Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Reclaiming Socialism

Capitalism is now being increasingly challenged.  Yet socialism has lost its position as the goal. The “socialist” parties now support capitalism but with a human face. The word "socialism" lacks a clear, concrete definition.  To enrich and strengthen anti-capitalism by giving it such a definitive objective, we need to envision a socialism that can inspire and motivate.

The ability to find paid work is rooted within supply and demand. If there is a demand for your labour, and few can supply it in the same way you do, you will do well. If many can supply it just like you, you may not do so well, but you may also manage to just get by if you’re lucky.  Without paid work, you suffer deprivation and misery. we cannot guarantee that everyone can always find jobs for the fulfilment of their basic needs. The Socialist Party proposes that can stop requiring the exchange of money for basic needs, making things like food, water, and shelter entirely free.  This would end the price system and make the requirement for money redundant. Work will be motivated not by money but by a planned economy for goods and services. Money itself loses meaning. The result is something more like an economy based on resources instead of money, where what is possible is measured by if we can physically achieve it instead of if we can “afford” it. Some may call this post-capitalist common ownership. Others may call it a Star Trek economy. Still, others may call it a resource-based economy. But it doesn’t really matter what we call it. Our critics argue that this would, in turn, destroy the ability to calculate just what to produce, how much of it produce, and where it’s needed. We say, that is not so and we can rationally determine planning by calculation-in-kind

No one person can claim 100% ownership of their wealth. It’s all fractions of the whole. As the saying goes, no one person can make a pencil. As simple a creation as that seems, it is the collective work of humanity. The wood comes from somewhere. The graphite comes from somewhere else. The eraser and what comprises it comes from elsewhere. Shipping networks transport raw materials that are made into component parts that are manufactured into a finished product that is shipped all over the world. More than that, no one alive thought of the pencil. That person is long dead. We all prosper because of knowledge from the past, passed down to us. This is our collective “something for nothing” we all enjoy on the one hand while deriding the idea of something for nothing on the other. Civilization itself is something for nothing. It is the result of billions of interdependent parts working together as part of a social system known as humanity.

Socialism is rule by the working people. They will decide how socialism is to work. This was how Marx and Engels defined socialism. The task of socialists, therefore, is to help and guide the transfer of power from capitalists to working people.  To use the word “socialism” for anything but working people’s power is to misuse the term. Nationalisation of mines, railways, steel, etc. is not socialism. Nationalisation is simply state capitalism, with no relation to socialism. Nor is the “welfare state” socialist.  “Welfare” in capitalism is to improve the efficiency of that state as a profit-maker, is not socialism but a form of state capitalism. It can be an improvement on capitalism with no welfare, just as a 40-hour week is an improvement on a 60-hour week. But it is not socialism. As capitalist crisis develops the “welfare state” also inevitably turns into the “means test state”.

Socialism is a type of society in which all the members of the community collectively determine their conditions of life and their way of living. In order to do so, they must own and control, collectively, the use to which machines, factories, raw materials – all the means of production – are put. Unless the means of production are effectively in the hands of the whole society, not as today where 1% of the population owns more than half the wealth of the world, there can be no question of the collective control of the conditions of life.

Every capitalist competes with every other one for a market. When they sell similar goods, their competition is obvious. Even when they sell altogether different goods, like TV sets and houses, they still compete for the limited wage-packet of the worker. If one capitalist does not compete, he is lost. To become big the Capitalist must first squeeze out his weaker competitors and add their capital to his – centralisation of capital – or make as much profit as possible from his current sales and reinvest it – accumulation of capital.

Never underestimate the unwillingness of someone to see the reality, if their lives depend on seeing a fantasy.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Thieving Banks

Nine out of 10 easy access savings accounts pay interest of less than 1%. Moneyfacts found that a third of easy access accounts failed to even pay a rate matching the current base rate of 0.25%. The cost of living is rising at 2.9% a year, so many savings rates are failing to keep pace. Moneyfacts said people faced a "never-ending battle" for decent returns.
The Bank of England pointed to the potential dangers from the "benign" economic conditions, highlighting growing levels of consumer borrowing on credit cards and car finance. The same conditions have led to the paltry rates of return for savers, with the Bank of England base rate having been at a record lows for years.
 Government lending initiatives and consecutive cuts to bank base rate have resulted in savings rates plummeting," said Rachel Springall, of Moneyfacts. "To add insult to injury, the governor of the Bank of England's view is that there will not be a rise to interest rates in the foreseeable future. There is a fundamental flaw in the savings market, with a distinct lack of competition among the biggest banks for savers' cash."

We Need Your Voice

If we do not resist, we languish. Although these are trying times, we cannot afford to withdraw into despair. We must discover once more the solidarity to stand together firm. We must fight the fear that grips us. This time around, let’s fight for socialism from the start. Revolution cannot be an abstract idea or distant-goal. It must be a living, breathing social movement that brings hope. Revolution will not be a single spectacular event, but instead it is a process. The important part is to come together and build power from below that does not rest in the hands of any leader or party in any way. The Socialist Party strategy relies on the unity at the ballot box, a strategy which begins with us, the exploited workers. We must push for greater unity of working-class movements. We need to reach out to our fellow-workers.

Let’s build structures that ensure workers keep control. Let us not hand over political power to a State that can institute tyranny all over again. Exploitation blossoms so the rich feast delicacies while the poor starve. Change is on its way. We seek socialist organisation, bottom-up administration, and democratic decision-making. Our only chance is to build a movement that relies on the power of the people. Together we hold the solution to the problems of capitalism. Our organizing begins by taking control and creating their own democratic mass movements, based on our collective power against the State and capital. We need to build the people’s power from below. Knowledge of what is wrong with a social system and knowledge of how to change the system for the better are two completely different things.

 Democracy is vitally important to the working class and, as we see it, this process is enhanced by the degree of democracy which workers have won for themselves. Regardless of how radical the reforms which new Left leaders promise, they will never be anything approaching common ownership of the mines, factories and other means of producing wealth. The initiative for this social revolution will have to come from the working class. Socialists do not take sides in struggles between sections of the ruling class. Socialists will have to form their own party, hostile to “all sections of the master class.” Capitalism is leading the world towards catastrophe. We are sure this is the time to learn and help build the new world.

Democratic control of industry will not work while production is still to be geared to the market (look at co-ops). The market and money must go. Socialism can be built only when the working class has taken political power from the capitalist class: that is, when there has been a revolution. Only a socialist party with a clear understanding of the nature of capitalism and committed to its overthrow can help to effect such changes. The Labour Party is not such a party, nor can it ever become one.  A Labour government pursues capitalist policies not because it is in the hands of any right wing, but because the Labour Party is itself a capitalist party whose role is to keep the present system in existence. All illusions about easy shortcuts to socialism must be exposed. The basic arguments for a non-exploitative socialist society should be presented. It is no use trying to produce ‘sensible’ and 'practical' reforms. Socialism is the rule of the workers and not for or over them. 

Socialism is the system under which classes and exploitation are abolished for good and the differences between town and country and between manual and mental labour no longer exist. People are not forced to obey the division of labour as slaves. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Scottish Nationalism (1968)

From the May 1968 issue of the Socialist Standard

In the Scottish National Party, they must feel that somebody up there likes them. Right now they are on top of the world and everywhere the signs are apparent. The Party badge— a hipped-up thistle—sprouts as thickly as the weed itself. Membership has rocketed to over ninety thousand, and all the frenzied electoral activity has resulted in the election of a Nationalist M.P.

Undoubtedly, independence is the current big issue and the Nationalists claim they will have it by the early ’seventies. How have the SNP been transformed from the old image of a bunch of Tartan-clad cranks into a considerable political force? The Party is still the expression of some “Professional” and small-business people who see their advancement in breaking with England, but they now enjoy what they never had before—widespread working class support, although how constant this remains to be seen.

This support was a long time coming, but the breakthrough was helped by Labour’s long absence from power during the ’fifties. This resulted in some of Labour’s traditional support, particularly among the lower paid, switching to the Nationalists. Another factor was disillusionment with the performance of Labour controlled Town Councils. Thus, the Nationalists got what they needed above all—a foot in the electoral door.

What are the forces behind the Nationalist upsurge? Of course, the movement’s “intellectuals” see it as a revolt by a people yearning to return to a Golden Age which existed before the Act of Union of 1707, when a united populace shared a “Scottish Culture” which was the envy of Europe. The idea is absurd. The culture of the untamed, Celtic Highlander was completely different from that of the settled, English-speaking Lowlander. Indeed, Dr. J. M. Beale makes this very point in the Book, Common Errors in Scottish History. Today, in the populous industrial belt, the average inhabitant will sneer at the sight of the Kilt and a significant proportion owes their loyalties to Ireland rather than Scotland.

Even so, Nationalist feeling certainly exists and is implanted at an early age. This is very important in any country’s educational system. Also important is regional pride within a country. Ruling groups find this useful, particularly in a time of war—how many Scotsmen have died proving that they were the bravest in the land? So Scottish children have their heads filled with the deeds of national heroes like Wallace and Bruce while the feats of Scots in civil life—Carnegie, Watt, Stevenson—also receive much attention. In sport, especially soccer, the press give the full treatment to encounters with “The Auld Enemy”, with every victory a “Bannockburn” and every defeat a “Flodden”. All this, against a background of Scotland’s historical subjugation by England, has provided a breeding ground for national illusion and resentment.

But why is the revolt happening now rather than ten or twenty years ago? First, there is the decline of the long-established industries with the accompanying hardship and insecurity. Engineering, Shipbuilding, and Mining were what Scotland depended on and their cut-back has meant a chronic high unemployment rate. Secondly, the main Parties have been tried over and over and found wanting: they cannot produce the goods, so where else to go? In England many people faced with this dilemma have turned to the Liberals. In Scotland, in the same circumstances, it can only be the SNP. In short, the Nationalist upsurge is really a revolt against a depressed standard of living, and this is where the SNP makes its biggest impact. Every example of lower wages, higher prices, more emigration and less amenities than south of the border is seized upon and skilfully used.

The most interesting point about the demand for independence is that, basically, it is in line with the growing idea that the problems of modem society—Capitalism—lie in its sheer size. Thus, we see the Liberals arguing for smaller administrative units through more Regional Government; the Anarchists and some leftists for smaller productive units through worker-owned factories, and the Scots and Welsh Nationalists for smaller political units as exemplified by the Scandinavian countries. Sweden, with its allegedly high living standards and full employment, is quoted as an example of how smallness plus independence equals prosperity.

These theories are false. Capitalism's problems are the result of non-social ownership of the means of life in the field of social production: more diversity of government or of ownership cannot alter this fact. Nor can the national identity or location of the legislature have much effect on our standard of living. This is influenced by such as the degree of technical and natural resources and, more especially, the state of the world market—what can be sold profitably—and any serious change in this will affect Sweden just as it did in the ’thirties. Anyway, Sweden’s full employment is due to acute labour shortage, and those Irish workers who had a spell in Swedish Shipyards soon returned home, unimpressed by the living standards.

Another Nationalist argument is that there is a deliberate “trend” towards more numerous and smaller Nations and point to the seventy-odd newcomers which have sprung-up over the last twenty years. These have emerged owing to the disintegration of the European colonial Empires. The Nationalists ignore the fact that in the developed world the trend is the opposite way. Nor do these new Nations choose to be small; in fact they are as large as they can get and often squabble with one another over disputed territory and resources.

What it all boils down to, is that the SNP just don’t understand the world around them. Although they claim to be against exploitation they support the production for profit system. Arthur Donaldson, the Party’s chief spokesman, even invites capital to take advantage of "cheap” and "tame” Scottish workers (Scots Independent, 11/2/67).

It is time to reject the notion that there are "Scottish problems” which apply exclusively to Scottish workers and which can be solved by a "Parliament of their own”. Instead of turning their eyes to Scandinavia, those of them who thronged "prosperous” London recently on the occasion of the seating of the Nationalist MP should have looked across the Thames to Southwark, Battersea and Brixton. They would have seen plenty of hardship there, despite the proximity of Parliament. And did it not occur to those who saw the TV epic of the homeless, Cathy Come Home, that the action took place in an English City? Above all else, independence will not mean their release from wage-slavery, and, as everywhere, access to the means of life will be governed by whether the owners find it profitable or not.

Socialists echo the Poet’s desire for the day 'That man to man the world o’er shall brothers be for a' that”. This will be a fact when the world's wealth, owned in common, can be utilised for the satisfaction of all mankind. Capitalism, with its attendant national boundaries and prejudices, makes this just another Poet’s dream.

Vic Vanni (Glasgow) 

What Over-population Problem?

Scotland’s birth rate is falling.
Births are more than a third less than needed to maintain our working age population. All the while, the number of deaths registered exceeds births as our population shrinks.
There’s been negligible overall growth since the 1961 census. Our 2011 survey gave Scotland just 100,000 more people. All of those were pensioners.
In the first five months of this year, Registers of Scotland has recorded only 21,742 births. Last year, births were 664 higher during those same months. Ten years ago there were 3,275 more births.

The world under new ownership

He who owns the means whereby I live, owns me” - Shakespeare 

Ownership and control of the means of production are inseparable. The State, in the hands of the capitalists, is used as a terrific weapon of class warfare.  Some people confuse the term State with Society and regard them as synonymous. Actually, the State arose with the institution of private property and became the authority of propertied interests over society in the name of society. The State was obliged to intervene in industrial disputes partly as conciliator and regulator though always as the custodian of property interests. It governs society in the interests of property and can do no other.  The State does not rush to the rescue of the working class. The questions of ownership and control became principal questions. The demand for the nationalisation of this and that industry became popular. The machine of State becomes larger, its powers of repression grows enormously and wage-slavery remains. Class-war continues. Capitalist production is for the purpose of securing profit through the exploitation, ruination and enslavement of the working people. Ownership is what gives the capitalist class power of life or death over the working class and over society as a whole. 

The questions of ownership and control become principal questions. For the workers the old order has to go. Socialism is a class-free society based upon common ownership. In socialist society the means of production have ceased to be capital, that is, to be a means of exploitation. In socialist society there are no longer an employing class or a State with a monopoly of property in the means of production and the majority deprived of property in the means of production.  Socialist ownership of the means of production gives rise to mutual relations between people engaged in the production process which are quite different from those obtaining under capitalism. Private property in the means of production inevitably divides people, gives rise to relations of domination and subordination and to the exploitation of some people by others, evokes antagonism of interests, class struggle and competition. On the other hand, social ownership of the means of production unites people, ensures a genuine community of interests and comradely co-operation. The social ownership of production means that socialist production is freed from the contradiction, inherent in capitalism, between the social character of production and the private capitalist form of appropriating its fruits.

The original role of money was to serve as a medium, a standard that made easier the exchange of one commodity for another. But under capitalism, this medium of exchange has taken off with a life of its own. For the capitalist, the aim of production is to produce goods to exchange and not to use, but instead it is a compulsory drive to accumulate capital through exploitation–simply put, to make more money. Once money becomes the aim of production, labour power has to become a commodity. In other words, a worker’s labour power can be bought and sold. Besides the fact that people must be legally free–that is, not slaves owned by others or serfs tied to the land–the labourer must have lost all means of production and thus all ability to produce either for consumption or exchange for himself. An example of this is peasants being driven off the land. Labour power as a commodity is the necessary complement of the private ownership of the means of production by the capitalists. Only by buying the worker’s labour power can the capitalist make profits. Workers produce more than what the capitalist pays them in wages and benefits. This is the basis of exploitation of the workers. What the workers produce over and beyond the socially necessary labour for keeping themselves and their families alive and working is surplus value. Surplus value is the only source of profits and is ripped off by the capitalists.

We have in capitalism a colossal concentration of wealth on the one side and poverty on the other side. We have in a world of stupendous riches unknown in all history: no abundance, no peace, no security, no full employment anywhere on the planet. These social evils are not bred in the heart of man; they are bred by capitalism, and by nothing else. To live, you, the worker, must not only work for the owners of the means of production and exchange – you must guarantee them a profit. Working for them is not enough; a profit is absolutely required for you to get your job; and that profit can be obtained in no other wise except by exploiting that which is your only real possession – namely your physical or mental capacity to work. That is all the workingman or woman has.  The capitalist must accumulate in order to exist. To accumulate, he must be assured profit. To profit, he must exploit labour. There is no other way. Capitalists always seek to intensify exploitation; labour always and necessarily seeks to resist exploitation. Capitalism seeks what is rightfully its own, from its point of view: the maximum that it can get out of the worker. Labour seeks what is rightfully its own: that’s why it forms class organisations, labour unions.

Socialism demands not only the collective ownership of the means of production but the control of the working class. Anything less than that may be anything you want; it is not and never will be socialism.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Our Revolution

At times we have an inability to see what is in front of our own eyes. Imagine a world run along truly democratic lines. There would be no politicians. People can show incredible acts of kindness to and sacrifice for others, even strangers. Some will even give up their own lives for strangers.  Human life is a product of the evolution of life on earth. Human life is not independent and separate from the planet but a part of it. The relationship of human species with nature and all life forms is that of interdependence. We must not embrace the despair of a bleak future that capitalism is creating. We must acknowledge acts of resistance, even if it appears futile, as small victories. Our character and dignity will be measured by our ability to resist the malignant forces that seem to hold us in a death grip. Our technology and science will not save us. The future of humanity is now in our own hands. At best, we can mitigate the misery. We cannot avoid it. We are fighting for our survival and we must build militant social movements of sustained rebellion. It is a lot to demand. But if we do not succeed, the human race will disappear. We have the technology to build alternative energy and food systems, but the capitalist industry has blocked all meaningful attempts to curb fossil fuel extraction and reduce energy consumption. And meat, dairy and egg producers, responding to consumer demand, are responsible for the emission of more greenhouse gases than the entire global transportation sector. Livestock generates enormous amounts of methane, which is 86 times more destructive than CO2. Livestock also produces 65 percent of nitrous oxide resulting from human activity, a gas that has 296 times the “Global Warming Potential” of carbon dioxide. The massive animal agriculture industry, like the fossil fuel industry, receives billions of dollars in subsidies. And pliant politicians do the bidding of these industries receive millions in return from lobbyists in legalized bribery. And it won’t stop until this political system is destroyed. Governments, if they were instruments of the common good, would free themselves from being held captive by corporations and end the profit system which takes precedence over human health and even human survival.

Critics of socialism are wedded to a strawman notion of socialism as some kind of cornucopian society of absolute super-abundance - all the more easy to knock it down. But this is not what is being proposed. What is being proposed is something rather more modest and reasonable - that we can today adequately meet our human needs (which are not infinite but finite) but increasingly capitalism gets in the way of this happening. The technological capacity to satisfy the basic needs of everyone on this planet for food, shelter, sanitation and so on exists today. However, it is capitalism that is increasingly thwarting this potential. Mostly, the productive possibilities at our disposal are not being realised because of the huge and ever-growing proportion of work undertaken today that is entirely socially useless but is nevertheless indispensable to the operation of the capitalist system itself. Thus, a vast and steadily growing proportion of the work carried out today does not in any meaningful sense enhance human wellbeing and welfare but merely exists to serve the functional needs of the system itself.

Free access entails - amongst other things, a self-regulating system of stock control which of its very nature is capable of responding very rapidly to shifts in demand. If people come to reduce their demand for a particular product this will manifest itself in a build-up of surpluses, prompting distribution points to cut back their orders from suppliers who, in turn, will reduce their inputs for said good from their own suppliers and so on the further back along the production chain. The opposite would happen if people increased their demand for a good. This would automatically trigger a signal for more of such a good and hence the inputs for such a good. The point is all this is perfectly possible today and more so now with the development of computerised system of stock control. A self-regulating system of stock control which responds directly and promptly to changes in the pattern of demand from both production units and consumers provides the necessary data we need relating to stocks of inputs. It then becomes a matter of economising most on what is scarcest. The "relative scarcity" of any input is a function of the demand for the end product of which it is a component and of the technical ratio of input to output (or the product itself). In this way, it is quite possible to rank the relevant inputs in terms of their relative scarcity. So selection of the least cost combination is entirely practicable in a communist society. Only the method of doing it is quite different to what happens with a common unit of accounting. It is what I call a "lateral" approach to cost accounting rather than a "vertical" approach. We select technical combinations of inputs that minimise as far as possible our reliance upon scarce inputs in favour of more abundant alternatives. This is not an exact science but it’s the orientation of decision-making that counts - the fact that we are operating within a systemic constraint that pushes us always in the direction of economising most on what is most scarce - which makes it an eminently sensible and reasonable principle to apply.

There’s no end to the maladies that ail workers these days and it is understandable that they will seek to alleviate their exploitation. Regularly on progressive websites and magazines, articles spring up promoting the empowerment of the working class by suggesting for what the authors believe to be radical new ways of organising the economy – making capitalism more people-friendly. How the authors dislike being reminded that they are regurgitating political ideas that have a proven track record of failure. The Socialist Party only hopes that our fellow-workers are not duped into believing that such proposals offer any fundamental improvements in their condition. Despite widespread anxiety and discontent the liberals and the left have been unable to respond or develop determined workers' movement in any meaningful sense so they resurrect past ideas, re-package them to sell once again. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Manifesto for a decent future

Imagine if instead of fighting one another to defend the interests of our masters, we began to protect the people and the planet against our common threats: profiteering, poverty war, and nationalism. This is not some ridiculous utopian dream but simply recognising the greater good rather than the petty political or economic divisions. Imagining the world without hunger, conflict or disease isn't impossible.  The future of humanity needn't be about the power-hungry and war-mongering elite. Socialism is not the absence of rules, it is just the absence of rulers. This dysfunctional society stems directly from the capitalist economic system. Socialism focuses on reclaiming earth's resources for the people – all the people. It will replace the money-based exchange economies with a production for use world economy, restoring our damaged natural environment to the best of our ability by developing and using clean renewable energy sources, redesigning cities, transport, industrial systems, and agriculture so that they efficiently and ecologically provide for the needs of all people. If you want a better world, you have to rise up from your knees and make it so. Police, prisons and the military would no longer be necessary when goods, services, healthcare, and education are freely available to all people. There is no such thing as a fixed human nature where people are pre-programmed attitudes, values and behaviour by their DNA. It can be changed, it has been changed multiple times before.

 Socialism proposes a system that brings out the best in every individual. We should be the generation that finally brings down capitalism and creates a decent, sustainable world. There is no reason to be confused about what we want. We want the ruling class off our backs. We don’t want to be exploited or alienated. We don’t want to be wage-slaves. We want to be a free self-governing people, organised and administered by a net-work of inter-linked and connected workers councils, community assemblies. We can reorder our social lives through these social forms, in varying mixes and degrees. Socialist  revolution means rearranging ourselves socially. To establish the society we want means building a world based on mutual aid.

We all have dreams. For most of us, those dreams are often quite simple. They are common to individuals and communities all around the world. People just want a future where their families don’t just survive but thrive.  For far too many people in far too many places, such simple dreams never seem to be fulfilled. No matter how hard they work they are missing out on the opportunity to benefit from the ever increasing technological miracles. In fact, they suffer and are being left behind.  The Socialist Party has to send clear messages that if the planet is well managed, we can provide not just enough to get by but a place where individuals and communities can build a future. It should be clear to all workers that the working class, if they are to escape from the misery of capitalism, must first understand their class position, and must then build up a socialist political party for the purpose of capturing the powers of government in order to introduce socialism. This is the only solution of the economic problems of the working class. All else will leave them wage-slaves still.

I am not interested in politics,” is a statement that is made with monotonous regularity.  Needless to say the General Election wasn’t nonsense to the capitalist class, who were once again confirmed by it in their position in society. Socialism requires that there is a majority of workers who understand and want it. That consciousness immunises a socialist against the deceits and the assurances which bolster the politics of capitalism. 

 The Socialist Party has no blood on our hands, having never once supported a war for capitalist interests. Every war since has been exposed and opposed, even when our comrades were thrown into prison cells for their principles. We have never collaborated with any capitalist government, unlike the tacticians of the Left who have accepted our view that the Labour Party is anti-working-class until election times when they have consistently told workers to vote Labour. Never once have we made any concessions to racist or nationalist sentiments, and from our inception declared against racism and sexism in all their forms. We have not lied about the possibility of reforming capitalism so as to make it tolerable to live under.

Whilst never opposing reforms which might alleviate the lives of the wealth-producing majority, we have consistently and. at the risk of unpopularity, stood firmly against reformism and the illusion that capitalism can somehow be made decent. We have kept alive the socialist vision of common ownership never once confusing that with the state-capitalist proposal for placing the profit system under new management of nationalisation. We have stood out not for fair wages but for the abolition of wage labour; not for more money for the poor but for the abolition of money and thereby the end of poverty; not for the welfare crumbs but free and equal access for all to the abundant resources of this rich and fruitful planet. And we have never flinched from advocating revolution as our goal. Ours has never been to ask the bosses for a share of the loaf; only when conscious and democratically organized workers take the means of life will the world be ours. The Socialist Party has every reason to be proud of itself. That we have survived is an achievement. It has not been without effort and personal costs to those who have stuck to their commitments. here is far too much work to be done for us to bathe in the lethargic complacency of nostalgic self-congratulation. We are a movement, not a monument.

Armed with understanding, the workers can build a new society that will be well worth while living in. The building of this new society must and can only be the work of the workers themselves; they cannot expect help from above, for privilege will hang on until it is shaken from its perch. In this new society there will be no privileged idlers; unless they have physical disabilities, each will play his or her part according to his or her ability. The citizens of the socialist community will work voluntarily because they are doing a job they love, for the benefit of society as a whole—i.e., in the long run, for themselves. All labour in the socialist society will be essential and useful. There will be no need to try to stop people from doing wasteful and unessential things, like pouring luxuries into the lap of already overfed and jaded parasites. The future belongs to the workers, and the capitalists are already trembling at the vision.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Gospel According To St. Andrew (1907)

Dunfermline's Carnegie Library has been recently renovated so perhaps it is timely to remember the man himself .
From the April 1907 issue of the Socialist Standard

Andrew Carnegie, library purveyor and morality expert (what a tribe of experts there seems to be in the world) has been at it again, He thinks “wealth is so obviously unequally distributed that the attention of civilised man must he attracted to it from time to time.” He adds "no amount of charity in spending fortunes in any way compensates for misconduct in making them.” He quotes with approval President Roosevelt's statement that he “would discriminate in the sharpest way between fortunes well won and fortunes ill won, between those gained well as a whole and those gained in evil fashion by keeping just within the bounds of mere law honesty.” and concludes, “There are fortunes swollen beyond all healthy limits; but I say my partners are the people ” !

Dear, good Saint Andrew! His partners are the people. How true ! How trite! Of course they are all in the firm. All partners of the somnolent variety — sleeping partners in short. And while they sleep Andrew may sing on and preen his flight feathers prettily, preparatory to taking his place in the angelic choir wherein he has already, with canny prescience, booked a prominent place, as I doubt not. Well for Andrew, now and presently, if his shrewdness impel him to take his departure before his sleeping partners wake; for I fear the much that it will be woe indeed for Andrew if he should in that day be with us in the flesh. 

“There are fortunes swollen beyond all healthy limit” Most upright judge!  "No amount of charity in spending fortunes in any way compensates for misconduct in making them.” Oh 'a Daniel come to judgment.’ What a lead for the “partners" when they wake!' Under the spur of such urging, under the whip of such counsel, how readily will they locate the owner of the fortune which, despite all its possessor's widely advertised and loudly lauded efforts to dispose of it, persists in accumulating without even a hand-stir effort on the part of its owner; and how quick will they be to recognise this “fortune swollen beyond all healthy limit.” And when they hear the story of Pittsburg and how the history of its rise and development has stank in the nostrils of ‘‘civilised man” for years, in what a flash will come the appreciation of the inwardness of Andrew’s other pronouncement as to the insufficiency of charity to compensate for the methods by which fortunes are built up.

Verily there is a great day in store for the “partners” and for Andrew—when the sleepers wake. And one of the surest signs that the “partners” still snore, is in the fact that Andrew can walk abroad giving off his smug and unctuous dicta without risk of more than a halting effort at half humourous protest even from the most desperately “advanced ” organs of public opinion. Well, the sleepers will not always sleep. There’s a good time coming and the Laird of Skibo’s share in that good time may not be altogether what he would himself design.

And I’m not quite sure that, assuming he has left us before that day dawns, he will be quite happy in that “undiscovered country from whose bourne’’ etc. I claim no special knowledge in the matter, but I am reminded of the story told, upon as good authority as any story of the sort, of the experience of one, Pullman, who at one time was in the sleeping car business (these sleeping care were not much used, I believe, by Andrew’s sleeping “partners” referred to). It chanced that Pullman died and found himself at heaven’s gate whereat he knocked loudly. In response to his peremptory summons Peter appeared and of him Pullman demanded admittance. “And who are you?” asked Peter. “I’m Pullman,” answered the applicant, “ Pullman, of Pullman, U.S.A.” “Ah!” said Peter, “1 think we have heard something of you. Will you be good enough to wait a moment while I refer to my instructions?” And Peter opened a large book on his janitor’s desk. "Well, hurry up then,” quoth Pullman. “I’m not accustomed to being detained in this way. My time’s precious.” Peter turned the leaves leisurely. “Don't worry,” said he. “Time doesn’t matter quite so much here as it does where you came from. Ah! here we are. Pullman of Pullman, U.S.A. M—yes! I thought I was not mistaken. Will you kindly take a seat in the lift yonder.” Pullman entered the lift and waited. The liftman made no sign. “Well, what's the matter? Why don’t you start?” he asked. “There’s no hurry,” replied the liftman. "I’m expecting a few more along shortly. We generally fill up fairly quick.” Pullman stumped about impatiently and one or two more came in, but the lift was still not full. “Come! Come!” he said, “I shan’t get in to-day if you’re much longer. When are we going up?” "Sir,” replied the attendant, “ this lift does not go up!” 

A. James

Our Socialist Future

Capitalism can be reformed. It can be reformed in many ways. But it cannot be reformed in such a manner as to effect an essential improvement in the working class conditions of life. It cannot be reformed in such a manner as to raise the workers from the poverty level. Reforms, insofar as they have had any effect, have been effective simply by preventing the workers from sinking too far below the poverty level, their function being to do no more than preserve the workers as able-bodied means of production. 

It is not in the nature of capitalist society to provide better conditions for its slave class. The efficient operation of capitalist industry requires not only a capable working class, it requires a working class always at the beck and call of the master class. Only by keeping the workers bordering on necessity at all times can this condition be assured. The whiplash of poverty is far more effective than any coercive force could be in keeping them tied to the machine and subservient to their masters.

Those who would administer the affairs of capitalism are limited in their endeavours by the requirements of capitalism, and even though they would bend every energy to lighten the burdens of the workers, the system itself inevitably reduces the results to disheartening proportions.

Practically all of the reform legislation on the statute books of the capitalist world has been placed there by capitalist parties. The capitalists have never been noted for their generosity towards the workers, but they are practical gentlemen and they have long known that the smooth and economical operation of their system requires periodic additions to the mountains of reforms. Reforms to them are like a vile tasting tonic that must be taken from time to time for the protection of their health and well-being. Workers who live under poor sanitary conditions are ready victims of ailments which often develop into communicable diseases; and diseases do not respect the superior and necessary persons of capitalists. Moreover, workers afflicted by ailments spend time at home that could better be spent in the factory turning out surplus values for the factory owner. They must be protected against these conditions. They must also be protected against malnutrition, accidents, etc., in order that their efficiency as cogs in the wealth producing machine may not be impaired. They must even be provided for when they are unemployed, for the repressive measures of bygone days are no longer sufficient to deal with the vastly increased number of workers thrown periodically into the scrapheap by modern industry. It is now more economical to provide them with necessities than to maintain a coercive force great enough to prevent them from helping themselves. Besides, as in times of war or other periods of trade expansion, their services may be required again. 

Hence the measures dealing with sanitation and housing, sickness and accidents, health and unemployment! Hence the reforms piled upon reforms, reaching to the heavens! Hence the gradual conversion of the workers into destitute wards of the state!

There is a further reason for the acceptance of reform measures by the parties of the capitalist class. The workers form the immense majority of the members of society. They are the ones who suffer most from the evils of capitalism. They are only too conscious of the existence, if not the cause, of these evils, and they are ever ready to lend their support to whoever will promise redress. No party can govern without the consent of the workers. The capitalists, in consequence, must be ever ready with the required promises, if they are to protect their exclusive right to govern. Reforms that are not desirable to them can frequently be sidetracked afterwards, together with flattering appeals to the workers for loyalty, understanding and co-operation. Where they cannot be sidetracked, these reforms can always be watered down and presented with fanfares and glowing self-praise. It is an easy game to play, and while it does not give the workers very much, neither does it cost the capitalists very much, and it frequently assures for them a period of contentedness on the part of their slaves.

“The history of all hitherto existing society (that is, all written history) is the history of class struggles. “Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.” – Communist Manifesto. 

The class struggle is the product of class-divided society. It exists no less today than in the class societies of history. By means of political action the oppressed classes of the past strove to gain their emancipation. The form that this action took was dictated by the conditions then existing. By means of political action – and by no other means – can the workers gain their emancipation. The politics of the working class form the subject matter to be discussed below.

Society rests on an economic basis. The manner in which wealth is produced and distributed determines the form of existing society. The development of the productive forces calls periodically upon mankind to adapt society to the changed economic conditions. Modern industry ushered capitalism into existence. It now demands that capitalism pass out of the picture, to be replaced by a new form of society, one that will conform to the needs of the developing means of production, and, therefore, to the essential needs of mankind. It is the duty – the imperative mission – of the working class to undertake this task.

Capitalism has outlived its usefulness. Within its confines can be found no solution for the wretchedness and insecurity endured by the workers. Not more than momentary relief has ever resulted from the generations of effort to improve their conditions of life. Even their trade unions – their most potent weapon in these activities – have been forced to remain for the most part on the defensive, struggling not so much to improve their conditions as to prevent these conditions from becoming worse. Socialism offers the only way out. The failure of the workers to recognize this fact – no matter what else they may do – can result only in the preservation of things as they are, with the prospect of darker days ahead.
Capitalist Parties
In the main the world’s workers have in the past given their support to parties openly representing capitalist society. The principal agencies for spreading education and information have, throughout the period of capitalism’s existence, been under the control of the capitalist class and have been used for the purpose of fostering and preserving the illusion that there is no practicable alternative to capitalism. Incessant, insidious propaganda is levelled at the workers from the cradle to the grave, designed to cloud their minds in their own interests and protect the dominant position of the capitalist class. They are taught that their interests are tied up with the interests of their masters and that only in the solution of the latter’s problems can the solution of their own problems be found. It is no wonder, therefore, that for generations they have been only too willing to give their support to one or another of the various capitalist parties.

Capitalist parties represent, first of all, capitalism. They may differ as to the manner in which the affairs of capitalism ought to be conducted. They may differ as to the sections of the capitalist class whose interests ought to be the most favored. But they are united in their opposition to those who would end capitalism. They are united even in opposing any effort to provide the workers with a greater share of the wealth which they produce. These parties are represented in the English speaking world by such groups as the Liberals and Conservatives of Great Britain and Canada and by the Republicans and Democrats of the United States. All of them are servants of the ruling class.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Message from the Socialist Party of Canada

Capitalist ideas dominate the political economic and social scene for the capitalist own and control the means of propagation, education, information and news. Thus, all discussion and debate is undertaken on their terms. It should be clear, then, that bosses ideology serves capitalist interests not only when it provides pro-capitalist solutions to pressing social problems but also when it confuses people, or makes them overly pessimistic and resigned, or makes it difficult for them to formulate criticisms or imagine alternative systems.

The Socialist Party of Canada and its companion parties in the United States, Great Britain, India and New Zealand stand alone in their respective countries in their consistent advocacy of the socialist solution. Their examination of society has taught them that nothing less than socialism can suffice, and they have adopted a common set of socialist principles (first formulated by the Socialist Party of Great Britain) which constitutes the basis of their movement and their conditions of membership. Adherence to these principles makes possible their steady insistence upon the fact that the immediate need of the working class is: 

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

These parties at present form only the nucleus of the great working class movement which must finally rise to bring this program into effect. The workers cannot depend upon others to do the job for them. It is a job that requires conscious and deliberate effort on their part. It is a job which they must do themselves.

Many and varied have been the interpretations that have been placed upon Socialism. Stalinism and Hitlerism have both been described as socialism. At different times socialism has been announced in New Zealand, New South Wales, London, Vienna and points west. Labor parties frequently come forward with lengthy lists of reforms or elaborate plans for “nationalization”, or “socialization”, and describe these as socialism. Workers must guard against such nonsense if they are not to be fooled by political highbinders, social quacks, or people who have themselves been fooled. For this reason among others the socialists stress the necessity for socialist education. The workers must understand socialism before they can serve usefully in the struggle for its attainment.

Social reform is not socialism. Neither is government ownership. Socialism has not yet been established in any country. It exists today only as an independent working class movement striving against the opposition of capitalist and labor parties alike, its energies directed without deviation towards a single goal. There are no short cuts to socialism. It can be reached only through the conscious political organization of the working class. But with that organization accomplished, no obstacle can stand in the road. Socialism may be had for the taking. Take it.

The workers must ultimately turn to socialism as the only means of finding release from the problems of capitalism. Even though it were possible (which it is not) for the present system to provide considerably improved conditions for the workers, that would still be no justification in the eyes of an informed persons for its continued existence. It has solved the problem of wealth production, but it has failed to solve the problem of distribution. It divides the labors of the workers between production and a myriad of unnecessary activities related to distribution. It is wasteful and destructive of men and materials. Its conflicts over markets, trade routes and sources of raw materials breed wars that grow ever more terrible in their dimensions. It is a haven of luxury and idleness for a useless parasite class. It is a fetter on further social progress. 

Socialism solves the problem of distribution. Its introduction will mean the conversion of all the means of production and distribution from private or class property into the common property of all the members of society. Goods will no longer be produced for sale; they will be produced for use. The guiding principle behind the operations of industry will be the requirements of mankind, not the prospects of profit. Production under socialism will be pre-determined, and distribution effected with neither advertising nor sales staff, thus reducing wasted materials to the minimum and making possible the transfer of great numbers of workers to desired occupations.

The ending of exchange relationships will bring at the same time the ending of an exchange medium. There being neither sale nor profit associated with the production and distribution of goods, neither will there be money in any of its forms. Currency, credit and banking, whether private or “socialized”, will pass out of existence.

The advent of common property means the abolition of private or class property, which in turn means the abolition of class society together with the class struggle. The antagonistic classes of today will become merged in a people with common interests, and the former capitalists will have the opportunity of becoming useful members of society. This will not only remove the greatest of the burdens resting today on the backs of the workers, it will also further augment the available labor supply, by the inclusion of the capitalists and their former personal attendants, thus contributing to the general reduction in labor time needed to produce society’s requirements.

Since unemployment means not only idleness but also severance from the means of subsistence, such a condition could not exist under socialism. That there will be plenty of leisure time, however, is beyond question. It will be the conscious aim of society to constantly reduce the obligations of its members to production, thereby providing ever-increasing leisure time in which to enjoy the proceeds of their labour.

Wars constitute another wretched feature of capitalist society that will come to an end under socialism. Since they arise from the struggle of the capitalists over markets, etc., and since these struggles will no longer play a part in the affairs of society, they will remain only as a ghastly memory from a horrible past.

Socialism will not solve all the problems of human society. But it will solve all the basic economic difficulties that are a constant source of torture to so many of its members. The solution of a single one of these difficulties would warrant its introduction. The solution of them all renders it imperative.