Friday, August 31, 2018

Humanity stands at a precipice

 The Socialist Party makes no apology for our preoccupation with Capitalism being alone responsible for the problems now confronting the working-class. It is clear that we must of necessity make frequent, and repeated references to that system and the effects to which it gives rise.  The capitalist system is a fact. It is not the creation of an abnormal socialist imagination, devoid of all basis in reality. It is not a bogey, raised by us to frighten normally contented workers into supporting us.

 Although we are the only party that, stands for the total abolition of Capitalism, we are not the only organisation that makes attacks upon it. All kinds of organisations and individuals are continually making efforts to reform and improve it. Even the capitalist class itself, through its apologists and its stooges takes great pains to convince the workers of its merits and the manifold benefits it confers upon them. True they refer more to “private or free enterprise system” than they do to capitalism.

Firstly. It is a class society. One class, the workers, possesses no property, and are consequently compelled to sell their abilities and energies to others in order to live. The other class, the Capitalist class, by virtue of their ownership of the means of wealth production and distribution, i.e., the. laud, the factories, the mines, the railways, etc., can buy the worker’s only commodity, his power to work, and exploit it for their own profit.

Secondly. Arising out of this relationship between the possessors and non-possessors of property, there results of necessity a conflict of interest between the two classes. The capitalist class, as a whole, do their utmost to maintain, and, if possible, increase their property, which they can only do at the expense of the working-class. They strive hard to keep the level of wages low and attempt, by all the means, possible to keep a plus sign in front of their annual profit figure. On the other hand, it is obviously in the worker’s interest to keep their wages high and their working hours low. Industrially, this struggle finds organisational expression in Trade Unions and Employer’s Federations; politically, in the attempts of the various parties to obtain Parliamentary power

Thirdly. Out of this class division in society arises also the wages system, whereby, for services rendered to his employer, the worker receives in return an amount of money, which he exchanges for the various commodities needed by him. The amount he receives in wages is seldom more than enough to maintain him in a state of reasonable working efficiency. It also enables him to raise a number of children to continue the good work of making profits for capitalists when he is reaping the reward of his lifetime of labour in the workhouse or on the parish

Fourthly. The goods produced by the workers take the form of commodities, i.e., they are goods produced for sale or exchange. They are not articles produced solely for use, but are made for the prime purpose of reaping a profit. When, as in times of “crisis" or “depression”, markets are restricted and there are few opportunities for profit-making, production is drastically curtailed and millions are thrown out of employment, even though large numbers of the earth's inhabitants are in dire need of food, clothing, and shelter.

These conditions will exist as long as capitalism exists. They will only be ended when the working-class, acting in unison and with understanding, take hold of political power, dispossess the capitalist class of its ownership of the means of life and make them the common property of the whole of society.

The task of the Socialist Party is to convince our fellow workers of this, their task.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

There is no fair wage

We have to make sure labor is valued.” We hear statements like this from the leaders of the business unions all the time. For instance, “A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work” has now been the motto of the mainstream labor movement since at least the beginning of the 20th century. On the face of it, this general demand for workers sounds like a good thing. We have to work for a living, and so long as that’s the case, we should be paid a fair wage for our efforts. We don’t want to be exploited. We want our fair share of the pie.
However, what is a fair day’s wages, and what is a fair day’s work? To answer this we have to think about the specifics of how our economy—a capitalist economy— operates. We can’t simply ask what feels morally fair or what the law says is fair, whether that be the federal minimum wage or the often discussed and calculated “living wage.” What is morally fair, and what is even fair by law, may be far from being socially fair. Social fairness or unfairness is determined by the material facts of production and exchange.
First, we can ask, from the perspective of a boss—a capitalist—what are a fair day’s wages? The answer from this perspective is pretty simple. The labor market defines the capitalist’s role as a buyer of workers’ ability to work, and the employee’s role as the seller. The employee sells her time to the employer who in turn pays the employee in wages. The capitalist pays his version of a “fair wage”—the amount required for a worker with average needs to survive and keep coming back to work each day. Some bosses might pay a little more, some a little less, but on average this is the base rate of “fair” pay.
From this same perspective of a capitalist, then, what is a fair day’s work? A fair day’s work to the boss is the maximum amount of work an average worker can do without exhausting herself so much that she can’t do that same amount of work the next day. You, the worker, gives as much, and the capitalist gives as little, as the nature of the bargain will allow. As is probably obvious, this is a very strange sort of “fairness,” and probably not how any rational person would define the word. Let’s look a little deeper into this issue.
People who praise the great “free market” would say that wages and working conditions are fixed by competition between the buyers, the capitalists. Supposedly, capitalists are all competing for workers, so that competition inevitably leads to fair wages and working conditions. After all, the seller—the worker—theoretically has several options of employers to choose from. If a buyer doesn’t offer a price that a worker thinks is fair for her labor, then she can look for another job that pays better. By agreeing to the prevailing wage, so goes this line of argument, workers have essentially made the statement: “We think this is fair.”
One problem with this “logic” is that workers and bosses do not start on equal terms when they are buying and selling. It’s not like you’re selling an iPod on Craigslist, in which you can wait until someone pays the price you want. For most of us, if we don’t have a job, we can’t pay our bills, feed ourselves and our families, or heat our homes. Having employment is a life or death issue. It may not be life or death in the short term, but eventually if you can’t find a job or someone with a job who will help you out financially, you will not be able to buy the things you need to live, let alone the things you need in order to be happy and fulfilled.
It’s a very different story for the owners of the companies we work for. They have money in the bank, and if they don’t get employees tomorrow or even this month, they might be severely inconvenienced. Although their companies might take a hit in profits, they won’t risk anything like the consequences workers do. Their worst case scenario is far better than ours, so the free market lover’s idea of an “even playing field” is, in reality, a sick joke.
This isn’t the worst part of it. Bosses lay off workers when they develop new technology to replace employees and they lay people off when their profits plunge, as is the case in the current recession. As a result, workers lose their jobs way faster than they can be absorbed into other jobs. Today, there is a massive pool of unemployed workers and the capitalists, as a class, use unemployed working-class people against the rest of the class. If business is bad and there are few jobs for those of us who find ourselves out of work, some of us can collect a meager amount of unemployment money, while some turn to stealing and some lose their homes and are forced to beg for money on the street. If business is good and jobs appear, then unemployed people are immediately ready to take those jobs. Until every single one of those unemployed workers has found a job, capitalists will use desperate job seekers to keep wages down. The mere existence of this pool of unemployed workers strengthens the power of the bosses in their struggle with workers. Anyone who has ever heard a boss say, “If you don’t like it here, there are 10 other people I could hire to do your job,” will know how this plays out in terms of respect on the job. In the foot race against the capitalist class, the working class has to drag an anvil chained to its ankle—but that is “fair” according to a free market economist.
Now let’s take a look at how bosses pay their workers. Where does a capitalist get the money to pay our very “fair” wages? He pays them from his capital, his stored up funds from all the business he’s done, from all the goods or services his company has sold. Where did those goods and services come from in the first place? They came from the workers. The employees are the ones who worked to create those products or services that were then sold to consumers. The boss doesn’t do any work—he might oversee some of the workings of the company, but for the most part, he sits on his ass watching as the work takes place. So we can say clearly the workers created the value that built the fund that they get paid from—a worker’s wage is paid from the product of her own work. Now, according to common fairness, you should get out what you put in, your wage should be equal to the value that you have created for the company through your work—but that would not be fair according to the values of a capitalist economy. On the contrary, the wealth you have created goes to the boss, and you get out of it no more than the bare necessities of life—a wage as low as the boss can get away with paying. So the end result of this supposedly “fair” race is that the product of the working class’s labor gets accumulated in the hands of those that do not work, and in their hands, it becomes the most powerful means to enslave the very people who produced it.
A fair day’s wages for a fair day’s work! There’s a lot to be said about the fair day’s work too, the fairness of which is about as fair as these “fair” wages. It is also worth examining the role that unions play in affecting the rate of wages, but rarely the fairness of the wage process. We’ll be talking about these issues in future articles. From what has been stated so far though, it’s pretty clear that the old slogan has outlived any usefulness, and no one should take it seriously. The “fairness” of the market is all on one side—the side of the capitalist class. So let‘s bury that old motto forever and replace it with a better one: “Abolish the wage system!”
Originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of the Industrial Worker via Libcom

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

We have a world to win.

Indeed the contradictions of capitalism are many. The contradiction of a system of society whose fundamental contradiction is the ownership, by a small section of the community, of the wealth produced by the co-operative and associated effort of the overwhelming majority in that community. This fundamental contradiction, source of many secondary ones, will be solved by socialism, which removes the fundamental contradiction by the revolutionary replacement of the present system of society by a new social order, wherein the wealth produced by the freely associated efforts of the whole community is owned by the producers and distributed according to needs of the individual members of the community. In short— Socialism. The popular belief in the necessity of a monetary system to secure distribution is unfounded.  We do claim that convinced socialists when socialism has been achieved will behave like responsible members of society. 

 The world is full of manifestoes proposing to bring prosperity to this or that nation. None of them is worth the paper it is written on, for there can be no solutions to social problems on a national basis. Trade is international, banking and the money market cross the world, war policies involve multi-national gangs of murderers, such as the Warsaw Pact and NATO, communication technology has turned the world into a global village, the entire process of wealth production and distribution depends upon a complicated, worldwide division of labour. Anyone who proposes to examine the problems of society by concentrating upon just one nation is like a Professor of Anatomy whose study of the human body does not extend beyond the little finger on the left hand. That is why all parties of the world are wasting time in the futile pursuit of policies for national solutions: only the World Socialist Movement has recognised that capitalism is a world system requiring a worldwide solution.

Socialism is not a policy for running a nation. There has never been, and nor could there ever be, socialism in one country. Socialism has yet to be established, and when workers do decide to bring it about we shall do so as a worldwide transformation of society. In short, the struggle for world socialism requires a movement with a worldwide perspective. Nothing less than common possession of the world and all that is in it is worthy of our political effort as a class. To that end, we urge you to take your place as class-conscious workers within the World Socialist Movement.

In a socialist society all the resources of the earth, including the factories, mines, offices, land and the means of communication and transportation, will belong to everyone, regardless of colour, sex, age, or where one happens to live. All people will have free access to the goods and services which the world is able to produce. A socialist world will be free from the fetters of production for profit, the sole basis of creating goods and services will be the satisfaction of human needs. Without several nations competing to make the same product, without rival research institutes in different nations each trying to make a discovery without others knowing what they know, the world will be able to unite its energies for the first time ever. The waste, duplication, and tension of a society cut up into nations will give way to one world, one people and one common aim of mutual survival and comfort.

The abolition of nations will not mean that cultural variety will be destroyed. Indeed, it is nationalism which all too often suppresses minority cultures. In a socialist society, the richness of cultural customs will make the world a better place.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

All for All

Research from children's charity Plan International shows that 45 percent of girls in Scotland have had to use alternatives such as toilet paper, socks and newspaper during their periods because they could not afford to buy sanitary products. One survey from grassroots group Women for Independence found that one in five women in Scotland have experienced "period poverty" — a phenomenon in which people struggle to pay for basic sanitary products on a monthly basis, resulting in a negative impact on their hygiene, health, and well-being.
In order to address these issues and "banish the scourge of period poverty," the Scottish government approved a £5.2 million initiative that will make sanitary products free at all schools, colleges and universities — making Scotland the first country in the world to do so.
"In a country as rich as Scotland, it's unacceptable that anyone should struggle to buy basic sanitary products. I am proud that Scotland is taking this world-leading action to fight period poverty," said Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell.
Susannah Lane, Head of Public Affairs at Universities Scotland, agreed that this stigma causes undue emotional and economic burden on Scotland's students. "It is unacceptable that anyone should suffer the embarrassment and distress caused by period poverty so we welcome free sanitary provision being made available in universities across Scotland," she explained.
Socialist Courier fully understands the need for the necessities of life to be free. Our puzzlement is the question of why people do not seek to expand the idea of free tampons to all goods and services. In fact, that is our goal, "to each according to need."  The Socialist Party case for socialism shows convincingly and clearly why and how a world of free access is the only form of society which can permanently ensure a satisfying, fulfilling, secure and happy personal and social life for the whole population of the world. We say that the proposal is not a far-off dream, that everyone is capable of understanding and that 'human nature' is not a barrier. It is a simple, practical and undeniable case for a completely new form of worldwide society—in the interests of all people. But it can not be introduced by dribs and drabs such as free tampons for young women or free bus passes for the elderly.
There is only one way a world of free access can be established. That is the majority of people in each country of the world must come to recognise that advances in science, technology, and knowledge now make a world of free access an immediate, practical and realistic possibility, that the worldwide money, wages, buying and selling form of society, whether run on so-called 'capitalist', 'socialist', 'communist', 'state-capitalist', 'mixed' economy or any other basis, is the root cause of nearly all the problems, personal and social, we face today, and that it is effectively holding back human potential, security, happiness, and well-being, that continuing to engage in reforming or rearranging the money, wages, buying and selling form of society in any way only ever offers temporary and severely limited results and always leaves the cause of the problems—the money, wages, buying and selling society itself—intact. So long as people continue to put faith in reforming and rearranging the present society in various ways a world of free access will never be established. 

The Socialist Party Pledge

Most people have a feeling that the system isn’t working for them and a big part of that is at work because of the way that your employer is so incredibly advantaged over you. Workers arrive at their jobs with no power. The  Socialist Party insists that there is an alternative to capitalism and devotes its energy and efforts to building up an international socialist working class with the consciously-held aim of putting socialism in the place of capitalist wage-slavery.

The Socialist Party does not anticipate an overnight revolution because socialist consciousness, unlike reformist moralising, is not best developed in the dark. Socialism will be the result of social forces within capitalism driving workers to the conclusion that the present system does not operate in their interests and that only a society of common ownership of the means of production. democratically organised by themselves, can. 

The Socialist Party is one among many of these forces. We do not think that our efforts alone will bring socialism, but that the whole range of workers’ experiences (including contact with ourselves) will prepare them for it. If to some people this preparation seems a tedious process and our progress seems slow, we must say that we too would like to see the socialist idea spreading more quickly. However, important ideas in human history have always taken quite some time to become popular and have only seemed credible to the majority after once being accepted by a sizeable minority. Then they have spread very quickly. Historically speaking the socialist idea has only been around a brief moment. Capitalism has not been around long either. We hope it won’t be with us much longer, but we may have to live under it for some time yet. This we must be realistic about and accept. 

Socialist education is necessary, but we do not think that it is best to educate workers about the alternative to capitalism by feeding them with illusions about how it can be made safe and peaceful. We agree that the revolution in consciousness may take time, but we do not imagine that it will take any less time if workers who agree with us refuse to join with us because they think that the rest of the working class cannot understand our case. 

The Socialist Party has never urged workers to sit back and wait for socialism. Those who merely wait for socialism, and occupy themselves in the meantime with illusory and futile “short-term measures, are the ones who are perpetuating the cause of the many social problems we face today.

Monday, August 27, 2018

The English Migrants

In April it was revealed Scotland’s population was now at a record high of 5.4 million – the eighth year in a row it had risen, with migration cited as driving the increase.
Historian Tom Devine has hailed the “silent revolution” of English migrants who have sent Scotland’s population soaring to a record high.
The academic’s latest project shows how the number of first-generation English people living in Scotland has more than doubled in 60 years.
English-born “new Scots” now account for nearly 500,000 of all migrants – outnumbering all other first-generation migrants to Scotland put together.
Devine said the influx of English people has reversed a centuries-old tide of net-emigration from Scotland and transformed the economy, with nearly 90% of English people in work. The historian said any perception that English people have had a hard time living in Scotland has been largely at odds with the fact that increasing numbers want to settle here. Most English people didn’t see themselves as migrants and had integrated so well into Scottish society.
He said: “Really up and until about the 1990s net-emigration was the demographic experience of this small country, one of the reasons why it never achieved the population growth of its big neighbour to the south was because if many more people came to Scotland, many more people left...After so many centuries of loss, we now have a situation of net gain and the biggest net gain is not from the best known ones, not from Eastern Europe, but from our closest neighbours. It is good that our population size is growing." 
On anti-English sentiment, he explained: “The conclusion from a number of studies on this is at worst it is a feeling of resentment, it is rarely open abuse and it is even rarer – perhaps expect where drink has been taken – to be physical violence." The migrants “never threatened religious values or the wage levels of Scottish workers” helped the relatively seamless integration.

Answering Some Questions

Letters to the Editors from the February 1982 issue of the Socialist Standard

Dear Editors,

I subscribe monthly to your Socialist Standard. Frankly, I am very impressed by the honest “grass-roots” approach which you take towards such subjects as world nuclear disarmament, for example. However, there are a few passing points which I would like to be answered:

(a) In the light of your stance on War in general (Socialist Standard, February 1981 — "Refuse to be Sitting Targets”), how are pacifists wishing the foundation of a true socialist society going to overthrow hundreds of powerful capitalists in the world (who will definitely use the force of arms to protect their privileges) without the use of weaponry?

(b) How will unarmed socialists persuade “militia workers” — soldiers world-wide, and a potent force in themselves — to disarm and thus surrender their “livelihood”?

(c) Could you please in your reply put forward the SPGB’s argument against administration: i.e, without a representative administration, how will society be run smoothly and efficiently?

(d) How will socialists persuade workers brought up under the monetary system to accept the transition from the gold standard to a “new system of social organisation in which the means of production and distribution of wealth . . .  are commonly owned and democratically controlled . . ."  by all members of society?

Having said all this however, I thoroughly enjoy and approve of your journal: so, fellow socialists. carry on the campaign — there are not many of us in evidence.

Iain Campbell, 

(a) and (b) The Socialist Party of Great Britain is not a pacifist organisation. The reason we are opposed to violence as a means of establishing socialism is that we see no necessity for it. When the majority of workers want it, they will be able to use the already existing — machinery the vote — to bring it into being. And when that happens, what will "hundreds of powerful capitalists" be able to do against the conscious, collective action of millions of workers? The power of the capitalists comes from their political control and will exist no more once this control is taken over by a democratic majority of informed, convinced socialists. Nor is it easy to imagine members of the armed forces — who are also workers and would also be socialists — turning their arms against friends, relatives and fellow workers to defend a system the majority no longer wanted. Would they not rather surrender a futile, negative livelihood like soldiering for a life of voluntary cooperative work that will give them personal satisfaction and a sense of social purpose?

(c) The SPGB has no opposition to administration as such. We wonder what gave you this impression. Socialism will certainly need many and efficient administrators. Perhaps you are thinking of our opposition to political administrations, to governments. These are expressions of class division in society and will disappear in socialism. Government over people will be replaced by administration of things. Regarding “representative administration”, a socialist society will obviously have to delegate certain important organisational tasks to administrators; but they will have no special power or prestige over the rest of the community. They will just be carrying out socially necessary work and there is no reason to suppose that, if they have chosen this kind of work (all work will be voluntary), they will not carry it out smoothly and efficiently.

(d) We cannot hope that our efforts alone will be enough to make socialists of the millions of workers who have been conditioned by capitalism into thinking that the buying and selling system is necessary and eternal. Our argument is that from within capitalism itself come the forces (the SPGB is one of them) to convince workers that the present system, despite its immense productive power and continued raising of expectations, cannot solve the problems it produces and cannot operate in the interests of the working class. There is, of course, no absolute guarantee that this will happen but certain long-term trends make it increasingly likely. Capitalism, for its own needs, has already had to provide the premises for socialism — a large, organised, highly trained working class driven by its conditions to constantly look for alternatives; rapid worldwide communications and spreading of ideas; the possibility of a vast abundance of goods sufficient to satisfy all human needs; recurrent social problems which even under capitalism can often only be approached on a world scale (pollution, nuclear threat, terrorism, for example) and which thereby spread among workers a consciousness of the need for global solutions.


Dear Editors,

In article 6 of your Declaration of Principles, you declare that the working class must organise for the conquest of the powers of national and local government. Would you please elucidate as to the nature of the programme that you would embark upon if a member of your party were to be elected. As you have put up a candidate for Islington South and Finsbury, I can only assume that as a contingency you have defined a programme of aims.

I believe that the wording of article 8 is too ambitious. I refer to one specific word really: banner. As I understand, it, your party refutes any suggestion that it should have a banner as such, so surely the presence of this word in article 8 causes confusion and invites unnecessary criticism.
Stephen Shields, 

The need to gain democratic control of the state machine is based on the realisation that if the governmental powers are not conquered by the socialist majority they will likely be used against us. When a majority of socialist delegates are elected by class-conscious workers to the assemblies of local and national government throughout the world they will have only one act to perform: the abolition of all property rights and the transfer of the means of wealth production and distribution into the hands of the whole community. Socialist candidates stand in election for that revolutionary purpose and none other.

If an individual socialist councillor or MP is elected on the basis of socially conscious working class votes, he or she will do everything possible to further the interests of the working class as a whole. The state forum will be used to expound clear socialist ideas and all legislative proposals will be responded to from the angle of the working class interest. Socialist delegates will be accountable to the Party membership. 

As for the reference to mustering under our banner, we doubt very much that this is a significant reason why workers arc not joining the SPGB. The term is clearly metaphorical, as are many other phrases in the Declaration of Principles. If Stephen Shields attends any of the meetings of his local branch he will meet with political clarification, but no banners.


Addicted Scotland

Scotland has the highest death rate from drugs in Europe, with 934 fatalities recorded in 2017  which is set to top 1000 this year. That’s more than double 2007’s figure of 455.
David Liddell, director of the Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF), said: “We are in absolute crisis in terms of the number of people dying. It’s sadly taken this level of deaths for people to really start taking notice of the issue...We shouldn’t be writing people off. The new strategy must send that message, particularly in the case of overdose deaths, that they are all essentially preventable.” Liddell continued, “As a society, we should have much more compassion for our most vulnerable, who are victims of society themselves. What we want is to keep people alive so they can recover.”
Kirsten Horsburgh, SDF strategy coordinator for drug death prevention, said: “We need to see the number of drug-related deaths in Scotland as a public health emergency. If we were talking about almost 1000 people dying of other preventable causes every year, there would be a public outcry and there would be a full-systems approach to address the issue. This is everybody’s business and it needs attention. It’s a national travesty.” She added: “Stigma silences people and stops them accessing help. It’s seen as some kind of lifestyle choice, which is a lazy moral option.”

We need socialism

 Changes in society's social organisation involve changes in human behaviour, and they in turn, depend on the fact that human behaviour is elastic and not genetically fixed. We see once again the absurdity of the notion that human nature cannot change. This commonly made assertion implies that human behaviour is essentially fixed; it is, therefore, the exact opposite of the truth.

In capitalism, it is money that determines whether or not people's needs are met. This principle applies to the "welfare state" as much as it does to the market for goods. But in the case of the welfare state it is the government which has the power to decide whose needs are to be met (through the allocation of resources) and at what level.

Just as capitalism is a world system of society, so too must socialism be. There never has been, and never can be, socialism in just one country because its material basis is the world-wide and interdependent means of production that capitalism has built up. The bulk of the wealth produced in the world today is produced by the co-operative labour of the millions employed to operate these means of production. What is needed now, to establish socialism, is a conscious political decision on the part of these millions across the world to run society in their own interests.

This will be done by taking the means of production throughout the world into common ownership, with their democratic control by the whole community, and with production solely for use.

Common ownership will be a social relationship of equality between all people with regard to the use of the means of production. No longer will there be classes, governments, and their state machinery, or national frontiers.

Democratic control will involve the whole community in making decisions about the use of the means of production. Instead of government over people, there would be various levels of democratic administration. from the local up to regional and world levels, with responsibility being delegated if necessary to groups and individuals.

Production for use will bring production into direct line with human needs. Without money, wages, buying and selling there will be a world of free access. Everyone will be able to contribute to society by working voluntarily, according to ability. Everyone will be able to take freely from whatever is readily available, according to self-defined needs.

The motivation for this new world comes from the common class interest of those who produce but do not possess. An important part of this motivation comes from the global problems thrown up by capitalism. Global climate change makes a nonsense of the efforts of governments and makes the worldwide co-operation of socialism an urgent necessity. But this does not rule out local democracy. In fact, a democratic system of decision-making would require that the basic unit of social organisation would be the local community. However, the nature of some of the problems we face and the many goods and services presently produced. such as raw materials, energy sources, agricultural products, world transport and communications, need production and distribution to be organised at a world level. Corresponding to this, of course, there would be a need for a democratic world administration, controlled by delegates from the regional and local levels of organisation throughout the world.

The Socialist Party intends to build a world in which there will be neither exploiters nor exploited.  The socialist movement expresses the common class interest of the producers. Because political power in capitalism is organised on a territorial basis each socialist party has the task of seeking democratically to gain political power in the country where it operates. If it is suggested that socialist ideas might develop unevenly across the world and that socialists of only a part of the world were in a position to get political control, then the decision about the action to be taken would be one for the whole of the socialist movement in the light of all the circumstances at the time. It would certainly be a folly, however, to base a programme of political action on the assumption that socialist ideas will develop unevenly and that we must, therefore, be prepared to establish “socialism” in one country or even a group of countries like the European Union.

For a start, it is an unreasonable assumption that socialist ideas will develop unevenly. Given the world-wide nature of capitalism and its social relationships, the vast majority of people live under basically similar conditions: and because of the world-wide system of communications and media, there is no reason for socialist ideas to be restricted to one part of the world. Any attempt to establish “socialism” in one country would be bound to fail due to the pressures exerted by the world market on that country's means of production. Recent experience in Russia, China and elsewhere shows conclusively that even capitalist states cannot detach themselves from the requirements of an integrated system of production operated through the world market.

Faced with this explanation of how the world could be organised, many would reject it in favour of something more “realistic", including some who call themselves socialist. They seek to solve social problems within the framework of government policies, the state machine, national frontiers, money, wages, buying, and selling. But if our analysis of capitalism as a world system is correct—and
we've yet to be shown how it’s wrong—then state politics are irrelevant as a way of solving social problems. Viewed globally, state politics only make sense when seen as a means for capturing political power in order to introduce a world of free access.

We must get on with working towards the abolition of this sordid mess

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Mammon reigns

Confusion is probably the strongest weapon in the capitalist armoury and a smokescreen of gibberish obscures the class nature of society.

 The interest of the working class lies in the immediate establishment of socialism, and this is the one and only object of the Socialist Party We are not to be fobbed off by the “Immediate Demands” or “Something Now' reformists. It is the Socialist Party view that the social problems that affect wage-earners in a particular country cannot be solved within that countries borders. Capitalism is the cause of these problems and capitalism is world-wide.  Because capitalism is world-wide so too must be socialism, the system which will replace it and whose common ownership, democratic control and production solely for use will provide the framework within which today’s social problems can finally be solved. This is why we sometimes refer to our object as “world socialism”, making it absolutely clear that we reject all nationalism and all national approaches to working-class problems. Now is the time, not to be disillusioned, but for fellow-members of the working class to study our case and understand its validity.

People running big corporations—indeed, those running businesses of all sizes—seek to maximise profits not because they are misguided, but because that’s their job in the capitalist economy. The common goal of both the private and public sectors is capital accumulation and market expansion – GDP growth in conventional economists' lexicon. Capitalists are not going to prevent climate catastrophe because they have only one purpose, and that’s to generate profits. This is why no governments have yet taken the actions that are necessary to drastically reduce climate change. They all seek the illusory trade-off between growth and greening of the economy. Governments and corporations talk the talk but they never walk the walk. The only direction government policies lead society towards is whatever generates the most profit. Real decision-making is left to the market and the stock exchange. Climate change appeasers with vested interests will say there is plenty of time to act, and they are aided by the actual climate-change deniers who say there is nothing to worry about.  Perhaps a section of the capitalist world, the fossil fuel industries, maybe made to pay a higher price for the consequences of their environmental destruction but the rest of the business world will get of Scot-free. As long as the profit motive is the driving force behind production the needs of people cannot be met. 

Socialism can only be brought into being by the political act of the majority of people wanting and working for it, we assume that the majority of people would want to co-operate with each other in running and maintaining a socialist society. Society will make decisions in its own best interests. This is not the case today. We do not claim that socialism will be trouble-free but compared with the madhouse of capitalism it will be a sane society indeed. Socialism will be the beginning of civilised history before which all societies will be classified as barbaric. We do not accept the permanence of capitalism any more than we accept the fact that the workers’ ideas of society cannot be changed. History shows that social systems change, and that these changes are accomplished by thinking men and women, and that peoples’ ideas change with them. This includes ideas on all subjects — religion, politics, morality, science, law and art. Ideas have changed considerably over the centuries and dramatically in the last 100 years. The spread of opinion, or social consciousness, as with mankind’s social life generally, develops in accordance with the development of productive forces.

Opinion today, or the prevailing ideology, is overwhelmingly capitalist, because capitalist ideas are socially sponsored, propagated and broadcast at all levels. Socialist ideas, which arise from the same economic conditions, are ignored or misrepresented or distorted in other ways. Yet the battle of ideas can be fought against such overwhelming odds. The question which obviously arises is does capitalism satisfy or can it be made to satisfy people’s needs? The answer is obviously — no. The contradictions within the system of poverty in the midst of plenty, its dependence on the market economy, its unpredictability and general anarchy, disqualify it as a social system rendering social service in the real sense of the term.  We apply our materialism, our factual analysis, continually to the economic background. Socialist propaganda is not aimed at man’s ‘innate goodness’ or higher nature, but at mankind’s practical material needs. It will be this factor alone which seen as an alternative will create revolutionary consciousness, and the subsequent political action based on that consciousness.  The establishment of socialism is a task well within the capacity of the modern working class. The alternative is to watch civilisation degenerate and deteriorate under an obsolete social system.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Advocating Socialism

Socialism is no mere Utopian dream, but is the direct and inevitable outcome of the present conditions of life and labour, as, indeed, every social system is the outcome of the one that proceeded it. In the middle ages the handicraft worker and the small peasant proprietor, with the simple, individual tools and implements of production, used to produce wealth and individually own and enjoy what their energy had called into being. In such circumstances, the socialist conception of society could not arise. But with the development of industry and the introduction of machinery, an industrial revolution took place, with the result that production to-day is no longer individual, but is collective or social. In deciding whether capitalism, like feudalism, should be consigned to history we should apply one simple test. Is the capitalist system organised directly for the needs of all people? If it is not, that would be the best reason for getting rid of it, and replacing it with one that would. This is a choice between capitalism or socialism.

Capitalism is organised for private gain, for profit and the accumulation of capital. It works through class ownership and economic exploitation. It sets up economic antagonisms within communities and divides the world into rival capitalist states. It breeds the ideologies of hate which are expressed in many forms of religion, nationalism, and racism. It is enforced through the power structures of the state. It creates vast amounts of waste and destruction. It turns all the useful things of life, including our labour, skills, and talents into commodities to be bought and sold on the markets. Capitalism makes a god of money and puts this above the real needs of people, so how could anyone seriously argue that it is organised for the benefit of the community?

Social systems are not, and cannot be, kept within national boundaries—but is widespread over the globe. While, however, the method of producing wealth all over the civilised world, has undergone a change from individual to social production, yet we find the ownership of the wealth when produced still remains individual. This contradiction, this grotesque social absurdity, lies at the root of all the trouble in modern society. It gives rise to the class antagonism which obtains to-day, and which the socialist alone can trace unerringly to this division of interest between the class who possess and the class who produce.

In every country under the domination of capital the simple facts of the situation are driving the workers to see the cause of the trouble, and are forcing them to an understanding of the remedy. Wherever capitalism is, socialism accompanies it like a shadow.

The Socialist Party set out to advocate socialism and socialism only as the hope of the worker, as the only way of escape from the appalling misery which envelops our class and which, if it is not already part of our daily experience, is removed from us by the smallest of spans, and we have preached it. We set out to show the utter folly of attempting to patch a system entirely rotten, and to urge that the only effect such patching could have was the prolongation of the life of that entirely rotten system—and we have shown it. We set out to prove that the enemies of the workers were not confined to the camp of capitalism, but were actually in command of the camp of labour, having been elected to their dominant positions by an ignorant proletariat— and we have shown it. Our purpose was to emphasise the fact that every worker or leader who was not organised in the ranks of The Socialist Party, waging war upon the forces of the capitalist class, was consciously or unconsciously lending aid to the enemies of the workers—and we have done that also. We set out to promote revolution as against reform; a boldly defined and unalterable working-class policy of open war upon the capitalist class as against compromise, with its inevitable results in working-class confusion; class organisation specifically for ultimate victory as against sectional organisation for an illusionary “immediate advantage." That is our message.

The practical alternative which would be organised directly for the needs of all people is socialism. The challenge of working with others round the world to set up a new system is not so great as it might appear. Already we have people doing useful work in every field. In farming, mining, industry, manufacture, building, and transport, and in the running of services like education, health, communications, radio and television, and the like, we have people of every skill and talent doing the useful things of life. The challenge is to free these resources from the constraints and the anti-social aims of the capitalist system. If workers around the world can run society in the interests of profit-mongers then they can surely run it in their own interests.

This would have to be based on common ownership where all resources and all means of producing and distributing goods would be held in common by all people. Then through democratic control and voluntary co-operation every aspect of society would be organised solely for the benefit of the whole community.

What can be the justification for wanting to retain a system such as capitalism, which is only distinguished by its ability to generate failure and disillusion and all its various ways of thwarting the best hopes that we have for our future? The day is long overdue for getting rid of it. We live in a world in which it is now possible to satisfy everybody’s needs, but the present system of production prevents this potential super-abundance being realised. Unemployment is, therefore, an unavoidable waste created by capitalism. The wealth that could be produced by the unemployed would be very useful and would benefit the whole community. But the present system of society does not, and cannot, work that way.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Poor Unhealthy

People living in Scotland’s poorest areas have double the rate of illness or early death than those in the wealthiest parts, an NHS study has found. Almost a third (32.9%) of early deaths and ill health in Scotland could be avoided if the whole population had the same life circumstances as the people who live in the wealthiest areas, NHS Health Scotland said.
In the poorest areas those aged 15-44 are more likely to die or suffer ill health from drug use disorders and depression. The rate of dying early from or living with ill health caused by drug use was found to be 17 times higher in the poorest areas, while the figure for alcohol dependence was 8.4 times higher. Men in the poorest areas are more likely to die early from ill health than women.
 In the wealthiest areas, migraine and neck and lower back pain are more common contributors.
Dr. Diane Stockton, who led the study, said: “The stark inequalities highlighted in our report represent thousands of deaths that didn’t need to happen. Illnesses that people didn’t have to endure, and tragedy for thousands of families in Scotland. It does not have to be this way." She continued, “The fact that people in our wealthiest areas are in better health and that conditions that cause most of the ill health and early death result from things we can change, like illnesses associated with mental well-being, diet, drug use and alcohol dependency, shows that it is possible to create a fairer healthier Scotland.”
 Ash Scotland Chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “We know that you’re nearly three times more likely to smoke if you live in Scotland’s poorest communities, compared to our most well-off areas."

Socialism - the best of all possible worlds

We have said many times that studying the past is only meaningful if it enables a better understanding of the future. More precisely, a knowledge of the laws that have governed the evolution of societies in the past should enable us to have a clearer and more certain understanding of how society is likely to evolve in the future, and therefore how we can act to make these laws work towards progress, in the interest of the workers, who are the vast majority of the world’s population. Socialists did not invent people's aspirations for a just, egalitarian and free society; mankind has cherished this dream for a very long time. What Marx and Engels did was to take these aspirations and shape them into a revolutionary project. They undertook to discover the laws governing the evolution of class society so as to use this understanding to achieve the better society to which mankind aspires.
After decades of socialism being not being present in political debates, most people simply are not familiar with the term itself. The Socialist Party vision is of a society in which people have a real voice in the choices that affect their lives, having a say in the decisions that affect them It is a vision of a free, democratic and humane society. Socialism means taking power from the few and giving it to the many. The people who make society run ought to run society, that is, the working class majority who should take political and economic power. Of the myths today, probably the one least questioned is that the capitalist rulers are indispensable to the continued existence and functioning of society. The truth is just the opposite. There is only one class that is indispensable for human survival, and that is the working class, the class of labour. The task of the Socialist Party is to foresee a rebirth of mass radicalism and to prepare its advent by developing and disseminating the ideas of Marxism. 
The key to understanding the present economy can be found in the fact that, in the main, unless capital can be invested at a profit, production ceases. This is a fundamental law of the capitalist system. It is no matter that raw materials and labour, the sole requirements for wealth production, are available in abundance without the prospect of profit, production ceases. In a socialist society this restriction would be removed. Wealth would be produced solely to satisfy human needs—and in the modern world we have the potential to produce wealth in abundance. Will the people continue to permit the small fraction of wealthy proprietors to own all the land and its wealth, to ravage the national resources, and exclude the majority of the population from rational management and enjoyment of the land and resources?
The capitalist owning and employing class are the barbarians of modern society, resorting to their desperate struggle for survival to the most fiendish weapons and practices. To remove them from the seats of power is the task of the Socialist Party. Mankind cannot continue its evolution until civilisation is rescued from capitalist barbarism. Industrial democracy will wrest the earth from its exploiters and its vast and inexhaustible storehouse will yield abundance for all.
We in the Socialist Party do not advocate reforms. We do not oppose those individual reforms that may benefit workers, but never advocate reformism as a route to resolving the plight of the working class. To do so would attract the support of non-socialists who sideline all with reforms that workers don't need. We hold that regardless of any benefit reforms may have for workers, they are more often than not beneficial to the capitalist class who gain by propping up their parasitism within a class-based society. Reforms do not and never can change the fundamental base of capitalist society from which all social ills flow. Our aim is to foster majority change to achieve a society of equal social access to the means of life for all. Discarding our illusions is not a once and for all task. It is a continuous activity. The current state of the world and the system we live in makes us prone to fall into the trap of creating and remaining in convenient illusions. Yet by reminding ourselves that we have the responsibility of tomorrow in every step we take today, we can make better choices and leave behind us a world at least a little bit better. We in the Socialist Party care, but we also understand nothing really changes under capitalism. Only by changing our conditions through the establishment of a society where the world's wealth is owned commonly, where production meets human need instead of speculation for profit, will the above problems be resolved – a resolve that can happen as soon as people collectively decide they want it.
As socialists, we understand the rhetoric political parties make in their speeches to the working-class to incite support "Lower taxes!”, “Better wages!” This resonates with most working-class families, but ultimately fails to deliver as the socio-economic bureaucracy of the parties loyalty lies with the corporate 'welfare state', and their ties within the economic system to ensure only the wealthiest can benefit while creating misinformation and misconception with the voters giving the visage that "Our party, is your party". As long as workers take this 'easy way out" and not think for themselves, and allow the professionalisation and depoliticisation and personalisation of politics, the working-class will never reach a state of prosperity.