Wednesday, May 31, 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 for people on low incomes. He said: "Many working Scots on reasonable salaries occasionally need to borrow money to get them from one pay day to the next."

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 forward socialism as the alternative for working people. Running candidates is about providing a platform to gain support for the idea of socialism. Elections are an organising tool to expose the powers that be and to confront the ideology of the bosses. There are some who believe that the elections were created as a trap to ensnare the socialist movement. In reality, the ruling elite has systematically looked to deny anyone that dispute their right to exist the right to vote. If we limit our struggles just to the workplace and the streets, then that allows the 1% to dominate the other arenas available in society. They already control the courts, the police, and the mass media. But we can battle them in the political arena. The idea that boycotting or abstaining from the election is the best way to resist the 1% neglects this fact. That’s why we need to challenge them in the elections as well as in every other arena. Also, if we do not try to win support from those angry at the system’s failures, then the right-wing will endeavour to do so by tapping into working people’s legitimate frustrations and anxieties. But their solutions will amount to not much more than populist scapegoating.

Marx and Engels insisted the overthrow of capitalism will only be accomplished by the working class. “The emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves...” [“Provisional Rules of the Association,” in The General Council of the First International]. Hence, the goal of socialists must be to consistently assist in the organization of the working class so that it is in a position to consciously act in its own self-interests independently of the interests of capitalists. Working people must come to the realisation that they are members of an exploited class and that capitalism does not operate in their interests, and their only salvation lies in joining together in order to collectively create an entirely different economic system that actually operates in the interests of the majority. 

The Socialist Party has been successful in developing a clear critique of capitalism, reaching out to let as many workers understand the system they live under. We're holding up a sign to let workers who have come to socialist ideas themselves know we're here.  The revolution will not happen because workers have or have not been exposed to our case. They won't even read it unless they feel the need it, they'll continue to support capitalism as long as they feel they need capitalism. Prevailing powerful propaganda is a useful tool for the ruling class, but it cannot overrule the lived experience and capacity of workers to think. It only works now because it is going with the grain.

We reject the conservative call 'a fair day's pay for a fair days work', in favor of the revolutionary call 'Abolish the Wages System'.

We recognise that the wages currently paid by the employing classes, can never be 'fair' because they represent only the market-price to the employer (buyer of labour, competing in that market with all other buyers/employers)  of the employees' ability to labour ('labour-power') : they bear no necessary relation to the prices that labours' products eventually realise on successful Sale by the employer ( the products of labour belong to the employer) on the market. Indeed the employer's profit grows in direct proportion to the difference between the two prices. Hence the perpetual pressure from the employers to resist wage increases, or improvements in working conditions, or indeed, force wages down and worsen conditions.

We recognise that, within this 'arrangement' the employee class can only ever, on average, gain in wages it's subsistence as necessary to maintain and reproduce it's labour-power under the market conditions prevailing at a particular time: we do not oppose actions by the employees to raise their wages or improve their conditions, but recognise such pressures can never move their position far beyond that average.

We recognise that in times of 'boom', when employers are keen to maximise production as far as possible and so seek to avoid disruptions to production, such actions to raise wages are most likely to succeed, at least temporarily; conversely, in times of 'recession' when the employers are curtailing production and shedding labour, they are almost certain to fail, except, perhaps, in certain industries that are perhaps not as subject to the general down-turn.

We recognise that competitive production only for profit between a myriad 'blind' competing employers is the last remaining cause of poverty in the world today - the purely technical problem of producing sufficiency for all, reliably, has long since been conquered - and that capitalism and its wages system cannot be reformed to work in any other way than it currently does and always has.

We say again 'Abolish the Wages System'.  This will occur when a majority of the population opts to take the means of production and distribution of the common property of the whole community, under the democratic control of the whole community, producing only for use (without the paraphernalia of wages and prices  only necessary to support sale at a profit for the benefit of the tiny and shrinking minorities currently monopolising those means of production and distribution) which implies free access for all to the socially available product.

Where is the voice of the working class? The Socialist Party say it is the clarion call of our candidates and our members. The Socialist Party has kept alive lessons from the past that today we should all be learning from. Today more than ever, our problems are global. Capitalism is a global system. Not only is it attacking living standards around the world but, due to its insatiable drive for profit with no regard for social consequences, it is threatening the survival of life as we know it on the planet. There has been a groundswell of resistance and a growing disillusionment with “politics as usual”. Our experience on the campaign trail has been that people are more open to alternative ideas and visions. Voters are genuinely looking around for a serious alternative, for a party they can identify with and one that articulates what they have been feeling and thinking. So, is a vote for the Socialist Party a wasted vote? The answer is no. A socialist in parliament can amplify the voices of community, workplace and social campaigns and activists, so they have a better chance of being heard. We have to use all avenues at our disposal, including parliament, to build the movements to defend and mobilise our class. Direct and participatory democracy is all about empowering people so they become the organised force for social change. 

Unfortunately, in Scotland, there is no Socialist Party candidate for you to vote for. What we suggest is that you spoil your ballot paper by inscribing "world socialism" on it

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 socialist principles.

Our sympathy is extended to his sister, Winnie and his brothers, John and Peter. He will be missed.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

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, with its problems. Or we can build a new society of freedom and dignity. We can have capitalism or socialism and capitalism is incompatible with meeting basic human needs. We never go back on our policy, we never betray our principles, we will never compromise. Our analysis of capitalism remains valid. The Socialist Party calls for a leader-free global revolution. The people must capture legislative and executive control constitutionally and legitimately because this will assure mainstream support for the revolution.  

Every time Election Day rolls around, any conscientious voter who wants to listen to all sides, weigh the merits of the several contenders, and vote with a clear understanding of the issues should be in a state of total confusion. For how can one evaluate the claims and counter-claims? What credence should be given to political promises, seeing how often they are made cynically with never an intention (nor even the possibility) of making good on them? Some voters will be so discouraged or so skeptical that voting can have any real influence on the way our lives are run, that they will turn their backs on the whole electoral process. Others will vote with no real expectation of improving things; they will settle for the “lesser evil” in the hope of keeping the worst scoundrel out of public office. And they will feel that they have thereby made a realistic compromise. Meanwhile, the news media will say the “good citizen,” should support the party of his or her choice. He or she must use the vote, not waste it. What the opinion molders do not mention is the obvious yet significant fact that the major parties (and their would-be reformers) support the capitalist system. Their candidates differ at most on how to cure the mortal ills of capitalism. But they support it—every one of them. And they don’t deny it. The deception lies in their claim that legislative tinkering with capitalism can cure the mess we’re in. But that mess is the direct result of capitalism and cannot be cured by reforms, no matter who applies them.

This country will have continued unemployment, poverty, urban decay, pollution and rape of the environment not because the people don’t care but because the capitalist owners don’t care—or care about profits more. This country will continue to support dictatorships abroad as long as capitalist influence and markets are at stake. This country will continue to whittle away the rights and privacy of its citizens and to curtail the right of dissent. We say “this” country and not “our” country because it isn’t our country in an economic sense. We, the working-class majority, don’t own it and we don’t control it. When it does become our country—owned, operated and administered by the majority—we can easily solve all our problems. And not until then.

That is central to how you ought to think about your vote. Viewed thus the choices boil down to two.
1. Support capitalism and leave things as they are.
2. Vote and work for socialism.

As socialists, we are opposed to choosing between politicians who are pledged to administrate the affairs of the capitalist system. Why? Because no form of capitalism is worth voting for. Election campaigns are more and more decided by access to the media who consistently refuse to cover any activities except those of the major party candidates—candidates who represent the same ruling-class interests as the media corporations themselves. Is this what free elections are all about? Some will say socialism is utopianism. But isn’t it naive to think this era of endless wars and environmental destruction, of vast economic inequality and entrenched global poverty, can be healed under the very same socio-economic system that continually recreates this diseased social reality? Is there any alternative to the needless human suffering and deprivation, to the horrors of the modern era, than to embrace a revolutionary vision of democracy—socialist democracy—on the grandest scale ever imagined?

Corbyn might do a bit better than May, but as socialists, we don't care about a bit better, but a whole lot better, which won't happen until a fundamental change is made in society. A change that will eliminate the above social evils – a change called socialism. The task of convincing fellow-workers of socialism is a daunting one. The working class has been fooled into accepting the concept of common interests wherein the problems of the capitalist class and its state are theirs also. The belief that there exists a community of interests from which we all derive common benefits is a mistaken one but nevertheless held strongly even by supposed critics of the status quo such as Sanders. Two crucial political fallacies permeate workers thinking. First, that the present system can be organised through a process of legislation and regulation so that it will operate in the interests of the majority, and second, that "proper leadership" is an essential requirement. Such ideas have created a cornucopia of radical-left parties but the almost-forgotten Socialist Party may impress you if you have an appreciation of the history of the socialist movement. The Socialist Party maintains that it has been unique since its inception by unrelentingly putting forward the original conception of socialism, defined as a post-capitalist mode of production where the accumulation of capital is no longer the driving force governing production, but production is instead undertaken to produce goods and services directly for use. The Socialist Party defines socialism as a money-free society based on common ownership of the means of production and cooperative and democratic associations as opposed to bureaucratic hierarchies and corporations. Additionally, the Socialist Party considers statelessness, classlessness and the abolition of wage labour as components of a socialist society—characteristics that are usually reserved to describe a fully developed communist society. Unlike anarchists, the Socialist Party advocates a political revolution because it argues that as the state is the "executive committee" of the capitalist class. It must be captured by the working class to keep the former from using it against the will of the latter.

Always, there are groups protesting and campaigning against some aspect or other of this social system. The energy and ingenuity they display in issues they consider important provides further proof that once working men and women get on the right track capitalism's days are numbered. Enthusiasm is an excellent and valuable thing when rightly applied, but when it is wasted in fruitless directions it only leads to disenchantment and apathy. The Socialist Party has resisted all attempts on the part of those on the Left to renounce its principles and in doing so has been accused dogmatism and sectarianism. This charge is seen by the members of the Socialist Party as a badge of political honesty and sincerity; of persistence and perseverance. These are precious attributes. But the Socialist Party needs more than that. It requires the understanding and cooperation of fellow-workers and it is humble enough to admit that it has been lacking in this particular support. The Socialist Party’s message has always been the same – that the workers can just as easily run society for their own benefit. By standing in this election, we in the Socialist Party are opposing the system of leaders and politicians, but also opposing the economic system that always makes them fail.

Private profit always comes before the needs of the majority, no matter what promises are made by the politicians. if you recognise that the problems we daily face are caused by the profit-driven nature of the economy, then consider voting for us: a genuinely democratic party without leaders that believes in a class-free, money-free society without poverty and insecurity. We believe that the voice of the working class needs to be heard in an electoral arena that is dominated by pro-capitalist parties. The Socialist Party is running candidates in this general election so that the arguments of business interests can be challenged and debated. The Socialist Party’s case is if we want to create a decent, sustainable life for all, it is not enough to reform capitalism. The entire system must be removed root and branch. At this particular moment in history, we do not expect to succeed when we engage in electoral politics. But it is the time to build for the future. The Socialist Party policy position is one of not doing things for working people but, instead, encouraging working people to do things for themselves and by doing so, building a real working-class movement. The Socialist Party uses electoral politics so that socialist ideas can be disseminated to a broader audience so it can be imbued with a sense of their potential political power. We hope to inspire workers to become politically engaged and take a step in establishing a real movement. For change to come will take more than a gentle nudge at the powers-that-be. It will take putting some serious anti-capitalist muscle into a movement. The first step towards socialist revolution is for you to get involved if you’re not already.

There is, due to our few numbers, no candidates in Scotland standing. But we counsel you to spoil your ballot paper by writing “socialism” across it.

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,
all Catholic Priests were forbidden to marry.

(2) Some scholars believe Biblical references
to eunuchs may also include celibates.

(3) Wikipedia lists numerous Popes who disobeyed
the celibacy rule including Benedict IX who allegedly
practised sodomy, bestiality and arranged orgies.

© Richard Layton

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 through participation in its official channels like lobbying and elections. Reformists argue that this is the realistic and peaceful approach to change. Yet the most effective reforms under capitalism have actually been the product of struggle from outside the system, not from the initiatives of friendly politicians within parliament. Any third party that doesn’t make clear that the interests of workers are diametrically opposed to the capitalist system, is simply part of the problem. The Labour Party and the Green Party are reformist. They preaches the gospel that capitalism can be reformed — against consistent evidence to the contrary. Despite their many anti-corporate speeches their policy positions stance pits it against effectively promoting systemic change.

A better and peaceful world is possible — a world where it is about people and nature and not profits. That’s socialism. That’s our vision. We advocate socialism, the common ownership and democratic control of the economy by working people. If we join together to take back our industries and natural resources, we can work together for the common good, rather than being slaves to the rich and their capitalist corporations.

The idea of working people taking democratic control of all aspects affecting their lives is new to many but it lies at the very heart of socialist thought and practice. The Socialist Party is planting the seed in people’s minds. We hold a vision of a state-free, class-free, communal future, but it is important to understand how this can be achieved. Only through socialism can we transform exploitative and divisive capitalist production and the society it produces into a harmonious, peaceful, collective society where everyone produces according to their ability and everyone receives what they need.

The way to build support for socialism at the polls is to present clear principled, anti-capitalist positions. Socialism is the only way to deliver shared abundance and solve the social problems that the rich ignore. The creation of a powerful socialist movement is the first step to creating a real party of the 99% that not only criticises capitalism, but contends to replace it. We need a movement explaining and de-stigmatising socialism. Your support for socialist candidates sends a positive message of solidarity that you reject the charade of capitalism. This year you can make your ballot count. But not if you live in Scotland, unfortunately. Here, we advise you to spoil your ballot and show your rejection of capitalism by writing "world socialism" across your voting slip. When we  say spoil your voting paper , does this mean standing on the sidelines? Not at all.  With the political will, we can create a world where goods and services will be used to provide the needs of humanity rather than accumulating even more wealth for an economically redundant class of parasites.

Monday, May 29, 2017

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 and how parties and politicians communicate with the public. But it’s also about how we deepen democracy and bring decision-making closer to communities.”

Two-fifths of non-voters think who is in government makes no difference to their lives. Meanwhile, a similar number (42 percent) said they felt all the candidates they could vote for did not understand their life. Just over a quarter (26 percent) of non-voters said they regularly talked about how to make their community a better place - with this rising to about a third (32 per cent) when those who probably will not vote are included. In addition, 27 percent of those who say they are certain not to cast their ballot said they regularly discuss politics with friends and family.

The process of making a revolution involves reinventing a democracy, free from the patronage, the power games and the profit motive that currently abuses it. The Socialist Party suggests that rather than abstain and not use your vote, it is better to participate in the electoral process and signal your dissatisfaction with a spoilt ballot paper. The members of the Socialist Party acknowledge and understand the feeling that politics has become a dirty word for many of our fellow citizens And why shouldn't it be? Politics of any colour, as currently structured, equates to lies, corruption, and furtherance of the aims of a minority elite. Politics is all about corruption, cronyism, compromise and concessions. It is a downright perversion whether for money or power or influence. Political democracy, despite its advantages, restricts popular participation to giving the thumbs up or the thumbs down every few years to rival professional politicians and with fewer and fewer people even bothering to do this. The system has developed as intended and has been shaped to be ideally suited to advantage the elite few at the expense of the vast majority so we really shouldn't be surprised. If you think you've been cheated over the years you're right; capitalism is nothing but a racket.

Most people are aware of this but don’t think they can do anything about it. They don’t like it but accept it as something they have to put up with as they try to make the best of their life and that of their family. This is what is being called apathy, but it’s really more resignation or fatalism. The Socialist Party has consistently warned of the dangers of political apathy, of trusting in leaders, of accepting all that governments say without question. Our silence and our inaction is an important element in our continuing exploitation, for the master class see in it as our consent for their abuses and excesses. Politics, the activities associated with how a country or an area is run, is something which should engage the interest and activity of every citizen as it bears directly on all aspects of life. The reason for contempt or indifference towards politics comes from a history of being excluded, the expectation of being excluded and the acceptance of being excluded. To be heard we need to be involved in the decision-making processes. Anger and outrage is not enough. Wherever you look nowadays, it is becoming increasingly clear that the self-serving hypocrisy of the ruling elite is not sustainable. Global capitalism is running everywhere into the social, financial and environmental limitations imposed by its own catastrophically shortsighted rush for endless accumulation.  Decisions have long been made for people not by people,  with electorates distanced from their representatives, decisions made with no consultation and “political leaders” believing they have been selected to take the reins and make all decisions on behalf of the voters. It's taken for granted that once elected the “politician” decides on behalf of the electors. Even our mass demonstrations against unpopular decisions can leave the elected unmoved and intransigent. As a result, there has long been a culture of complaint, a collective feeling of impotence with no expectation of being heard, even if seemingly listened to. Indeed, it can be easy to look at the situation today and become excessively pessimistic and negative. Cynicism and apathy can take hold and give rise to a belief that this is the way of the world is and nothing can or should be done about it. And this is the very stance encouraged via the media and by the political system as a way of preventing people seeking out emancipatory alternatives. Apathy is political suicide.

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 believe themselves to be unique. This depends upon the position of the capitalist class in the particular time and place. If political power is held by the aristocracy or nobility, and the middle-class is struggling to assert itself, then nationalism will have "left-wing" connotations. This was the case in Europe until 1848 when nationalism was a romantic, revolutionary force against the traditional ruling class. However, once the aspiring ruling class have captured and consolidated its power, then nationalism becomes a conservative and right wing.
The Socialist Party opposes all nationalist movements recognising that the working class has no country. We give no support to any nationalist. There are certain others, the so-called left-nationalists who fully accept the mythology of the existence of "the nation". argued that Marx and Engels supported nationalist movements and that therefore "socialists" should do so today. Such an assertion is based on a faulty understanding of the materialist conception of history. Marx and Engels were living in an era when the rising capitalist class was engaged in a struggle to assert itself against the old feudal regimes. The victory of this class was a historically progressive step at that time in that it brought about the re-organisation of society on a capitalist basis, the essential precondition for the establishment of Socialism; and it created an urban proletariat, the only class which can bring about socialism. This was why Marx supported the capitalists in their bid to capture political power. However, once capitalism reaches the point where socialism is a practical proposition, there is no need for socialists to advocate the capitalist industrialization of every corner of the globe; they can concentrate fully on the task of establishing socialism.
The Socialist Party is a Marxist organisation and we accept the main points of Karl Marx's theories of history, economics, and politics. But not uncritically. One of our disagreements with Marx is over nationalism. Marx and Engels had declared that workers have no country and urged the workers of the world to unite, this was not their only statement on the matter. They also made a distinction between "historical nations" (such as Poland and Ireland) and "non-historical nations" (such as the Czechs, Scots, and Welsh). Historical nations met with their approval because, as independent states, they could be progressive in terms of capitalist development. Non-historical nations, on the other hand, were doomed to be assimilated into the more progressive states (with "democracy as compensation", as Engels put it). Non-historical nations were not viable as independent states in a capitalist world, argued Marx and Engels, and any movement for state independence in such nations could only be reactionary.
Nationalism has served to divide workers into different nation-states not only literally but ideologically. Today it is probably fair to say that a majority of workers—to one extent or another—align themselves to their domestic ruling class. Historically, nationalism and national feeling have been the tool of the capitalist class for both winning and retaining power. The ruling class have cultivated such ideas as nationalism, propagating the illusion that we live in a society with a collective social interest. The more enlightened capitalists probably saw the effects of separating and alienating people from each other and their labour, and so stepped up the spreading of beliefs like nationalism in order to try and convince people that they were not so exploited as they really were and that everyone had a common interest. Nationalism is a relatively new concept for social control, while before religion was once the principle method of control over the majority.
To the socialist, class-consciousness is the breaking-down of all barriers to understanding. The conflict between the classes is more than a struggle for each to gain from the other: it is the division which reaches across all others. The class-conscious worker knows where he or she stands in society. His or her interests are opposed at every point to those of the capitalist class. Nationalism is not their interest but their rulers'. The presence of nationalist ideas is an indication that some groups in society feel its real material interests are being frustrated by forces outside or even inside the nation. But the desire to achieve their aims is never expressed in terms of their own needs only. 
In order to enlist the necessary working class support such arguments as “justice”, “freedom”, and “the nation” are used to justify the real bone of contention and to give it an aura of sanctity. The concept of nationality, the idea that an area dominated by a privileged class which thrives on the enforced poverty of that area's productive class, should grant to the latter the right to live there providing its members accept their wage-slave status and endorse the right of the privileged to live on their backs is offensive to any intelligent person. Those who promote such nonsense are enemies of our class.
The Socialist Party say that no matter where our fellow-workers were born, wherever they live or wherever they come from, they should identify with people in a similar position throughout the world. “We” are all members of a world-wide excluded class of wage-working wealth producers – the world working class – who have a common interest in coming together to abolish so-called “nation-states” and establish a frontier-free world community in which all the natural and industrial resources of the Earth will have become the common heritage of all Humanity, to be used for the benefit instead of, as to today, to make profits for the few. Then we would all really be Citizens of the World, Earth-people. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

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. This transformation to a decent world system based on equality, justice, freedom, peace, and sustainability is to be achieved non-violently and democratically, through ratification procedures.

 Many ask us: is socialism possible? Is there enough to let everyone have the right to take as they wished? We answer: yes and we can, indeed, apply the principle: “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need”, because, in future societies, production will be so abundant that there will be no need to limit consumption, or to demand from people more work than they are willing or able to give. Right now, we can begin to imagine this immense growth in production when we look at the capabilities and potential of automation and robotics. The appearance of these helpers of work, as large as it seems to us today, is quite minimal in comparison to what it will be in societies to come. Today, the machine often has the ignorance of the capitalist against it, but more often still his interest. How many new inventions and innovations are going unapplied only because they do not bring an immediate benefit to the capitalist? Will a company, for example, go to great expense to safeguard the interests of the workers and construct costly equipment to protect their workers' health and safety? So many discoveries, go unheeded, only because they do not bring sufficient profit to the capitalist.

The workers today is also the enemy of new technology and rightfully so because they are the monster that comes to displace them from jobs, to starve and dehumanise. But, yet, what an immense gain we would have when we will no longer be the servant of the machines but, on the contrary, they would be at our service, helping and working for his well-being.

Competition is one of the fundamental principles of capitalist production, where the ruination of one makes the fortune of another. this relentless rivalry happens from nation to nation, from region to region, from individual to individual, between workers as well as between capitalists. One industry prospers where other industries decline. A worker finds work where another has lost it. In the socialist society of the future, this individualistic principle of capitalist production of each for themselves against all others, and everyone against everyone will be replaced by the true principle of human society: all for one and one for all.  Imagine how great will be the growth of production, when each of us, far from needing to fight against all the others, will be helped by them when we will have them not as enemies but as co-operators. If the collective work often attains results absolutely impossible for one alone, how grand will be the results obtained by the large-scale cooperation of all who, today, work hostilely against each other?

Also, consider the huge savings and the end of wasted energy and resources that will be made because they will not be expended on the production of absolutely useless things when they are not harmful to humanity. How many workers, how much material, and how many tools are used today by the military to build their arsenals of offensive and “defensive” weaponry! How much raw materials are wasted to produce luxury objects that serve nothing but the needs of vanity and hedonism od the rich and powerful? Think of how all this industry begins to be used for the production of objects that themselves will serve to produce, what a prodigious growth in production we will see appearing.

Of course, we let everyone take according to their will since there will be enough for everyone. We will no longer need to demand more work than anyone wants to give because there will always be enough products for tomorrow. It’s thanks to this abundance that work will lose the dreadful character of enslavement. Not only is socialism possible it is necessary. Perhaps there may be at the at the beginning of socialism, there could be some products which will not be abundant enough; it will be necessary to establish som sort of rationing so be it. How that is accomplished could be based labour-time or by a lottery, or even “first come, first served” but we must remain socialists so it must be done according to needs. The family, that small model of socialism is our example. In the family, at dinner, everyone serves themselves as they please according to their appetites; there is no rationing. But if bad days arrive, and being destitute forces mother to no longer rely on the appetite and taste of each person for distribution at dinner and it is necessary to ration, the portions are reduced. But see, this sharing is not always equal, because it’s the youngest children who receive the most generous helpings, and the best piece of the meat is reserved for the grand-mother. Even during a food shortage, the family operates on the principle of rationing according to needs. Could it be otherwise in the human family of the future?

Be realistic, demand the impossible 

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, together, not just a small group, whether that group was the tiny corporate "ruling class" or the tiny “bureaucrats”. Economic activity as one human family would occur cooperatively, to satisfy human need and want, not to allow a tiny group of owners or politicians to accumulate vast riches. It would be a dramatically new and different society, offering a way of life we can only dream of under our present system. Marx summed it all upby saying that the goal is “an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.” Our goal, in short, cannot be a society in which some people are able to develop their capabilities and others are not; we are interdependent, we are all members of a human family. The full development of all human potential is our goal. “What do we all want?” and the answer is “To be all that we can be.” Socialism does not try to make everyone of the same. Quite the opposite. Socialism advocates more freedom and individual expression for people, not less. Whether it's freedom of expression or sexual freedom, socialism advocates increasing freedom. Socialists do not advocate that everyone should have the same income,

We can and must address environmental problems, including climate change. This means fighting the vast global inequalities in wealth, health and prosperity. Those who claim slowing population growth will stop or slow environmental destruction are ignoring the real and immediate threats to life on our planet. Capitalism is a many-headed Hydra monster and its depredations are everywhere. Capitalism has poisoned all areas of life. Socialists recognize that the kind of sustainability necessary given our current circumstances can only be accomplished with careful planning at the local, regional and worldwide levels and cannot be entrusted to the whims of the market.

The socialist vision of a worldwide human family is not only a more positive, compassionate, and appealing one than the dominant “us versus them” vision, but it is also empowering. We conceive socialism, not as a scheme of society to be constructed from a preconceived plan, but as a stage in social evolution. Those who will inaugurate the socialist society of the future will be the coming socialist generations themselves.  This is why we refrain from offering these future generations any models or blueprints. Today's socialists can only point towards a general direction of development and little more. One must not project our own reflection into a different world, where the content and motivations of present-day society will no longer be operative. Socialism will undoubtedly bring about a revolutionary transformation of human activity and association in all aspects of our lives.

People, today, are haunted by insecurity. Our mental health and well-being is undermined by fear for our future and the future of our children. We are never free from fear that if something happens, if they have a sickness or an accident, the consequences will fall upon us and our children will be deprived of an education and proper food and clothing. Under such conditions, people don't really get much chance to show their true nature. In the socialist society of shared abundance, this all-pervading fear will be lifted from the minds of the people who will enjoy a new attitude toward life and their pleasure in it. Human nature will get a chance to show what it is really made of. People will no longer suspect their neighbour lest they are taken advantage of. There will be no chance to “buy” friendship or love because nothing will be for sale. Women, liberated from the prison of the kitchen, will become the free companions of free men. There is no such thing as a child without talent. Children will engage in productive labour, but not as in today's child exploitation, not at the expense of their “education” but as an essential part of it. From an early age, children will learn to use tools and assist other people. The child will have the satisfaction of learning by doing, and the satisfaction of being useful and productive even when he’s a child. Older people will begin to treat children more respectfully, regard them from an early age, as equal citizens to be reasoned with and talked tto.Marx said: “Children must educate their parents.” And they will do that, too.

We perhaps will not have the opportunity to become citizens of the socialist future yet our vision of the future, fits us for our role as advocates for revolution, promoters for the liberation of humanity. No matter whether we personally see the dawn of socialism or not, no matter what our personal fate may be, the cause for which we fight has social evolution on its side to usher mankind into a new day. It is enough for us if we do our small part to hasten on the day. That’s what we’re here for. That’s all the incentive we need. And the confidence that we are right and that our cause will prevail, is all the reward we need.

"Intelligence enough to conceive, courage enough to will, power enough to compel. If our ideas of a new Society are anything more than a dream, these three qualities must animate the due effective majority of the working people; and then, I say, the thing will be done"  - William Morris

Saturday, May 27, 2017

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 interests of the employers and workers against each other, sooner or later all nationalist parties are forced to take sides and we know what the choice always has been from history. They declare that the “national interest” is supreme which is the interest of business. Socialism is about solidarity, coming together and uniting through class struggle. Nationalism should be anathema for a socialist for it creates arbitrary divisions based on nothing more than where a person happened to be born. Claiming that the true road to world socialism lies in erecting more borders is absurd. Socialism should be about uniting people through common interests, not pulling people apart through arbitrary ideas of nationhood. Breaking things up into smaller and smaller units is surely not the method of a socialist.

 Socialism is the self-liberation of working class people, by their own efforts, creating and using their own organisations. Social struggle occurs in a given place on the surface of the planet. As we live in Scotland we will begin here.  Our attitude to constitutional reform is that no fundamental problem facing working people can be solved, or even seriously alleviated, by tinkering with the state structure. We cannot tag along with or follow these nationalist movements or parties - we must resolutely propagate socialism. We must constantly hammer home that SNP and their ilk are nothing but tools of the ruling class. The nationalists will not just go away if we ignore them.

All too often, British union leaders have resorted to nationalist flag-waving to defend "British" enterprise against "foreign" competition - conflating the interest of the bosses with those of workers.  By choosing to operate on the basis that British workers have distinct interests from workers elsewhere, union officials (whether consciously or not) play right into the hands of the capitalist profiteers. Of course, nationalism was deep-seated in all Communist Parties

In the world in which we live each and, every society is pinioned within the iron grip of global capitalism. Against the vast multinational power of capital only one force can be counter-posed and that is the worldwide unity of the working class. Socialism, therefore is international or it is nothing. Socialism sets out to abolish the antagonisms and divisions between the peoples of the world. Socialism means large units, closer and closer fraternal relationships between all countries and peoples. Ultimately it means, in the shape of fully flowered socialism itself, a united Federated Communes of the World, ours will be free unions of free people. There will be not a trace of national chauvinism about them.  Working-class people are casting off old ideas and looking around for new ones.