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Showing posts from July, 2015

Piper Alpha (1988)

Piper Alpha (1988) From the August 1988 issue of the Socialist Standard
"We now go over to the ITN studios for a newsflash . . . ", "An emergency telephone number has been issued for anxious relatives . . . " The explosion and fire aboard the Piper Alpha platform on 6 July was waiting to happen. The revelations and admissions that followed within a few days of the disaster make that clear. The only surprise should be that it hadn't happened sooner.

Speaking in the House of Commons in the immediate aftermath of the fire the Energy Secretary, Cecil Parkinson, said, "Safety is the first priority of the Government and the operators." This is not true. Certainly safety is the a very high priority, for accidents cause lost production and in the case of Piper Alpha this was on a massive scale. But safety is not top priority. What stops a company from ceasing trading - a poor health and safety record alone or simply a lack of profit? What the House of Commons sh…

The idea of socialism

Have you ever wondered about socialism? What it is? We live in a world where technological achievements are now almost beyond imagination. Yet never before have the fruits of our labour threatened our very existence with the looming ecological threats. Our society is dominated by insecurity and our lives are characterised by isolation and loneliness. Socialism is not "workers' ownership". There is no ownership at all in socialist society, because it's based on classless production relations and the expropriation of private property over the means of production, where control, distribution and management are shifted from individuals to the working collective.

Our world is filled with poverty, war, hunger, racism, and so many other injustices. So what are we going to do about it? We can pretend we are removing the worst of it by fighting for reforms. We can look inward and focus upon ourselves and ignore the suffering of others. Or we can be the catalysts for change i…

The Myth of Red Clydeside

From the April/June 1976 issues of the Socialist Standard
The "Red Clydeside" first put itself on the map in the agitated years of the First World War. Since then, it has received plenty of examination. It has been portrayed as a possible revolution in the making; one that could have formed a link with the Bolsheviks and the Spartacists. The Clyde Workers' Committee was the main body in the agitation of the period. It was an unofficial industrial organization of the type that is today favoured by various claimants to the Bolshevik title.
When Britain entered the war in August 1914, the Clyde area joined in the nationwide enthusiasm. Yet soon after, it proved to be an area that would tolerate opponents of the war who were elsewhere reviled. John MacLean, in particular, soon became noted for his pugnacious attitude. A member of the British Socialist Party,[1] the local members shared his stand along with Independent Labour Party and Socialist Labour Party members. All thre…

Racism, Nationalism, Patriotism, Xenophobia and Bigotry

Working class people are tired of living in poverty, tired of living payslip to payslip, tired of seeing the products of their hard efforts evaporate before their very eyes. The times are tough for many of us, where we don't know how we're going to survive. Politician after politician makes empty promises, and still there's no relief for us workers. So we start to look around at who to blame, and it's easy enough... we blame black people, brown people, immigrants. It's simple enough. We're in competition with these people for jobs and resources, so it seems like a logical enough conclusion to come to. Historically, we've always been at odds with foreigners. We can better relate to others born here, no matter how poor or rich. They're more like us, and that's something we can identify with, come to terms with. So, obviously, our natural enemies become those not from here. 
The only problem with this idea is that we've had it wrong for centuries.…

I don't understand those socialists...(cartoon)

Another of Edinburgh branch's Jack Gold  cartoon this tiime from the February 1975 issue of the SocialistStandard.

Dundee Despair

One in four children in Dundee are now said to be living in poverty and that figure rises to one in three in some of the worst areas of deprivation.  Of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas, only Glasgow has a greater problem with child poverty.

“We currently have a frankly scandalous situation where one in five of Scotland’s children are growing up in poverty,” Child Poverty Action Group director John Dickie said on a recent visit to Dundee. “That is over 220,000 children growing up in families with incomes that are inadequate for the task of giving them a fair start in life in 21st Century Scotland. Sadly, the harsh reality is that in Dundee an even greater proportion of children are growing up in poverty, with one in four children living below the poverty line. In some areas, that figure jumps to one in three children.” Experts have stressed that child poverty cannot be looked at in isolation, as 25.6% of Dundonians under the age of 16 live in homes affected by unemployment and wher…

What do we mean by no countries

One world without borders
"Because the condition of the workers of all countries is the same, because their interests are the same, their enemies the same, they must also fight together, they must oppose the brotherhood of the bourgeoisie of all nations with a brotherhood of the workers of all nations." - Engels
Just as capitalism is a world system of society, so too must socialism be. There never has been, and never can be, socialism in just one country. Socialism will be one world-wide community without national boundaries, a united humanity, sharing a world of common interests, would also share world administration. This is the socialist alternative to the way that capitalism divides the planet into rival states and sets people against each other. But this does not rule out local democracy. It is sometimes said that world administration would mean power of central control over local democracy. In fact a democratic system of decision-making would require that the basic unit…

Jack Finds Out About Capitalism (cartoon)

Cartoon for the January 1973 Socialist Standard issue by Jack Gold of Edinburgh Branch 

What do we mean by socialism

Marx and Engels, used the terms socialism and communism to mean the same thing - a moneyless, wageless, stateless society - as did numerous others, including the early Social Democrats. People have seem to have fogetten about this in their ill-informed attempt to dismiss free access communism. They have failed to see just how much their own perspective is imprisoned within narrrow horizon of bourgeois rights and bourgeois behaviour patterns It is perhaps difficult now to appreciate but, in the late 19th century/early 20th century, when people talked about a socialist society they meant basically a communist society. In fact, earlier on, when Marx and Engels drew up their "Communist Manifesto", they explained why, at the time, they did not call it the Socialist Manifesto - because of the association of the term socialism with certain political currents they did not favour - but increasingly over time they shifted over to using the term socialism rather than communism - parti…