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Showing posts from May, 2017

Poor Scots

More than half of Scots have run out of money before payday, according to a new report.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) study found 15% of people said it happened "most of the time" or "always".
Nearly a quarter (23%) had gone without food at least once in the previous year. CAS said its findings showed that debt was "just a fact of life" for most people. Almost half (48%) who took part in the survey had been forced to borrow money or use credit to buy food. A fifth needed help to pay their rent or mortgage - a figure which jumped to 29% when it came to utility bills. The report also found that 55% of the people quizzed would be unable to pay a sudden bill of £100 without borrowing, using savings or cutting back on essentials. For a £250 bill, this rose to 69%, and for £1,000 it was 83%. Only four in 10 (38%) felt they were "living comfortably" on their income. CAS policy manager Keith Dryburgh said the study showed that debt was not just an issue…

The SPGB Case for your Vote

There are those who criticise the Socialist Party for participating in elections and we are accused of advocating parliamentary action. Indeed we do but at no time do we envisage getting elected on a reform programme which we would then try to get parliament to implement. Our case against parliamentary reformism is that firstly many of the reforms that can be achieved are reforms that would strengthen capitalism and would only be passed with this end in view; and secondly, campaigning for reforms would corrupt a socialist party and relegate the establishment of a socialist society to a secondary purpose. Socialism can only come through the efforts of an organisation having that as its goal, and in a capitalist society that organisation must find expression as a political party – a socialist party.
Running Socialist Party candidates is all about exposing the agenda of the employing class, challenging the false promises and policy lies of the pro-capitalist candidates, and putting forwa…

Lest we forget (Obituary: James McMillan, 1996)

Obituary from the June 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard
The death of James McMillan in March was a shock to all members of the Glasgow Branch.
James was a character. Outside the Party he was known as "Maxie’’or “Jimmy the Pill". Inside it, he was known affectionately as "Wee Jimmy”. Wee Jimmy had a ready wit and was known for his quick-fire delivery. A couple of examples may give some idea of the man. At a party where a non-socialist objected to his swearing and said "Please don’t swear in front of my wife", Jimmy replied "I'm sorry, comrade, didn’t know it was her turn.” On his early life in the East End of Glasgow, he would comment “If there was an egg short, I got it” When a family friend read his tea-cup and said “Maxie,. I see a stranger in your future”, he asked "Is it the butcher?” Wee Jimmy joined the Party in 1965, he was an ever-present at the many outdoor meetings of the Party in the sixties and seventies. He never deviated in his …

For world socialism and global solidarity

The capitalist social system produces a mass of terrible problems; people suffer, deprived, suppressed, degraded and killed because of capitalism. At present, it is difficult to be anything but pessimistic about the future. Environmental calamities are now facts of life. The drive for profit leading to the neglect of everything that stands in the way of this has created ecological havoc in every part of the world. The history of environmental degradation is a history of greed, poverty, and ignorance. By greed, we do not mean the individual idiosyncratic greed that might yearn for three yachts where two would do. Rather it refers to the institutionalised greed of business that has to expand to survive, that is always looking for new products, ways to create new needs, ways to cut costs by reducing environmental safeguards or evading the enforcement of existing ones. And the solution to it all is the setting up of a Socialist Commonwealth. The issue is plain. We can have capitalism, wit…

CELIBACY RULES - OK? (weekly poem)

The Catholic Church has a shortage of trainee priests and may consider a relaxation of their celibacy rule.
The Catholic Church is short of priests, So may amend its rule; To now enable married men, To answer to the call.
Such is the Vatican's disdain, For the whole human race; It couldn't bear for normal men, To show their actual face.
Thus as from the 12th Century, (1) It's eunuchs in long frocks; (2) Have ministered the sacraments, To their quiescent flocks.
The Vatican's fictitious world, Attracts a certain kind; Of those eccentrics who possess, A otherworldly mind.
Reality for them exists, Behind their secret doors; Where sex-starved clergy formulate, (3) A list of human flaws.
That they insist are quite innate, Yet must be overcome; A contradiction atheists, Consider somewhat dumb!
(1) At the Second Lateran Council held in 1139,

Time to demand real change

Does your vote matter? Not in the slightest if you don’t use it to challenge capitalism. Why do the poor vote and act against their own economic and political interests? Instead of just voting for a lesser evil, many people in this coming election on June 8 will have the prospect of voting for someone who is contesting the constituency as a socialist. These are:- Bill Martin - Islington North; Danny Lambert - Battersea; Brian Johnson - Swansea West.
Unlike some left-wingers and the anarchists, the Socialist Party does not accept that participating in elections is wrong. We do not divorce electoral politics from other strategies for basic change. There’s no contradiction at all between voting and civil protest, they are both democratic. It would be a mistake to assume that they are substitutes for one another. People want a voice in all the areas that affect their lives.
Reformism is the idea that the system can be successfully modified and improved through legal means and especially …

Political Action or Political Apathy – You Decide

A survey carried out for the Electoral Reform Society Scotland, found a significant number of those who will not vote on June 8 are not apathetic about politics.
Jonathon Shafi, Electoral Reform Society Scotland campaigns officer, said: “We find time and again that the claim that those who are not voting are totally apathetic is simply untrue...we find that large sections of those who don’t vote regularly discuss politics with friends and family. We also find that this part of the electorate want to make their community a better place to live. That is politics, just not in the ‘formal’ traditional sense: after all, this comes down to getting the power and resources to change things.” He continued: “Where we do find a disconnect with politics, it comes down in part to a strong feeling that their vote doesn’t make a difference. At a more personal level, they also feel that politicians don’t understand their lives, never mind being able to change it. This is an issue of political culture …

Understanding Nationalism

In the struggle to win the minds of the working class, the Socialist Party has had to contend with the deeply held and unquestioned belief of nationalism ― the loyalty felt by many members of the working class to "their country", the geo-political unit in which they happen to be born. Patriots hold the view that a "nation" consists of a hierarchy of men and women who, although having differing incomes, social status, and power, all have a common interest in working in harmony for the benefit of the country as a whole and, if necessary, in fighting against other nations to defend this interest. They prefer instead to see history as a succession of struggles of nations against foreign domination, of subjects against tyrannical kings and of nations and races against each other. Broadly speaking, nationalism represents the interests of the capitalist class. Nationalism can take on a "right-wing" or a "left-wing" form, although every nationalist belie…

Be Human

There are many critics of capitalism yet these thinkers give us no credible vision of how it might really be different except that we need to "resist" the government and the corporations They offer little hope of any real transformative change.
Socialist society will undergo extraordinary transformations and there will be new levels of social cooperation beyond the struggle to survive, and people will be able to live as freely associating human beings, sharing the common abundance of their labour, and taking responsibility and caring for each other in ways that are only possible in a world that has gotten rid of all oppressive economic, social, and political relations—and all the oppressive ideas that go along with such relations. It is impossible now to say how humanity in a socialist world will live and we can only imagine and speculate about what such a world would actually look like. But we can be sure that human relationships will be completely and radically different. T…

Tomorrow does not belong to us

Today people all over the world are afraid and are wondering what will become of them and why. Human nature is not one of greed, or dog-eat-dog competition. That is learned. We know in indigenous societies, those societies which existed for tens of thousands of years before the origin of class society, there was no such thing as private property. There was shared, communal property. Socialism is the first step in returning human beings to the society in which our species developed based on solidarity, cooperation and interaction with each other based on equality. We don’t have a blueprint for what life will look like in post-capitalist society, but we do venture to say that our lives will not be driven by social and economic forces that they do not control. Socialism is where human beings can really begin to shape their own destiny as individuals, as families, and as communities.
Organized as a one human family, our global society and its economy, would be controlled by everyone, toget…

Against Parochialism

Scottish nationalism is born out of a frustration. The problems of the Scottish workers flow not from being part of the UK, as the nationalists argue, but because of the crisis of capitalism which weighs just as heavily on the workers and their families south of the border. The oppression and exploitation of working people is a product of capitalist society and can only be removed by the socialist transformation of society. This, in turn, requires the unity of all workers, irrespective of nation, colour, creed, sex or language. That is why workers' unity must be foremost in the minds of our fellow-workers. Nowhere is the result of this more glaring than in the trade union field that there should be no encouragement of the splitting of the trade unions, the basic organisations of the working class.  Fellow-workers are on a slippery slope if we abandon the principle of unity. Our blog has highlighted the division among the Scottish coalminers in the past.
Capitalism pits the interest…

Our planetary movement

The world has a proven abundance of resources and more than enough to feed and give us all more than we need to thrive. Yet because of the capitalist system, these resources are severely restricted, keeping half the world’s population in poverty and allowing millions to starve to death every year. The capitalist exchange-economy is detrimental to humanity as it creates social divisions, and conflicts of interest between nations, groups and individuals. It also creates conflicts of interest between the moral aspirations of the individual and the individual’s desire for materialistic rewards and security. 
Modern society has access to highly advanced technology and can make available food, clothing, housing and medical care; update our educational system; and develop a limitless supply of renewable, non-contaminating energy. By supplying an efficiently designed economy, everyone can enjoy a very high standard of living with all of the amenities of a high technological society. The techn…