Monday, February 29, 2016

Our message to fellow workers

Many people became frightened by the immensity of the task of achieving a socialist society. The thought of creating a whole new stage of history is a daunting one. There will no longer be the need for the state since the state will be replaced with common administration by all of society. Socialism eliminates the anarchy of capitalism and its crises, by collective ownership of the means of production and collective planning of the economy controlled by the working class. Society will be transformed and the community of workers established, a completely classless society. Technology will no longer be weapons in the hands of the capitalists to grind down the working class, and workers will no longer be a mere extension of the machine, as they are under capitalism. Instead technology will become tools in the hands of the working class to benefit all of society. This will unleash the stored-up knowledge of the working class and inspire people to make new breakthroughs.  Unemployment will end, because socialism will be able to make full use of the labour of everyone in society, while at the same time developing and introducing new scientific to expand output. As increased automation replaces workers, people will not be thrown into the streets, but shift to other jobs and the working hours will be reduced. Work itself will become a joy and enrichment of a person’s life, instead of a miserable means to sustain existence, as it is under capitalism. People will have a wide and diverse variety of organisations to remake and administer society. Imagine how it will feel when all mortgages and debts immediately disappear.

Socialism will bring about well-constructed housing for people. Under capitalism, it is more profitable to speculate in land, maintain slum housing and put capital into buildings for big business than to build decent housing for the masses. It is only because the rule of capital has so greatly distorted development, and brought such decay. Slums will be pulled down, and in their place new homes and other community facilities will be built. Homes will built near places of work, doing away with unnecessary commuting and with easy access to medical clinics, nurseries and schools. A socialist society will make available public laundries, cafeterias, nurseries and other facilities near the home and work. This will make it possible to greatly reduce the burden of household work, and free women–and men as well–to play a greater part in productive labor and the political role of the working class in ruling and revolutionising society. Health care will be freed from the nightmare of big business and the drug companies. Under socialism health care and hospitals will no longer be about cost-cutting but a means for the working class to prevent disease and to preserve the health of the people. Capitalist education prepares the great majority of youth only for existence as wage-slaves and perpetuating the capitalist system. Children are taught to compete against each other. Under capitalism education is geared to maintain the division of society into classes, the conditions of capitalist exploitation and the rule of the capitalists over the working class and masses of people. Education in socialist society will promote cooperation in place of competition, stressing the living link between theory and practice, between knowing and doing.

Capitalism promotes cynicism, despair, and the lie that the masses of people are at fault for all the problems of society–since these can hardly be covered up. It tries to demoralize people with the idea that they are the helpless pawn of mysterious and sinister forces. When it deals with the problems ordinary people face every day, it tries to paint them as purely “personal problems” not stemming from the nature of society itself, or at most as the fault of some “bad” people with “bad” ideas, not representing any class. In all its forms it aims at deflecting the anger of the people away from the ruling class back onto themselves–hate people of another nationality, or the other sex, hate yourself, hate people in general, hate anything but the ruling class itself. It glorifies parasites–whether bank president, gangster or pimp. Socialists shine a spotlight on the crimes of the ruling class and illuminates the real reason for the evils and the sufferings of the people in society – capitalist exploitation.

Socialists point the way to a brighter future. There is no such thing as “human nature”. In the slave system, it was considered “natural” for one group of people, the slave-owners, to own other people, the slaves. In capitalist society, this idea is regarded as criminal and absurd, because the bourgeoisie has no need for slaves as private property (at least not in its own country). But it has every need for wage-slaves, proletarians. So it presents as “natural” the kind of society where a small group, the capitalists, own the means of production and on that basis force the great majority of society to work to enrich them. The slave-owners and the capitalists have one fundamental thing in common–they are both exploiters, and they both regard it as the correct and perfect order of things for a small group of parasites to live off the majority of laboring people. They differ only in the form in which they exploit and therefore in their view of how society should be organised to ensure this exploitation. When humanity has advanced to socialism, society as a whole will consciously reject the idea that any one group should privately own the means of production. Then wage-slavery, based on the ownership of capital as private property, will be seen as just as criminal and absurd as ancient slavery, based on the ownership of other people as private property. The working class has no interest in promoting private gain at the expense of others and every interest in promoting cooperation. For only in this way can it emancipate itself and all humanity. Appropriating the means of production from the overthrown employing class is an act which will be accomplished almost immediately once the workers have won political power.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Ways and the Means

The 19thC German socialist Wilhelm Liebknecht wrote of parliaments
“…Although the principle of representation cannot be altogether abandoned, it should however be reduced to a strictly indispensable minimum, in particular, the legislative and government functions should be exercised by committees and not by parliament, where, as every experienced person knows, debates are not serious deliberations but mere theatrical performances. Even today the major work of the Reichstag has to be done in committees.
Committees elected by the people for specified purposes, which can meet whenever common interests are involved, and which have to submit to plebiscite all laws before they come into force; the people possessing not only the right to reject, but also the right to introduce legislation; in addition, complete freedom of the press and of assembly, and a government which has no power to wield against the people – this is, in rough outline, my idea of the future mode of legislation and government – so long as it may still be possible to call it government at all.”

From the day of its foundation the Socialist Party of Great Britain has struggled consistently to utilise every opportunity provided by the parliamentary system in Britain to further the struggle for socialism, and to voice case for socialism. However, at the present time, the very electoral system itself, based upon the deposit system and the electoral machinery of the capitalist parties in each constituency, make it extremely difficult for a party to even put up a candidate. We need new ways of thinking and new ways of organising yet those who talk of ‘new ideas’ and ‘new methods of organising’ embrace ideas and methods easily as old as those they criticise. The class war is a war, with our class enemy continually trying to take advantage of weak points in our side, to encourage division and fragmentation. In order to preserve its power the dominant class is ready to make temporary concessions. It knows how to wait for the ebbing of the movement so as to take with one hand what it had to concede with the other. There are ways of clarifying ideas and developing organisation to coordinate struggle. We do not stand in awe of the “sacred writings,” defending “scripture” at all costs against experience. The struggle for socialism is within a human context not “holy writ”.

Every election is fought on one or two main issues, and on these alone but once the mandate has been given on that one or two questions politicians arrogates to themselves the right to rule and decide on every issue without the slightest reference to the wishes of the electorate. If a political leader chooses to act in a manner contrary to the wishes of his electors in a dozen other questions, the voters have no redress except to wait for another election to give them the opportunity to return some other gentleman under similar conditions and with similar opportunities of evil-doing. True democracy within capitalism is in short supply. This worn-out and corrupt system offers no promise of improvement and adaptation. There is no silver lining to the dark clouds of despair. This system offers only a perpetual struggle for slight relief within wage slavery. It is blind to the possibility of establishing an industrial democracy, wherein there shall be no wage slavery. Capitalism gives to the people the right to choose their master, a voice in the selection of their ruler. Yet the fundamental feature that goes unquestioned is the continued subjection to a ruling class once the choice of the personnel of the rulers is made. The freedom the socialist seeks is to change the choice of rulers which we have to-day into the choice of administrators of decisions voted upon directly by the people; and will also substitute for the choice of masters (capitalists) the appointment of reliable delegates under direct democratic control. That will mean true democracy – real social democracy.

A world movement must be founded on the class struggle, based upon the recognition of the irrepressible conflict between the capitalist class and the working class. All intelligent workers realize the capitalist system fails to supply the needs of the vast majority of the human race, and that it must be overthrown before the people can have freedom. It is time for the workers of the World to learn their own power and use it for their own benefit. Unorganized they are a helpless mob to be exploited by capitalists, betrayed by politicians, and bludgeoned by the police. Organized under the banner of socialism they become a coordinated force to press forward to the goal of freedom.
Our “party line” put forward is – ‘Spoil your ballot and organize for socialism. This is no plea for apathy or political somnolence. It is a slogan which requires a vigorous campaign to explain the full and correct political significance of such an act.

Instead of slavishly scapegoating fellow workers, we should get up off our knees, be making common cause with workers of all lands to remove this iniquitous system of capitalism. Capitalism and its inevitable concomitants of war, poverty, and planetary despoliation is well past its sell-by date. Time to establish a post-capitalist production for use, free access world for all of the world’s people. This is no Utopia either. It is an immediate and practical proposition and has been since the start of the 20th century never mind this one. It only requires a majority to opt for it and no force will stop it. Capitalisms usefulness is well past is sell by date hence the two world wars of last century as in ruling class, rivalry sought to assert territorial claims over each other’s markets, raw materials and trade routes. What is Utopian is the notion that capitalism can be reformed, tamed of its aggression and made more egalitarian.

We need new ways of thinking and new ways of organising yet those who talk of ‘new ideas’ and ‘new methods of organising’ embrace ideas and methods easily as old as those they criticise. The trouble with “revolutionary” vanguardists is that they, either, think in terms of some foreign country, or “activists” who never have had any actual connection with the labour movement and know nothing about working class. They try to shape the workers to fit their theories, instead of fitting their theories to the workers. The reason that the vanguardists hate the ballot box is because they know they are the minority and have not the patience to await the test of discussion and time. They don’t want the counting of noses, because they know the count will go against them, and because voting requires deliberation. They don’t want deliberation, they want action and hope to carry their case on a wave of excitement. Back of all this there always crops out the Leninist/Stalinist contempt of majority rule. They believe themselves to be the enlightened minority. Right now they would lead us into “mass action” and right into the capitalists’ hands.

“One man with an idea in his head is in danger of being considered a madman: two men with the same idea in common may be foolish, but can hardly be mad; ten men sharing an idea begin to act, a hundred draw attention as fanatics, a thousand and society begins to tremble, a hundred thousand and there is war abroad, and the cause has victories tangible and real; and why only a hundred thousand? Why not a hundred million and peace upon the earth? You and I who agree together, it is we who have to answer that question.” William Morris

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Time Is Now

You can’t compromise your way to your goal. Putting forth a vision for radical transformation of all we know is scary. We need people who are willing to stand together to build a movement for social change that unites people behind a vision of a world based on socialist principles. So we have a choice, we can stick with the known, what is comfortable, what seems to be pragmatic at this time or we can take a strong, bold stance for our highest values, goals and dreams. We have to unite, communicate, know our strengths and attack the repression and oppression that the state is imposing upon us. There’s just us. Just-us. Justice. It’s up to us to change everything. We have to change the system and we have to be radical about it. We have to have everyone we can, doing what they think best, giving everything they have.

Politicians and economists, more often than not echoing one another, speak of a new regime of higher wages, more consumption, and increased standards of living, which would result in the end of poverty. Their prophecies are always answered with a collapse of the good times are a-coming. The ballyhoo of prosperity ends in the most disastrous of recessions. The captains of industry and finance always appear bewildered by the onset of a depression, at no time do they really understand the movement of the economic forces they exploit. Their invocations to the new era of prosperity for all are quickly forgotten. Always, in one form or another, capitalism creates an ideology to disguise and justify its predatory character. It is a necessary device of class domination. But when the disguise disappears, as it must, and the hopeless reality is revealed, the economic crisis of capitalism will become a political crisis and an era of momentous social struggle and change.

Much of the ballyhoo about pending prosperity was invented by professionals who were mesmerized by the “easy money” of speculation. But the prosperity was unequally distributed, only meagerly shared by the workers. There was grinding poverty and terrible insecurity. The number of strikes decreased considerably, but the strikes that did occur were brutally suppressed. Not only that: even if prosperity had been as great as claimed, it was still woefully far behind prevailing potential of technological resources. For capitalism always restricts production and consumption, the possibilities of abundance and leisure potential in the productive forces of society. Social justice will never prevail until industrial despotism has been supplanted by global industrial democracy.

One decisive victory is all that’s needed for a new day is the reformist’s mantra. That new day, however, never ever comes as our rulers quickly learn of other ways to exploit workers. Occupy presented a danger to the entrenched oligopoly because Occupy wasn’t offering solutions like electing representatives or voting for Democrats. The overall consensus was that the system didn’t work and something new was needed. Anything can happen when enough people doubt the basic legitimacy of their government for the doors open to the possibility of real change. Despite its eventual reverses, the Occupy movement represented one of the most serious challenges to the state’s legitimacy in a long while. “Why don’t they offer any solutions?” lamented the establishment media, reflecting the fear of the elite that Occupy targeted the entire political system. If it is true that Sanders has moved the debate on economic justice and corporate control it is up to us to demand much more, such as a real democracy that allows all to have a say.

What many radicals are pursuing is not socialism. What have to show for it? Have there been reforms? In many cases, yes–even significant ones like large scale social welfare program. Has exploitation been ended, the enrichment of a few on the labor of the many? Hardly. Poverty? Scarcely. Is the economy planned to benefit the people? Have the creative powers of the masses been unleashed? Of course not. Reformists are content with class divisions, the dominance of the capitalists, a liberal-orientated government that does not challenge the existing structures.

There is no race but the human race. War, racism, sexism and all the other categories of inhumanity still practiced and profitable must end if we are to have a future as a truly human race. Scapegoating makes sense to the thoughtless or those responsible for maintaining a system that demands a social under-class in order to protect a wealthy over-class.

Human resourcefulness and natural resources are wasted by this system, which makes “profit” the only object in business. Ignorance and misery, with all concomitant evils, are perpetuated by this system, which makes human labor a commodity to be bought in the open market, and places no real value on human life. Science, technology and invention are diverted from their humane purposes and made instruments for the enslavement of men women and children. Labor, manual and mental, being the creator of all wealth and all civilization, it rightfully follows that those who perform all labor and create all wealth should enjoy the fruit of their efforts. But this is rendered impossible. The fruits of cooperative labor are appropriated by the owners of the means of production, by the owners of machines, mines, land, and the means of transportation.

The Socialist Party calls upon all citizens to unite under its banner  so that we may be ready to conquer capitalism by making use of our political liberty and by taking possession of the political power, so that we may put an end to the present barbarous struggle, by the abolition of capitalism, the restoration of the land, and of all the means of production, transportation, and distribution, to the people as a collective body, and the substitution of the cooperative commonwealth for the present state of unplanned production, industrial war, and social disorder — a commonwealth which, although it will not make every man equal physically or mentally, will give to every person the free exercise and the full benefit of his or her faculties, multiplied by all the modern factors of civilization and ultimately inaugurate the universal brotherhood of mankind. The Socialist Party will help make democracy, “the rule of the people,” a truth by ending the economic subjugation of the overwhelmingly great majority of the people.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Break the Chains!

In 1920 919,000 American voters wanted Eugene Debs, who ran on a socialist ticket five times, to be president of the United States and the platform on which he ran demanded the ownership of the means of production be transferred from private to public control. Debs demanded the supreme power of the workers ‘as the one class that can and will bring permanent peace to the world.’ He declared that then ‘we shall transfer the title deeds of the railroads, the telegraph lines, the mines, mills and great industries to the people in their collective capacity; we shall take possession of all these social utilities in the name of the people. We shall then have industrial democracy. We shall be a free nation whose government is of and by and for the people.’ Debsian socialism struck a chord in the hearts of the people. Debs preached the Golden Rule, the basic law of social life – ‘Each for all, and all for each.’

If Debs was to rise from the grave would he feel pleased at the progress of his cause. Capital is still in the private hands of the ruling class. There is not yet socialism. He would see clearly that America, despite its great technological advances is spending more money on war and business subsidies than it spends on education, health and general social uplift. Debs would recognize as Noam Chomsky has, that Bernie Sanders is much like Teddy Roosevelt who sought to break the power and reform the trusts of in his own time. For Debs palliatives were not the solution. The only possible way to save the present-day world was to cut to the root of the problem and establish an industrial democracy. Half-measures as proposed by Sanders cannot meet the challenge. Tinkering with monetary and fiscal policy has proven bankrupt. Welfare policies will do little to correct the deep-seated structures of regional and social inequality. Legislative reforms, aimed at the most blatant abuses of corporate power, will falter, for the corporations will hold the government to ransom through their control of desperately needed investment. So much so that a reform-minded Sanders government will buckle under this pressure, and will pass legislation, cutting social services and suppressing the basic rights of workers. It is not speculation but a conclusion reached by reading actual history. Capitalism has failed, and so have efforts to reform it. Why return to old policies that have proved wanting and believe they will now work. For socialists such as Debs, the needs of people, not profit, are the driving force of society. The system cannot function if common working men and women were to take matters in their own hands!

It must be apparent to every person that there exists a class war being waged by the capitalist classes to secure a greater share in the exploitation of labor. Aside from the false promises put forward by the capitalist class, put forward to mislead the workers, we must ever be on our guard against the crafty apologists of wrong, posing as the friends of labor. Class struggle mean no compromise and an unrelenting struggle against capitalism

The World Socialist Movement declares emphatically that it will work uncompromisingly for social revolution to establish industrial democracy by the mass action of the working class. It also declares that the international unity of the workers is imperative and, therefore, works to bring about that unity, regardless of all barriers, territorial or racial. Capitalism is world-wide. It pays little attention to national boundary lines. Capitalists often try to cover up their crimes with a cloak of patriotism, but the only patriotism they know is that of the dollar. Capital seeks the most profitable investment. If an American capitalist can invest more profitably by out-sourcing he will do so. Workers also must not confine themselves to geographical divisions or national boundary lines, but must follow the globalization of industry. The workers of all countries co-operate to carry on industry regardless of national boundary lines, and they must organize in the same way to confront the transnational corporations. The modern wage worker has neither property nor country. Ties of birth and sentiment which connect him with any particular country are slight and unimportant. It makes little difference to him what country he exists in. When the workers are educated to the real nature of the profit system they lose all respect for the masters and their property. They see the capitalists in their true colors as thieves and parasites, and their "sacred" property as plunder. They see state, church, press and university as tools of the exploiters and they look on these institutions with contempt. They understand the identity of interests of all wage workers and realize the truth of the I. W. W. slogan: "An injury to one is an injury to all."

What we want is not workers’ participation in their own exploitation, but social control over production, so that communities can impose their own priorities, their priorities for what to produce and how to produce - production for need, not for profit.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Educate the Educators

The education of the people, not the few alone, but the entire mass in the principles of industrial democracy is the task of the people themselves. The socialist’s is to set them thinking for themselves, and to hold ever before them the ideal based upon mutual interests. A capitalist world can never be a free world and a society based upon warring classes cannot stand secure. Such a world is full of strife and hatred and such a society can exist only by means of repression and domination.

The Left has often advocated state capitalism, sometimes misleadingly designated as “state socialism”. Whenever the state nationalized an industry, whenever the state imposed its control over industry, the Left naively accepted this as an abandonment of capitalism, as a symptom of the growing importance of socialism and the transformation of capitalism into Socialism. State capitalism emphasizes the fact of the state, of government, being an economic agency of the ruling class. State and capitalist industry, government and ruling class, become one and indivisible. State capitalism, accordingly, is not an abandonment of capitalism: it is a strengthening of capitalism. What came about was not socialism nor a step towards socialism but merely another expression of capitalist power and supremacy. Socialism is not state ownership or government management of industry, but the opposite: Socialism’s earliest act is to abolish the state. State capitalism is not socialism and never can become socialism. State capitalism attempts to regulate and direct capital and labor. State regulation may, to some measure, prove onerous to the capitalist, but is accepted as the necessary condition for the progressive promotion of his interests, however, it proves much more onerous to the employee. Socialists rejects “co-operation” with the capitalist, in industry as in politics and the policy of trying to maintain industrial peace by coercion and cajolery. One means of cajolery is an arrangement by which the workers may “co-operate” with the employers in the consideration of matters affecting a particular industry or factory. It brings the workers under the sway of the capitalist in ways that weakens the independent action of our class by offering a sham democracy in the factories and offices. Industry is not transformed into a state function ruled through a ministerial department, but transformed into new administrative norms of the organized associations of producers. The Socialist Party rejects state ownership, rejects state capitalism as a “phase” of “socialism” that can “grow” into “socialism”.  This concept of transformation in practice doesn’t transform capitalism, it transforms the socialist movement into a caricature and a prop of Capitalism. The Socialist Party insist upon the social management through industrial democracy.

For sure, there is still some room for reform and betterment of conditions in the present social system, but this is of minor matter compared to the need for industrial and social reorganization. The real great change in history must be the socialization of the means of our daily life. Privately owned production for individual profit are no longer compatible with civilisation’s progress. With all its tremendous technology through invention and discovery this capitalist world of ours has not yet learned how to feed itself. There is no longer any excuse for hunger. All the materials and all the forces are at hand and easily available for the production of all things needed to provide food, clothing and shelter for every man, woman and child, thus putting an end to the poverty and misery which sicken humanity. But the technology must be released from private ownership and control, socialized, democratized, and set into operation for the common good of all instead of the private profit of the few. Common ownership and democratic control are inseparable. To the working class belongs the future.

There is no room for misunderstanding among us as to what our position means and requires. It requires a clean break with all the perversions and distortions of the real meaning of socialism and democracy and their relation to each other, and a return to the original formulations and definitions. Nothing short of this will do. Only a revolution that replaces the class rule of the capitalists by the class rule of the workers can really establish real social democracy. Socialists seeks to inaugurate a system of industrial democracy in place of capitalist autocracy and control. Like capitalism itself industrial democracy knows no boundaries, color, race, creed or sex. As capitalism knows only profit, industrial democracy knows only the exploitation by which profit is possible. Socialists organize to make exploitation an impossibility. Socialism is not about getting more wages, less hours and better conditions, but achieving social power. It means solving social problems and of making the workers themselves representative of a new society working for the good of all and the profit of none. The workers ensuring their own free development, their own liberation—is the liberation of all society, for the workers are society, in fact and numbers. The capitalists as a class, are a useless parasitic minority that can be dispensed with. Workers have no interests in common with capitalists and in fact, their material interests are in conflict. It is declared purpose of the Socialist Party to abolish the wage-system, and supplant it by a system of industrial co-operation in which the community shall have full control for its own benefit. The social revolution becomes a fact when people have acquired sufficient consciousness of their control over society to establish that control in practice. The capitalist state will weakened by socialist parliamentary criticism and action. The capitalist state will be undermined by the developing class power and struggles of workers’ movement by all the means of action at its disposal. But for parliamentarianism to be of value it must relate itself to other forms of struggle and abandon its policy of reformism.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

This is our planet. We want it back

Capitalism can no longer operate in the interests of the majority of humanity. These days people are so suspicious of capitalism that the supporters of it stress more and more upon the necessity of reforming its abuses, until finally they are falling over each other to show that they are really in favour of some sort of “socialism.” Needless to say what they call socialism is only capitalism in disguise, but the trick works. They all in greater or lesser degree adopt as their slogan “We are all socialists now.” Capitalism is a social set up which produces goods for sale. Socialism will be a society which makes things because people need them. Capitalism has competition, the wages system, the state. Socialism will have cooperation, free access to wealth, democratic freedom. Remember this, the next time somebody airily holds forth on a so-called socialist platform or programme.

To talk of a socialist state is to talk in contradictions. For the state is a machine designed to maintain the subjection and exploitation of the large mass of the people by a few. It developed when the production of wealth surplus to the needs of the producer became possible. Its function was to protect the system of the expropriation of that surplus wealth. Thus, it is a very old institution—and now that we live under capitalism, with its exploitation of the working class under modern industrial conditions, it still carries out the same function. Today, as ever, the state is there to preserve and protect the private ownership of the wealth, power and privilege of the relatively small dominant class in society. Part of the state’s work is in the organisation of the military machine. This is a world in which wealth is produced with the object of a profitable sale. This means that nations are always in keen competition for markets and so forth. In continually seeking to outdo their foreign competitors, they land themselves into all manner of risky situations. These in turn cause the perpetual crises, diplomatic wrangles and international tensions which we all know so well. The armed forces, run by the State, are there to push each nation's interests in these disputes.

Millionaires devote money to a political party that they think will uphold their interests. The only thing that can undermine the power of the ruling class is working-class political knowledge; the only way in which the political control can be wrested from the ruling class is by political action based upon sound working-class political knowledge. Workers throughout the capitalist world, support a society which impoverishes and degrades them. It is painful for them to face the reality of their support for capitalism — to face their own responsibility for all the wars and for the global destitution. Yet to face reality, and to live up to our responsibility, is all that it needs. The world has everything now to make it a place of peace and abundance except the political will to make it so. At the moment there may appear to be nothing serious to disturb the tranquility of the capitalists. But that means little. The modern working class inherits the lessons of history, half-formed ideas of the goal towards which historic evolution is relentlessly marching shape themselves in the minds of millions of workers. The seeds of generations of propaganda have been sown, and who knows when and how events which neither capitalists nor workers can control will develop rapidly those half-formed ideas into socialist convictions and bring to maturity the seeds sown in past generations? Political catastrophes, like those in Nature, appear to occur suddenly, but they are not sudden to those who understand that they are the culmination of the innumerable past factors in historical development. Events will show clearly to workers that socialism is the only logical outcome of the class struggle and the only solution for their poverty and insecurity.

The only way of salvation for the workers lies in the transformation of private property into commonly owned property and the organisation of industry on a co-operative basis of production for use and not for profit. No capitalist party will legislate for this— they dare not, on the pain of self-extinction. The only party that dare go to the legislative assemblies to do this is the Socialist Party organised on the lines of the class war, with its tactics and policy in accord with its principle, with a clear knowledge of the fact that rent, profit, and interest exist because the workers—the wealth-creators—are robbed of the wealth they produce, whether taken from them by private capitalists or by the capitalist state. A revolutionary socialist party can act in the real interests of the workers, and for the workers of this country that party is The Socialist Party of Great Britain.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Beyond Protest

Capitalism creates many problems and subjects the working class to all kinds of pressures. What is somewhat puzzling about the whole painful business is that, despite so much experience in protesting and all the accompanying disillusionment, people still persist in trying to deal with individual issues in isolation and make little if any attempt to relate either one problem to another, or to relate all the problems to a common cause. It seems that for every outrage committed by capitalism, and for every inhumanity and frustrated need, there is a group of people ready to mushroom into an organisation and start protesting.

Socialists are not opposed to the idea of protesting as such. There was certainly plenty to protest about — there always is. What concerns us is to get it into its social perspective so as to achieve a more fruitful form of expression. The fact that the horrors of capitalism do produce some response in terms of protest demonstrations is more hopeful than an attitude of indifference. But, unless workers learn from previous fruitless experiences to avoid going over the same ground again, nothing is gained.

The widespread ignorance of class interests among workers offers no permanent hindrance to our socialist policy. That ignorance is due to certain causes, and the lack of interest in revolutionary ideas among the masses. If a collapse of conditions causes vast discontent, can anything be hoped for if the working-class are ignorant of socialism? Discontent in itself is not sufficient. Without working class action based on socialist consciousness, there can be no social transformation. That conditions are likely to develop anti-capitalist views among the workers is so well-known to the capitalists there that they have spent fabulous sums in controlling almost every agency of education and opinion, including the labour leader. The open and constant use of the wealth of the few to control affairs by so-called corruption is inevitable. This, however, will not prevent or influence the awakened worker once be realises that economic and political action are essential for him or her, and that neither political or economic action are in themselves corrupt or need ever be corrupt once the workers understand and control the economic and political organisations for themselves and in their own interest.

The alternative to capitalism is seen as a society in which all forms of exchange and money will be abolished and all land and property will be taken into the control of the community. Capitalism is the system of minority private ownership of the means of wealth production and distribution, the majority having only their labour power to sell to earn a living—only the profit of the privileged class is maximized. Socialism is the system of society, never yet established anywhere because it requires a majority of convinced socialists based on common ownership and democratic control, and production solely to meet human need. What is usually called “socialism” (government ownership) is state capitalism. Capitalism means capitalists compete for markets and workers have to compete for jobs, whereas socialism means that all individuals have free and equal access to the wealth the world is capable of producing. Why should anyone fear a system that means abolishing war, poverty, privilege and exploitation of the majority by the minority? Nearly everything that we need to-day— food, clothes, and the rest—are produced by businesses, and therefore with the object of making a profit. That is why bad food is often produced, shoddy clothes are often made, houses that you can nearly blow over are often built, and the workers who produce the needed goods are paid such low wages that many of them spend the whole of their lives in a state of poverty that often takes away the wish to remain alive. The Socialist Party intends to have all this altered. Instead of somebody, or some company, having to buy the machinery and other things before food and clothes can be made, we say, let the land and machinery belong to the whole of the people, and let us arrange things so that some will make machinery, others will plough the land, some will go down in mines, others will drive the trains, and so on. As each took an equal part in making what we all needed so each would take an equal part in using what was made.

Now if we had such a state of affairs we would only make the best things we could, and we would make them in the best way. Everyone that could would take his part in making things, so that they would be neither rich unemployed nor poor unemployed. Some will say the idea of everyone working together in such a manner is impossible—each will want to get the lion's share of what is made and do as little as he can. When, however, everyone understands that by not doing his part either in the work or the consuming he is only hindering the producing of things, and therefore, in the long run, doing himself an injury, then there will be, in the main, neither slacking nor greediness. Besides, there will be so little work for each to do and such an abundance of things to be got that these inherited vices will soon disappear.

Grass Roots (1968)

Grass Roots (1968)

Book Review from the September 1968 issue of the Socialist Standard

Constituency Labour Parties in Britain by Edward G. Janosik (Pall Mall Press, 45s.)

Edward Janosik has produced here a study of the organisational and political nature of constituency Labour Parties. The blurb on the dust jacket claims that the book contains “a body of reliable data from which sound generalisations could be made". Unfortunately, the author, an American who spent a year in Britain, has little or no experience of his subject and his data has been acquired by interviewing what he calls  “key leaders" of thirty six CLPs.

Before joining the Socialist Party of Great Britain I was a CLP secretary—a “key leader”—for some years and my own impressions of the Labour Party are very different from those gained second hand by Janosik. He must really be naive if he thinks that the party machine (Transport House) isn't all that powerful in the selection of parliamentary candidates. True, there is a procedure laid down which appears to give the “grass roots" a great deal of independence in the matter, but the machine, through its local paid officials, can and often does see that the dice is loaded in favour of nominees acceptable to it by turning a blind eye to blatant irregularities in the delegations to selection conferences.

Also, Janosik's claim that there is little evidence of organised factionalism in the CLP's is to anyone who has ever been active in the Labour Party, sheer nonsense. Before such events as the election of office-bearers, the choosing and instruction of delegates to national and local conferences, the selection of parliamentary and municipal candidates, each faction will normally meet in conclave to decide a course of action against the others.

Janosik does admit that his studies were carried out at a time when a general election was pending. Such an event is always a great unifier as CLP's are basically an electoral machine whose function is to secure the return of candidates representing a very broad viewpoint of how British capitalism should be run. Not that the "unity" ever lasts very long. After the votes have been counted the various factions, left and right, will cheer their heads off together if Labour wins but it is only a short while before the back-stabbing begins again. If Labour loses then, of course, it commences right away.

The book does reveal, in passing, some of the skeletons in the Labour cupboard. For instance, the fact that candidates are sometimes chosen with an eye to the religious prejudices of the electorate. Also dealt with is the degrading "pulling out” of the Labour vote on election day. This consists of the party activists plaguing everyone suspected of Labour sympathies to come out and vote. Fleets of cars are provided for this spectacle and no wonder, for if the average Labour voter were left to vote of his or her own accord then there would be a lot less Labour MPs in Parliament.

The myth that the CLP’s are bastions of militancy against the reactionary leadership also takes a knock. Actually, the vast majority of Labour Party are simply apolitical and are only concerned with humdrum fund-raising and social activities.

Janosik's book cannot fail to impress whoever is obsessed with discovering the facts relating to the average age and occupational, religious, educational background of CLP leaders and there are abundant tables dealing with all this and more. Doubtless, the Robert McKenzie, Abrams and Rose crowd will be fascinated, but really, the author has failed to get under the skin of his subject and to see it for the corrupt, undemocratic and anti-socialist organisation that it is.

Perhaps we shouldn't blame him too much for that After all, thousands who have spent a lifetime in its ranks still haven’t seen through it either

Vic Vanni
Glasgow Branch

Monday, February 22, 2016

Expropriating the Expropriators

Socialism/communism is not about taking away people's personal possessions. That's just a scare story put around by those whose property socialism will take away: those who own and control the means for producing goods and services (farms, mines, factories, etc).

And they won't be bought out, but simply expropriated without compensation when a majority decide democratically to make the means of production the common property of all, so they can be used to provide for the needs of all instead of to make profits for a few. We are merely expropriating the expropriators. All wealth comes from the application of human labour upon the raw materials in conditions of waged slavery and absolute, actual, or relative poverty for the majority, with privileged access to the means and instruments of producing and distributing this wealth by and for the minority capitalist class. The reason for their capital accumulation rather than intelligence and superior or intelligent application of opportunity. The richest 1% probably are just as likely to have their economic affairs managed for them. Generally if one is born poor, one will die poor and the converse if one is born rich, one will die rich.

Nor has socialism anything to do with government ownership. It's about common ownership, which is the same as non-ownership. The means of production won't belong to anyone or any institution, not corporations, not rich individuals, not governments. They will simply be there to be used under democratic control to provide for people's needs in accordance with the principle "from each their ability, to each their needs". All companies and corporations (which are only legal entities created and maintained by the state) were dissolved or that all stocks and shares, bills and bonds, etc were declared null and void. They'd then just be pieces of paper. Then no one and no legal entity will be able to exert enforceable property rights over means of production. They would belong to nobody or everybody (the same thing). Imagine if, tomorrow, it was made illegal to be an employer (to use terminology from British law, to be the ‘Master in a contract of service’).  That would render almost all capital worthless at a stroke, and the only way in which labour could be secured would be through voluntary co-operation. When material conditions change so to do social relationships, we've had the former not the latter. The productive forces are out of sync with social relationships. Every time too much of anything is produced, capitalism goes into 'crisis'. Too many houses, too much food, while people starve.

The great bulk of economic activity in the formal sector of the capitalist economy is completely and utterly useless from the standpoint of meeting human needs. Such activity occurs simply and solely to enable the system to operate on its own terms. The only aim of any capitalist concern is to make profit. If in making that profit they meet human need and or desire, so be it, if in making that profit it meets no human need or desire again that is immaterial.

The only realistic model of a totally non-market socialist (or communist, if you prefer) economy would be one which would be very largely self-regulating and decentralised. We see this in embryonic form today in the system of physical accounting - stock control - that exists alongside the system of monetary accounting linking business enterprises along a supply chain. Socialism will dispense with monetary accounting but will retain the physical accounting aspect of this relationship There would be no economic exchange in the quid pro quo sense since this necessarily implies private property and hence the absence of common ownership.  It would be very wrong to deduce from the mere existence of numerous planning bodies the existence of private property as such.

"Within the co-operative society based on common ownership of the means of production, the producers do not exchange their products; just as little does the labor employed on the products appear here as the value of these products, as a material quality possessed by them, since now, in contrast to capitalist society, individual labor no longer exists in an indirect fashion but directly as a component part of total labor. The phrase "proceeds of labor", objectionable also today on account of its ambiguity, thus loses all meaning" - Critique of the Gotha Progamme

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Building socialist foundations, not castles in the sky

In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.” George Orwell

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” George Orwell

Amid a myriad of global, regional and local social crises they say to us “We are in trouble. We all need to pull together on this.” But we have to ask ourselves upon what basis. The experts, the politicians, the intellectuals and academics are unable and unwilling to even touch the surface of the issue and activists remain paralysed and splintered. Fortunately, the Socialism Or Your Money Back blog and this one has the mission to present the inconvenient truths against the mainstream myths and to read between the media-headlines and the politicians sound-bites. To understand our world and its political-economic reality, is far from being easy, yet it remains our primary survival-tool. The capitalists’ ideology is that capitalism is the one and only economic system for mankind.

Contrary to the widespread myths about capitalism, in reality the capitalist system is theft, scarcity, austerity, poverty, servitude, inequality, unemployment, homelessness, mass refugee migration, chaos, economic crisis, state control, war and terror. To put it bluntly capitalism is hell on earth. Capitalism does not equal democracy – to the contrary. Capitalism is an anti-democratic, anti-social, dysfunctional, crisis-inflicting, inequality-generating, unstable and exploitative system. Capitalism is the modern version of slavery and tyranny: a system owned, controlled and dictated by a few billionaires. Capitalism does not equal human rights – to the contrary, capitalism elevates the rights of the capitalist class above all. Capitalism does not equal freedom – to the contrary. Capitalism is NOT a system of freedom (liberty), democracy and dignity. In the current system those who exercise power over the majority own the most capital and via capital, own most lands, resources, the means of production and governments of the world. And that group has a name: the capitalist class, the oligarchs and plutocrats of our era. The only solution to change our present and future is to remove the capitalist class. The capitalists are not irreplaceable and we can do much better without them

 Capitalism is a system driven by one single factor: profit-making. In order to keep a business up and running, the managers of the enterprise are obliged to maximise the profits for the shareholders, that is, to make as much profit as possible and as quick a time as possible despite at any moral, ethical, human or environmental cost, regardless of the consequences. Any other considerations that would reduce profits, such as refraining from environment-destroying activities, improving working conditions or reducing work-hours to employees are inherently alien to the capitalist. The capitalist class constantly seeks new cheap resources and markets where they can export their profit-making activities. When the capitalist enterprise grows, it eventually grows beyond borders and strives for new lands, resources, labour-sources and markets.

Do we really need to be buying every new thing that comes on the market? Why do we need new car number-plates every six months? To try and encourage people to buy more new cars. Is this really necessary? Why does Apple bring out a new computer/phone/watch every few months? Sure, the technology is better, but the root technology, the solid state drives and what have you, is typically no different to that in the previous model. It's just a ploy (which only makes sense in the capitalist model) to keep us spending. Capitalism is all about the cultivation of desires that ultimately cannot be met through such as means as advertising because this is the corollary of its own irrational expansionist dynamic: production for the sake of production. Looking at the impact if consumer culture on the environment, is it really the way to go in the future? Do we really need exponential growth in energy consumption? Can we afford to keep the game going? These are irrelevant questions in capitalism, because anything that turns a profit is good. Socialism offers a sane, sustainable model for the future of humanity.

 Scarcity, Poverty, Hunger. The capitalist class constantly creates scarcity to keep demand and prices as high as possible. This is why large amounts of food has been and is being wasted while millions have no access to food. Scarcity is to maintain the capitalist establishment and hinders all areas of research and development in green and abundant energy sources, affordable housing, etc. Capitalists discard products in massive quantities rather than feeding the hungry and provide for the less fortunate. Austerity, unemployment, debt. The capitalist class constantly seeks opportunity to keep the vast majority in a non-bargaining position, so that the capitalist class could keep their economic power– price and wage-fixing – position. Those who are unemployed can’t negotiate with a potential employer and those who are employed can’t negotiate for higher wages since there are many unemployed to replace them any time. The capitalist interest is to keep competition as low as possible, to reduce the scope and strength of any existing or potential competition, in order to maintain their market-leader position and in order to maintain a labour market with over-supply of the cheapest labour possible. Capitalists attack the unions and force employees into a race-to-the-bottom contest to compete for jobs by accepting lower and lower wages.

War is one of the most profitable businesses hence one of the most attractive enterprise for capitalists. In addition to the mega-profits made by the military industry complex, wars deliver additional benefits to the capitalists such as the opportunity to seize new lands, resources, markets and cheap labour. In addition via the extreme poverty, scarcity that wars create on immense scale and the need only the capitalist class, as the owners of means of production, is ready to meet. If there is no apparent reason to start a war, they create reasons for a war. They organise terror as pretext for wars. Capitalism is a system that uses techniques of covert aggression.

Many still believe that socialism has been tested and found wanting during the so-called “communist” period of the USSR and is satellite states so it is concluded that the only option we are left with is the current system, regardless of its tragic failures. Socialism, the way how Marx and many early proponents envisioned it, never has been realised. Soviet-type Socialism was in fact state-capitalism, a yet another form of the orthodox master-slave relationship. It was just another form of unbridled exploitation. There is no socialist state in socialism.  In the classical definition of socialism the state disappears since it is an instrument of class rule whereas with socialism classes cease to exist in the Marxian sense.  Hence, Engel’s observation:
“The people’s state has been flung in our teeth ad nauseam by the anarchists, although Marx’s anti-Proudhon piece and after it the Communist Manifesto declare outright that, with the introduction of the socialist order of society, the state will dissolve of itself and disappear.”

It is not part of the socialist case that the billionaire class consists of the lazy and the idle. Actually, even if they all worked their socks off 24/7 and 365 days of the year it would still be the case that overwhelmingly the money they have acquired to invest in business or give away to charity would have come from the efforts of the working class, not them  They have acquired this money simply by virtue of the fact that they have ownership rights over the means of production and are thus able to exploit the excluded property-less  majority by paying the latter significantly less in wages and salaries than the value of the goods and service the latter provide or make. Warren Buffet, the second richest man in the world said, "I personally think that society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I've earned." Erick Schmidt, CEO of Google says, "Lots of people who are smart and work hard and play by the rules don't have a fraction of what I have. I realize that I don't have my wealth because I'm so brilliant." Do you imagine for one moment that the world that exists is one that correlates with the pro-capitalist’s hypothetical dream-world of a level playing field? Do you really think that the 62 multibillionaires who  currently own between them more wealth than half the world's population - 3,500,000,000 people - have contributed as much to humanity as the latter?  We would put it to you that the "rewards" that these 62 individuals have received has very little, if anything, to do with their own effort but overwhelmingly has to do with efforts of those who produce their wealth for them - the working class.  The workers in effect run capitalism from top to bottom but are largely excluded from the means of production However  hard they work it is the owners of capital that reap the benefits simple because they own capital and not because they merited or worked for what they receive.

On the question of work incentive, it is a complete myth to suggest that without monetary incentives individuals will be less inclined to work.  Actually there is quite a lot of evidence to suggest that monetary incentives (so-called) actually have the effect of undermining the intrinsic motive to work. Most of the work that we do even in capitalism is unpaid.  This is what constitutes what is called the grey economy which is counter-posed to the official white market economy and the unofficial black market economy. Studies undertaken by social researchers and bodies like UN  have shown that in terms of total hours worked , the grey economy is marginally larger than both the white and black economies combined.

The administration required for a socialist society to operate will be a tiny fraction of the size of capitalism’s sprawling bloated bureaucracies. What will need to be kept track of is not what individuals consume but broad patterns of consumption in respect of the aggregate demand for specific lines of goods to ensure there is an adequate supply to meet future demand.  This is something that is already done today in the guise of a self-regulating system of stock control based on calculation in kind e.g. numbers of tins of baked beans on the shelves.  However, alongside calculation in kind we also find today, monetary calculation.  Socialism will dispense with the latter but retain the former so simple logic will tell you that in terms of its administrative apparatus socialism will be vastly more streamlined than capitalism. What we argue for is a democratically run economy, run to benefit humanity. Socialism is not about painting a pretty picture. Socialism is not about building castles in the sky. Socialism is democratic control. Socialism is common ownership.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

If you stand for nothing, you will get defeated by anything

“At the parliament of animals, the rabbits demanded equal rights, and the lions replied, ‘But where are your claws?’”

If you thought you were in charge - think again.

“Living in poverty” is one of those phrases that rolls easily off the tongue. We all tend to glaze over the full meaning of the phrase, the grinding day-to-day misery of hunger, insecurity, worry, discomfort, exhaustion, and despair. The grim reality is that people are working hard and yet remain impoverished. Too many of our neighbours are being destroyed by poverty. We must demand better than that. Whatever fear, grief, anger, disbelief, or horror you are feeling in a personal crisis, imagine those feelings expanded to planetary scale. Socialists today give voice to the future generations. Even the most educated have not the slightest inkling of the false history they have learned. The intellectuals have been thoroughly co-opted by the ruling class with university tenure and prestige trinkets. Many activists have addressed different areas. But few link them up.

 The lesser of two evils is not the quick way to die, but instead a slow deliberate bleeding to death. Sure Republicans or the Tories are worse. But that most assuredly doesn’t mean that Democrats or the Labour Party are the solution. Real change will not come from them. Your elected leaders are working for themselves and their puppet-masters. They couldn’t care less about you. Certainly Left and Right use different language and reasoning but they both come to same conclusions. There will be no change until the American people wake up and realize that no politician will deliver it to their door. For the self-actualized worker not looking for a hero/leader there is just a vision of a world that could be. Revolutions need commitment. As The Who once sang – “we won’t be fooled again”. But sadly this is exactly what happens every election. We get the governments and the presidents we deserve. Take a look at the mess we are in around the world. Capitalism is a wrecking machine, scorching and scouring the Earth of its resources, increasing its profits plundering the people. The viciousness of capitalism engulfs us ever more.

To all those on the Left – the Socialist Party say “Please come home!” Re-think your positions. Maybe it is the bitter truth that that none of us will see a society in which we'd actually want to live in. Perhaps the youngest of us will be the ones to create the new society. But what we can do now is to lay the groundwork for that by exposing the hoax that reformism will lead to basic changes. People require to understand that the purpose of reformers is to patch up the problems of the profit system but more importantly defuse and diffuse discontent with promises of a better future and thus prevent mass opposition from coalescing. Capitalism is willing to change only in ways that shore it up. It diverts potentially revolutionary energy into superficial dead ends so before anything truly different can be built, we have to bring it down. What we can do now as socialists is weaken capitalism and build organisations that will pass our knowledge and experience on to future generations. If we do that well enough, our children or grandchildren can make a revolution. If we don't do it, our descendants will remain wage-slaves. Our most important aim is educating and organizing people towards a revolutionary goal, undermining the beliefs that prop up the institutions of capitalism, breaking the identification with “God, King and Country”, ridiculing their patriotic rituals. We should talk about capitalism, not neoliberalism or any other euphemism for the capitalist system. The precise form that capitalism takes in a particular era might reflect 'evolution' of a sort but, in whatever guise, capitalism is fundamentally exploitative. Capitalism like the board game Monopoly is designed to bankrupt and eliminate other 'players' from the 'game' leaving just one 'player' (the global elite) to own everything. There seems little point in shifting the focus to one or another manifestation of it. Capitalism kills people. Our task is to explain this. It is our duty to ourselves and to the future to profit by the experiences of our predecessors and by our own.

And yet, despite everything that capitalism does to destroy the bonds of human solidarity in our world, many people still act selflessly as the people of Occupy Sandy did after Hurricane Sandy and as many are doing to help in the plight of the migrants in Europe. Technology has abolished time and distance as factors separating nations from nations. On our shrunken globe today, there is room for one group only - the family of humankind. We have waited too long for real change and lost some precious time. We can’t avoid the battles of ideas. We can’t avoid the discussions about what our values. Our argument is that our case for socialism is the best chance to build a better society. We will seize the opportunity to decentralized economic power as much as we can. We must come together as a community and drop the “my issue is bigger than your issue,” pissing contest. It’s about connecting the dots and laying out an expansive vision to work towards as an aspiration for all

Friday, February 19, 2016

Chin Rōdō to Shōhin Seisan no Haishi

Trans: Abolition of Wage Labour and Commodity Production

The purpose of the Socialist Party is to create a better world than this one. Our goal is a totally new economic system that represents the interests of the majority and we say this change should happen now and not in some far-off distant undetermined future time. Putting an end to the great class divide and its conflicts is at the core for a better world. The current economic system where political leaders only listen to and heed the 1% instead of to the majority is a disaster and is failing the people and planet. Socialism put the interests of the people first on a scale never seen before. It can only happen by a people-powered movement that who shares a commitment to the common good. The Socialist Party chooses to imagine a better world than this and we believe the time has come to fight for it together. Our challenge is to persuade people to eliminate the institutions of capitalism which are a bane upon equality and justice. If we don’t, our grandchildren will inherit a world where there is greater divisiveness and destruction than what we are now witnessing. We seek a true world community.

Capitalism is a competitive hierarchy to dominate and suppress. Capitalism must have an ever  expanding economy, even if it overwhelms nature. Capitalism is powered by competition, which grows the economy until it consumes all without satisfying anyone's natural needs. The more we disconnect ourselves from people and nature the more miserable and endangered life becomes. Capitalism is malignant cancer on nature. It kills its host.

Interests are basically common. Peoples can't lose as they're part of the common. The more we cooperate the more we know and understand social interactions and our role in nature. A cooperative-based socialist system is organised to maximise well-being for all people and nature and functions within the planet ability to supply people's needs. Capitalism’s growth compulsion has damaged the ability of the planet’s and its life to maintain itself. This is well beyond government controlled by capitalism to save anyone from its demise. Socialism unleashes the human potential for creative co-operation, and shares resources and surpluses for the good of all. Evidence for the possibilities of world socialism comes from the findings of evolutionary biology, developmental psychology, anthropology and archaeology. People with vision within the Socialist Party seek a humane, grassroots democracy path towards this co-operative commonwealth. Let us all help to speed the day when this wonderful earth and its rich resources are held in common for the benefit of all humanity. The present world economic system is obsolete and long past its sell by date, let’s dump this dog-eat-dog rat-race into the trash bin of history.

Socialism may well not be perfect, idyllic, noble, or wonderful, but it will work well enough. What anthropologists have determined is that people far from being noble and wise are capable of being mean, unkind, short-sighted, selfish, insensitive, stubborn, and short-tempered. A life in socialism won’t turn people into saints. But what it does is enable ordinary people to make a living together with a minimum of stress year after year, generation after generation, not suffocated by a tyrannical State, where tradition does not dictate every action of the individual, where people feel free to express their individuality without the need to conform. An egalitarian tribe, where merit and esteem matters, not rigid hierarchy or nepotism. The only politics that will matter is how the human race uses and protects its lands and waters for the betterment of our own societies, our future children, and our fellow plant and animal species, embodying the ideal of direct, grassroots participatory democracy. A sharing society would go a long way towards healing the open wounds of our divided world and the ethnic and sectarian tensions plaguing most nations. Rather than keeping food, housing, material and intellectual property under lock and key, a world of abundance would allow unparalleled access to health, education, and appropriate technology.

As mass movements rally for social justice and direct democracy, the idea of world socialism can be will the spark for change and ignite the struggle for liberation from suicidal capitalism to the respect for universal human rights that dissolves people’s delusions that we must all be insular in our way of life. 

Will you no just go away...

Tommy ‘liar’ Sheridan has announced that he will run for election to the Scottish Parliament in May. His wife Gail is also running for Holyrood, appearing first on the party’s list for the West of Scotland region. He is urging folk to use their second vote to elect him. It is a shameless appeal to Scottish nationalists who are voting for the SNP in the constituency section of the ballot to give their second vote to him.

Sad that he will discredit the terms socialist and socialism yet once more. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The conversation of resistance

We live in an age of crises. Their causes seem complex and diverse and indeed they are, but  capitalism’s contradiction between human needs and the needs of capital leads us to self-destruction. Britain’s best-known economists Adam Smith made the following observation about the capitalist model that ruled the world throughout modern history:
“All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.”

A century later Britain’s next best known economist, Keynes said:
“Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”

Today, Britain is the fifth richest country in the world and we have the obscenity that every major city and town possesses a food bank to help the poor.  Capitalism has been around for centuries, and it’s still as monstrous today as it was when the popular anthem Jerusalem refers to “dark satanic mills.”

Capitalism has looted and or wrecked nearly every advance civilisation made. The stranglehold pro-capitalists have on economic thinking must be opposed and overcome. Almost everything that’s wrong in the world is wrong because of capitalism. It must go. Many have pointed to numerous events in the twentieth century as the beginning of the end, but capitalism has proven more resilient than they anticipated. It has stubbornly refused to die; it must be killed.

The word “revolution” automatically conjures up images of The American Revolutionary War.  But as the writer Dmitry Orlov points out; “The American Revolution wasn’t a revolution at all because the slave-owning, genocidal sponsors of international piracy remained in power under the new administration.”   In the end, after all the bodies had been buried, King George was out, President George was in, and it was business as usual among the wealthy upper crust, their underlings, and the slaves.  An actual revolution requires a change in ideology.  The main change here was in the profit margins.  No more pesky taxes to pay to the British Crown.  This was no revolution.  More like just a revolt against upper management.

Today’s multi-national slave-owners know no borders. There are just two classes — slave-owners and slave laborers.  Ethnicity, nationality, and religion perform no function other than to distract the minions of slaves, playing them against each other, lest they notice their owners behind the curtain, pulling the levers and controlling media misinformation while playing patriotic songs, maintaining a constant state of warfare. Zbigniew Brezinski, once a top US statesman, described the situation concisely and accurately:
“People, governments, and economies of all nations must serve the needs of multinational banks and corporations.”  Emphasis on “must”.

Despite the warnings of its own scientists, capitalism continues to plunder the environment and cause catastrophic climactic change because the need to pursue profit and accumulate wealth trumps all other concerns. Forced by its own economic imperatives capitalists must seek to intensify exploitation and to reduce costs that don’t generate profit, no matter the social consequences. Capitalism cannot act otherwise than to impose austerity, attack wages and especially the social wage (pensions, health-care, unemployment benefits, etc) because the source of its profit is exploitation. Despite the available knowledge and means of production that make the eradication of poverty entirely possible, capitalism everyday creates ever more hunger, and homelessness, more insecurity and anxiety. New information technology has the potential to create free time for us all but is used by capitalism for the pursuit of profit and to increase the intensity of work for some as well as to make others superfluous. Religion, ethnicity, nationalism and other ideologies are used to mask the fact that the wars raging around the globe are in essence struggles for possession of capital.

Never was there such a glaring contrast between what is and what could be: on the one hand, capitalism, absurdly creating overproduction and massive hunger at the same time, causes ever more misery and threatens even the survival of the human species. On the other, today’s knowledge and technology  when liberated from the capitalist straitjacket, could free all humans from lack of food, housing, health-care and other needs, and begin to repair the planet. The necessity to end capitalism is clear. The crisis of capitalism will deepen in the years to come. The attacks on the working class will accelerate. They will meet resistance. Workers cannot defend themselves individually. They need to join together in order to gain critical weight, so unification of struggles will be pursued, the more the attacks of capital are aimed at ever-more victims. Of course those struggles will be recuperated many times. But the sheer size of the resistance may move the goal-posts. Together with a growing awareness of class power, an awareness of what’s possible can grow.

Revolution is necessary, Marx thought, “Not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way” but also because communism requires, “the alteration of men on a mass scale which can take place only in a practical movement” (The German Ideology): An alteration of consciousness that can only occur in a context of class struggle. The deepening crisis implies that workers’ resistance against capital’s attacks on its living and working conditions is ultimately doomed, as long as it stays a defensive struggle. Yet, defensive struggles will be important in that process of transforming consciousness, not only because their limits must be experienced but also because they can unify workers, bring them together, which in turn affects consciousness, increasing awareness of the class’ potential power. For revolution to be possible, there has to be a revolutionary subject, that is, a social force that has the capacity to carry it out. That social force is the working class (or proletariat.) It is the part of the population which is compelled to sell its labor power to survive. Today that is the vast majority of humankind. The fundamental antagonism between the capitalist class and the working class exists not only during periods of open class struggle (strikes, demonstrations and work-place occupations etc.), but also in the daily reality of exploitation, the extraction of surplus value from the working class. Objectively, the working class is more unified than it ever was possesses the capacity to free society from capitalism. However, this capacity is only potential. Even if capitalism were to collapse this very day and abandon its control over society, the workers would not know what to do with it for lack of revolutionary consciousness. The working class is not born with revolutionary consciousness and bourgeois mystifications and ideological fog prevents it from seeing reality as it is. Once when this fog lifts as a result of the experience of the struggle and of revolutionary propaganda will clear consciousness emerge.

Capitalism is based on exploitation, on paying workers less than the value they produce, and pocketing the difference, the surplus value. At first sight then, in order to end capitalism, it would suffice to give back the surplus value to those who produced it, so that workers get, individually or collectively, the full value of the labor time they perform. This would not end the value-form, the unspoken common understanding of the world, of work and its products, of people and things, as value, quantities of abstract labor time. People would still produce (private or state) property, to be sold and bought with money in one form or another. Only a redistribution of value would have been achieved, while the foundation of capitalist society would remain untouched. On this foundation, capitalism would survive, albeit through crises and chaos.

Redistribution of wealth is the rallying cry of the Left today. Its claim is that the economic crisis results from lack of demand which would disappear if money taken from the rich would be used to raise the buying power of the many. Given that overproduction is a fact, and that the gap between rich and poor has grown to obscene proportions, this argument is attractive. But it is based on a misunderstanding of what it is that is produced and accumulated, on a misunderstanding of value.

Real wealth is not the purpose of capitalist production. Commodities must have a concrete use-value, but this is only a vehicle to transmit abstract value, whose accumulation all capitalists are compelled to seek. That is the real purpose. Real wealth is only created in so far as it serves this purpose, in so far as it creates new value, capitalist wealth. A redistribution of wealth would not change this. It would not remove the obligation of production to be profitable, it would not end exploitation.

There are those who claim that the stark reality of capitalism’s horrors will make the choice for revolution self-evident. That it will become crystal-clear that capitalism is doomed and socialism is the only solution. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. While these horrors are visible to all, how they relate is hidden in a myriad ways.  To remove that opacity should be the aim of all revolutionary political organizations.

"Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it." (Theses on Feuerbach)
Marx’s oft-quoted remark did not mean that philosophy was complete and workers must now simply apply it to change the world. It meant that theory is not an end in itself, that it is pointless if not tied to action that challenges the capitalist world. Theory must be where the struggle is. Therefore, the political organization must aim to participate actively in the struggles of the workers. ‘Participate’ rather than ‘intervene’: instead of making one-sided interventions, we seek to participate in the conversation of resistance, in which theory inspires and develops action, and is, in its turn, inspired and developed by action.

It is to this struggle that the Socialist Party of Great Britain is committed.