Tuesday, February 28, 2023

We Need Socialism


Faced with a social system which creates problems faster than its politicians can make promises, responses range from the stupidly complacent to those whose self-righteous radicalism leaves no time for actually solving the problems they shout about. Would-be "leaders" the world over, rush to defend the indefensible. Political parties compete to run a system of organised poverty and obscene contradictions, which has built weapons to destroy humanity while millions starve. Most political debate is as irrational as the system of class division and profit which, in one form or another, it seeks to defend. It is therefore very refreshing indeed when a glimmer of social sanity shows itself through this dense fog of doublethink.  The Socialist Party is made up of men and women who have kept alive the vision of socialism as a society of personal freedom, communal solidarity, production for use and free access to goods.

Socialism is possibly the most abused, misused, and misunderstood term in the English language. So to explain our understanding of what it means visualise a completely different economic, world-wide system of society. Within this system, all the means of production and distribution that exist on the face of the earth will be owned and democratically controlled by the whole of society. Each person will stand in exactly the same economic relationship with the instruments for producing and distributing wealth. There will be no class owning and there will be no non-owning class—it will be a classless society. Goods and services will be produced and distributed solely for use and not for profit. People will contribute according to their individual abilities, taking from society according to their needs. This means literally free access to whatever they require. Visualise then a system in which there will be no means of exchange, no money, no barter. A system wherein there will be no capitalist class paying wages, with no employers or employees. Such a system cannot operate in one country, as no one country is economically self-sufficient; nor can it be inaugurated until the vast majority understand its economic and social implications.

In a society wherein the vast majority are non-owners of wealth production and distribution and a minority are the owners, a conflict of interest must exist. We acknowledge the absolute necessity of trade unions under capitalism, and we support the active participation of workers within the trade union movement in their attempts to safeguard and improve, their wage levels and working conditions. At the same time, we also fully realise the limitations of trade unions. We are the sole advocates of the highest expression of the class struggle on the political field—the demand for the abolition of class society, together with the class struggle, through the establishment of socialism.

The key to capitalism's closely guarded secret —the appropriation of surplus value by the capitalist class— is that most workers spend a lifetime blissfully unaware of the fact that as a class they are being legally robbed when they produce values equal to their pay cheques, but then continue producing excess values for the bosses.

 The four key features of socialism are:

Production will be for use and not for sale on the market.

Distribution will be according to need and not by means of buying and selling.

Labour will be voluntary and not imposed on workers by means of a coercive wages system.

A human community will exist and social divisions based on class, nationality, sex or race will have disappeared.

The Socialist Party is for those who have seen through the nonsense of the profit system and who clearly stand for the abolition of capitalism in any of its forms, whether private or state-controlled and its replacement by a system of production for use, with human needs being met through free access to all goods and services. The Socialist Party explains its ideas in a historical context which makes them all the more powerful and urgent. Moreover, it is demonstrated that capitalism really does "produce its own gravediggers", as various groups at different times and places have independently reached (and continue independently to reach) the same conclusion - that since the problems of the working-class majority cannot possibly be solved through the reform of the capitalist system, therefore it must be replaced.

The means of production must either function as capital throughout the world (in which case wage labour and capitalism persist internationally) or they must be commonly owned and democratically controlled at a global level (in which case they would be used to produce wealth for free, worldwide distribution). The changeover from world capitalism to world socialism will have to take the form of a short, sharp rupture (a revolution), rather than a gradual extended process of cumulative transformation.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Defeat nationalism 


We live in an age of possible social revolution – the rise of world socialism and the overthrow of world capitalism. There is no middle way between the capitalist system and socialism.

Nationalism is an outlook that preaches to the people of a nation or national group that regardless of class they have more in common with one another than they do with the people of other nations. Nationalism helps bind the working class to the bourgeoisie of its nation.  World socialism unites the working people of the world against their masters. That is why capitalists promote nationalism and oppose socialist internationalism. Working people’s destiny must not be tied to the capitalists, nor to the aspiring national bourgeoisie of an oppressed nation. The working class must have its own ideology and rid itself of the ideology of its class enemy. To the extent that the working class holds nationalist ideas, it is allowing its destiny to be determined by its rulers. Marxists do not differentiate between oppressed and oppressor nations in order to proclaim that the nationalism of the oppressor is reactionary while that of the oppressed is progressive. Marxists do not fan the flames of nationalism that further divisions within the working class.

A national ruling class fosters the national liberation struggle for its own narrow class interests. It raises its banner of nationalism – “Palestine for the Palestinians,” for example. The nationalist banner appears to have anti-imperialist content. It enlists the working class in the national liberation struggle. It even directs fire at the imperialists. But the key question is: What are its class aims? The ruling class aims not at destroying capitalism, but at getting a bigger slice of the exploitation pie. Nationalism serves the bourgeoisie in the sense that they are seeking a market for their goods, and their national market is always primary as capitalism develops. And nationalism serves to help the bourgeoisie secure its national market. That is why it always ends up selling out to the imperialists or substituting one imperialist for another. The working class has no interest in choosing one imperialist for another; nor do workers seek to have their own bourgeoisie exploit them. They cannot put aside the socialist aims of the revolution for the sake of unity with the national bourgeoisie.  Nationalists will betray the people at every turn.

Marxists are internationalists. And even if they are Marxists of an oppressed nationality, they seek to join with workers of other nationalities in smashing their oppression and all oppression and exploitation even with workers of the oppressor country. National oppression cannot be ended until the elimination of class exploitation and their own national oppression is just one particular aspect of the outrages of capitalism. It is nationalism that divides the workers so that the workers of one nationality are struggling against the workers of another nationality for a few illusory crumbs the rulers throw out exactly for that purpose! It is nationalism that can pit groups of workers against each other with the most hideous rage, while their mutual oppressors skip off with both their purses for a little fun in the sun.  Any nationalism ultimately implies that those people are better than all others. Zionism should teach us at this moment more forcibly than anything else, how even the most “justifiable” nationalism, taken to its logical conclusion, can end up justifying the oppression of the Palestinians.

Tolstoy explained, “Nationalism is the site of execution. What it practices is the art of killing; what it discusses is the ways of killing. It has nothing to do with the real life of the masses.”

 It is the essence of “nationalism.”

Except for cold-blooded psychopaths and sadistic politicians, all human beings hate war. The origin of war is often found in the “love for one’s nation.” As nationalism” emerged, whose cause and purpose were all about selfishness and greed, for example, when one state wants to expand its territory, it will sacrifice its people to invade other nations. If it wins, only the rulers can enjoy the fruit of success. If it is defeated, working people suffer. Does it benefit the masses?

 The interests of the capitalist and the worker are irreconcilable, just as the international interests of the working class are irreconcilable with defence of the national interests of its country. The workingmen have no country’ means:

(a) his/her economic position is not national but international;

(b) his/her class enemy is international;

(c) the conditions of his/her emancipation also;

(d) the international unity of the workers is more important than the national.

Against nationalism, socialists have always countered with the slogan: the enemy is here at home. Workers should oppose their own rulers who oppressed other nations. Class war is our battlecry, and the international solidarity of labour is our goal. We protest against every form of nationalism. The fight for Marxism is a fight against nationalism of any kind whatsoever.

Marx by Mark Steel 2/3 (video)


Working People's Interests

 Many on the political ‘left’ will argue that Palestinian nationalism is somehow progressive and different to Israeli nationalism and should therefore be supported. As socialists, we say that this is a dangerous poison that is being spread by the left and that no side engaged in such conflict can either speak for the working class as a whole or be an example to it.

History is replete with minorities in existing states using terrorist methods so that a new state may be formed or territory transferred from the “ownership” of one state to another. The working class of wage and salary earners is never in a position to benefit from this process; it is only in a position to suffer. The working class – by definition the class that does not possess any significant titles to land or private property, including capital – has quite literally nothing to gain from a situation where one group of rulers and owners is replaced by another group.

In the 19th century, when the modern capitalist system was expanding across the globe, “national liberation” struggles, typically led by a local growing capitalist class against the old autocratic empires, were part of the process which swept away the old political arrangements and opened the way forward for liberal democracy and the development of capitalist methods of production. It was often argued that it was in the interests of the working class during this time to take the side of the capitalists against the old autocracies like the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire, etc. It was said that this process would open the way up for working class organisation and for the development of an advanced industrial system which is a prerequisite for a socialist society of abundance and free access to available wealth.

Since then, the capitalist system has become a world system. The alleged justification for the working class taking sides in 'national liberation' struggles has now gone if ever it existed and today all such struggles are just deadly battles between sections of the capitalist class, even though it is the workers – imbued with nationalist poison – that naturally enough end up doing the fighting and dying.

The goal of the World Socialist Movement is not to assist in the creation of even more states and more nationalities, but to establish a real world community without frontiers where all states as they currently exist will be destroyed. In a socialist society, communities, towns and cities will have the opportunity to thrive – and people will no doubt feel an attachment to places that are real and tangible – but the 'imagined communities' that are nation-states will be consigned to the history books where they belong.

The ‘national interest’ is an all time favourite phrase bandied about by all manner of patriots in any crisis. But what is it supposed to mean?

The national interest conjures up an image that we are all one big happy family, all pulling and working together for the good of all; that we all have something to be proud of, to defend and to benefit from. It suggests an absence of strife and antagonism and that the real enemy is 'out there'. We're meant to feel good about the national interest, secure in the knowledge that the well-informed are thinking on our behalf.  National interest is the paternalistic jargon of a profit-hungry elite, trying to rationalise in our eyes the lengths they will go to accrue more profits at our expense. It is used by politicians largely to secure support for a course of action they are finding difficult to promote. It is designed to block serious discussion of an issue - who'll argue against the national interest and risk being denounced as unpatriotic? – and to marginalise opponents, thus stifling a deeper understanding of issues. The interests of the majority - of the working class - are diametrically opposed to the interests of the master, or capitalist, class. True, we all have basic needs and desires, whichever class we belong to, but talking about shared interests in a two-class society is nonsense. The capitalist class have one real interest - and let them deny it - to maximise their investment and to accrue more profit at our expense. How many people get hurt and trod on or slaughtered in the process is of no consequence. Anything is legitimate in the pursuit of profit. 

 We, the working class, on the other hand, own little more than our ability to labour by brain or by hand - an ability we sell to the master class. Our interest under capitalism becomes getting the best price for our labour. Indeed such is the onus on us to sell our labour power at as high a price as possible that its consequences dominate every aspect of our lives.

It has to be remembered that the master class depend on our complacency for their continued survival. Our silence, our willingness to accept everything they say without question, is the victory they celebrate every day.

Our job should therefore be to doubt and question everything they say - if we stand for nothing we fall for anything. For we do have interests. As a globally exploited class, denied so many of the benefits of civilisation in a world of abundance, it is in our interests, our real class interests, to help put a stop to their insane system, not just for the future of humanity, but for the future of our planet.

Our real class interests lie in establishing a global system of society, devoid of borders or frontiers, social classes or leaders, state governments, force or coercion, money, wages or salaries, a world in which production is freed from the artificial constraints of profit and used to its fullest potential and for the benefit of all. These interests are far removed from the national interest we are supposed to identify and moreover, they benefit all of today's classes.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Marx by Mark Steel 1/3 (video)


Don't live in a political vacuum

 We have every reason to be fearful for the future of humanity. The war in Ukraine could easily escalate into a nuclear exchange. The environmental crisis could lead to irreversible tipping points. The possibility of another virus pandemic is always present.  Many countries are in the throes of economic meltdowns.  Capitalism cannot be trusted to run the world in the interests of humanity and governments serve the interests of profit first. No reform, nor attempt to improve the system, can do more than ameliorate its inconsistencies and contradictions. There can be no democracy in a complex system designed to justify inequality, a system in which the power of money carries the right to govern, in which the governed accept their own inferiority, lack of self-respect and sense of worth, a system in which crime, conflict, nationalism, racism, ethnic cleansing is inevitable.

Money has enabled the human species to develop the technology with which it dominates the earth, but it has become an excuse for ignoring the factors that impede its own social advance. Money has made work a bad name, with connotations of long hours, stress, tiredness, and monotonous, yet, even in this acquisitive society of ours, most of us do some sort of voluntary work, helping others is enjoyable provided that we do not feel that it is augmenting other people’s interests at our expense. In a money-free world, people's power available would be virtually limitless. There would be plenty for them to d our fellows, our environment, our towns and cities, our talents and potentialities. There would be enough to keep us occupied for generations. We assume that without money there would be anarchy, but it is the chaotic complexity of the money system and the governments required to maintain it that is anarchic.

The greatest benefit of all would be in the reduction or elimination of the anti-social emotions of greed, hatred, selfishness and aggression, which the money system makes inevitable and we would be able to treat ourselves and each other as the sort of human beings that we claim to be.

 Suppose we are ever to take control of this planet and run it in the real interests of its inhabitants. In that case, we must do so ourselves, without leaders and with a view to establishing a global system of society in which production is freed from the constraints of profit and in which each person will have free access to the benefits of civilisation.


The Socialist Party is in favour of democracy, and socialism will be a fully democratic society, but full democracy is not possible under capitalism. Supporters of capitalism who talk about "democracy" always mean only political democracy since economic democracy - where people would democratically run the places where they work - is out of the question under capitalism, based as it is on these workplaces being owned and controlled by and for the benefit of a privileged minority.

You can have the most democratic constitution imaginable but this won't make any difference to the fact that profits have to come before meeting needs under capitalism. The people's will to have their needs appropriately met is constantly frustrated by the economic laws of the capitalist system, which no political structure, however democratic, can control.

It is not imperfections in the political decision-making process that are the problem but the profit system and its economic laws. And the answer is not the democratic reform of capitalism's political structure but the replacement of capitalism with socialism.

As a society based on common instead of class ownership of the means of production, socialism will fulfil the first condition for genuine democracy. Because it will be a class-free society without a privileged wealthy class, everyone can have a genuinely equal say in the way things are run. A few will not be more equal than others, as they are under capitalism, because they own more wealth.

 Socialism will be a society where the laws of profit no longer operate since common ownership and democratic control will allow people to produce to meet their needs instead of for the profit of a few as today.

Friday, February 24, 2023

War is a Racket (video)


Book Review - The People of the Abyss


Those vaguely familiar with Jack London know him as a skilled writer, basing many of his stories on experiences from his rich, colourful and often dangerous life. Few remember him as the skilled political commentator and social critic who exposed many of the injustices of his day. The People of the Abyss is Jack London the investigative reporter relating an impassioned account of the degradation and squalor endured by the people of the East End of London in 1902, and this year marks the centenary of his visit to this part of London.

Living in the East End doss houses, London posed as a stranded American sailor, down on his luck. He mingled with the poorest of the poor, worked alongside them, ate with them, drank with them and slept amongst them in the workhouses. His observations are documented in full in People of the Abyss, and this is no work of fiction. This is the London in the days when the SPGB was about to be formed, and reading London’s account of the privation endured by millions of his fellow workers, one can’t help but ask why the clamour for an end to capitalism was not being screamed from every rooftop. He attempts an answer himself:

“Unhealthy working and living engenders unhealthy appetites and desires. Man cannot be worked worse than a horse is worked, and be fed and housed as a pig is fed and housed, and at the same time have clean and wholesome ideals and aspirations.” (p.162).

And who could blame them? For many in the East End of London in 1902, the daily struggle to live absorbed all their energies. Their life expectancy was 30 years; 55% of children died before the age of 5. Hundreds of thousands of impoverished men and women yearned only the public houses and alcohol in a pathetic attempt to “express their gregariousness” and because intoxication finally “brings the oblivion that nothing else can bring” (160). This is the England “where a constant army of 8 million lives on the border of starvation.” (155); where hundreds of thousands of families inhabit one room, and where “children take turn about in sitting up and drive the rats away from the sleepers (148); where the lucky go insane and the courageous commit suicide. And all of this when Britain had the largest empire ever know and milked the world.

The SPGB were not alone in the formative years of the 20th Century in pointing out the world of potential abundance we live in. Lamenting the widespread starvation of the day, the ‘hunger wail’ that echoed across the British Isles, London comments:
“And this in face of the fact that five men can produce bread for a thousand; that one workman can produce cotton cloth for 250 people, woollens for 300 and boots and shoes for 1000….and who dares to say that it is not mismanaged, this big house, when five men can produce bread for a thousand, and yet millions have not enough to eat?” (160)

The People of the Abyss is a masterly recording of the lives of the masses in 1902, and a poignant indictment on the capitalist system, and London is to be commended. However he affords us no panacea to the ills of the system he lambastes, but rather finishes with a lengthy note about how the system is being mismanaged, before ending:

“There can be no mistake. Civilisation has increased man’s producing powers an hundred-fold, and through mismanagement the men of Civilisation live worse than the beasts, and have less to eat and wear and protect them from the elements than the savage Inuit in a frigid climate who lives today as he lived in the stone age ten thousand years ago.” (p.170)

The People of the Abyss deserves to be read, for it is still possible to record the same, in spite of all the scientific and technological breakthroughs that have occurred since 1902 and which should be benefiting humanity.

John Bisset

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Power in the Union (techno music)


Capitalism Has No Solutions


If capitalism is presently incapable of solving the more pressing problems faced by humanity, we can well ponder what a difficult time ahead we face in a world in which we are increasingly at the mercy of the elements.

For many, environmental issues are new. As socialists, forever scrutinising the effects of the capitalist mode of production, we have been aware of them for generations. In fact, Engels commented:

“At every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing over nature – but that we, with flesh and blood and brain, belong to nature and exist in its midst, and that all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly. We are gradually learning to get a clear view of the indirect, more remote social effects of our productive activity, and so are afforded the opportunity to control and regulate these effects well. This regulation, however, requires a complete revolution in our existing mode of production…in our whole contemporary social order” ( Dialectics of Nature, 1875).

In spite of all the evidence that suggests that deforestation, present production and transport methods are primarily responsible for the climatic warning – the disappearing polar ice caps, global flooding, rising sea levels, vegetation dieback, the loss of thousands of species of life, and that the speed and scale of global warming have no precedent – the world’s governments still insist these wasteful, though profit-generating methods must remain.

The problem is as always over the issue of loopholes which allows countries to minimise cutting back on carbon emissions.  Instead of cutting their fossil fuel (carbon) emissions, they buy carbon credits from countries that are not likely to exceed their carbon emission quota, with countries paying for a project in a lesser developed country, with the aim of reducing carbon and counting it against their own emissions. This is already proving a lucrative business.  Those companies can get excited about the profits to be made from trading in pollution credits – whilst the planet we inhabit faces environmental catastrophe from pollution – says much about the insanity of the system we live in and very much begs the question: are you with us or against us?

You name the dodge and the profit-greedy have thought of it. This includes feeding cattle, pigs and sheep new diets that help reduce the amount of methane they emit when they burp.

The perennial problem is that countries are reluctant to promote investment in more environmentally friendly methods of production and transport because their respective governments, being the executive arm of the capitalist class, prefer to bow with suppliant knee to powerful oil, coal, iron and steel lobbies, rather than openly acknowledge that we are ecologically fast approaching the point of no return. We can well expect the next round of talks to be another waste of time whilst providing us with further evidence that capitalism has long outlived its usefulness and that it is time to hand over control of the world to those who could best decide its future – a global socialist majority. 

Since our Party’s founding, we have consistently reported the misery and sufferings our class has endured in the name of the profits derived from mineral wealth and its possession by an elite. We expect, for the foreseeable future, to carry on in this tradition until our class truly wakes up. Few make an attempt to set the problem in a wider social and economic context - for instance making that crucial link to the priority of profit before human need. 

The solution remains the same. There is one world and we exist as one people in need of each other and with the same basic needs. There is far more that unites us than can ever divide us along cultural, nationalistic or religious lines.

 Together we can create a civilisation worth living in, but before that happens we need the conscious cooperation of ordinary people across the world, united in one common cause – to create a world in which each person has free access to the benefits of civilisation, a world without borders or frontiers, social classes or leaders and a world in which production is at last freed. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

No More War (music)


A world without frontiers

 Many distractors point their all-knowing finger to China and Cuba as 'proof' that socialism has failed. But nowhere have we ever claimed, or will claim, that these countries were socialist. These are examples of state capitalism (China, Cuba, the former Soviet Union etc - all of which had a wages system, commodity production and every other trait we associate with capitalism).

Many critics suggest that for socialism to be impemented would require the coercion of everyone who disagrees with it and the death of democracy, which is the exact opposite of everything we have always argued. We maintain that socialism will only come when a majority of the world's people understand what socialism means (and, no it has nothing to do with Lenin, or Mao or Castro), want it and are prepared to organise for it peacefully and democratically, without leaders and in their own interests.

Socialists are criticised for jumping on the environmentalist bandwagon. For the record socialist have been warning about the dangers capitalist production methods pose the environment for 130 years.

In 1875, in Dialectics of Nature,  Engels had this to say:

“At every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing over nature – but that we, with flesh and blood and brain, belong to nature and exist in its midst, and that all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly. We are gradually learning to get a clear view of the indirect, more remote social effects of our productive activity, and so are afforded the opportunity to control and regulate these effects well. This regulation, however, requires a complete revolution in our existing mode of production…in our whole contemporary social order”

Our priority remains the same – abolition of the profit system and the establishment of a system of society where the earth’s natural and industrial resources are commonly owned and democratically controlled.

Socialists are no different from others in desiring an envirionment in which the safety of all animal and plant spieces is ensured. Where we differ from our poitical opponents is in recognising that their demands have to be set against a well entrenched economic and social system, based on class privilege and property and governed by the overriding law of profits first.

It has long been our case that human needs can be satisfied without recourse to production methods that aversely effect the natural environment, which is exactly why we advocate the establishment of a system of society in which production is freed from the artificial constraints of profit. We are not talking about nationalisation or any other tinkering with the present system, but rather its entire abolition and replacement with a global system in which the earth’s natural and industrial resources are commonly owned and democratically controlled; a society in which each production processes takes into consideration not only human need but any likely effect upon the environment.

Once the Earth’s natural and industrial resources have ben wrested from the master class and become the common heritage of all humanity, then production can be geared to meeting needs in an ecologically acceptable way, instead of making profits without consideration for the environment. This the only basis on which we can meet our needs whilst respecting the laws of nature and to at last begin to reverse the degradation of the environment caused by the profit system. The only effective strategy for achieving a free and democratic society and, moreover, one that is in harmony with nature, is to build up a movement which has the achievement of such a society as itsobjective.

 The "carbon trading" and "green taxes" are just tinkering with the market system, whereas if carbon emissions are to be stabilised and the consequences of global overwarming tackled effectively it is the whole market system of competitive production for profit that must go.

Its replacement would be a world without frontiers where the Earth's natural and industrial resources have become the common heritage of all humanity. Only then will a world body capable of taking the necessary co-ordinated global action exist. Only then can the Earth's resources be used to satisfy people's needs not to make a profit for those who own and exploit them.The buying and selling of the market system would be replaced by giving and taking in accordance with the principle "from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs".