Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Drug Nation of Europe

 1,339 people died of drug misuse in Scotland last year, with the country seeing a record number of deaths for the seventh year in a row.

Scotland continues to have by far the highest drug death rate recorded by any country in Europe.

And its rate is more than three-and-a-half times that of England and Wales.

 It is now almost three times higher than it was a decade ago.

Greater Glasgow and Clyde had the highest rate of all health board areas at 30.8 deaths per 100,000 people, followed by Ayrshire and Arran and Tayside with rates of 27.2 and 25.7 respectively.

And the poorest are worst hit.  People in the most deprived parts of the country were 18 times more likely to have a drug-related death as those in the least deprived.

The gap has widened significantly since the start of the century, when deaths were 10 times higher in the most deprived areas.

Almost two-thirds of the deaths were of people aged between 35 and 54, with the average age increasing from 32 to 43 over the past two decades.

93% of the deaths reported in 2020 were as a result of accidental overdoses, while 4% were considered deliberate self-poisoning.

More than one drug was found to be present in the body of 93% of those who died, suggesting that many of the deaths were caused by Scotland's "polydrug" habit - mixing dangerous street drugs with alcohol and prescription pills.

Opiates such as heroin and methadone were implicated in 1,192 deaths while benzodiazepines such as diazepam and etizolam were implicated in 974.

Gabapentin or pregabalin were present in the bodies of 502 people who died, and cocaine in 459.

There have been large increases in the numbers of deaths where "street" benzodiazepines, such as etizolam, were involved in recent years, from 58 in 2015 to 879 last year.

Socialism - The well-being of all


There is great confusion in the world today over what is socialism. Our aim in the Socialist Party is to try to acquire some clarity.

The industrial and political situation under capitalism will continue to give birth to social problems which will demand the earnest attention analyses of the Socialist Party. We are confident that we are capable of overcoming the difficulties which lie between now and the cooperative commonwealth. Our single demand is the conquest of the powers of government for the purpose of introduction of the cooperative commonwealth, i.e., the revolution. There could be no other fault to find with “immediate demands” than their uselessness.


Socialism is a society run by the working people. They decide how socialism works. It ends the split of humanity into the haves and have-nots.  Nationalisation is not socialism, nor is there a “socialist sector of a mixed economy”. Such nationalisation in a capitalist society is simply state capitalism, with no relation to socialism.

Nor is what is called the “Welfare State” socialist.  “Welfare” in a capitalist state, is to improve the efficiency of that state as a profit-maker, is not socialism but another form of state capitalism. Various governments introduced certain reforms which ameliorated the effects of some of the worst features of capitalism in the spheres of health, housing and family support. It was an improvement on capitalism with no welfare, just as a 40-hour week is an improvement on a 60-hour week. But it is not socialism. The “Welfare State” can also be called the Means Test State.

It is true that the Labour Party once had Clause 4 in its constitution a ‘pledge’ to work for the socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Some Labour politicians even talked about socialism, but in practice, they carried on running capitalism. The essential feature of capitalism, that very thing which makes the system one of exploitation and robbery of the mass of wage workers by the ruling class of capitalists, namely the private ownership of the means of production and exchange, this remained untouched. That did not stop the exploiting employing class from denouncing such government policies as socialist. They made the most of their control of the media and almost all sources of information to imprint this big lie into people's minds. This was nothing new. The second paragraph in the ‘Communist Manifesto’ reads: ‘Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where the Opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of Communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries.’

We judge a political party by its deeds, not just by its words. It is obvious that the Labour Party and many other “workers” parties around the world are pro-capitalist that operates capitalism on behalf of the possessing class. There are many workers who have belonged to these parties but this by no means make them a political party of the workers. All their socialism” and “socialisation” amounted to was state capitalism, in which the state is controlled and run by the capitalist class. The capitalists as a class – manufacturers, landowners and financiers still received from the labour of the workers their large incomes in the form of profit, rent and interest. All were forms of surplus-value, having their origin in capitalist production which was based on the special value-creating commodity bought by the capitalists – labour-power.

Socialism will lift the level of the productive forces had been greatly raised and an economy of abundance will be attained, and also the cooperation between people had become a matter of everyday life, of simple social practice because their outlook had been transformed, then the distinctions between town and country and between mental and manual labour had been abolished, could the abolition of economic classes be treated as fact, and the principle of communism be applied, that is:‘From each according to ability, to each according to  needs.’

Socialism is a far superior system to capitalism a new society based on the solidarity and common interests of all its members. The supporters of capitalism ignore this basic fact. They do not know and recognise anything save the individual. This capitalist outlook sacrifices the interest of all, the collective interest of society to the self-interest of the individual owner; the interest of the producing majority to that of the parasitic minority. Socialism which is based on the recognition of the interests which are common to all citizens is a conception that does not sacrifice the individual for the sake of society nor society for the sake of the individual. The objective of socialism is a free individual in a free society, the well-being of each assured by the well-being of all.


Friday, July 30, 2021

Change Needs To Come


This year's "Overshoot Day", when Earth's resources are used up faster than the planet can generate them, landed on July 29.

"If we need reminding that we're in the grip of a climate and ecological emergency, Earth Overshoot Day is it," said Susan Aitken, leader of the Glasgow City Council, urging that the day be "our call to arms."

Last year's improved timeline was  August 22 was attributed to coronavirus-triggered shutdowns.  If the world's population lived like the U.S. or Canada, the date would have fallen (pdf) on March 14.

The Global Footprint Network, which tracks the metric, along with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) on Thursday also announced the launch of the "100 Days of Possibility" initiative for the lead-up to COP 26, the key United Nations climate summit that begins October 31 in Glasgow. The initiative will highlight solutions for states and communities to take to "reverse overshoot and support biological regeneration," organizers say.

"The pandemic has demonstrated that societies can shift rapidly in the face of disaster," said Global Footprint Network CEO Laurel Hanscom. "But being caught unprepared brought great economic and human cost. When it comes to our predictable future of climate change and resource constraints, individuals, institutions, and governments who prepare themselves will fare better."

We are entering a 'storm' of climate change and resource constraints. The earlier we start preparing ourselves for this predictable future, the better positioned we will be. The need for cities, and countries to prepare themselves for the future becomes even more existential.

Looking ahead to the upcoming climate summit, SEPA CEO Terry A'Hearn said it must be a moment to ensure a climate-friendly, post-Covid recovery.

"In November, as a weary world turns its attention to Scotland and COP 26, together we can choose one-planet prosperity over one-planet misery," he said. "We can and must build from the pandemic—our global ability to plan, to protect and move at pace. In 2021," A'Hearn added, "the Glasgow summit and the future we choose as each community, city, company, or country offers real hope for a new net-zero revolution."

Socialist Courier at the risk of being thought of as cynical, does not hold out much hope nor does it expect COP26 to make substantive differences to the progress of worsening climate change. Only transformative sytemic change is required in the way our society operates.

The need for socialist education


The waste of capitalism is so pervasive that the following is a sample list:

1. Cost of capitalist competition (duplication of product ranges between different firms where specialisation would be more economical, duplication of research facilities, unnecessary model changes and differentiation of products, advertising etc.)

2. Costs of the capitalist financial system (the stock exchange, the banking system, the existence of numerous banks and building societies.

3. Another cost of capitalism that would be eliminated is the production of luxury goods for the consumption of the capitalist class. How much could be saved for society by cutting out luxury consumption?

4. A most glaring cost of capitalism is unemployment.


The full utilisation of society’s resources would allow a massive increase in production even before the longer-term advantages of socially rational deployment of resources were realised. Is it possible to increase production? Where will the money come from? How could a socialist plan be financed? These objections are based on understanding the necessity of money. The fundamental point is that wealth is produced by human labour working with machines etc. There is no question of society being “unable to afford” the extra production potentially available. The whole notion is a piece of capitalist mystification designed to conceal the fact that the reason for the waste of resources under capitalism is that the capitalists will not “afford” to produce more, in the sense that it is not profitable for them to do so. Obviously many goods can be distributed directly rather than by being purchased with money out of wages earned.

In voting for the Socialist Party, the mass of the workers have indicated that they want a complete change from the capitalist system which has brought them misery, poverty, and insecurity. Our objective is the socialisation of society and the breaking down of the idea of private property, to encourage unselfish co-operation all over the globe.

No political system under capitalism is correctly described as fully democratic. However, the political systems of many (though far from all) countries do contain certain democratic elements. These democratic elements have arisen in the course of historical development, often as a result of working-class struggle. It is extremely important to socialists that these democratic elements be preserved and when possible strengthened and extended, even though they can never neutralise the essentially undemocratic nature of capitalism. The stronger and more extensive the democratic elements in political systems, the greater the scope for the spread of socialist ideas and the surer the prospect of a smooth and peaceful transition to socialism.

Scottish bosses are no different from English bosses – a capitalist has to exploit his workers in order to survive as a capitalist. Scottish bosses work together with English bosses to rule the country. The dictatorship of the bosses functions very similarly in the two countries. It is absurd for a worker to have any patriotic commitment to a boss-ruled Scotland. Left nationalists are people obviously much more committed to nationalism than to socialism. Socialism means the redistribution of power to ordinary people and it means democracy at every level of decision-making. The allocation of resources and production for use will have as its goal satisfying the needs of the people. The present system of manufacturing operates primarily for the purposes of capitalist profit instead of producing for the use of all is directly responsible for keeping e wage workers in all countries in constant subjection to the capitalist class. The object of the Socialist Party is to secure economic freedom for the whole community, ie, that all men and all women shall have equal opportunities of sharing in wealth production and consumption. The future of the world is to be cooperative, and not competitive. The time is ripe for great changes, those changes are certain to come, not the mere pettifogging changes of taxation, not the trifling additions to wages, but definite deep-rooted drastic changes, the dethroning of the capitalists, the people themselves becoming direct owners and controllers of themselves and the wealth they produce.

Socialists also look to the working class because it has tremendous potential power because it produces almost all of the wealth in society—and it can realize that power because of the way capitalism organizes us to work collectively. Most workers don’t think of themselves as being part of a class with collective social power. They feel isolated and in competition with other workers—and sometimes even see them as their enemies because of their skin colour, religion, national origin and so on. The Socialist Party teaches, promotes, and agitates exclusively for the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of socialism. We, the Socialist Party reaffirm our allegiance to the uncompromising principles of international socialism. We declare that the capitalist system has outgrown its historic function and become utterly incapable of meeting the problems now confronting society. In spite of the development of new technology and the improved methods of industry, the position of the workers becomes ever more insecure, and the class struggle between the exploited and the exploiters become ever more acute. The boasted prosperity is only for the owners of the means of production and distribution; to working people, it means only hardship and misery. It is the capitalist system that is responsible for the increasing burden of arms production, wars, poverty, slums, sweated labour, much of the crime. Mental illnesses, diseases, and the commercialisation of sex. These being some of the manifestations of the present mode of production they can only be eliminated by the removal of the cause — the capitalist system. The method adopted by the Socialist Party for the abolition of the present social order is that of political action.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Queen's Scotland


The Scottish government has given the Queen advanced access to at least 67 parliamentary bills deemed to affect her public powers, private property or personal interests under an arcane custom inherited from Westminster. They include legislation dealing with planning laws, property taxation, protections from tenants and a 2018 bill that prevents forestry inspectors from entering crown land, including Balmoral, without the Queen’s permission.

The Queen’s consent procedure, which critics have called anti-democratic, has been used repeatedly by the monarch in recent decades to secretly lobby for changes to proposed UK legislation before it is passed by parliament. The extent of the practice in Scotland, where it is known as crown consent, has until now been unknown to the public.

The royal court and the Scottish government declined to say how many of these laws were amended as a result of the monarch’s lobbying. However, the Guardian revealed how the Queen’s lawyers recently successfully persuaded a Scottish minister to give her an exemption from a law that was designed to cut carbon emissions through the construction of heat pipelines.

The monarchy is allowed to vet draft laws that potentially affect her sprawling private estate around Balmoral Castle in the Highlands.

She is one of Scotland’s largest private landowners, owning about 24,900 hectares (61,500 acres) at Balmoral and a further long lease on 4,730 hectares of Abergeldie estate, bordering Balmoral. Balmoral has been in the royal family’s possession since it was first leased by Queen Victoria in 1848. The estate has received hundreds of thousands of pounds in farming and forestry subsidies. These have included EU funds for the Highland cattle the Queen breeds at Balmoral, environmental improvements, rural development and, most of all, forestry. In 2018, Balmoral was given nearly £107,000 in EU subsidies, including £104,000 for “rural development” projects.

The Queen’s officials recently succeeded in getting the business rate valuations for all four of her grouse moors and “deer forests”, used by the royals for deer stalking at Balmoral, cut by 45%, from £45,600 to £25,500, backdated to 1 April 2017, using widely available appeal powers. There are numerous businesses on the Balmoral estate: holiday cottages, “luxury” Land Rover tours, a nine-hole private golf course, salmon fishing on the River Dee, an estate restaurant, coffee shop and gift shop.

Prince Charles, known in Scotland as the Duke of Rothesay, will inherit the estate in turn when he succeeds the throne, without paying any inheritance tax.

In last year’s Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Act, a letter sent by John Somers, Nicola Sturgeon’s principal private secretary, to Edward Young, the Queen’s most senior aide, in July last year. In his letter, Somers asked the Queen to give her consent to the legislation – a requirement before it can be passed by the parliament – as it had the “potential to affect the Queen’s personal property and interests, and the hereditary revenues of the crown”. He pointed out that, for example, the bill could “result in an increase or decrease in the amount of subsidy that can be claimed”. Somers added that the Scottish government would amend the bill to exempt the crown from being prosecuted over specific offences related to food quality, purity and labelling rules and the collection of farming data, say on pollution, animal health or climate. Somers asked if the bill, and the planned amendments, were “acceptable” to the monarch. They were. Eight days later, Young, writing from Windsor Castle, confirmed the Queen was content to give her consent.

In the unlikely event, Balmoral was suspected of staging a circus featuring tigers, lions or elephants – something now banned in Scotland – clauses inserted by ministers into the Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Act 2018 mean the police are barred from searching the estate or circus vehicles without her consent. No other private land has that exemption.

Revealed: Queen vetted 67 laws before Scottish parliament could pass them | The Queen | The Guardian

We Seek a New Type of World


Do you really believe that any war is in the interests of the working class? capitalists may wish to grab mines and ore deposits abroad but for you, there is nothing to be gained. Money men may hope to make millions with speculation on the foreign markets but for you, it is all for nought. There is one war which you should fight not with artillery, but with organisation - party groups and trade unions. That is the class battle in which you should enrol yourselves. That war is not against a foreign enemy - that is only a decoy with which they try to lead you astray - it is against the internal enemy, the enemy of the people's happiness, of progress and human civilisation and that, is capitalism, private ownership of all means of production, factories and machines, mines and land. We will do away with capitalism in this war. Knowledge is power. You cannot begin too soon to absorb the world of thought of socialism. We must understand how to turn unconscious fellow-workers into conscious socialists. The circle of conscious socialists will spread more and more, and that must be our aim. This education of real conscious socialists is an indispensable part of evolution.

Socialism means a society of associated producers that is characterised by common ownership of the means of production, the immediately social nature of labour and the planning of production to satisfy needs (production of use-values and not commodities). It means a class-free society without a state. Such a society can exist only if it is managed by the producers and consumers themselves and only if it takes its destiny into its own hands. It must free itself from the tyranny of the “laws of the market” (the law of value), from the tyranny of despotic authorities, and from that of the State.

Opponents of socialism say that there are different kinds of socialists and different kinds of socialism.

The productive forces have developed to such an extent that they have now created the preconditions for the abolition of all poverty. A worldwide redistribution of the resources and net products required to eliminate famine and poverty does not necessarily imply a fall in the standard of living enjoyed by the average producer in the developed world.

 Capitalism is completely incapable of solving the problems of the world peoples. There is the colossal wastage of warfare and the insanity of national frontiers. More...More...More, is the capitalists' insistent theme. When the diseased economy breaks down the capitalists demand that the working class pay the price with cuts in living standards to restore profitability.

The capitalist case is that they perform a service to society, but in doing so they generally have their own profit in view. Production dominated by private interest is necessarily anti-social, giving rise to the waste of social resources. In order to obtain a production directed towards social ends, society must control production absolutely, that is to say, the common ownership and control of the industries and services essential for the satisfaction of the people's needs should pass from the capitalists to the community. Socialism is the systematic pooling of production. Socialism is not an “improved” nor a “more just” version of the system of wage labour, but a wholly new mode of production

Our labour, or rather our power to labour is what we must sell to employers from day to day and week to week in order merely to live. No matter how enormously the capacity to produce wealth may increase only a fraction of the value of the work we have done goes to support ourselves and our families. All the rest of the value which we create goes to be divided up among the landlords, capitalists, bankers, money-lenders and so forth. The increasing wealth benefits them and us very little, or not at all.

There is not a worker in the world today who can indicate with any degree of clearness how we can bring about the cooperative commonwealth except along the lines suggested by the Socialist Party. We stand for socialism, the abolition of capitalists. We believe that it is possible so to organise production to end poverty, inequality and war. Economic and social development has brought us unconsciously, and through much sorrow and misery, to the point where this transformation is possible. It is for us to benefit ourselves and others by understanding, and taking advantage of, the work which our predecessors have done.