following objections. We know that socialism will do away with all national oppression, because it removes the class interests that furnish the driving force of such oppression. We also have no reason to assume that the nation, in socialist society, will form a politico-economic unit. By all indications it will have the character of a cultural and linguistic unit; for the territorial division of the socialist cultural unit, insofar as this will survive at all, can only follow the needs of production, and this division would have to be determined, not by individual nations separately, from their own power (as the "right of self-determination" demands), but through the joint action of all interested citizens. The carrying over of the formula of "right of self-determination" into socialism arises from a complete misunderstanding of the nature of socialist society."

Where is the link to the victory of capitalism to a socialist understanding of the workers, that some left nationalists say should have taken place? In fact, even a cursory reading of history shows that capitalism and the power of the capitalist have not been weakened. Has nationalism progressed the cause of the working class one inch over the decades? Or led it down many a tearful false trail?  Marx and Engels did support certain nationalist movements but it was to bring capitalism to feudal states or to give the capitalist class political power so they could create the pre-requisites of socialism - an industrialised society and with it an actual working class. Which Marxist seriously thinks that such a policy is required in to-day’s world where capitalism is now the predominant system and the working class that is now the decisive class not the capitalists. What may have been right in the 19th Century for Marx and Engels, may not now be the right choice in this century under changed circumstances.

For the socialist, class-consciousness is the breaking-down of all barriers to understanding. The concept of nationality is one of these obstacles. The idea that an area controlled by a privileged elite who thrive on the enforced exploitation of that area's producers, should grant to the latter the right to live there providing its members accept their wage-slave status and endorse the right of the privileged to live on their backs is offensive to any reasonably-minded person. Those who promote such nonsense are enemies of our class .

Nationalism means merely workers get new masters instead of the old ones. Capitalism does not change by a change of management personnel. Political control may well switch locations but yet the multinationals still maintain their economic stranglehold on the newly-independent nations.

"Because the condition of the workers of all countries is the same, because their interests are the same, their enemies the same, they must also fight together, they must oppose the brotherhood of the bourgeoisie of all nations with a brotherhood of the workers of all nations." - Engels

Monday, September 08, 2014

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 freedom and movement of labour. These restrictions take the form both of attacking trade unions at ‘home’, and also controlling those that are forced to move abroad. Indeed, divisions within the working class has always been an essential feature of the capitalist system. This was a point that Marx recognised when he talked about the racism directed by English workers against migrant Irish workers. He called this antagonism the “secret of the impotence of the English working class ... It is the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power." So today, nations play an important function in the regulation of the world economy.

If mobility of labour is so central to the workings of capitalism, what is the logic for an increase in immigration controls? At times of economic boom, there are few or no restrictions on immigration. Indeed, governments actively encourage migration. But with the onset of a recession and the accompanying rise in unemployment, they were able to call upon an excess pool of labour which now exists without the inconvenience of importing migrants who now become a problem the government no longer needs, and no longer wants to support. So their entry is increasingly restricted.

The immigrant is faced by a legislative and bureaucratic structure of quite amazing complexity. Several studies indicate how problems have been created because immigrants have been misinformed and are unacquainted with the labyrinthine rules and procedures.  Frequently immigrants have no political or economic organisation to protect them. British-born workers view migrants as rivals for employment and undercutting wages and conditions. Many workers bewail the high numbers of immigrants, arguing that due to the increased supply of labour, wages in several unskilled and low-skilled job sectors have fallen, hitting the indigenous working class. The extra demand for housing has forced prices and rents even higher.

Crucially, as the Socialist Party points out , is quite simple for those who choose to see it: it is the owner of the means of production who will decide who will work, with what technology, for what wages, where the work will be sited and what level of unemployment (surplus labour, indigenous or foreign) will be best for his maximum profit.The anti-immigrant argument has the effect of  freeing the capitalist class of all responsibility for the things that they actually have control over. It is not just silly but very dangerous.  It is the height of class treachery to our class (remembering that the working class stretches far beyond Britain), to opt for a policy of blaming the immigrant for all British workers’ woes, even if this will strike a chord with the basest instincts of many workers. Take the  question of the shortage of housing being the fault of immigrants. Immigrants tend to be ghettoised into the lowest quality housing in over-crowded conditions yet many workers subscribes to the popular view that “they come over here with nothing and are given the best houses by the council.” Workers do say these things and, if not shown the errors of these views, will tend to believe them. But that is no excuse to pander to these views or worse, to try to give these racist views credibility. The fact that this level of ignorance exists does not make it either right or desirable, it only goes to show the staggering amount of work that real communists have to do to bring education. As for stealing jobs, it is just a short step from that to arguing that if women stayed at home, looking after the kids, there would be more jobs for the men of the house, at higher rates. Does anyone really believe that the percentage rate of unemployment (necessary to capitalist economics) would fall if all immigration ceased? In fact, this flawed theory can be used against any group, anything at all it seems except the political system of capitalism. The Socialist Party has never been afraid to take a minority position that is correct merely because it is unpopular with the working class at the time.

We have a job to do to educate all workers to realise the need to build socialism.  Scape-goating newcomers is playing the bosses’ game, turning worker against worker.  As the problems of the  global capitalism becomes more acute, so too will the desire of the capitalist class to use all weapons – in particular that of nationalism – to divide working people. The response is to fight for the common interest of working class unity. The danger from the nationalist or racist is real but we can fight it, provided we start with class arguments.