Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Profit From Others Misery

That abomination known as incarceration, otherwise known as unnecessary torture, is still rising in the US. There, 2.2 million are in jails, greater even than in that 'communist' country, China, that has 1.6 million incarcerated. State spending on jails has soared from $16.9 billion in 1990 to $51.9 billion in 2013. 40,900 were jailed for drug crimes in 1980, by 2013 the number was 489,000. The black population in the country is thirteen per cent but they make up 38% of the prisoners. Obviously there is a plan to incarcerate as many as possible and someone is making a lot of money out of it. Profit from the misery of others!. John Ayers.

The Rich Do Better.

 "It should shock no one that in the matter of access to health care, even to the organs in other people's bodies, the wealthy and well-connected...are different from the rest of us.' The rich do better', Dr, Arthur Caplan, head of bioethics at New York University Medical Centre, told the Star (May 23). 'I don't know that that's a headline, but it's nonetheless true. Right down to the homeless, health care is a tiered system. John Ayers.

Action Man (video)

No More Empty Promises

“Accumulate, accumulate! That is Moses and the prophets!” - Marx

Capitalism has now become a threat to life on Earth. The system’s need for infinite growth and the finite resources of Earth stand in contradiction to each other. Successful capitalism means growth which means that on the one hand nature is treated as a resource to be exploited ruthlessly, and on the other, toxic waste is dumped. The capitalist class appoint economists, rather than environmental scientists to advise them on the ecological crisis. What these economists do not appear to realise is that, while starting from the assumption that the ecological crisis can be solved within the capitalist system, their calculations, which show the required costs would be unsustainable, prove the opposite, namely that this environmental  crisis cannot be solved within capitalist relations of production. It is clear that the demands of the capitalist system, namely profits via cheap energy are being followed in preference to any strategy which could ensure the long term survival of life on the planet, the exact opposite of what rationality should dictate. The capitalist system requires continuous accumulation of capital. If capitals do not accumulate they will collapse, and there is therefore a general struggle for accumulation of capital, which means growth and expansion of markets, throughout the entire system. This drive for accumulation is derived from the internal functioning of the system and cannot be avoided. Capitalism has to “expand or die”, which is why all countries measure their success in terms of economic growth. The forces propelling this drive come from the workings of the capitalist system itself, not from the immorality of the capitalist class. Consequently the attempts of environmentalists to persuade the capitalist class to “wake up” and to adopt a zero growth economy, reflect a failure to understand capitalism, and are therefore futile.

Capitalism is a productive system which produces for profit not for human needs. Only when the ecological problems start to affect profits will capitalists start to treat them seriously. This will occur when the ecological reserves have been used up and by then it will be too late to do anything about it. Regarding climate change, the problem isn’t “industrial civilization” as such. It is its particular form known as capitalism, which stands in an inherently incompatable to livable ecology. The capitalist system at its root is all about the growth, accumulation and is exploitation-addicted world system, with its anarchic and atomized decision-making, incapable of democratically planning for the common good. Capitalism is inseparable from the compulsion to indiscriminate growth that drives consumerism which is inimical to collective values and insensitive to the environment. As a social system based on private ownership of production it can’t support the kind of planning that could avert environmental catastrophe. The owners of capital are fragmented and compelled by competition to look after their own interests first, and any serious planning would have to override property rights — an action that would be opposed by vested interests.

Ecological harmony and a sustainable environment are essential to the continued existence of humanity. Humanity is the only species that has developed the ability to alter its environment. Under capitalism, these alterations have been at once beneficial and harmful. While human beings marvel at the latest technological innovations and feats of engineering, we also lay waste to whole sections of the earth. In the name of capitalism and the drive for the highest possible profits, we have threatened the very ecological balance that created us. The Socialist Party believes in using all the technology and knowledge available to us to undo as much of the damage humanity has done to the planet we all share, in addition to improving on and creating new ways to rebuild our natural world. Once we can eliminate the profit motive, the door is open to rational use of natural resources for the first time in human history. How we make use of such resources will naturally be informed by our understanding that reason governs the outcome and not quarterly earnings returns to the boards of corporations. Naomi Klein is correct when she writes “We are stuck because 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 economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets”

The really “inconvenient truth” (as one of the Socialist Party’s pamphlets on the environment is titled) is that the problem is capitalism, itself.  It is not merely the Friedman free-market vulture capitalism but also the he Keynsian “regulated” and “welfare state” capitalism. Any form of capitalism is the recipe for disaster and catastrophe, for the profit system lays at the base of all the “Doomsday” scenarios. Understanding and going beyond capitalism is essential for averting the ecological apocalypse that we are heading towards. The disharmony with nature and all the other social evils and ills of so-called modern-day society are intimately interwoven and interrelated with the capitalist economic system. All our struggles for justice around the world—for equality, the right to food, economic fairness, human rights, decent work, environmental protection and more – are interconnected and all are tied up. The real problem we face are not the important but nevertheless innumerable superficial matters but the vital radical reconstruction of society itself. We need to replace capitalism and repair the world with socialism. Nothing less than the transformation of our society, our economy, and our world will suffice to solve the climate crisis. All around the world we are seeing the effects of the climate crisis. But all around the world we are seeing an unprecedented movement of people calling for urgent and concrete action to protect people and our planet. It's good to see the environmental movement catching up with the idea that truly addressing climate change will real attention to the root causes of the crisis - capitalism. We must send a clear message that our demand is for people power. We have to be much more real, much bolder, and much more determined to make it happen. It is all about people, and our capacity as humanity to secure safe and dignified lives for all with solutions based in a vision of the world that recognizes the need to live in harmony with nature, and to guarantee the fulfillment of all human needs. The balance of power is changing across the world, because people across the world are prepared to fight to protect their homes, their right to food, and their right to a decent job.

The World Socialist Movement acts as a catalyst for those who possess this shared vision for a better future. We need a broad deep movement of solidarity and action, with electoral commitment but also a focus on the effective exercise of popular power in other ways. Electoral efforts will emerge from wider forms of popular organizing as the outgrowth of people power.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Capitalism Lampooned

With all the gloom and doom around, it's nice to report some good news – the meteoric rise of comedienne Amy Schumer, who, in a word, can be described as refreshing. Though no subject is too sacred for the adventurous satirist, the area she specialises in is gender politics. Her recent lampooning of rape culture was both hilarious and to the point. As one scribe said, "Her comments are funny and horrific at the same time, mostly because they have a ring of truth." Though we know nothing of her political views, it's good to see the effects of capitalism lampooned in such a devastating way. John Ayers.

Money Counts People Don't

On May 1, Canada and the US announced a ten year plan to phase out trains like the one used in the Lac- Megantic disaster in Quebec. It set a series of deadlines by which different models need to be retro-fitted. By 2020 all types of cars carrying crude oil will have to have new shells, head shields and thermal protection. To quote the Transport Minister, I know the safety measures we have outlined today will not be easy and, quite frankly, they will not be cheap, but the financial losses and the costs of cleaning up after such events as Lac-Megantic will in the long run be more burdensome." In other words, it costs less to improve safety features than have a derailment. The minister said nothing about the loss of people who died in that and other disasters. Money counts, people do not. John Ayers.

Class Contrasts

The New York Times reported that the sale of a Picasso painting for $179 million is a reflection on inequality. The soaring price for art over the last generation shows the growing number of people with vast amounts of money for such things is producing a competitive market that drives prices ever upward. It begs the question, where is all the money coming from. While billions struggle with poverty and deprivation of vital needs the world over, including in the 'rich world', they are eclipsed by the incomes of the top 0.1 per cent, and, as the article says, "And the kind of people who can comfortably afford to pay a nine-figure sum for a Picasso, the top 0.001 per cent, say, are doing still better than that." What a crazy system where children die of malnutrition and the rich can fork out millions for a painting! John Ayers.

Freeing Ourselve

“enough for everyone and time for what we will.”

Slavery existed long before capitalism. Today the vast majority of people are employees, "wage earners," at least the vast majority of those who can find a job at all. Wage slavery is the predominate form of oppression today. Workers are forced to sell themselves (actually, their labour power) in order to survive. Rather than being owned, and provided for in some fashion. A typical wage slave’s day is eight hours of wage slavery, eight hours of free time to eat, relax and watch TV, and eight hours for sleep, in order to regenerate for the next day of wage slavery. Everything we need to live our daily lives has to be paid for. Water, gas, electricity, housing, transport, food and clothing – the principle is the same: if you can’t pay, you can’t have. No one likes being in a condition of slavery. It’s understandable that slaves either identify with their master or deny that they are slaves. Slavery has never lacked for defenders, and wage slavery is no exception. One after another they appear, selling their services to the plutocracy, presenting arguments in defence of capitalism, or in attempted refutation of Socialism. They have been hailed as new prophets, as the saviors of the capitalist slave system.  The ineffectiveness of their defence of wage slavery, has changed little since Marx's time.

Marx should be acknowledged as the most dominant thinker affecting the way political economists think about world poverty and mass powerlessness over the last two centuries. Marx cannot be faulted in his analysis of why a market economy in the modern world contains the seeds of its own destruction, assuming that the ownership of the means of production remained concentrated in too few hands and workers had only their labour to sell in direct competition with labour-displacing technology or with workers willing to work for lower wages. Whether the bosses are state-officials or CEOs, the paid hirelings of a small ownership elite, the worker ends up being a wage-slave. Even unions, if they confine themselves to obtaining higher wages do nothing to empower the worker or gain real liberty and justice. The worker may be well paid, but in the end he is still simply a wage-slave who gets more than the other wage-slaves. Instead of fighting for an end to the system of wage slavery, reformists prop it up by sowing illusions in the advantages that come from a higher wage. Rather than fight to free workers from exploitation by the ruling classes and oppression by their state, the reformist “socialists” seek to transform the capitalists’ state into an institution that “works for the people.” They may litter their speeches with appeals for “socialism,” and “revolution but the radical rhetoric and wishful thinking cannot measure up against what these phony socialists” end up doing in the real world. It would be both dishonest and unprincipled to portray reformism as something “revolutionary.” Wage slavery and exploitation have not ceased to be at the heart and root of capitalism. Today there seems to be no challenge to this system.

In Wages, Price and Profit, Marx talks about ‘that false and superficial radicalism that accepts premises and tries to evade conclusions’. He goes on: ‘To clamour for equal or even equitable retribution on the basis of the wages system is the same as to clamour for freedom on the basis of the slavery system. What you think just or equitable is out of the question. The question is: What is necessary and unavoidable with a given system of production?’ Later on he says: ‘Instead of the conservative motto, “A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work!” [or any other dream of a cooperative and crisis free capitalism] workers ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword, “Abolition of the wages system!” Marx’s point is completely valid. How can there be justice when the system is built on and exists on the injustice of exploitation?

In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels explained:
“The modern labourer… instead of rising with the progress of industry, sinks deeper and deeper below the conditions of existence of his own class. He becomes a pauper (i.e. beggar), and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth…. (The bourgeoisie) is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery (as a slave to his/her job – a wage slave), because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state, that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie; in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society.”
What could be more true today?

The apologists for capitalism portray it as the “natural” state of affairs arguing “it’s always been like this, and it always will be”. But they’re wrong. Early human societies were communal: they weren’t divided into rich and poor and they shared property instead of having to buy and sell the things they needed. After this, human history has been a succession of different class societies: different systems of the rich exploiting the poor. We get the slavery of Ancient Greece and Rome, then the feudal system of barons and serfs, and then we get capitalism. Under capitalism the vast majority of the world’s population is systematically deprived of any way of supporting itself other than working for an employer. An economic system that cannot hush the wails of hungry children isn't worth a damn. Wage slavery is more about living an inhuman life an exploitative system to survive. We don't have freedom to choose our values. We must choose those values that help us to make money. We can’t ensure a safe environment for our loved ones. We can't protect them from exploitation or pollution,

Where do profits come from? It is argued that it comes from buying cheap and selling dear - “marking up” the price. But if all capitalists systematically charged too much for the things they sell there would be spiraling inflation and the system would collapse. No, the real source of profit is the labour of all the people who work for a living. The harder the workers work, and the lower the wages they get paid, the bigger the share dividend. Would you help to abolish crime, disease and despair from the world? Then abolish poverty which is the cause. Would you abolish poverty? Then assist us in abolishing the wages system, the cause of poverty. So long as society maintains the present system of wage slavery, there can be no relief except through the united effort of the whole working class in ending it. Socialists recognise the system for what it is – vicious, brutal, built on the exploitation of workers and interested in only one thing – profit, profit and more profit.

Class-struggle must not limit itself to narrow “bread-and-butter” economic demands. We only have one life and people should rather spend it enjoying themselves instead of being wage slaves. It’s as simple as that. Socialism would end wage slavery and give the means of production back to people for use and not for profit. Socialism is what people truly need and deserve. We can build a sharing economy and give each other the means to make our own way in this world with dignity. We can do it together. We can balance the needs of the planet and human needs. Our fight is to organise as a clear conscious force, a class for itself, to break capitalist state power, abolish wage slavery and establish a comprehensive, democratic self-rule throughout society. Capitalism holds no future for the human race other than the destruction of the environment, mass poverty and unemployment, disease and war. Capitalism’s not natural, it’s not fair and it’s not permanent. It will produce either socialism or barbarism. Which will it be? The answer is in a co-operative commonwealth. Cooperative labour and association shall take the place of the wage system with its class rule.  The instruments of production must cease to be the monopoly of a class -- they must be the common property of all. There shall be no more exploiter or exploited. Production and distribution of the produce must be administered in the interest of the whole. Our end is a society of associative labour. The welfare of all is for us the one end of society. We seek justice and fight injustice. We seek free labour and attack wage slavery. We seek the prosperity of all and struggle against misery. A Utopia? No. It’s a necessity.

The Socialist Party is united upon one issue: No More Wage Slavery! 

Sunday, June 28, 2015


"Glasgow branch held another big meeting at the Central Halls, Glasgow, on Sunday evening, March 8th. Com. Higgins was the speaker, and reports indicate that the Branch's efforts to ensure a good attendance, literature sales, etc., were rewarded with success. 

Perhaps the high-light of Glasgow branch's activity during March was their annual dance, which took place at the New Astoria Ballroom, Sauchiehall Street, on March 12th. Over 750 friends and sympathisers enjoyed themselves at the dance."

From the April 1942 issue of the Socialist Standard

Free Access For All

On May 1, Social Services Minister, Helena Jaczek, apologized and admitted that case workers had not been properly trained in how to use the province's new problem-ridden welfare caseload software. This meant that many case workers have been unable to do their jobs. A new retraining program has been suggested. We would suggest scrapping the welfare system in favour of free access for all, John Ayers.

Indentured Servitude

Many young people from Spain, Greece, and Italy went to Germany to seek work after the financial crisis of 2008. They received lower pay than their German counterparts and worked longer hours, even though they were better qualified in some cases. Some tried to quit but were locked into contracts that demanded they pay off language lessons and accommodation provided by the employer. (a tactic as old as the hills in capitalism). There are cases where up to US$12,000 was demanded after employees left their jobs early. It's a modern version of indentured servitude, better known as slavery. Taken with the above point re nail workers, it is easy to see that we are losing many gains won in the past century. Another reason why we want revolution, not reform. John Ayers.

The Price Of Nails

 In "The Hidden Price of Nails" (New York Times, May 17) we are told that in the 17,000 nail salons in the US, exploitation of workers, mostly young Asian and Hispanic women, is rampant. Picked up in battered Ford Econoline vans they are ferried to the salons for ten to twelve-hour shifts. For this they carry their own tools and pay $100 to the salon owner for the privilege of having a job. Interviewing one hundred and fifty nail salon workers, the NYT learned that most are paid below minimum wage, routinely lose their tips for minor infractions, and are often subjected to physical abuse, to say nothing of the cancer risk and serious health problems due to the toxic nature of the products they use. Third world conditions are alive and well in North America and will become more and more common as capital puts the squeeze on workers to increase its returns. John Ayers.

The Changing War Story

Is there any wonder why there is perpetual war in the world? The New York Times (April 26) that "US arms sales fuel the wars of the Arab states'. Saudi Arabia is using Boeing's F-15 fighter jets to bomb Yemen, United Emirates' fighter pilots are flying Lockheed Martin' F-16s to bomb Yemen and Syria and want to use Predator drones for spying missions. Middle Eastern countries that have stockpiled American military hardware are now using it and wanting more. The result is a boom for American defence contractors And the fuelling of a new arms race in the region. The long time ban on selling certain types of weapons that could be sold to the Arab nations to ensure that Israel maintains its military advantage, is being lifted, at least partially, as those Arab nations fighting ISIS are now seen as allies. Alliances may change, countries can be redrawn but the profit motive carries on unabated. John Ayers.

We Can Build A New World

Neither Marx nor Engels ever drew up any blueprints of the society of the future. At most they deduced certain general features of socialism by inference from the opposite. They assumed, expressly or implicitly, that economic phenomena which they saw as being peculiar to capitalism would vanish with capitalism or would not, at any rate, survive into the age of fully-fledged socialism. Wages, profit and rent represented such social relationships, peculiar to capitalism and unthinkable in socialism. The same was true of the modern division of labour, especially the separation of brain work from manual labour; and, last but not least, of competition. To the reform-minded socialist ideas of the future have always seemed either too unreal or too remote to be taken very seriously so these  reformists have tried to find a compromise between capitalism and socialism; and they have tended to project that compromise on to the future. So in general, the writers and speakers of the working-class can come up with only the most general notions of what socialism will look like, such goals as planned production for human need, distribution of the social product on an equitable basis, protection of the environment, etc. Within these general guidelines, everything else will be determined by conditions inherited from the past and by the political will and intelligence of the revolutionary movement. We will advance as we walk…

The Socialist Party is unlike any other political party. We believe that a new society must be organised and built that can serve the interests of the true majority. We as a party seek to develop a new vision for the future of the world in which we live. The Socialist Party works for a world without war, without poverty, without discrimination or chauvinism, without fear and desperation. We are committed to raising the hard questions that none of the other parties wish to raise and we are committed to giving real answers, and offering real solutions. We are committed to real change. The classless society is a free association of producers. Everybody will contribute according to their ability and take according to need. Real human history begins at this point, and society leaves behind the era of scarcity. The Socialist Party is a party of principle. With us, there are no hidden agendas and no secret deals. As well, our principles are non-negotiable; we will not give up our vision for a better world for the sake of votes. When you vote for the Socialist Party, what you see is what you get. For us, democracy is the right and power of the people to determine their own destiny. Democratic control of production is the heart of the new society. Community control of neighborhoods, cities and society goes hand-in-hand with control of production. The exercise of community control — over everything from education and housing to municipal services and infrastructure repair — would bring democratic practice and accountability into every home, every neighborhood and every community. We Socialists commit ourselves to seeking to empower all levels of society.

The Socialist Party is committed to promoting solidarity and united action among the working people of the world in support of their common interests. In conjunction with this, the Socialist Party is committed to building a peaceful world for this and all future generations. We understand that, while the capitalists are the ones who get us into wars, working people — on both sides — are the ones who have to fight them. As long as capitalism continues to commit us and our brothers and sisters to fight in wars, it is the main enemy of all working people. Thus, the Socialist Party seeks to unite with working people in all countries to bring lasting peace to the world through the socialist transformation of society.

The job of Socialist Party members is to actively and creatively inject the idea of socialism into every debate, giving working people confidence that to achieve socialism is a winnable fight. It is argued that socialism is a proven failure and can never work because it goes against human nature so we need to demystify socialism. Explain it in a way that it just makes common sense. So more and more people will begin to think about socialism. Remember: If it does not fit this description, it is not socialism—no matter who says different. Those who claim that socialism existed and failed in places like Russia and China simply do not know the facts. Socialism will be a society in which the things we need to live, work and control our own lives—the industries, services and natural resources—are owned in common by all the people, and in which the democratic organisation of the people means that “government” of the people, for the people and by the people will become a reality for the first time. Socialism is that social system under which the necessaries of production are owned, controlled and administered by the people and under which, accordingly, the cause of political and economic despotism having been abolished, class rule is at end. That is socialism, nothing short and nothing more than that.

In 1882 Engels gave his support to Guesde and the left-wing minority when they walked out of the French Workers Party, which split into a Guesdist and a "possibilist," i.e., reformist, party. "If, like the possibilists, you created a party without a programme, which anyone can join, then it isn't a party any more," Engels argued. "To be for a moment in a minority with a correct programme . . . is still better than to have a big but thereby almost nominal semblance of a following."

The only goal of capitalism is to make a profit. Capitalism creates problems for society — Socialism solves problems. Socialism is about meeting the needs of the people — all of the people. Socialism solves the problems capitalism creates. To the socialist the answers are simple — end capitalism. Socialism is hope, the greatest hope for humanity. Socialism is a society where mankind is liberated from chains of exploitation and alienation. If we struggle for the new society then it must really be new. The liberation of working class must be done by itself. It is expected to be done by it and only by it because if socialist revolution is fundamental change of one society with another, if it means that the class of owners who ruled for centuries have to disappear economically, it is impossible to reach this aim only with activity of political organization, no matter how well organised, mass and supported it is. It is said that new society is in the interest of great majority of people. If this society is to come, this majority have to understand and accept it as its interest and ideal. The substance of socialism is that there is not a group of people who will be in position to hold the power and exclude all others from exercising democracy. As Rosa Luxemburg said: "There is no socialism without democracy and there is no democracy without socialism".

The capitalist system cannot be overcome by persuading capitalists to be more reasonable or by electing “better” politicians to office. It can be done away with only by replacing capitalism with a socialist system of collectively owned and democratically planned production. A fully socialist organisation of society will be a worldwide social system.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

When People Start To Think.

The Toronto Star of May 2, had two articles about leaders, one about a school for leaders, and one about new leaders for the Upper Canada Law Society. Furthermore, we have recently heard a lot about leaders re the UK election and we expect a lot more as Canada goes to the polls in the Fall. The moment somebody says they need a leader, it is an admission they cannot think for themselves, so they elect someone to do it for them. Then, as that leader fails to deliver on promises, they go looking for the next leader. When people start to think for themselves, they will realize they do not need leaders and can make their own decisions and can administer a truly democratic society. It will be a society where (in the words of W.S. Gilbert) 'everyone is somebody and no one is anybody. John Ayers.

The immigration Issue

Migration is but yet another symptom of the bankruptcy of capitalism, yet another contradiction that cannot be solved on a capitalist basis. The only way to solve this, like all the other issues, is the socialist transformation of society which would remove the need for migration. The answer to people fleeing conflict, deprivation and brutal regimes is to remove the root causes of such nastiness—minority ownership and control of productive resources which generates rivalry for the upper hand, and restricts provision of, and access to, goods and services according to available profits and ability to pay. It is this exclusive possession and control of resources that also divides the world into separate competing countries and blocs, and the need for associated borders to prevent others from attempting to acquire these valuable assets by armed force, subversion or, in the case of migrants during economic downturns, "excess" demand (i.e., too many unemployed and unemployable people burdening state finances). And since these means of production responsible are possessed and run by ruling classes in all countries worldwide, worldwide socialism is the only solution. Then we will be able to truly live in peace, and all our brothers and sisters, wherever they may be in the world will be able to make a positive and meaningful contribution to the world we all live in and live as one, free from the exploitation and the barbarity that so blights the lives of so many of our fellow human beings at the present time.

When asylum seekers – children, women and men who have to flee their homes and families and make the hazardous and often outright dangerous journey across the globe – arrive in this state, their ordeal is far from over. Rather than being given the opportunity to rebuild their lives, they are often isolated from society. We live in a period in history where war and conflict are a more permanent feature affecting a huge proportion of the world population as never before.  Millions of people are displaced from their homes because of this, those who make it onto these shores should be guaranteed the opportunity to rebuild their lives. People want to move to improve their family’s finances, escape poverty or flee from war and persecution. In the same way, British people choose to live and work abroad, either where the money is, or to retire and where their meagre pensions go further.  Would those who want to restrict migration into Britain also want to stop British people moving abroad?

The legal system has always reflected the class interests of the ruling class, and indeed the need for laws reflects the tensions between the classes. Socialists support campaigns to reform oppressive laws, such as the Asylum Act, whilst pointing out these are preliminary skirmishes in the war to overthrow the rule of the capitalist class. Immigration law has always been determined by the requirements of the capitalist economy. Initially the needs of the British capitalists for extra labour in their expanding industries was supplied by dragging the rural poor to the growing towns, and then from their oldest and nearest colony, Ireland. We oppose the capitalists’ immigration laws for many of the same reasons the capitalists support them. Our interest are opposite. Most people who try to come to Britain are refugees from terror or economic migrants escaping poverty at home. They are mainly working people, and they will strengthen our class here. They will strengthen our links with workers and socialist parties in such places as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Caribbean. The capitalists oppose their entry because they are poor, and if they don’t require the extra labour see them only as a drain on their economy.

If all of the world’s refugees were to form one independent country, it would be the 24th largest, just behind Italy and ahead of South Africa. Capitalism produces unmanageable waste, human included. The reserve army of labor has long been filled, and so the remaining population is superfluous. Precarious, low-wage labor is the international norm, even increasingly so in the industrial north, where social-democratic protections are under steady assault. Nonetheless, conditions remain superior enough in these countries to attract millions of migrants each year. Some migrants wind up in camps that are essentially prisons, often for protracted periods.

In Dabaab, Kenya, there are three migrant towns operated by UNHCR, primarily housing refugees from the Somali Civil War. There are currently about 450,000 people in an area originally designed to handle only 90,000, and some have been there since the formation of the settlement in 1991. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 3.7 million refugees, with most coming from Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic. The catalyst for these migrations is the growing instability of African states amidst civil war and regional sectarian conflicts, and the concomitant proliferation of terrorist organizations throughout the region.

France has closed the border near Ventimiglia, prompting Italian police to forcibly close a camp of mostly Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees. The Italian state is desperate for help from its European partners to absorb the flow, as some 57,000 displaced people have landed in the country so far this year. For its part, France has played a particularly disgusting role in this saga, which is hardly surprising given its recent history of treatment of minority communities within its borders. This is the land of the burka ban, where Nicolas Sarkozy rose to power on promises to hose the scum (“les racailles”) out of the streets of the suburban ghettos, and both he and his Socialist successor, Francois Hollande, forcibly expelled Roma communities in 2010 and 2012, respectively. Likewise, the French government has broken down several makeshift camps in recent years in the port city of Calais, and Human Rights Watch has documented widespread police abuse and harassment of migrants living there. Reports include unprovoked beatings and deployment of pepper-spray, even on people obeying orders. Volunteers have found evidence of physical abuse, including scars and broken bones, which victims claim were inflicted by French authorities.

The Socialist Party opposes the prejudiced populist attacks on asylum-seekers. The Socialist Party supports the rights of workers to be able to move freely around the world. We condemn and oppose the entire reactionary framework of ‘border controls’ and anti-immigrant legislation. The scapegoating of asylum seekers is rooted in the exploitation of nationalism for short term political ends. This politicking plays into genuine fears people hold for their own future and anger at a system that doesn’t work for them. The growing gap between rich and poor is being felt by many and they are looking for someone to blame. Socialists point people away from blaming those who are themselves victims of a rotten system and towards genuine solutions.

 In arguing for the right of complete freedom of movement for all people we must remember that ultimately it is capitalism which has created emigration system which often threats those who suffer its worst abuses as little better than animals. This is why the fight for refugee rights needs to go beyond simple appeals to people’s humanity and generosity. The strongest argument as to why people should support rights of migrants is because it is in their interest to do so. The Socialist Party will challenge workers who cannot see beyond the existing divisions of the world, and who believe in measures against labour from other countries. Marxists will continue to press for socialist internationalism. Workers of the world unite in the fight for world socialism!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Understanding Socialism

 “The basic law of capitalism is you or I, not you and I.” - Karl Liebknecht

If the working men and women took half as much interest in politics as they do in football and tennis or other pastimes we would have a different kind of world. Many people don’t understand the problem of concentration of income and wealth because they don’t see it. People just don't understand how much wealth there is at the top. The wealth at the top is so extreme that it is beyond most people’s ability to comprehend. Most people have not investigated socialism for themselves and accept whatever is said about it, usually by those who oppose it or wish it to be something different from what it is.

 Socialists believe that socialism, by abolishing the profit making system in business, and by establishing the co-operative commonwealth, will remove, more than anything else proposed, the causes of economic wrongs, without destroying individual liberty or the incentive to worthy effort. The means of production and distribution of wealth that are social and public in their nature shall be owned collectively and each person may possess individually as much non-productive property as she or he can earn by an honest labour of hand or brain. This would include your home, automobile and all other private personal effects not used for exploiting purposes.

 Socialism requires that the process of production and distribution shall be regulated, not by competition with self-interest for its moving principle, but by society as a whole, for the good of society. Socialism will abolish wage slavery and its oppression. It will cause the labour-saving automation and technology to fulfill its greatest possible good. It will give employment to all workers during their productive years. It will remove the fear of want and poverty. The production of an overabundance of commodities for life and comfort will not, inside socialism, cause distress and need as now, by closing down mills, workshops and other industries. The more wealth you produce the more you will have available for your use, instead of adding to it, as now, to the capital and exploiting power of a master class. Socialism will end strikes, lockouts, lost jobs, and the ever constant war that is waged between capital and labour. It will end the deceptions of a hundred kinds that are practiced for profit-making. It will eliminate disease to a large degrees by bringing within each reach of all those chief conditions upon which health depends––plenty of pure air and sunlight; enough good food and healthful drinks; cleanliness, proper clothing and shelter; regular periods for sufficient rest, sleep and exercise. Socialism will start the human race on the way to the attainment of physically, mentally and morally well-being. Socialism stands for co-operation and the benefit of all.

The idea that capitalism can be reformed to become charitable is not at all a realistic prospect. Capitalism needs to constantly accumulate and operates on the basis of constantly expanding production. The present world order is driven by the striving for profit. The entire system of production based on wage labour and capital needs to be replaced with a system which produces for human needs. All the half measures of converting aspects of capitalism to socialism, while the fundamentals of capitalism remain in place, are just wishful thinking; and to pretend they could solve our problems is pure deception. The means of production need to be converted from capitalist class property to social property. Instead of the present system in which workers are alienated from the means of production and from the products of their labour, a free association of producers producing for the needs of humanity, is required. We call this type society of property owned in common by freely associated producers, producing for human needs, “socialism” or “communism”. It will be a world in people will give of themselves according to their ability, and take according to their needs. A world where the free development of each will be the condition for the free development of all. Such a society will differentiate itself from capitalist in a myriad of ways, but the principal differences will be that it is a society without state, without money, where the mass of humanity participate in the planning and running of society. It will be a society without wage slavery and commodity production and without classes. It will be possible to democratically and collectively plan the future of the human species. Humanity will have a common interest and will be able to work towards achieving it. Working time will be reduced and the mass of the population will be drawn into the running of that new society. All will have a common interest in solving the ecological problems inherited from capitalism. With the abolition of capitalist society, all its waste, its cruelty, its wars, and all the misery it inflicts on the working people, will be ended. Socialism will draw on the abilities of all and produce for the needs of all. It will be able to balance these needs with sustainability. It will then be possible to roll back and repair the dreadful damage capitalism has inflicted on the planet in the few centuries during which it has been the dominant system of production.

If we are to survive as a species we must take a radical step, we must break once and for all with capitalism. Capital can never stand still. It exists in order to expand, through accumulation, and as it expands it extends itself across the entire globe and into every sphere of life. If there is any hope for humanity it must come through the realization of socialism. It is essential that the perspective of a total rejection of capitalism emerges and is adopted as the only solution. Humanity faces a crossroads. The turning we take and the direction we travel depends on each one of us. Do we continue down the road of destruction towards possible extinction or organise for our survival as a species with a new society?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Curtailing Freedom Of Movement?

Paris is a city that is often equated with romance but not so much nowadays. Residents and visitors are much too busy coping with pollution. According to Airparif, the city's air quality monitor, the concentration of particles called P10 and P2.5 are so thick they are as bad as in Beijing, a city world renowned for bad air. Lowering the particulate matter to World Health Organization recommended levels would avoid four hundred and seventy-six hospital admission a year and one hundred and twelve deaths. It would also add six month's to residents life span but the problem is that the cost would have to come out of profits. On the capitalist scales of justice, the tipping is towards the profits, of course. Mayor Anne Hidalgo has responded by banning heavy trucks, allowing free rentals of the city's fleet of electric cars and bikes, and limiting driving to alternate days. The environmental minister had criticized this arguing that it curtails freedom of movement. Death also curtails freedom of movement. John Ayers.

Socialism is natural

There are many people who think socialism is impossible not because the capitalist class is too powerful or the world’s resources are too limited but because “human nature” will not allow it. We are “too lazy,” “too greedy,” “too violent” they tell us. Folk are born to be racist, sexist, and homophobic, they can’t help but hate people from other countries, cultures, and religions. People “can’t think for themselves” and “need to be told what to do”. It is natural for some people to climb to top of the ladder and, it is also natural for others to remain stuck on the bottom rung. You can’t change human nature. Capitalism is a social system that tries to legitimise itself as one that is based on what human nature really is, not what we'd like it to be.  Greed is good, say the defenders of capitalism. Were it not for greed, we're told, the baker and shoemaker and candlestick maker would have no incentive to make their wares, and we'd all go shoeless and hungry. Inequality is also good, in fact necessary, we're told, because the sole reason people work hard and smart is to get richer than others. In a society where everybody who contributed reasonably to the economy shared with each other according to need as equals there would, according to the capitalist view, be no reason for people to work and hence the economy would stop producing things. Those who rule our world, whose chief aim in life is the greedy pursuit of money, and who enjoy power and privileges that money makes possible for the very rich in an economically unequal society--this capitalist class of people justify it all with a Big Lie. The Big Lie is that selfishness is the primary human motivation, always has been and always will be because it is simply human nature. Capitalists argue that there is no difference between the motives and values of ordinary people and those of the richest families in society. The only difference is that the rich ones were more successful than the others. The Big Lie about human nature is used by defenders of capitalism when they tell us that there is no point in trying to create a better world that is more equal and democratic. Even if we succeeded initially, they say, it would just revert back to the same inequality we have today because human nature would remain the same. People would compete against each other, there would be winners and losers, and inequality would re-emerge. Greed, inequality, competition for self-interest: it's all just human nature. The wisest thing to do, say the defenders of capitalism, is to recognise the fact.

The reason many people falsely associate ‘human nature’ with greed and selfishness is because the current mode of production encourages these features. Those who are wicked, ruthless and selfish do well under capitalism. Those who aren’t are usually disadvantaged. Because capitalism is the only system most people have ever experienced, they are lead to believe, wrongly, that greed and selfishness are the only human characteristics we can harness in order to run an economy. Attempts to organise society in a different way are simply “utopian”. The ‘human nature’ argument is being raised now as much as ever. And it’s even more ridiculous at a time when working people are being asked to “tighten their belts” and sacrifice their living standards to pay back the debts of private banks. The fact is, only a relatively tiny number of people actually benefit from capitalism. How does it benefit anyone to work 60 hours a week for minimum wage just to pay their bills? How does it benefit anyone to have a boss? How do you benefit from capitalism when you are constantly threatened with unemployment? How would paying a high rent to a landlord for a run-down, inner city hovel benefit you? Wages for the vast majority of people have stagnated over the past three decades. How does capitalism serve the interests of these people? Even more serious and disturbing is that more than 30,000 children have died over the past 24 hours because of preventable diseases. Another 30,000 died yesterday, and the day before that. They died because the capitalist market could not provide for even their most basic needs. Is dying from starvation or preventable disease in childhood just part of “human nature”?

Human nature is not the same as capitalist nature, no matter what the capitalists want us to believe. Human beings create cultures. Cultures embody values about how relations between people ought to be. Being selfish or sharing is a behavioral choice determined in large part by one's culure. Socialists say that human nature is flexible and that the behaviors of human beings are shaped by their social circumstances. True, we are capable of greed but we are equally capable of generosity. In different circumstances, people behave differently. But this doesn't mean that people are simply unalterable products of their society. People have the capacity to change the circumstances in which they live. In the process of doing so, they change themselves. There is nothing about human nature that makes socialism impossible, but there is also nothing that makes it inevitable. We can change our circumstances and create new and different social relations and then adapt to them. Human beings have basic physical and emotional needs--for food and shelter, for social contact and affection--which all too often go unmet under capitalism. But we also have a need to exercise control over our own lives and to engage in activities that make use of our creative abilities. Capitalism, like other forms of class society, frustrates these needs, leading those who are exploited to fight back against it. Socialism means not just a new form of society, but a new form of human consciousness, free from the distorting pressures of capitalism.

If there were a human nature that dictated some particular form of behaviour, then all human societies would be fundamentally the same, or at least have the same values. But they aren’t, and they don’t. Each form of social organisation has its own norms of behaviour, and it comes to regard these norms as part of human nature. Understood in this way, human nature is not something absolute and determined only by genetics. It is a changing product of history and social conditions, and as it evolves it can in turn alter those social conditions. If this were not the case, the entire human race would still be living in the same sort of society as our neolithic ancestors. Capitalism teaches us to relate to others primarily through economic relations: to seek a return on anything we extend to them. In pre-class societies and those in which class divisions are not highly developed, it is often the norm to welcome total strangers into the home and treat them as guests, with no thought or possibility of recompense. Capitalism has a contradictory interaction with this human characteristic. Compared to pre-capitalist society, it greatly multiplies the scale of social production, driving ceaselessly to incorporate the entire planet. On the other hand, it alienates society’s producers from their own activity, because their product is the private property of the capitalists, who use it to exploit them. Moreover, the values of selfishness and greed that it maintains are in conflict with the solidarity and selflessness that are necessary for expanding human cooperation both quantitatively and qualitatively. The impact of these contradictions is what creates the effort to make production social in all aspects, beginning with the abolition of capitalist property. When socialism is brought about, human nature (i.e., behavior) will adapt itself to these changes, and anti-social attitudes such as greed, violence and criminal inclinations will be all but excised from the public mindset.

The capitalists need to work very hard to keep people ignorant about the truth of human nature. Their repeated propaganda tells us to blame the natural failings of humanity for poverty, racism or sexism. If human beings are innately selfish, there’s no point trying to build a more egalitarian society. If our brains are programmed for xenophobia, there’s no point trying to fight for a world without racism. If we believe these falsehoods, the ruling class can sit back safe in the knowledge that the world is in its rightful place. Every ruling class in history has justified its own existence with some concept equivalent to the human nature argument. This is the divine right of kings, repackaged. We should dismiss it with the contempt it deserves. The arguments against socialism are the arguments against social progress generally. With modern technology now able to produce an abundance for everyone, and not just a fortunate few, thus making it possible for everybody to contribute to the advancement of society, the ruling class has now become obsolete, and has now become a parasitical class that is no longer socially useful for the benefit of society. Contrary to what is popularly believed, most people have a lot to gain from the replacement of capitalism with an economy based on common ownership. They will not have to labour half of their working lives to bankroll a class of idle rich. They will be able to run their own workplaces according to how they see fit and they will not be threatened with the destitution of unemployment. Socialism is not about charity. It’s about the majority of humans taking control of their own lives. It would provide a massive increase in living standards for the majority of humanity and aims to promote the more positive human traits, rather than selfishness and greed. Certainly, it would be true to say that socialism is the political self-interest of all working people.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Public Meeting Reminder

What We Mean By Socialism

An economic system run and controlled by the government is not socialism! Socialists clearly distinguished between state ownership of the means of production and social ownership. We oppose the very existence of the state. State ownership means the continued existence of a governmental power over and above the people themselves; it signifies continued class rule. Social ownership means that the people themselves, collectively and democratically, govern the use of the means of production. Marx and Engels described socialism as a society run by "associations of free and equal producers."

The old Soviet Union was never socialist. At no time did the Soviet Union ever have a system in which the people owned all the means of production and in which the decisions governing production and distribution were made by democratic associations encompassing all the workers. At no time did the workers dismantle the state, or abolish exploitation and the wages system. In the Soviet Union the party/state bureaucracy was the ruling class. Therefore the demise of the Soviet Union proves absolutely nothing about the viability of socialism.

Socialism can only be established by a class conscious, organised majority of the working class. It can only be built by workers who understand the need to prevent any individual or group from gaining the power to control production or distribution. Socialism would be administered by active organisations of workers, determined to keep economic power in the only safe place for it to reside - in the collective hands of all. All persons would be responsible only for performing designated administrative tasks. They would have no bureaucratic power to dictate production or distribution goals toward their own individual enrichment. People themselves would determine the general goals of social production, based on their own needs and wants. Socialism's elected delegates would have no special privileges nor any power to possess means of production and exploit others. And they would be subject to the control, and to the power of immediate recall, of the union body that elected them.  They would have no opportunity to become bureaucratic rulers even if they wanted to. And once a society of security and abundance for all is established, the motivation to even want to be become a bureaucratic ruler would soon be disappear.

Much of what is believed to be "human nature" is actually the product of the material conditions and social environment under which people are raised. We live in a social system and culture that teaches us that the way to survive, and "get ahead" materially, is to compete for positions of power, gain dominance over others, and, ultimately, become an owner of productive property and exploit others. Not surprisingly, many people become too greedy and competitively crave power and wealth above all else. But such behavior is not a fixture of human nature. People clearly have the capability of being cooperative as well as competitive, supportive and helpful as well as antagonistic, egalitarian as well as selfish. All of these qualities are part of "human nature." We can and do choose to employ one quality or the other, depending on how our material circumstances and interests affect us, and how we perceive our own self-interest. It is also part of our human nature to think, to evaluate our circumstances and change our behaviour when we conclude that doing so is in our self-interest. Accordingly, socialism is not contrary to human nature. Sooner or later, a majority of workers can and will come to the realisation that their own self-interest demands the creation of a new social system based on social ownership of the industries and cooperative production for the common good. Once a socialist society is established, the material and other rewards of that system will continue to reinforce cooperative behavior and nullify selfishness, greed and the desire for power over others.

In a genuine socialist society, workers would have strong incentives to work conscientiously and improve the means and methods of production. The moral and social incentive to be a productive and responsible member of society would be bolstered by the knowledge that one's efforts would truly be benefiting all society, and not merely an idle class of social parasites. The material incentives to be productive, and to improve productivity, would be strengthened as well. With capitalist exploitation abolished, workers would receive the full social value of their labor. The rewards of their own labor, and of improvements in efficiency, would accrue to them, and not to a separate class of owners. Thus, they would have "the possibility" of becoming well off materially -- a far greater possibility than they have today -- from their own labour. And the more efficiently they produce, the more they could enjoy, with a shorter and shorter work-week. In sum, workers would have strong incentives to be productive in a socialist society because they would be working for themselves and the social interest, simultaneously. With no ruling class in existence, the workers' interest and the social interest would be one and the same.

The foregoing proposals for social change may all sound too idealistic or utopian but that is not the case. Socialism is grounded in material realities. It is grounded in the reality that it is now objectively and physically possible for society to meet the basic human needs and wants of all the people -- and more. It is grounded in the reality that capitalism stands as an obstacle to society realising this potential to meet the needs and wants of all. It is grounded in the reality that society's sole useful producers -- the working class, which includes all who do productive work, mental or physical -- are increasingly being denied their material needs and wants under the present system. Thus the modern working class has both a motive and the potential power to replace the present system with socialism. All that's missing is for workers to recognise their true interests as a class, understand the socialist goal, and begin organising as a class to establish it.

Thus, socialism is realistic. The workers already collectively occupy the industries every day and operate them from top to bottom. The only thing they don't do is own them, control them, and control their product. Properly organised, they can rectify that, and build an economic system that will truly serve the social interest. And given the serious and growing problems that the capitalist system has created, socialism is not only realistic, it is essential to human survival and social progress. To build socialism, workers must organise independently, for themselves,  both  politically and economically.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Class war for Scotland's land

432 people own half of Scotland’s private land, while 0.025 per cent of the population owns 67 per cent of Scotland’s rural land. In terms of distribution of ownership, Scotland is one of the most unequal countries in the world.

Islay - off the west coast of Scotland - is home to 3,000 people but most of the island is owned by just a few wealthy men. Lord Margadale of Islay Estates owns around a third of the island. The neighbouring island of Jura is owned by Lord Astor, whose step-daughter Samantha Cameron is married to the prime minister David Cameron.

Under the  Scottish Government's new Land Reform Bill ministers say they want to encourage more community ownership and ensure land is used in the public interest. The Bill also includes plans to create a land register, aiming to increase transparency over ownership. Private trusts are reckoned, in property and land, to be worth £500bn in Scotland, according to the Scots Law Commission,

Holyrood also plans to scrap tax breaks for shooting estates in Scotland. 

Landowners and lairds have accused them of waging "a class war".

Answering the Questions - What Happens After The Revolution?

People are capable of running society themselves but we cannot fully control what we don’t own. It is the aim of the Socialist Party to create a society in which poverty will have disappeared, wars will be but evil memories, a society in which, and in which democracy will have become the prevailing order of society for all, a society of peace and abundance. We in the Socialist Party believe that this can be attained peacefully. Nor do we need to go green to save the planet - the people need to go red.

Capitalism in the past was a relatively progressive system, which developed science, technique and labour: the means of production. The engine of the system was the creation of profit through the labours of the working class. However, capitalism reveals today that it has reached a dead end. It is no longer a progressive system as capitalist ownership of industry, and thereby the domination of society, exercises an enormous drag on the further progress of society. Capitalism cannot fully utilise even its own creations, such as new technology. In other words, capitalism today has become completely parasitic. Capitalism means the blind play of the productive forces and is, by its nature, incompatible with real planning. Like inequality, which is woven into the very foundations of capitalism, the chaos of the system cannot be magicked away or fully controlled, even by the government, not even by Cameron or Osborne. They are slaves, forced to carry out the demands of the capitalists. The capitalists, no matter how some may be ’sympathetic’ to the plight of the working class and poor, in the final analysis, seek the maximisation of ’profit’ as their central goal. Occasionally, in an economic upswing, they can then allow a few crumbs from their rich table to trickle down to some sections of the working class. Now, however, is not one of those periods.

Profit is “unpaid labour”, that portion of the wealth which working people create but that they don’t receive in wages. This ’surplus value’ is then divided into rent for the landlords, interest for the bankers and the rest pocketed by the industrial and other capitalists. We are permitted to work only so long as a market exists for the goods we produce. When there is no profitable market for our products, plants close down, and we starve. In socialist society there will be no private ownership of the land and the industries. When we say this, we are not talking about; your house, or your clothes, or your car, or any of your personal belongings. What we are talking about are the factories, the mills, the mines, transport - in short, the means of production and distribution of goods. We say that these must belong to society as a whole. In socialist society since we shall collectively own the factories and means of production, we shall have full and free access to the means of wealth production and distribution. In socialist society, there will be no wage system where the workers receive in wages only a fraction of the value of the goods they produce. Instead, we shall produce for use, rather than for sale with a view to profit for private capitalists. We shall produce the things we want and need rather than the things for which a market exists in which the goods we produce are sold for the profit of the private owners. We shall collectively produce the things we want and need for full and happy lives.

The world is a mess with poverty, exploitation and war now part of the daily lives of billions round the globe. At the root of this suffering is the economic, social, and political system of capitalism, a system of cut-throat competition, where corporations single-mindedly pursue short-term profits, power, and resources, regardless of the human cost.

Capitalism stifles the innovation and creativity of the majority of the population. There is nothing less motivating than being forced to do the same repetitive job for 8 or 12 hours a day, day after day, just to pay the bills. People do not shrink from work, but from wage-slavery. Shortening the working-week, sharing out the work and providing for people’s basic needs would liberate women and men to finally take control over their lives and pursue all forms of creative and intellectual endeavors, unleashing humanity’s vast creative potential. Decisions would be made democratically by working people making decisions themselves through mass meetings and direct elections. People with power, such as administrators and spokespersons, would be elected, delegates who are accountable and can be recalled. In socialism the appeal to work with diligence is based on the justifiable ground that it is society as a whole which benefits. Not so under capitalism. There the result of extra effort is not public benefit but private profit. One makes sense and the other doesn’t; one inspires the worker to give as much of himself as possible, the other to give as little as he can get away with; one is a purpose that satisfies the soul and excites the imagination; the other is a purpose that entices only the simple-minded. The objection is raised that while this may be true of the average worker for whom the incentive of profit has been largely illusory anyway, it does not hold for the man of genius, the inventor, or the capitalist entrepreneur for whom the incentive of profit has been real. There is little evidence to support that opinion. On the other hand there is ample evidence to support the argument that inventive genius seeks no other reward than the joy of discovery or the happiness that results from the full and free use of its creative powers. The day of the individual scientist working alone has long since gone. Men and women of ability in the scientific world are hired by the big corporations to work in their laboratories, at regular salaries. Security, a dream laboratory, the gratification that comes from absorbing work—with these they are content, and these they frequently have—but not profits. Suppose they invent some new process. Do they get the profits that may result? No, they do not. Additional prestige, promotion, and a higher salary, maybe—but not profits. The patents, copyrights and the intellectual ownership remains with the corporation or university.

The ruling class would have us believe that capitalism or class society is the inevitable result of human nature. The people who argue that "you can’t change human nature" make the mistake of assuming that because man behaves in a certain way in capitalist society, therefore that’s the nature of human beings, and no other behavior is possible. They see that in capitalist society man is acquisitive, his motive is one of selfish greed and of getting ahead by any means, fair or foul. They conclude therefrom, that this is "natural" behavior for all human beings and that it is impossible to establish a society based on anything except a competitive struggle for private profit. The anthropologists say, however, that this is nonsense—and prove it by citing this, that, and the other society now in existence where man’s behavior isn’t anything like what it is under capitalism. And they are joined by the historians who say also that the argument is nonsense. While biology determines certain aspects of our behavior, human nature is not a permanent, unchanging thing that magically fell from the sky. How we act, and how we relate to the world and each other, develops in response to the changing material conditions of society and our relationship to the natural world. There is a difference between selfishness and self-interest. There is absolutely no doubt that human beings look out for their self-interests, and the struggle for socialism is completely in line with this tendency. It is probably true that all human beings are born with the instinct of self-preservation and reproduction. Their need for food, clothing, shelter, and sexual love is basic. That much, it may be admitted, is "human nature." But the way they go about satisfying these desires is not necessarily the way that is common in capitalist society—it depends, rather, on the way suited to the particular culture they are born into. If the basic needs of man can be satisfied only by knocking the other fellow down, then we can assume that human beings will knock each other down; but if the basic needs of man can be better satisfied by cooperation, then it is also safe to assume that human beings will cooperate. Mankind’s self-interest is expressed in his desire for more and better food, clothing, and shelter, in his passion for security. When he learns that these needs cannot be satisfied for all under capitalism as well as they can under socialism, he will make the change. But self-interest is not the only thing that guides us. Take a look at the amount of people doing voluntary charity work. For millions of years, people lived in egalitarian hunter-and-gatherer societies. Food, shelter, and the necessities of survival were equally shared throughout society. By harnessing modern technology to provide for everyone, socialism would create the material basis for human culture to change in the most fundamental way. Instead of a society that rewards the most vicious and greedy, a socialist society would develop a new culture based on equality and justice.

Our society can function perfectly well without a capitalist class. Five hundred years ago, in Europe, the question was: Can our economic system function without feudal lords? One hundred and fifty years ago, in the United States, the question was can our economic system function without slave-owners? Society found that it could do without barons and slave-owners, so it will find that it can do without capitalists. To say that we could not work without a capitalist is false. The fact of the matter is that we have reached the point where society not only can but must function without capitalists, since the power which is theirs as owners of the means of production must be used in such a way as to lead to unemployment, insecurity, and war. Most corporations are not run by the owner-entrepreneurs. They are not run by the owners at all—in the main they are managed by hired executives, CEOs, who work, not for profits, but for salaries. Their salaries may be large or small paid, they may include a big bonus or no bonus. In addition there may be other rewards—praise, prestige, privilege and power. But for most of those who manage business the incentive of profit has long since wilted away. Will people work for other incentives than profit? No need to guess. We know that people do.

Monday, June 22, 2015


From the June 1926 issue of the Socialist Standard

We have received an Edinburgh journal called "The Proletariat," the organ of the British Section of the [International] Socialist Labour Party. This is a body which has "existed" since 1912 and broke away from the now defunct Socialist Labour Party. Why they call themselves the British Section it is hard to judge, because the other Socialist Labour Party (in America) repudiate them.

"The State of the S.P.G.B." is the title of an article purporting to deal with us. The state of this British Section of the S.L.P. may be judged from their criticism which we quote:—
"To show far misconception dominates the S.P.G.B., Engels, in the closing chapters of Origin of the Family points out that the State derives all its substance via taxation from the economic factors. These dominate the State which includes the Army and Navy. In a word, condition them in the fullest meaning of the term. And, further, the capitalist class to-day, who are the economic masters of all wealth, mark you, the civil power, subject that military thing to their requirements, increase or decrease it as the case demands. The owners of the economic wealth factors are masters of the situation. The S.P.G.B. position that 'dispossession necessitates disarmament,' suggest that it is the armed force that dominates the situation, and consequently, from the Marxian position, must be ruled out."

Can criticism be more idiotic?

Ownership depends upon power to maintain possession, therefore the capitalists depend upon their control of political power, which gives control of the armed forces. As Marx says in the Communist Manifesto, the first step in the emancipation of the working class is the winning of political supremacy.

Engels, in his "Retrospect," points out the all-importance of political action for the purpose of wresting control from the hands of the employing class.

The recent general strike completely justifies our position that those who control the armed forces dominate the situation. Hence a capitalist victory.

Our critics quote from the January, 1925, issue of the "Socialist Standard" on disarmament. Let us give the full statement from that issue:
"Ownership to-day consists not in occupation but in mere legal title, meaningless, unless recognised and upheld by the forces of State. The overthrow of the capitalist ownership, therefore, and the establishment of common ownership, involves the capture of the State by the working-class. Dispossession necessitates disarmament. The organisation of the working-class must, therefore be a political organisation i.e., a Socialist Party."

Like all other species of Anarchists the so-called S.L.P. of Edinburgh offer no alternative to political action.

Adolph Kohn