Thursday, January 31, 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 partly governed by the seasons of the year. Even so, the Church made sure that many holidays (holy days) occurred in winter when work in the fields was often impossible anyway. And the idea of today’s summer break would have been ridiculous in medieval times as summer is when work is most needed in agriculture. Modern industrial society requires its work to be carried on throughout the year as the market knows no seasons and it has the artificial means (factories, mills, etc.) to do this. Indeed, lost working time in capitalism is usually caused by purely social factors — slumps leading to redundancy are an obvious example.

The Church, as the most powerful social and political institution in feudalism, decreed when and how many holy days should be observed. In medieval England and, right into the 17th century, the Catholic countries of Europe there were over a hundred holy days a year on which no work could be done and Church courts inflicted fasts and penances on those who broke this law. Further opportunities for leisure were provided by the many Fairs at which the known world displayed its wares. Eileen Power describes in Medieval People how Bodo, a Frankish peasant in the time of Charlemagne, and his family looked forward to these Fairs although their real purpose was to provide essential trading outlets in an age of poor communications. Obviously they have little relevance to modern society and have been replaced by the airborne travelling salesman, the tele­phone, and the manufacturer’s prospectus.

Medieval holidays took place irrespective of the day of the week they fell on. The Church was powerful enough to see to that. And they didn’t follow the mechanical two consecutive days-out-of-every-seven pattern like today. Rather they occurred in conjunction with important social, religious, and trading events like feast days and Fairs. In capitalism holidays have to coincide with the demands of industry — whereas May Day traditionally fell on May 1, today it has been relegated to the first Sunday in May. In other words, times for living it up in feudalism happened when there was an excuse for it. They were times for dancing and drinking, sport and lechery, with the clerics wailing that more sin was committed on holy days than on any other. We can confidently say that medieval leisure (or recreation) was geared to the productive forces and social relationships of feudal society.

Meanwhile, as the merchant class grew in strength and power it could see that the medieval system of holidays was incompatible with its need for an ideology fostering the regular working habits required by the new manufacturing system. The cry that England’s allegedly weak competitive trading position was due to the “misspending of our time in idleness and pleasure” occasioned by holidays and absenteeism is not the pro-­duct of the mid-20th century but of the early 17th.

With the triumph of capitalism over feudalism and the consequent further weakening of the Church’s power, the holy days were steadily eliminated until by the 1830s they had almost vanished. Holidays for much of the new-born working class meant, apart from Sundays, only Christmas Day. The same trend affected office workers too. The Bank of England closed for 47 holidays in 1761, 40 in 1825, 18 in 1830, and 4 in 1834. In Italy, where the Church is still powerful, the remaining Church holidays are coming under fresh attack and legislation is being prepared to rearrange these for the convenience of industry.

The long term effect of such harshness was that many workers used Sunday to drown their sorrows in and the resulting over-indulgence in alcohol produced widespread absenteeism. The shrewder of the employers saw the way to combat this and even rejuvenate the workers by providing more recognised holidays. The 60 hour week in the 1860-70’s produced the Saturday half holiday and by 1878 the term “weekend” was in use. Next came secular holidays unconnected with religious festivals and with dates specially picked to suit industry. In the 1890’s came summer holidays when whole industries closed down for a week with many workers spending the time away from home. The weekend which we now take for granted -Saturday and Sunday off-was not widespread until after world war two (this writer, employed in engineering, didn’t get it until 1948) and was due to the improved bargaining position of the workers caused by full employment.

Leisure as we know it today is the product of a modern industrialism which compels a division of labour within the factory and at the same time gathers all the work of the plant into a unified production process. Similarly, whole industries with their many plants and diverse component units become an integrated network. All these industries are linked together on a global scale so that all the workers directly or indirectly engaged come under this single dominating influence to which they must co-ordinate their use of time. This is why we have the weekend and why we all take our holidays together-to fit in with the requirements of those who as a class monopolise industry – the capitalist class.

Obviously, the way we spend our leisure has changed with the passing of centuries. In feudal times recreation was associated with participating in physical activity such as sport, dancing, etc. Today it means paying to watch others do this, going to the pub, or, more likely, watching TV. But there is an important similarity between the two ages in that both were societies in which men’s labour was controlled by a ruling class, so they usually hated their work. Up to the present day work and recreation have been strictly segregated and considered to be mutually exclusive.

But must this always be so? After all, there are some people, even in capitalism, who enjoy and even live for their work. This is especially so when they have some control over what they do and when the work is useful and stimulating. This will certainly be the case in Socialism, a society of production for use with everyone owning and controlling the means of production and distribution in common. People will be able to indulge in work that is engaged in from choice because of the enjoyment and satisfaction which it brings and is not subject to the compulsion imposed by the wages system. What people today call work may well be regarded as leisure or recreation in the future. So even our very concept of leisure changes along with changes in the economic basis of society. Certainly no regimentation of leisure such as today’s weekend represents will be tolerated in a free society like Socialism.

If the reader looks around him today he can see that this is not so far fetched as it may seem. Already there is an evolution away from the weekend idea. The increase of rotating shift-work has made many workers dissatisfied with fixed leisure time by giving them a taste of something different. Also, the growth of “Flexi-time” where workers may report for and depart from work within certain limits is an indication of their desiring and achieving more control over their own time. These developments should mean that workers hearing the socialist case aren’t required to mentally bridge such a wide gulf between the practices of capitalism and of Socialism. Our task as propagandists is made easier by developments within capitalism which erode fixed ideas about the world.

Vic Vanni

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 exploitation to function intact.

Whether the profit system is run by parties like the Conservatives, which is avowedly capitalist, or the Labour Party which is allegedly "for the workers" makes little difference. It will operate the only way it can — by producing wealth for sale and profit and not for human need. It will be a society in which the wealth producers live in relative poverty while the socially parasitic wealth owners live in luxury. It will be a society of wage-slavery for the majority. It will be a society ridden with competitive anxiety and beset with the insecurities of employment and the persistent threat of war. These are symptoms of a social system. They are as irremovable from the profit system as are death and injury from warfare. Capitalists get rich by employing workers. A society of money, banks and title deeds is a society of prison cells and homeless people.  When a majority decide democratically to put an end to class rule we then can we establish real civilisation. Socialism will be what those who establish it want; today, we can do no more than put forward ideas.

With each day that passes class conflict becomes more acute. It is a battle of values and ideas, of what kind of society we want to live in. Rational, open debate is being crushed by intolerance fuelled by hatred. Economic failure, environmental vandalism and social injustice have caused widespread discontent and anger among people in many countries, made more severe by policies of austerity. Among the 38 members of the wealthy OECD nations it is said that 50% of the population feel disenchanted with the political-economic conditions. While large numbers of people recognise change is needed and are calling for greater levels of cooperation between people and nations, others, equally great in numbers, blame external forces such as immigration, and retreat into a narrow form of nationalism, inflamed by politicians’ poisonous rhetoric who simply don’t care what effect they have. A huge increase in hate crimes against immigrants and other groups is one of the consequences. Such intolerance and hate flows from fear and ignorance, both of which are constantly agitated by misinformation. The xenophobic views are constantly reinforced by what they choose to read and watch and who they listen to. Alternative positions remain unheard, balance denied and a plethora of conspiracy theories believed. Altering our ways of social being carelessly in the name of some ideological shibboleth is likely to produce far more trouble than good.

This level of suspicion, prejudice and distrust makes discussion almost impossible, increasing divisions. Walls are erected, some of concrete but others are mental barriers. The polarisation has come about as a result of the resistance to fundamental change and an inability to respond to the demands of the times which has created great uncertainty. The longer change is resisted, and the ways of the past are perpetuated, the more intense insecurities will become. Political parties and the corporations they serve are firmly attached to the existing system and mode of living where concentrated wealth and power remain in the hands of a tiny percentage while trapped working class people are stuck in economic uncertainty and poverty. This is energising the right-wing which are working to maintain the status-quo. It is a toxic movement. The primary aims of the capitalist elite are to monopolise the world’s dwindling resources by whatever means necessary, usually by force, and to control all peoples’ and nations’ way of life and their conditions of life. The rich say the poor and the vulnerable get what they deserve.

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 "a savage, totally unexpected assault." The authorities decided to read the Riot Act, a formal process giving them rights to unleash martial law and as the sheriff began to read the act it was torn from his hands.

In London, the war cabinet met at 3pm. The Scottish secretary, Robert Munro, claimed a Scottish Bolshevik revolution had begun and it was decided to send in troops from barracks in Scotland and northern England – but not from Glasgow’s own Maryhill barracks because men there might have sided with their embattled neighbours. 

Fighting raged across Glasgow. In one skirmish, two policemen were stripped of their uniforms and let loose semi-naked. 

Then the troops arrived. Machine gun posts were placed in George Square. Soldiers were sent to protect power stations, and six tanks were stationed in the city’s Cattle Market. By Saturday, the city was under military control. “The city chambers is like an armed camp,” the Observer reported that Sunday. “The quadrangle is full of troops and equipment, including machine guns.” By Sunday, however, Glasgow had returned to calm.

Willie Gallacher suggested that “Had there been an experienced revolutionary leadership, instead of a march to Glasgow Green there would have been a march to the city’s Maryhill Barracks. There we could easily have persuaded the soldiers to come out, and Glasgow would have been in our hands.” But it was only wishful thinking on his part.

 “This was a widely supported trade union dispute but it was a reformist not a revolutionary gathering and it turned into anarchy only because of political nervousness in London and maladroit policing,” explained Foster.

The workers lost the strike for a shorter working week although better working hours were slowly introduced by employers. The revolution never materialized. It did not trigger the downfall of UK capitalism. In fact, the Battle of George Square was not so much an outburst of revolutionary fervour as the outcome of hostile policing and a loss of nerve by the cabinet.

According to Devine, “The experience of being harshly treated helps explain the election success of Red Clydesiders.” 

In 1922, the Independent Labour Party – won 10 out of 15 Glasgow constituencies. Shinwell, Kirkwood and others became MPs

And the events of January 31st acquired a mythical status in the city.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

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 social democracy in which human values flourish cannot employ means which conflict with this end. It must to a certain extent reflect the new society it aims to create. A socialist party must organise on democratic lines. Its membership must have complete control over policy; all its officials must be responsible to the membership; there must be complete freedom of discussion within the party; there must be no division into leaders and led; there must be no secret meetings from which any section of the membership is excluded. Not only must a socialist party be democratic, it must also be open and transparent in its methods. Like other social phenomena, it will grow out of social conditions and will not appear ready-made.

At present, there are two hurdles standing in the way of achieving socialism: the political ignorance of the working class and the control of the machinery of government by the capitalist class. To overcome these obstacles socialist understanding must come first. Socialist understanding or in Marxist jargon, class consciousness, is not something that can be constructed out of nothing. It must grow out of social conditions. It will not arise simply as a result of the propaganda of the socialist party. Ideas only grip the masses when they are relevant to social conditions.  Political education is not just about reading and learning from books and pamphlets; that is just one aspect. The actual experiences of the working class under capitalism will teach it that socialism is the answer to its problems. The role of the socialist party is storing up and passing on the lessons of the past to serve as a guide to dealing with current events and issues. Once a higher degree of political knowledge has been acquired, political conditions will completely change and with changed conditions will come a change in the role of the party. It will become the political organisation of the working class which they can use to capture political power.

The Socialist Party is a political party, separate from all others, Left, Right or Centre. It stands for the sole aim of establishing a world social system based upon human need instead of private or state profit. The basic socialist principle advocated by the Socialist Party is that it people will give according to their abilities and take according to their self- defined needs. Work will be on the basis of voluntary co-operation: the coercion of wage and salary work will be abolished. There will be no buying or selling and money will not be necessary, in a society of common ownership and free access. For the first time, the people of the world will have common possession of the planet earth. the Socialist Party has no leaders. It is a democratic organisation controlled by its members. It understands that socialism can only be established by a conscious majority of workers — that workers must liberate themselves and will not be liberated by leaders or parties. Socialism will not be brought about by a dedicated minority as some left-wingers would have it. Nor do the activities of paid, professional politicians have anything to do with socialism — the experience of several Labour Party governments has shown this. Once a majority of the working class understand and want socialism, they will take the necessary step to organise consciously for the democratic conquest of political power. There will be no socialism without a socialist majority.

There are countless dedicated campaigns and good causes which many sincere people are caught up in, but there is only one solution to the problems of capitalism and that is to get rid of it. Winning workers to the socialist case requires knowledge, principles and an enthusiasm for change. These qualities can be developed by anyone — and are essential for everyone who is serious about changing society. Capitalism is a system of waste, deprivation and insecurity. You owe it to yourself to find out about the one movement which stands for an alternative society.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

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 sheep and start being human because today’s world of war and sexism, poverty and brutality, racism and violence cannot endure. Together, we must change the world. Together, we can win.

Many on the Left insist that before the ultimate overthrow of capitalism, there are a litany of immediate demands, shorter hours, higher wages, better conditions etc., to address first and they declare that a socialist party must present a platform of such immediate demands. The reasoning is that until the overthrow of capitalism is attained, “immediate” demands are bound to appear on the socialist platform proceeds from a confusion. The moment that a demand for a reform is raised they are apt to be, and generally are, confused with the goal itself. A political party that sets up “immediate” demands blurs its aim and is an invitation for compromise and concession, even corruption. The Socialist Party accepts that an economic organisation such as trade union may and must reach out for improved conditions. The very nature of these organisations keeps it from resting on its laurels and has to keep seeking gains as its goal. For the socialist party it must be all or nothing. Goals determine methods. The goal of social evolution being the final overthrow of class rule, its methods must fit the goal. The principle of the class struggle is a basic principle from which socialist tactics proceed. The employers wage a class war upon the lines of their class interests. Their aim is to conserve the power they now enjoy to exploit and fleece the workers.

“Single-issueism” is the process of watering principles down and entering into alliances with our class enemies so to construct a broadly acceptable minimum plank in order to achieve a particular demand or reform. “Single-issueism” is the road to reformism and invariably ends up in the crass corruption of socialist ideas. Instead of building a radical social movement and constantly striving to raise its level of consciousness and revolutionary content, those who concentrated on single-issues transformed themselves into liberal organisers foregoing the goal of socialism for illusionary concessions. The single-issue is the dead-end issue. It always ends up against the wall. it moves radicals to the right, not to the left, blurring whatever clarity, integrity and responsibility that once existed. It is a barren pathway. We must reject the respectability of liberalism.

 The working class holds little economic or social power. Time was when the workers still held some economic power. They could combine in trade unions, and by the force of their numbers ensure for themselves a certain amount of compensation. That was when technology had not yet reached its present perfection, when capitalist concerns had not reached their present stage of globalisation, when, consequently, there were not more applicants for jobs than there were jobs to be had. Now all that has changed. Owing to the vast reserve army of the unemployed, coupled with the elimination of skill by the machine and the expansion of the gig-economy and uber-workers, the division of labour, and the concentration of capital, the economic power once wielded by the workers is a thing of the past, and whatever little power they may still seem to possess in this respect, their bosses can at any moment shatter to pieces, as they have done again and again, with the aid of the legislative powers. Stripped of all economic power, made insecure, vulnerable and dependent, working families barely endure from week to week, our fellow-workers have nothing to lose by using the vote to rid itself of its chains and cease being wage-slaves. The continuance the social system of private property brings misery. Labour alone produces all wealth. The capitalist class does no manner of useful work, directly or indirectly but is a parasite on the body social. The property found today in the grasp of the capitalist class is none other than stolen property by some fraud or even some blacker crime. To re-possess the property of the capitalist class is to restore it to the working class, to the overwhelming majority, and thereby reorganise society in such a form as may promote the happiness of all its members.

Capitalism is the last expression of class rule. The economic foundation of class rule is the private ownership of the necessaries for production. The social structure, or garb, of class rule is the political State, an organ separate and apart from production, with no vital function other than the maintenance of the supremacy of the ruling class. The overthrow of class rule means the overthrow of the political State, and its substitution with the industrial cooperative commonwealth, under which the necessaries for production are owned in common and operated by and for the people.

Monday, January 28, 2019

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 always, “How will that affect business”?

Why do businesses place profits for the rich and powerful over the interests of people and planet?

Why under this system, capital and corporations are allowed to cross borders at will but not people?

Why even well-meaning governments are forced to submit to capital’s whims, and slash environmental and labour regulations in the hopes of attracting investment?

Why political demagogues can rise to power scapegoating their victims.

Why do people expect the world’s rulers to restructure the global economy when they are doing very well out of it, rather than we do it ourselves so we can benefit?

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 inventor is no longer an isolated being, developing himself and his ideas in some dismal science lab. The inventor is today the employee of a business or an educational establishment, where s/he specialises his/her abilities as a part of a chain of technical experts, men and women rarely heard of outside their own spheres, who, with the finest technology at their disposal, work in cooperative unison for the production of new products, and the improvement of old ones. The poor lone inventor like all myths, is adorned with the imagery of bygone ages. Like modern industry, modern invention is social. 

The inspired individual inventor had become as much of a myth as the entrepreneur and captain of industry who, it is alleged, creates the work of thousands of wage slaves. Today industry is so colossal, so complex and so complicated that it is an impossibility for one man to direct it. Office buildings of trained subordinates, junior and senior executive, in sales, R and D, human resources and other departments meet in frequent consultation to preside over the running and management of the corporations as majority shareholder indulges in first-class travel and the luxury of 5-star hotels around the world.

Capitalist society is built upon eternal war. War between competing capitalist and capitalist, war between capitalists on the one hand and the working class on the other. As capitalists are in one another’s throats at home, they are at one another’s throats internationally

Workers suffer the pains and outrages of capitalism yet by removing the system of wage exploitation upon which it is based, and substituting therefor a system guaranteeing to them free access to the fruits of their toil, workers could achieve their own emancipation from wage-slavery. Socialism does not consist merely in the overthrow of private ownership. If such overthrow of private ownership were socialism, then the present nationalised industries under State-ownership or control would be socialism. Obviously, that is not socialism. A limb of a human being is not a human being. Socialism is that social system under which the necessaries of production are owned, controlled, and administered by the people, for the people, and where accordingly, the cause of political and economic despotism having been abolished, class rule is at end. That is Socialism, nothing short of that. The only cure for capitalism’s ills is to eradicate the cause of the evil by making the machinery and technology of production and distribution common property, so that it may serve as a blessing, instead of a means to profit private individuals, as at present. With industry as common property, the hours of labour and the stress of working-conditions will be proportionate to the progress of invention and the general well-being of society. It has been estimated that four hours of labour a week would be ample to supply the needs of men and women under a proper social system employing automation and robots. 

There exists a growing tendency to confuse socialism with reform of one sort or another which compels the Socialist Party to draw clear and true the old line of cleavage between socialism and social quackery, between gradualism and revolution. It cannot be too strongly and repeatedly stated that socialism means but one thing, and that is the abolition of capital in private or State hands, and the turning over of the industries into the direct control of the workers employed in them and the communities they serve. Anything else is not socialism, and has no right to imposture under that name. Socialism is not the establishment of a four-day week, not the abolition of the gig-economy, not the enforcement of minimum wage laws. None of these, nor all of them together, are socialism. They might all be done by the present government tomorrow, and still we would not have socialism. They are merely reforms of the present system to patch up our economic servitude with palliatives. Socialism is the common ownership of the means of production. 

While not opposing any beneficial reforms or improvements which may be secured under capitalism, the Socialist Party steadfastly sets its face against taking time away from its main battle in the class war for the socialist revolution, in order to carry out campaigns for reforms. It refuses to be manoeuvred into abandoning its main demand – the social ownership of the tools and machinery of production by the producers, in order to fritter away its energies and resources pursuing amelioration's of conditions. The Socialist Party rejects the tempting bait to the working class away from our goal and side-track them into and blind alleys. The one demand of the Socialist Party is socialism, unadulterated and undiluted and the unconditional surrender of the capitalist class

And while rejecting any re-interpretation of socialism which would remove its anti-capital core, the Socialist Party insists that it still remains the most humanitarian movement on earth. More so than all the philanthropic and charitable foundations. The Socialist Party alone, carries within its principles the highest humanitarian hopes and possibilities of humanity. All the other movements are based on aspiration alone. The Socialist Party is unique as the only one which will make the realisation of those aspirations an accomplished fact. Socialism alone will supply the basis for any permanent improvement in the condition of mankind.

The Socialist Party looks forward to the day when the red flag flies over the ruins of capitalism’s institutions,  binding humanity with the bonds of cooperation.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

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 political strategy should involve reclaiming the promise of a radical social democracy and how the ideal of a egalitarian social democracy is undermined and attacked by apologists of the profit system in which everything is commodified and organised by the dictates of capital. Such a strategy demands developing critical analyses that examine how the ruling class uses its power to exploit, to marginalise and exclude, to dehumanise its victims. It would also call into question the methods through which the State and the corporations use power to deprive peoples’ lives of essential services such as health care, public transportation, quality education, housing, a healthy environment and other services that people need for a decent worthwhile life.

The means of resistance necessary for the defeat of capitalism and the construction of a democratic socialist society will not emerge without the development of a mass culture that provides the knowledge, ideas, values and social relations central to creating class conscious citizens. To expose the complexity of the problems capitalism produces, socialists must create the connections to write and speak to people in a language that they can understand and identify with, and to make knowledge and ideas emancipatory. Socialists need to acquire a new way of thinking about the misery and suffering faced by many people, rejecting moralising and righteousness of preaching some sort of new gospel to people. We should unmask how capitalist power works and impacts on peoples’ lives in their everyday experiences and events. Socialists require to write, talk and act in ways that make the link between the private troubles of individual workers and public shared social issues entering into a political way of thinking that fully engages with concrete daily life.

Socialists should re-consider the usage of verbal jargon which often prevents reaching out to the non-academic professionals. Arcane theoretical prose can separate scholarship from being relevant to pressing social problems and a wider array of political. One of the most important requirements for socialists is the need others to connect and to expose the workings of lies of capitalist politicians and economists by ensuring our language is accessible to a wider audience addresses their concrete social problems, crucial if workers raise their class consciousness. The weapons of persuasion, passion and vision must be integrated into a political approach in which people can energised to change the world. One task is to awaken people’s capacity to recognise their communal bonds, to develop a compassion for others and identify with the common good rather than submit to acquiescence and fear and instead instill fellow-workers with a hope that moves people to imagine a different future.

Capitalist economic growth disguised as “progress” destroys the planet and the difference between crisis and catastrophe is becoming increasingly narrow with terrifying implications for future generations. Capitalism and democracy are not synonymous. Capitalism has nothing to do with democracy and everything to do with entrapping millions in exploitation and oppression. We need to reverse the claim that social democracy is the enemy of freedom. Socialism is the process of democratisation of society and is a matter of fundamental systemic change that embraces a radical restructuring of society. The deep-seated problems of capitalism are endless, bottomless, and too destructive to be simply reformed. Only a strong anti-capitalist mass movement can challenge them. In response we must offer an effective alternative to capitalism rather than merely cosmetic changes to it.

If socialists are to build on the failures of capitalism and create a mass movement for social change, we need a fresh language that communicates a new understanding of politics in which a new socialist society can be both imagined and strived for. This means getting beyond the notion that capitalism can be the only viable economic system. We need a language integral to how we view our present society and imagine our future world.

We have no time to waste.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

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 which alone can plan for use and not for profit.  Capitalism cannot reform itself; it cannot be reformed. Humanity can be saved only by the socialist revolution.

But what is the alternative? Socialism will reduce work to an insignificant part of daily life and offer the individual the fullest possibilities to pursue his own abilities and interests. Capitalism cannot make use of automation for the benefit of society but socialism will. A socialist system will produce for use according to a reasonable plan and without a thought for the odious notion of profit. And with no insatiable parasitic class to maintain, a future socialist society will produce abundance for all. Only by completely getting rid of this system of wage-slavery and its law of profits and the system in which the capitalists own and control everything, including us and our labour can we advance to socialism. There’s no way through piecemeal step by step can we win. It’s only by getting rid of the root cause of these problems, the system of capitalism, that we can build a new society run by and for the working class. If we stick to principles we will be able to stand up and go forward to socialism.

That wealth exists on this planet in abundance is well known and was known long before we said so. But the distribution of this wealth proceeds according to the social relations of society. These are capitalist relations, resting upon the capitalist ownership and control of the means of production.  In the plans put promoted by progressives these relations would remain, only the wealth would be redistributed by cutting down on the big fortunes and adding to the small ones or giving to those that have none. But this is impossible under capitalism since the ownership and control of the means of production determines the form of distribution of all wealth. So far this has meant and can only mean ever greater riches for the parasites and ever greater impoverishment for those who toil, who have nothing but their labor power to sell – and to sell only when the bosses see fit to buy. What is the cause of this unequal distribution of wealth? The cause is to be found in the ownership and control of the means of production. This system secures the right to exploit workers by leaving in the hands of the capitalist class also the ownership of the surplus value produced by the workers over and above what they receive as wages, sufficient only for their bare upkeep when they have jobs. This is how profits are acquired. Of course, the abundance of wealth available could easily be guarantee to each family. But this is equally impossible under the profit system and it can be obtained only when the profit system is abolished. Progressives advocate the redistribution of wealth; but accept the continuance of the present social relationship. Progressive programs assume the employers continued right to exploitation workers so that returns to shareholders in the form of unearned incomes may continue; so that dividends on stocks may be paid and the now of profits taken out of the exploitation of labour may proceed uninterrupted. There are no other sources for profits to come from.

Why does racism exist? Partly, it is a relic of the ideology which the British ruling class used to defend their imperial activities in the past; partly it is a reflection of outdated nationalism which teaches inhabitants of one country to believe that they are superior to others. The ruling class will use racism to divide workers when it is opportune to do so, and they will use immigrants as scapegoats when capitalist crises require workers to be thrown out of employment.

The Socialist Party is hostile to racism in all of its forms. Our Declaration of Principles make clear that socialism will involve the emancipation of all human beings, without distinction of race or sex. For us, the division in society is between exploiters and exploited; all workers are our brothers and sisters, whatever may be stamped on their passports, whatever colour their skin happens to be. Socialism holds out the prospect of one world inhabited by one people, emancipated consciously and politically from the ignorance of racist thinking. Statements about “serving” “our” country for the “national interest” is an assumption that there is such a thing as something to which we belong and which protects us. It is a notion cultivated by the ruling class for the purpose of hiding the fact of class cleavage, of exploitation for the purpose of making the worker think that when he makes sacrifices it is for “his” country, instead for the capitalists.

Friday, January 25, 2019

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 the Arctic. So many people are knocking on our door, including business and state representatives from China, Pakistan, Singapore and Morocco,” the mayor, Kristin Røymo, told the Guardian. “There is also a very obvious increased naval presence.”

China, which has declared itself a “near-Arctic nation”, is among the countries exploring this area. Last year, it launched a second Snow Dragon ice breaker and released an Arctic white paper that explored the potential for infrastructure investments in a Polar Silk Road.

Russia is reopening and strengthening cold war bases on the Kola peninsula in the far north-west of the country. Norway is beefing up its military presence in the high Arctic. Last October, Nato staged Trident Juncture with 40,000 troops, its biggest military exercise in Norway in more than a decade. A month earlier Britain announced a new “Defence Arctic Strategy” and promised a 10-year deployment of 800 commandos to Norway and four RAF Typhoons to patrol Icelandic skies. The US is also sending hundreds more marines to the region on long-term rotations and has threatened to send naval vessels through Arctic shipping lanes for the first time.

“Right now, the reasons we are seeing more military activity is that countries are worried by the spectre of open water,” one of the speakers, Klaus Dodds, a professor of geopolitics at Royal Holloway, University of London, told the Guardian. “The unique Arctic security architecture has shape and form that come from natural extremities. If the Arctic becomes just another ocean, this breaks down. It’s elemental.”

According to Tore Furevik, a professor at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Bergen, “We’re heading for a new and uncertain Arctic with ramifications for nature and politics.” 

Norway's former defence minister Espen Barth Eide, compared the situation to the South China Sea, where China, the US and other nations compete, not by firing weapons, but by demonstrating capacity and presence. “To some extent that is happening now in the Arctic.”

The US navy secretary, Richard Spencer, complained last month,“The threat is back on. This is an area … we need to focus on,” he said. Spencer has called for a strategic Arctic port in Alaska and US naval vessels to conduct navigation operations later this year in northern shipping lanes so they have the capacity to conduct emergency operations if necessary. 
Lisa Murkowski, a US senator for Alaska, explained, “It’s important for the US to project military strength.”