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Showing posts from January, 2019

The Worker’s Weekend (1972)

From the April 1972 issue of the Socialist Standard

From Monday to Friday the weekend is the time most of us look forward to. This is the time for living it up or taking it easy, and so well is this recognised that numerous books and songs have been written and films made which deal with this theme. Indeed “the weekend” has become one of the most important social institutions in modern society. Life without Saturday night and Sunday morning would be unthinkable for most people and yet the weekend is only one more institution which, like any other, is evolutionary in character and must eventually disappear.

Just as the legal and political institutions of a society must correspond to the needs of that society (more accurately, of its dominant class) then so must the institution of leisure. The weekend can only have any real meaning in capitalism: it didn’t exist in feudalism and certainly won’t exist in Socialism.

In feudalism production was largely agricultural so time off work was par…

The Battle for Socialist Ideas

Why do babies starve
When there’s enough food to feed the world?
Why when there’s so many of us
Are there people still alone?
Tracy Chapman
Capitalism is based on the ownership and control of the earth's resources by a minority class. The owners permit the production of wealth only so far as it can be sold in the market for a profit. Wars are begun by governments in furtherance of the bosses' interests. Trade routes, strategic regions on the map, areas for market expansion and those rich in mineral deposits are the reasons behind war. No workers' interests are ever at stake in their masters’ struggles. In a society where nearly everything is for sale and virtually nothing is produced or provided without an eye to profit, it would be naive to expect sport to be in any way different. Capitalism, after all, is not about meeting the interests of the person in the street. The reforms of the past have eased some of the misery at the margins of poverty while allowing the system of exp…

Red Square, 1919

One hundred years ago, on 31 January, 1919, Glasgow’s George Square witnessed tens of thousands of striking workers, many accompanied by their families, being baton-charged by police. Panicked officials read the Riot Act and the government later sent troops and tanks into the city. The Scottish historian Tom Devine says, “They thought a Bolshevik uprising was about to begin in Glasgow.”

Factory owners wanted to maintain the 47-hour working week, while workers wanted a 40-hour week so that everyone could get a job.

John Foster, an emeritus professor at the University of the West of Scotland. “The factory owners wanted them to do more work so there would be fewer jobs and they would have a permanent unemployed workforce at their beck and call.”

The workers went on strike on 27 January and asked the city’s lord provost to put their claim to the national government. On the 31st, they gathered in George Square, outside the city chambers, to hear his response. Without warning, police made &qu…

Poor Scotland

More than 300,000 households in Scotland have been awarded emergency financial assistance to pay for household basics since 2013.  The fund pays out grants via local authorities with the aim of which helping individuals in crisis to buy everyday essential items like food or toiletries. The most common expenditure for a community care grant was for floor coverings, bedding, and kitchen appliances.
From 1 July to 30 September last year, 9,495 community care grants and 28,950 crisis grants were made by local authorities.

The Socialist Party Promise

The working class live by the sale of their labour power. Many workers know that there is something wrong and want to change society. Some join reform groups in the hope that capitalism can be patched up, but such efforts are futile because you cannot run a system of class exploitation in the interests of the exploited majority. At present the capitalist class control society through their possession of political power, through their control of the machinery of government. They did not construct this machine for this purpose. It evolved along with the evolution of society as a whole. If the working class is to become the master of society — which it must do in order to change it — then it must recognise itself as a class, and organise itself politically as a socialist party, expressing workers' recognition that their emancipation can only be achieved by the expropriation of the capitalist class and the establishment of socialism.
A movement which aims at the establishment of a soc…

Regarding the February Revolution

The outstanding feature of the past month in the domain of public affairs is undoubtedly the ‘Russian Revolution’. That this is an event of some importance in the development of human society cannot be denied, but its importance is far less than, and lies mainly in an altogether different direction from that which the capitalist Press of the whole capitalist world would have us believe. Far from it heralding the dawn of freedom in Russia, it is simply the completion of the emancipation of the capitalist class in Russia which started in the ‘emancipation’ of the serfs some seventy years ago — in order that they might become factory slaves. The revolution's greatest importance from the working-class view-point is that it brings the workers face to face with their final exploiters.
[From the Socialist Standard April 1917]

Austerity cuts into Glasgow's Budget

Austerity has effected Glasgow more than any other Scottish city.

The cuts to Glasgow City Council budgets show that spending has fallen by £638 per person since 2009, which equates to a drop of 23%.

According to Glasgow campaigners, cuts to public spending are the reason behind dirty streets left uncleaned, roads in desperate need of repair, and slashes to front line services which have left the city worse off. Gary Smith, Scotland Secretary of the GMB union agrees.He said: “You can see austerity shame everywhere you look in Glasgow; filthy streets, pot holed roads and iconic buildings in disrepair.It’s not going to get any better anytime soon. This year, the city council is set to cut even more from our front line services.”

The overthrow of capitalism is our demand

For many, advocating socialism is a call for violent action by red crazies who are deluded, psychotic, and hateful. Socialists are infinitely more rational than our critics. The ruling class claim for themselves the mantle of progress and logic but it is socialism which is the knowledge of the movements and behaviour of human matter, a social substance. A socialist future is clearly within the reach our epoch. And what better opportunity can a person have than participation in the emancipation of humanity? What better use to make of one's life than in preparing that new civilisation?The Socialist Party looks toward a time when we shall have ceased to mourn our martyrs and grieve over tragedies. Not because we will have forgotten the past, but simply because we are so engrossed and fulfilled in the role of creating a world rich with freedom, plenty, humane relations between people, and the joy of living. Men and women intend to create a new society where everybody can stop being sh…

A few questions

Capitalism system always values money over humanity
The rich are undeserving of much of their wealth. That is not envy of the wealthy, but instead a truth. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is worth $160 billion. He accumulated wealth on the backs of his employees, some who must get food stamps to survive. Bezos does not have the technological prowess or ability to build the statistical modeling, the intellect that designed the millions of products he sells, nor the labour to move his products. Yet we have an economic system that rewards him at the top of the chain.  At some point, people will come to the realization that our economic system created our wealth inequality and disparity. People will question the “why” of every part of the capitalist economy.
Why can the individual or a corporation profit from natural resources that should belong to us all?
Why an investor may risk “capital,” but human beings are told to risk their bodies and well-being?
Why is it that the first question of a politician is…

Understand Capitalism To End It

The working class is that element in capitalist society that produces all wealth. It is the working class that feeds both itself and the capitalist class. The mission of socialism is so to organise production so that wealth can be so abundantly produced as to free mankind from want and the fear of want, from the brute’s necessity of a life of arduous toil in the production of the brute’s mere necessaries of life. The Socialist Party has made this clear.
The capitalist class misrepresents socialism as a scheme of society, whose adoption would destroy individuality. Socialism its apologists declares would degrade us all to one level regardless of individual aptitude or merit. Capitalism, on the other hand, exalts the individual. Whenever the position of a defender of capitalism against the attacks of socialism becomes desperate, he drags forth the inventor, the genius who has created the great machines, apparatuses and devices which make wealth and civilisation possible. Today the invent…

Humanity has Risen

A growing wave of resistance has emerged, demanding economic, social and political change. The struggle against capitalism has to begin with a struggle for the democratic public good and of workers control over the conditions of their labour. Many are challenging the widespread sense that not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, but also that it is now impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative to it. More people are confronting the prevailing racist, anti-democratic, authoritarian populism and the system’s ability to distract attention away from the root causes of people’s problems by focusing on xenophobic, and nationalistic anti-immigrant fear-mongering is gradually weakening. Our fellow-workers are finally starting to imagine an alternative to global capitalism and to mobilise resistance to it in defence of freedom, social justice and equality. Shaming those who fall for capitalism’s deceptions is a failing political strategy. Any effective poli…

Socialism is the hope for humanity

Capitalism increasingly demonstrates itself incapable of providing a decent life for the vast majority of the world’s people. Capitalist society can neither guarantee a secure future nor even promise there will be a future. The threat of climate change casts a shadow over the lives of all of us where once nuclear holocaust loomed. The hallmark of the capitalism we live under is that the vast majority of people work out their lives for the enrichment of the small minority of profiteers who own the bulk of the economy and through their wealth control the entire society. Profit is the be-all and end-all of economic life; human needs come second—if at all. It is only by understanding how capitalism runs against the interests of working people that we can advance on the road to revolution. Let working people manage industry, eliminate the profit motive, plan production to suit the needs of the people for prosperity and plenty for all. Workers can set up their own administrative committees …

Who owns the North Pole?

It has been a long time since the Socialist Courier blog last added to our once regular thread on the North Pole but the potential for conflict in that region has not disappeared.

As the ice melts and shipping lanes open up, geopolitical tensions are growing and old cold war bases are being reopened. The climate crisis is intensifying a new military buildup in the Arctic, diplomats and analysts said this week, as regional powers attempt to secure northern borders. The current tensions are a result of a world warmed by industrial emissions. The Arctic is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the planet, shrinking sea ice and exposing more water and territory to exploitation and access. By 2035, the Arctic is forecast to be free of ice during summer, which will allow ships to sail across the north pole. 

Tromsø, in Norway, was once a tiny trading post. Today, it’s a gateway to the mineral-rich north. 
“Now we have a historically strange situation with political and economic activity in t…