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Showing posts from June, 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.

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 s…

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…

A SOCIAList PARTY

"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…

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 pe…

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 productio…

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…

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 …

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 th…

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…

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…

OWNERSHIP AND POLITICAL POWER.

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 capita…

You can't kill a revolution

"You can kill a revolutionary but you can't kill revolution...you can jail a liberator but you can't jail liberation."Fred Hampton (1948-69), Black Panther
Why is the socialist movement so small and so clearly wanting in numbers and influence? This is a crucial question. One answer, of course was that for many people for a long time, the old Soviet Union model regarded nationalised property and the 5–Year State Plans, under the control of the “vanguard” Party, as socialism,(or at least stepping stones) to socialism. The words ‘socialism’ and ‘socialist’ are odious to many people chiefly on account of principles and practices of political parties prominent in the history in certain countries with whom we have no sympathy at all with. Why then do we continue to use these terms, which must confuse us with them in popular opinion? Would it not be good policy to drop these terms, and to substitute others less obnoxious to popular prejudice? Nothing would be finally ga…