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Showing posts from October, 2014

The Great War - the Class War

We cannot predict the future. It is not easy to foretell what will bring about a fundamental change in the world situation. But, one thing is sure, we do have good reason to be pessimistic. For every mainstream film that is angry and trying to communicate hope and vision, like Hunger Games or Elysium, there are a hundred that reaffirm that there is no alternative.

A danger exists that we will soon find ourselves living on a planet unable to sustain peoples’ continued existence on it. It has long been the perspective of socialists that the capitalist drive for profit and the narrow framework of the nation-state system are the two greatest barriers to the ability of humans to live efficiently and harmoniously with their natural environment. We argue it is not over-population, a shortage of resources  or economic growth in and of itself that has placed humanity’s existence in jeopardy. It is therefore of the greatest importance that workers in defense of our natural resources from capit…

Let Them Drown

The recent report that the Italian navy operation, Mare Nostrum, has saved the lives of 150,000 migrants and refugees so far this year but despite their best efforts more than 3,000 have died. You would imagine the desperate plight of workers crossing the Mediterranean in dangerous boats seeking employment in Europe would meet with world-wide sympathy, but that is not the view of the British government. 'A Home Office minister has urged that emergency rescue operations of drowning migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean "be stopped at the earliest possible opportunity" despite being told his approach amounted to "a barbaric abandonment of British values". The unrepentant immigration minister, James Brokenshire was defending in public for the first time the decision taken by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to refuse to support future search and rescue of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean in rickety unseaworthy boats.' (Gu…

Wow, 50p A Week

The government is considering cutting the value of the main employment and support allowance (ESA) sickness benefit by as much as £30 so that it is effectively worth the same as jobseeker's allowance, internal documents seen by the BBC suggest. 'New claimants, judged to be capable of work with appropriate support, could be given just 50p more per week than people on jobseeker's allowance (JSA). .... George Osborne, the chancellor, has said he is seeking a £12bn cut in the welfare bill, and has so far identified a quarter of these cuts mainly through freezing the value of most benefits for two years.' (Guardian, 30 October) Whenever a government has financial problems its first response is always to cut welfare payments. RD

The SPGB - Educate, Agitate, Organise

If we seek progress in finding the right strategy for the transition to the better world we aspire towards, then it is necessary first to correct any mistakes in our understanding of the present situation and, in general, create clarity about the matters being discussed. If the various trends in the workers’ movement at the end still disagree, then we shall at least know on which points exactly we disagree. That too would be some progress in the discussion. When two or more groups participate in a strategy discussion, then one logical assumption is that they share a common goal for it is nonsensical to search for a common strategy for different goals. No socialist seeks differences. If the differences exist, they are real. If you continue to go down the wrong road, at a certain point something happens.  A revolution from the left statists? A revolution from the right? Is it violence followed by state violence?  Or will it be a sudden decision by a critical mass of people that they ar…

Justice In Action

Capitalism is a thoroughly disgusting social system. It produces wars, world hunger and crime, but surely this is one of most disgusting crimes of all. 'Child sexual exploitation has become a "social norm" within some areas of Greater Manchester, according to the author of a report ordered after the Rochdale grooming case. It said girls in uniform were regularly stopped by men outside schools. Inquiry chairwoman Ann Coffey MP said the "prevailing public attitude" blamed children, leading to 1,000 convictions from 13,000 cases over six years.' (BBC News, 30 October) So much for capitalism's super duper police and law courts! RD

A Strange Sort Of Democracy

It used to be that leaders from the two major US political parties, Republican and Democratic, controlled the money and devised the electoral strategy, but thanks to legislation and Supreme Court decisions over the past 12 years, this has changed entirely. The power of political parties ebbed, while outside groups and individuals have been given new freedom to buy seats at the game. This is particularly true of marginal contests. 'As a result, money has flooded into the Tarheel State. At this point more than $106m has been spent on the race, easily breaking the record of $77.3m for the 2012 Massachusetts Senate race. Outside groups have poured in the lion's share, with more than $76m (also a record). That dwarfs the amount raised by Ms Hagen ($22m) and Mr Tillis ($9.1m).' (BBC News, 30 October) So much for US claims about being a democracy - not only do the owning class own the means of production and distribution they heavily influence the voting s…

The Goal is Revolution, Not Reform

New studies about the warming of the planet and the risk of massive release of methane from the Arctic are worse than originally thought.

The warmongers of the Wall Street tell us there is not enough money for social services , for adequate health care or a decent education system. They tell us we must cut back. Yet there is plenty of money for their wars, and plenty of profits for the rich. The military-industrial complex garners extraordinary rates of profit. According to a study by financial advisory firm Morgan Stanley, shares in the major US arms manufacturers have risen 27,699% over the past fifty years versus 6,777% for the broader market. In the past three years alone, arms corporation Lockheed Martin has returned 149% to their investors, Raytheon 124% and Grumman 114%.

Most people are clearly aware that the main cause of climate change, which is destroying the planet, is profit motivated. Yet many environmental organizations and activists ignore the wars that kill people whi…

Capitalism In Action

Such is the nature of capitalism in the UK today that the 5.2 million workers in low-paid jobs may be envied by this group of bank workers. 'Lloyds Banking Group has confirmed 9,000 job losses and the net closure of 150 branches over the next three years. The latest job losses - representing about 10% of its workforce - come on top of 43,000 cuts made since 2008.' (BBC News, 28 October) Don't talk to these workers about economic recovery!   RD

A Recovery For Some

The UK government is very fond at the moment of boasting how they have solved the economic crisis. They claim that the economic deficit has been reduced and that unemployment figures have improved. However there is one aspect of the so-called recovery that they keep quiet about. 'The number of people working in low-paid jobs has hit a record of 5.2 million, according to a report by the Resolution Foundation, a think-tank, which found that the number of people earning less than two thirds of the median hourly rate of £7.69 had risen by 250,000 last year.' (Times, 27 October) So while members of the owning class reap in the profits many workers find themselves worse off.  RD

1% OWN 50% - 50% OWN 1%

Those who fight against capitalism must not settle for reforming a system that is as broken as it is dangerous. Any viable, transformative struggle needs a bold democratic vision; durable, longstanding organizations and strategies that make politics revolutionary. Corporate interests are powerful lobbying groups and as such have control of the major seats of political power and the commanding institutions necessary to insure that the deeply anti-democratic state rules in the interests of the few while exploiting and repressing the many.  The ruling class no longer care about the social contract and make no concessions in their ruthless pursuits of power and profits.  The decisions that shape all aspects of the commanding institutions of society are made largely in private, behind closed doors by the anonymous financial elite, corporate CEOs, rich bankers, and other almost unassailable leaders of the military-industrial complex.

A recent Princeton University study analyzed policy init…

The poorer - the sicker

A Scottish government report covering a 15-year-period from 1997 to 2012 revealed that hospital admissions for heart attacks were three times higher in poorer areas than in the least deprived areas. The report said the admission rate for heart attacks in the most deprived areas had increased by 45% since 2007 and by 15% in the last year. Deaths from heart disease are about five times more likely in Scotland's worst-off areas, compared with its most affluent communities.

 Cancer is more common in deprived parts of the country. Those aged 45-74 who are diagnosed with the disease in deprived areas are also more than twice as likely to die.

The rate of  alcohol-related admissions in the most deprived areas is around eight times higher than in areas of low deprivation.

Deaths in the poorest areas of the country were more than three times as common as in the most affluent in 2012.

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said "At the root this is an issue of income inequality - we n…

The SPGB and the Anti-Statists

The Socialist Party calls for a revolution without leaders to abolish the wages system and we are therefore implacably opposed to Leninism and its concept of a centralised vanguard to lead the working class.

 In our view the working class must organise consciously and politically first, for the conquest of the powers of government, before it can convert private property in the means of production into common property. Our reasoning goes like this. We want the majority in society (workers of all kinds) to take over and run the means of production in the interest of all. However, at the moment these are in the hands of a minority of the population whose ownership and control of them is backed up and enforced by the State.

The State stands as an obstacle between the useful majority and the means of production because it is at present controlled by the minority owning class. They control the state, not by some conspiracy, but with the consent or acquiescence of the majority of the popula…

The SPGB and the State

The state is a coercive institution standing above the rest of society and a product of the division of society into antagonistic economic classes. Once these classes are abolished through the common ownership of productive resources, then the state will become redundant; its coercive features will be dismantled and its useful administrative functions merged into the democratic structure of classless society. This was a position of Marxists. Marx wrote at the height of his controversy with the anarchist Bakunin in 1874:
"All Socialists understand by 'anarchy' this: the aim of the proletarian movement, the abolition of classes, once achieved, the power of the State, which serves to keep the great producing majority under the yoke of a small exploiting minority, will disappear and the functions of government will be transformed into simple administrative functions" (Conspectus of Bakunin's 'Statism and anarchy').

 During the brief period when it would be g…

The Leaderless Socialist Party

One myth is that leaders can create democracy and prosperity while those who want it need do no more than cheer from the sidelines and drop the equivalent of blank cheques into the ballot box. As if liberation can be achieved while the minds of the liberated are still chained to the illusions of class society. As if the mighty are high for any reason but that the meek are holding them upon their shoulders. A leader cannot lead unless there are followers to follow. ou cannot be a socialist and have a leader. You cannot be a socialist and be a leader. Socialism means self-emancipation of the working class by the working class. Only when a majority of workers understand and want it will socialism be a practical possibility. It is all a question of consciousness allied with democratic political action.

 There exists an assumption is that without leaders, there can be no civilisation. Our contention is the opposite. Leaders, and the followers who create them, are holding us back from any …

Fact of the Day

220,000 Scots children languish in poverty; nearly 180,000 families are trapped on social housing waiting lists and one in five workers are paid below the living wage, forced to earn their poverty. Another 120,000 Scots are on zero-hour contracts, denied security or basic rights like pensions and paid leave.

“...the tradition of working people in the UK uniting against their common enemies – today, bankers, tax dodgers and poverty-pay firms stripping workers of rights and security – must surely be strengthened...” Owen Jones

A Socialist Demands

Meet the Socialist Party

There is something seriously wrong with the world we all live in.  We in the Socialist Party are organised to remove the causes of those problems. Tinkering with the many local and global problems achieves little if anything.  It is first necessary to get a clear idea of what the problems are.  The world is at present divided up into some 190 countries - some large some small - but no matter where you go you will find common features. These features never change:

1. Everywhere you go most things have a price.
2. Everywhere you go the vast majority of people will be working for wages or salaries. It’s true that there are a still a few areas which practice a subsistence economy but they are small and getting smaller.
3. The majority of the world’s population are engaged in the cash economy. In order to live the majority of the world’s population have to sell their ability to work for a wage or a salary.
4. Conversely everywhere you go there will be a small proportion of the population whos…

Introducing socialism

As a world system organised to satisfy human needs socialism can only be conceived as universal. The socialist speaks of common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interests of the whole community. The whole community is simply every person on earth. The days of national politics are long since ended as a useful framework of political action. We live today in a world of potential abundance. Yet, while millions are in want and many starve. Commonsense would suggest that to derive full benefit for all from worldwide production, it should be owned and controlled by all humanity; that it should belong in common to all mankind and be controlled by them to satisfy their own needs. By production solely for human need we mean direct co-operation between people in producing goods and maintaining services directly for need. This requires the abolition of the market, including that for labour power in socialism, produ…

Who Owns the North Pole (part 76)

The U.S. will assume leadership of the international Arctic Council this week. The Arctic Council consists of representatives from eight countries—Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States—plus permanent participants representing indigenous peoples.  For environmentalists, by opening U.S. Arctic waters to oil drilling leases, the Obama Administration hasn't instilled confidence in its stewardship of the complex and swiftly changing ecosystem. A Clean Air Task Force report, "The Last Climate Frontier" said "For climate change, the Arctic is the lynchpin—the future of the Arctic will determine the future of all coastal communities, from Miami to Norfolk to Shanghai."  Heather Conley, director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic & International Studies," told Environment & Energy. "Climate change and the policies around climate change have different meanings to each of the eight Arctic members.…

Getting to know the SPGB

Our experience is that, when people first hear us saying we stand for socialism, most take us to be standing for "state ownership and rule by a socialist party".  What we mean by "common ownership" doesn't mean state ownership; the state represents only a section of society. At present the ownership of the productive resources by which society lives is divided up among separate individuals and institutions (firms, states, even co-operatives). Common ownership is the opposite of this situation: it means the absence of any such sectional control over access to and use of productive resources. With common ownership, what is produced, as well as the means to produce it, is commonly owned, so that it does not need to be sold. It, too, is simply there, to be distributed to where it is needed, whether this be another workplace for further transformation into a finished product or a distribution centre to which people can come and take what they need. Common ownership…