Thursday, April 30, 2020

No Population Explosion in Scotland

5.46 million people living in Scotland as of 30 June 2019, an increase of 25,200.
30,200 more people moved to Scotland than left the country in the year to mid-2019, arriving from both overseas and the rest of the UK.
There was no natural growth as deaths outstripped births over the same time. There were 5,600 more deaths than births.
Three-quarters of council areas experienced population grown, but eight areas saw declines. Most of the population growth was in Edinburgh and Glasgow and neighbouring areas. Population declines affected mainly rural areas, some islands and other areas in the west of Scotland.
Scotland's population is ageing. In mid-2019, 19% of the population were aged 65 and over, compared with 17% a decade earlier in mid-2009.

Work in Socialism

Work in socialism will be on the basis of voluntary co-operation and the democratic administration of society. The production and distribution of wealth will be controlled by the whole of society. 

Socialism will also involve the rational use of resources and areas, using those resources and areas for the activities to which they are best suited. In socialism there will be various sorts of worldwide administration systems which will assess people’s needs and organise production accordingly to maintain adequate supplies to all areas. The production and distribution of wealth will be controlled by the whole of society. The social organisation of socialism will be under the complete control of society’s members. There will probably be delegate assemblies. However the exact form which democracy in socialism will take, cannot be presently determined other than in general terms because , the very form must itself be the result of a great and serious democratic debate. Also we are in an information revolution where the development of new technology which could aid democracy keeps advancing. One thing is certain, however, socialism will be the most democratic form of society possible, and, as the means of living will be owned in common, no minority will be able to enforce its will upon the majority by threatening to withhold their livelihood. Because no one will be in a position to coerce others, all work in socialism will be voluntary. 

Work will not take place under coercive or exploitative conditions. Instead, each person will contribute to society as much of their talents and abilities as they are willing to give. Due to the fact that the producers will no longer be exploited (robbed of the full fruits of their labour) in the course of production; nor forced to work in conditions which are sometimes detrimental to their health; nor deprived of creativeness in work; nor forced to compete with one another for pay and promotion; nor forced to labour in circumstances which they don’t fully control; nor forced to divide their activity between employment and “leisure” (neither of which are fully satisfying)—work in socialism will be more pleasant with increased work satisfaction, a definite end and need in itself. 

Mankind will, for the first time, be in complete control of its circumstances, it will create and recreate its circumstances, it will venture to the very limits of its potentiality, it will continually extend itself to an extent that could never be achieved under the present social organisation. 

Mankind, in socialism, will be revealed as the supreme creative artist, we shall constantly beautify and redesign our world, we shall continuously acquire more knowledge, liberating itself from the restrictions. Socialism requires human action for its achievement. What is needed, is for all those desire a new society must unite with like-minded people to change society.

Capital and labour can be described as interdependent only in the sense that they are opposite sides of the class struggle of capitalism. This does not imply a unity of interest; the two classes have interests in opposition, over the division of wealth in capitalist society and finally over the transformation of society from capitalism to socialism.

Capitalism came into existence after a bitter, and often bloody, struggle in which one side was protecting its privileges and property rights while the other was seeking to assume the position of social domination. Perhaps both sides can be described as “greedy” but this judgment does not fill the bill historically; it ignores the reality of social change and revolution, which is a process of social adaptation to developments in the mode of production. “Motivation”, in terms of human desires, is secondary to that.

Class society is then part and parcel of social evolution; capitalism, which is the final form of class society, has as one of its essential features the drive to accumulate capital, to amass and invest wealth with the object of producing more wealth for sale at a profit. The privileges which go with being a member of the dominant class in society, and the accumulation of capital, are not examples of “greed”—they are unavoidable features of a necessary phase in the development towards a class-free society.

“Greed ' is in any case a factor relating to its conditions; it can exist only in times of shortage and restrictions and becomes more evident as scarcity develops. When wealth is freely available, as it will be in socialism, greed will not exist—it will be an attitude so archaic that it will be almost beyond understanding. This illustrates the fact that “ethics” are not eternal and unchanging; each social system has its own, in a sort of superstructure of ideas and responses which rest on its economic base. Capitalism’s ethics are those of division, of panic, of destruction and competition. Socialism’s will be those of co-operation, abundance and efficiency.

Capitalism has brought about a tremendous increase in the “material powers of production”, to the point where society is now technically capable of producing an abundance of goods and services. But this abundance is not produced under capitalism, because its highest priority, profit, acts as a fetter on the productive forces. The socialist revolution will usher in new relations of production — common ownership and production for use—which will enable this potential for abundance to be realized and will no longer hold back the development of the forces of production. Common ownership will be linked with democratic control of the means of production to resolve another of the contradictions of capitalism, that between social production and class monopoly of the means of production.

The establishment of socialism requires a revolution carried out by a working class who have come to understand the nature of capitalism and the desirability of socialism, and who are willing to run a socialist system and make it work. The material conditions for socialism already exist. The Socialist Party exists to spread the idea of socialism and to act as the political tool of the socialist working class who will carry out this revolution.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Ill-Gotten Gains

Gadhafi's close associate Ali Dabaiba, who was part of an elite circle known as "companions of the leader," reportedly squirreled away $7 billion while on a salary of only £12,000 and a 2018 investigation alleged he invested some of it in prestigious property across the UK. 

The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project said that included Scotland's most significant stately home still in private hands, Taymouth Castle.

The World For All

For ourselves, socialism is impossible without democracy, both in how we organise and in what we organise for. We practice what we preach. Our job, as socialists, is to find a way to propose radical ideas and democratic practices, even though we may risk being marginalised or even ostracised. The Socialist Party is infused with democratic principles. What most concerns us is to lay the foundation of an for the policy of the cooperative commonwealth. Socialism aims at giving a meaning to people's life and work; enabling freedom and permitting the positive aspects of people’s personality to flourish; creating connections between the individual and those around us and reconciling humanity with nature. These are not aspirations for some hazy and distant future but our immediate demands for today. Socialism is not "nationalisation" nor "central planning" or even an "increase in the standard of living." It is to understand that the real crisis of capitalism is due to "the anarchy of the market." The task of the Socialist Party is transform our vision of society and our conception of the world. Socialism is working people's conscious direction of their own lives. Capitalism divides society. Socialist society implies people's self-organisation and entails the immediate abolition of the division of society into conflicting classes. Workers' self-management will be possible only if people's attitudes alter radically and running society becomes a meaningful part of our daily lives when people it. Analyse the case for socialism. Criticise if you so wish, by all means, but apply reason to the matter as well, for by so doing better understanding, greater knowledge, and a speedier establishment of the Socialist Commonwealth will result. One of the important facts of capitalist life is that it is a class divided system, in which two groups of people, between them making up the population of the developed world, face each other in conflict over the ownership of wealth. The parties of capitalism try to hide this fact, by talking about a unity of interests, about everyone working for the national good as if the interests of the coal miner are the same as those of the stock holder. As the interests of the two classes in society to day are in conflict, sooner or later the conflict must be determined. Therefore it would be wise for the working class, being the class seeking its emancipation, to be ready with its alternative. And what alternative have they but socialism?

Political parties are themselves fighting the class war, but on the other side of the line. They stand for the interests of the ruling class, for the propping up of a social system in which a minority own and control the means of living with all that follows from that in terms of poverty against privilege, freedom against repression. Any differences they may have are over the tactics to be used in that propping up and in fighting that class war. At times, a government may decide on the tactics of confrontation; at others they may use the policy of conciliation, of trying to persuade the workers on the other side of the struggle not to use any power they may have, to negotiate rather than use force in the sense of a strike or something similar. And when it comes to an election they are again united, in their respective appeal to the political naivety of the working class who are open to be convinced that minor differences on issues like trade are worth voting for or against. This should be a lesson to anyone who thinks it possible to make progress towards socialism with a policy of compromise with political ignorance or of winning support on day-to-day issues.

Mankind has developed vast technological possibilities. At present, however, there is gulf between what is potentially possible and what is actually realised. The contrast between the two and the question of how to reconcile them is the most pressing problem that confronts mankind today.

Concrete examples abound.

That people go hungry despite the fact that it is technologically possible to feed the world;
That schools, factories, homes, etc., are not built in sufficient numbers to satisfy the need for them—despite the necessary materials and manpower being available.  
That not enough of the many other items that are necessary for a pleasant human existence are produced—despite the existence of the requisite powers for their production and we have already witnessed under the current pandemic that hospitals can be providedand factories transformed to produce vital equipment and supplies in a matter of days;
That artistic and intellectual development, and scientific and medical research is limited—despite the vast human potential for such development;
That millions of people in the world are deprived of  the opportunity to usefully employ their talents—despite their desire contribute their talents and skills.

The answer to the problem of how to realise humanity’s full potential lies in the replacement of the present society with a new social system in which everyone owns the means of living in common— socialism where the wealth collectively produced will belong to everyone. Each person will have equal rights of access to the shared store-houses, each will determine her/his own needs and take freely from the common stock. This concept of wealth distribution is termed “free access”, and it means precisely that. For in socialism, the wealth of the planet will not be bought or sold on a market, it will not be exchanged for money, but rather it will be made freely available so that anyone who needs it can take it.

Because it will not be restricted by the market and the profit motive, production create the abundance that it is now technologically capable of. Production in socialism to satisfy society’s needs, not for profit. Because there will be no market, the work currently done by millions of people will become unnecessary. Socialism will have no need the services performed by those who work in finance, in banks, insurance companies or building societies. Nor will it need check-out cashiers or security personnel. Also, socialism will not require the police, prison guards, armed forces, legal and judicial systems, nor the vast media organisations whose main tasks are the ideological maintenance of the dominant position of the owning class. Instead of doing these socially useless jobs, the people presently undertaking them would, in socialism, together with those who are now unemployed, be able to be constructive and creative. Socialism will mean the liberation of mankind from such useless and uncreative work and the mobilisation of all human abilities for the extension of human abilities.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Testing to Destruction (1987)


Book Review from the April 1987 issue of the Socialist Standard

Poisoned Reign. French Nuclear Colonialism in the Pacific by Bengt Danielsson and Marie-Therese Danielsson (Penguin Books 1986)

On 10 July 1985 the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior was blown up in Auckland harbour by two French agents. This act might appear to be surprising, considering the fact that both France and New Zealand are members of the "free world". This book tells the story of how successive French governments, including the "socialists" who changed from opposition to support, have been determined to use French Polynesia for nuclear weapons testing and not let any opposition get in the way.

The post-war years saw the great European empires in decline. When the French were being kicked out of Algeria, they were on the lookout for an alternative nuclear testing site to the Sahara. French Polynesia seemed the best bet — its islands are spread over an area the size of Europe and the 120,000 inhabitants were easy-going and the French had been manipulating them for years. The fact that the South Pacific is rich in food, metals and oil was another reason to maintain French dominance.

Other countries at this time were also testing nuclear weapons — the British at Christmas Island, the Americans in the Marshall Islands, the Russians in Siberia, and the Chinese in parts of Mongolia and Tibet. None of them showed much concern for the effects this would have on the local population.

When the French nuclear testing programme was announced in the early sixties the local people were mostly opposed to it. But this opposition was ineffective — the islands were run from France and the various institutions available to the islanders, to have a say in their affairs, were powerless. The authorities used various methods, devious and oppressive, to neutralise this opposition.

On 2 July 1966 the first French nuclear bomb was exploded above Moruroa Atoll. The French President, de Gaulle, was there to observe. He had made many flowery speeches claiming a great regard for. and affinity with, the Polynesian people, who were the first overseas territory to recognise the Free French during the war and who had sent a battalion to two world wars.

The French nuclear authorities, when dismissing the dangers of the tests, had said that the bombs would only be exploded when the wind was blowing east, away from the inhabited areas. This was despite the fact that winds in the South Pacific can blow in many different directions during the same day. However, when de Gaulle was there the wind kept blowing straight towards inhabited areas. Rather than keep the General waiting, the bomb was exploded anyway. The fall-out reached as far west as Fiji and Samoa. Islanders in the vicinity of Moruroa were given advice on how to protect themselves They were told not to drink rain water or eat fish for a while. This advice was not particularly helpful as this is precisely what the islanders exist on.

The nuclear programme had other effects on the islanders. Many of them were needed to work on the project. They were enticed to Tahiti by high wages only to end up in slums around Papeete, the largest town. They had to endure filthy conditions and crime, prostitution and drunkenness all increased sharply. As most of the work was needed at the start of the programme, when this finished they found themselves unemployed and unable to get back to their islands, as they had been promised.

By 1974, 42 French nuclear bombs had been exploded in the Pacific skies. Due to pressure from other Pacific countries and environmentalists the French government decided to continue its testing underground. They still used Moruroa. despite the fact that a Pacific atoll is one of the worst possible sites. The rock is thin and brittle and the many tests carried out almost certainly caused radioactive leakage and contamination of fish, plankton, shells, dams and squid regularly eaten by the local population.

The extent of the pollution caused by these tests and their resulting effect on the population can only be guessed at, as the authorities engage in the usual practice of secrecy and cover up. No reliable health figures are published and safety standards certainly appear lax. Much of the nuclear waste was dumped on the north of the atoll and washed away by several cyclones and tidal floods which have become more common in recent years. Some of these tidal waves will have been caused by explosions blowing out the side of the atoll, spilling out its radioactive muck. The fact that by 1985, 115 French nuclear devices had been detonated in the Pacific along with 106 American and 21 British, does not bode well for the future health of the islanders.

The authors tell the story of the French nuclear programme well, but their analysis of why it took place, with stories of politicians' duplicity and pride is weak. They clearly disapprove of French attempts to keep up with the superpowers and be independent and are sad that French public opinion doesn't seem to care. Unfortunately, the fact that any capitalist government exists to defend its national interest, and will develop whatever weapons it can to do this, with scant regard for the effects on people, escapes them.

There was a statement recently from a French government spokesman that they might stop nuclear testing at Moruroa as even they think that the atoll cannot take any more blasts. The underground rock is apparently in a very fragile, unstable condition. This will come as a relief to the people in the Pacific, although others had better watch out — the spokesman said they were searching the North Atlantic for an alternative.
Ian Ratcliffe

Our Future is Socialism

Capitalist society abounds in paradoxes which appear monstrous, insane and perverse. The workings of capitalism must appear bewildering in their contradictions and absurdities.

Under capitalism wealth can be produced in practically unlimited quantities, and yet the great majority of people live and die deprived of the good things in life, sometimes slightly above the poverty line, sometimes just below it, but always approximately at the bare subsistence level. Deep poverty prevails in the midst of vast abundance. Food is produced to excess, yet millions of hungry and underfed men, women, and children are never able to obtain a satisfactory meal. There is more than enough housing accommodation to shelter everyone quite adequately, yet families are compelled to live in one small, badly-ventilated and cheerless room.

Let us take another paradox of capitalism. The harder a person works the sooner he or she is out of a job, debarred from obtaining the things necessary for his or her well-being. The men and women who do the work of the world, without whose efforts human life on this planet would cease to function, are the poorest, economically, physically, and mentally, while on the other hand the people who do nothing useful or necessary, who indeed are the drones living on the honey produced by the workers, are the people to whom all the good things of life accrue. The wonders of nature, of art and science and literature, are open to the latter people—the members of the capitalist class — whereas all the workers can look forward to is a life of hard and generally sordid work, their reward for which is just a sufficiency of food, clothing, and shelter necessary to enable them to exist and to breed and rear a progeny, who in their turn will supply the place of their parents when the latter are considered by their masters unfit for anything but, the industrial scrap-heap.

It is the Socialist Party’s task to advocate a system wherein the means of production and distribution shall be socially owned and controlled. Wealth at the present time is only produced by the will of, and for the benefit of, the few who own the instruments whereby it is produced, and is naturally therefore, the sole property of those few. When the whole of the people have obtained control of the instruments of wealth production, of course, the wealth then produced will be the property of the whole of the people. Nothing could be simpler or more logical.

Yet the majority of the members of our class, so greatly are they saturated with capitalist indoctrination, that they  favour the present system, while the Socialist Party position obtains little hearing and small support.

As, however, capitalism develops and the paradoxes become more glaring and more ridiculous, the Socialist Party view-point will continue to reach the understanding of the people. It is our assurance is that the members of our class will organise with us for the purpose of hastening the downfall of capitalism and of establishing the system of socialism, the ramifications and workings of which, admittedly, are as yet but dimly perceived, even by those who have devoted almost a lifelong study to the subject, but which the youngest socialist amongst us knows bears within it the potential of life undreamed of in this insane and inane system which we now live—or rather vegetate.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Vaccines: Free for All or a Free-for-all

More than 250 public interest groups  including Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam, urged global cooperation as scientists around the world work to develop treatments and a vaccine for the coronavirus, warning against "nationalistic" or monopoly-based responses to the pandemic.

"There is real danger that access to medical breakthroughs addressing COVID-19 will be restricted by nation, by price, by limited production and fragmented supply lines, and by exclusivity and commercial confidentiality. We must prevent this—and help change medical innovation, health, and nationalism," reads the open letter.

"There is a grave danger that research efforts will be stymied and access for many patients to COVID-19 treatments and vaccines will be delayed by limited manufacturing capacity, commercial secrecy, and monopolies on key medical technologies, as well as by hostility to global cooperation," said Public Citizen in a statement.