Sunday, April 30, 2017

Capitalism knows no frontiers, money has no accent.

  On 8 June, you will have your occasional ration of democracy. It's all very well having a vote—but are you normally given any real choice?  It's tempting—in the absence of any real alternative—to get drawn into the phony war that is political debate today. Whether Labour or Tory or SNP, they all spout the same promises. But it all amounts to the same thing—they offer no alternative to the present way of running society. The Socialist Party wants you to consider an alternative society to the present production for profit rat-race that is capitalism. We want you to look at present-day society and ask yourself: does it operate in your and your family's interest?

  It certainly does not require genius or a microscope to perceive that Scotland, like every other country, has a population which is divided into a majority who are non-owning workers and a minority who are non-working owners. And that after centuries of joint development with England that all means of producing wealth are owned and controlled by large concerns whose shareholders are spread throughout Britain and the rest of the world. Just as certainly it does not need extraordinary intelligence to know that workers in specifically "Scottish" concern merely receive in wages enough to continue working—barely enough, as for workers everywhere.

The Scottish workers don't have to attend university to know that the ruling class of Scotland since the days of the Highland "clearances" by Marx's indictments of the Scottish ruling class, referred to in biting terms in "Capital", are any less brutal than their English counterparts. Or do they? The ability of the nationalists in getting away with their anti-working class nonsense and buffoonery rests on the — as yet, political ignorance of the Scottish workers. Their political and social interests—like their fellows everywhere—are opposed to those of their masters and does not lie in schemes which will enable their employers to wring yet more surplus value from their skill and energy.

The SNP has tacked left, making social democrat noises to draw Labour supporters. There is nothing intrinsically left-wing about nationalism. Being a nationalist does not necessarily commit a person to any particular reforms or economic principles. Indeed, technically, the SNP is a one-issue party – for an independent Scotland. To talk of "fairer" capitalism that a sovereign Scotland promises is like talking of "fairer" robbery. Capitalism cannot work in the interest of the majority, it must go. It is of no concern to workers in Scotland whether they are governed from London or by a separate independent government in Edinburgh. This is because the cause of the problems they face is the capitalist economic system of production for profit, not the form of government. And the exploitative capitalist economic system would continue to exist in a politically independent Scotland. Politicians wrangle over purely constitutional matters while capitalism and the problems it causes continue.

The task of Scottish workers—like the workers the world over—is to-day—not tomorrow—to attempt an understanding of the basic nature of their problems and having done so, to organise in the Socialist Party democratically to take over power to establish socialism. Capitalism in Scotland, in England, in fact, in every country in the world produces the same set of problems to workers—poverty, unemployment, insecurity, war, and so on. The Socialist Party analysis and solution is international in scope and outlook and the only way in which the Scottish workers can assist their fellow-workers around the globe is to study, understand and organise for socialism. As they do so, the baloney of the Scot Nats will become clearly apparent. "Our" problems are the problems arising from the capitalist nature of society which is now world-wide and the solution for "us"—world socialism in which wealth will be produced, controlled and enjoyed by all.

In Scotland, society is run in the interests of those who own the wealth. They argue among each other over billions of barrels of oil, GDP rates, profits, and exports, because where the borders lie matters to them. Every border is an opportunity to wring cash out of other property owners. Scottish workers will remain dependent upon their whims and interests.  They’ll try to sway us one way or another with crumbs or the promises of crumbs but we’ll only get what they feel they can spare to protect their privilege and wealth. We will remain dependent upon their investments, making a profit for them before we can get our needs and interests met. The only way to stop this dependency would be for us to take ownership and control of the wealth of the world into our own hands. We could, together, use the wealth of the world to meet our mutual needs and gain the true independence of being able to control our work and our lives in a free and voluntary association of equals.

Join the Socialist Party to fight for an independent world and not an independent Scotland.

Unite for World Socialism

The idea of world socialism is that it is a global society without frontiers, passports and separate nation-states. Already, under capitalism, people are beginning to think in world terms. More and more people are coming to appreciate world music and many millions follow world sporting events. There is a growing awareness that all humans are part of one world, that we share a common planet.  Millions of people throughout the world are concerned about world poverty and world hunger and problems such as global warming. This is a reflection that we live in an interdependent world, albeit a capitalist one at the moment. It is this interdependence which has long meant that there are no national solutions to today's universal social problems. Capitalism is a global problem, to which the answer is global socialism.

Socialists devised the slogan "One World – One People" as a concise description of the society we are striving for. Socialism means that the whole world will operate as a single productive system where goods and services will be produced so that people can use them freely without resorting to buying and selling. It also means that the people of the world will be united on the only solid basis for achieving this end—by the resources of the world and the means of producing wealth being owned in common and democratically controlled by mankind as a whole. "One World – One People", then, represents an entirely different vision of the future to such schemes as the "United Nations" or "Internationalism" which, as their names imply, attempt to improvise a patchwork from the fragments which capitalism makes of the world.

To solve the many problems confronting humanity what is needed is a change in the basis of world society from existing class ownership to a world in which the Earth's resources have become the common heritage of all. Think globally, act locally, say some environmentalists. Anyone who follows the news cannot help but think globally. World hunger and disease, financial crises and world poverty, climate change and global warming, war and the threats of war—all these are global problems. Clearly, all these problems can only be solved by global action. We are up against a global system which can only be effectively and lastingly dealt with at that level.

We should perhaps add that we are not so naive as to imagine that the changeover from world capitalism to world socialism will occur in a matter of a few weeks. The transition can be envisaged as taking place over a relatively short period of time of, say, five years (at a wild guess for we don't know) so the situation might well occur of socialists having won control in some parts of the world but not everywhere. Naturally, they will manage as best they can in the circumstances, no doubt ending class ownership and bringing in democratic control of all aspects of social life including production. Their other main priority would be to do what they could to accelerate the winning of power by socialist majorities in the rest of the world. But this is not the same as the situation you seem to be envisaging of the people of one country deliberately aiming to establish socialism in just that country while the rest of the world remains solidly capitalist. In our view, this is neither desirable nor at all likely to happen.

When we talk about self-reliant communities we don't mean this literally in the sense that each community should actually have to provide for all its needs from its own resources for this would mean having to go back, not to the iron age or the bronze age, but to the stone age since they wouldn't even have any access to metals or metal ores. What WE envisage is self-administering communities which would try to meet as many of their everyday needs as practicable from local sources and that local communities should be the basic unit of democratic self-administration but, when it comes to production, it is as well to be aware to what extent local communities are interconnected and interdependent and that this places severe limits on what needs could be met locally. The fact is that people in small communities aren't able to produce all they need, or anything like it. The final stage of the production of a range of goods for everyday use could be done locally--food, clothes, shoes, furniture--as well as repairs but neither (most of) the raw materials nor (in most cases) any of the metals to make the tools and machines used in this final stage could be produced locally.

Many environmentalists don't like the idea of mass production but most people would consider access to such items as a cooker, a fridge and a TV as essential, but these can't be assembled individually on an artisanal basis. To meet needs, they would have to be produced en masse. This doesn't mean that they need be produced under the conditions that exist today in factories under capitalism. Far from it. Factories in a socialist society can and will be structured and run quite differently: slower pace of work, shorter hours, more automation, non-polluting technology, democratic participation in decision-making, (even located amidst lakes and gardens). Nor would they be making goods to deliver across to the other side of the planet (except, perhaps, for some factories producing very specialised equipment as for hospitals or scientific research). They would be making goods to supply all the local communities in a given area. Although energy could be supplied locally, the machinery and equipment to do this (pipes, pumps, tanks, generators, transformers, cables, wires, etc) couldn't. Even environment-friendly technology such as solar power involves highly sophisticated equipment that will be beyond the capabilities of local communities to produce on their own. So, local communities cannot be independent or self-reliant as far as meeting their material needs goes; they are interdependent. It is not a question of communities trading passing on their "surpluses" to one another (most, if left to themselves, wouldn't have any surplus) but it is a question of them being interlinked in a single network of production which in the end embraces the whole world.

This does not mean that everything has to be controlled from a single world centre. Only a few functions would have to be dealt with at world level such as, for instance, communications satellites. Most could be carried out (as in practice at present) at a level that can be called regional (in world terms). It is at this level that production of intermediate goods and machines and equipment can be envisaged as being produced, for distribution for use either in other factories or by local communities. Local communities can only be the basis for consumption and for democratic decision-making but not for production. Of course the actual degree of centralisation and decentralisation will be up to the people around at the time to decide in the light of their traditions, experiences and preferences. One thing, however, is clear: even the ultra-decentralised structure can only be achieved in a world where resources no longer belonged to private individuals, corporations and states and where production was no longer carried on for sale on a market with a view to profit. In other words, in a socialist world.

Glasgow Mayday

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Independence is just a mirage

Capitalism has no future to offer most people. The one solution to society’s problems is the establishment of a new society. The case for socialism rests upon the fact that the capitalist social system cannot provide a decent life for its people and that, in the interests of those people, it should make way for the next stage in social evolution. No matter how much capitalism changes, it remains the same. Workers are continually being deluded by plausible politicians who make promises to them that can never be kept. It is all an illusion. Can capitalism give us the sort of life, the health, the abundance, the security, which all human beings should have? Can it offer the prospects of future security which a humane social system would take as a matter of course?

The word Celtic, like Aryan, has no real meaning outside linguistics where six languages (Welsh, Irish and Scottish Gaelic, Breton and the extinct Manx and Cornish) form a distinct group labelled "Celtic". What Ireland, Scotland and Wales share is that they are areas where now only a minority of the people speak a Celtic language. This, however, does not justify calling them "Celtic countries" or creating a mythology about "the Celtic nations" or, worse, about "the Celtic races". the history of Scotland, while differing in detail from that of England, followed the same general course. By their divorce from the soil, a nation of peasant cultivators were converted into wage-slaves, exploited by a class ready to convert the world into one gigantic market. The forces of competition thus let loose may be held in check to some degree by national legislatures, but no final solution for the havoc they create can be found along such lines. The problem is essentially an international one, and must be internationally solved. That, however, calls not for National parties, but for parties in all countries which clearly recognise the common interest of the workers of the world, namely, to achieve their emancipation as a class. When the workers get upon the right track of understanding their position they will cease to worry their brains over comparatively trivial differences in their conditions, whether as between nations or between districts or separate towns. They will recognise that they suffer varying degrees of poverty because at present they exist merely to produce profits for their masters and that it is a matter of comparative indifference to them whether these masters are English or Scots, Germans or Japanese. Our aim will be to abolish masters of every nationality and to organise the production of wealth for their common good.  Class interests must be viewed in global terms, not national/regional terms or occupational/industrial terms. Our perception of our class interests must be beyond whatever nation or region we happen to be born in or our workplace.

The SNP’s aim is the establishment of a separate state in Scotland. As such it represents the interests of a certain sector of the Scottish capitalist class. The nearest parallel to an independent Scotland as envisaged by the SNP is to be found in the old Colonial empire, where independence simply meant a transfer of power to a new group of politicians, while the structure of state and society was but little changed. The Scottish elite has got behind nationalism and independence, disguising (as it always does) its own interests in the language of idealism.  the majority of the Scottish people will find little difference under Holyrood than under Westminster and it could be worse if a global crisis erupts again. Scotland as a small economy, dependent on multinationals for investment, still dominated by British banks and the City of London and without control of its own currency or interest rates, could face a much bigger hit than elsewhere in terms of incomes and unemployment. So independence would not bring dramatic economic improvement to the majority of Scots; indeed, it could mean a worse situation. But then the decision on independence is not just a question of the economy and living standards. That brings us back to the issue of the Scottish and English/Welsh (and Irish) working class sticking together in the struggle against British capital. Will an independent Scottish capitalist state strengthen that in any way?

It is shameful that should be wasting time over a question like a sovereign Scotland which has no consequence to the working class. While capitalism continues the workers will not be any better off.  The simple truth is that capitalism will be just the same as far as the working class is concerned. What is required is another system of society, not new administrators for the old one. The problem is that wealth is owned and controlled by a tiny minority of society in an undemocratic and unaccountable fashion. This obscene concentration of wealth in a few hands lies at the heart of all major social problems which confront us today. 

Nationalism, of which there are many examples arising around us at the present time, is one of the greatest barriers to the establishment of a society based on commonly shared humanity. The Socialist Party is not concerned with making capitalism continue more palatable but with the eradication of the worldwide common system of exploitation. It is not interested in nationalistic liberation movements. Socialists strive for the elimination of capitalism and its replacement by a nation-free planet devoid of frontiers. Our message to the Scots is the same as that to the world working class: "Study the case for socialism and, if convinced, join the fight which really counts—the struggle for socialism." Nationalism is at the top of the list of political illusions used to blind capitalism's victims.

The left-nationalists propose collective ownership and democratic control of the means of production throughout Scotland. This won't work. Scotland is only a small part of an economic system which embraces the whole world. It could never enjoy any real autonomy or self-sufficiency in the face of the world market. From day one it will be buffeted by hostile economic forces entirely beyond its control. In no time at all, Scotland will be faced with two choices—either total ruin, or the complete restoration of capitalist economics. An independent socialist Scotland would be neither independent nor socialist. "Socialism in one country" is an illusion. That is the lesson of history. If the Bolsheviks could not manage it, we fail to see how the left-nationalists could.

Socialists reject allegiance to any nation and regard themselves as citizens of the world. The  Socialist Party accepts the boundaries between states as they are (and as they may change) and work within them to win control of each with a view to abolishing them all. Our aim is the establishment of a democratic world community without frontiers based on the common ownership of the world's resources.

Bill Knox, in his book “Scottish History for Dummies” writes:
"... There is no such thing as a genetically pure native Scots: we are a hybrid people, and  the better for it...Identity is never fixed; it’s fluid and always in a state of forming and reforming  itself. In that respect, Scotland is no different to any other long as the British Empire stuffed the mouths of the middle class  in Scotland with gold, the moaning was confined to a minority. Along came  war in 1914, and the moaning became even quieter as the Scots responded more enthusiastically than any other part of Britain to fight for  king and country...The cause of Nationalism didn’t really get going again until the late 1960s, in spite of the formation of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in 1934. Scots were content with their dual identity – after all, they had fought another world war to defend it!...The support for Nationalism declined, but it didn’t disappear. All it needed was another spark to ignite it. Step forward the best recruiting sergeant Nationalism ever had – Prime Minister Margaret Hilda Thatcher!...”

The constitutional struggle is a substitute for class struggle is at bottom the product of despair and lack of belief in real social change. People are crying out for political change. We need change. We don’t need this change. Too much time has been spent on constitutional questions while the rich consolidate their wealth and power, impose austerity and hardship and leave the planet to burn. There is a genuine belief in the possibility of change; a genuine belief that your participation means something and matters; that there is a choice about the direction of travel, and nothing can be taken for granted.

One World – One People

One world, one people, is a slogan that can be interpreted as we are all one species - which we are; able to interbreed with any other person and this one world is the only one we've got and we must share it with everybody. The slogan is meant to convey that we stand for a world solution and also that we have rejected nationalism and racism. Politics is deliberately divisive - aimed at control of the masses. But a socialist world - our aim - is striving for a world where all will have equity. One species peacefully cohabiting on its home planet.

 The World Socialist Movement is not about dreaming up a “perfect” or an “ideal” world. What is at issue is establishing a better world, where the many social problems that people face because of the way society is currently organised can be tackled with some hope of success.  It is a question of finding a practical solution to actually existing problems that have arisen at this particular moment in the history of humanity. Over the past hundred or so years the world has developed the capacity to adequately feed, clothe and shelter every single man, woman, and child on the planet. The resources, the technical knowledge, and the skilled personnel exist to do this.   It is this profit system that stands in the way of satisfying human needs. It only allows production to take place in response to needs that can be paid for and then only if a big enough profit can be made from doing so. It diverts resources into maintaining a whole superstructure of finance and commerce – banks, insurance, accounting, advertising, etc – that is only needed because there is production for the market. And it diverts yet more resources into armed forces and their weaponry. When the planet's resources have ceased to be the private property of nation-states, global corporations, and rich individuals, then these resources could be directed to turning out wealth to meet human needs. It may take a time to totally clear up the mess left by capitalism but people dying of hunger or from lack of medicines could be stopped immediately.  This is the practical solution to the practical problems facing humanity. This is our planet. We want it back

  We need to abolish the out-moded and old-fashioned division of the world into nation-states. Instead, we need to cooperate on a world basis to meet our material needs and energy requirements. Only in a socialist society will the community be able to make decisions about energy production which are based on what is safe and in the human interest (including our shared environment) instead of decisions based on, and limited by, economic considerations.  Just as capitalism is a world system of society, so too must socialism be. There never has been, and never can be, socialism in just one country because its material basis is the world-wide and interdependent means of production that capitalism has built up.

Democratic control will involve the whole community in making decisions about the use of the means of production. Instead of government over people, there would be various levels of democratic administration, from the local up to regional and world levels, with responsibility being delegated if necessary to groups and individuals. Production for use will bring production into direct line with human needs. Without money, wages, buying and selling there will be a world of free access. Everyone will be able to contribute to society by working voluntarily, according to ability. Everyone will be able to take freely from whatever is readily available, according to self-defined needs.

The motivation for this new world comes from the common class interest of those who produce but do not possess. An important part of this motivation comes from the global problems thrown up by capitalism. The global warming problem makes a nonsense of the efforts of governments.  The problems of capitalism can only be solved within the framework of a socialist world. Climate change problems require the sort of long-term planning and development of which competitive, international capitalism is incapable.

  But this does not rule out local democracy. In fact, a democratic system of decision-making would require that the basic unit of social organisation would be the local community. However, the nature of some of the problems we face and the many goods and services presently produced, such as raw materials, energy sources, agricultural products, world transport and communications, need production and distribution to be organised at a world level. Corresponding to this, of course, there would be a need for a democratic world administration, controlled by delegates from the regional and local levels of organisation throughout the world.

Because political power in capitalism is organised on a territorial basis each socialist party has the task of seeking democratically to gain political power in the country where it operates. If it is suggested that socialist ideas might develop unevenly across the world and that socialists of only a part of the world were in a position to get political control, then the decision about the action to be taken would be one for the whole of the socialist movement in the light of all the circumstances at the time. It would certainly be a folly, however, to base a programme of political action on the assumption that socialist ideas will develop unevenly and that we must, therefore, be prepared to establish "socialism" in one country or even a bloc like the European Union.

Given the world-wide nature of capitalism and its social relationships, the vast majority of people live under basically similar conditions, and because of the world-wide system of communications and media, there is no reason for socialist ideas to be restricted to one part of the world. Any attempt to establish "socialism" in one country would be bound to fail owing to the pressures exerted by the world market on that country's means of production. Recent experience in Russia, China and elsewhere shows conclusively that even capitalist states cannot detach themselves from the requirements of an integrated system of production operated through the world market. Many would reject our ideas in favour of something more "realistic", including some who call themselves socialist. They seek to solve social problems within the framework of government policies, the state machine, national frontiers. But if our analysis of capitalism as a world system is correct—and we've yet to be shown how it's wrong—the state politics are irrelevant as a way of solving social problems. Viewed globally, state politics only make sense when seen as a means for capturing political power in order to introduce a world of free access.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The 1% Scots

Oxfam found that the richest one per cent of Scots have an income of £2,608 a week, while the poorest 10 per cent scratch a living on £240 a week. The richest 10% of the Scottish population live in households with a net income of more than £912 per week.

The wealthiest 10% Scots own 9.4 times more household wealth than the bottom 40% put together.

Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said: "With nearly one in five people still living in poverty in Scotland, it cannot be right for the richest 1% to own more wealth than the poorest 50% put together and for income to be so unevenly shared too.

Scotland's four richest families are wealthier than the poorest 20% of the population, according to a 2015 report by Oxfam.The charity also calculated that the country's 14 wealthiest families were better off than the most deprived 30%.

There are now more people in poverty in the UK than there have been for almost 20 years and a million more than at the beginning of the decade.

 At the same time, the richest 1% of the population own 20 times more wealth than the poorest 20% – nearly 13 million people – put together. Out-of-control pay ratios in the UK mean that the average pay of FTSE100 chief executives is 129 times that of the average employee. Investors’ share of UK corporate profits has also soared to 70% from 10% in the 1970s.

Oxfam recently commissioned the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics (LSE) to explore the relationship between economic inequality and poverty in the UK. Their research clearly establishes a significant and positive correlation between income inequality and income poverty in the UK over recent decades, almost irrespective of what inequality measure is used. Put simply, the data demonstrates that since 1961, when inequality has grown so too has poverty, and vice versa.

Today, more than 1 billion people around the world still live in extreme poverty. Yet recent Oxfam research shows just eight people own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion who make up the poorest half of humanity

Ruling by Fooling

Nationalism always claims certain virtues as the peculiar, exclusive possession of certain nations. If individuals make such claims, they are laughed to scorn. With what logic can nations make such claims? Nationalism claims that the culture belonging to one nation is distinct from that belonging to any other. This was maybe so in the past, but the natural evolution of mankind is making it less so. Increased means of communication — the swift transport, the mass media, the communication and internet revolution has developed an interconnection that there is no essential difference between any one of the countries of the world. Even language is tending to become universal. More people understand each other today than ever before. Governments are coming to resemble each other. Codes of justice and ethics are becoming universal. It is only by the most artificial kind of propaganda that nationalism is kept alive. Nationalism is an unmitigated curse. It leads inevitably to national chauvinism. It leads to a blind patriotism for the particular little bit of dirt on which a particular person has been born. It leads to narrowness and bigotry, to racial jealousy and bitterness, petty pride and prejudice. In the end nationalism is the best of cloaks for the intrigues and machinations of politicians and capitalists.

Socialists are internationalists. Many who accept the pro-nationalist line simply do not know history. The correct approach is to identify the real enemy, the ruling class, and to unite workers in their material interest, not their place of birth or residence. Erecting obstacles in the way of the unity of workers has also always been the tactic of the ruling class. The self-styled “left” in Scotland serve the nationalistic and chauvinist ambitions of the national bourgeoisie. This makes them defenders of the interests of the ruling class. Workers of Scotland and Britain have a different task before them. It is to unite to resist the attacks of the bourgeoisie with greater and greater strength and eventually to oust it from power so to establish a socialist society.
Nationalism is based on myths and the Scots version is no exception. The signatories of the Declaration of Arbroath were asserting their claim to rule over their own tenants and serfs, not leading a liberation struggle while the  1707 Union ensured that the Scots √©lites retained all their traditional privileges, rather than the defeat of a nation. The clan system of the Highlands, a feudalism with large pre-feudal elements, was a huge obstacle to the development of Scots capitalism. To the Lowlander, the Highlander was a cattle-thief, not a fellow countryman.  When the threat from Highlanders receded, Scottish √©lites invented a national identity from the romantic idealisation of the society which they had so recently helped to destroy, all kilts and tartans. What was promoted was a picturesque Scots identity within and beyond Scotland’s boundaries. Far from being junior partners in the British Empire Scots capitalists were enormously important in the Empire’s military, police and administration.  The left-nationalists see early nineteenth century workers’ struggles as rebellions against English rule, although the workers made no such claims, and the employers were also Scots.

The Socialist Party honours Wat Tyler, John Ball, Jack Straw, and others who led peasant revolts. We stand with the soldiers who took part in the Putney debates during the Civil War. We honour the Levellers and the Diggers. We honour the Chartists, who led the struggle to make the franchise universal. We commemorate the Tolpuddle Martyrs and others early trade unionists who fought for the right of workers to combine in their own interests. These movements we have a right to be proud of, just as much as those in the radical republican movement of the United Scotsmen, the 1820 Insurrection rebels or the participants in the Crofter Wars.  It will not be a mere Scottish or British, but a global workers' revolution. It is this revolution, and only this revolution, that will be able to save the world from the environmental and social decay caused by a system based on production-for-profit, and which will be able to replace it by a system of production based on social usefulness and sharing.

Frontier Free

Imagine there's no countries It isn't hard to do” - John Lennon

By common ownership, we are not proposing the Big Brother nightmare of all the planet's resources being owned and controlled by a single World Government.  By common ownership we mean there should be no private property or territorial rights over any part of the globe. The Earth and its natural and industrial resources should not belong to anybody – not to individuals, not to corporations, not to nation-states. They should simply be there to be used by human beings to satisfy their needs. What we are proposing is that private property rights and territorial rights over any part of the planet should be abolished. This is the only basis on which we as the human species can set about arranging our relationship with the rest of Nature in a rational and ecological way so that the planet becomes a habitable place for all of us.

Socialism cannot be established in one country. Socialism can only be a world-wide system and socialists do not defend capitalist national independence. On the contrary, one of our criticisms of capitalism is precisely that it has divided the world into competing and armed sovereign nations whose conflicts mean that war is always going on in some part of the world. What we want is not national independence but a socialist world without frontiers.

A united humanity, sharing a world of common interests, would also share world administration. This is the socialist alternative to the way that capitalism divides the planet into rival states and sets people against each other. Driven by class interests and profit and spurred by the attitudes of nationalism, racism, and religion, war and civil strife continue to cause death and misery. 

The World Socialist Movement has always understood the change-over from capitalist government to socialist administration to involve the capture by a socialist-minded working class of the various national governments of the world to be followed by the dismantling of the coercive features of the old government machines but the retention, in adapted form, of some of the non-coercive technical functions now exercised by governments. Socialism will begin with its delegates being in control of national and local governments and from this point, the role of these bodies as part of a state machine will be replaced by the democratic organisation operating solely for the needs of communities. It follows that all the socially-useful parts of the previous state machine will be continued. At the local level these include planning, education, health and transport departments, etc.

At the national level there are useful ministries such as housing and agriculture and those which administer health and education on the broader scale. Equally, this could be done on the international scene. There is not as yet a world government but there is the United Nations.  Just as on the national scale some of the institutions of the capitalist government machine could be adapted and used as part of the new socialist administration, so on the world scale could some of the institutions of the UN. There are bodies concerned with postal services, communications, air transport, ocean shipping, the weather, labour, education, agriculture and health which could form the basis of institutions for controlling these matters on a world scale in socialist society. The same principle will apply to decision-making bodies and administration such as we find with those professional and scientific associations, who regularly meet for discussion and debate to come to a consensus of opinion and also to set agreed standards.

Just as capitalism has developed powers of production that could provide every person with a comfortable and secure life so it has also developed means of organising a world of co-operation. In a socialist society, for the first time ever, the communications network which capitalism has built up and which socialism will develop even further will be used to ensure that everyone can have an input into the decisions which affect their lives on a global, regional and local basis. A world administration does not mean centralised control and power over local democracy.  A system of global democratic administration in socialism need not be based in either world, regional or local spheres. We can envisage an integrated system that would be adaptable and could be used for decision-making and action on any scale between the local and the world. Practical necessity would require such adaptability. This is not to suggest that such a single agency based in New York or Geneva or wherever would be making policy decisions for everyone on the planet. Its function could be to provide information and propose various development strategies so that alternatives could be decided democratically. From where we stand now a lot of people would say that priority should be given to ecologically benign methods such as wind, wave, solar power, etc. With the freedom to make such a decision without the economic constraints of capitalism, socialism could do it. The sole motive would be the needs of people and this would be in sharp contrast to the way in which governments decide matters now from the point of view of national economic and military interests.

In socialism, local communities will be free to make decisions about the development of their areas. With the release of productive resources solely for needs, for the first time, they will possess real power to act on those decisions. These would be decisions about community services such as health, education, and transport; public facilities such as parks, libraries, leisure centres and sports grounds; local housing, town-planning, care of the local environment, cultural events, and so on. People will be able to co-operate much more in their own interests and there would be more active participation in local bodies adapted from present parish and district councils. The principle determining the practice of local democracy would be that decisions affecting just local populations would be made by them and not for them by any larger or outside body.

The importance of local democracy has to be seen in the context of modern production which is world-wide. There will be some local production for neighbourhood needs but even simple products are global. For example, a ball-point pen needs world mining, the oil industry, chemicals and world transport However, with abolition of capitalist corporations many of which duplicate their operations on a world scale it is likely that socialism would want to rationalise structure of production. This could operate from world scale extractive industries like mining to regional centres of industrial processing and manufacture and final distribution to local populations. This could correspond to a similar network of administrative levels on world, regional and local scales. An obvious example of production that has to begin from a world perspective is energy. The use of the earth's finite resources such as fossil fuels, the prediction of world energy needs, concern for the pollutants and hothouse gases in the environment, the risk of accidents, the development of benign technologies, etc., all combine to make energy policy a world issue. This is a case where in socialism a single world energy authority would have the advantage of a complete overview of the problems and would be able to draw on information from every community. The example of energy policy means that people in socialism won't only just be concerned about whether a piece of local land should be used for housing, growing food, a football pitch or left as it is. People will also be engaged with issues affecting them which extend far beyond their local horizons. So, as well as being people of their parish they would also be citizens of the world with all the opportunities for, and responsibilities of decision making and action in every sphere of life.

The importance of the mass communications from the smart mobile telephone to the laptop is not only for their potential for enjoyment and amusement, they are just as important as means of organising administration and production. Already social media brings home to us with force and immediacy the tragic results of disasters such as earthquakes and floods. Even in the cynical, alienated world of capitalism people do what they can to help and with the resources available in socialism world organisation would move swiftly to minimise the damage and the suffering. So, as well as the face-to-face contacts of our daily lives at work, home, at the shops, in the library, at the football pitch or leisure centre with friends, neighbours and relatives, and as well as our part in local affairs, at the same time we would be involved with all other people in world issues and events of every kind.

Federalists aim at world administration but they are talking about world government—a world capitalist state. People would still be class divided and subject to all the tyrannies and insecurities of the profit system. In any case, governments are not going to give up the economic interests of the class they represent in favour of world administration. Only the workers of all countries share a real interest in working to establish a world based on common ownership where all means of production and all resources will be held in common by all people. Production would organised through voluntary co-operation and part of that co-operation will be the work of deciding what should be done in the interest of the whole community and then acting on those decisions. This is the basis on which the world communications and administrative bodies which have been developed for the objectives of capitalism can be used for the whole population.

The solution is indeed one world without frontiers and without states, but not a world government presiding over a world capitalist economy. World socialism is a world community without frontiers where all the resources of the Earth have become the common heritage of all humanity, to be used for the benefit of all people.  That we have no country but still have a world to win is still our best slogan and the best hope for all people.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Scottish Nationalism and European Nationalism

Nationalism, as we have seen, is always the tool of the bourgeoisie, historically.  The Socialist Party will argue in this June the 8th General Election that liberation for Scottish workers can come about only by overthrowing capitalism itself. If this is not done, no amount of sovereignty can ever succeed in bringing freedom, but the only diversion. At present Scottish nationalism and the SNP have the appearance of being a progressive movement to some honest people and those sincere people in and around the nationalist movement will only discover, in some years’ time, that they have been most cruelly misled and have been wasting their time.  Instead of tragically wasting their time fostering nationalism (in whatever form), they must build a powerful socialist movement.

Many who will vote for the SNP will do so in the hope that eventual Scottish independence will bring re-membership with the EU which is routinely presented as an internationalist project for an ever closer union between peoples of the region as a means of overcoming national differences and state rivalries which therefore appeals to many on the left, who often identify the EU with modernisation, economic and social advance.  Although it was not a nation state, the EU is already mimicking the state ideologically, producing a Europeanism constructed of nationalism. The EU has the appearance of a body in which national differences, if not dissolved, are at least partly reconciled. While Eurocrats and politicians in member states have declared for internationalism and harmony, they have simultaneously organised a regime of exclusion which divides ‘Europeans’ from ‘non-Europeans’ as effectively as any imagined differences which were earlier said to separate Germans, French, or Italians. Fortress Europe has a class character, intended to deny entry to almost all of those seeking a buyer for their semi- and unskilled labour power, as well as those seeking sanctuary from civil conflict and repression. The vast majority of those denied entries are poor and vulnerable; those with wealth and privilege are invariably admitted such as the Russian oligarchs with well-padded bank accounts to buy up football clubs.

Fortress Europe’ in fact draws upon ideas which earlier underpinned Europe’s rival nationalisms. It has encouraged racism in general and helped to provide rationales for the extreme right, where the vocabulary of Nazism has reappeared in the form of defending “European” and “Christian” culture. The EU has begun to construct its exclusionary regime with razor wire and border police, with the idea of securing Europe against ‘threats’ from without. EU states were focused intently upon removing migrants and refugees deemed ‘bogus’, ‘clandestine’ or ‘illegal’.  The vast majority of those targeted were poor and vulnerable people, almost invariably of African or Middle Eastern origin. But EU states have also targeted an ‘enemy’ long present within European territorial boundaries. Roma people were identified by fascist movements of the 1920s and 1930s as one of their two greatest enemies: conservatively at least 200,000 Gypsies were sent to the death camps. In a crisis-stricken Europe images of the divided past are returning. Immigration policies are now formed in response to the collective insecurities and imaginings of public opinion; the clampdown on illegal immigrants, the need for tighter border controls, the threat of religious fundamentalism, the perceived loss of national identity, and the fears of demographic invasion are characteristic reactions of the right-wing revival. The media regularly carries stories of an Islamic menace, with Europe depicted as a target zone for migrants who could make common cause with resident Muslim communities which are increasingly depicted as a fifth-column within European society. The EU’s progress towards a fortified Europe and the heavy cost in terms of intensified racism and growth of the right presents a dismal picture.

Yet SNP propaganda depicts a happy transnational Europe in which old conflicts are being erased but it is the commercial trade-offs that drive the SNP to remain with the EU.

Plain Old Capitalism

The capitalist system rewards the rich as it penalizes the working class. The acceptance of “have” and “have-not” populations are concepts that have become so ingrained, they are seldom questioned. 

Socialists are not prophets of doom. We clearly promote an alternative that we hold to be workable. The Socialist Party offers solutions to the many social problems that plague present-day society.

Socialism is about taking control of the means of production in order to make things and share them, “from each according to ability, to each according to need,” without the mediation of money. Reformism has failed because any meaningful pro-worker regulations eventually become fetters to capital’s health, so it becomes necessary to dismantle them - to “save the economy” (i.e. capitalism). That’s what we’re experiencing now, and a return to more regulation, more taxing of the rich to fund social services, etc., is something capital cannot afford without first restoring the rate of profit, which (if possible) would require more of the same: rising unemployment, falling wages, cuts to public goods and services, and the acceleration of energy wars and environmental devastation, bringing us ever closer to catastrophe. So reformism is “utopian”; the only “realistic” way out of this mess is the path we have yet to forge – the establishment of a socialist society.

Capitalism is a system of production whose roots could be found in commercial activities throughout the ancient and medieval world, but which came into its own in early modern Western Europe. Its features are:

1) Two basic social classes: proletariat and bourgeoisie
a. We workers have no legal way to survive except by renting ourselves out as workers
b. The capitalists have  money, and the facility to make it grow by exploiting us

(2) A system of commodity* exchange invading all spheres of life, with money as the universal commodity (everything has a price, so you can get anything with enough money, and nothing without it)
*Commodity: something produced for exchange rather than for direct use.

(3) The process of capitalist production

a. Industrial capitalists  invest money (known as capital*) to rent land and buildings, buy machinery and raw materials, and hire proles to produce Commodities for sale – not because capitalists want Money to buy other Commodities (the traditional logic of commodity exchange, C-M-C), but in order to make a profit, that is, more money than was originally invested (M-C-M’).
*Capital: money invested in order to get more money; “dead labor, that vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks” (Marx, Capital, vol. 1, chapter 10)

b. This trick is possible because the capitalist pays us for only part of the value we produce. For example, a prole named Lori works 8 hours for $10/hour, assembling hamburgers at McDonald's. The 400 hamburgers she makes during those 8 hours sell for $2000. The beef, buns and other materials cost $1000, and the utilities, wear and tear on equipment, and other expenses cost another $900, totaling $1900. So Lori’s labor added $100 worth of value to those materials, but she was paid only $80, so Mr. McDonald made $20 net profit from the unpaid portion of Lori's labor that day. If there are 10 employees per shift working at the same average rate of exploitation, and two shifts per day, then Mr. McDonald nets $400 each day from that store, $12,000 per month.
c. So right at the point of production, there is an irreconcilable contradiction between capital and the labor necessary for capital’s growth. Our interests are fundamentally opposed: the longer and harder we work, the more profit the boss makes, and vice versa: if we try to lighten our work load, whether in time or intensity, or if we demand higher wages or safer conditions, we cut into the boss's profit. This contradiction cannot be resolved through compromise, since capital will die if it doesn't grow, and capital can grow only by “sucking” more “living labor” from workers. This is the basic logic of capitalist investment, M-C-M': capitalists don't invest in order to exchange their assets for something they want to use, but in order for their money to give birth to more money, and if it doesn't do that, they may as well sell their assets and buy a tropical island. At the same time, competition with other companies forces them to constantly increase the rate of exploitation – either by making us work harder or longer, or by switching to new equipment that can produce more products per labor-hour, or that can be operated by cheaper workers. Every now and then the workers manage to push down the rate of exploitation, but when that is limited to one firm, it threatens the firm with bankruptcy (since other firms in the same industry are continuing to operate at a higher rate); when workers push down the rate of exploitation for a whole industry, capital floods out of that industry in search of more profitable opportunities, leading to mass layoffs (as we've seen with the auto industry); when it affects the system as a whole, we have a crisis, which is capital's way of trying to restore the rate of profit.
(4) Dog-eat-dog competition among capitalists on a (free or regulated) market.
This is why subjective attitudes like greed are irrelevant: even if an entrepreneur happens to be Mother Teresa, and her whole reason for going into business is to create humane jobs, do “green” production, and give to charity, either her products are limited to a tiny niche market for rich people trying to assuage their guilty consciences (like the “fair trade” market), or more likely, her products are undersold by other companies that pay their workers slightly less, or pollute a little more. She is forced to follow their example or go bankrupt. No amount of government regulation can fundamentally change this: such regulation cuts directly into profit, so there is always a tug of war between capitalists and anyone who tries to regulate the market by raising the minimum wage, improving environmental protection standards, etc. This tug of war is really a displacement of the class war between capital and labor: the state and most official “labor” organizations are just responding to, or trying to preempt, widespread proletarian resistance, and as mentioned above, this war cannot end in a truce: capital must keep pushing back to restore the rate of profit, which means undoing previously made regulations.

(5) Endlessly expanding reproduction & crisis
Not only is capital like a vampire; it’s also like a cancer, since it must constantly expand and multiply. Once a capitalist makes profit, he's got to make another investment – either in expanding the same firm, or starting a new one. Even if he just puts his profit into the bank, the bank's got to lend it to another capitalist, or the bank would go out of business. This is why we can't blame the crisis on banks, or Wall Street for that matter: without banks or the stock exchange, industrial capitalists wouldn't be able to come up with enough money to buy the expensive facilities necessary to survive in competition with other firms. At the same time, financial institutions can't survive without constantly making loans and investments, and when there are no profitable opportunities, either there is a crisis, or financiers start inventing ways to make profits on paper (hedge funds, etc.) – until someone figures out there's not enough production and consumption going on to back it up. And this is obviously NOT because everyone has all the products they need or want; a sixth of the world's population is chronically malnourished, and yet fields lie fallow, farm equipment stands unused, and ridiculous amounts of food are thrown away every day. The reason is that people don't have enough money to buy the products, and this is because companies won't hire them (or if they do, the wages are too low), and this in turn because it wouldn't be profitable for the companies to expand, since they couldn't sell any more products at a profitable price...

This crisis will not end until the rate of profit is restored, which would require:
(1) the rate of exploitation to increase considerably, and since it's hard to imagine how we could survive the stress of working any harder or longer than we're already working, the main way to increase the rate of exploitation would be by continuing to lay off workers and cut wages – including the social wage, made up of welfare benefits, public transit, homeless shelters, etc. (paid indirectly by capitalists to proles via taxes and donation to non-profits);
(2) the liquidation of old capital, including products that can't be sold profitably, obsolescent fixed capital (machines, etc.), and fictitious capital (that is, paper claims to wealth above the actual value of the commodities to which they originally referred - value that is always falling due to technological development, while paper claims to that value, once sold on in a different form, are not written down until a financial crunch; historically, war has been an important way old capital is liquidated);
(3) continuing to cut the cost of production by plundering land, water, and other “resources” from the world's few remaining peasant communities with anything left to steal, and by mining the bodies of humans and other animals for “resources” such as organs, plasma, DNA…; and
(4) the opening of new markets, and the continued creation of new lines of products (for those who can afford them), commoditizing any spheres of life yet to be commoditized
That is, if capital doesn’t destroy us first through military or ecological apocalypse... Or if we don't end the reign of capital by turning this movement of "'Occupy' protests" into a movement to occupy the means of production .

Summer School

Summer School 2017

Summer School 2017  21st – 23rd July Fircroft College, Birmingham   These days, con...