Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Building a world socialist movement

We see the need for building a mass socialist party and recognise the importance of clarifying the many questions such a task demands. The class struggle teaches one lesson above all others, a lesson summed up in a single proposition: The most important project for the working class is the creation of a party to reflect and represent its interests, a leader-free party where members do their own thinking. The Socialist Party unfurled the red banner of socialism from the hour of its birth, has no rival in the field. It is the only revolutionary party, the heir of the rich traditions of the past and the herald of the future. The various groups and cliques which challenged the Socialist Party have all, without exception, fallen into pitiful disintegration and demoralisation.

It is nationalism that can divide the workers so that the workers of one nationality are struggling against the workers of another nationality for a few illusory crumbs the rulers throw out exactly for that purpose! It is nationalism that can pit groups of workers against each other with the most hideous rage, while their mutual oppressors skip off with both their purses for a little sun and fun. Nationalism means exclusivism and isolation. Any nationalism finally implies that those people are better than all others. Even the most “justifiable” nationalism, taken to its logical conclusion, can end up justifying the slaughter of almost anybody else outside the nation. We are the victims of a nationalism that preaches superiority and inferiority. We have seen its obscene terror and oppression. We are not fighting so that we can put these on somebody else. Nationalism does not serve the real interests of the people. This is true and has been proven correct time and again. Nationalism delivers workers into the hands of the exploiters of their own nationality.

Patriotism’s effect on the body politic is like a malignant tumour. It has persuaded millions of workers that they should endure the miseries of austerity and war. Enormous damage has been done, throughout the world, by the notion that one country and its people are superior to the others. The Socialist Party recognises that there is an irreconcilable conflict between workers and owners everywhere. We recognise that workers have no country and that patriotism is a delusion and a snare. Patriotism is not supportable with fact and reason but by deception and prejudice. That is why it is so easily incited into a mindless frenzy. Governments attempt to persuade us all of the merits of patriotism and sacrifice for our country. With the ruling class, patriotism is the mask of self-interest. The more people who see through it the better. We have more in common with the ordinary people of all other countries than we have with the leaders of 'our' own. It's not 'your' country, it belongs to the rich.

Nationalism was born out of commercial mercantile capitalism of the 16th and 17th century State, politically. It developed under the industrial capitalism of the 18th and 19th century State. It grew to its greatest State power in the republics of the 20th century represented by fascism and “National Socialism,” and the enormous growth of State Capitalism. Socialism cannot be accomplished under capitalism and under the national relations engendered by capitalism. Socialism must be international or it cannot exist at all - it is a sham. More and more the growth of economic forces demands appropriate economic and political relations which cannot be realized by the nation-state. Unable to be resolved by the national State are such problems as air pollution, climate change and the impact upon weather patterns; proper energy policies; ecological problems; oceanic problems and collective use of the oceans; world resources and their exhaustion; problems relating to world fauna and flora and their extinction; pollution of all kinds, urbanisation and over-crowding problems, In the end, not socialism but nationalism will have to disappear. The world is irresistibly being driven to internationalism and interdependence, the only race remaining, that of the human race as a whole. Socialists have to understand the only way to bring workers of different nationalities together is to insist on free association. Socialists are not proud of their nationality. They are proud of the denial of their nationality.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Trotskyism Rehashed (1973) - book review

Book Review from the December 1973 issue of theSocialist Standard

Tariq Ali, a leading member of the so-called International Marxist Group writes in his book The Coming British Revolution that the socialist revolution will be produced by the long-dreamt-of big slump and not working-class understanding. Indeed,he categorically states that the working class is incapable of ever developing a socialist consciousness on its own and must have “leaders” (guess who) to do their thinking for them. Apparently the need for workers to recognise the leaders now is crucial since British capitalism is already on the brink of collapse and only needs one more good push. And not only will the Trots provide the workers with political direction during the revolution but will also throw in the direction of military operations for good measure!

Obviously, that’s a piece of romantic nonsense as Trotskyists know little or nothing of such matters, but such extravagant flights of fancy enable us to see the appeal Trotskyism can have for some youngsters by conjuring up a vision of themselves as latter-day Lenins dramatically leading the masses into world-shattering action. However, if past behaviour is anything to go by such a revolution is doomed to be an awful flop as Ali, Robin Blackburn and co. would be unable to resist the urge to get themselves arrested after five minutes.

Ali wants to see the Labour Party back in office on the grounds that it will finally (again!) disgrace itself in the eyes of the workers and so drive many of the disillusioned into the ranks of the Trots. This is what they always hope for from a period of Labour government and it should be obvious to them by now that they are on a loser. What is much more likely to happen is that disillusioned, politically ignorant workers will be driven into supporting, say, the Liberals or even Enoch Powell. So here is a blatant disregard of what has gone before, and a knowledge of Marxism must include the recognition of history’s lessons in order to avoid repeating mistakes.

And while we’re on the subject of Marxism, Ali correctly attacks anti-dialectical methods of thinking and points out that it is wrong for Trotskyists to parrot what Lenin said in 1919 or 1920 since the circumstances will be very different today. But this is exactly what they always do, especially in connection with Marx. IMG’ers are forever backing up their claim that socialists should support Irish nationalism and the various nationalist movements in the Third World by quoting what Marx said on the subject back in the middle of the 19th century (see Socialist Standard December 1972).

The point is that Marx and Engels found themselves in a very different historical situation from the one we live in today. They supported the emergent bourgeoisie of Europe in its struggle with feudal reaction because at that time the two forces were pretty evenly balanced and it was just possible that reaction could crush or at least hold back the progressive force which the bourgeoisie then represented. By the turn of the century, the victory of the bourgeoisie was all but complete. All over Europe they had vanquished feudal remnants and unified dozens of tiny states into large capitalist nations.

To the founders of the Socialist Party of Great Britain in 1904, it was clear that the victorious bourgeoisie needed no help from them and had in any case, having fulfilled their historic task in increasing the productive forces, now become in turn the reaction. The task of Marxists from then on was to point this out at all times and to concentrate on propagating the case for the next stage in social development, the establishment of a worldwide production-for-use society. In dealing with the basic principles of the Marxist case (the materialist conception of history and the class struggle) Marx and Engels correctly stated in the preface to the 1872 German edition of The Communist Manifesto that
"The practical application of the principles will depend, as the manifesto itself states, everywhere and at all times, on the historical conditions for the time being existing . . . "
It is we who apply these principles within the context of the present day and not the followers of Lenin and Trotsky.

Like Trotskyists everywhere Ali sees revolution round every corner. He even thinks that the 1945 Labour government introduced the National Health Service only to stave off revolution and goes on to argue that the capitalists can no longer afford to buy-off the workers with more such reforms. Of course, as even Ali should know the NHS was introduced in order to save the capitalists money by ensuring that workers didn’t spend the part of wages required to pay for medical attention on other things by having it deducted from their wages and paid into a central fund. And the most likely reason why the capitalists don’t produce other such reforms is that they can’t think of any worth their while. Perhaps Ali and other leftists could help them out by suggesting a few? Anyway, the capitalists are not under any great pressure from the workers to require buying them off.

So Ali in 1973 is as wrong about Britain in 1945 as Trotsky was in 1935. Then the man Ali describes as “a perceptive observer of the British political scene” was writing that the revolution was about to break out in Britain only a few months before the Tories were returned to power with a massive majority. Some “perceptive observer”.

Ali thinks that “large areas of the world have liberated themselves from the tyranny of the world capitalist market”. Where is this true? Russia? China? Cuba? Actually, the first two are entering the world markets just as fast as they can and are busy negotiating with Nixon and other western political and business leaders to accelerate the process. And Cuba is only kept going at all by the “aid” given by Russia and China for reasons of strategy and propaganda alone.

Predictably the usual lip-service is paid to the idea that socialism means “To each according to his needs. From each according to his ability”. But is this concept any nearer realisation in Russia where Ali claims a “new set of property relations” have been established? Does the working class still not have to work for wages there? Of course,Trotskyists always identify capitalism and exploitation with western-style ownership of bonds, stocks, shares, etc.; in fact, capitalism as it had developed in Marx’s own lifetime under peculiarly western conditions. That the Russian form of state capitalism developed out of a different historical background with capital accumulation carried out by a dictatorial political party — the Bolsheviks — instead of private entrepreneurs has escaped them. They imagine that the capital-wage labour relationship must develop in the same way everywhere despite vastly different historical circumstances and so provide us with one more example of their ignorance of the Marxist method.

Vic Vanni

The Enemy Is Capitalism, The Fight Is For Socialism!

Working people are waging and will continue to wage struggles on many issues, including wages, health,  social services, unemployment, political rights, etc. These struggles put them in direct opposition to various sectors of the ruling class– this or that capitalist, manager, government minister or civil servant, municipal officer, police force or whatever. Workers know very well they have an immediate enemy and realise where their immediate interests lie in such conflicts. It is not the job of the Socialist Party to co-opt or direct these specific struggles. The role of the Socialist Party is to point out what all these struggles have in common, to point out that the cause of these problems and the misery that workers have to endure under capitalism is one and the same. The role of the Socialist Party is to identify the class enemy hiding behind each specific struggle. The role of the Socialist Party is to indicate that the only path that will enable us to solve these problems once and for all is the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of socialism (the Socialist Party never accepted that the Soviet Union represented or had developed a “socialist” economy and society.) In opposition to those who promise “socialist” reforms as a way of eliminating the exploitation of man by man, the Socialist Party puts forward the overthrow of the dictatorship of the capitalists and the establishment of an industrial democracy. Instead of the vanguard political parties The Socialist Party defends the slogan, “The emancipation of the workers will be accomplished by the workers themselves”.  Saying that workers must be rallied to the socialist revolution is to say that we want to build a revolutionary party, not a reformist party. It means that we want an organization that will work to channel all the various mass struggles towards a definite goal – the revolution for socialism. We think that this struggle should be waged in an open-minded way, so as to clearly distinguish the true Marxist position from opportunism. Rallying workers to socialism does not mean rallying them to supposed short-term solutions for each particular problem that they encounter. Under capitalism, there is no better solution than socialism, and that applies to all specific issues. We must make Marxist ideas known among fellow-workers, and organise class-conscious workers on this basis. Experience has proven that unless socialist ideas triumph in the working-class movement, socialist revolution is impossible.

People should be demanding an answer to the simple query: why not socialism now? The Socialist Party is based upon the recognition of the existence of a mass desire and an active popular revolutionary movement. The Socialist Party does not repudiate the history of the socialist movement. We are part of it. We study it and defend it in order to develop it further. Naturally, we cast aside all that is negative while we cultivate all that is positive. We make no claims as to being the first and only true socialist party in history. Terms have frequently given rise to bitter disputes and when occasions get heated there is generally some conflicting idea. A socialist means a man or a woman who recognises the class war between the proletariat and the possessing class as the inevitable historic outcome of the capitalist system and of the direct economic and social antagonisms which it has engendered and fostered. They recognise antagonisms can only be resolved by the complete control over all the great means of production and distribution by the whole people, thus abolishing the class State and the wages system, and constituting a Co-operative Commonwealth or a Social-Democracy. A socialist is anxious to use political institutions and forms to educate the people and to prepare, as far as possible, peacefully for the social revolution and holds that the methods of giving legal expression to socialist change should be completely democratic in every respect.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

In the name of Jesus

To the Socialist Party, the question whether there existed an historical Jesus of the Gospels is hardly a burning question. Some believe in the physical existence of Jesus but far fewer people believe in the Christ part nowadays so there is some sign of progress. There is nothing inherently improbable in the collection of ancient myths around an historical personage and the attribution to him of the magic commonly believed in at the time. The non-historicity of Christ remains in the realms of the “may have been”, the “probable” and the “perhaps”.

It has long been acknowledged by Christian theologians, and by anyone else who cares to study the evidence, that the Bible does not give a coherent account of the life and sayings of Jesus. There are just too many contradictions and inconsistencies within and between the various books which make up the New Testament. Not only that, many of the historical and geographical references involving Jesus are not confirmed by modern scholarship. For instance, the earliest known archaeological record for the existence of Nazareth in Palestinian Galilee dates from no earlier than the third century AD, which undermines the case for a “Jesus of Nazareth.” The Jesus story may derive ultimately from the life of a first-century itinerant Galilean preacher, but to separate out such authentic material from the mass of unhistorical narratives is a well-nigh hopeless task.  Saying that there is no historical evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ is not the same as saying that no person called Jesus existed. For all we know – for all anybody knows – there may well have been at least one itinerant Jewish preacher in Galilee some two thousand years ago who called himself Jesus.

Christianity is patently untrue. Its basic premise—that an all-powerful god who had created the universe caused a virgin to have a son by him who became a religious preacher and miracle-worker in an obscure border area of the Roman empire, was killed and then rose from the dead and eventually ascended into the sky and disappeared—is not only ridiculous but also biologically and physically impossible. It just never happened. It is not a matter of great importance whether or not there was an “historical Jesus” since if there was he would not have been the “Son of God”. And he wouldn't have walked on water, turned water into wine or raised the dead either.

At the birth of Christianity men not only longed for a new structure of society, for peace, justice, and happiness on earth, but they trembled at the expectation of the early occurrence of world-wide catastrophe which would put a terrible end to all existence. In the New Testament Jesus is often reported as saying that the world is about to end and that the end will come in the lifetime of his listeners (Matthew 4,17; 10,23; 16,28; 24,34). This is why he advocated giving away personal possessions, and forms the basis of the myth that Jesus was an early socialist. We agree that what evidence there is seems to show that the first Christians practised a form of what Kautsky in his Foundations of Christianity called “a communism in articles of consumption”, but it also shows that they were more interested in the world “to come”, which they believed to be imminent, than in changing the corrupt (as they saw it) world in which they lived.

Many defenders of the Enlightenment tradition of respect for reason and evidence against its traditional foe, religion. But they see nothing wrong with capitalism. Socialists share in the Enlightenment inheritance but recognise that the main source of irrationality in the modern world is to be found in the capitalist system of society. For socialists, therefore, the struggle against religion cannot be separated from the struggle for socialism. We fight religious superstition wherever it is an obstacle to socialism, but we are opposed to religion only insofar as it is an obstacle to socialism. Belief in religion – any religion – warps and hampers the ability to think objectively, particularly about social and political issues such as those now filling the newspapers (Islam, immigration, cultural clashes, etc.). In order to grasp the urgent need for and the possibility of achieving major social change one must first be able to think clearly and to understand just how capitalism works – or, quite often, doesn't. This is something men and women are much less able to do if their heads are full of religious fantasy and their thinking is correspondingly irrational. The disappearance of all religious beliefs, whether “We poor sinners here below” or “Allah's will be done!” should be seen as an essential part of our struggle for socialism and not just as a fringe irrelevance.

The case for socialism, as the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production, is a secular doctrine based on the facts of the situation today and not on quotations from the sacred texts of one particular religion. We say that socialist understanding is based not simply on a materialist approach to history (no supernatural intervention) but also on a materialist approach to the universe (no supernatural intervention there either), and also to life – this is the only one all of us are going to get, so let's make the most of it by establishing the best material environment for it, down here on Earth, i.e the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production. We readily accept that people can – and do – hold contradictory views but don't see this as something to be encouraged by opening our ranks to them.

Socialists seek the universal brotherhood of men, but for religions to sloganise ideals and in practice support a system that precludes their realisation, is a worse than a hollow gesture, it erects a barrier to their practical achievement. What an organisation that genuinely aspires to social harmony on a world scale should do is relate it to specific social situations within actual experience, and discern and illuminate and explain the reasons why men now behave in a manner contrary to their mutual interests. It should argue a valid social theory and advocate a practical course for political action that offers the sure prospect of the unity of all men based on relations of genuine social equality. Only socialists do this.

Neither god nor master
Banish gods from the sky and capitalists from the earth
No hell below us, Above us only sky

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Implementing socialism

The working class has to establish the new economy, organise the new society, realise socialism. It has to dismantle the dictatorships, dissolve the state, and create the society without rulers – finally free. Its task is the accomplishment of the socialist idea. The Socialist Party proposes to realise socialism through the conquest of political power, the capture of the State machine by the working class at the ballot box in their respective localities. The Socialist Party strives for power—for power to transform society and achieve socialism.

The ideas, demands and movements of workers’ participation, workers’ control, self-management, direct workers’ rule, workers’ democracy, etc., have a long-standing tradition and are deeply rooted. These ideas imbue and permeate, in one way or another, the entire history of world socialism. Their ideological roots and origins lie in the interaction of two powerful and increasingly - determinating tendencies – socialism and democracy. The ideas, demands and movements of workers participation, workers’ control and self-management manifest themselves today in extremely different milieu and forms, and the roles given them are more different still. The ideas of workers’ participation, workers’ control, self-management, etc., today enjoy more support than ever before. Today it is not so necessary to prove the desirability of direct workers’ democracy as it is its possibility. The primary task no longer lies in fighting to have the socialist legitimacy of the self-management concept of a new society accepted. What is most important is to prove and in practice confirm the possibility and advantage of socialist self-management over other, particularly statist interpretations. the present task is to draw a clear line between socialist self-management as a radical alternative to all existing forms of waged labour, class divisions, exploitation and alienated existence and various aspects of workers’ participation in the decision-making process which are developed and accepted, as an appendage to the existing class society or as a means of alleviating certain contradictions in the system of state capitalism. For concerted efforts are being made to treat self-management as just one of the ways in which to “include” the worker in the process of management. This leads us to a fundamental critique of those who advocate socialist self-management within individual factory units which, in practice, essentially amounts to no more than workers organising production and the allocation of the social surplus at the level of their factories. Proponents of this sort of self-management are, at best, utopians and, at worst, the sort of leaders who, realising what this sort of ‘self-management’ means, use it for their own ends. Obviously, this is an attempt to conceal the profoundly revolutionary nature of the idea of workers’ self-management.

To look at a couple of examples: electrical generating stations which employ 200 or 300 workers and technicians supply electricity to half a million people; one single machine can produce enough paper to satisfy the needs of one and a half to two million people. It is quite untenable to suggest that the economic problems related to this production can be resolved at the level of 200 or 300 people just because they happen to work in this particular factory. In the case of this sort of factory, the way in which its production is distributed and the needs it must satisfy does not only concern the producers but also all the workers who are going to consume its products. There is absolutely no reason why workers in an electrical generating station should be given the right to dictate decisions concerning electricity which will be consumed by millions of workers.

There exists thus today, in the technology that the working class will inherit from capitalism on the day it takes power, a powerful centralising tendency, a tendency which is neither inevitable nor eternal and which can probably be pushed right into the background in the course of constructing a classless society. It is, however, precisely the technology which we inherit from capitalism with which we will have to start building a new society. In this context, it is absolutely utopian to want to fragment economic decision-making to the level of what can be decided in a single factory.

Very many economic decisions concern a whole series of social groups infinitely larger than a single firm; these decisions must be taken at the level of these groups – in other words, they must be centralised in a democratic way. We are proponents of democratically-centralised self-management or, to put it another way, of planned self-management, not because we are centralisers by nature but because it’s a matter of an objective necessity which corresponds to the realities of economic life. This centralisation is inevitable because it is inherent in the anarchy of the present system and independent of our desires. The choice we actually have is a fundamental one: unless economic centralisation is carried out in a conscious, that is to say, a planned and deliberate way, it will arise in a spontaneous, anarchic way behind workers’ backs. The choice, therefore, is not between ‘bureaucratic centralisation’ and ‘decentralised self-management’. The real choice which will confront us in the economic sphere after the overthrow of capitalism will be the choice between democratically-centralised self-management based upon socialist planning. For this reason, we attack the proponents of self-management restricted to such-and-such a factory. We contend that they are lying to the workers when they say that it’s enough to give workers decision-making power at the level of the factory. What is the point of giving workers the power to make decisions when this turns out to be a mere sham and when the decisions taken at factory level are continuously revised and overturned by the operation of market laws – that is, by the spontaneous centralisation which occurs through these laws when it is not effected through the planning of the economy as a whole. This is why we are in favour of democratically-centralised and planned self-management, or, to get to the root of the problem, of economic power exercised at the level of the class as a whole, and not exclusively, or even mainly, by each tiny sub-group of that class. If the decision-making and advantages of each particular factory are left to the workers of that factory to deal with a situation of blatant inequality is created within the working class. It is, thus, to deceive the workers to lead them to believe that they can manage their affairs at the level of the factory. In the present economic system, a whole series of decisions are inevitably taken at higher levels than the factory, and if these decisions are not consciously made by the working class as a whole, then they will be made by other forces in society behind the workers’ backs.

Not only is self-management limited to the level of the factory, workshop or assembly line an illusion from an economic point of view, in that the workers cannot implement decisions taken at this level against the operations of market laws, but, worse still, the decisions taken by the workers become more and more exclusively restricted to decisions about profits. The fundamental principle underlying self-management, which is the liberation of labour, whereby workers dominate the process of production, decide for themselves the speed of the assembly line and the organisation of work in the factory, and which is part and parcel of the sort of socialist society we are trying to build, is unrealisable in an economy which allows the survival of competition.

We support the democratically planned self-management as a manifestation of workers’ democracy organised around interconnected workers’ councils as broadly-based as possible to involve the maximum number of workers in the exercise of power. If we reject the idea that the most democratic form of self-management is that based on the individual factory, it is because it is only in a complex structure where self-management takes place at all levels of economic and social life that it is possible to involve the maximum number of workers at different levels of decision-making. We have a very simple formula to apply in this context: decisions must be taken at the level where this can be done most effectively. It is unnecessary to call a European congress of workers’ councils to work out a bus timetable for Coventry; the workers of Coventry are quite capable of working that out for themselves without the interference of any bureaucratic institutions. There’s no need to organise a national congress of workers’ councils to organise production in a particular. On the other hand, when it comes to making decisions about investment in the shoe industry, or how to fight pollution of waterways, then a national or even international congress of workers’ councils is necessary since this sort of decision can only be taken at a national or international level. This is what we mean when we talk about the articulation of decision-making bodies. In economic matters, each decision must ideally be taken at the level in which it can be most effectively and efficiently implemented. At a workshop: the workers in that workshop are quite capable of sorting that out on their own.

Today we live in a world at a specific level of technology and we must assess the extent to which its various forms could be put to the service of workers’ democracy – of a totally different form of economic organisation. It would be eminently possible, for example, to organise a national conference of workers’ councils in the shoe industry, the proceedings of which could be simultaneously relayed to all factories in that sector. It would then be possible, if one of the delegates said something which didn’t correspond with the mandate given him in his particular factory, for the comrades in that factory to communicate to the conference, and say, ‘Comrade, you’re mistaken’, or equally, ‘You not putting forward the instructions that we gave you as our delegate and so we immediately recall you”. One only has to consider the techniques used in today’s TV reality shows to realise the potential of instant interactive mass communication. What a phenomenal instrument of direct democracy could be.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Heading for Uni?

Young Scots from disadvantaged areas are four times less likely to go to university than those from wealthy backgrounds, researchershave found. In England, those from the poorest neighbourhoods are 2.4 times less likely to attend university than people in the richest areas. Those in Northern Ireland and Wales are three times less likely to do so.

Sutton Trust chairman, Sir Peter Lampl said: "Scotland faces a shocking access gap and it is vital that the government appoints a strong independent commissioner without delay.

Over the past decade, Scots were more likely than their English counterparts to enter higher education. But they are less likely to go straight to university, and half who go via college repeat at least one year. Their study showed 90% of growth in higher education places for disadvantaged students came from colleges, not universities. In 2013-14, 55% of Scots entered higher education by the age of 30, 34.1% straight from school and 20.9% going to college first. In England, 46.6% entered higher education, with just 6% starting at colleges and other non-university providers.

Glasgow is Lung Disease capital

One person dies of lung disease, and five more are diagnosed, every five minutes.

Scotland's urban areas, particularly around Glasgow, have the highest lung disease mortality rates in Britain, a new report has found. People living in the city are almost twice as likely to die from lung disease as those in Stirling, according to the British Lung Foundation (BLF).

The charity said historic smoking rates were partly to blame for the serious health problems. But it believes heavy industry has also led to high rates of lung conditions. Irene Johnstone, Head of the British Lung Foundation Scotland, said thousands of people were dying every year from lung conditions not caused by tobacco.

It has been hailed as "the most comprehensive overview of lung disease in a decade".
The study's findings include:
Rates of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer are highest in Scotland. The conditions are commonly caused by smoking
Scotland has higher rates of less common lung conditions like pneumoconiosis, caused by inhaling dusts and chemicals in the workplace
Parts of Scotland with a history of shipbuilding have high rates of the asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma
Scotland has among the highest rates in the UK of conditions such as asthma, sarcoidosis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) - but reasons are unclear.


Party with a small "p"

Unless socialism is altogether a mirage, it will rise again as a world movement - or not at all. The propaganda and agitation for socialism have taught thousands that socialism means a society without classes, without the exploitation of man by man, without a production system operating for the purpose of producing profits for a few. The Socialist Party has capably demonstrated how socialism could end poverty, unemployment and war by eliminating private ownership of the means of producing the things of life, by ending competition, and ending the nationalist struggle for existence by this and all other countries. Our case for socialism has mercilessly exposed the evils of capitalist society, its murderous exploitation of the workers, its utter hypocrisy in human relations, and the most evident feature of its class character: the impoverishment of the masses and the enrichment of a small class of capitalists. The necessity of rebuilding the movement for socialism requires the re-establishment of the art of socialist propaganda and agitation, to tell millions what socialism is, its relation and comparison to capitalism, and how it can be achieved. The present capitalist system has outlived its usefulness and is capable of producing nothing but unemployment, poverty, war, the scourge of despotism and suppression of the will of the people. The Socialist Party points a way out of this foul system. No region of the Earth untouched by the ravages of environmental destruction, the state of the world's natural resources is in a rapid downward spiral. Society cannot survive jumping from one crisis to another crisis. But we have to note that the economic system is not broken, it's functioning precisely as it is intended - syphoning the resources and wealth of the many to a tiny elite.

Protests and Demonstrations express our anger and outrage, bringing issues to wider audiences. As necessary as it is, is far from sufficient in itself. Little in the way of lasting permanent organisation is created and, thus, a correspondingly less opportunity to build for the changes hoped for. A mass socialist party is the missing element. Activists who want to create a better world have to get past their criticisms of the party form, and not allow often well–justified condemnation of specific parties to become a universal rejection of all party form and structure. The answer is to learn from past mistakes, not to throw out the past. A mass socialist party as a permanent body can channel the people’s aspirations for social justice into an organised political struggle. We talk of a party with a small ”p” not THE PARTY. Why can’t there be multiple organisations working toward a goal of full human emancipation? No organisation, much less an individual leader, has all the answers.

You can ignore the state all you want, but the state will not ignore you. Without targeting capitalism and the capitalist class, there can be no end to exploitation.

In a democracy, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinions. The trouble starts when people think they are also entitled to their own facts. The bigger the claims of "facts" gets, the more the Alice-in-Wonderland logic behind them threatens to seize the popular narrative challenges our capacity to meet the future. Straight thinking is a requirement for those striving to make changes. "If current trends continue and the world fails to enact solutions that improve current patterns of production and consumption, if we fail to use natural resources sustainably, then the state of the world's environment will continue to decline," UN Environment Programme, Executive Director Achim Steiner, stated.

Socialism is centred around participatory decision-making structures and the belief that people should have the say in democratic processes and it reaches out to people who have never been involved in politics before. This process can be transformational on both a personal and collective class level. The socialist movement must be able to recapture the public imagination to burst the bubble of the status quo. The battle of ideas is important to determine what is possible. Engaging the new generation in politics in a global movement for real democracy is an important part of the social transformation.

Socialism is:
 Not a secret-police, one-party dictatorship where you are imprisoned or executed if you tell a joke about the leaders
Not a society where, if you can't afford health care, you are left to die in the street
Not a society where you are worried every day about whether you and your children will have something to eat
Not a society where wage-slavery is legal and the obvious way things ought to be
Not a society where women are supposed to be the property of men
Not a society where most people spend most of their life tilling the fields and toiling in factories

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Capitalism has no solution

The battle between people’s needs and capitalism grows ever fiercer. The attacks of capitalism, to maintain its profits, grow ever more sweeping and ferocious, ranging over every field, against both employed and unemployed workers, against wages and social services, for new forms of intensified labour. The basis of reformism is ended. All the so-called remedies not only fail to touch the root or the evil — the burdens of capitalist disorganisation and parasitism. It is a crisis of global capitalism. Every technological advance of production only intensifies the crises, intensifies the ferocity of capitalist competition for the market.

Many reformists promise that if only the capitalists would pay higher wages to the workers, enabling them to buy more of what they produce, there would be no crisis. This is utopian nonsense, which ignores the inevitable laws of capitalism — the drive for profits, and the drive of competition. The drive of capitalism is always to increase its profits by every possible means, to increase its surplus, not to decrease it. Individual capitalists may talk of the benefits of high wages in the hope of securing a larger market for their goods. But the actual drive of capitalism as a whole is the opposite. Competition compels every capitalist to cheapen costs of production, to extract more output per worker for less return, to cut wages. Wages are attacked on every side. Working conditions are intensified, heavier output is demanded from every worker for less return. Speeding up and rationalisation is  the order of the day. Capitalism can only seek to prolong its life by throwing the burdens of its crises on to the workers, by ever renewed attacks upon the workers’ standards. The policy of the rival groups of capitalists is to fight to increase their own competitive power, to cheapen costs of production, to fight to enlarge their own share of the diminishing market. But this cheapening of costs, since capitalist rent, interest and profits are sacred, can only be carried out at the expense of the workers. But in the end, where will all these policies of capitalism lead? They will not solve the inherent problems of capitalism. On the contrary, the more they increase the impoverishment of the workers, the more they increase competitive power and since the same types of policy are pursued by all the capitalist powers. The final effect is only to sharpen world competition to breaking point. So develops the capitalist offensive which sweeps through the capitalist world. Socialism means there will no longer the capitalist anarchy of production by competing businesses for an unknown market, with the consequent gluts and slumps.

The capitalist class cannot attempt to organise the growing productive power to meet human needs — the question does not even enter into their heads. It cannot arise within the conditions of capitalism. Only socialism can bring the solution. Only socialism can sever the bonds of capitalist property rights and organise production to meet human needs. Once capitalism is overthrown, then and only then can production be organised in common for all, and every increase in production bring increasing abundance and leisure for all. Only the organised working-class can drive the capitalists from possession, can organise social production.

Instead, society will rationally determine what and how much we shall produce all as part coordinated planning. All production will be directed solely to supplying people’s needs. It is for use, not for profit. Therefore, every expansion of production means greater abundance and leisure for all. Workers, because it is their own production, for themselves, their families and their communities will engage in production with an initiative and enthusiasm unattainable in capitalism through their own elected workers’ committee in the factories, controlling production and administration through their own elected administrative bodies. 

Many workers have seen the need of basic social change and placed their hopes in the Labour Party to bring the solution. Swift disillusionment has followed. The condition of the workers has grown worse and Labour governments have acted as a representative of capitalism against the workers. This “failure” of the Labour Party (“failure” from the standpoint of the workers not from the standpoint of the capitalists as it has served its purpose) is not an accidental, nor a personal question of this or that particular leader, of this or that particular policy. It is the whole system of politics of the supposed “alternative” to revolution that stands exposed. The Labour Party could not act and cannot act otherwise than it has acted, does act and will continue to act, as the representative of capitalism — because its basis is capitalism. Their “practical” policy is based upon acceptance of the capitalist State on administering capitalism and helping to build up capitalism. In the period of flourishing capitalism, reformism was able to win small gains for the workers, and on this basis to hold them from the socialist revolution, to hold the workers to capitalism. But this basis is ended. Capitalism to-day is no longer willing to grant concessions to the workers, on the contrary, finds itself compelled to withdraw existing concessions, to make new attacks, to worsen conditions. And therefore the role of reformism, which is the servant of capitalism in the working-class, changes. The role of reformism inevitably becomes to assist capitalism to attack the workers, to enforce wage-cuts, to repress the workers’ revolt, to worsen conditions — all in the name of “practical” policy.

Within capitalism there can be no solution; for the causes of its social ills cannot be changed under the conditions of capitalism. Only the socialist revolution can affect the causes and bring in a new era. Only the socialist revolution can organise production socially on planned and scientific lines; can reconcile the conflict of productive power and consumption, and can end the conflict of classes by the destruction of class distinctions; can create free productive relations by the organisation of world socialist economy.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Planetary collapse or workers’ revolution

In a revolution, the power and wealth of society change hands. They are transferred from one class to another. In our time, there are two fundamental classes in society, the working class and the capitalist class. The minority class owns the wealth, profits from it, keeps down the standard of living of the majority class which has no wealth. The workers are cajoled and propagandised to protect all this wealth that is owned by the ruling class. The theory of the socialist revolution is that if the enormous wealth of society, controlled by the few, were controlled by the majority of the people, poverty could be eliminated, an end could be made to the mass murder of war, and mankind could live in peace and plenty. To achieve its goal, this revolution would be necessarily on a world scale. Real socialists today should rally to the Socialist Party, the bearers of the traditions of Marx. The principles of the Socialist Party serves the “have-not” class, the exploited. It stands for the abolition of the profit system, workers’ self-management of industry, and the end of wars growing out of the profit system. It seeks peace and plenty for all.

It is clear to every socialist that socialism will not come into existence unless the majority of the people are willing to struggle for socialism and that means that they have some idea of what it is. If the people who vote for a socialist do not do so because he is a socialist but because they do not know that he is a Socialist, of what earthly use can that be for achieving the socialist goal? Socialism depends on the consciousness of the working class and not upon their lack of knowledge. The idea that we should first be elected and then teach socialism to the people is so utterly absurd that it should not even be discussed. It can be stated with the greatest of assurance that a candidate for the Socialist Party will not refrain from teaching socialism during the campaign. From the point of view of achieving socialism 100 votes, obtained conducting a campaign where socialist ideas and the Socialist Party are stressed, are worth ten times more than thousands of votes polled in a campaign where the necessity for the struggle for socialism was not stressed and where the Socialist Party’s principles were hidden in the background. Under present circumstances, we stand in elections to teach socialism.

 It is nonsense to say that the Socialist Party is a political party only to the extent that it succeeds in winning votes. The Socialist party is and must be a political Party throughout the year and not only during election campaigns. An election campaign is of value to the extent that it teaches and mobilises the masses for winning socialism. During an election, the workers are more likely to listen to a discussion on economics and politics than at any other time and we can be effective showing fellow-workers the necessity to struggle for the abolition of the capitalist system. No socialist can afford to forget for one moment the fundamental Marxist principle that we can achieve socialism either through the conscious action of the working class or we do not get it at all. The socialist revolution is the only “practical” politics and the sole constructive path forward from the present decay, starvation and ruin. All the economic statistics and data show the gulf between the capitalist class and the working-class grows ever greater. Capitalism maintains its profits on the basis of lowering and worsening the standards of the workers. The parasitic burdens of capitalism grow ever greater.

The planetary destruction we face has come about from the development of the capitalist system. Irreparable global damage is being done. Resource allocation is being misguided and inappropriate on a massive scale. The capitalist system must take the blame. It is a system that needs to be transformed to the provision of both the material and psychological needs of all humanity. The sustainability of all the earth’s resources to meet these needs must take on the highest priority. Many in the world are beginning to recognise the centrality of our social interdependence. Planetary collapse or the workers’ revolution — this is no longer a debating issue of the future, it is a life and death issue, a fight for life.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

What is a socialist revolution

At the outset, we wish to make it quite clear as to the exact aim and object of the Socialist Party. We are socialists, wishful above all things to advance socialism, and by socialism we mean the common ownership of all the agencies of wealth production, and this involves the complete supersession of the capitalist system, and the conducting of all industrial relations on a co-operative basis. We are working for the common good and for the co-operative commonwealth. We engage in helping for the overthrow of capitalism, and the building up of the socialist co-operative commonwealth.

That the present social system has failed must be apparent to all who have studied it. It has rendered the many subservient to the few; it has checked the best human endeavours, and facilitated every method of exploitation; it dispossesses and disinherits the vast majority, and foreordains their lifelong misery before they are even born; it makes one man dependent upon another’s caprice,; it is a premium of idleness, and an incentive to plunder; it creates jealousies, hatreds, and mutual injustice. All our political institutions are destructive and reactionary; the opportunity to control the actions of one’s fellow, which lies at the base of every governmental system, tends surely and certainly to make those in power self-seeking, dishonest, and tyrannical, and ever ready to dominate and oppress those over whom they exert authority; and not only does it corrupt those who rule it, but its evil effects extend to those whom they govern, for every extension of governmental function assists in decreasing and dwarfing the energies a self-reliance of the people themselves and making them more helpless, cowardly, and servile than before. Our social system, by its politically-fostered monopolies, is continually driving men to poverty.  No political machinery can destroy the evils which the political machinery has brought into being; for it is the nature of ruling institutions to conserve the bad, to support and extend conventional and reactionary opinion, and to check all progressive thought in religion, sociology and philosophy. Laws are made to be obeyed – not to be repealed for the public good. They are essentially conservative of privilege. All law is made to protect property and proprietors alone. There is no law for the poor. Legal victory is a luxury which it requires money to purchase. If you have no money, you cannot go to law; or if you manage to, you may safely reckon on coming out on the wrong side of the ledger. The justice of a thing has little to do with a legal decision – that decision has previously been inscribed on the Statute Books on the basis of property and its right of exploitation. Plutocracy rules the world. The existing evils of society are too gigantic to trifle with. Elections can offer little more than a choice of masters elected to carry on a system of destruction. It is useless to preach thrift to those who have nothing to save or to hope for universal prosperity when the enrichment of the few is caused by the plunder of the many. Speculations in investments in stocks and shares are all speculations on the possible future of losses of labour. Dividends do not create themselves – they are all filched from labor. If the labourers ceased to be plundered, there will be no dividends.

The slavery of the workers by the politically-created and politically-fostered monopoly of property, and the robbery of the laborers by rent, interest, profit, and taxation, must be abolished – abolished peacefully, expeditiously, and permanently. And to do so, we must start from where we now stand. All the ignorance, all the bigotry, all the intolerance, and all the debasement and cowardice which characterize the down-trodden millions, we must place aside.

Plain facts ought to show to workers that there is something wrong in the very basis of existing society and more especially in that section of it known as property, or the system regulating the use and possession of things. It is also sufficiently evident that the more a man owns, the more he owns you. The capitalist class, who own most of the land and the tools of production, own the Government and govern the working class, not for the well-being of the working class but for the well-being and profit of the capitalist class. It is only by using their political power that the capitalist class make their exploitation of the working class legal and the oppression of their system constitutional. And it is only by using their political power that the working class can make their own exploitation illegal and their own oppression unconstitutional. It is only by the use of their political power that the working class can abolish capitalist class rule and privilege, and establish a planned form of society based on the common ownership of all the land and the tools of production, to be shared by all. The working class can, through the ballot box, abolish the capitalist system with its accompanying class rule and class oppression, and establish in its place socialism — an industrial democracy.

“Nothing for the State, nothing within the State and everything against the State!”

Monday, May 23, 2016

Discovering the Socialist Party

The Socialist Party is an organisation of convinced socialists who believe that socialism can come only through the conscious and determined action of the working-class in this and other countries. Its members are pledged to do everything in their power to further the promotion and ultimate realisation of a socialist society. The Socialist Party runs online forums, study groups, discussion circles, etc., for the discussion of socialist ideas. It organises a Summer School for longer and more detailed discussion. It publishes books and pamphlets in order to stimulate opinion and action throughout the world socialist movement.

The working class in society holds a special position. It has no property. It is a propertyless class—dependent upon the class which owns property—the land, the factories, mills, mines, railways, transport. But the land cannot give forth its fullness unless workers plough and sow and reap. The earth cannot deliver its mineral wealth unless workers dig it. Factories, mills, mines, railways, etc., cannot work unless workers are employed to make them serve their purpose in the transformation of nature’s wealth into social wealth. It is this fact which compels the owners of the means of producing wealth to employ labour. They need that labour or their ownership ceases to be of value.

Socialism is the name given to that form of society in which there is no such thing as a propertyless class, but in which the whole community own the means of production—the land, factories, mills, mines, transport and all the means whereby wealth is created and distributed to the community. It will be obvious at once that the basic principles of Socialist society are diametrically opposite to those of Capitalist society in which we live. Socialism stands for social or community property. Capitalism stands for private property. Socialism is a society without classes. Capitalism is divided into classes—the class owning property and the propertyless working class. We can easily understand, therefore, why the great majority of landlords, employers of labour, financiers and the like are opposed to socialism. Their very existence as the receivers of rent, interest and profit are at stake. They do not merely reject the theory of socialism, but actively and bitterly fight, in any way, the movement for socialism. Perhaps here and there an enlightened individual capitalist through moral and intellectual conviction is prepared to abandon the private property system and accept socialism, but the capitalist class as a class cannot. While it is to the individual and social interest of the propertyless class to fight against the private property system and for socialism. They do it every day, though as yet only a minority do it consciously for socialism. When trade unionists fight the employers on wages questions and the conditions of labour they are really fighting against consequences of the private property system. The existence of the private ownership of the means of production means also the private ownership of the things produced and their sale as commodities in competition one with another. Labour also is a commodity and those who sell their labour power, the members of the working class, manual and brain-worker alike, also compete like other commodities.   Trade Unionism really represents in one sense an attempt to organise monopolies of labour power in order to break down the competition between the workers who in the labour market are commodities for sale and to establish monopoly prices for labour. The more Trade Unionism advances in this direction the more difficult it becomes for the Capitalists to make a profit. Hence the everlasting cry of the capitalists for “lower production costs” and its opposite, the workers’ struggle for higher wages and improved conditions. This is the fundamental contradiction of Capitalist economy—a struggle between the two classes, the propertied class and the propertyless—which is inevitable so long as the private ownership of the means of production exists.

From this socialists draw the conclusion that the class primarily interested in the change from private property to social property is the working class. The goal of socialism as the classless society has its starting point in the propertyless condition of the working class which is also precisely the starting point of trade unionism. The Trade Unions represent the first weapons of the working class in the struggle against capitalist interests; the Socialist’s goal represents the consummation of the struggle of the working class—its emancipation from the system which gives rise to that struggle. Socialist parties represent the growing consciousness of the working class of its independent interests and aims—in short, its approach to the socialist conclusions arising from a recognition of the class divisions in society and the conflict arising therefrom. What was in its first stage an unconscious class struggle of the workers becomes increasingly a conscious class struggle. Trade unionism and socialism have thus a common origin and the aim of socialism is only possible of achievement by the working class becoming victorious in the struggle against Capitalism. Why then is it that trade unionists are not always socialists?

Trade unions were not formed to fight for socialism. The workers built them to defend and improve their immediate conditions of employment, their wages, their hours of labour and so on. This is clearly revealed by the way in which the Trade Unions have grown. Trade unions limit their industrial activities to measures on behalf of particular sections of workers and they adopted the method of striking bargains with particular groups of employers. To this has been given the name collective bargaining, the setting up of agreements between employers’ associations and trade unions for limited objectives. It involves the acceptance of capitalism as a permanent form of society and the unions will have to take just what the capitalists can afford to give them. Trade union policy is exclusively confined to bargain making and not directed to the socialist aim of abolishing the economic system which gives rise to the struggle between workers and employers. This deal-making outlook over employment contracts is in command of the unions.

The Socialist Party is not anti-trade union. On the contrary, we are the most ardent advocates of trade unionism. Socialists want their fellow trade unionists to recognise the cause of the struggle their unions are compelled to wage, recognising the cause as rooted in the private ownership of the means of production and the propertyless conditions of the working class. Socialists want all the struggles of the unions to be co-ordinated so that behind every industrial dispute there will be available the appropriate power of the working class. Socialists want sectionalism to be superceded by a united working class to one end—the securing of the victory of the working class over the capitalists. This means that the trade unions should recognise that all the efforts of the working class must be directed to the goal of the conquest of political power. Their fight in the industrial field must be linked with the fight to obtain the transfer the ownership of the means of production and distribution from private hands to social ownership. The socialist wants the trade Unionists to be instruments of struggle for this power and this aim, and not used for the retarding of the workers’ struggle. Trade unions should become transformed into industrial unions, i.e. one union for each industry, for the longer the delay in such a transformation the greater the impediments in the way of the conquest of power. To hasten this development Socialists call for the organisation of the workers at “the point of production” in shop stewards and workshop shop-floor committees. It is there where the divisions between workers are most fatal; it is there where they can be most quickly overcome; “unity on the job” is the key to the development of the solidarity of the working class in the struggle against capitalism. And that solidarity is the basis of class action in politics. With such a democratically controlled organisations, guided by the spirit of the class struggle and the socialist purpose, the working class will be able to fight for that victory over capitalism and the establishment of socialism on which the permanent improvement in the conditions of the workers without question depends.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Futility Of Hoping Things Will Improve Under Capitalilsm.

An article by Jennifer Wells in the Toronto Star of April 23rd called attention to the fact that in the 3 years since the collapse of the garment factory in Bangladesh little has been done to improve the means of safety. To quote Wells, "the country is a long way from meeting its commitments under the sustainability compact it signed with the E.U. and the I.L.O. 3 months after Rana Plaza collapsed."
According to Phil Robertson, Deputy Director for the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, "the problem is Bangladesh's government is of the factory owners, by the factory owners, for the factory owners – and workers face intimidation, sexual harassment, long hours with low pay and hazardous and dangerous working conditions."
Shades of New York's Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 killing 146 workers confirms the futility of hoping things will improve under capitalism. 
John Ayers.

Socialism Is the Goal We Must Strive For

“An injury to one is an injury to all”

In a climate of intense insecurity, cultivated by both the hostile corporate setting workers hesitate to speak out against their employers for fear of losing their jobs. The capitalist class has shown itself unfit to rule because it cannot even feed its wage slaves. But one thing is certain: the material conditions of life for the ordinary worker is drastically changing, and with them are changing the views and ideas of working men and women. A new and heartening sign of the fraternal mood that has been growing in the radical movement. The socialist alternative is beginning to appear realistic to many more working people. Such a perspective ought to appeal to the imagination of every genuine socialist.  

Vote for Corbyn (or Sanders) as many times as you like, and celebrate your supposed “victories,” but then when the next choice between Tweedledee and Tweedledum” comes up, you are right back where you were. You have not advanced an inch, you are still at the mercy of the choice between the lesser and greater evil. BUT – take your own fate in your hands, break away from all capitalist exploiters, begin the union of the workers, on the political field, and THERE YOU HAVE THE REAL FRUIT OF THE BATTLE. “Every class struggle is a political struggle.”

Regardless of their claims to the contrary, the ruling class of the capitalist state and their apologists are the inveterate enemies of democracy. It must be recognised that the capitalists run the machinery of state and control its repressive agencies. They will honour the rights of the individual citizen and the people only so long as these do not cut deeply into their vital interests. None of the agents of the plutocracy can be relied upon to adhere even to their own legality. Our case for socialism is based on the unconquerable ideas of Marx and Engels, and you can never kill those ideas. We shall not retreat an inch. We shall recant nothing. We shall fight to the last ditch and with all our strength.

To establish democracy, not the fake limited we have today but real political and economic democracy that is the aim of socialism. Democracy is not merely a pathway to the socialist goal. It is an integral part of that goal. True democracy is possible only in a socialist society and that what we have now as democracy is an illusion. Not only is socialism impossible without democracy but that there is no other way to socialism except through democracy. Democracy is indissolubly bound up with socialism both as a means to an end and as an integral part of the final goal. The ruling classes know very well what democracy means to the wage-earning workers. Where its establishment has been compelled they readily avail themselves of every opportunity to limit it.

We of the Socialist Party have nothing to do with opportunism and class collaboration. We are orthodox Marxists because we know that Marxism is the only revolutionary socialism of the working class, and that is the only genuine socialism. History has demonstrated the spuriousness of every other brand. Marxism teaches that socialism will not fall from the skies. Neither will it be gained by any appeals to the good-will and compassion of the capitalist exploiters as some people still seem to think. Marxism is a theory of social evolution which affirms that capitalism is obsolete and bankrupt. Socialism can be realised only as the outcome of the class struggle of the workers. The class struggle is the motive force of history. Politics has no serious meaning except as the expression of conflicting class interests. There is an irreconcilable conflict of class interests between the workers and their capitalist exploiters. The political principles of a socialist party must be determined accordingly. All the political actions and judgments of a socialist party must always be directed against the capitalist class, and never be taken in collaboration with them. The class struggle is the central and governing principle of socialist politics. It is by carrying the class struggle to its necessary conclusion — that is, to the victory of the working class and the abolition of capitalism — that the socialist society will be realised. This is the teaching of Marxism. There is no other way. And every attempt to find another way, by supporting the capitalists, by conciliating them, by collaborating with them has led not toward the socialist goal but to defeat and disaster for the workers.

There can be no greater crime than to mis-inform or deceive fellow-workers upon which so much depends for the salvation of mankind. It is a crime to offer them a platform of reformism under the label of “socialism”.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Party of Marx

By socialism, Marx meant a class-free, money-free, wage-free society. In Marx’s first published writing as a socialist (The Jewish Question, 1843) Marx made it clear that human emancipation “will only be obtained by doing away with the state and with money", a view he held for the rest of his life. Marxian socialism is based on associations of free individuals in a society with no commodity, no money, no wage labour, no state. Men and women will never be free from exploitation and oppression until all work is voluntary and access to all goods and services is free. Socialism means a world-wide society, democratically controlled, without profits, wages or money. This is a practical proposition now. We say that tinkering with administrative forms is of no use. Buying and selling must be abolished. The wage packet—the permission to live—must be abolished.

Misery is mounting among people who want freedom and a right to live, for some way out of this madhouse. The misery and desperation around the world has increased to the point where they desire at all costs a radical change. A political revolution, as called for by Bernie Sanders, can occur without any radical transformation of the underlying economic structure of society, the property basis of society, a “revolution” designed merely to change the ruling bureaucracy of the country and without touching the property system.  A social revolution, on the other hand, affects not only the government but affects the economic system. By social revolution, we mean a transformation, a political and economic transformation of society. It is fundamental and affects the property system and affects the method of production. Marx laid down as a law that no social system can be replaced by another until it has exhausted all its possibilities for development and advancement. That is, you may say, the fundamental prerequisite for a social revolution. There must also be a tremendous sympathy and support among the majority of people for socialist ideas and for a socialist revolution. The revolution can’t be stopped by suppression because the revolution is a tremendous social movement of great masses of people.

What we mean by “exploitation” is the employment of wage labour at a rate of pay less than the value of the product of the labour. When we speak of wage labour we speak of the average, and the general rule. Marxism deals in the general and not in the analysis of each and every individual worker. The workers, taken collectively and an average struck, produce an enormous amount of wealth for which they do not receive the equivalent wage. That is surplus value, according to Marx. That is profit that goes into the hands of the capitalists, not in return for labour but as profit on investment. The Socialist Party wants to eliminate the whole profit system. We want to have production for use, not for profit.

Socialism and communism are more or less interchangeable terms in the Marxist movement. Some make a distinction between them in this respect; for example, Lenin used the expression socialism as the first stage of communism, but he exercised only his own authority for that use. It was Lenin’s own particular idea picked up from currents within the Second International. The Socialist Party considers the terms socialism and communism interchangeable, and they relate to the classless society based on planned production for use as distinct from a system of capitalism based on private property and production for profit.

Marx was of the opinion that the social transformation could be effected by purely peaceful and legal means where a parliamentary system, its democratic processes, and civil political procedure existed. Engels qualified that by adding: “To be sure, Marx did not exclude the possibility of a proslavery rebellion on the part of the outmoded and dispossessed ruling class.” That is, after the transfer of power. We should also add to make clear that the conditions of Britain in Marx’s time exist no more and therefore his calculation is out of date and no longer applicable.  At any rate, Marxism, without a doubt, is the doctrine of revolutionary action. But it has nothing in common with terrorism by individuals or small groups”, or any other form of action wherein individuals or minorities attempt to substitute themselves for the working class. The revolutionary action which Marx contemplates is the action of the working class majority. It is a lot less romantic than that of impatient leftists who dream of shortcuts and miracles to be evoked by the magic word “action”. A party which lacks mass support and membership, which has yet to become widely known to the workers, must organise along the lines of propaganda and education, of patient explanations, and pay no attention to impatient demands for “action”. But neither did we represent ourselves as pacifists. “Peacefully if possible, forcibly if necessary”.

“Dictatorship of the proletariat” is Marx’s definition of the state that will be in operation in the transitionary period between the overthrow of capitalism and the institution of the socialist society. In the opinion of the Marxists, it is to be a class dictatorship in that it will frankly represent the workers and will not even pretend to represent the economic interests of the capitalists but to dispossess the capitalist class. We will expropriate from the owning class the means of production and distribution—take them out of their hands and place them it in the hands of the people. The popular impression of dictatorship is a despot, one-man rule or a one-party state. This is not contemplated at all in the Marxian term dictatorship of the proletariat. This means the dictatorship of a class which is the majority. The position of the Socialist Party is that the most economical and preferable, the most desirable method of social transformation is to have it done peacefully via elections. If we can have the possibility of peaceful revolution by the registration of the will of the majority of the people, it seems to the Socialist Party it would be utterly absurd to reject that, because if we don’t have the support of the majority of the people, we can’t make a successful revolution anyhow.

Marx contended that present day society is divided into two main classes. One is the capitalists, or the bourgeoisie (the bourgeoisie is a French designation which is used by Marx interchangeably with the expression “the modern capitalist”.) The other main class is the working class, the proletariat. These are the two main classes in society. The workers are exploited by the capitalists. There is a constant conflict of interests between them, an unceasing struggle between these classes, which can only culminate in the eventual victory of the proletariat and the establishment of socialism. We believe that the modern world is an economic unit. No country is self-sufficient. It is impossible to solve the accumulated problems of the present day, except on a world scale; no nation is self-sufficient, and no nation can stand alone. The economy of the world now is all tied together as one whole, and because we think that the solution of the problem of the day—the establishment of socialism—is a world problem, we believe that the advanced workers in every country must collaborate in working toward that goal. We have, from the very beginning of our movement, collaborated with like-minded people in all other countries in trying to promote the socialist movement on a world scale. We have advocated the global organisation of the workers, and their mutual cooperation in all respects.  The Socialist Party has opposed all forms of nationalism, chauvinism, racism and sexism, and been against all prejudice, discrimination or denigration of fellow-workers. We believe that the wealth of the world, the raw materials of the world, and the natural resources of the world are so distributed over the earth that every region on the planet contributes something and lacks something for a rounded and harmonious development of the productive forces of mankind. We visualise the future society of mankind as world socialism in which will have a collaborative division of labour between the various regions according to their resources, a and production of the necessities and luxuries of mankind according to a coordinated world planning.

We view the trade-union movement as the basic organisation of the workers engaged in the class struggle to defend their interests from day to day. We are in favour of trade unions, recognising them as independent, autonomous organisations that should be outside the control of a political party and we support their efforts to strengthen themselves.  The trade unions help the workers to resist the extremes of exploitation, possibly to gain improvement of working conditions; that is for us are decisive reasons to support them because we are in favour of anything that benefits the workers. In general, we are in favour of industrial unionism. That is that form of unionism which organises all the workers in a given shop or given industry into one union. We consider that a more progressive and effective form of organisation than craft unionism, so we support the industrial-union principle. But we don’t condemn conventional mainstream trade unionism even though we do not accept craft unionism. The Party continually argues for improved democratic structures inside the unions, demanding the rights of the members to speak up, to have free elections, and frequent elections, and in general to have the unions under the control of its membership through the system of democracy.

Modern wars, in the opinion of our party, are caused by the conflict of competing rival nations for markets, colonies, sources of raw material, fields for investment, and spheres of influence. As long as the capitalist system remains, and with it those conditions which flow automatically from the operation of the capitalist system recurring wars are inevitable. Our party has always stated that it is impossible to prevent wars without abolishing the capitalist system which breeds war. It may be possible by public protests to delay a war for a while, but eventually, it is impossible to prevent wars while this profit system remains. The Socialist Party is of the opinion that wars are caused by international economic conflicts, and not by the good will or bad will of some people. That does not entirely eliminate the possibility of incidental attacks being caused by the acts of this or that ruling group of one country or another but fundamentally wars are caused by the efforts of all the capitalist powers to expand into other fields. The only way they can get them is by taking them away from some other power, because the whole world has been divided up among a small group of nationalist powers. That is what leads to war, regardless of the will of the people. Our party is unalterably opposed to all wars. By that, we mean that we do not give any support to any war. We do not vote for it; we do not vote for any person that promotes it; we do not speak for it; we do not write for it. We are in opposition to it. We write against it; we speak against it; we try to create sentiment against it. We carry out public political agitation against ALL war. We do not want all the bloodshed to make profits for Capital. We are going to oppose war; we are going to speak against it.

The government is the tool of the capitalists. It is the representative of the capitalists. We do not think capitalist political parties can or will solve the fundamental social problems which must be solved in order to save civilisation from the shipwreck. We believe that the necessary social transition from the present system of capitalism to the far more efficient order of socialism can only be brought about by the workers themselves who must organise themselves independently of the capitalist political parties. They must organise a great party of their own, develop an independent socialist party and oppose the capitalist parties. Our party runs candidates wherever it is able to get on the ballot. We conduct campaigns during the elections, and in general, to the best of our ability, and to the limit of our resources, we participate in election campaigns. The immediate purpose is to make full use of the democratic possibility afforded to popularise our ideas, to try to get elected wherever possible; and, from a long range view, to use the political power to capture the state machine.  We hold public lectures and educational meetings to advance the doctrines of the party. We publish a monthly journal and issue leaflets to present our ideas. The Socialist Party does not accept all of the statements found in all of the writings of Karl Marx. The party has never obligated itself to do that. We do not consider even Marx as infallible. The party accepts his basic ideas and theories as its own basic ideas and theories. That does not prohibit the party or members of the party from disagreeing with things said or written by Marx which does not strike at the fundamental basis of the movement, of the doctrine. We interpret and apply Marxian theories under conditions that prevail at the present time.

Marxism is not a dogma but a guide. As things are going now, and as they conceivably can in the near future, we, as a minority party, will keep preaching our case for socialism, recruiting members, doing our best to grow bigger, more popular, and get more support. If we have to rely solely on the effectiveness of our arguments, things remaining as they are, we will not grow very fast; but we, as Marxists, believe that historical development will come powerfully to the aid of our ideas. Continued bankruptcy of the present system, its inability to solve its problems, its worsening of the conditions of the people, will push them on the road in search of a solution of what seems to them an absolutely hopeless situation. Under those conditions, our goals can appear to the people more and more plausible, more and more reasonable, and we can begin to become a stronger party. It has happened before with parties of similar ideas. As our party grows, it in itself will be a reflection of the growth and development of the broad labour movement. Socialism is a democratic movement and can be realised only with the support of the majority. The party’s basic task, while it remains in the minority, is propaganda to win over the majority. At this moment in time, when the people of the world, when they are constantly fed on lies, need, more than anything else, is to know the truth. Our party is built on correct ideas and therefore is indestructible. Our comrades are devoted to each other and trust each other. That is an intangible source of power that will yield great results in the days to come. The socialist goal is no trifle ant o serve that goal that is enough reward.