Friday, December 30, 2016

Gustav's Gems

Usually we have a section called, ''Karl's Quotes'', but why not give him a rest for a while and quote from one of his most brilliant students, Gustav Bang? This gent, (1871-1915), was a Professor of history at Copenhagen University and in 1901 gave a series of lectures about famous historical events, all of which he analysed in relation to economic conditions. It is to be regretted that only a few were translated into English, one of which was about the French Revolution, which is still relevant. Professor Bang showed how the emerging capitalist class used the lower classes to break the political power of the nobility, and once firmly in the saddle, did nothing for them. However these lower classes, for they were not yet an industrialized working class, were smart enough to realize they had been used.

''The sentiment in the lower classes grew more and more bitter through these acts of treachery. What the meaning of it all was began to dawn on them; they began to see through that mesh of phrases and big words with which the spokesmen and writers for the bourgeoisie tried to veil the real motives of their politics, not only for others but for themselves; they began to realize the role they were intended for - a ladder on which the possessing classes could climb to the top, from there to turn and grind the classes below under the iron heel of exploitation so effectively. It was the first manifestation of the class - consciousness of the proletariat.

As yet the proletariat was to weak, too few in numbers and too heterogeneous in its composition to start an independent war leading to victory.''

Today the situation is the reverse. The working class is in a position to overthrow capitalism if it wanted, but unlike the French, doesn't realize its being fooled. Lets hope it will soon realize it and, who knows, with the effects of the election of a total jackass as American President, it may be soon. John Ayers.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Marxmas

 On this day a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton who arrived in this world on December 25, 1642.

The signs of the Festive season are all around us. We are exhorted to join in the Christmas spirit (more often than not by the makers of the alcoholic spirits.) Christmas is a time for rejoicing yet for many it is merely another grim day in the struggle for survival. Just how can a rapacious system such as capitalism bring about that peace and good will so ardently desired by humanity? Socialists appreciate the significance of the ritual and symbolism and acknowledge the value that people attach to holidays, acts of remembrance and commemoration. We no more wanted to abolish Christmas than we do Hogmanay. Christmas possesses within it the solidarity principle of mutual aid. Friends exchange gifts. Fellow-workers share in a dinner. Grown-ups become children at the fun of the pantomine. 

 But most of all, we socialists want to extend that one-time-a-year sharing to every day, making it our way of life for society. 

From the Xmas cracker
QUESTION: This year, what do all the world's Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists call December 25th?
ANSWER: Sunday

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Everything is possible

The dominant capitalist interests are not concerned primarily with the development or the welfare of people. The opposition to the dominion of capitalism is confronted by its global power.  When the industrial crisis was raging throughout the world, when factories and plant were standing idle, when machines rusting, when the wholesale destruction of “superfluous” foodstuffs was taking place while millions of people were starving, it becomes plain that capitalist development had led humanity to the brink of a precipice. Is there an alternative? Either we have change or we have barbarism, economic collapse and moral decay where climate change and war may well destroy civilisation. This then is the alternative which the ruling classes may bring about. The mission of building society on a basis of social justice to-day rests with the labour movement. Fundamental change is imperative. Our vision is of a better, socialist society and to end the days where the poor and needy – the billions of them – have to endure drab and dismal lives. The quest for solutions — sometimes irrational, always erratic, never coordinated — dominates world politics.

The working class require a shift in consciousness, and need to reject the old values fostered by the ruling class through its social and political institutions and to gain a general awareness that these values do not serve the interests of working people It is an awakening to the fact that have interests separate from and opposed to those of the employers and the government that sides with the employers. Workers are locked in the two-party political system, where they remain to this day, the greater and lesser evils. The unions have been under sustained attack and there are no signs of any let-up. The only weapon embattled workers have is their ability to strike, and the employers have extracted a heavy toll for the small concessions they have been obliged to make. The unions are composed of workers, were created to represent the interests of workers, and cannot exist without worker support. Under pressures of the economic crisis and the heavy blows of the employers, the unions will have to be transformed by their members in the struggle against the employers, or they will be neutralised by the combined assault of the employers and government. This can only be accomplished by action, and it may well not be accomplished at all.

The principal task of the Socialist Party right now is to try to restore the credibility of socialism in the minds of millions of men and women having had decades of distortion from mistaken interpretations of the Russian Revolution and Lenin. Our starting point starting point in our engagement and exchanges with our fellow-workers should have been their immediate needs, to eliminate hunger, house the homeless, to give a dignified life to everyone, to save the lives of those who die for lack of proper medical attention, to generalise free access to necessary goods and services. None of this is dogmatic or utopian although fellow-workers are not yet ready to fight for the socialist revolution. We have spent much of our energy and resources in correcting misconceptions rather than presenting the genuine socialist vision. To-day, the stakes are literally a question of the survival of humanity. Hunger, epidemics, nuclear power, environmental destruction and climate change are the fundamental reality of capitalism’s new world disorder.

We defend socialism as being totally emancipatory in all areas of life. The producers must hold the real decision making power over what they produce. This power must be exercised in a completely democratic manner; that is, it must express the real aspirations of the working class.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Pricey Streets

A street which leads to the first tee of the Old Course at St
Andrews has been named the most expensive in Scotland. The Scores knocked addresses in Edinburgh off the top spot, with an average house price of £2,179,000.

Ten of Scotland's most expensive streets are in Edinburgh. Aberdeen has five streets in the top 20, while Glasgow has three. Balmoral Court in Auchterarder, Perthshire, is the only other location in the top 20 outside the main cities. House prices there average £1,298,000.

Edinburgh's most expensive residential street is Ettrick Road in Merchiston, where homes are a mixture of late Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian villas and Victorian tenements which command an average price of £1,899,000. At more than £500,000 less, Northumberland Street and Heriot Row in New Town are Edinburgh's next most expensive streets, with average prices of £1,390,000 and £1,374,000 respectively.

In Aberdeen, streets in the AB15 postcode area are the most expensive. Researchers said buyers seeking a property in Rubislaw Den North or Rubislaw Den South should expect to spend at least £1,516,000.

Baroness Drive in Thortonhall is Glasgow's most expensive street (£1,037,000), closely followed by nearby Baron Court (£1,035,000), and Grange Road in Bearsden (£1,033,000).

Now Let's Think A Moment.

In October, continuing an 800 year old tradition, the city of London paid Queen Elizabeth rent owed on two pieces of property. these transactions are so old the exact locations of the properties are unclear. The payments called, ''Quit Rents'', once had a meaning, but are now ceremonial. In other words they pay our beloved Britannic Majesty rent on property that doesn't exist.
 This is perfectly logical, in fact just as logical as the gilded coach she rides in, the horse guards, the life guards, the beefeaters, orb and sceptres and all the other trappings of pomp and circumcision. Just as logical as the intellectual giants who line the route and wave and cheer for her. This nitwit wonders what pearls of wisdom they could enlighten us with. They should all be singing, ''Rule Brittania, Marmalade and Jam, three Chinese crackers up your rear end, wham, wham, wham, wham, wham wham.'' 
And just to think some people want to abolish the monarchy!
 If you think that's bad you ain't heard nuttin yet. Some want to go farther and abolish the cause of it ! Wow, there's some bad dudes out there - the nerve of these people. Now lets think a moment folks - if the monarchy is abolished, what we do for laughs?
 John Ayers.

Socialism is not dead

The coming year ahead is very promising for socialists and very challenging for the whole working class. People not only want change, they want a vision of a better society. Many people these days will tell you ‘Socialism is dead’. For many, the issue of socialism is now closed: you can’t beat the system and for proof, they point to the demise of the Soviet Union and the creation of Chinese billionaires. Intellectuals tell us there is now no longer a way out for us and present dystopian futures of catastrophe and apocalypses, while the life-style gurus offer up spiritual strategies of how best to cope with the ‘real’ world.  However, if you looked at the problems of the world, whether from a factory floor or from a university lecture hall, the alternative to capitalism other than socialism is a phantasm. 

The Socialist Party’s central aim is the emancipation of humanity and we endeavour to find a path to a world without exploitation or oppression, in which men and women developed their human potential as free individuals in a free society, without the distortion of money or state power. We are committed to the principle of the working class liberating itself and are opposed to the idea of self-appointed leaders, no matter how well-intentioned and we are firmly against the concept of setting up a spurious workers’ state. In the words of the Communist Manifesto, ‘the movement of the immense majority, in the interests of the immense majority’. Only the working class can achieve its own emancipation. Nobody can make the socialist revolution for them. Marx and Engels argued that socialism could only come about through the action of the entire class, which in advanced countries was the mass of society. The state which oppressed the exploited on behalf of the exploiters would be destroyed and replaced, not by a new, ‘workers’ state’, but by a body which would at once begin to dissolve itself into the community. Socialism wasn’t state-ownership and nationalisation but associations of producers. Marx’s conception of socialist society as ‘an association of free human beings, working with communal means of production, and self-consciously expending their many individual labour powers as a single social labour power’. Individuals will freely, collectively and consciously construct their social relationships.

There can be no blueprint to give us a clear description of the future socialist system, much to some folk’s chagrin who see themselves as clever experts in the creation of all sorts of new social relations and economic models yet consider the existing rough sketch of socialism as a world in which we will transcend such things as property, money, and state are treated as utopianism.

 Rather than using technological advances and our ability to understand and transform the natural world, it ought to be easy to make ourselves reasonably comfortable, capitalism has turned technology into instruments of exploitation of both nature and people. Over many decades, a major part of scientific and industrial activity has been devoted to fabricating the means to kill, torture and maim human beings with great efficiency: millions perished miserably in wars. Capitalism is like an uncontrollable demon compelling us to tear our world apart, turning our own human productive powers against ourselves, transforming them into forces of self-destruction. We devote a huge part of our energy and ingenuity to lying and cheating, to hurting or killing each other. Nationalism and religion feed upon our fears. Set against one another, we are reduced to a state of powerlessness, mere spectators of our own actions. This is what makes the world appear so strange to us. In every part of the world, there has been a global drive to expand industry and trade. The consequences, however, have never been what was intended. They include the destruction, not only of natural ecological systems but also of older forms of cultural life that has sparked a reactionary back-lash. Millions of people try to lead decent lives amidst all this confusion, bringing up their children in the best way they can, but every day another bit of communal life disappears to be replaced by the impersonal market. And so the world becomes less and less comprehensible to its inhabitants. People are deprived of decent housing, education, and health care, condemned to a life of unemployment or of the most degrading sweat-shop work. From politics to sport, from music to the media, every activity is driven by the thirst for money. Human beings, equipped with the means to control the world, lack the power to control their own lives. Is it no wonder that substance abuse and mental ill-health are so rife?

By liberating today's society, socialism makes it possible for humanity to see its true relationship with Nature as ‘a process between man and nature’. A socialist future guarantees the rational use of human creativity and resources. Socialism addresses and answers such vital core questions as “What is it to be human?”, “In what ways are we estranged from our humanity?”, “How can we live humanly?” and “What must we do to make this possible?”

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Training torturers and executioners

Scottish Police provided training to senior officers from the Saudi and Bahraini police forces without carrying out any human rights checks international human rights organisation Reprieve and BBC Scotland have revealed. Under UK Government policy, a formal assessment is meant to be carried out before justice or security assistance is provided to states where it could contribute to the death penalty.  However, Police Scotland and the UK College of Policing, who provided the Saudi and Bahraini training, found that no information was held on such assessments.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain both use the death penalty and torture against people accused of involvement in protests.  The Saudi authorities have also sentenced significant numbers of children to death – at least three of whom are currently on death row and could face execution at any time.

When asked for a full list of overseas assistance delivered in or by Scotland, both Police Scotland and the UK College of Policing omitted the training provided to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain – even though a public reference to it had previously been published on the Police Scotland website. Such policing assistance could leave the UK complicit in death penalty cases such as that of Mohammed Ramadan, a Bahraini father and police officer who faces execution due to his involvement in protests calling for reform; and the cases of Ali al Nimr, Dawood al Marhoon and Abdullah al Zaher, all of whom were sentenced to death after being arrested as children in the wake of protests in Saudi Arabia.

Commenting, Maya Foa, a director at Reprieve said: “At best this is incompetence, at worst a cover-up; either way, the result is that this training risks rendering the UK complicit in the death penalty.  It is shocking that neither Police Scotland nor the UK College of Policing hold any information about what human rights assessments were undertaken before this training went ahead.  The conclusion is that once again, the UK’s policy on the death penalty has been ignored.  Support to police forces in death penalty states such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain must be suspended until they can show real progress – starting with scrapping the death sentences handed down to children and political protesters.”

Socialists – Makers of a New World

People know that capitalism is no good but few can see a way forward to a better type of society. Peace and prosperity is the common aspiration of humanity. Socialists seek the unity of the people throughout the world and cooperation among them for the victory of their common cause of creating a new world. Today, the Socialist Party is working hard to build a genuine society for the people in which men and women’s complete independence will be realised. But we live in a world dominated by capitalism, a system which allows a small minority of capitalists to oppress and exploit the great majority of humankind.  It is capitalism that brings about great inequalities in living standards with more poor people now in the world than ever before, starts murderous wars to steal the resources and causes the devastation of our natural environment.  Either we get rid of this outmoded system or it will destroy humanity.  The only way forward is a revolutionary struggle to achieve socialism, a class-free and state-free society on a world scale where people do not oppress and exploit each other and where we live in harmony with our natural environment.  To create world socialism it is necessary to replace the rule of capitalism and this can be done only through revolution and establish a system of real, popular social democracy that sets about the reconstruction of society. It is essential to generate interest in revolutionary Marxism. This can happen only if you join us in the struggle against capitalism and for revolution. The hour is late. The Socialist Party expresses its solidarity with the struggles of their fellow-workers all over the world for the end of the exploitation of man by man.

Class struggles arise out of a form of production which divides society into classes, one of which carries out the actual process of production (slave, serf, wage-worker), while the other (slave-owner, lord, capitalist employer) enjoys a part of the product without having to work to produce it. Marx saw the aim of the working-class as the preparation for and organisation of revolution – the overthrow of the ruling class of capitalist – and the organisation of a new system of production, socialism. But when the working class takes power it does so in order to end the class divisions – to bring in a new form of production in which there is no longer any class living on the labour of another class; in other words, to bring about a class-free society. There will be no class conflict because there are no classes with separate interests, and therefore there will be no need of a State – an apparatus of force – to protect one set of interests against another. The State will “wither away”. As Engels put it: “Government over persons is replaced by the administration of things and the direction of the processes of production.”

A revolution is the work of a class which has gained political power in order to transform society to suit its interests; a reform is carried out only within the framework of the social system. Reforms cannot end capitalism; they can modify it to some extent, but they leave its basis untouched. To establish socialism, a revolution—a complete transformation of private property into social property—is necessary. We do not deny that certain reforms won by the working class have helped to improve our general living and working conditions. Indeed, we see little wrong with people campaigning for reforms that bring essential improvements and enhance the quality of their lives, and some reforms do indeed make a difference to the lives of millions and can be viewed as 'successful' (we also recognise that such 'successes' have in reality done little more than to keep workers and their families in efficient working order and rarely managed to remove the problem completely.) What we are opposed to is the whole culture of reformism, the idea that capitalism can be made palatable with the right reforms, We oppose those organisations that promise to deliver a programme of reforms on behalf of the working class in order that they gain a position of power (some groups, especially those of the left-wing, often have real aims quite different to the reform programme they peddle. In this, they are being as dishonest as any other politician, from the left or right.) The ultimate result of this is disillusionment with the possibility of radical change. The struggle for reforms cannot alter the slave position of the working class, it ends by bringing indifference to the workers who look to reforms for emancipation.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Life Is Getting More Dangerous And Disgusting Every Day

An article in the Toronto Star of November 11 reported on the high levels of pollution in New Delhi. Levels of the most dangerous particles, called PM 2.5, reached 700 micrograms per cubic metre on November 7, but on the previous weekend reached 1000 which is 16 times the limit the federal government considers safe. One resident said, ''You can literally see smoke in the air and when you breathe you can smell it too.''
The problem for environmentalists is that decisions to be made for dealing with it fall under the authority of several city, state and federal government bodies which are at odds with each other politically. 
This is just another example of how life under capitalism gets more dangerous and disgusting every day.
 John Ayers.

No Forced Lay-offs

On November 18 Volkswagen said it will cut 30,000 jobs globally as it tries to claw back from the emission - cheating scandal. The company agreed to hold off from forced lay-offs till 2025. The job cuts will come from early retirements and not replacing workers that leave voluntarily.
 So you won't see newspaper headlines blaring, ''Volkswagen Lay-Offs Thousands'', but it still means the same thing - some poor schnook who needs a job remains unemployed.
 John Ayers.

The Invergordon Mutiny

 On the morning of Tuesday 15 September, 1931, the Cromarty Firth rang to cheers from the Royal Navy ships lying off Invergordon. This was the sound of thousands of sailors coming out on strike - the Invergordon Mutiny had begun. It's called a mutiny, but it's more accurate to call it an industrial dispute carried out by servicemen.

In 1931, the Great Depression was two years old and had eight yet to run. Britain's new National Government was making massive austerity-driven cuts to public sector pay. Some of the worst hit of all were the older ratings of the Royal Navy. They faced a 25% pay cut at a time when they barely earned more than men on the dole.

The cuts spelled ruin for them and their families. They had only one weapon - to strike - but that would be called mutiny, and mutiny could mean death. But with no alternative, they went ahead. Planning their action in canteen meetings ashore, the men decided to strike. When four ships were set to sail, HMS Valiant, the first due to depart, her men assembled on her fo'c's'le and they cheered and they cheered and the other striking ships answered back. Although it's not known how many sailors were actively involved, it was enough: the strike was on. As the mutiny stretched into its second day, it struck utter existential fear into the British establishment. The Admiralty finally came up with a face saving solution. They ordered the ships to sail for home ports down south, promising to help hardship cases, but even though it ended the strike, it did nothing to damp down the terror which had seized the government - and crucially the security services. They were convinced that communist agitators lay behind the mutiny and that they were plotting to strike again. Naval intelligence sent agents to the ports, some posing as radical sailors, looking for agitator. The Communist Party, shocked that they'd missed the mutiny, sent its men to the Portsmouth bars also hunting for radical sailors. They soon bumbled into each other. The secret agents sprang a trap on the Communists and charged them with incitement to mutiny. The efforts of the Communist Party to recruit serving sailors in the naval ports in the 1930s produced very little effect.

Twenty four so-called ringleaders of the strike were unceremoniously kicked out of the Navy. A further 93 men were groundlessly discharged. Some of these men, previously no radicals, were now destitute and turned to the Communist Party. One, Able Seaman Len Wincott, went to Russia as a hero of the mutiny (although he would later spend 11 years in a Stalinist Labour camp), but no communism lay behind the mutiny.


But also see

Revolution Will Surely Triumph

The socialist revolution is the most radical break with oppression and exploitation in history. Exploitation and oppression will not exist in a socialist society. Commodity production, that is, production for sale or exchange on the market, will not exist. The system of wage labour will be abolished and the guiding principle of labour will be “from each according to ability, to each according to need.” The means of production will be held communally and private property will be eliminated. With the abolition of classes and class distinctions, all social and political inequality arising from them will disappear. The conflicts of interest between workers and farmers, town and country, manual and intellectual labour will disappear. As classes will not exist, the state will not be necessary as an instrument of class rule and will gradually have withered away. We believe that people will not be free until we are able to determine our destiny. The goal of the Socialist Party is to abolish the existing mode of production (the wage system) and to allow the means of production to be converted into the common property of society. The Socialist Party calls upon all the workers to join it in its struggle to reach this goal, and thus bring into the world a new society in which peace, fraternity, and human brotherhood will be the dominant ideals. The struggle against the capitalist class and against all exploitation can only end in all that is produced by the workers must benefit the people themselves.

The ruling class puts forth the claim, in one form or another, that it has the right to rule, to govern; to own, manage and control. At one time the method is blandishment and wooing of the working class, at another chicanery and conspiracy, at another use of the police power of the state, and force. One of the aims of the ruling class is to conceal the fact that political, social and economic power is in the hands of a small minority. The ruling class, in the course of the decades, has come to accept, grudgingly the trade unions of the working class. On the whole, capitalism can live side by side with the unions. The ruling class ensures its ideas prevail in the trade unions. The ruling class schemes and conspires in all manner of ways to accomplish this. But when workers begin moving toward political organization and action as a class that is going too far. All political organization and action has or should have one main practical aim: to take control of the state to achieve social power for the class which the particular political organization represents. The role of the ruling class is to head off any real independent political direction of labour and to keep the workers’ parties inside the framework of bourgeois politics and subordinate to the bourgeois parties. A working class organised politically would inevitably be forced into a political struggle with the capitalists. The sacred property rights of the capitalist class would be placed in jeopardy, the dictatorship of capital would be revealed. What transpires in capitalist society is not apparent to workers, hence, they are enticed into class collaboration, full of compromise and concessions, enmeshed in a process subservience and docility. The main reason is not the lack of militancy but of political consciousness. The militancy of the workers remains on the bread-and-butter level. It is not necessary that the ruling class be identical in every country. It is sufficient that they conform to the requirements of the ruling class, in any country and any era, that they perpetuate their class and protect their property relations. A government may change but the class and property relations remain unchanged. Different bottoms may sit in the same seat of power.

Unless we in the Socialist Party carry out a mass campaign of education among our fellow-workers based upon clear, keen, socialist analysis of social, economic and political conditions and events, unless we build on sound revolutionary socialist principles, a Trump or Farage will invariably will win out taking advantage of workers’ feelings of hopelessness. Right now, we need to turn the tide for the workers of the world on their march to world socialism.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Welcome to socialism (video animation)

No Job? How Long Will Your Money Last?

A new survey by the Financial Planning Standards Council found that 40 per cent of Canadians would only have enough money to live on for four weeks if they lost their job, whereas 19 per cent said they would be broke in one week. One respondent said she graduated from University with $20,000 in student debt. It took her two years to pay it off, working two jobs.
 Insecurity creates fear and no one likes to live in fear, so why not get rid of its cause?
 John Ayers.

Which Way ForThe Driverless Car

On November 5th an article in the Toronto Star dealt with the reality of driverless cars. Computer scientists and economists say the threat is no longer theoretical. Automated cars pose a threat to many Americans who drive for a living which are 2.9 million truckers and delivery drivers, 674,000 bus drivers and 181,000 cab drivers and chauffeurs. Already, in Pittsburg, there are driverless Uber taxis. Conversely, the self-driving Tesla car crashed in May as it failed to detect a tractor-trailer crossing its path. Frank Levy of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said, ''Truck drivers are safe because a machine couldn't negotiate rush hour traffic without a helping hand.'' Some say driverless vehicles will not create much unemployment overall because a vehicle that is on the road 24 hours a day will need a lot of maintenance. 
This writer thinks they may have computer operators on them, initially, instead of drivers. At present no one knows exactly what will happen; it could be after a period of trials and experimentation it will lead to more unemployment. If automation leads to massive unemployment overall there will be a reaction. 
What form this will take we don't know. The worse case scenario would be the rise of the fascism we saw in the 1930's. The best would be a working class, who, through severe economic pressure, realize they can only solve their problems through co-operation with their fellow workers - lets hope so. 
John Ayers.

Scots still struggle with low pay

Scottish employers must start paying their staff better poverty campaigners have said after a report showed almost half a million Scots are paid less than the real living wage. The real living wage is a voluntary pay rate, calculated annually according to the basic cost of living in the UK. It currently sits at £8.45 an hour, while the UK Government’s mandatory National Living Wage is £7.20 an hour for those aged 25 and over.

The report, from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe), revealed that 467,000 workers received under £8.45 an hour in 2016 – more than 20% of the total workforce. That number has risen from 395,000 in 2013, meaning there has been an 18% increase in those with jobs that pay less than the real living wage. The flat-lining economy and stagnant rates of pay has resulted in an increase of 70,000 workers getting less than the real living wage over the past three years.  

Hospitality and retail staff were the most likely to be paid less than the recommended minimum, with 70% of those in the accommodation and food service sectors and 45% of shop workers earning under £8.45 an hour.

Liberation not enslavement

We are facing escalating crises and our political leaders are unable to seriously address the threats to the human family and the world we all live in. The climate crisis is spinning out of control, and the gap between the rich and poor continues to grow unabated. When everything points to even more assaults upon people and our planet optimism is not a virtue but a sign of irrationality. Facing climate change, species extinction, global conflicts, and poverty, allowing ourselves to be disturbed by them, moved by them and yet remaining sane, is no easy thing. Anxiety and worry are healthy symptoms. Instead of hiding from this anguish we can confront them, not as isolated individuals but collectively as a class. The disenfranchised, the poor, and the working class need to collectively band together to restructure the system, which has created our discontent in the first place. The hope that comes from facing the worst is enduring because it is not built upon illusion and wishful thinking. It is defiant and courageous and refuses to capitulate. Adherence to old ideas will further exasperate the situation, the very problems it has helped to create—which is truly insane. It doesn’t make sense. Together, we can overcome our fears and need not give in to despair. Think revolutionary.  Unlike the apocalyptic end-of-the-world alarmist Cassandras of doom, socialists recognise that we have choices and we have alternatives and that we can create a better world with a sustainable future. When we understand what is causing the crises, then we can solve the problem. As socialists, our prognosis for the future of life and the planet is a promising one but only if we transform our competitive capitalist society into a cooperative commonwealth. However, to tell people “don’t worry – it’s going to be ok” is doing no-one a favour.

Mainstream politicians will continue to protect the corporate executives, who will continue to maximise profit without concern for the majority of people. We need a revolution to change things. We have to build the new economy ourselves. The key to over-throwing the capitalist order is that it something we have to do ourselves and we cannot leave it to politicians or their parties. It will be up to us – ordinary people – to make it happen. Consumerist capitalist society cannot be reformed to make it sustainable or just; it must be replaced by a society with fundamentally different structures. We refuse to seek a “socialist” veneer, which amounts to an effort to render capitalism a bit more humane and a little more efficient, and no more. Reformism is not liberatory, but merely reformulates the exploitative class relations to make them more palatable. Action is required to be taken to change the entire economic system. Income redistribution and tax reform is no substitute for the abolition of private property. It is not only consumption that must be made egalitarian, but production. Exploitation for capital accumulation must be ended. No amount of reforms can replace revolutionary change by the working class. Of course, this is not an easy path to pursue. While slightly mitigating the suffering of people is not our goal, it is by no means a bad thing. It would be callous to ignore opportunities to alleviate hardship in the name of political purity. However, the Socialist Party position is that there are others better placed and better organised to engage in palliative policies and that a socialist party should remain fixed upon its purpose – the education, agitation, and organisation to bring about a socialist society.

 A radical situation is awakening. People are becoming more receptive to new perspectives. They are readier to see that everything seems possible and quicker to understand that much more is possible. Our radical message is one the powerful ruling class is desperately trying to silence. Capitalists are not concerned with the common good. They exploit, pollute, impoverish, repress, kill and lie to make money. They throw workers out of jobs and poor families out of homes, they wage wars to take resources and raw materials, they poison and pollute the ecosystems, slash social services, gut health-care and trash public education, plundering, and looting wherever they can in the name of profit.  Those on the reformist left who once dismissed capitalism as exploitative now honour a new version as rational and humane, describing it as “market socialism”, another form of enslavement of the working class. The long struggle for social justice and economic freedom carried out by ordinary men and women alone holds out the possibility of salvation. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Treating The Symptoms

The November issue of the Anglican Journal includes an article reeking of self-congratulation. The Trinity Anglican Church in Edmonton recently inaugurated a new ministry which is an outreach program serving the mental health needs of the South Alberta Light Horse, a reserve regiment of the Canadian army. With the brilliance and clarity of genius, Arch-Deacon Chris Pappas said, ''You can't go out and be asked to kill, or see the atrocities of war and not come back changed, or hurt and hurting. these inner wounds can harm the reservists relationships with their spouses and children or may result in increased alcohol use, for example. Their effects can also disrupt the reservists finances.''
 Great going Chris baby, you mean there's such a thing as PTSD/?, who'da thunk it? 
Nor are the Anglicans alone helping with counselling, pastoral visits, financial advice, ad nauseum; no Sir - the Lutherans, the University chaplaincy at the U of Alberta and the Edmonton Inter-Faith Centre for Education and Action have all rallied to the cause, with an annual budget of $15,000. 
The pity of it all is, when one thinks of the time, effort, money, and good intentions poured into this, one thinks how much better it would be if devoted to bringing about a world where war would not exist. 
John Ayers.

A Revengeful Jam

On November 4th Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni, former aides to New Jersey Governer Chris Christie, were found guilty of creating an epic traffic jam, to seek revenge on Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie for re-election in 2013.
The jam was on the George Washington Bridge, which is America's busiest, connecting New Jersey to New York City. Their excuse was that the closing was due to a legitimate traffic study. 
Christie has denied all knowledge of it, but whether he was aware of it or not, the whole thing was extremely childish and clearly shows how ridiculous life is becoming under capitalism. 
John Ayers.

In defence of the people and the planet

There has never been a more pressing time to rethink politics. We don’t need calls for moral uplift or personal responsibility. We need calls for economic democracy and equality. We don’t need calls for fixing the terminally broken system; instead, we need to build socialism. Such a politics must be rooted in collective struggles. We need a radical imagination infused with the spirit of class-war for an independent politics that regards a radical democracy as part of a never-ending struggle. The future of the human species - if there is to be a future - must be a socialist one. If we really care about whether there will be a human future - each one of us who claims to care has to be prepared to radically challenge the capitalist order. An economic system that magnifies human greed and encourages short-term thinking, while pretending there are no physical limits on human consumption, must be opposed. 

Capitalism is not the system through which we will craft a sustainable future. We must make it clear that ecological sustainability is impossible within capitalism. We have to reject stories about technological miracles. The powers that be are betting on a technological fix to the problems that won't threaten the existing power structure with its unequal distribution of power and centralised decision-making -- a way to keep living as we're living. Even if this was remotely possible, a technological breakthrough would not address the dehumanising way the system subordinates human needs to the needs of the capitalist profit system.

If socialists are to fight against capitalism, we all need to connect issues, bring together diverse social movements and produce long-term organisations that can provide a view of the future that does not simply mimic the present. Even people with a critique of the current system and a yearning for change don't yet know what a new world will look like or how we can create one. In recent years, many individuals and organisations involved in these separate campaigns have begun to embrace a holistic approach that moves beyond single issues. This requires to take real change seriously and be highly critical of any reformist politics yet our socialist message must resonate with people. Our critique of capitalism enables people to ask questions to raise consciousness. Change begins with a public discussion that presents a more accurate picture of our human interaction and recognises the proper purpose of the economy, and highlight the essential social and environmental foundations of true prosperity and well-being. It also means we have to develop political organisations that join together struggles across national borders. If we put aside the fantasies about capitalism found in economics textbooks, we recognise that capitalism is a wealth-concentrating capital accumulating system that allows a small number of people to dominate not only economic but also control the political decision-making process - which makes a mockery of our any alleged commitment to principles rooted in solidarity and democracy. We need to point out that it is not individual greed that created this economic system. None of us voted to put in place an economy that requires endless growth that works against both personal and planetary well-being.

If people are ever to enjoy a free, democratic, and equitable society, they’d have to build it themselves from the bottom up. Leaders move from the driver’s seat to the backseat and let the working class take the wheel. We should be cautious about the temptation to seek a blueprint. After all, a blueprint sounds so static and pre-engineered. But we do need a process of envisioning a new economy otherwise, we won’t know where we are heading. The guide starts with common requirements including cooperation, democracy, and ecological well-being. Such proposals won’t specify the exact details play, just the rough sketch. The goal of socialists has always been to restore community. Marx defined socialism as a free association of producers and as a situation in which the free development of each is a condition for the free development of all. Humanity’s lesson is that individual happiness and fulfillment are best achieved through cooperation, caring, and sharing with one another. The social sciences conclude that we humans evolved to live in cooperative community with one another and nature. Our success as a species has been an extraordinary capacity for creative organisation and resilience.

In order for capitalism to be overthrown, millions and millions of people must be dissatisfied and must want something else, a pressing desire to live a certain way and not to live another way. If this pressing desire were a desire to live free, to be autonomous, to live in democratically controlled communities, to participate in the self-regulating activities of a mature people, then capitalism could be destroyed. Otherwise, we are doomed to perpetual slavery and possibly even to extinction. Despite the countless grassroots projects already under way, the global capitalist juggernaut is too powerful to stop unless more and more of us are becoming aware of how disastrous it is for people and the planet. The social consequences and environmental costs are becoming more apparent. People are beginning to understand that something is fundamentally wrong and that minor tinkering with the current system is not the answer. A critical mass is ready for fundamental change: what they need is a clear explanation of the root cause of the crises we face and solutions that are meaningful. Our answer is a simple one - people should be able to live decent lives without hurting other people and without harming the planet. This means we have to have democratic control and have sufficient material resources to meet our needs.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Seize the Moment

 Demagogues and dictators thrive on fear and insecurity. People are hurting and disillusioned with mainstream politics and increasingly angry at the austerity policies and the economic system destroying lives and the planet. Many believe that it's only a matter of time before a new crisis hits. Yet in today’s world, anyone who fails blame themselves and feels ashamed. People see themselves, not society, as the problem. Even when primary blame is placed upon the global elite, it says that the primary problem is not the system; but the beneficiaries of the system and things would be better if they were not too greedy. That is, of course, not to say that there aren't powerful people in the world that do tremendous damage, or that these people should not be held to account. These people, however, are produced and given power by a system that runs deeper than anyone's capacity to design. It is the money/profit system that has taken on a life of its own. We have a potential abundance at our fingertips. The scarcity that so many experience today is not the result of any fundamental lack, but rather of the misdistribution of resources. Imagine the kind of abundance we could have if we didn't devote ourselves to the production of weaponry, car culture, fashion and consumerism, junk food, and every other form of waste that contributes nothing to human happiness. A world of abundance doesn't depend on any new technology. We have the capability now.

People cannot rely on others to save them because fundamental change is required. If capitalism’s survival is at stake, it will marshal all the weapons to defend itself and stop the emergence of a new system. When we work for change from the ground up and when we are building towards a future we know is possible with our own hands, we find our true power rather than hoping distant leaders. The old economic system is dying and another is struggling to be born. The socialist movement must serve as midwife. Change is not going to be smooth or easy. We are the ones we are looking to and it must be ourselves who grasp the opportunities to come together. We cannot forget all the struggles that came before us, and imagine all those to come and we must remember that social movements are growing all over the world that must merge and coalesce into the common struggle. Socialists urgently need to mobilise fellow-workers around the world for a process of transformation that can end the cause of all our social problems.

The terms socialist and socialism were first used by Robert Owen to describe the views of those who were in favour of the substitution of universal and ordered co-operation for chaotic competition. A socialist means a man or a woman who recognises the class war between the propertyless and the owning class as the inevitable historic outcome of the capitalist system and of the direct economic and social antagonisms which it has engendered and fostered. Who sees that those antagonisms can only be resolved by the complete ownership control over the 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. Who uses existing political institutions to educate the people and to prepare, as far as possible, peacefully for the social revolution which must result in world socialism. Who holds that the methods of giving expression to this great socialist change should be completely democratic and accountable in every aspect. It is in the best interests of the working people that the struggle for political power should be carried through by peaceful means, without civil war. It will not be simple to achieve this. There will be advances and setbacks. Political power must be won; and in the struggle for power, the winning of a majority in Parliament, supreme organ of representative power, is one of the essential steps. A socialist majority in Parliament is to be won it needs the support of the mass movement outside Parliament. The one supports the other. The working class and popular movement will need to be ready to use its organised strength to prevent or defeat attempts at violence against it.

The goal is the democratisation of wealth. The Socialist Party is not resigned to the belief that the system cannot be changed because “that’s the way it is”. Our hope is to build a new system, a new pluralistic economic and political structure. The least we can do is begin by contributing to the solidification of that idea, involving ourselves in it as fully as we can. We seek to construct a new system of collective rights geared towards turning to society into an effective decision-making entity. Chaos and dictatorship are not the only alternatives to the current democracy. A democracy created among all people is possible – a democracy not reduced to merely voting, but founded on participation and citizen popular control.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Better World

There has been discontent, unrest, protest and movements for democracy and against austerity across the globe. These movements have been a strong expression of anger and address concerns about the lack of democracy, social justice, and dignity. Modern society is a system based on private property and dominated by the capitalist mode of production with the aim to create surplus-value. People are being socialised into passive producers and consumers. Today’s democracy has broken all its promises and the progressive liberal political parties have been reduced to piecemeal reform of capitalism. But even this palliative policy has become problematic as capitalism has developed into a more global system where state interventionism becomes more and more difficult. International free trade agreements and institutions such as the IMF restrict what an individual nation can do and not do. Transnational corporations are powerful players in domestic and international politics.

Unless humanity breaks through the denial that there is no alternative and that this is the best there is we face dim and daunting days ahead. Capitalism is an economic system in which trade, industry, and the means of production are controlled by private owners with the primary goal of making profits. In capitalism, people are not considered important unless the market potential makes them important. We want a new and better future. Socialism is the worldwide ‘movement of movements’ driven by an awareness that the multiple crises we face are fundamentally caused by an outmoded economic system in need of wholesale transformation. But this is what we still lack - a truly unified fusion of movements that comprises the collective actions of an engaged working class yet this is our greatest hope for bringing about world socialism. We are fighting for a different kind of world, one in which folks stand united in which we dare to see the humanity in each other. Cynicism is the greatest enemy we face in our struggles, even above and beyond the terrors of oppression, because it saps us of the energy we need to actually change our circumstances. We cannot simply wait for the implosion of the capitalist system and expect the socialist utopia to arise spontaneously from its ashes. We can build upon the cooperative and empathetic values if we struggle against those who aim to exploit and systemize our more anti-social attitudes.

If you don’t own the means of production you can never turn them to your advantage. We want a world where we produce things for need, not for profit; for use value, not for exchange. We cannot achieve that without a political challenge to the capitalist class. If we look at ourselves, we find we are not as selfish and calculated as the ideologists of capitalism would have it. We often forget that the vast majority of people know deep down inside that the world is unfair that a few have too much and most have too little. What stops them from taking action to remedy the problem is rarely the lack of knowledge but instead a lack of hope. They feel that capitalism, inequality, and injustice are inevitable. The idea that to struggle for a better world is naive, and that if the system were to collapse, a far worse tyranny would appear. Hasn’t that been the evidence of the past? Not only should we argue that human beings have the capacity for good and evil and people aren’t always cruel and vicious, but we must emphasise that the negative side of our behaviour was not when social order broke down, but when order and the State was restored.

The capitalists who would pit us against each other via the construct of the labour market. Leaders don’t unite us, instead, they incite us one against the other. Leaders don’t respect us, instead, they deceive us. Leaders don’t help us, instead, they corruptly fill their own coffers.

We are set to enter a period for unprecedented change. The world needs to change and has to do it fast. Climate change and environmental degradation war, and economic inequality are key problems the global community currently faces. How can we create participatory workplaces that make decision-making more democratic and equitable? To imagine a better economic and political system is a necessary step in making it happen. It seems impossible to deny that our current global capitalist system has created, and prevents us from fixing, the mess we are in. Primarily this is due to the power of the profit engine of capitalism, which in turn incentivizes the externalisation of as many costs as possible. The owners of capital are driven to make ever greater profits -- the system rewards those who do and punishes those who don't -- which of course leads the profit seeker to reduce costs in any way possible. To survive, capitalists must try to avoid paying for the negative consequences of whatever is the source of their profits, be it the instruments of war, environmental destruction, global warming, over-consumption or an unhealthy food system. Protecting and maximising profit gives capitalists the motive to deny the ill effects of its production methods. Few governments will pass laws that may negatively affect profits which is the source of what some call crony capitalism, but which is, in fact, a logical outcome of a system that promotes greed and private profit. The reality is that governments are run by and for the rich.

But what sort of social system can be imagined which will save us from global warming and growing inequality; one that can come about so that weapons are turned into ploughshares? We refuse to see this one truth: we need a new economy. It is time to come together and build a better system, one that promotes environmental sustainability, equality, and cooperation. For change to happen peacefully it must be popular, supported by most people around the world. That, in turn, means the new system must ultimately be more democratic because the most popular system is one in which most people feel they have a stake and share in.

Socialism aims to create new, free, collaborative economic relationships where the technological tools are owned by everybody and used for everyone in a cooperative way. The World Socialist Movement plans a planetary cooperative and a better world of the future.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Towards real socialism

Did you ever ask yourself why capitalism continues to exist in spite of all the problems it is causing in the world? The simple answer is because the people support capitalism and that they support it because they believe in it. As long as most people believe in the ideas of capitalism it will remain unassailable. A battle of ideas is required, not street battles at the barricades. A popular movement if it is able to ideologically defeat the ruling class then civil servants and police will defect, making a non-violent peaceful revolution possible. Armed insurrection usually gives cause to adversaries to be savage and ruthless, and the State is very much better organized and equipped for any such militarised confrontation. The outcome is inevitably tragic for the workers’ side. The ruling class is increasingly nervous because they know that if revolutionary ideas that question their legitimacy prevail and if their own propaganda to justify their privilege and power fails, they are finished. This is why voices of dissent are suppressed by the state. It is tempting to view the ruling class as simply sadistic but they are mostly acting out of fear, afraid of equality, afraid of real democracy, and afraid of justice. Batons and tear-gas may work in the short-term, but they won’t put out the spirit of change.

Although it appears that the social struggles are lying dormant, radical ideas are percolating are rising among our fellow-workers. Popular discontent for the ruling elite across the political spectrum, from Right to Left is nearly universal. A righteous anger of the people exists. It is a question of which ideas will win through. An insignificant spark can easily ignite a rebellion. No one knows where or when the eruption will take place. We cannot ‘make’ a real revolution. No person or movement can ignite it. No one knows the form it will take. They appear suddenly and unexpectedly, neither the rulers’ nor the workers’ parties having any warning.  But socialists must be organised to educate and agitate when it arrives to transform destructive anger into constructive revolution. The articulation of a viable socialism is of a vital necessity. Once the vision of a new society takes hold in the popular imagination, the old regime is finished. Opposition and protest devoid of ideas and vision are never a threat to the ruling class. Without a clear definition and direction, without ideas behind it, revolution descends into chaos. The development of revolutionary consciousness often goes unseen and unnoticed. The slow, quiet, and peaceful social evolution becomes a revolution. This is where we are headed. Other than an apocalyptic catastrophe, socialism is the only option left. The Socialist Party has the potential to educate people before it’s too late.

Because the socialist movement is an organic living network around the world, it is difficult to set forth a clear blueprint or predict the future. Still, we can embrace certain general principles. Socialism is a concept not well understood, but it essentially advocates a system of common-ownership and democratic control. The goal is actual participation by the people in the running of our affairs, including the work place. Rather than having politicians make all of the important decisions “for” us, a socialist society would have delegates who could be recalled and replaced if they started making decisions on matters of import without the consent of the majority. This is actually the way we have organized ourselves for most of our time on planet Earth. In other words, real participatory democracy of self-governing associations. Socialism is interdependent, interconnected and integrated.

Socialism will consist of  communities with rules, social norms, and accepted practices for managing their commonly-owned shared resources. It is not a free-for-all society in which there is no community, no rules which, in truth, is something more akin to the right-wing libertarian free-marketeers where people’s lives become more atomized and communities have been broken down. Socialism will run by the people who will choose to administer resources in a democratic collective manner, with a special regard for free and equitable access, production for use, and responsible stewardship of the environment. There will be no more private or state plunder of our common wealth. Cooperative activity will supersede the predatory markets and centralised bureaucracies. The scale of human connection has grown - from tribes to communities to nation-states and norms and ethics become inevitable in spaces where groups of human beings come together to interact with another. We know that urban populations are going to keep increasing in the foreseeable future. So we must radically re-imagine our cities. They must become not only ecologically productive and sustainable but able to reflect its citizens’ wishes by participatory democracy and socialising sports and leisure, the arts and culture, cooking and eating.

If the revolution is to be successful it must be global. The very thought of workers internationalism has always struck fear into the capitalist class everywhere. They are accustomed to living in a transnational existence and benefit when we the people are confined within borders but the digital revolution permits us, for the first time, to create a true international. It is time to recapture the spirit of the Industrial Workers of the World and the idea of a global “One Big Union”. The modes of socialist organisation are extremely elastic and can be formed, modified adapted and adjusted, added to, re-shaped and re-formed according to local conditions and changing circumstances, therein is its chief strength. The world socialist movement will be a flexible network of various relationships of mutual aid. Errors and mistakes will thus be confined to the jurisdiction of specific groups and so limiting damage.

Socialists have a daunting task ahead. But it may not be as hopeless as it seems. Capitalism relies to a great extent on voluntary servitude. When enough people in what may be a mass awakening decide the game is up, the game will be up.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Children Exposed To Poverty

As child poverty in British Columbia increases, kids are reaching school age more vulnerable than at any time in the last fifteen years, a new University of BC report has found. Teachers were asked to rate each child based on their physical health, social skills, emotional maturity, language development and communication abilities. The results showed 32.2 per cent were below par.
According to Joanne Shroeder, director of the Comox Valley Child Development Association,''High levels of poverty in BC are a major factor in children's well-being. The stress of living in poverty is not good for children. Many families with young children are working long hours to balance child care and shift work.''
It is one of the most damning indictments of capitalism imaginable that children should be exposed to poverty with all the social ills it creates and alarming that child poverty is increasing. 

Ms. Shroeders suggestion is increased public investment in early childhood development which would do minimal good as long as capitalist politicians can spare the money. 

A society where poverty would not exist would be a better answer. 

John Ayers.

Not So Compassionate

Jarley Silva is an illegal immigrant from Brazil, whom, after living in Canada for nine years, was hit by a car, in 2011, and still bears the scars including 23 screws in his shattered leg. The accident, in Toronto's west end, was a hit and run as he was crossing the street. Since no one took the licence number the driver was never identified. Though Silva has tried hard he hasn't been able to collect a cent owing to his illegal residency. Under Provincial law the government doesn't give payouts from its Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund to anyone in Ontario illegally. 
That's what so great about capitalism - it's so compassionate.
 John Ayers

It's Time to Imagine a New Society

We live in the beginning of a global technological revolution which will turn society’s conditions upside down. We cannot stop this transformation, but we can influence where it will go. Capitalism has corroded the social fabric of societies around the world, destroyed solidarity among people and established a climate of fierce competition and struggle for survival. People are left without any positive prospect or hope for the future. People feel cheated by something or someone that they cannot properly identify yet there exists an immense anger. There have been endless mass protests. The position of the Socialist Party, however, is that the irrationalities of capitalism can only be countered by an organised social movement rather than any individualist and anti-technology politics that permeates the so-called anti-capitalist current. There are libraries of books that analyse what is wrong with society, the majority of which are trying to advocate the impossible – which is to propose reforms both old and new that are claimed will benefit the people. We cannot create a better world by waging a war against capitalism while at the same time upholding the current economic system. We have gone too far now trying to make improvements within a society that is led by blind and unbridled market forces. The time has come when we must demonstrate in our millions not against this or that, but rather for something. The one solution is to unite the people throughout the world, for social revolution. No other solution will work until the people throughout the world rise up in unison together. When millions of people gather in protest from nation to nation, there is an unconscious to conscious realisation that we are one humanity.

Humanity must share the world’s wealth and resources. Sharing is inherent in every person and integral to who we are as human beings. The greed and selfish indifference that defines our society has been implanted and conditioned within us. For the Socialist Party, the fundamental thing is that people must want change before they can achieve a social revolution. And they must prepare for a social revolution. We do not place much faith in spontaneous uprisings. We stand for a class-free, state-free society of common ownership in which money becomes redundant and the principle "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs" applies. We are committed to the concept of a self-organised majority revolution without leaders and for the working class forming a political party to contest elections and eventually win control of political power, not to form a government but to immediately abolish capitalism and usher in the money-free, wages-free society that real socialism will be. The alternative to capitalism is 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. The parliamentary path does not imply that people hand over their power to others every few years. Parliament is the institution to which the working class shall send their delegates with the purpose of declaring capitalism abolished and to validate this revolutionary act. There has to be some means to effect the necessary transfer of power from the capitalist to the working class, a means which clearly and democratically indicates the will of the socialist majority. This conquest is, indeed, an indispensable condition of the social revolution, in other words, of the transformation of capitalist property into social property. It is only after and by the political expropriation of the capitalist class that its economic expropriation can be achieved. The parliamentary process is the answer.  It will be within our party, not parliament that the “self-activity” and “self-organisation” of the working class will be realised. Far from excluding each other, electoral action and revolutionary action complete each other. There is not, and there never will be, other than a single category of means, determined by circumstances: those which conduct to end pursued.

We can also dismiss the idea of the “workers’ state” peddled by some Trotskyists. In ‘Socialism: Scientific and Utopian’ Engels gives us a repudiation of the view that the state can be progressive:
“The modern state, no matter what its form, is essentially a capitalist machine, the state of the capitalists, the ideal collective capitalist. The more it proceeds to the taking over of the productive forces, the more it actually becomes collective capitalist, the more citizens it exploits. The workers remain wage-workers, proletarians. But the capitalist relation is not done away with; it is rather brought to a head.”

Marx and Engels saw the state as the "executive committee" of a ruling class. In a socialist society, the state, as the government over people, would give way to a simple, democratic "administration of things". The vision of a socialist society can be fairly summed up as a world-wide system of social organisation based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by, and in the interests of, the whole community, a  society where human beings would voluntarily contribute in accordance with their mental and/or physical abilities to the production and distribution of the needs of their society and in which everyone would have free and equal access to their needs.

Capitalism can’t be reformed so as to work in people's interests. Profits always come first and people second. William Morris writes:
"The Socialist League has declared over and over again its sense of the futility of Socialists wasting their time in getting . . . palliative measures passed, which, if desirable to be passed as temporarily useful, will be passed much more readily if they do not mix themselves up in the matter, and which are at least intended by our masters to hinder Socialism and not further it. Over and over again it has deprecated Socialists mixing themselves up in political intrigues; and it believes no useful purpose can be served by their running after the votes of those who do not understand the principles of Socialism."

Socialists understand the global nature of capitalism and the folly of trying to establish socialism in one country. Capitalism is international.