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Showing posts from April, 2018

The Meaning of Social Revolution

An Address, delivered for the S. P. of C. in the Labor Temple, Winnipeg,March 9, 1945, by J. Milne
The word Revolution is a source of fear to a great many people. In their minds, it brings forth a picture of civil strife, bloodshed, and destruction. It portrays the ruin of all the things they love and respect, and the setting up of conditions too horrible even to mention. It is a word that is not pleasantly received.

On the one hand, this attitude arises from a genuine consciousness of economic interests. To the owners of capital, it is not disturbing that dictatorships spread themselves across the earth, leaving economic and intellectual wretchedness in their wake – so long as the interests of capital are not affected thereby. These activities, indeed, are even useful at times, since they give the proper people a firmer grip on the affairs of society by cleansing the minds and purging the ranks of workmen who have become misguided and discontented. To the owners of capital, it is not d…

Capitalism Versus the Environment

Year in and year out we release millions of tonnes of hothouse gases into the atmosphere. Tropical forests are destroyed and farm-land seriously degraded.  These are global changes which involve incredible risks. Some of the dangers are understood but nobody knows and nobody can predict the critical point when any combination of such changes might produce a sequence of further rapid changes which would be catastrophic from a human point of view. Obviously, we share the concern of the environmentalists about the importance of the problem, and we too want a planet where we do not damage the environment. The first thing we've got to do is identify the cause of the problem and here the Socialist Party begins to part company with most ecologists. If one reads the literature from the likes of Friends of the Earth and others, you'll notice that they never truly identify the cause of the problem. Global warming and climate change result from the economic limitations of a system that p…

UBI or Not?

In Scotland, the Green Party has proposed a model of UBI which could get close to being fiscally neutral. This would see much of the existing welfare system replaced by a payment of £5,200 per year for adults and £2,600 for children, alongside significant reform the tax system. In this scenario, personal allowances would be removed and combined tax and NI rates increased for all. Citing security in the labour market as a key reason for the policy proposal, this model has been welcomed by proponents of UBI. However, at £400 a month for adults while also removing almost all the welfare state, it is unlikely to buy much economic freedom for those on low incomes or insecure and exploitative employment contracts. In reality some would see their incomes drop. For instance, in Scotland, lone parents would see their monthly earnings fall by around £300 a month. What’s more, a model of UBI paid at this level would also have notable impacts on rates of relative poverty. Were this model introdu…

Advocating a New Society

Capitalism has almost engulfed the whole world. Every nation is involved in world trade and cannot escape the influence of international power politics, with its alliances and war preparations. Technical innovation goes on apace, augmenting military might, intensifying the labour process and maximising the exploitation of the worker. This drive for greater technical efficiency is basic to capitalism's insatiable thirst for profits; humanity's real needs are not considered.Science serves the ends of the capitalist system. It serves the military might of nations. It serves industrial efficiency not by satisfying community needs, but by intensifying the exploitation of the working class. Years ago Western workers, the Asian peasants and tribal Africans were living in different worlds. Today we live very similar lives. The same social problems are increasingly imposing themselves upon us. We are all cogs in the machinery of capitalism, and are exploited in the same way. Our diets …

Fracking Dangers

One of South Korea’s largest earthquakes on record may have been caused by hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – according to a study. A team of researchers from the University of Glasgow, ETH-Zurich in Switzerland and GFZ-Potsdam in Germany analysed data from seismographic stations as well as satellite data to locate where the main shock and 46 aftershocks of the quake occurred.

For decades, the Korean peninsula has seen almost no seismic activity. A magnitude-5.5 earthquake hit the south-eastern city of Pohang on 15 November, injuring at least 70 people, temporarily displacing hundreds, and causing millions of dollars of damage.  Residents and researchers have questioned whether the quake could be connected to a geothermal plant – the country’s first – less than 2km (about 1 mile) away.

 The main shock occurred within 1.5km of where plant workers had been pumping thousands of cubic metres of water into the ground, creating or opening fractures in the rocks to enable water to pass betw…

The Yellow Brick Road

"Have you heard of the wonderful wizard, The wonderful Wizard of Oz, And he is a wonderful wizard, If ever a wizard there was"

While many today consider gold an instrument of financial and personal freedom, Frank Baum, author of 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' painted it as a villain - the tool of oppression. Baum published the book in 1900, just after the US emerged from a period of deflation and depression. Prices had fallen by about 22% over the previous 16 years, causing huge debt. Farmers were among those badly affected, and the Populist political party was set up to represent their interests and those of industrial labourers. The US was then operating on the gold standard - a monetary system which valued the dollar according to the quantity of gold. A key plank in the Populist Party platform was a demand for "free silver" - that is, the "free and unlimited coinage of silver and gold" at a fixed ratio of sixteen to one. Populists and other free-s…

Change Must Come

Our planet requires a radical rethink by all of us. It requires an economic, social and environmental revolution. We need to think BIG. We do not have the luxury of waiting any longer nor of pinning our hopes on a new government. This may sound apocalyptic, but it is not hyperbole. We need to organise now.
The Socialist Party is up against the fact of life that a new generation has to be convinced afresh that socialism does, in fact, represent a more benevolent an more efficient system for people, that the socialist's idea of the withering away of the state is not a pipe-dream, but a realistic proposal for the future society of human society. The prospects for socialism will be created only when people believe these things again, and only by reasoned debate and discussion can we hope to convince them. Marx and Engels did not identify socialism with nationalisation of property. Their attitude to the state was one of unremitting hostility. Far from wishing to expand its activities, …

Typhoid or Cholera?

Socialism is almost globally misunderstood and misrepresented. Socialism will be a basic structural change to society, and many of the things that most people take for granted, as "just the way things have to be", can and must be changed to establish socialism.
People tend to accept as true the things they hear over and over again. But repetition doesn't make things true. Because the truth and the facts often contradict "common knowledge", socialists have to show that "common knowledge" is wrong. That takes more words than just accepting the status quo.

Commodity production is organised within the constraints of the circulation of capital. This capital can accumulate, maintain its level or become depleted. The economic pressure on capital is that of accumulation, the alternative is bankruptcy. The production and distribution of goods are entirely subordinate to the pressure on capital to accumulate. Therefore the practical, technical organisation of pro…

The Robots are Coming

Two-thirds of Scots fear the impact of robots. Scotland needs to do more to address the risk of robots replacing humans in the workplace, trade unions have warned. The unions claim urgent action needs to be taken to ensure workers are not left unemployed as a result of widespread advances in automation. The warnings came as a report revealed the UK is lagging behind other countries when it comes to preparing for the changes - with education and training the main areas of concern. Pat Rafferty, Scottish Secretary of trade union Unite, warned the report should "set alarm bells ringing" for Scots. He said: "The report’s analysis that we are behind in the education of young people to enable them to benefit from automation is a warning. "So too is the fact that the report finds there is a clear lack of adequate training in innovation in the workplace, and the policies to make that happen." Rafferty claimed trade unions believe there are positive gains to be made from a…

Food Parcel Nation

Food banks in Scotland handed out a record number of food parcels last year, according to new figures. More than 170,000 three day emergency food supplies were distributed by The Trussell Trust's 52 food banks. The charity said it saw a 17% increase in demand north of the border in 2017/18, compared to the previous year. And it claimed a growing proportion of people referred to Scottish food banks have found that their benefits do not cover the cost of essentials. It said the proportion of low income households seeking help from its food banks had increased significantly since April 2016. The key findings of its latest report were: 170,625 food parcels were distributed in Scotland in 2017/18 - 17% more than in the previous year55,038 parcels went to children28% of referrals were on a low income, receiving benefits (up from 22% in 2016/17)Debt accounted for 8% of referrals, up from 7% last yearBenefits delays (22%) and benefit changes (18%) accounted for a large number referrals
Au…

The Incas

Capitalism is a buying and selling society in which the human ability to work is bought and sold and results in the capitalist firms that employ them appropriating a surplus from their work, a surplus which takes a monetary form and most of which is re-invested as more capital. A society which exploited the producers but where the surplus extracted from them did not take this form would still be an exploitative class society but not capitalism.
It is possible to have a moneyless class society with a state. The Inca Empire is one such example. Yet they were one of the biggest and most powerful military empire in South America. The Incas were master builders and land planners, capable of extremely sophisticated mountain agriculture - and building cities to match. Incan society was so rich that it could afford to have hundreds of people who specialized in planning the agricultural uses of newly-conquered areas. They built terraced farms on the mountainsides whose crops - from potatoes and…