Monday, December 09, 2019

A Grouse about Grouse

A report for Revive, a coalition of environmental and animal rights groups, has found grouse moors cause significant ecological damage by burning heather, allowing heavy grazing by deer and sheep, and using intensive predator control. Conservation groups have called for Scotland’s grouse moors to be closed down and replaced by woodland to protect the country from the impacts of the climate emergency.

The industry’s practices have created a treeless landscape that has severely limited the number of animals and plants living there, and also threatens peatlands and bogs that are the country’s greatest reservoir of carbon dioxide, the report said. Helen Armstrong, its author, said replacing driven grouse moors – estates that are intensively managed for shooting – with natural woodland and scrub would be far more sustainable and more economically productive. Drawing on experience in south-west-Norway, Armstrong said returning the Scottish uplands to mixed woodland would support craft industries, low-impact timber felling, sustainable hunting and small-scale farms.  While intensive management supported ground-nesting birds such as curlew and golden plover, it prevented many other endangered species from prospering, including wild cats, capercaillie and golden eagles, she added. Armstrong said it was essential that Scotland’s substantial deer herds were heavily culled to allow woodland and scrub to naturally regenerate. Sheep numbers should also be heavily reduced, with organised tree-planting used in some areas to stimulate woodland regeneration.

1m hectares (2.47m acres) of upland Scotland, about 13% of the country’s land area, had been used in recent decades for driven grouse shooting in areas such as the Cairngorms, the Monadhliath mountains, Deeside, the Angus glens and southern Scotland. Even so, the industry added only about 0.04% of value to Scotland’s economy.

Many of the industry’s most damaging practices should be strictly controlled or stopped. Those included a presumption against muirburn, where large strips of heather are burned to create new growth for young grouse to feed on. It creates a grouse moor’s characteristic patchwork appearance and flowering heather, but also releases significant amounts of CO2 and dries out underlying peat, she said. Recent aerial surveys suggested that 328,000 hectares – or 4% of Scotland’s land area – is regularly strip-burned for that purpose. The UK government has proposed banning muirburn in England on sustainability grounds
Revive – formed by Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoES), the League Against Cruel Sports, the animal rights group OneKind, the wildlife crime website Raptor Persecution UK, and the pro-independence thinktank Common Weal – has called previously for much tougher legal controls on grouse moors. It accuses these estates of widespread illegal persecution of birds of prey, as well as unjustified culling of mountain hares and other mammals that could carry ticks or eat grouse chicks or eggs, using inhumane techniques.

Broadcaster Chris Packham has accused the Scottish Government of dragging its heels over reform of Scotland’s grouse shooting moors. The criticism comes as animal welfare charities release a report which, they claim, lays bare the suffering endured by wildlife and domestic pets on grouse moors. Packham, who wrote the introduction to the report, said: 
“There is a circle of destruction that surrounds grouse moors. This report looks at the welfare impact on the untold thousands of animals that are killed so that more grouse can be shot for sport.It puts the spotlight on a perverse and cruel situation that is hidden from the ­public gaze and, in many cases, allowed by the Scottish Government. It calls for an end to ­indiscriminate cruelty, and it calls for an end to the unnecessary killing.” He said: “Frankly, we’ve run out of patience. We need instantaneous reform but the Scottish Government is dragging its heels.”
The report produced by charities League Against Cruel Sport and OneKind, says thousands of traps are set to protect red grouse, which are shot for sport. Foxes, mountain hares, stoats and weasels are among predators legally killed on grouse moors, which cover almost a fifth of Scotland’s land. However, dogs, cats, birds of prey, badgers and squirrels are just some species also snared and slowly killed in traps, claim the charities. Among the devices used are spring traps, which catch and crush parts of the body leading to an agonising death, and snares that catch animals in a thin loop of wire, often leaving them distressed for hours, according to the report. The charities say trapping and shooting has minimal regulation in Scotland and no evidence of shooting proficiency is required.
Director of  the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland Robbie Marsland said: “The Werritty report was expected in the spring, and then we heard mid-summer. Then it all went quiet. Then we expected it in September. Meanwhile, thousands and thousands of animals are condemned to die a cruel death, all to make sure there are more grouse to be shot for entertainment.”
Bob Elliot, director of Scottish animal welfare charity OneKind, added: “OneKind calls for a complete ban on these cruel traps and snares and recently petitioned the Scottish Parliament to end these wildlife killings in Scotland.”

The Socialist Party and the world socialist society

Across the world people are getting more and more squeezed, which means their daily life is harder. Fewer and fewer social services are available to them from the government and a corrupt, unaccountable elite  is enriching itself while the lives of most people become more and more difficult. Many countries are expressing unrest and discontent with protests and demonstrations. The immediate causes may vary but they are connected, capitalism’s inability to answer the social and the economic needs of the people themselves, the failure of the policies which benefit the elite and the wealthy but leave the masses behind struggling for survival. There is also a connection between that and the rise of the populist right where many  people have turned to nationalism and xenophobia.
The future of humanity depends upon the abolition Of capitalism and the establishment of a class-free society; it depends upon the abolition of exploitation and production for profits, and its replacement by a socialist society. World capitalism makes unbearable, the life of the people.We cannot and will not long endure the life of poverty, exploitation, unemployment and death. It becomes increasingly impossible to make out a case for capitalism, or to point to possibilities of any adequate improvement in the immediate or future situation for the people. What a mockery are the “benefits” of capitalist society to the working class.

The Socialist Party champions the world socialist society, a society of peace, prosperity and security, the only party capable of fulfilling the interests of the working class. Only the existence, extension, and strengthening of a revolutionary socialist party, rooted in the mass organisation of the workers, can assure the progressive advance of the mass labour movement. Socialists must tell the truth. It is therefore our business to explain the futility of reformism. It is the duty of Socialist Party to advance Marxist principles as the only answer to the needs of the workers. No one is going to popularise socialism except socialists. We must use every possible occasion to promote socialism and to explain its advantages over capitalism. We stand with the workers. There is no other realistic course. 

The conflict between capital and labour; between the capitalist class and the working class, which arises as a result of the irreconcilability of interests of the two classes resulting from the contradiction, economic in nature, between socialised production and capitalist appropriation of the products of industry; i.e., the wealth f society is produced by the joint effort of workers, by society as a whole, but the wealth produced is not owned by those who produce it but remains the private property of a relative handful of the population, the capitalist class. In modern society the interests of classes are represented by political parties. Regardless of minor differences, bourgeois political parties always and everywhere represent and serve the interests of the capitalist class and certainly they cannot represent the interests of the working class. There are only two basic classes: The working class and the capitalist class or as Marx defined them, bourgeoisie and proletariat. Outside of socialism there is no deliverance of humanity from wars, from hunger, from the destruction of millions and millions of human beings. The potential is clearly growing for a revolutionary socialist movement within the working class that can build the basis for overthrowing the capitalist system itself.

The object of a Socialist Party is socialism. To that end the education and organisation of the proletariat and their conversion to socialist principles is essential. We cannot have socialism without socialists. Therefore, the first duty of a Socialist Party is propaganda, in order to make socialists. In doing this a Socialist Party should also champion every movement of the working class towards improving its condition – even in present circumstances – or in defence of its interests; so that the Socialist Party may come to be constituted as the head and centre and rallying point of the whole working-class movement. It is of importance however, that a socialist should be elected and a seat won for socialism. From this standpoint, therefore, it is better for a socialist to fight and be beaten as a socialist than to fight and win under any other flag. Social changes are preceded by agitation. So long as the present system of capitalism prevails and the few are allowed to own the nation’s industries, the toiling masses will be struggling in the hell of poverty as they are today. The Socialist Party is the party of the exploited workers. Private ownership and competition have had their day. The Socialist Party stands for common ownership and co-operation. 

The most promising fact in the world today is the fact that labour is organising its power; its economic power and its political power. The workers who have made the world and who support the world, are preparing to take possession of the world. This is the meaning of socialism and is what the Socialist Party stands for in this campaign. We demand the machinery of production in the name of the workers and the control of society in the name of the people. We demand the abolition of capitalism and wage-slavery and the surrender of the capitalist class. We demand that all children born into the world shall have equal opportunity to grow up, to be educated, to have healthy bodies and trained minds, and to develop and freely express the best there is in them in mental and physical achievement. We demand complete control of industry by the workers; we demand all the wealth they produce for society, and we demand the Earth for all the people.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Do Wishy-Washy Reforms Make A Difference?

There has been so much stink caused by Doug Ford's policies that he has been forced to back down on some. 

He has given up trying to reform Ontario's regional government system. 
He has backed off from changes to the way families with autistic children are funded. 
He has dropped plans to take over the Toronto subway system. 
He has come up with a sex education plan for Ontario's schools which is similar to the Liberal one that he trashed. 
He has reversed some cuts to social services. 
He said he is willing to compromise on plans to increase class sizes in schools. 
He wants to fund a French language university in Ontario, an idea he once dismissed. 
He changed his mind on vaping. Ford had opposed former Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne's proposal to regulate the display and promotion of e-cigarettes. He now favours it.

 All of the above are, of course, just wishy-washy reforms, but if the will of the people can make a difference that way, could it not also make a difference in changing society fundamentally to serve workers’ interests? Sure could!

for Socialism – SPC

Fishy Job Creation.

A group of a dozen municipalities in Nova Scotia are urging the federal and provincial governments to suspend offshore oil and gas exploration in Mahone Bay and launch a public inquiry into its risks. 

Mahone Bay Mayor David Devenne told a news conference, on November 5, that they aren't opposed to offshore petroleum industry activity near their shores but want assurances it will not harm the local fishing industry. 

Devenne said, ''Any risk to the mainstay of our economy is an unacceptable possibility.'' In this he is supported by the Offshore Alliance, which is a coalition of fishing and environmental organizations. 

The Minister of Energy and Mines, Derek Mombourquette, a gentleman who is just loaded with compassion, said they will go ahead with the exploration anyway because of job creation.

 It will be interesting to see how it plays out, though it probably won’t be for the good of the environment.

for Socialism – SPC

The world needs socialism

The future of the working class in Britain is unavoidably bound up with the workers of the world as a whole. Only if we wage war against capitalism on the basis of being part of the international working class will we achieve victory over our oppressors. Central to the capitalist economic system is the exploitation of workers by capitalists. The means of production – raw materials, machinery, buildings, transport, etc. are owned and controlled by a small minority of capitalists. This means that the people, the working class, have no choice except to work for capitalist employers so as to earn a money wage to buy the goods and services, the commodities, necessary for them to survive. On the face of things this relationship between capitalist and worker seems to be a fair and equal one: the worker agrees to do so many hours work for the capitalist and in return the capitalist agrees to pay a certain amount of money in wages. In reality this relationship is an unequal and exploitative one because the wages paid to the worker are less than the value of what he or she produces. The difference between the value of what workers produce and what they receive in wages constitutes the profits of the capitalist employer. Massive exploitation of the working class is an integral part of the capitalist economic system and will persist for as long as does capitalism.

Not only do capitalist exploit workers but the system operates in such a way that capitalists constantly have to try to exploit workers even more. Different capitalists producing the same kind of commodity are competing with one another in the market to sell their products. Failure to sell the commodities produced by his firm means bankruptcy and ruin for a capitalist and the main way of ensuring steady sales is to offer given commodities on the market at a price below that charged by other capitalists. If a capitalist is to reduce his prices without reducing his profits then one way is to increase the hours of work of his employees without paying them any more wages. Sometimes employers get away with this move (for example, paid tea breaks and cleaning-up time being abolished), but where many workers are organised in trade unions, it is not easy for capitalists to force workers to accept such an increase in the degree to which they are exploited. Another ploy is to speed up the rate of work, increase its intensity, and thus reduce the cost per item by forcing the workforce to produce more commodities in the same time as before. In the car industry this generally takes the form of speeding up the rate at which the production assembly line moves. Again, this does happen but in a given type of production there is usually a very definite limit to which the pace of work can be increased and anyway workers are likely to resist such a move.

It is important to realise that capitalists are not always looking for ways to increase the degree of exploitation of workers because they, the capitalists, are inherently greedy but that they do this because of the way in which the capitalist economy operates leaves them with no choice if they are to stay in business. Similarly, if workers are not to be worked to death and totally impoverished then they have no choice except to take a common stand together against capitalist employers so as to resist employers’ attempts to exploit them even more. This is done by forming trade unions to defend wage levels and working conditions. Even so it is obvious, especially with the onset of the present economic depression, that trade unions only have a very limited capacity to defend the living standards and working conditions of the working class. While trade unions are a necessary means of defence of the working class against the capitalist class it is also the case that they pose no fundamental challenge to the whole capitalist system. Trade unions do not challenge the right of capitalists to exploit workers but only the degree to which this takes place. Even the most militant trade union struggles, involving workplace occupations and clashes with the police, pose no fundamental challenge to the dominant position of the capitalist class. Capitalism has produced a vast number of ulcers on the body economic and politic. Government tries to deal with each of them separately and by itself. The more, however, they go on trying to remove theses evils by palliative measures, the more does it becomes clear that they can only be abolished by the abolition of capitalism itself.

The justification for palliative measures lies in the fact that they make it easier for the workers to organise themselves and enlighten themselves about the real meaning of capitalism and the part that they are forced to play under it, and show the thinking worker how futile it is to dream of reforming capitalism. They furnish besides that a rallying ground for those workers who cannot see beyond their own nose. A real danger, however, arises when people try to persuade the workers as well as themselves that socialism only means the sum of a number of such petty legislations and regulations. By that means socialism gets the credit for measures which are in all but the name measures for defending capitalism against socialism and all the disadvantages which arise from that fact are written down to the discredit of socialism.

The Socialist Party’s task is to point out how inadequate all such reforms must be to remove the evils from which the workers were suffering and impress upon them with the need for the abolition of production for profit. When our organisation talk about the inevitability of socialism we assume that the workers will continue to struggle. Were they to sit down tamely and wait till socialism came to them, they would soon become mere slaves. Socialism can only come when workers, both politically and economically, grow class conscious and so well-organised as to make their exploitation impossible That is what we understand by Social Revolution, and our ideal – that of human liberation.