Sunday, September 30, 2018

A Still Birth Reform

Ontario's new P.C. government lost no time in proverbially saying ''Screw You'' to the working class, as if they're not already screwed enough. 

Fury was unleashed in the debate about the cancellation of the Liberals proposed basic income plan, which was launched in April 2017 and offered low-income residents in three communities $14,000 a year to individuals, or $24,000 to couples, and an extra $6,000 for the disabled.

 Doug Ford had said he would allow this proposed reform to proceed if elected Premier, but Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod axed it on July 31. Nor can the aggrieved turn to the Federal government for help. 

The Social Development Minister in Ottawa, Jean-Yves Duclos, said such programs are up to the provincial governments. Though Ottawa runs income programs for seniors and children it doesn't for low-income adults. 

We've all seen reforms abolished and watered-down by new governments, but here was one gotten rid of before it had a chance to start. 

So much for the benefit of reformism

For socialism, Steve, Mehmet, John & all contributing members of the SPC.

Educate, Educate, and Educate

The Socialist Party seldom instructs our fellow-workers and rarely tells them what to believe, preferring instead to indicate why it might be wise to distrust what those in control tell us we should believe. Without the vision of how a socialist society will rejuvenate all our lives, how do we expect to win the support of the working class? Education and understanding is the key. Education, no matter how hard or impossible it may seem has a positive effect. Understanding the practicalities of an alternative society is vital. Vital that we not only realise what is wrong with capitalist society but how it really operates and manipulates our everyday lives.  Anger and passion are admirable and it is exactly what we need. What disappoints is seeing people missing the importance of a basic understanding of the essential elements of a socialist society. It can only be established by a majority of socialists throughout the world. It will be a society based on production for use and not production for profit. It must mean the abolition of money and all markets and with it all, the sickening, competitive relationships that capitalism forces us into.

Why is there is hunger in a world with the potential for abundance; the simplistic answer is there must be an imbalance between supply and demand, so let’s grow more food. Alas, anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of capitalist economics is aware that food is not produced to be eaten, but instead to be exchanged for money with a view to realising a profit; if you don’t have the cash to pay, you don’t get the bread. Attempting to sanitise the capitalist system has never and will never work.

 For most of us, life is a tedious existence consisting of days spent doing an often mundane, uninspiring job week in, week out, punctuated by brief spells of recreation, socialising and occasionally a holiday. Even those workers who produce useful or essential goods and services are alienated from any fulfilment because of the negative nature of the employment relationship. Work is generally regarded as a necessary evil into which we are coerced by the need to earn a “living”, and all the concomitant imperatives associated with employment—such as time-keeping, fear of unemployment, etc.—prevent the majority of us from enjoying the positive aspects of work and its relationships. Humanity must take second place to the needs of capitalism.

Before capitalism there were other social systems and different rulers. In feudalism, land was appropriated by and exclusively for an aristocracy. It exploited the masses by forcing them to toil on the land for a pittance to generate the wealth that supported castles and manor houses, the church and monasteries, For several centuries the power of this tiny elite went largely unquestioned. But then a class of merchant/entrepreneurs emerged, challenging the landed aristocracy with a new means of industrialised production. They drove the peasants off the land to build factories. That elite lived off the exploitation of men women and children in “dark satanic mills”.  Each elite produced justifications to placate the masses who were being exploited, to brainwash them into believing the system existed as part of a natural order or even for their benefit. The aristocracy relied on a divine right of kings, the capitalist class on the bogus claims of social mobility and equality of opportunity. Plutocratic rule has allowed a tiny elite to stash away more wealth and accrue more power than any feudal monarch could ever have dreamt of. And because of the global nature of this elite, its corruption is more endemic, more destructive than any ever known to mankind. Global corporations are filling the oceans with pollution and the plastic from our consumerist society, and chopping down the forests - the lungs of our planet - for palm-oil plantations. Just as a feudal Lords and Barons were driven by the pursuit of power and wealth through the control of land; just as early capitalists were driven not by ethics but by the pursuit of power and wealth through the control of industrialisation; so today's employing and owning class is driven not by ethics but the pursuit of profits through the control of the planet.. They care nothing for you or your children. It is a cold-calculating system, unconcerned about the fate of people or the planet but with only one goal – wealth accumulation. Take a look at the whole picture and choose whether this is really the future you wish for you and your family.

Socialism is characterised by economic emancipation, with people determining—in full consciousness of the consequences of their choice—their own needs, and freely satisfying these. In like manner, a socialist society will be concerned with educational emancipation or with people finding their own voice.

As members of the Socialist Party, we will continue to learn so that we may teach others to help build a majority of socialists fighting for the establishment of a socialist society and not help fuel the illusion that capitalism can be reformed. People cannot be led to socialism. We, for our part, can only continue to point out the remedy, Confidence in our future imbues our members, from the old- timers to the newest recruits. In its turn, this confidence is the best guarantee of the victory of our cause – the cause of socialism.  More and more workers are beginning to look with disfavour upon the rule of the richest 1% and their agents and are already in process of making the transition from a purely negative attitude toward capitalism to a positive standpoint in support of socialism. Our members are proud of the Socialist Standard, and justly so. It is playing a vital role in the class struggle generally and in the growth of our movement in particular; it is destined to play a far greater one in the immediate future.  The presence of our party finds its physical expression in a centrally-located, well-kept and efficiently run head-office. The battle to emancipate the population from ideological conditioning and false consciousness has barely begun.

Solidarity 2

On Sunday the 30th of September a collective of Glasgow tenants is holding a demonstration against the eviction of a reclaimed slum tenement block by Police Scotland in alliance with notorious slumlord Harpal "Harry" Singh. Here is the text from their demo callout.
We, a collective of Glasgow tenants, call for change from below to redress the power imbalance between landlords and renters. For this reason we peacefully entered and reclaimed Harry Singh’s property at 4 Queens Crescent, on the back of repeated injustices and crimes committed against his tenants.
Our objective was to make 4 Queens Crescent a community space for local residents and organisations to work in for free, host workshops exploring housing alternatives and work towards serving Glasgow’s growing homeless population.
Our eviction yesterday showed that landlords such as Singh are supported by the Police and outdated trespassing legislation, propping up a housing system that values profit over people.
After decades of allowing safety hazards, harassing tenants and imposing illegal evictions, yesterday Singh violently threatened protestors as we attempted to call a halt to his illegal practices and move towards empowering the community.
With this demonstration, we demand that the landlord's properties be repossessed, put into community hands and used to confront the housing crisis.
This action is just the first step towards empowering the community to reclaim wasted properties. Come and show solidarity with the protesters and be a part of changing the housing crisis from below.
Housing is a human right, this is why we have to fight!
Sunday 30th September 4.00pm-5.30pm
Outside 4 Queens Crescent G4 9BW

Saturday, September 29, 2018


On the 23rd of September, a collective of Glasgow tenants took back a block of tenements from notorious slumlord Harpal Singh. This is their statement on the events that followed.
On the 23rd September we, a collective of Glasgow tenants entered the empty property at 4 Queens Crescent. We are not affiliated with any one political organisation or ideology; instead, we are united in our common struggle in support of housing as a fundamental human right. We did not break in - the external and internal doors were already open after the landlord Harry Singh illegally removed the locks to intimidate and evict his tenants. The collective secured the property and held it for six days to highlight Singh’s unacceptable treatment of his tenants and to protest the wider corrupt and unequal housing system.
Two tenants died in 1999 in a house fire at a property owned by Singh as the property was not equipped with working fire alarms. Mr Singh lied to court at the resultant inquiry, was charged with perjury and went to prison for thirty months. His landlord license was rightfully revoked. Despite this, on release from prison, Harry Singh continued to rent out private properties in appalling conditions, operating without a license. This year he was found to be renting out fourteen properties, none of which met fire safety standards, risking the lives of his tenants and making a mockery of housing law and safety in Scotland.
The collective repossessed the entire tenement block at 4 Queens Crescent to put to use for the benefit of the community. The demands of this political action were that Singh’s properties be repurposed from decaying buildings to vibrant spaces that would serve the neighbourhood and confront the housing crisis. The collective took the first step towards that end by demonstrating that we could take better care of the property and put it to better use.
Today, on the 28th of September a representative of Singh called the police. The collective made the police aware of Singh’s history and the reasons for the protest. The police fully cooperated with the slum landlord, breaking down the front door and forcing the people inside to come out. The Police claim they were enforcing the Trespass Act 1865 (an archaic piece of legislation passed to criminalise highlanders resisting the Highland Clearances). Without a court order, we hold that this was illegal and in violation of our right to protest, as guaranteed by Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
Singh soon arrived in a luxury car, and as he received criticism from those assembled to support the protest, he was escorted by the police into the building. At a later point, Singh brandished a length of wood at the protestors and he also grabbed one by the throat.
We call on everyone to speak up and publicise these events. We also call on everyone to stay tuned for updates and to show their solidarity. There will be more information soon. Below is the statement the collective wrote to distribute to the local community.
Dear local residents,
On 23rd September we, a collective of Glasgow tenants entered the empty property 4 Queens Crescent. We did not break in, the external and internal doors were already open after the landlord illegally removed the locks to intimidate and evict his tenants.
We are your neighbours and we will act with the utmost respect to this community. If you need a hand changing a light bulb or clearing a tree off the road (!) you know where we are. We are not here to lodge, hold parties, make any inconsiderate noise or interrupt any legal activity.
We reject the exploitative relationship between renters and landlords. We strive for a society where safe and humane housing is protected as a fundamental right, above the interests of profit. We are here to call attention to the broken housing system in Glasgow and call for change from below.
The space where we are protesting is the private property of Harry Singh. In 1999, two tenants died in a house fire at a property owned by Singh. The property was not equipped with working fire alarms. Mr Singh lied to court at the resultant enquiry, was charged with perjury and went to prison for thirty months. His landlord license was rightfully revoked.
Despite this, on his release from prison, Harry Singh continued to rent out private properties in appalling conditions operating without a license. This year he was found to be renting out fourteen properties, none of which met fire safety standards, risking the lives of his tenants and making a mockery of housing law and safety in Scotland.
Mr. Singh’s case is representative of the wider landscape of the housing sector which is geared towards generating profits at the expense of people’s dignity. From 2010 to 2017, there has been a 19.9% cumulative increase in average monthly rents in Scotland. Meanwhile, cases of damp, infestations and decay are worsening year on year. This is leaving us paying more for poorer housing conditions, forcing tenants to choose between food and heating, and worse, forcing people onto the street.
The problem is not limited to Scotland. Last year the Grenfell fire led to the deaths of 71 people, victims of a housing system that values profit over people’s basic safety. This is a society where dignified housing is a privilege not a right.
With this political action, we intend to reclaim the property that has been the site of landlord harassment and neglect for so long and repurpose it. We are determined to make this space meaningful to local residents, organisations and the people left behind by the housing system. In this spirit, we will organise workshops, talks and community events that are open to all, focusing on the housing crisis and how we can change it, together.
Housing is a human right, this is why we have to fight!
Taken from Libcom

Industrial Autocracy (Part 2)

At the first sign of “hard times” when the capitalist finds he cannot sell the commodities produced by the workers in his plant, at what he considers a sufficient profit, he immediately closes the doors of his factory and proceeds to enjoy himself at some pleasant resort, living, on previous profits accumulated by him until “trade pick up” again.

Not so with the workers who are reduced to actual deprivation and desperation if they are unable to find a new job, which may be at a wage still further reduced. During “hard times” the worker who cannot find work must starve, or beg, or steal, or revolt. 

If you imagine for a moment that any of our great Captains of Industry are in business for the purpose of satisfying ever-present human needs, you have only to look about you to be swiftly undeceived. Under the present economic system, it is absolutely essential that people have to work in order to live. Everybody grants that productive workers are useful and valuable members of society and yet the very moment one multi-millionaire capitalist discovers that he cannot, personally, make a profit on his plant which he deems sufficient, he closes it down even though by so doing he throws tens of thousands of useful members of society out upon the streets to starve. The factory shuts down when the non-productive capitalist is dissatisfied with the dividends he is able to appropriate even though a hundred thousand people actually need the products that come from his plant.

This is sheer anarchy in production. It is the individual opposing his private profits to the necessities of tens and hundreds of thousands. This is selfishness enthroned; parasitism made lord over usefulness. And what say our law and our courts, our statesmen, our brave social problem-solvers to these things? Do they champion the cause of the productive workers, of those who serve, of the useful many, or do they rally around the support of the parasitic 1%?

You know and I know the courts and the laws, and their legal representatives, are so much a part of the of the privileged classes that they cannot conceive of any remedy, or relief for the working class at the expense of private property, to them the one sacred thing in the whole world. It never occurs to them that the railroads might be built, or the factories opened and operated, or the clothing produced merely to satisfy the desperate NEEDS of the people who actually produce these things. The only phase of such a situation that penetrates their minds is whether or not operation will result in greater or less profits for the owners of industry. What though the whole armies of Labour starve so long as it profiteth the profiteer! The Law and the legal representatives of the law, the Courts and our Great Judges say that a capitalist may do what he will with his own and that it is their function to protect him in the doing of it. And “his own” shall consist in whatsoever he may appropriate, take and hold, all he can get, whether it be 20 per cent profits, or 100 per cent profits, or 500 per cent. It matters not how a millionaire “invests,” what miracles of jugglery he may employ, what financial sleight-of-hand he may have achieved, whose money he has filched to invest the income on that investment, and on millions of fictitious investment, is considered first in operating the road, the plant, the mill. Unless the kings of industry feel that operation and production mean a sufficient profit (or additional capital) for themselves, the workers and the people may go to the devil with their needs. 

The rewards of labour bear no possible relation to the productivity of labour. A group of workers, by the use of new technology, or improved working methods, may increase the factory output ten-fold in a single year. Do they receive even twice as many products when they spend their wages? The capital of the capitalist who owns the plant may be increased enormously. But if the capitalist closes the plant and lives on his profits next year, what do the productive workers live on?
The capitalist who often never sees his plant, who is ignorant of the first details of the processes of manufacture, is made magically richer by the increased output of labour. They double, treble, quadruple “his” investments in one, two or three years, perhaps. His workers make the owner of the plant three times a capitalist, the economic master of three times as many jobs, and therefore, of three times as many “homes” and families. HE REAPS ALL THE REWARD. What has he done that he should receive any portion of it? 

Is it not true that the money he may have invested in this plant last year, or the year before, was the surplus values produced by other workers in the past?

Is it not true that the profits, or capital, you make for your employer this year will probably be used by him to purchase other plants, whereas economic King he will control other jobs and other lives next year ? Will not these new workers be permitted to work only when he is assured of still more dividends, still more capital for the purchase of still more factories?

We hear people say that “we need capitalists to promote production,” whereas it is precisely capitalist individualism or anarchy, that fetters and chains production.  Capitalist rule has brought poverty and despair to the productive many, and idleness and power to the unproductive few. For hundreds of years, we have lived in a world where the capitalists were the Lords of the Universe. They have been responsible to no one. And the autocrats in industry are lords over all other social institutions. They say what should be built and on what terms these shall be built and operated. They tell us through their media where to send the army to protect their investments in oil or in mines. The capitalist autocrats say when houses shall be built and food raised and transported. They say what terms the workers of the world shall be permitted to toil, and they say when the factories, and mills, and mines shall be closed and millions of wage-workers be thrown out of work, hungry, upon the streets. Theirs has been the last word in everything concerning our jobs and hence our lives. They are our Masters. Yet, they act irresponsible with the environment and now are more dangerous to the world’s workers than the nuclear bomb.

What has this capitalist autocracy brought us? It has brought us the most devastating and annihilating violence the world has ever seen. The capitalist system has been the cause of the death of millions upon the fields of battle, or of their being crippled for life. It has brought untold hunger and suffering and scarcity, billions of dollars of debts, and a disintegrating banking system.
What has the rule of capitalist autocrats brought to us?
In a broad land, fertile enough to feed the whole world, by their private ownership they have given us under-fed children, constant need, everlasting insecurity against hunger for the majority of the people.
The rule of the capitalist has given us increasing unemployment next door to, closed factories and desperate need of factory products.

Capitalist rule has brought poverty and despair to the productive many, and luxury and power to the unproductive few.

It has filled our prisons and our jails with those who have been forced down into “crime” through poverty and despair!
It has fostered the prostitution of women who could not earn a living through work. It has closed the avenues of real education to the working class.

This situation combined with the growing consciousness of the workers of their own power, and their growing needs, is going to mean the early end of all exploitation upon the face of this earth!

Industrial democracy means the rule of the workers as opposed to what we have known all our lives-the rule of autocracy, or the rule of the capitalist few. Nothing has ever been done for the working class until the workers began to exercise power to force these things. Nobody but yourselves is going to do anything for you now. You must organise and carry on the work of education as you have never done before. And what you want done you will have to do yourselves.
There is only one thing that will cure the world of wars, of poverty, of unemployment, insecurity and parasitism, and that is Industrial Democracy - Socialism - when men and women shall give labour for labour, service for service, value for value. Then they who sow shall also reap, and the workers who make shall also enjoy. Then social planning and system shall take the place of the capitalist anarchy that has brought the foundations of the social structure tumbling in chaos about our ears today.

The capitalist still makes the rules of this game and you must never imagine for a moment that he is going to change them to benefit you in any way. THAT TASK IS UP TO YOU AND ME AND THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE WORKING CLASS.

Adapted and abridged from this

Friday, September 28, 2018

Glasgow’s carers, cleaners and caterers have voted for strike action over a £1bn pay claim.

 Blink and you might have missed it, but last week in Glasgow women made history. Bringing to a head a decade-long dispute between thousands of low-paid carers, cleaners and caterers with Glasgow city council, Unison and GMB members voted in landslide numbers to strike over historic equal pay claims estimated to be worth up to £1bn. If no other arrangement is reached, working-class women will soon bring Scotland’s biggest city grinding to a halt as they withdraw the labour that is so often invisible and yet vital to the functioning of any society.

In the age of #MeToo and an unprecedented public interest in the gender pay gap and equal pay at organisations such as the BBC, these women should now be taking their rightful place on the fronts of newspapers and at the tops of bulletins, with feminists and socialists everywhere lining up behind them in solidarity. Instead their activism has largely gone under the radar, framed as a local or party political issue, or not really acknowledged at all. Not all forms of feminist or trade union action are created equal, it seems.

 Trade unions have fought in recent years to shrug off an image of gruff blokeiness, just as black, LGBT and working-class women have advocated for a feminism that is intersectional and inclusive. Both have made great strides, but Glasgow’s equal pay women serve as an example of how far we still have to go. Compared with the rightfully extensive coverage of Birmingham’s refuse strikers or Hollywood’s abuse scandal, is it that they are too female to be a proper workers’ rights story, and too working class to be a proper feminist one?

 Inherent in the dismissal of Glasgow’s equal pay women is an assumption that the domestic work of cleaning, care and catering should naturally fall to women, preferably those who’ll get on with it quietly and be grateful that they’re getting paid at all.

 When Glasgow city council responded to strike ballot results by claiming that “putting vulnerable people at risk by calling a strike … cannot be justified”, they failed to acknowledge that these women have propped up Glasgow’s economy for decades precisely by caring for vulnerable people – not to mention that many have their own families who also live in precarity, owing in large part to the undervaluing of their work. An eagerness to interpret the dispute as the political manoeuvring of union bosses has similarly ignored the ability of these women to self-organise and act in interests beyond those of political pawns.

 Some of the women involved in this dispute have been fighting since 2007, and many are nearing retirement. Their equal-pay battle began with a national pay scheme that jumped through hoops to combine different criteria and conditions just to maintain the unequal status quo. But on top of this, the outsourcing of their work to arm’s-length companies has seen many landed with increased workloads, faster turnaround times for home carers, meagre sick pay and conditions that mean they receive payouts of just a few months of salary upon leaving work, many having never earned enough to build up a pension.

 All of this is set against a backdrop of decades of physically demanding and often emotionally draining work that ultimately forces many into early retirement anyway. Theirs is a story of the many ways in which class and gender intersect with austerity, privatisation and other capitalist forces to keep working-class women busy and quiet. But now Glasgow’s women have found their voice.

 If society really does find itself on a post-#MeToo precipice, then we have a decision to make: take the path of least resistance and focus on representation and CEOs, or fight for a feminism that goes beyond the boardroom, and a politics of workers’ rights that accounts for the specific ways in which women are oppressed by low-paid and precarious work.

 Glasgow’s cleaners, cooks and carers have made their choice. Over the coming months the city could see thousands of working-class women on picket lines, demanding what they’re owed after decades of being downtrodden. Our solidarity is the least that they deserve.

Eve Livingston is a freelance journalist.

From an article in the Guardian

Industrial Autocracy (Part 1)

The capitalists and their paid lackeys of the media insist that commodities are the joint product of capital and labour. They say that the capitalist owns the factory; that he has invested his money in these institutions and that without the use of the factory and its machinery labour would be unable to produce anything. But we have seen that labour produced the factory even the money possessed by the capitalist class. To us, it seems a very simple matter to discover who make the things human beings need and use every day. We see the farmers growing cereals and vegetables, raising cattle and pigs. And we see these foods being transported to the food processing plants by railway workers, in trucks made by vehicle-builders. We wear clothing, all produced and cleaned and spun and woven into cloth and made up into garments by men and women. We live in houses, or flats, or tenements built by labour, from the materials produced by workers. Every shop, mill, factory, warehouse, every road, railway, and runway is the product of labourers and of no one else. We believe nobody will be foolish enough to question that labour produces all the commodities necessary to the life and well-being of mankind.

The employing owning class say that capital is the product of capitalists and that therefore it belongs to the capitalists and that it is “right” and “just” that the capitalists should manage their own products (their factories, shops, or mines) as they please, on whatever terms they may determine. These men who secured the mines, the rich acres produced none of these things; did not even work the land or the mines. They were merely the piratical crews that got here first and grabbed first. And the descendants of some of these early bandits are today engaged in riotous living on the incomes of countless millions, the base of which was thus secured and handed down to them by their grandfathers. First settlers who have been powerful enough and greedy enough to seize and hold the natural resources of any nation have always been able to make that nation pay continuous tribute to them, until the people revolt. You never knew a coal baron, even though the title to “his” coal mine came to his ancestors through large early land grants, permitting people to go down into the mine and get out their own coal, did you? Or a landowner who allowed the landless farmers to work the land for nothing, merely because he, himself, had paid nothing for it? Hardly. One and all the capitalists have held out for their veritable pound of flesh.

Anyone can see that if an owner of vast farmlands, purely by the power of his monopoly of those lands, rents out his farms to tenants year after year, and reinvests these rents in other business enterprises, he will accumulate more and more money capital. But we know who produces the rents paid to him, and we know also that his capital is obtained through sheer theft, and has no foundation on “justice” whatsoever. There can be no such thing as democracy, or “justice” so long as one group of men own the land and are able to hold up all other men for the privilege of using it. Under such conditions, landless men are handicapped at birth.  We do not agree with the hired intellectuals who mumble so much about “the rights” of capital, and the “rewards of capital,” etc., etc. We do not think the capitalist ought to have any share in the products of labour merely because he has appropriated the capital produced by labour. To reward the capitalist for the use of this capital means rewarding the non-producer for stealing from you and me. For the capital the boss uses today is the value produced by the workers and taken away from them last month or last year.

Just waiting for the magic wand of Capital!” is what all capitalists think when they see rich, uncultivated soil, or water-power running to waste, or when they hear of the need of a new factory. But the need is for the hand of labour, for the tools, the machinery produced by labor. The need is not that capital be invested for private profits, but that free access is given labour to produce for the comfort and happiness of mankind. In a capitalist society, however, where all the lands and the natural resources of the earth, and all the instruments of production and distribution (railroads, mines, factories, etc.) are already privately owned and controlled, Labor, the world’s true magic-maker, is shut off from the productive processes and from the power of producing a living, or of earning a living, except upon the terms laid down by the capitalist class. This is true in spite of the fact that all the capital in all the world is incapable of producing one loaf of bread, one pair of shoes, one house, one suit of clothes. Not one wheel would ever turn productively, not one machine would ever operate, not one train would ever move without the hands and brains of labour. Capital is utterly incapable of increasing itself. Unless he is a financier and banker able to filch the swag from some other capitalist who has exploited labour, the only way a capitalist may force his capital to multiply and bear the fruit of still more capital, is by the employment of labour. Without the hands and brains of labor, capital would remain forever stationary. A million pound investment would remain one million pounds. The increase in this capital is the product of labour alone. We are not discussing a situation in which another capitalist comes along and invests another million pounds in the first capitalist’s plant. What we are trying to explain is how the first capitalist, who possessed a one million pound investment, finds himself at the end of the year, with this same one million AND twenty-five or fifty pounds additional capital (or profit). The only possible increase in capital, in this instance, comes through the exploitation of wage-labour.

A landlord may double the rents he demands of his tenants for his flats or his houses. But this merely doubles the income of the landlord. This does not increase the total commodity, money, or the total capital existing in the world. It merely transfers money from the pockets of your employer (who has to pay you. higher wages in order that you may pay increased rents) INTO the pockets of the landlord. One man will be five hundred pounds “out” and the other will be five hundred ahead in the game. You wage-workers only get a bare living (when you get that) anyway. In this transaction of rent-paying there is no increase in the total capital.

Any particular capitalist investment, of a specific sum, increases only through the employment of labour by the capitalist. For labor produces new values and gives far more than the wages or portion it receives, while the capitalist takes far more than he pays in wages. The capitalist pays wages (determined by the cost of living) for the labour-power, or strength of the workers. The workers produce commodities of three or four times the value of their wages. The capitalist appropriates the difference between the value of these commodities and the wages of his employees AS HIS SHARE IN THE TRANSACTION. It is true that he usually has to share this surplus value among other capitalists, with the wholesale, and retail men and brokers, and their employees. Nevertheless, the general capital increases just in proportion as he and these other capitalists are able to hold on to that value and add it to their own capital. The increase in capital comes through the exploitation of labour and there alone. All other transactions are the mere transfer of already existing capital from one account to another and cannot possibly increase the total capital. So-called increases in the value of unimproved real estate are fictitious and only represent the power of one capitalist to hold up another capitalist. As we said before, the power of one capitalist landlord to raise the rents of shacks inhabited by the employees of other capitalists, for example, is his arbitrary monopolistic power to levy a tribute from the employing capitalists, because the landlord is able to force these employers to pay higher wages to their workers to enable them to pay his increased rents. No value and no capital is added to the total general capital. The landlord forces the corporation capitalists to divide the surplus value they have already extracted from their own workers, with him.

Adapted and abridged from this

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Lest we forget

 Iain S. Williamson, one-time Glasgow Branch member who lived in Japan and wrote The 'Kilt and the Kimono'  died a couple of weeks back.

The Burning Question

Last year was the worst ever year for wildlife fires ever recorded in British Columbia, according to the B.C.Wildlife Service. 

65,000 people were forced to evacuate and fire suppression itself cost $568,000 million. Fire weather is typically hot, dry and windy and there was plenty of it in B.C. in 2017, just as there has been in Ontario this year; already by early August there have been 64. According to wildfire expert Mike Flannigan,'' 

The average area burned in Canada each year has almost doubled since the 70's and human climate change is a major factor''

There is only one major change worth making and that is the abolition of the cause of climate change.

For socialism, 
Steve, Mehmet, John &all contributing members of the SPC.

Hungry Scotland

One in 10 single adults feared running out of food in the last year due to lack of cash.

The figure for the 16-44 age group includes single parents while one in 10 households with at least two adults was in the same position.

And one in 10 of those in the poorest communities has gone hungry after their wallets ran empty.

 15% of adults in the worst-off communities had “eaten less than they should” because of a lack of money. This compares to 3% in the richest areas.

Mary Anne MacLeod of A Menu for Change – a project by Oxfam Scotland, the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, Nourish Scotland and the Poverty Alliance – said: “These statistics paint a grim picture of hunger across the country. Given Scotland isn’t facing a food shortage, this is clearly a problem of widespread poverty.” She added: “The figures show 16 to 44-year-olds are most likely to be going hungry. We know low wages, zero-hour contracts, frozen benefit levels and the introduction of Universal Credit are pushing more and more people to the brink. When so many people are struggling to make ends meet you know something has gone badly wrong with the system. In our rich country no-one should be constantly worrying about how they’re going to feed their kids."

Lest we forget

Obituary: Bob Norrie (1977)

Obituary from the November 1977 issue of the Socialist Standard

Glasgow members were stunned by the news of the sudden death of Bob Norrie. He was 72 years old.

Bob joined the party in 1940 and acquired an excellent knowledge of the Marxist case economically, politically and philosophically. His spare time was devoted mainly to the propagation of the SPGB case for Socialism and he did the job effectively and efficiently. Over the years he was a consistent attendee of Branch and propaganda meetings and to the end, he could often be found discussing with members of the audience long after the outdoor meetings had finished and everyone else gone. This activity increases the severity of his loss. He will be missed both as a man and as a socialist. Our sympathy is extended to his widow and family.

Understanding capitalism

The Socialist Party say that before production can be carried out in ecologically-acceptable ways capitalism must go. Production for profit and the uncontrollable drive to accumulate more and more capital mean that capitalism is constitutionally incapable of taking ecological considerations properly into account—and that it is futile to try to make it do so.

If we are going to organise production in an ecologically sound way then we must first be in a position to control production, but we can’t control production unless we own and control the means of production. So, a socialist society of common ownership and democratic control is the only framework within which the aims of environmentalists can be realised. So, environmental activists should be socialist. Yet too often they are advocates of  the idea of an idyllic market economy in which people exchange goods for use—what Marx called “petty commodity production"—but, as Marx demonstrated in Capital, petty commodity production led, logically and historically, to capitalist commodity production where the aim of production and exchange is no longer use but becomes to make and realise profits. Market exchange leads to the domination of production and society by market forces and, if we went back to the simple market system without profit-making envisaged by many Greens, the whole process of development towards a capitalist market economy would start all over again.

 The answer is to establish the common ownership and democratic control of productive resources. Then the whole concept of the market, of buying and selling, becomes meaningless. Where productive resources are commonly owned and democratically controlled so will what is produced, and the problem will not be to sell it— how can you sell to people what is already theirs? —but how to arrange for people to have access to it on an equal basis. In our view, it wouldn't be very long before the principle “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs” could apply. That's socialism—real socialism, not the milk-and-water market exchange economy advocated by activists who believe they have radical proposals and it’s what greens if they are to be logical and consistent, should be working for.

Transforming raw materials into some commodity that can be sold, labour adds value to them; this value is the source of both the wages they are paid and the profits of their employer. Profits, in other words, are produced by labour. So said Adam Smith, the apostle of free-market capitalism. So the labour theory of value has a pedigree which ought to be unimpeachable for defenders of capitalism. It has to be said, however, that Adam Smith and his successors, precisely because they were supporters of capitalism, got themselves into all sorts of contradictions. They wanted to justify the capitalist profit system as the best possible, indeed as the only natural economic system, yet the labour theory of value which they accepted out of intellectual honesty implied that profits were a deduction from what labour produced and that capitalism was therefore based on the robbery of the producers.

There were only two ways out of this contradiction. One was to abandon the labour theory of value. The other was to accept that the capitalist system was based on the exploitation of labour and should, therefore, be abolished. Supporters of capitalism chose the first course so that by the middle of the last century the labour theory of value had become “discredited” in respectable circles. Supporters of the workers chose the second course. But they didn't quite get it right. They argued that the alternative to capitalism was a system that would ensure that every individual worker got the “full product of their labour”; this was to be done by pricing goods according to the amount of labour-time required to produce them and giving the workers who produced them a quantity of labour notes that would enable them to acquire the full labour-time equivalent of what they had produced. Under this scheme there would be no profit; all that was produced would go, in one form or another, to the producers. Marx is on record as attacking the idea that each worker could be ensured the “undiminished proceeds” of their labour. A whole section of his Critique of the Gotha Programme adopted by the German Social Democrats in 1875 was devoted to exposing the absurdity of the idea that each individual worker could be given the “full product” of his or her contribution to the co-operative labour of the whole labour force (even supposing this could be measured). In a socialist society, deductions from this would have to be made for such things as the resources to be devoted to the replacement and expansion of the means of production, the general administration of society and the maintenance of those unable to work because of youth, old age, sickness or disability. The only context, in fact, in which the phrases “full fruits" or “full product” or "undiminished proceeds” make sense is that of the whole community enjoying the full fruits of the collective co-operative labour of its working members; which in practice means allowing every member of the community an equal right to satisfy their own personally-decided needs. 

Wealth is not created by market forces; at most it is only distributed by them — unequally and to the benefit of those who own the means of production.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Black Flag Exhibition in Dundee

“I regard anarchism as a political and behavioural philosophy with which I identify fully. However, anarchism is, above all, morality and implies a way of life without concessions. In this sense, I would not be so much because my life is far from that of any anarchist militant.”  says Santiago Sierra.

‘I travel a lot,” explains Santiago Sierra. “But entering a country is like going to jail. Borders disgust me – as an idea and as a personal experience. This work denies all of that.” Sierra is talking about his latest installation, which has just opened at Dundee Contemporary Arts. Called Black Flag, it documents his attempts to have the symbol of anarchism planted at the north and south poles. What was the reason for the project? “To occupy the world, I suppose." 

Sierra’s attempt at world occupation started three years ago when he sent an expedition to the remote Norwegian island of Svalbard. From there, he travelled to the Russian base of Barneo which, because it sits on a drifting ice floe, has to be rebuilt every year in order to serve incoming tourists. From there, Sierra’s team ventured to the nearby north pole and, on 14 April 2015, planted a black flag, as well as capturing the landscape in sound and video.

Eight months later on 14 December – precisely 104 years after Norwegian Roald Amundsen beat Britain’s Captain Robert Falcon Scott to become the first person to reach the south pole – Sierra’s minions planted another at the geographic south pole. The two black flags were both left in place, partly as a rebuke to, as Sierra sees it, nationalists who have befouled Earth’s otherwise pristine extremities with their misplaced national symbols.  He adds: “Planting a national flag in a hitherto unvisited place has never been an innocent gesture. This is how colonial processes always begin.” 
It’s no coincidence that the Tayside city is playing host to Sierra’s latest provocation. “Dundee is no stranger to the subject,” says Sierra, now 52. “Its geographical position and its shipyards have led it to form part of the conquest of both poles.”