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Showing posts from December, 2015

Wages Fall

Workers’ pay packets in Ayrshire and Stirling have been among the hardest hit in Scotland. Data shows that nationally the real value of average full time earnings has dropped by 6.7% since 2008. In April 2008 the mean gross annual earnings for all full time employees resident in Scotland according to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) was £28,528. The ASHE figure for the mean gross annual earnings for all full time employees resident in Scotland for April 2015 was £32,472. This is an increase of £3,944 or 13.8%. Between April 2008 and April 2015 inflation has been 20.6%. This means the drop in real value of average earnings of full time workers in Scotland between April 2008 and April 2015 has been 6.7%. For the UK the drop in real value of average earnings for full time employees was 13.6%.
The North Ayrshire and South Ayrshire areas together with Stirling saw the largest decreases in the real value of earnings.
For full time employees resident in Stirling, the drop has …

Our case justified by Keir Hardie (1974)

From the August 1974 issue of the Socialist Standard
James Keir Hardie, one of the earlier Labour MPs, was, at different times, Chairman of the Labour Party Annual Conference and Chairman and leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party. He was largely responsible for the formation of the Labour Party and it has been claimed for him that “More than any other man, he shaped the political history of the Labour Movement.” Members of the Labour Party praise him for making their party what it is today but, for a reason which will become obvious, they never quote his detailed statement about the kind of party he claimed to be creating. It was published in 1910 by the Independent Labour Party under the title My Confession of Faith in the Labour Alliance.
Keir Hardie had founded the Independent Labour Party in 1893 and was its Chairman. His purpose in issuing hisConfession of Faith was to rebut the charge that, by affiliating to the Labour Party, the ILP had sacrificed its “socialist” character. …

Forging the Weapons of Class War

The economic and social system prevailing in the world to-day is known as capitalism. The dominating features of capitalism are the private ownership of capital, the production of goods for profit and the division of society into two classes, namely, the capitalist class and the working class. The land, factories, mines, railways and shipping, all the means of producing theworld’s wealth are owned by the landlord and capitalist class. The great mass of the people own nothing except their muscles and brains, that is, their power to work. Production is carried on not for the purpose of supplying the needs of the people but for the purpose of sale in order to realise a profit. Only those who have something to sell can get a living. Only those can obtain things who can afford to buy. This is the capitalist system.
The worker has nothing to sell but his or her labour power. He or she sells labour power to an employer for so many hours a day for a certain price, that is, wages. Since one c…

The Hungry Schoolkids

An increasing number of pupils in Scotland are going to school hungry and in some cases are stealing food from classmates, according to teachers.
Teaching union the EIS carried out a survey as part of its work on tackling the impact of poverty in schools.
About half (51%) of those questioned reported a rise in pupils coming to school without any food. The survey also found an increase in those taking free school meals and attending breakfast clubs. One in five (19%) identified an increase in the number of incidents of children asking for food and even stealing food from other pupils.
The union reported a 22% increase in the number of post-P3 children taking free school meals and a 27% rise in attendance at breakfast clubs. It also identified a 7% increase in the number of parents or guardians requesting referrals to local food banks.
On the issue of pupils' health and well-being, 71% of respondents reported an increase in the number of children displaying signs of mental-health …

A New World

The whole world is chained to the capitalist system. The struggle to bring about the socialist transformation of the world economy will not be easy. Only when the working class abolishes capitalist relations of production and replaces them by non-oppressive, non-exploitive ones then the alienation characteristic of capitalism will begin to disappear. The people gain control of their productive activity and the products of their labour and so the antagonistic estrangement from each other and their aversion to work will be overcome. Productive activity will become once again a creative, fulfilling and truly human activity. The division between work and non-work will disappear and people will freely choose what to produce rather than being constrained by immediate necessities. In capitalist society, the capitalists own the means of production and engage in production for the sole purpose of making profits and satisfying their private interests. Therefore, though there may be planned pro…

Towards socialism

The first requirement for the workers in all countries of the world is to break from the capitalist class and their political parties, and reject any and all concepts of coalitions with their parties. Their programmes are reformist when our task is revolutionary socialist. The reformists project a perspective of merely removing what they present as minor defects in the existing capitalist order of things, of patching capitalism up and making it more tolerable, preaching conciliation and co-existence with capitalism, not class struggle against it for a fundamental change. . Only through an irreconcilable struggle against capitalism, towards its elimination and the establishment of socialism, will the people of the world find the full freedom, equality and democracy for which they aspire. The workers have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to gain. Workers of the world—unite!

The resources of the world must pass into the possession of humanity. All other problems, the …

Everything is One Thing – Capitalism

There is currently a historically low level of strikes in the UK and the USA. At some point that is going to change, but it's difficult to say where or when.

We live in an age of threats to global peace and stability. The myths and illusions concerning the Labour Party have an extraordinary tenacity. Despite betrayals by its leaders, repeated electoral disasters, it has been the renewed confidence of each new generation that has kept the Labour Party alive all these years. The facts of life have been against them but their self-sacrificing work has ensured the continuation of the party and has never altered their conviction that continuous effort would bring about the conversion of the Labour Party to a firm socialist commitment. Yet in the real world, capitalism hooks up with any government that protects its investments - from military dictatorships to Islamic republics to whatever you want to call the Labour Party.
Corbyn’s supporters reflect this naïve trust in the party. Dec…

A festive financial famine

More than 7000 Scots were forced to use food banks in the week before Christmas.
Low income was the biggest factor in 27 per cent of cases, while benefit delays were a factor in 24 per cent and 15 per cent were due to a benefit change.
Ewan Gurr, Scotland network manager for the Trussell Trust, said:
“The message we are clearly hearing in our food banks is not so much that people are struggling with a low income but with no income. This is not about misplaced spending priorities but families struggling on tight budgets where increased winter fuel bills and the absence of free school meals can mean having to make a decision between a warm home and a warm meal. Many individuals and families are simply experiencing a financial famine.”

Socialism on the march

Our socialist revolution can and must be made. Our revolution is everybody’s revolution, of all nationalities and cultures. Who needs the compromisers of the reformist parties who have spouted about socialism for over a hundred years and never came close to making a revolution? “The final goal, no matter what it is, is nothing,” said Bernstein, “the movement is everything.” Every left-wing organisation seems to place the question of “Reform or Revolution” at the top of the agenda, but every conference seems to leave the question unresolved. The Socialist Party has not.
“Single-issueism” is the process of crossing class lines and watering down principles to a broadly acceptable level in order to construct an alliances with sections of the ruling class so a particular demand or reform can be achieved. The single-issue men and women yearn for immersion into the system have come to dominate over those who abhorred capitalism and seek its abolition.
Many brands of oppression—racism, sexi…

RISE for what?

Scotland’s newest party, RISE, Scotland’s Left Alliance,dubbed the Scottish Syriza, unveils its regional list candidates for Holyrood on Tuesday. RISE will also launch a fundraising appeal for £100,000. RISE is an electoral pact between the Scottish Socialists, the Scottish Left Project, environmentalists and independence campaigners. Former Scottish Socialist MSP and current SSP co-convenor Colin Fox has explained the SSP will not field candidates in its own name, but will only stand under the RISE banner in order to avoid splitting the Left vote. Fox said RISE would appeal to SNP supporters for their second votes to maximise the number of pro-independence MSPs in parliament. The anti-austerity party, which is backed by former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars, is standing only on the list system, where candidates can be elected with just 6 per cent of the vote.
Among RISE’s policies are a minimum wage of £20,000, maximum wage of £100,000, free public transport, an income-based Scottish …

The Dawn and the Day is coming

Socialism is the doctrine for sharing and caring but for many people socialism is the philosophy of the ‘crazies’. The ruling class claim for themselves the mantle of progress, logic, truth, beauty, and knowledge. They represent socialists as deluded, irrational, psychotic, and hateful. But just look at these critics of socialism: the distorted finance capitalists who would see a world plunged into barbarism before they relinquish a penny of their fabulous profits; the power-mad industrialists who grind the working class to dust beneath the wheels of the juggernaut of new technology. Are these people sane? Wise? Right? Benevolent? Reasonable? Only we socialists really take reason seriously. We are infinitely more rational than our class enemies. Socialists do not rape the Earth and do not worship Mammon at the expense of people and nature. This has made socialism the anathema of the ruling class, hence, they misunderstand and distort the ideas which reflects the class struggle. The o…

Socialism is the ONLY answer!

The future of humanity calls for an end of the profit system. Capitalism is an outmoded and exploitative system that needs to be changed for the salvation of humanity before it’s too late. We’d better learn and act now. Today the bosses own. Tomorrow the workers will own in common the means of production and would therefore be in a position to control and direct distribution in the interests of the majority of people. The working class must make its stand against the capitalist system – whose lust for profits and interest, for investments, markets and expanded capital, for raw materials and cheap exploitable labour, can mean only exploitation and abject wage slavery. Then ALL the peoples of the world will indeed be free.
With socialism, there will be no wages at all. There will be no prices or market in the sense of goods obtainable only on the basis of paying for them. Under socialism, men and women will receive a share of what has been produced by the common social labour. They will…

Merry Marxmas, Comrades

There is Another Way

One of the basic proposition of socialists is that capitalism, even at its most liberal, remains a system of domination and exploitation. It is a system which involves the concentration of economic power, based on the private ownership and control of the main means of production and the maintenance and defence of this system possesses strong tendencies towards an ever-greater concentration of political power and a corresponding erosion of civic, political and democratic rights. There is an increasing centralisation of production and finance into fewer and fewer hands, while at the same time the dynamic of competition governs the system ever more ruthlessly as global corporate giants and anonymous financial markets compete over rates of profits. A vast reserve army of the unemployed has emerged even in the major capitalist countries. Old industries are abandoned or ‘rationalised’; and through constant mergers and speculation new areas of accumulation are fostered on a global scale. ‘P…

Strange Growth?

Engineering and construction giant, SNC-Lavalin plans to lay off four thousand workers next year, including one thousand in Canada. The Montreal based company claims this is to help the company grow. To quote CEO, Robert Card, "It may be ironic, but it's a growth move. We have a target to become a $15 billion company in the near future and that's going to generate jobs." Imagine how gratifying that must seem to those about to be laid off in the 'near future'. John Ayers

What holiday?

Low-income families should be given help to cope with increased emotional and financial pressures over the school holidays, a Child Poverty Action Group report, commissioned by Glasgow Life - an arms-length body of Glasgow City Council, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health said. Some families felt the strain when free school meals were not available. This could be exacerbated when working hours were cut for childcare reasons and families resorted to borrowing. The research highlighted the problems posed by the extra costs of feeding children over school holiday periods when free school lunches were no longer available. Lack of affordable childcare, leading to reduced working hours was also identified as an issue. The report states that subsidised travel and free activities and lunches could help struggling families.
John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said "The pressures low-income families face are magnifie…

The Labour Party is not, and has never been, a Socialist Party (1977)

From the June 1977 issue of the Socialist Standard
The recent furore in the press and within the Labour Party itself over whether the Party will admit to its ranks “Marxists” has been the cause of much debate concerning the origins of Labourism. Tony Benn, a member of the Government, defended the notion that Marxism has had a strong influence in developing the Labour Party. Benn’s claim is spurious and unfounded: the rejection of Marxism, and hence revolution, fated Labour to follow a reformist path leading to the inevitable disillusionment of its members.
Most of Labour’s early leaders if asked what books were seminal in shaping their views of society would probably mention John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Henry George’s Progress and Poverty, the Bible. If Capital was mentioned at all it would come a long way down the list. In fact, it has been claimed that the Labour Party owes more to the writings of the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, than to the founder of scientific Socialis…