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Marx and Engels on the power of the vote

It's often pointed out that our political system is completely corrupted by money yet history teaches that people's influence on their governments is much more powerful than we usually imagine. It's weakened primarily by people's failure to do anything and the mistaken belief that we don't have the power to shape the world as we wish it to be.


Marx and Engels strongly supported political action in the sense of participating in elections. They stressed the importance of the vote. Engels explains that universal suffrage "in an England two-thirds of whose inhabitants are industrial proletarians means the exclusive political rule of the working class with all the revolutionary changes in social conditions which are inseparable from it." Marx argued along the same lines, for example, in 1855, he stated that "universal suffrage . . . implies the assumption of political power as means of satisfying [the workers'] social means" and, in Britain, &q…

Learning to organise

Shining shoes, mining and herding animals among the many jobs done by an estimated 750,000 children between five and 17 in Bolivia. Rodrigo Medrano Calle is a Bolivian labour leader who meets and lobbies top government officials. That's not surprising in a country where pay is often low, working conditions harsh and unions play a powerful role in society. Rodrigo is just 14 years old, and his union's members are all children, the Bolivian Union of Child and Adolescent Workers (Unatsbo), which represents thousands of under-18s.  In Bolivia, its successes include organising pay rises for children who sell newspapers on the city streets of Potosí from 6 cents (½p) to 12 cents a paper, using negotiations and the threat of strikes. And it's not just a Bolivian phenomenon: there are similar organisations in Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru and Colombia.

Bolivia's informal economy includes everyone from bricklayers to farmers to shoeshiners, who work without contracts and set schedu…

Bank Nationalisation

It is no co-incidence that the cries for banking reform invariably comes during economic depressions. The lubrication that keeps the capitalist machine running – the money markets – are dysfunctional.

As Marx identified “So long as things go well, competition effects an operating fraternity of the capitalist class…so that each shares in the common loot in proportion to the size of his respective investment. But as soon as it is no longer a question of sharing profits, but of sharing losses, everyone tries to reduce his own share to a minimum and to shove it off upon another. The class, as such, must inevitably lose. How much the individual capitalist must bear of the loss, ie, to what extent he must share in it at all, is decided by strength and cunning, and competition then becomes a fight among hostile brothers. The antagonism between each individual capitalist’s interests and those of the capitalist class as a whole, then comes to the surface…”

 Marx also pointed out that “the mone…

An Anti-Bolshevik Approach to Revolution

The final talk in the Socialist Thinkers series by Stephen Coleman and a belated contribution to the 90th anniversary of the Russian Revolution . It is a discussion of Leninism and the Julius Martov critique of the Bolsheviks .

The download can be found via the link at Darren's blog

The days grow longer

The unpaid working time we give to our bosses .

Socialist economics is based upon the Labour Theory of Value which is the Marxian explanation of our exploitation . Unpaid labour is the source of all surplus value. Normally , this takes place in the work-shop or office from 8 to 5 but more and more the time of the working day is growing in ways that we are not immediately aware of giving to the employers . When capitalists buy a worker’s labour they buy the worker’s capacity to work for a full day . Nowadays , with factories seldom at your doorstep , workers are forced to travel to and fro their workplaces . This travelling time we also give free to the bosses .

The amount of time that workers spend commuting between home and their workplace has rocketed in the past 10 years, with millions of workers now taking at least an hour to get to the office, new research shows. TUC research found the number of people who travel for more than an hour to get to work has risen by as much as 40% an…