Saturday, November 30, 2019
William Wallace is one of Scotland's most famous historical figures. Many more around the world grew acquainted with Wallace when Hollywood and Mel Gibson portrayed him in the movie BraveHeart. However, we know that stories get distorted just through the passage of time. Wallace cames from minor gentry in the West of Scotland. The name Wallace, or Walensis, derives from the Welsh-speaking people of Strathclyde. We have no exact date for Wallace's birth. William Wallace emerges from obscurity and rises up in the spring of 1297, kills the English sheriff of Lanark, then leads an effective and oft-hitting operation against English strongholds.
Edward I had already annexed Ireland and Wales and now took an opportunity of a political vacuum to meddle in Scotland's affairs in the guise of legal mediator and appointed the weak John Balliol as king, made impossible demands of him, and then settled the issue by military conquest. It was in November 1292, that Balliol was declared King of Scotland, against the Bruce claim. Edward's pressure on him is relentless, forcing acts of homage on several occasions, and to revoke the Treaty of Brigham, which recognised Scottish independence. . When Edward haughtily orders Balliol into military service in France, the Scots instead ratify a treaty with Edward's enemy, Philip IV, and war is inevitable. Edward was free to roam through Scotland as if it was his own fiefdom. This he did, taking control of castles and humiliating King John as he went, resulting in the forced abdication of Balliol in Angus in July 1296. The stripping of the royal emblems earned Balliol the insulting name "Toom Tabard" (Empty Tabard). He was sent to the Tower of London and thereafter spent the rest of his life in relatively comfortable exile. Edward's dominance over Scotland was total. He made over 2,000 freeholders swear allegiance to him, in a document which became known as the Ragman's Roll. It was William Wallace's aim to restore Balliol to the throne of Scotland.
Along with Andrew Moray, Wallace defeated an English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, and was Guardian of Scotland, serving until his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk. After Falkirk, Wallace resigned as Guardian and was sent on a diplomatic mission to France and Rome. He did not return until after the Scottish surrender in 1302. In 1305, Wallace was eventually captured in Robroyston near Glasgow by John de Menteith, a Scottish knight. Menteith was no English lackey, and in 1320 he put his seal to the Declaration of Arbroath. Wallace was taken to London to be handed over to King Edward. After a cynical mock show-trial at Westminster Hall in London, where he responded to the treason charge by declaring "I could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject." Wrapped in an ox hide to prevent him being ripped apart, thereby shortening the torture, he was dragged by horses four miles through London to Smithfield. There he was hanged, as a murderer and thief, but cut down while still alive. Then he was mutilated, disembowelled, his heart, liver, lungs and entrails were cast upon a fire, and, finally, his head was chopped off. His carcase was then cut up into bits. His head was set on a pole on London Bridge, another part went to Newcastle, a district Wallace had destroyed in 1297–8, the rest went to Berwick, Perth and Stirling (or perhaps Aberdeen), as a warning to the Scots. Edward had destroyed the man, but had enhanced the myth. Edward I of England wanted the destruction of Wallace's name and reputation as well as physical presence, but inadvertently created a hero and martyr. He entered the realm of folktale and legend.
Separating myth from historical truth is no easy matter. The waters are muddied when the historian only has access to scant Medieval resources. Around 1470s the epic poem, The Acts and Deeds of Sir William Wallace, Knight of Elderslie, was written by Henry the Minstrel, also called Blind Harry; which became possibly the most influential long poem ever written in Scots. And here we are most definitely in the realm of powerful and deliberate myth-making. Professor Cowan writes of "borrowings plunderings, plagerisms, inventions, and fancies", and points to two major events at least in the poem that never happened - Wallace's victory at Biggar, and English atrocities at the Barns of Ayr. One story says that he started by killing a bunch of English soldiers who tried confiscating the fish he'd caught in the River Irvine. Another says that he killed the son of an English governor who had been bullying his family, and yet a third states that he killed William Heselrig, Sherriff of Lanark, in revenge for the death of Marion Braidfute. This last version dates only from Blind Harry's story from around 1470, and is most likely pure fiction. In 1722 Blind Harry’s work was translated and adapted by another poet, William Hamilton of Gilbertfield, and became the most commonly owned book in Scotland next to the Bible.
Modern Scots today honour who they acclaim as a fighter for Scotland's sovereignty. What was the “Scotland” that Wallace believed in, defended, pledged himself to and died for? The idea of Wallace as early exponent of “democratic patriotism” ahistorically gives to a medieval man the mind and sensibilities of a later, modern age. Wallace was a violent man in a violent age; and anyone researching the gleeful cross-border forays of Wallace’s bands into Hexham Abbey or the priory at Lanercost in Northumberland, England’s far north, can register their devastating impact. Wallace never fought for an abstract “people” or even “nation”, but always in the name of a legitimate power of which he was but the temporary protector or “guardian” - John Balliol.
To Make a Revolution
The aim of the Socialist Party is to offer ideas in simple terms to guide workers in their struggle for their interests, to teach them that the economic demands of labour, while important and necessary, are insufficient. The economic struggle of the working class must be joined to a political struggle against the political rule of the capitalist class. To aid in the political development of the working class, to help break it away from dependence, on capitalist politics and capitalist politicians. The Socialist Party is blazing a trail toward the socialist future. We have only just begun; a long and winding road lies ahead. But we are prepared for it by the conviction that there is no hope for a new and better world except through the achievement of the new social order of socialism, a world of peace, freedom and plenty for all.
What stands in the way? The capitalist class wolfs the greatest share of the fruits of this productive capacity. The working class, the men and women who actually produce the goods of life, has been fighting on the picket lines to raise its own share of the national income at the expense of the share ALREADY received by the idle capitalist parasitic class. The capitalists, on the other hand, fight like the wolves they are to guard every ounce of their unearned share. If the workers were defenceless and without unions and democratic rights, the capitalist class would rejoice in the ability to buy labour as cheaply as possible. Then they could pay the workers only enough on which to live and to raise new families of workers. But the working people are NOT defenceless. They have formed powerful and aggressive unions. Socialists will wipe out capitalism with its waste and be able to plan production and PLENTY FOR ALL.
Capitalism must expand – or die! “The earth is divided? Then it must be redivided,” say the hungry industrialists and greedy financiers. The “normal” life of capitalism is the REAL enemy of civilisation.
What is the future of mankind? Do we stand upon the threshold of death and destruction for the whole of mankind? Or do we stand at the threshold of a new age of unparalleled peace and plenty? What is the future of humanity? That is for men and women to decide. It must not be decided by those in power, the bankers, the CEOs, the politicians, It must be decided by the working people. They must organise and speak out with one voice: We demand life under socialism before death under capitalism overtakes us all!
Men and women! Act! Act now! Join in the fight for socialism. The fight for socialism has become the fight for the very existence of mankind. It is solely by the independent action of working people, those who produce the wealth of society, that power and privilege can be eliminated and a world of peace and plenty for all be built.
The most important question is this: is it possible for capitalism, a society organised in the interests of profits for a handful of people who live off the exploitation of the overwhelming majority of the people of the world to use this discovery for constructive purposes in the interests of mankind? The answer is, of course, no. Capitalist vultures gorge themselves on profit and whose main occupation is to exploit workers for their own class benefit. Science and technology which can be of such benefit to society, is, under capitalism, the slave of the financial and industrial bandits who rule society. A class society which lives by exploitation can only subordinate such discoveries to the interest of private profit. Let them understand that when the media talk about the destruction of civilisation, they are not joking at all. The destruction is a grim reality unless the social order of capitalism is abolished and replaced by socialism, the society of all the people.
Britain to-day, as always, is in the hands of billionaire-owners of the biggest corporations and the biggest banks. These capitalists, not only own or control the chief means whereby we work and live, but, in fact, control the whole government machine. They pull the strings. And they use their power to make themselves richer and richer—at our expense. They hire workers to make profit out of their labour; their capitalist production is for profit, not for use: and to get more profit they slash wages, carry through speed-ups and worsen conditions. This mad race for profit inevitably ends in a crisis; and then they try to get out of the crisis—at our expense. Poverty, insecurity and malnutrition making their inroads in the homes of millions of workers: low wages, increased productivity, to the point of physical exhaustion, is the lot of the workers in the factories, mines and shipyards: increases in the number of accidents and sickness. This is Britain to-day for working men, women and their families. Unless we put an end to capitalism, the lot of our fellow-workers will become worse and worse.
But it is not only poverty and insecurity and unemployment which threatens the majority of people. For the great capitalist employers, the great financiers and bankers have one last use for us all, even after it has become unprofitable for them to employ us; and that is to recruit us for war. The cause of capitalist war is the attempt of each national capitalist group—British, Russian, French, Chinese, American, etc.—to beat its competitors on the world market and to win bigger and bigger profits for its own wealthy. For capitalism war is inevitable. Global capitalism means that the big multinationals and big banks are dominating through their investments abroad, and that the developing and undeveloped nations countries have been divided up amongst the Great Powers. Therefore they are rivals of one another in the world market. This rivalry becomes fiercer and fiercer. This competitive struggle is carried out, firstly by tariffs, and other protectionist measures, and then finally by war. Daily the capitalists are preparing for this bloody option. The most fearsome, ghastly and deadly armaments are being piled up. Science and inventive genius are prostituted to discover and perfect the means of death and destruction of millions, in order to win new markets, territory, and spheres of profitable capitalist investment, to bring rent, interest and profit for a handful of employers, bankers and landlords.
There is no need for a single worker to be overworked or in dread of losing his job; no reason why an unemployed worker should lack the necessaries of life, or why he should not be brought back into employment. All over the world millions of workers are year by year coming to realise these facts and to see that nothing except the existence of capitalism prevents them building up for themselves a decent and secure world. Everywhere the workers are becoming less and less willing to put up with an entirely unnecessary state of semi-destitution. They are showing themselves more and more determined to insist upon their right to food, clothing and shelter for themselves and their families. But to get this, capitalism must be overthrown. To get this is only possible by the building up of socialism, giving peace and prosperity, happiness and new life to the whole working population. The workers need to end capitalism.
The unity of the working class in struggle makes the capitalists retreat. They give ground. They quarrel amongst themselves. Beaten back in their attack on the working class, they begin to prey on one another. Conflicts arise and the capitalist class as a whole gets into a state of crisis. The authority of the capitalists disappears. The fight against poverty is the fight against the capitalist class. The revolutionary struggle of the workers can, and will, open the way to a new epoch of human progress better than anything the world has yet experienced. The workers have the power to overthrow capitalism. It is the capitalists who are powerless, powerless to move a single inch towards the essential reconstruction of society. It is the workers who are strong from the very moment that they unite and resist.
Socialism will mean that the capitalists will be deprived of their ownership and control of the factories and workshops, mills and mines, shipyards and transport. All these means of production which they have used and misused only to pile up profits for themselves and poverty for the workers will be taken from them. The workers’ revolution will be the end of production for profit and will carry on production for use. The needs of all will be met, and new needs and pleasures now denied to the working class will be created and satisfied by a socialist organisation. For every worker of the new society becomes a citizen, and, because there is then no longer any class division, the need for dictatorship of one class over another disappears.
We have to-day ample resources for producing all the things we need. Today we are both unemployed and unable to get the things we need. The two things go together. For we are unemployed because the capitalists want to have their profits and will not let us produce what we need. Destitution and unemployment can only be cured simultaneously by taking over and running the industries. To achieve all this a vast work of reconstruction will have to be undertaken. The workers will produce far better and more willingly under their own management than they do now. For the first time workers will know that greater productivity will no longer be a threat to their livelihood but will make it possible to raise the whole standard of living and shorten the hours of labour.
The ending of capitalism in this country will put an end at the same time to the threat of wars, to the maintenance of armed forces in preparation for wars abroad. Not only economic security, not only ever increasing comfort and leisure, not only the day’s labour turned from useless grinding toil into useful work—but a far wider prospect is opened up. For these new material conditions will be but the basis for the most rapid intellectual and cultural development of the whole population. The new generation of children will be born into a new world. The building of world socialism will lead the whole human race forward towards a new world. This is the new world of which the workers are already laying down the foundations. This is the new world for which many generations of workers have struggled. It is for us in our generation to bring this new world into being. Revolution becomes possible when there is a complete breakdown of the authority of the ruling class, when the working class is not prepared to live any longer under intolerable conditions and has a will to overthrow capitalism.
The Socialist Party has no interests apart from those of the working class as a whole. The Socialist Party is the bitter enemy of the capitalists. If every person who believes the Socialist Party’s principles are correct, will join with us and help in the vitally important work of organising and preparing the working class or socialism, the effectiveness of its work will be enormously increased, and the fight against capitalism will enter a new stage. We therefore appeal to every class-conscious worker to join the Socialist Party without delay, knowing that by taking this step they are strengthening the only political organisation that can help the working class to victory.
Friday, November 29, 2019
An Alternative Vision
Today there could be plenty for all the world. It is no myth that there is plenty for all. Here are the facts: More food can be raised today than we could, possibly eat. Food is left to rot in the granaries and storage houses, and hungry people starve in the midst of plenty. Mankind has learned the secrets of the air, the sea, the surface and the bowels of the earth. Mankind has fashioned machines which are miracles of technology for factory and farm. With such tremendous productive capacity, why could we not have a society planned on the basis of a fair and just distribution of the good things of life to the peoples of the entire world? Yet people starve in the midst of plenty and food is dumped when people cannot buy for they may not have the jobs or the money. We have the natural resources, the machinery, the labour. Modern science has made comfort and culture and leisure possible for all. Who will deny the great potentialities for good inherent in our advanced economy? The owners of production have at their disposal all these wonderful opportunities, but have they used them to end poverty, maintain security and a high standard of living and keep the peace? No, for they have flagrantly and willfully mismanaged. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer is always true under capitalism.
The people of the world are today exchanging bombs and destruction instead of the good things of and for life, is not a necessity. It is the outcome of capitalism standing in the way of the progress of the peoples of the earth. The world is teeming with millions of able hands willing to build and operate those machines for production of abundance. Wonderful means of transportation by air, sea and land are here for peoples – peacefully and for their mutual benefit. That the peoples of the world are today exchanging bombs and destruction instead of the good things of and for life, is not a necessity. For the peoples of the world to arrive at the longed-for destiny of humanity to produce and exchange the things of life In peace and plenty, they must rid themselves of the motives of capitalist profits. That is saying that international capitalism is their enemy. Humanity needs a socialist world.
The Socialist Party’s purpose is not to traffic on the ignorance and backwardness of our fellow-workers, not to attempt to win them unaware by stealth, but on the contrary, to enlighten them and to show them the necessary steps to take along the road to power. We cannot hope to compete with the populist fake “promises”. Our answer is not a different brand of demagogy, but clear revolutionary answers concerning the meaning of events.
Why do workers suffer lay-offs, cutbacks, reductions in wages, unemployment, depressions and poverty? Because our economy is capitalist, meaning chaotic and anarchic, based on competition, monopoly, producing not for public need but for private profit. Capitalism, which was progressive in its beginnings in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, because it overthrew the feudal method of production, has now become an anachronism, with its depressions and wars standing in the way of progress and the intelligent, socialist planning of society. The latter would have as its goal economic security for all, so that with this minimum requirement, “human” beings will have the potentialities for the full growth and development of their “humanity.” The capitalist system won’t work, for the very root of capitalism is all wrong. It is based on a contradiction, namely, that the man who owns the tools of production (the capitalist) does not work them, and the man who works them (the worker) does not own them. The working people themselves should own and operate the industries cooperatively, through owning and operating the government. This would end production for profit and the waste of competing corporations. There would be planned production for the first time, increasing the output of wealth so that there would be plenty for all. We have today more workers, more efficiency, more productivity, and more machinery than ever before. We have more of all the means necessary to a high standing of living, shorter hours and certainly full employment for every able-bodied person. But the workers are experiencing cutbacks, lay-offs and unemployment. The kind of planned economy we envisage would, for the first time, make possible an end to wars between nations. The aim of the working class would be to end capitalism and all forms of exploitation everywhere; and everywhere introduce a planned economy. Its aim would be to create a socialist world.
Thursday, November 28, 2019
Change before we can't
Mankind is at a crossroads. We can travel the road of capitalism, i.e., we can travel the road of chaos, war, poverty and barbarism, or we can take the socialist road toward true freedom, peace and security, the road toward a society of plenty for all which would end the exploitation of man by man for all time.
Capitalists are the most class-conscious people in the world. Despite their family quarrels over how to divide the wealth that is produced by labour and appropriated by capital, the capitalists all stand shoulder to shoulder when they sense any danger to their system of robbery. Some capitalists call themselves Tory, while others call themselves Labour Party (though many of them contribute money to both capitalist parties). All capitalists stand united, regardless of politics, race or creed. That is the defence of their “sacred” system of private property as they hypocritically call it – or the system of capitalist exploitation, as honest men call it. The capitalists realise this and are already showing how they can stand shoulder to shoulder when their ancient privilege to live by the toil of others stands in danger. Will the workers learn in sufficient time also to stand shoulder to shoulder? Will they learn the bitter lessons quickly enough to develop the class consciousness necessary to stop voting across class lines and build their own working class party?
The working class movements in all the major countries are so disoriented that to hope for socialism – i.e., for peace and plenty for all humanity – seems completely illusory. What then of the future? Is there nothing but despair? Science and technology can make all manner of instruments of war but socialism is revolved to produce the things people need by the people who need jobs. Working people can and must make this come true. We are certain that before long the world will witness heroic uprisings of the great masses in all countries seeking to break once and for all the chains of exploitation and establish the true free society of socialism. In these future struggles for liberty the peoples of the world will not be found wanting.
Why is wealth piled up on one side and poverty on the other? Why “boom” years followed by “depression”? Why the turmoil of strikes, strife, struggle; man against man, class against class, nation against nation? Because the very root of capitalism is wrong. Because the basic idea is unsound. Because the foundation is illogical. Because the capitalist system is founded on a CONTRADICTION. What is this contradiction? It is the system in which the one who owns the tools of production does not work them; and — The person who works them does not own them. This is, the basic contradiction of capitalism.
Only a rich man could set up a factory. Land owners, bankers, merchants had the capital. They became the capitalists. Each machine now turned out as much as several workmen formerly did with hand tools. The owner of the machine could pay the worker to run it and still keep a good margin pf profit. The profit bought more machines. More workers were employed. More profit. More machines. On one hand, a handful of men who owned the tools of production. On the other hand, the mass of workers who could only make a living by working for the capitalists. What happened now? The product no longer belonged to the producer – the worker at the machine. It belonged to the capitalist owner of the machine. He sold it for the best price the market would pay. And he gave the worker the smallest wage he would work for. The less the wage for the worker, the bigger the profit for the capitalist. The bigger the wage for the worker, the less the profit for the capitalist. The capitalist was interested in longer hours, speed-up, and low wages? The worker was interested in shorter hours, easier work, and high wages. Capitalism created a class of owners pitted against a class of workers – at war with each other – engaged in a CLASS STRUGGLE with each other. The capitalist owner of industry has only one reason to run his factory – profit.
Under capitalism, the needs of the people for various goods are not the PRIMARY purpose of production. The capitalist will just as soon make rifles as Bibles, medicine as poison gas, pre-fabricated houses as “block-buster” bombs, artistic reprints as pornography. All he asks is: “Which will pay more?” The fact that the millions of people depend upon industry for food, clothing, housing, furniture, transportation, communications and amusement is of interest to the capitalist only as the “market” in which he can realize a profit. Capitalism pits worker against worker in bidding for a job. It pits Capitalist against capitalist in fighting for profits. It pits workers against capitalist in class struggle. It pits capitalist nation against capitalist nation in imperialist war. It pits producer against consumer, landlord against tenant, farmer against city dweller, white against black. The capitalist is the dictator over his factory. He can run it or shut it down to please himself. If there is profit in production he hires men, works overtime, night shifts. If profit falls off, he throws his workers into the street to shift for themselves. He operates anarchistically. Without plan, without social purpose. His only god is the Almighty Dollar – his Holy Script is the magic word, “Dividends.” That is why capitalism is more destructive than all the earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, cloudbursts, tidal waves and volcanic eruptions ever visited upon earth from the beginning of time. Capitalism kills and cripples millions in its wars, in class strife and civil wars, in hunger and freezing, in industrial accidents and disease, in malnutrition and child labour, in poverty and crime. It destroys the wealth of society and wastes the labour potential of millions of idle hands. All in the mad race for a crust of bread, for survival, for security. In an age when plenty is possible for all! It is the system of COMPETITION – It is the system of dog eat dog, of each person for oneself. Capitalism stands before us indicted as a system of criminal insanity.
Socialism, and only socialism, will create a world without national barriers, without international rivalries, without master and slave nations and, hence, a world without war. Governments will become administrative bodies regulating production and consumption. They will not be the instruments of the capitalist class, i.e., capitalist governments whose main reason for existence is to guarantee the political as well as the economic rule of big business, their profits, their private ownership of the instruments of production, and the conduct of war in the economic and political interests of this class.
A world’s administration primary duty will be to conduct the affairs of the world with the aim of eliminating poverty, joblessness, hunger and general insecurity. Its sole criterion would be the needs of the people.
Why will socialism guarantee peace, security and freedom and prevent the destruction of mankind? Socialism will destroy tile root evil of modern society, i.e., the private ownership of the means of production, the factories, mines, mills, machinery and land, which produce the necessities of life. Under socialism, these instruments of production will become the property of society, owned in common, producing for use, for the general welfare of the people as a whole. With the abolition of the private ownership of the means of life and with it the factor of profit as the prime mover of production, the sharp divisions of society between nations and classes will disappear. Then, and only then, will society be in a position to become a social order of abundance and plenty for all, for socialism will create a new world of genuine cooperation and collaboration between the peoples of the earth. In abolishing classes in society, socialism will change the form and type of administration which exist today. The preoccupation of administration under socialism will be to assist in the elevation of society, to improve continually the living standards of the people, to extend their leisure time and thus make it possible to heighten the cultural level of the whole world. In abolishing classes, the State and war, socialism will at the same time destroy all forms of dictatorship, political as well as economic. The socialist world will be the freest, most democratic society the world has ever known, truly representing the majority of the population and subject to its recall. A citizen of a socialist society will look back upon the capitalist era with its wars, destruction and bloody and cruel dictatorships as we now look back upon the dawn of written history.
World socialism will assess the industrial potential of the world, determine its resources, the needs of the people and plan production with the aim of increasing the standards of living of a free people, creating abundance, increasing leisure and opportunity for cultural enjoyment. Socialism will not concern itself with profits and war, but with providing decent housing for all the people. Socialism will provide for a multitude of schools for all the people. Socialism will eliminate illiteracy, which is one of the hallmarks of capitalism, and cease to regard schools primarily as institutions to produce skilled labour to help operate the profit economy.
The modern world contains all the pre-conditions necessary for socialism. All about us we observe gigantic industrial establishments containing machinery which could produce the goods of life in abundance. Man has developed a marvelous technology. The discovery and control of atomic energy has not only made it more possible for man to control his natural and social environment to create a fruitful life of abundance, but has made it imperative.
Socialism will place at the disposal of science and the scientists all the material means to help create an ever-improving social life for mankind. Under capitalism, scientists are mere wage workers hiring out their skills to private industry. The fruits of their intelligence, learning arid research become the exclusive property of the capitalists who profit from the work of these scientists. Thus, science has become subordinated to profits rather than to the common good of all mankind. Yet the future society depends in large measure on changing this relation of science to society. Only socialism can place science where it properly belongs: in the service of the people Socialism will create a system of health preservation and insurance in which the needs of the people and the improvement of the human race would be the paramount consideration. Above all, socialism will provide jobs for all. But this will be work without exploitation. For the aim of socialism is not the increased exploitation and intensification of labour, but the utilisation of machinery, technology, science and invention to diminish toil, to create time in which to permit all the people to enjoy the benefits of social progress.
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