Sunday, December 31, 2017

Mondragon Coop

 Started in the 1950s as a Catholic Action project, a for-profit business that embodies Catholic social thought. Today, the Mondragon group includes 257 financial, industrial, retail, and research and development concerns, employing approximately 74,000 people. The coops manufacture everything from commercial kitchen equipment (under the flagship Fagor brand) to industrial robots; the retail giant Eroski boasts 2,000 outlets throughout Europe, and the bank Caja Laboral and social security coop provide financial services to members and affiliated businesses. 

 The coops are not unionized, and they have no outside stockholders. Instead, each worker or manager invests as a member in the firm and has one vote in its general assembly. Each coop is represented at the Cooperative Congress, where system-wide plans and business decisions are made. The coops have retained members’ jobs in Spain’s Basque country even during economic crises. Manifesting an ethos of solidarity, members accept salary cuts, invest additional funds, and transfer between coops when necessary. Mondragon limits its highest managerial salary to about nine times the pay of its lowest-paid members, a remarkably flat scale compared to Spain’s overall ratio of about 127:1. Mondragon’s core principle, the sovereignty of labor over capital, is visible in the distribution of surplus to members’ capital accounts in the Caja Laboral, where they are held as private savings but made available for investment in the coop group

Despite these virtues, Mondragon is not utopia.

 As with many successful firms, regardless of structure or industry, much of the growth in recent years has come from international markets, which now account for 70 percent of Mondragon sales. Mondragon went global in 1990, and now controls some 100 foreign subsidiaries and joint ventures – mainly in developing and Eastern European countries, with low wages or expanding markets. This has necessitated hiring new workers in those new markets. Few, if any, of these new workers, have been offered membership in the cooperatives. As a consequence, they do not participate in the benefits of worker-ownership.  They do not participate in the governance of Mondragon and are not eligible for many of the other unique benefits of the cooperatives. Only one-third of its employees are members. Instead, they are wage laborers. Even in the Basque country and Spain, industrial and retail coops employ significant numbers of temporary workers on short-term contracts.

 Today, only about one-half of Mondragon’s businesses areIt would be against the economic interest of existing coop members to include more worker-owners in the confederation. In Wroclaw, Poland, a 2008 strike over low pay and anti-union repression raised questions about Fagor’s three-tier labor force, with coop members in the Basque country, temporary workers throughout Spain, and wage laborers in subsidiaries. Do job security, decent pay, and workplace participation in the Basque country rest upon exploitation elsewhere?

  A study of Mondragon subsidiaries in China comparing coop-owned factories with foreign-owned capitalist firms found that pay was low, hours long, and conditions harsh. Just like their capitalist competitors, Mondragon coops invested in China to manufacture labor-intensive goods cheaply and to be near emerging markets – a strategy coop members accepted when they voted to pursue an international strategy. Mondragon’s subsidiaries still operate like standard firms, even though their aim is not to maximize profit for stockholders but to preserve coops and jobs in the Basque country.

 In 2013, Fagor Electrodomésticos (the home appliance division) declared bankruptcy. The affiliated Mondragon coops were no longer willing to save Fagor and bankruptcy threatened 5,600 jobs (down from 11,000 before the bubble.) With a population of 25,000, this hit the city of Mondragón hard. Fagor members in Mondragón and nearby towns took early retirement or transferred to other coops, but local contract workers and 3,500 employees of Fagor subsidiaries were not similarly protected. 

 Shop-floor conditions, rank-and-file participation in decision making, and workers’ identification in a Fagor coop are little better than at a neighbouring capitalist factory with a unionised workforce. Furthermore, coop members showed little solidarity with the broader Basque labour movement. As an institution, Mondragon steers clear of politics.

 So where does control, and thereby ownership, lie in the Mondragón co-operatives? The key question is whether the workers can actually directly gain access to their capital and decide what to do with it. They cannot; in fact, the whole system seems to operate like a pension scheme, as the members have to wait until retirement to realise their earnings and even then they do not get it paid out in one lump sum. Most effective control and decision making are carried out by management, who in this case would be the de facto owners of the co-operatives.

 It must also be remembered that cooperatives are integrated into the market system and subjected to the same economic laws as other firms. The argument is often put that it is possible to establish "little islands of socialism—workers co-operatives — within the framework of capitalism, thus making a revolutionary, world-wide change from capitalism to socialism unnecessary.

 But socialism means common ownership and free access to everything that is produced. 

 Such a social system does not exist in the Mondragón co-operatives or anywhere else in the world. The rigorous economic law of profitability at all costs imposed by the market must be supported by defenders of co-operatives; if. under capitalism, you don’t observe this law you very quickly go out of business.

Nothing has changed.

A Marxist is someone who follows the basic theory of Karl Marx, that capitalism cannot be reformed to satisfy the needs of the working class and therefore must be abolished. A revolution has to take place whereby the working class gains control of the state mechanism (all governments) and puts in its place a global democratic system of society so that the needs of all the worlds inhabitants can be satisfied, the socialist revolution needn't be violent.

  One doesn’t ‘become’ a Marxist. One reads and understands Marx and Marxist literature. If you understand Marx and it informs your world meaningfully, you can call yourself a Marxist. If you understand Marx, and it doesn’t inform your world, don’t call yourself that. There is a tremendous amount of wilful ignorance on political theory because there are a tremendous number of people who would rather fight about politics than think about it. Don’t contribute to that problem.

 It’s time to build something new. Authentic hope comes when we reject capitalism, leaving behind the illusion that we can fix a broken system and it frees us to work for genuine change. We can begin building a more equitable economy rooted in a new relationship of reciprocity with each another, respecting the planet as we do one another.  In our local communities, we challenge the capitalist culture and institutions of exclusion and make sure everyone has a seat at the table. Together we can reimagine and reinvent our society. None of us alone has a blueprint. Top-down change becomes corrupt and authoritarian. But together, from the grass-roots, using people-power we can create a democratic socialist world that can sustain our communities as capitalism fails to. We need to be organised. Isolated we’re easy to defeat. In solidarity, we rediscover the strength that can energise us as we create a new social system and way of life.

This world and its laws are set up to protect property owners and commerce, not the people nor the planet. As more and more people become aware of the need for sustainability and defence of the ecosystem, they are finding that the current capitalist system works against them. Austerity and the right-ward drift of politics have brought many issues that have existed for years out into the open where they are more difficult to deny.  The power of the plutocrats may bring a boomerang effect, stirring and igniting the population to take action and demand the changes we desire and need but the boomerang will only occur if we educate and organise for it.  The boomerang will be built on the conflict between the necessities of the people and the planet versus. the greed of the wealthy.

We need to tackle the economic system itself, which is at the root of all our problems, not just the thousands upon thousands of injustices that are symptomatic of it. The workers' movement must step up and connect the dots to a real solution. Capitalism is one economic system, period. There is no time to waste. Everyone has to be all-in for rebuilding society. We have so much to do -- but change is possible. More people are becoming active and making connections between the various struggles to create a movement of movements. They are seeds of transformative change that socialists can nurture and grow. The Socialist Party has no illusions that this work will be easy. Those in power will do all that they can to misdirect our efforts. Our task is to resist their tactics and maintain our focus on our end goal. Our task is not to be side-tracked by false or partial solutions but to connect all the single-issue movements into one unified powerful force.  

Unless we participate and engage our class enemy, 2018 will give us more of the same that we experienced the year before and the year before that: Endless wars. Hunger. Economic crises. Poverty. Disease. Senseless tragedies. Intolerance. Hatred. Apathy. The new bosses will prove to be the same as the old bosses. The rich will get richer, the poor will get poorer. Workers will hate other workers, driven by fear and prejudice.

The power to change things for the better rests with us, not the politicians.  And we must make our New Year resolution to work together to make this change happen

On his Knee

The Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, becomes a “sir” following his appointment to the Order of the Thistle, the greatest order of chivalry in Scotland.

The Duke is one of Britain’s largest landowners and the largest private landowner in Scotland. The family seats are Bowhill House, three miles outside Selkirk, representing the Scott line; Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries and Galloway, representing the Douglas line; and Boughton House in Northamptonshire, England, representing the Montagu line. These three houses are still lived in by the family and are also open to the public. The family also owns Dalkeith Palace in Midlothian

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Some More Marxist Theory

Marx and Engels explain the source of profit as being due to the workers producing more value than is required to pay their wages. This is called surplus value, and the part of surplus value that is realized, that is actually sold, and which is that greater than investment, depreciation, taxes, and any losses, is profit. This account seems correct, and much better than a factor account suggested by other contributors, which Marx expressly criticises. But it is not the contradictory idea that somehow the worker’s wages don’t get paid to the worker. This confusion may come from the idea, (shared by many Marxists, by the way,) that what the capitalist appropriates, which would include profit if any, is something that the worker is entitled to in virtue of having produced. This is called the Labour Theory of Property, and is held by John Locke among other people, and not by Marx. Marx has a labour theory of value, which, unlike the labour theory of property, Is a purely explanatory notion and not a normative notion about who is entitled to what. But if you think the worker is somehow entitled to the things they make in terms of having produced then, you might confusedly think that the worker is not being paid all of their wages, as opposed to not being paid the entire amount of value that they produce. Marx maintains the latter claim without further claiming that the worker is entitled to the entire amount of value.

Historically, the productive capacity of capitalism has proven beyond any shadow of doubt that its mode of production - capital versus labour - provided a historic benchmark on how to produce an abundance of goods in the form of commodity production. Nonetheless, due to the inherent contradictions of commodity production, of which the primary driver is the maximisation of profits, under a market economy of buying and selling this abundance is interdependent on the profitability of the actual distribution of said commodities.

If the distribution of the end product is deemed to be non-profitable, due to a lack of sufficient buyers at the point of sale, production of that commodity will not take place, or if production has taken place the commodity is destroyed or allowed to rot in situ. Thus, despite being the historical benchmark of productive capacity capitalism is physically and economically incapable of being the historic benchmark for distribution.

Which in practice means peoples needs go unsatisfied and human suffering prevails to such an extent that it’s been estimated that every week 16,000 people die due to lack of access to clean water simply because it's unaffordable. Some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That's about one in nine people on earth.
Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five - 3.1 million children each year. One out of six children -- roughly 100 million -- in developing countries is underweight. One in four of the world's children is stunted. In developing countries, the proportion can rise to one in three. When the loss of human potential is considered in conjunction with these horrendous figures on global casualties it becomes obvious the problem of distribution within capitalism has a much wider impact than originally thought.

On top of this, we also have to consider the casualties of war which is in the 100’s of millions but excludes the numbers killed fleeing from war zones. For all modern wars are caused by the rivalry induced by capitalism. Wars are caused by the essentially competitive nature of capitalism. Where nations compete over:
(i) mineral resources;
(ii) trade routes;
(iii) areas of domination.

On the other hand, theoretically, socialism has many strengths for improving the human condition. For instance, its form of democracy - Direct Participatory Democracy - suggests a solution to the problem of distribution would be through calculating global supply and demand by adapting the current system used by the major supermarkets to calculation in kind, rather than to profit maximisation. With a complete transformation in the calculation of global resources, and their production and distribution, the true meaning of economy will come into its own.

Exchange value is a calculation based on the inputs and outputs of commodities through the buying and selling of different products in a global market. This trade in commodities generates waste; pollution and externalizations; overproduction and underproduction; built-in obsolescence; quantity over quality; crisis and booms; poverty amidst plenty; employment for some and a waste in human potential for most; and obscene wealth for the few.

With no commodity production, there will be no value to calculate just the inputs and outputs of human needs. This is not to infer a form of rationing. Suffice to say the decision-making process will ensure there’s sufficient stock control to meet projected needs through calculation in kind

This decision making process will also configure: environmental impact assessments; a high standard of quality control and durability; positive recycling - where products will be deliberately designed so to ensure that they last longer - and when they are passed their usefulness all their component parts are easily recycled into other useful products; and transportation miles for distribution of human needs so the shortest journey possible is covered. This efficiency of calculation will ensure the energy required for producing needs will be kept to a minimum and promote the production of renewable energy sources.

It goes without saying there won’t be booms and slumps in socialism due to the overproduction of certain products. In fact, if overproduction did occur its unlikely to represent a large enough challenge where the standard of living and the quality of life is going to be affected to a great extent, other than lead to an increase in leisure activity.

Because socialism has never been put into practice we don’t know where it fails. Basically, socialism is a system of society where the means of production and distribution (the means of living) are commonly owned by the global community as a whole on the basis of production for use and free access for all. In short the complete opposite of the present social relationship between capital and labour.

There are many reasons why some people think this sucks, or impossible. Mainly because they have been fed a lie and a myth brought on by their own ignorance of the definition and description given above. Socialism is not about state control, the demise of the individual, the lack of incentives, no competition, commodities, rationing, dictators and all of the other fears which have been dragged up in the defence of capitalism.

This capitalist defence consists of associating socialism with: the USSR and other state capitalist systems; totalitarianism; rule by a party elite; attempting to make a distinction between communism and socialism; a violent revolution led by a vanguard; proposing it won't work because of human nature.

We could go on but suffice to say that capitalist apologists are on the defence and not the offence because with socialism never been tried the best they can do is compare and contrast a false imagery of socialism.

Is socialism impossible? Well, ideas are not born out of thin air. And the concept of socialism is no exception for it like all previous and future ideas originate from the environmental circumstances we find ourselves in.

The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.

So if its our social being which determines our consciousness how do these very ideas grow and disseminate through the human mindset? In fact what motivates them to come into existence?
At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure.

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

Friday, December 29, 2017

Socialism Described

Economic and political developments in the world over the past few decades have resulted in stunning changes. The fundamental, underlying change, which is driving all others, is the tremendous advances in new technology and the growing application of that technology (computers and robotics) to the process of production. This technology is steadily replacing labour in the workplace, creating permanently unemployed/underemployed and driving down the wages of those workers who remain employed. New technology is throwing not only unskilled workers but increasingly they are skilled workers and professionals into insecurity. Most individuals are still very trusting of the capitalist system. They believe it is basically fair, express optimism about the economy even at the lower income levels, and believe that with hard work anyone can make it in the system. At the same time, they think that the system should be made 'fairer'.  But with the growing polarization of wealth and poverty developing there now arises a profound lack of faith in the government and the institutions of society.  People are feeling discontented and resentful about their deteriorating economic condition.  Every reform offered, from different angles and from different perspectives, serves the same end -- support of the capitalist system and the solutions of the ruling class. Many of these reforms serve no other purpose than to channel the fears into either hatred against minorities or against themselves and into unity with their class enemy.

The major issue in the world today is peace. Peace between different ethnic groups, peace between nations. What is the basis for strife if it’s not the division and redivision of scarcity? The control of scarcity is the foundation of social strife. Today that can be eliminated. We’re talking about abundance. We’re talking about entering a stage of development that’s no longer controlled by scarcity. We can talk in terms of abundance and that abundance obviously is here. There is plenty of plenty. Our troubles arise from material scarcity.

The history of all hitherto existing societies has been the history of class struggle. Now, when class struggle is over and when real human history begins. We create our history now, but under defined circumstances that limit our choices. In other words, we are not liberating ourselves. We’ve created our own history but it’s been a limited history. What we’ve created has been limited by the circumstances wherein we carry out our struggles. For example, the struggle against slavery couldn’t really end slavery, it could only transform slavery. We’re talking about an end to the struggle over allocation of scarcity. We’re talking about no longer having to struggle with getting a house.We will no longer worry about getting food, no longer worry about getting an education. We are going to do all the things that make us happy.

Marxism is not about the pursuit of ethics, morality or justice but an explanation on why we have solved the problem of production and now need to solve the problem of distribution so that human needs are satisfied. it’s based on the materialist analyses of capitalism and its effects on the working class and society as a whole. People who believe that socialism springs from some sort of jealousy are most likely just trying to express their discontentment with those ideologies by resorting to historically (and psychologically) inaccurate psychoanalyses of the intellectual leaders of those movements, which isn’t a very compelling argument against socialism. The Socialist Party is built on a political vision to free humanity from the oppressive economic system
Socialism will be a global society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the world’s natural and industrial resources. But how might this work? How will production, decision-making, and culture be affected?


There will be a complete transformation in the calculation of resources, and their production and distribution. In capitalism articles of wealth (commodities) are produced to be bought and sold on markets, at a profit. This trade in commodities generates: waste; pollution and externalities; overproduction and underproduction; built-in obsolescence; quantity over quality; crisis and booms; poverty amidst plenty; employment for some and a waste in human potential for most; and obscene wealth for the few.
With no commodity production and trade, there will be no exchange value and prices, just the inputs and outputs of resources and human needs. The decision-making process will aim to ensure there’s sufficient stock control to meet projected needs through calculation in kind.

This decision-making process will also configure: environmental impact assessments; a high standard of quality control and durability; positive recycling - where products will be deliberately designed so to ensure that they last longer and when they are passed their usefulness all their component parts are easily recycled into other useful products; and transportation miles for distribution of human needs so the shortest journey possible is covered. This efficiency of calculation will ensure the energy required for producing needs will be kept to a minimum and promote the production of renewable energy sources.


Here the system will be participatory delegate democracy. In capitalism, political parties represent the sectional interests within the capitalist class with all of them competing for political control of the state and its machinery of government. With no sectional interests to be represented when there is common ownership, there won’t be political parties or a state machinery. Nonetheless, major issues will be thrashed out with decisions being made on what’s the best course of action for gaining a successful outcome.
A bottom-up decision-making process involving voluntary participation cannot be imposed by a hierarchy or a vanguard or the concept becomes meaningless. The basic building block is the community or neighbourhood assembly, face-to-face meetings where citizens meet to discuss and vote on the issues of the day, not that there will need to be a vote on every issue as most of day-to-day work carried out will be routine. These assemblies elect mandated and recallable delegates who then link with other assemblies forming a confederated council, a 'community of communities'. The difference between this form of delegate democracy and our current form of representative democracy is that in a representative democracy power is given wholesale to the representative who then is free to act on their own initiative. In a delegate democracy the initiative is set by the electing body and the delegate can be recalled at any time should the electing body feel that their mandate is not being met, thus power remains at the base.


Due to the impact of common ownership on the global community, there’ll be even more of an increase in cultural choices and options than there is under capitalism. Unrestricted to the social conformity of private property relationships, individuals and communities will be able to focus on an ongoing celebration of freedom of expression - leading to an increase in cultural diversity.

Leisure activities are likely to increase in scope and decrease in size. Presently, with package holidays the most affordable way of taking a break from the drudgery and monotony of the production line or the office, they are the most popular form of holiday.
In socialism, where the principle of free access underpins the common ownership of the means of living, our options and choices on travel and holidays would be extended and influenced by what positive contribution we can make to the country we are visiting. And with package holidays and mass tourism a thing of the past, it is likely holidays in socialism would not be restricted within a timescale of 10 to 14 days of hectic hedonism, but transformed into a unique opportunity to stay in a particular location for as long as it takes to understand the history and culture of that region. In effect, the transformation in the social relationships from private property ownership to common ownership will radically alter our perception of culture, leisure, and travel.

Human nature

But wouldn’t all this be against human nature? No. Socialists make a distinction between human nature and human behaviour. That people are able to think and act is a fact of biological and social development (human nature), but how they think and act is the result of historically specific social conditions (human behaviour). Human nature changes, if at all, over vast periods of time; human behaviour changes according to changed social conditions. Capitalism being essentially competitive and predatory produces vicious, competitive ways of thinking and acting. But we humans are able to change our society and adapt our behaviour, and there is no reason why our rational desire for human well-being and happiness should not allow us to establish and run a society based on co-operation.
Needs have a physiological and a historical dimension. Basic physiological needs derive from our human nature (e.g. food, clothing, and shelter), but historically conditioned needs derive from developments in the forces of production. In capitalism, needs are manipulated by the imperative to sell commodities and accumulate capital; basic physiological needs then take the historically conditioned form of ‘needs’ for whatever the capitalists can sell us.
Social evolution suggests that no mode of production is cast in stone and the dynamics of change also affects capitalism as a social system. Studies of social systems with distinct social relationships related and corresponding to their specific mode of production have identified, for instance, primitive communism, chattel slavery, feudalism, and capitalism. All of these societies changed from one into another due to the contradictions inherent in that society and also due to technological advancement which each society found itself incapable of adapting to. Capitalism reached this point over a century ago. It’s time to move on to socialism. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Disproportion of Production. No Remedy — Except One

Can working people understand Socialist economics? A well-known contention against the case for Socialism is that learning about surplus-value is too tough for majority understanding to happen. Compared with the capitalist economics presented to the working class, it is child’s play. 

Yet, without doubt, there is a serious recession. Its causes are rooted in the social system under which we live. The capitalist ownership of the means of living means that all production takes place for sale and profit, and from this basic fact arise the staggering problems of the world. To feed the hungry may sound logical, but it is not the logic of commodity production. Instead, we have a chaos in which manufacturers and distributors must estimate their markets and hope that demand will not just continue steadily but expand. When it expands generally there is a boom, and every manufacturer naturally pushes on to the utmost. Ultimately the boom ends, because demand falls off or alters. This breaking-point is the crisis.

Whether a depression follows will depend on the number of industries affected. A slump in one industry affects others, of course; but at times it is possible for profitable companies to “carry” others. However, the entire process is an anarchic one, and a crisis is anything but the universal fall-down commonly depicted. To some extent the phrase “the market” is misleading. There is not one market for all commodities, but many different ones, even within the same industry. “The car market” comprises markets for cheap and expensive cars, small and large ones; rather than all companies competing in the same market, one market may prosper when the demand in others diminishes. These vagaries of production and markets are not consequences of a crisis, but part of the cause of it. Earlier this year a Labour Minister said the British car industry had been producing an unnecessary variety of models. This can be re-stated as that during the boom period the industry had flooded markets which were now refusing to absorb it all — but, as the Labour government is well aware, no political suggestion will alter the economics of the situation.

A crisis is “serious” when a large enough section of industry is affected to produce stagnation and heavy unemployment. There are always other sections which are relatively unaffected or even benefit by it (in the nineteen-thirties’ depression chain stores such as Woolworth’s and Marks and Spencer, selling very cheap goods, were highly profitable for obvious reasons). The record unemployed figure of nearly 3 millions at the beginning of 1933 represented 23 per cent. of all insured workers. Turned round, this means that three-quarters were still in work. However, the existence of an industrial reserve army of that size provided a powerful whip over the employed and a means of enforcing low wages.

A similar comparison can be made today showing the naiveté of Rippon’s suggestion that capitalists should complain about the state of things. Why should they? Many of them have full order-books and rosy balance sheets, and at the same time are handsomely obliged by the Government’s having secured the trade unions’ compliance in holding wages down. Insofar as firms go to the wall following a crisis, in general they are smaller ones — a process which also took place in the nineteen-thirties. If larger companies’ profits fall they pay out a larger proportion of profits in dividends, so that the shareholders’ incomes do not fall by an equivalent amount. The British Association’s Britain in Recovery, 1938, using Colin Clark’s estimates, said: “On the whole we may, perhaps, conclude that consumption by the rich was comparatively well maintained during the depression and expanded during the recovery”.

The spectacle of the anarchy of capitalism gives rise continually to the idea that it can be subjected to economic planning. Fundamentally crises are due to the imbalances of capitalist production: the seductive thought is that these imbalances can be diagnosed and rectified. Attempts at it have patently failed, and it is worth pointing out why none can succeed. First, all capitalists and politicians would have to agree on what the faults were. Such agreement is not only unlikely in ordinary terms; it is impossible for the reason stated, that one capitalist’s catastrophe is another’s good news. But even if it were possible, what then? The owning class would still have no choice but to pursue their interests — that is, to go on producing for the available markets even though knowing this is what leads to crises.

Economic phrases cover the condition of humanity. The anarchy of production means, characteristically, a bakery closing for want of business while people are in need of bread. The balance of trade, the state of sterling etc. are pseudo-concerns; the working class is asked to understand them so that it will be complaisant in being trodden on a bit more. What all workers can and must understand is that their interests are diametrically opposed to those of capitalism. In due course there will be a recovery from the present depression, gathering momentum towards the next crisis. Is this how you want to go on? Would not a society producing for use instead of markets be immeasurably better?

The Future Is Up To Us All

 The socialist vision never dies. It lies dormant until a new set of social struggles arise and brings it forth to guide the movement again. In all previous periods, human freedom could not be won because the means of production were not developed enough to make it realisable. Today, the objective material conditions exist for the reconstruction of society in the interests of humanity. The future depends upon an arousing and enthusing the masses with a vision of new possibilities -- the distribution of the wealth of society according to need. This vision is of a world without human want, without race and national hatred, without sexual oppression and human exploitation -- a world where an ever-inventive technology delivers full lives for all in a sustainable and healthy environment. The emancipation of the working class from the shackles of private property is the only way to save the earth and its people from destruction.

Capitalism as a system operates in accordance with a handful of laws: The source of value is human labour. Commodities exchange according to the amount of socially necessary labour that goes into their production. Profit comes from surplus value -- unpaid human labour. This value is bound up in and borne by commodities. The commodities must circulate, that is, they must be sold. If commodities cannot be sold, the value in them cannot be realised, and the capitalist will not profit. Capitalists must strive for the maximum profit -- if not, they will be driven from the market by other capitalists who do achieve the maximum profit. And like all economic systems, the relations of classes of people in society must correspond to the level of development of tools and the people who use them. The rise of poverty today lays the objective basis for the consciousness of common class interests and the need for class unity and the impulse toward political independence. Governments around the world are also in the process of slashing long-standing social services, no longer sustaining the livelihood of its unemployed, disabled, or even its children. Our right to survive is gone. We face a combination of economic insecurity, social inequality with the dismantling of the Welfare State "safety net."  This situation cannot go on indefinitely and we should prepare for social explosions and radical revolts in response. The success of the revolution will not happen automatically. They must do so consciously.  

 The Socialist Party is a political party of people from all walks of life, united in a mission to awaken fellow-workers to the cause of their growing poverty. Our task is to bring a vision of a peaceful and prosperous world made possible by the automation and economic globalisation which, in the hands of the capitalists, threatens our existence. The Socialist Party educates and agitates for the transfer of economic and political power into the hands of the people so they can build a democratic, cooperative, communal society. We aim to change the thinking of our fellow-workers and open their hearts and minds to the necessity of revolution. Every debate today is, at its core, about the direction and future of society.  In every discussion, there is an opportunity to show that the root of the problem is private property and the solution is socialism. In this way, we can prepare ourselves to take the questions of the day and show how their actual resolution lies in the reorganisation of the economy and what people can do to fight for this. The Socialist Party is a small organisation. To accomplish our tasks we must grow and develop into a mass socialist party.  Our propaganda will mean little unless we develop the networks for the distribution of these ideas. This means creating an apparatus which is capable of producing and disseminating a variety of forms of propaganda. We need to build an infrastructure of study circles and forums, to produce videos for the internet.  We can teach the workers' movement which is scattered, diverse and searching for answers, educate about why our society is in crisis, what can be done to solve it and present a vision for the future. Socialist Party members can learn what they need to explain, persuade and prove to the people the dangers and possibilities of the situation today. With this knowledge and understanding, our members can participate in any activity in a way that raises the consciousness of those around them. In our fight for the hearts and minds of the people, we must use every available method to disseminate our vision of justice and prosperity. We must constantly look to other means, including that which technology is rapidly making available in order to realise our goal.

Beyond the darkness of the capitalist system, The Socialist Party foresee a bright future to save the planet. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Which side are you on?

Mankind is social, tending always towards co-operation and order. Each person is dependent on another for existence, for the satisfaction of physical needs, and emotional and mental ones, too; and has an interest in good relationships with others. The human concord that is churned as the heart of almost every religion and philosophy in the world is no more, and no less, than what human beings have tried to attain from the beginnings of social life. It is true that the property structures mankind has erected in social development have continually frustrated this striving, yet the fact of the striving remains. All men and women are social by nature—that is, by the fact of being human.

Capitalism is beset with an immense political and economic crisis, the likes of which it has not experienced in years.  Capitalism is tearing apart our families, our communities, and our opportunity for a better future. This chaos cries out for an alternative that will point the way forward in our struggle to build a society in which our hopes and dreams become a reality. For the first time in history, technology has given society the means to produce an absolute abundance and provide quality care for everyone. The new wealth generated by these changes is not being shared by all. Instead, obscene riches are being accumulated at one pole of society, while a more and more brutal poverty is created at the other. As a result, a confrontation between the world's rich and the world's poor is gathering momentum. Revolution, however, is not inevitable. It will depend on the consciousness of the millions who want to create a better world. We must gather our collective voice and collective strength now to develop this consciousness. Our society can move forward to a new stage of human development that cherishes and nurtures the lives of all. People are beginning to recognise a sense of economic and class identity. Their success will depend on a very broad consciousness of class and political interests.

Under capitalism the past dominates the present because of the means of production, developed from the past, and possessed to-day by the few, dominate the lives of the producers, and forms the general structure sod relations of society. With socialism, the means of production would be consciously manipulated for the benefit and happiness of the members of society. The past development and experience would then be used knowingly by the members of the socialist society for their well-being. This would be the domination of the past by the present as, instead of the members being dominated by a method of production, the method of production would be controlled by them.

The Internationale has long been the anthem of the workers’ movement throughout the world. While the red flag has been the people's banner. The red flag has been pulled down many, many times but only to be raised again. Why? Because it is the flag of the oppressed, the flag of those deprived of their freedom, their labour, who are forced into slavery and eventually into revolt. It will be raised again in a thousand places as the workers' struggle for socialist emancipation revives across the globe. The red flag is the symbol of humanity's kinship. we hold it high it as the inspiring standard in the great international fight against exploitation, and oppression.  The working class people proudly march together under one banner.

The Socialist Party's  goal is to build the new society by starting to educate our audiences. It will take our collective efforts to make the people conscious of the reality of achieving the brighter future for which they are already fighting.  We will challenge the ruling class on its destruction of countless lives. We will rely on the people striving for a better world to prepare for the struggles ahead. We will confront the specific questions faced by our people and demonstrate that the problem is private property and the solution is the reorganiSation of society on a cooperative basis. Together we will inspire the people with a vision of a world of plenty. Robotics and automation offer the capacity to free everyone from hunger, homelessness and backbreaking labour. Society can then devote the energies and talents of its people to satisfying the material, intellectual, spiritual and cultural needs of all. We will show how this vision can be a reality. When the working class which has no stake in the capitalist system assumes political control and transforms all productive property into public property, it can reorganise society so that the abundance is distributed according to need. A society built on cooperation guards the well-being of its people, not the profits and property of a handful of billionaires. We will empower the people with the consciousness to strive for this new society and instil confidence in victory. The struggle of those who have no stake in this system carries the energy to overturn it. All it lacks is the understanding of its historic mission and how to achieve it. Those who have no place in the current system will ensure that the interests of all of humanity are served.

To all, The Socialist Party says. let us combine our efforts to educate and unleash a powerful movement that can deliver the promises of tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Wasteful Scots

Almost 60% of Scotland's household rubbish in waste bins could have been recycled, says Zero Waste Scotland.
According to a new report, its study found that 670,000 tonnes of waste that could have been recycled was discarded. That is the equivalent of more than 10 wheelie bins per household per year.
Food waste, old paper and cardboard, garden waste and empty glass jars and bottles made up 68% of everything put into household bins. Only 27% of food leftovers are put into food waste bins, despite more than 80% of homes owning one. Almost 15,000 tonnes of plastic drinks bottles were also incorrectly discarded.

A tale of our times (video clips)

To Change Everything It Takes Everyone

 Marxism started from the proposition that economics is first and foremost about the way in which society organises to fulfil its immediate material wants. He identified himself as a materialist, in opposition to the idealist thinkers who thought that history was determined by the will of a particular deity, the ruling sovereign or some abstract idea called “human nature”. Marxism describes how whereas in primitive tribal societies it was possible for individuals to produce the means of their own subsistence through hunting and gathering etc, with the technological advances brought on in agriculture and metallurgy there was a greater division of labour with people fulfilling more and more specialised roles. In order to satisfy their basic material needs people now had to produce not just for their own individual use but to exchange in return for other goods.

But how were people to determine the value ratio at which different products would exchange? Marx explained that this was done on the basis of their one common denominator - the amount of labour time that went into producing a particular article. This exchange value does not necessarily correlate to the original use value (i.e. the utility it possesses for human beings) - for instance, diamonds are of very little practical use, but still, realise a high exchange value since their extraction is a time-consuming and labour intensive business. Likewise, many things which have a high use value to human beings (such as air) do not command any exchange value. Exchange value is determined not at an individual level but in terms of socially necessary labour time; that is the average time across the whole of that economic sector and factoring in the existing level of technology and specialisation. Thus just because one worker takes 30 minutes to produce a watch which normally takes 10 minutes to manufacture does not mean that that watch will be able to realise 3 times the exchange value. Rather the watch-maker would have to work three times as long to produce enough goods to exchange for the same amount of other products. It is important to stress here that when Marx talked about the value of goods being determined by labour time this was not the same thing as price since prices are in a constant state of disequilibrium and fluctuate constantly above or below actual value.

Now as we know very early on in human history our societies evolved from being mere aggregations of free independent producers to class societies in which existed on the one hand a large majority of un-free or semi-free labour and on the other a small elite which produced nothing at all but reserved for themselves the task of ruling over the others. But how could they support themselves without labour? The answer of course was that they would forcibly expropriate the surplus labour of others. That is to say, all of the value created over and above that needed to meet the subsistence needs of the slave or peasant farmer would accrue to the slave-owner or feudal lord. This exploitation was transparent and obvious, which is why it could only be justified by recourse to some sort of claim of divine providence or simple brute force. The genius of capitalism was that in place of this overt exploitation it was able to introduce a far subtler, more form. In an apparently free and equal exchange the capitalist who owned the means of production would advance to the worker wages in return for gaining control over the workers’ labour power. Since all commodities exchange at a value which corresponds to the socially necessary labour time necessary to reproduce them and here the commodity being exchanged is none other than labour itself. Therefore the wages paid will go to meet the upkeep of the individual worker, as well as his family which ensures the continued survival of the labour supply. However unlike all other commodities (such as raw materials, plant machinery etc) labour is unique in that it is capable not only of imparting a portion of its own cost of reproduction into a finished product but of also creating new value. Over time tools or machinery will use up their accumulated reproductive value in the production process and have to be replaced, but not so labour. Thus a worker may work 8 hours a day but in 5 hours produce enough value to meet his or her subsistence needs. This means that the value produced in the other 3 hours is surplus value, and since the worker is remunerated only for the cost of reproducing his or her labour - not the full value of the goods or services which their labour creates - it will accrue to the capitalist as profit. Another way of thinking about it is to say that since all commodities exchange on the basis of the labour time that went into their production (including that needed to extract raw materials and build machinery, not just in their final manufacture) and yet the worker does not receive the full value of the commodity, clearly exploitation exists.

However, by treating labour as a just another commodity going into the production process alongside raw materials, tools and plant machinery the capitalist system conceals this exploitation in a process which Marx calls “commodity fetishism”. From this people derive the idea that the capitalist him or herself actually creates value too since they supply the materials and means of production, when in fact without the introduction of labour these commodities are unable to do more than conserve their existing value. The relations of exploitation which were readily apparent under feudalism - where the peasant worked so many days of the year on his own land to feed and provide for his own family, and the remainder on the lands of the local baron the proceeds of which went to maintain the feudal lord - are under capitalism completely obscured. Under capitalism - unlike feudalism or other forms of pre-capitalist society - commodities are converted into money form only in order to then be exchanged for other commodities. However, in the current epoch this entire process is stood on its head so that money or capital now is converted into commodities (means of production, raw materials etc) only in order to generate a larger amount of capital. If it did not require the crucial addition of labour power in order to create new value, but could simply increase its own value spontaneously then there would be no need for it to engage in the sphere of production at all. Clearly, though this is not the case. This is significant particularly when thinking about all of the current hype about the new “pure” form of financial capitalism, in which money supposedly breeds money without any reference to the real physical economy.

Capitalism, more than any previous form of economic organisation, is a dynamic system whose fundamental laws of motion are competition and an inherent drive towards expansion. Since all production is subordinated to the need to accumulate more capital, individual capitalists must always strive to increase the level of surplus value they extract from their workers as well as to sell more and more commodities. An increase in surplus value can take place in one of two main ways: firstly through the increase in the duration of the working day (absolute surplus value), or secondly through an increase in productivity through increased levels of mechanisation, speed-up or a more specialised division of labour (relative surplus value). The first method (increase in the working day) is generally typical of capitalist development in a period of low technological development, such as Britain in the nineteenth century. It gradually lost its appeal as larger capitalist firms which could afford greater outlay of fixed or constant capital in plant machinery etc realised greater productivity from their workers, making each individual product or commodity cheaper to produce and in turn lowering the amount of socially necessary labour time to produce a specific commodity as determined across the whole economy. The smaller capitalists who relied on more traditional methods of surplus value extraction were as a result driven from the marketplace.

The irrationality of a system which is constantly overcome by crises of overaccumulation while having an innate inability to fully utilise productive capacity has never been clearer than it is today. That is why now more than ever it is imperative to arm ourselves with a coherent and powerful critique of capitalism such as only Marxism can provide.  

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry whatever to you all

Although Christmas is the principle Christian festival it is, in fact, a lot older than Christianity and was appropriated by the early Christians from their pagan rivals. At the time Christianity was a feeble creed and needed to promote some sort of festival to attract new adherents—rather like the Young Tories laying on dances in a recruitment drive. Their most threatening competitors—the Mithraists— not unreasonably considering their time and place, worshipped the sun which was so vital to their existence and celebrated December 25 as the winter solstice the passing of the shortest day and the awakening of the life-giving sun.

In opposition, the Christians fixed on January 6 and it was not until the fourth century that they adopted December 25. By the Middle Ages, the Christian takeover of Christmas was complete, along with many heathen rites and symbols like the virgin birth and decoration with seasonable greenery. For some centuries the festival was a twelve day holiday, running until Epiphany, but the Industrial Revolution finished that, for as wage slavery became the dominant mode of exploitation labour time represented riches to the employers and such lavish periods of leisure were outlawed by capitalism’s morality of employment.

 The Socialist Courier blog does not wish its visitors a Merry Christmas. Instead, we send them the fraternal hope that they will learn that the world does not have to be as it is. Once again we who refuse to celebrate the festive season will be called kill-joys, even though all that we want to see is a society decent and co-operative and sociable enough for there to be no need to put aside one day for joy and happiness to prevail.