Thursday, May 31, 2018

Anarchism in 1940s Glasgow

A little bit of working-class history of Glasgow
Taken from here

1) Charlie Baird Sr. : An Interview
6th June 1977
Before the war I’d been sympathetic to the Communist Party, as early as 16 or 17 years of age. It wasn’t until the war, when Russia had signed the pact with Hitler, that I started to have my doubts about the CP. But even prior to that I’d drifted away from them. When the war started, I took up the Conscientious Objector position, and finished up, of course, in jail. It was in jail - I hadn’t been conscious that there was such a movement as the libertarian movement, the anarchist movement - I thought that the CP was the last thing in left-wing movements.
I met two lads in prison (I also knew one prior to going in, who’d told me to look out for these two lads) ; one was Jimmy Dick. He’d managed to get some anarchist literature in. I went through that and discovered that was what I’d been looking for. It was what I’d believed, even when I was in the CP ; I was dissatisfied with the centralised character of the movement.
Then, of course, when we came out, there was an anarchist movement in Glasgow at that particular time. We came out of jail and teamed up with them. It was around 1942 when I came out of jail,and there were about 40 active members of the group. By 1944-45 it was probably around 70-80 members.
The peculiar thing about the Glasgow group was that there was no such thing as recognised members of the group. The only way you could recognise a regular member of the group was by his activities ; there were no things like membership cards or anything like that. The 70 or 80 would include the lads from Burnbank and Hamilton - miners, the small groups out there with 3 or 4 members. They organised meetings and we supplied them with speakers.
Edinburgh was the same. We’d contacts in Edinburgh who organised meetings and we supplied them. There was an old diehard there, but you couldn’t say there was a group. There were many sympathisers, right enough, who were always there at the meetings. They were active insofar as during the meetings they would go round with literature and a collection. They were sympathetic and that was good enough for me. There was an Italian lad who was the original contact ; he had a cafe on Leith Walk, but his father was very reactionary - pro-fascist - while the lad was very revolutionary, very keen, but obviously under his father’s influence. Nevertheless, you went through and saw him, and organised the meetings at the Mound in Edinburgh.
We had the members in Glasgow, plenty of speakers : Jimmy Raeside, Eddie Shaw, Jimmy Dick, Sammy Lawson, Frank Leech, Johnny Gartmore. But Raeside and Shaw were the main speakers, they seemed to enjoy it. They were good propagandists. Shaw was more the humorous type ; he was a satirist - he ridiculed the system in a humorous fashion which went down big with the public. They got entertainment, and at the same time they got the message. Raeside was a more serious type, very logical, and enjoyed a debate - SPGB, Marxist Study Group. Raeside was the main speaker ; he’d an extensive knowledge of the movement. Even apart from that he was an incredible speaker, very convincing. There were even occasions when he was taken up on aspects of the struggle which he wasn’t aware of. He could carry the audience with him.
Shaw and Raeside were highly developed social animals. Even in the company of opposition they were very friendly - no chip on their shoulder. They could walk into the company of Communists or Trotskyists, who you’d find would be very careful, but Shaw and Raeside would walk in, they wouldn’t have to be introduced. Shaw especially - he would just wade into a company, any company at all.

UBI - No Panacea

Plans to give every Scot a basic income of £100 a week would risk making child poverty worse, according to the Institute for Public Policy and Research has warned.
The Institute said by increasing the median income, a so-called Citizen's Income would raise the relative poverty line, leaving more families with children below the line.
Assuming a UBI was set at just over £100 per week per adult and £50 per week per child, even in the best case scenario - measuring poverty in Scotland by comparison with incomes in England - only 60,000 children would be lifted out of poverty, the IPPR said.
A spokeswoman for the IPPR said poverty was increasing faster than a UBI would be able to take people out of poverty, and would get rid of means-tested benefits, by replacing money targeted at the poorest with universal payments. She claimed topping up the child element of Universal Credit by £150 per month could lift 100,000 children out of relative poverty in Scotland, at a much lower cost of £950m per year.
Russell Gunson, Director of IPPR Scotland, said: “The idea of a Universal Basic Income has gained attention in recent years in Scotland with supporters across the political spectrum. And it’s good to research the idea and test its feasibility. However, our modelling shows that far from being an anti-poverty measure, a UBI could increase relative child poverty in Scotland.
"There may be a number of good reasons to consider the introduction of a Universal Basic Income in Scotland but it seems reducing relative child poverty is not one of them. A UBI could cost an eye-watering amount of money, around £20bn per year in Scotland at these rates. Even just a small proportion of that could be used to make huge inroads into poverty rates in Scotland.”

Real and Radical

Many people are again talking and writing about socialism nowadays. While welcoming every move that the workers make towards a more vigorous prosecution of the class struggle against Capital, we must not relax our determination to build up the revolutionary arm of the workers. The Socialist Party realising that all economic wealth is produced by the social labour of the international working class sets out to organise the world's workers upon class lines, sweeping aside the poison of sectionalism and nationalism which sets worker against worker. Socialism is an industrial democracy. With the destruction of the capitalist State, the capitalist system will be destroyed. And with the destruction of the State, the work of the political organisation will be accomplished. But the ushering in of socialism—the constructive act of the revolution—must be the work of an industrial organisation. Parliament does not represent the whole community neither does it manifest the will of society. Parliament merely reflects the well of the class that has the organs of public opinion in its power.  Though its economic dictatorship, the capitalist class is able to dominate all the institutions in the modern “democracy.”  To them, the people are not citizens but commodities, bought and sold for wages in the labour market. The parliamentary Labour Party desire to use Parliament as an instrument for positive and constructive work, but we will use it for the very opposite, reason—to expose and oppose everything of any nature destined to buttress and stabilise capitalism.

The class struggle reflects itself in the domain of ideas. The property-owners seek to manipulate the ideas of the workers in such a way that their intellectual, industrial, and political activities may not be directed against Capitalism. Marxist-Socialism is but the intellectual counterpart of the class struggle. In so far as the revolutionary organisation of socialism asserts itself it is ferociously assailed by the ideologues of capitalism. And so in the domain of ideas, the theories of socialism are most viciously attacked. The very bitterness of these attacks prove with what dread the capitalists looks upon the socialism of Marxism. It instinctively realises that Marxism is the theoretical expression of the revolutionary movement which is destined to destroy capitalism. It is the recognition of this fact which has made many intellectual apologists of modern society declare that the destruction of the revolutionary movement of socialism can best be accomplished by destroying the theories of Marxism. It is strange that anyone cannot see that all modern education is hopelessly biased in favour of the perpetuation of capitalism.

In every phase of the development of socialist theory in this country, the Socialist Party has played a pioneering part. We do not consider that the strength of any party in the workers' movement is determined by the number of individuals which compose it. The real strength of a revolutionary party is rather to be measured by the manner in which it indicates the tendencies of economic development and outlines methods of action. When the Socialist Party first outlined the real function of revolutionary political action we were most bitterly opposed and earned us the title of “impossibilists.” We are convinced that socialism is the only hope of the workers. Neither reforms nor palliatives can in any way remove the great economic contradictions inherent in capitalism. The time has now arrived when all revolutionary workers must either join hands with the Socialist Party or strengthen the reformists and state-capitalists. The latter exercise an influence as great as it is sinister in the labour movement. We can only win the workers when the Socialist Part has been so strengthened that it can carry out its work upon an even larger scale. To that end the party appeals for members. In these days, when the world grows ever more darker, it is the duty of every socialist to be where he or she can best assist the movement. Neither personal feelings, nor a false sense of duty or loyalty to some other party which does not function as revolutionary in the militant army of labour in the class war, should prevent anyone from fearlessly throwing in his or her lot with the Socialist Party. Every-thing in these days must be subordinated to the class’ aspect of the struggle against Capital. We, therefore, appeal to those comrades who complain regarding the shortcomings of their present organisations to come inside and help us to convince the working class, to the policy we have so often outlined. Inside our party, you will become identified with the most fearless party of socialism in the country. Outside, your efforts are probably being exercised in a wrong direction. With the Socialist Party of Great Britain, your efforts will be directed upon the greatest work in history—the emancipation of the working class and the freedom of humanity.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Windfall for investors

Shareholders in Standard Life Aberdeen are due for a windfall pay-out of £1bn. A further £750m is to be spent on buying back shares, which has the effect of raising the share price, as a further benefit to shareholders. It leads directly to a reduced number of shares when dividends are distributed, so the share price can be expected to rise.
One of the reasons Standard Life Aberdeen can give away so much capital is that divesting itself of the investment division reduces the amount of capital it needs to carry.

School Poverty

Teachers cannot tackle the impact of child poverty on education by themselves, according to Scotland's largest teachers' union, the EIS. EIS president Nicola Fisher has argued that austerity in public spending and welfare reform have added to the child poverty problem.
BBC Scotland has heard several stories which highlight the effects of deprivation on school children. They include stories about dirty clothes, hunger and children being unable to start school on time.
"I think we actually have to look at the fact that this will take a whole society to fix and stop expecting the teachers and the schools to fix it all."  Nicola Fisher explained.
 It is not simply about the cost of living on a low income or, for instance, helping a child in a house without books improve their reading. It is also about difficult issues which face society as a whole: for example social exclusion and intergenerational unemployment and poverty. There is also the issue of the "working poor" - a child may be living in poverty even though a parent is working.

For class unity and world socialism

The Scottish Socialist Party has said the party will not participate in a new Yes Scotland organisation if it puts the economic recommendations of Andrew Wilson’s Sustainable Growth Commission at its centre. Colin Fox said the SSP would instead make its own separate case for independence in the event of a second referendum being called. He said the economic outlook presented in the SNP’s growth report was “straight out of Tony Blair’s playbook.” 
“The key to victory in a second independence referendum is winning over working class No voters unconvinced by the 2014 Yes case and whose votes are essential to win,” he said writing in The National. “However I feel duty bound as a member of the wider independence movement to say Andrew Wilson’s voluminous Sustainable Growth Report offers nothing to working class Scots under austerity’s cosh these ten years past. Rather it offers them another ten years of the same! The Scottish Socialist Party will not participate in a Yes campaign that puts this report at its centre. It risks driving hundreds of thousands of former Yes voters into the hands of Jeremy Corbyn." 
Left-nationalists never learn.  The Socialist Party puts our class before all else, whereas, Colin Fox collaborated with millionaires for Scottish independence.  Some accuse its members in Scotland of being unpatriotic. We are in fact proud to be anti-patriotic. But just because we are not prepared to back the efforts of Scottish nationalists to break away from the United Kingdom does not mean that we are a Unionist party. We don’t support the Union. We just put up with it! Socialists are just as much opposed to British nationalism as we are to Scottish. Our rulers have decided to ask us our opinion on the matter. We should be flattered, but don’t be fooled. Constitutional reform is of no benefit or relevance to us. 
The Socialist Party argue that every nation-state is by its very nature anti-working class. While we certainly sympathise with those oppressed and displaced on national grounds, we refuse to simply identify with the many "solutions" offered up by the liberals and leftists in support of the victims. The “nation” is a myth as there can be no community of interests between two classes in antagonism with one another, the non-owners in society and the owners (the workers and the capitalists). The state ultimately exists only to defend the property interests of the owning class at any given point in history – which is why modern states across the world send the police and army in to break strikes and otherwise seek to protect the interests of the capitalists and their businesses at every turn.

A Party of Realists

The Socialist Party, since its inception, has insisted upon the need for a comprehensive grasp of the evolution of society and its various social institutions. We have emphasised this need, not because it is our desire to breed a group of "intellectual" theorists in our midst, but rather because we are convinced that clear thinking must precede practical action. It is necessary to know the past in order to understand the present.

It has been customary for the wage-workers to be told that they must look to the State for salvation. For decades, prominent hot-air Labourites have assured us that the hope of the workers lay in State decrees. They have been responsible for the advocacy of what has been called “State Socialism”  but should be more accurately termed “State Capitalism”. The Socialist Party has argued time and time again that state ownership never gives control to the workers but rather leaves them at the mercy of unsympathetic and irresponsible civil servants in government departments.

Capitalism is a social system based upon the private ownership of the means of wealth production. The means of production, while individually owned, are socially operated by the working class. Capitalism is solely a profit-making system. The great machinery of wealth production is utilised to produce commodities which are sold for profit. When profit is not forthcoming production ceases. The capitalist has no interest in the useful quality of the goods produced in his factory; the only thing that interests him is their potential to be sold because profit is only realised after commodities are sold. Thus it matters nothing to the capitalist what the nature is of the commodity his capital is producing, or in what part of the world it is produced. The first and last essential of modern production is profit. To attain profit, capitalists will adulterate or cheapen goods no matter how fatal such a procedure may be to the people who consume them or how shoddy the quality. Capitalism will be peaceful and warlike; it will encourage free trade or protectionism; it will privatise or nationalise undertakings; it will institute “welfare” schemes and inaugurate an era of “social benefits”; it will do anything and everything in order to perpetuate profit-making. Goods are destroyed and harvests have been burned to keep up profits.

The means of production are operated by the working class. This class owns nothing but its mental and physical energy, which it must sell on the labour market for wages. The labour-power of the worker is sold for a price (wages); it is, therefore, a commodity—i.e., something bought and sold. But the worker cannot detach himself from his labour-power. When he sells his energy for so many hours per day he himself is sold. Thus capitalism reduces the worker to objects and other merchandise to bought and sold in the world’s markets. The price of labour-power, are regulated by the same laws which regulate the prices of all commodities. That law is supply and demand. When commodities are scarce prices rise; when they are plentiful prices fall. When there is a glut of labourers in the Labour Market their price (wages) fall; when Labour is scarce wages rise. But the law of competition tends to reduce the prices of all commodities to their social cost of production. And likewise the competition among labourers tend to force their price (wages) to the cost of reproducing workers—i.e., their cost of subsistence. The law that wages are fundamentally determined by the cost of subsistence—or, as it is sometimes called, the cost of living. It will be seen that anything that Labour gets, so far as the wealth of the Empire is concerned, can only be wrenched from the grip of Capital by the power of organisation. This is due to the fact that the wage-worker is not a free unit living in a free society. He is a wage slave. He is a commodity; a piece of merchandise bought and sold; in the factory he is known by a pay-number; and he is generally referred to as a “hand”, a “human resource.”

When the worker enters the factory or an office he or she creates values and has no control over the wealth manufactured. The worker is paid the price of his or her labour power (wages), and the commodities produced belong to the capitalist class. The worker has no more share in the goods produced. What the worker creates for oneself are wages and wages are not determined by the price that the product realises when sold on the market. Indeed, the commodity produced may not be exchanged for months after he or she has received their pay. Here again, we observe that there is no direct connection between what labour receives in wages and the value of the commodities which labour creates.

The capitalist class, however, gets wealthier every year. The surplus which is annually created is not created in exchange as many economists assert. One capitalist may swindle another capitalist; what the one gains the other loses. But that does not add to the value of the wealth in society. Besides, the capitalist class, as a class, cannot swindle itself. Swindling does not produce wealth. The continually swelling volume of wealth can only proceed from the source of all economic wealth—the application of labour to the resources of nature. Labour alone creates value. All surplus value, from which comes rent, interest, and profit, represents the difference between what labour receives in wages and what labour actually produces. Every effort that the workers make to increase their wages means a decrease in the capitalist’s surplus value. And every effort that the capitalists make to lower wages, lengthen the working day, or speed up production, are attempts at lowering the relative wages of labour. The cheaper capital can buy labour the higher its profit; the higher labour can push its price (wages) the lower profits. Thus between profits and wages there is an antagonism which in its turn produces the class struggle between capital and labour.

In order to maintain its profits, and thus safeguard its best interests, the capitalist class has organised itself economically in richly endowed masters’ federations; it has control of the political machine and dominates the State, thus having the armed force of the nation at its service in order to keep the workers in subjection. Through its press and its educational institutions, the capitalist class seeks to mould the opinions of the workers and to implant in their minds ideas which will make for the perpetuation of wage slavery and exploitation. The workers must organise in order to combat the power of the capitalist class.

The Socialist Party, realising that labour creates all economic wealth, contends that the only solution for the social problem is to be found in the reorganisation of society upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of wealth production. This plan is neither based on emotion nor sentiment. It is based upon economic necessity. Since wealth is socially created it must be socially owned and controlled. Until that is done capitalism will stagger from one contradiction to another; from one crisis to a worse one; from one conflict to an ever fiercer one. Labour as the creator of all economic wealth demands the control of its product. To facilitate this end, the Socialist Party has outlined the ways and means whereby the worldwide cooperative commonwealth may be inaugurated.

The Socialist Party is a political organisation which seeks to educate the workers in order that they may organise to combat capitalism in every field of its activity. Capitalism is the most cunningly organised social system ever known, and the capitalist class is the most powerfully enthroned ruling power known to history. Therefore, the Socialist Party declares, capitalism must be fought in every avenue of social action. We, however, emphatically insist that capitalism’s control of the political machine—i.e., the State and the armed forces must be challenged at the ballot box. The capitalist class clearly understands that in addition to its economic dominance over the working class—through its ownership of the means of life—it is necessary to be able to suppress the workers should they dare rebel and refuse to produce profits. In order, therefore, to strengthen its economic power, the rulers have left no stone unturned to capture political power—the State—which gives it control over the police and armed forces of society. With this political power in its hand Capital is able to enforce its domination over Labour. In other words, the capitalist class looks upon political power as an important weapon to be used in its conflict with the working class. The political power of the masters is one of its chief defences against militant workers. Thus capitalists has used their political supremacy to intimidate and to defeat those wage-earners who endangered its profits.

Because the political weapon is used by the capitalist class against the people, and because the political State is a coercive machine to maintain class rule, there are many who contend that working-class political action is futile, if not dangerous. The Socialist Party declares that as political power is used by employers to enforce their economic power, for that very reason the workers must meet capital on the political battlefield. In the class war, the workers dare not allow the capitalists to hold any strongholds without laying siege to it with a view to capturing it. We may ignore the political citadel, as our anarchist friends would have us do, but neither the class war, nor any kind of war, can be waged successfully by ignoring where the enemy is strongest. To ignore the insuperable advantage which the political machine gives to the capitalist class would be tantamount to closing our eyes when the enemy engages us with its most potent weapon. Sanity demands that we must tear the weapon from the grasp of the foe.

But, argues the anarchist, what is the use of returning members to Parliament—they always betray their class interests? What the critic of political action has in his mind are the betrayals of past Labour Party leaders. Let it be noted that the Socialist Party have exposed the treacheries of these political tricksters time after time. We deny that these men ever represented the interests of the working class. We further assert that these Labour traitors learned the art of treachery long before they entered Parliament; they were often educated in that art of deceit on the industrial field as trade union bureaucrats.  Syndicalists wish us to devote our energies to the industrial arena because they imagine that the workers are sold out when they enter politics. But the workers can be and usually are double-crossed industrially as well as politically. The history of the trade union leaders indicates this point.

Until the working class is conscious of its own interests—until it clearly realises what it wants and how to get it—then they are the tools of the trade union careerists and political charlatans. The moment that the wage-earners understand their class interests they will not be betrayed either industrially or politically. Because “leaders” are only able to act treacherously when the “rank and file” is ignorant and confused.

The political field is where the conflicts of economic interests are fought out. If the working class does not realise its economic interests it will be sold out in Parliament, and if it does not realise its class interests it will be sold out on the shop-floor. Thus every argument which can be urged against political action can be used against industrial action. They react upon each other. There is nothing inherently dangerous in political action. All the arguments brought against it proves only that the workers' movement has neglected its educational work and that it has not sought to industrially organise workers as a class, and the result is that these weaknesses are glaringly reflected on the political field. When anarchists contend that the political field makes for the confusion of our fellow-workers they are unconsciously passing censure on every other field of socialist activity. The critic of political action, unable to perceive the law of causation, which links together the various weaknesses operating in the different channels of the labour movement, places all the blame on the political field. They, therefore, decides to ignore political faction. But by doing so, they ignore the whole problem.

Revolutionary political action and parliamentary action must not be confused. Parliamentary action believes that by placing a series of reforms upon the Statute Book— “steps at a time” they are called—the economic position of the workers can gradually be improved, and that they will be finally emancipated by such palliative measures. Such a line of activity is the aim of the “reformers.” The attitude of the reform party means that it can throw open its ranks to those who do not believe in socialism—but in “something now.” The Socialist Party repudiates parliamentary action. We deny that it is the political function of the socialist movement to show the capitalist class how to legislate for capitalism or administer it to make capitalism run better. We hold that the purpose of political action is the destruction of the capitalist State. It would be the duty of revolutionary Socialists in Parliament to criticise every measure that came before the House of Commons, and to seek, by every means, to undermine the prestige of the capitalist class by exposing every one of its political manoeuvres.

The Socialist Party takes the political field with one plank upon its platform—Socialism. It emphasises that only socialists must vote for its candidates. It realises that its candidates may not get returned to Parliament yet for a long while. But it knows that if there are only 200 class-conscious socialists in any constituency, that must be the extent of its poll. Every other vote is useless and dangerous. Alliances, compromises, and electoral arrangements with other parties may easily mean the return of a candidate, but not of a socialist candidate. We are convinced that socialists are only strong by themselves. Our political declaration is to aim at the capture of the political machine in order to tear the State, with its repressive coercive forces, out of the hands of the capitalist class, thus removing the murderous power which capitalism looks to in its final conflict with labour. In a word, the revolutionary value of political action lies in its being the instrument specially fashioned to destroy capitalism. But political action is further necessary in so far as it is its work to demand the right of free speech and of the press. It must be used to combat the capitalist class in its attempt to filch away the rights of industrial action and other civil liberties. Political action, too, brings the propaganda of socialism into the daylight and lifts the revolutionary movement beyond that of being a secret conspiracy. Political action, by insisting on free speech, prevents the capitalist class from forcing the movement underground—because once there the State would crush it. And, above all, the political method by bringing revolutionary socialism upon the political field places it on that ground of social action where all conflicts tend to be settled peacefully. If socialism is ushered in by violent means it will be because the capitalist class repudiated the civilised or political method, or because the socialist movement failed to wrench the armed force of the State away from the control of the masters.

Can our fellow-workers, therefore, neglect the political field, which is at present one of capitalism strongest defences? The Socialist Party says no. The Socialist Party believes in the political weapon as the instrument by means of which the workers can capture the State in order to uproot it. The Socialist Party advocates political action because it is the weapon of the working class which can overthrow capitalism. And for these reasons the Socialist Party permits only those who believe in the efficacy of political action to enter our organisation. We dare not leave our class enemy entrenched behind any bulwark from which it can threaten Labour. Revolutionary political action has not failed for the simple reason that it has never been used. There has been plenty of Labour Party electioneering and parliamentary reformism, but that is not revolutionary political action. The time has now arrived for the workers' movement in this country to define clearly its attitude towards political action. Many are opposed to political action for no other reason than that they have not realised all that it means.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Shoplifting for food

Shoplifting has hit a five-year high in Scotland as increasingly desperate people resort to stealing food from supermarkets, according to police. 

 The Scottish Government said it was a “scandal” that people were considering breaking the law in order to feed themselves and blamed the trend on UK welfare reforms.

 No Is Not Enough

Socialism will be achieved by socialists; by the deliberate action, that is, of those who, understanding. what is at the root of the present evils, know what is necessary for their removal. The existence of a considerable proportion of convinced socialists precludes the possibility of swaying the electorate by emotional appeals. Political bargaining exists because socialist knowledge is lacking. Without such knowledge neither the Socialist Party nor anyone else can give you socialism. Do not, therefore, waste time trying to dragoon the working class into striving for an object which they do not understand. Men and women who clearly recognised the cause of the workers' poverty in the private ownership of the means of production, and who realised that the spreading of socialist knowledge is the only permanent basis for working-class organisation would not have to go into battle with untrained troops, and would not risk finding themselves at the end of a life of ceaseless toil for their class, the disappointed leaders of a phantom army.

The working class are the people without property who in order to live must from lack of alternative sell the use of themselves in the labour-market. Wherever a wage worker confronts an employer the possibility of strife and conflict is born.  The worker lives by selling the use of his body—the employer lives by buying that use. It lies in the nature of things that the buyer should on instinct struggle to buy cheap and the seller to sell dear. Hence it was a foregone conclusion that the history of the relations between Employer and Employed—between “Capital” and “Labour”—should be one of constant enlarging and intensifying conflict between these two interests. A constant battle over the price of the commodity labour-power—over wages, hours, and working conditions—such is the history of the relation of Capital and Labour. The worker wants more money, the boss refuses. There are still fools who believe the relation between worker and boss is one of equality because “if the worker doesn’t like his job he can throw it up and look for another.”  However, no matter how often we changed our boss, never are we freed from the need to find somebody else to boss over us.

The attitude of the Socialist Party is clear and definite. It claims that the wealth of society is created by the workers. It claims that the workers, through their industrial and administrative organisations, must own in common and democratically control all the processes of wealth production. We carry this struggle on to the political field in order to challenge the power which the present ruling class wields through its domination of the State which it wins at the ballot box. By its victory at the ballot box, and its consequent political domination, using unsympathetic bureaucrats who are appointed by our masters, the capitalists are able to enslave labour. Being appointed by the ruling class, who control the State, the bureaucracy can only maintain its position by serving those who control them. We are convinced that the present political State, with most of its attendant institutions, must be swept away. The political State is not and cannot be a true democracy. It is not elected according to the wants of the community. It is elected because the wealthiest section of society can suppress all facts through its power over the media. By its money the capitalists can buy up the news-outlets and then trump up fake election issues. The electorate is not asked to vote upon facts but only upon such topics as the TV and press, representing capital, puts before the workers.  It is through its political strength that the capitalists can deprive us of civil liberties. Therefore, in order to achieve a peaceful revolution, workers must capture the powers of the State at the ballot box and prevent the capitalist class from using the nation’s forces of coercion against the emerging socialist movement.  This destructive function is the revolutionary role of political action. But this destructive political function is necessary in order that the constructive elements in the revolution may not be thwarted. Thus, the political issue confronting the working class is the preservation of civil liberties and the destruction of the political State. All other questions, such as Brexit or free trade, are merely traps to catch the unwary workers and to persuade them to vote to preserve capitalism.

The Labour Party has no message for the working class. It outlines no method whereby the workers may destroy Capitalism and construct Socialism.  To think that Parliament can be used as the means of permanently improving the conditions of workers, by passing a series of statutes, is to believe in Parliamentarianism. The Socialist Party is not a parliamentary party. It believes in entering Parliament only as a means of sweeping away all antiquated institutions which stand in the way of socially controlling the means of production. The Socialist Party alone puts forward such a position. The Socialist Party is a revolutionary political organisation and therefore believes in revolutionary political action. It urges the workers to use their ballots to capture political power—not to play at politicians or pose as statesmen, but to use their votes to uproot the political State and to hand to the organs of the working class the constructive task of building socialism. 

The social revolution is now on. It is for us to bring it to its consummation by challenging and overthrowing all political institutions standing in the way of or emancipation.  

Monday, May 28, 2018

War of the Classes

A socialist is one who, having investigated the causes of present-day social discord, decides that these causes are found in the private ownership of the means of wealth production and who therefore endorses the necessity for co-operative ownership in order to eliminate private or sectional monopoly, and secure the advantages for the whole people. It is a common thing to find persons expressing sympathy with socialism and socialists, when all that is intended by them is a kindly feeling towards those in poverty, but by no means do they endorse the co-operative ownership and control of the land, mines, minerals, machinery and agencies of transit, without which no one can be a socialist. By co-operative ownership is meant ownership of the whole people, ie the raw material and machinery of production to become the property of the all, and industry to be democratically administered in the common interest. Socialism involves the transference from present-day private ownership to common ownership of all those agencies of wealth production necessary for the supply of life’s necessaries for the whole people. Let the fact never be forgotten, private property system utterly fails most lamentably to provide all the people with the necessities of life. The Socialist Party declares and the whole world bears witness to the truth of that statement. We declare the present system stands condemned.

 Socialism is the recognition and adoption of the principle and practice of association as against isolation, of co-operation as against competition, of concerted action in the interests of all, instead of “each for himself and devil take the hindmost.” Socialism saddles upon each of us the responsibility of being our “brother’s keeper.” If a child, woman or man is starving, socialism says there is something wrong in our social system, and upon us, all individually and collectively rests the responsibility of righting the wrong. If one street or a dozen streets contain one slum dwelling or a number of such, Socialism says to each of us jointly and severally, “crime exists somewhere or no slum would exist, see to it quickly, root it out, raze the slum to the ground and let air and sunshine operate. If men are overworked, and so prevented from fully sharing in the joys of life, socialism bids us to immediately remove the overwork and see to it that every man and every woman shall have a fair share of all that makes life worth living. There can be no real socialism where exploitation exists, under socialism no person can live idly upon the labour of others by receiving unearned income in the forms of interest, profit or rent. Therefore socialism means the complete supercession of the present capitalist system, of private ownership and control of land, machinery, and money, necessary for reproductive purposes. Therefore those who do not believe in the necessity for and the justice of the common ownership of the means of production should not call themselves socialists. No one should consider it necessary to patronise socialists or socialism, whilst not believing in the principles. To understand the socialist position one must have some root grasp of the Socialist Party's case which declares that the present capitalist system is based upon the legalised robbery of the wealth producers by the capitalist class and the undoubted object of our Party is to get rid of the employing class as speedily as possible. Socialism stands for the abolition of this class robbery and the abolition of its associated poverty.  All socialists of every country agree with that statement. There may be differences of opinion as to the particular kind of action, political and economic and there are some who would not use parliamentary action at all for the realisation of the object, but few would disagree with that object as stated.

The Socialist Party desires a free society wherein exploitation will be impossible. The future of the world is to be co-operative, and not competitive. The well-being of the planet depends upon the efficiency of wealth production and equity of distribution. With modern methods of production, effectively applied, an abundance of commodities can be provided to satisfy the needs of all. To ensure efficiency of production, there must be free access to the raw material and machinery, therefore all private and sectional monopoly of natural agencies or mechanical appliances must disappear. The present system of conducting manufacturing and trading operations primarily for the purposes of capitalist profit instead of producing for the use of all is directly responsible for the enforced idleness of a considerable section in every country, and for keeping the mass of the wage workers in of all countries in constant subjection to the capitalist class. Modern science teaches that man’s powers over natural forces are constantly increasing, the only possible basis for industrialism that will admit of all sharing in these advantages is the co-operative basis. The clearly avowed object therefore of the Socialist Party is to hasten the change of transferring from private ownership to common ownership, all the agencies of wealth production and distribution, to control these agencies on a co-operative basis in the interests of all alike, and to aim constantly at securing for all citizens the highest standard of mental culture, industrial efficiency, and social well-being. The struggle is not confined to one nation but covers the whole of civilisation. 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Capitalism: The Unsustainable System

The most obvious fact facing the Socialist Party is that most workers are not socialists. Indeed most workers accept capitalism, believe it can’t be changed, and view socialists who want to change it as idealists or troublemakers. So how can this change?  Capitalist ideas seem to make sense because they reflect the world as we experience it.  They justify the current class divisions.  As Marx put it: ‘the ruling ideas of any age will be the ideas of the ruling class’. To use the language of an earlier time, something ‘ordained by God’. Or as the hymn says:

The rich man in his castle,

The poor man at his gate,
God made them high and lowly,
And ordered their estate.
Capitalist society is founded on the profit motive – and therefore this is thought of as ‘natural’.  Enterprises are run for profit. If capitalist ideology didn’t dominate workers’ thinking in this way capitalism couldn’t survive at all. Workers’ ideas clearly cannot simply be changed on a mass scale by socialist propaganda. A socialist journal such as Socialist Standard can’t match the operations of the billionaire press. The spread of socialist ideas on a mass scale must have a material base; just as capitalist ideas dominate workers’ thinking because they reflect their daily experience, so the spread of socialist ideas will reflect changes in that daily experience. The ruling class controls and directs the formation and propagation of ideas. None of this means that the attempt by socialists to spread their ideas through newspapers, pamphlets and books is irrelevant or unnecessary. Workers do not have to be socialists before they engage in battles that challenge the ruling class – but their ability to win those battles is closely linked to their level of political consciousness. Mass strikes, workplace occupations, and demonstrations create conditions in which it is possible for socialist ideas to spread, but it is impossible for workers to improvise, suddenly and in the heat of battle, a fully worked-out socialist understanding of the world. The socialist ideas have to be there, ready to inform those struggles, to articulate and generalise from these new experiences, and ready to prove their practical relevance by pointing to the way forward.
Capital is interested in production for profit, labour in production for use. Capital is based upon a constantly increasing exploitation of labour, in order to maintain its profit; labour constantly resists this exploitation. There is and can be no such thing as a “legitimate profit,” inasmuch as all profit is derived from paying workers less than the value they add to the product. There is and can be no such thing as a “fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work,” inasmuch as wages are the payment for only one part of the day’s work, the other part of which the worker is compelled to contribute to the employer in the form of surplus-value, or profit. Capital always seeks to intensify the exploitation of labor by reducing wages, increasing the work-day, or speeding-up production, or by all three at once; and labor always seeks to raise its wage and working standards. Capital always seeks to increase its profits, which can be done only by exploiting labour; labour always seeks to resist exploitation, which can be done only at the expense of profits. These are fundamental economic facts. Under capitalism, nothing that all the capitalists or all the workers can do is wipe out these facts. The capitalists, of course, hammer into the heads of the workers, from childhood on, that the laws of God and Man and Nature entitle them to a profit, especially a “legitimate” profit.

The class struggle is a political struggle. It cannot be fought successfully by the workers unless they have a political weapon, which means, their own political party. The workers need a party of their own. The first great step is breaking from the capitalist parties and capitalist politics, and toward independent working-class political action. A political party that does not proclaim its intention of capturing state power, overthrowing capitalism an is establishing a new society, is not worthy of the name, socialist. When the power of the capitalists is left intact and there is no fundamental change, the position of the people is not sufficiently improved or not improved at all, because no bold steps were taken to remove the causes of the social evils produced by capitalism. The hopes of the people are then disappointed. Their enthusiasm declined. Their hopes diminished.

Only in an entirely different society, where the people (the producers) own in common the tools they use in production (the factories, pits, depots and offices) will it be possible to plan democratically the rational use of labour and resources to satisfy the needs of the people. Production for use, not profit would be the basis of such a society, in other words, a socialist society. The Socialist Party came into existence to achieve such a society.  Its members are committed to helping transform crisis-ridden capitalism into socialism. To transform capitalism requires the understanding of the nature of the beast, what makes it tick, and how changes are brought about. Because our Party is based on Marxism — the science of social change — we are better able to understand the world we live in and how to change it. It is not an easy task, nor will it be achieved by a handful of dedicated socialists acting on their own. It will require the unity in struggle of the majority of our people in mass organisations of the working class. But to realize this aim of socialism, the Socialist Party must grow in numbers and influence, and the circulation of the Socialist Standard which puts forward the socialist case must be increased.

 We ask visitors to this blog who agree with its analysis and conclusions to seriously consider joining the Socialist Party and participate in creating a better world, fit for mankind to inhabit. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The future is up to us all

It has taken many years, filled with bitter experience, to teach the working class that emancipation from capitalism is not to be won by apparently easy and simple means. That the socialist goal cannot be reached by relying on any one-sided method; either the exclusively parliamentary tactics of reformism, or the direct action of the syndicalists. This objective will only be achieved by the movement conducting a multi-sided struggle; a struggle on all fronts – the economic and political. The behaviour of Labour Party politicians in office, their complete subservience to the ruling class, soon unmasked the treachery of reformism. It revealed its futility. The mission of upholding human culture and rebuilding society on a basis of social justice to-day rests with the socialist movement. Society is ripe for the change from capitalism to socialism, so all sorts of groups are busy advertising their political panacea pills to cure the impending social ills.

The Left constantly refer the “dictatorship of the proletariat” but when Marx coined this phrase he had in view a democratically-elected body using coercive measures against an obstructive minority during a short transitional peril after a Revolution. Lenin perverted this clear meaning into the dictatorship of one proletarian party. In Russia party dictatorship narrowed down into the dictatorship first of the Executive Committee, then of the latter’s political bureau, finally of its general secretary – Stalin. Marx and Engels visualised socialism as the highest stage of human society, economically, socially, ethically and intellectually. Based on the common ownership of the means of production and distribution, a new and higher economic system was to be built up, raising production to a higher economic level, and ending all social oppression by dissolving the hostile classes into a community of free and equal producers striving not for sectional interests, but for the common good. This socialist commonwealth, liberating the individual from all economic, political and social oppression, would provide the basis, for real liberty and for the full and harmonious development of the personality, giving full scope for the growth of the creative faculties of the mind.

Socialism is a system of society in which all the members of the community democratically determine their conditions of life and their way of living.  In order to do so, we must own and control, in common, the machines, factories, raw materials – all the means of production and the purposes are put. Unless the means of production are effectively in the hands of the whole society, there can be no question of the social control of the conditions of life.

Every capitalist competes with every other one for a market. 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. The first method is of no direct interest to the worker as it matters very little who the boss is. If the capitalists want to fight things out amongst themselves, it is their business. It is of little interest for another reason: it adds nothing to the productive powers of society; the national wealth does not grow as a result of it. In fact, all it leads to is the concentration of the same amount of wealth in fewer and fewer hands. We are interested mainly in the second form of capitalist growth: the accumulation of capital. It is accumulation which has made capitalist society the dominant form of society in the world. This is what affects the worker most directly. The source of accumulation is surplus value.

In order to produce commodities for the market, every capitalist must buy other commodities which he uses in production. The things he buys are mainly: machines, raw materials or semi.finished goods, and labour-power. Machines, raw materials or semi-finished goods, although an item of expenditure on the part of one capitalist, are commodities sold by other capitalists and appear as part of their incomes. Those capitalists also spend money on machines, raw materials or semi-finished goods and labour-power, the money spent on machines, raw materials and semi-finished goods being the income of yet another group of capitalists who spend money on ... and so on indefinitely. Whenever one capitalist spends money on machines, etc., that money is part of the income of other capitalists who then hand it over to yet other capitalists for machines, etc. If all the capitalists belonged to one great trust these transactions would not take place and the only buying and selling that there would be is the buying of labour-power by the capitalists and the selling of it by the workers and technicians in exchange for wages and salaries. Taken all in all, the capitalist class (not the individual capitalist) has only one expense – buying labour-power. Whatever remains to that class after its purchase of labour-power is profit (surplus value). Profit can only be made when the workers produce more than their wage bill and the depreciation of machinery and the depletion of stocks of raw materials put together, i.e. when they produce surplus value, value over and above the wages necessary to maintain themselves and their families.

Summer School

Summer School 2017

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