Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from January, 2017

Think – and act – for yourselves

The cult of leadership is essential for the preservation of capitalism. "Bad leadership" is a convenient excuse that something other than capitalism caused a government's failure to deliver, or a reform that doesn't meet expectations. And always there are new leaders, promising the never-never land.

 The market and other forces of the system are uncontrollable by any government; political leaders can't stop depressions, wars or the arms race. All they can do is try to run the system in the interests of their masters, the dominant class. And in the process, betray their naive and trusting followers.

 Faith in leaders presents a bizarre contradiction between the fact that the masses who have the brains and the ability to produce everything and run this system from top to bottom as they are now doing (indicating that the common people really have the ability to bring in a sane system and accomplish everything necessary for its success.) versus the myth…

Why the William of Orange story is described as one of the biggest lies of British history

An article linking to a video in the Glasgow Herald by TV historian Lucy Worsley has the following.

IT is one of the central events of modern British history, which still resonates today on the streets of Scotland and shapes the islands upon which we live.

But our understanding of the so-called Glorious Revolution of King William of Orange is based on myth and spin. In fact, you would be forgiven for saying it was a case of 17th century fake news.

The official line is that the bloodless revolution changed the course of British history, establishing the supremacy of parliament over the crown.

On the 300th anniversary of the ousting of 'tyrannical' King James II during the 17th century to place his son-in-law William of Orange on the throne was proclaimed in Parliament in 1988 by then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as one of the "great events in the history of these islands" which helped bring constitutional freedom and was "important in establishing B…

Summer School 2017

Summer School 2017  21st – 23rd July
Fircroft College, Birmingham

These days, concerns about the environment tend to get pushed into the background by issues like Brexit, Trump’s presidency and ongoing austerity measures. But climate change, pollution and extinctions don’t go away just because the headlines are filled with other events. 2016 was the warmest year on record, with implications for sea levels and habitats; more and more waste is produced for future generations to deal with, and many hundreds of species continue to become extinct every year. Legislation places some restrictions on the use of dangerous materials, hunting and waste disposal, for example. However, legislators can only work within a system which is structured to safeguard the interests of the wealthy elite, rather than everyone. And of course laws don’t always prevent environmentally-damaging methods from being used if they save or make money. Capitalism turns the natural world into a resource to be exploited for …

What is Poverty?

The state has an interest in defining poverty in such a way that only a minority are classified as poor.

  It was hardly surprising, after the depredations of war and the austerity of rationing, that the early post-war years should have been a period of rising expectations. This increasing optimism was fuelled by rapid growth. The huge task of social reconstruction soaked up labour like water in a sponge. Low unemployment pushed up wages and that, together with the introduction of the "welfare state", meant that the scourge of poverty seemed to be inexorably receding. Technological advances made affordable household items that were once the province of privilege. The mass market had at last truly arrived: a veritable cornucopia disgorging its superfluity of refrigerators, TV sets and automobiles. And it was against this backdrop of rising consumption that the first green shoots of a new kind of social protest would soon emerge—from budding environmentalists to the…

Masters of War: A Scots firm named in Ukraine arms deal corruption probe

A Scots firm was named in Ukraine arms deal corruption probe in The Glasgow Herald on 27 January 2017. This is no surprise of course to hard headed socialists who know the nature of the capitalist beast.

 The overall death and destruction that took place during World War II may well be beyond human comprehension. Historians estimate that military casualties on all sides, in both the European and Pacific theaters, reached up to 25 million, and that civilian casualties ranged from 38 million to as high a figure as 55 million – meaning that somewhere between 3 and 4 percent of the world’s total population died in the conflict.

  Don't let us ever forget either, the war science practiced upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the 'Good Guys', despite how it is spun as, 'the end of war', as well as the potential for more of the same destruction being wreaked upon humanity as trade wars and sanctions, fuel blundering and conscious recourse to battles over raw ma…

"They're all immigrants!"

Trump has made lots of speeches about the dangers of immigration to the U.S.   He is going to build a high wall 1989 miles long, much of it through "uninhabitable deserts", along the whole Mexican border.

 He has just said, "A nation without borders is not a nation. Beginning today the United States gets back control of its borders."


 Exclusive (though imaginary) interview!

      "Mr Trump, what was your mother?"
      "An immigrant."
      "What was your father?"
      "The son of two immigrants."
      "What was your first wife?"
      "An immigrant."
      "What is your third wife?"
      "An immigrant. Now I must go to allow the Energy Partners Transport scheme to drive an oil pipe line through North Dakota."
      "You do know that the local Standing Rock tribe of the Sioux Nation (supported by 200 Native American tribes) fear it might contaminate their water supplies,…

Calculation

Supporters of capitalism, especially the Von Mises school, may not be able to conceive of production without money and prices, but we socialists can. The definitive answer to the "economic calculation problem" is a (largely) self-regulating system of stock control in which calculations are made in kind rather than in terms of a common unit like money.

 A self-regulating system of stock control will permit producers in a socialist society (workplace councils, industry councils etc) to ascertain more or less immediately the availability of stocks of any particular item throughout the system; the communications technology to enable this to happen is already in place.

 Given this, their assertions that the "only practicable way to tell how 'abundant' B is, by comparison with A, is to look at the relative prices" is absurd.

 'Abundance' is a relationship between supply and demand, where the former exceeds the latter. In socialism a buffer o…

Trekonomics

The New Statesman in December 2016 had Yo Yushi visit a Star Trek convention in Birmingham where he recalls amongst other things," In a 1988 episode of The Next Generation, the captain of the USS Enterprise, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), lectures a 20th-century executive who has been defrosted from cryogenic preservation about the Federation’s economic beliefs.

“A lot has changed in the past 300 years,” he says. “People are no longer obsessed with the ­accumulation of things. We have eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions.”


  The businessman protests that without money his life would have no purpose. Picard responds that “the challenge” of life is merely to “improve yourself”, and to “enjoy it”. If that sounds striking today, it was doubtless more so when the episode first aired in the United States, just a year after Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good” speech in Wall Street gave the free-market Washington consensus its most abiding slogan.

 Socialists of …

A Man's A Man For A' Tha

Robert Burns (1759-1796)

    Is there for honest Poverty
    That hings his head, an' a' that;
    The coward slave-we pass him by,
    We dare be poor for a' that!
    For a' that, an' a' that.
    Our toils obscure an' a' that,
    The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
    The Man's the gowd for a' that.

    What though on hamely fare we dine,
    Wear hoddin grey, an' a that;
    Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
    A Man's a Man for a' that:
    For a' that, and a' that,
    Their tinsel show, an' a' that;
    The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
    Is king o' men for a' that.

    Ye see yon birkie, ca'd a lord,
    Wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that;
    Tho' hundreds worship at his word,
    He's but a coof for a' that:
    For a' that, an' a' that,
    His ribband, star, an' a' that:
    The man o' independent mind
    He looks …

What is Patriotism? An Analysis

A meeting of the leaders of far right parties this weekend proclaimed “the return of nation-states” and “patriotism as the policy of the future” (BBC -Link)  In reply we republish the classic socialist analysis of patriotism that appeared in the December 1915 Socialist Standard that “The only universal bond of nationality or patriotism that exists for us to-day is, then, that of subjection to a single government. Patriotism in the worker is pride in the common yoke imposed by a politically unified ruling class.”

The Johnsonian Definition and Others

 The answer depends largely upon the point of view. From one standpoint patriotism appears as the actual religion of the modern State. From another it is the decadence and perversion of a noble and deep-rooted impulse of loyalty to the social unit, acquired by mankind during the earliest stages of social life. From yet another viewpoint, that of capitalist interests, patriotism is not…

Our Object and Declaration of Principles with explanations

Our Object The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.

Declaration of Principles The Socialist Party of Great Britain holds
Working class emancipation necessarily excludes the role of political leadership. The Socialist Party has an absolute need of supporters with understanding and self-reliance. Even if we could conceive of a leader-ridden working class displacing the capitalist class from power such an immature class would be helpless to undertake the responsibilities of democratic socialist society.
That society as at present constituted is based upon the ownership of the means of living (i.e., land, factories, railways, etc.) by the capitalist or master class, and the consequent enslavement of the working class, by whose labour alone wealth is produced.
 How are decisions about the operation of society made…

Marxism Revisited

Marx revisited



 Since the break-up of the USSR and its eastern European empire, with the consequent collapse of Leninist ideas of revolution, it had become the accepted wisdom that Marxism is outdated. In this series of public forums The Socialist Party examined that body of thought known as Marxism and reassessed its relevance to modern conditions and to the development of an alternative society.

 Each forum lasted two hours including the discussion which followed each talk.
From 'Summer School 1998', 3-5 July, at Fircroft College, Selly Oak, Birmingham. Audio recordings are also available by clicking the titles below.... 

Contents

1. Who the hell was Karl Marx?

2. Was Marx ever a Leninist? 
(Did Lenin really distort Marx?)

3. The fetishism of commodities
(or is Nike cooler than Adidas?)

4. Has the modern market superseded Marxian economics?

5. Is The Socialist Party Marxist? 

Banks and Credit

This article from February 1975, is well worth a study and is still pertinent to the circumstances leading up to the crisis of recent years. Although some of the references are dated they have been retained for historical purposes.


Economics:

THE USE-VALUE of loan capital, which is made available through the banking system, consists of producing profit, and this type of profit is described as interest. The rate of interest is arrived at by competition between lenders and borrowers, or by supply and demand; the lender of loan capital striving to obtain the highest rate of interest for the use of his capital, and the borrower seeking the lowest rate. There is no "natural" rate of interest, nor is there any limit to the rate that can be charged.

 In the German Weimar Republic during the period of great inflation after World War 1, the rate of interest was raised weekly in some cases to 200%. The "natural" rate theory has its basis in the repetitive form of dealings bet…