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Why all Workers Should Read this Blog

 Those who address these pages to the reader are working-class men and women—clerks and taxi-men, artists and accountants, shopmen and sweeps, carpenters, " bricklayers, masons, excavators, plumbers, painters, journalists, printers, scientific workers, weavers, porters, software programers, women and men of many other trades—but all working-class people; all folk who depend for their livelihood on the sale of their own labour-power, or the sale of the labour-power of those who are their breadwinners.

 The men and women, then, who address you through these pages are in die same position as you are. They work side by side with you in the office, workshop or factory; they face death and disablement with you in the mine; they "fight shoulder to shoulder with "you in the strike; they know what it is to walk the streets day after day in vain search for employment. The experience of poverty and humiliation which has seared your minds has Burnt also into theirs.

The middle class

Marx uses the term “middle class”. In the Victorian period this term was used to refer to the bourgeoisie or capitalist class. In modern Marxist terminology the words “middle class” would be replaced by “bourgeois” and “bourgeoisie“ as appropriate.

Class is defined by the position in which you stand with regard to the means of production. In capitalist society there are two basic classes: those who own and control the means of production and those who own no productive resources apart from their ability to work. The job you do, the status it might have, the pay you receive and how you chose to spent it, are irrelevant as long as you are dependent on working in order to live. This means we are living in a two-class society of capitalists and workers.

The existence of a “middle class” is one of the greatest myths of the twentieth century. In the last century, the term was used by the up-and-coming industrial section of the capitalist class in Britain to describe themselves; they were t…

Understanding class

There are two classes in society - the one possessing wealth and owning the means of its production, the other making the wealth by using those tools and technology but only with the permission and only for the benefit of the possessors. These two classes are necessarily in opposition to one another. We have before us today, in capitalist society, masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited but to put it more bluntly, robbers and the robbed. Two economic forces whose interests ceaselessly clash, are pitted against each other. These two classes can never be reconciled and it is this that we call the class struggle. Workers, be they “white” or “blue” collar, skilled or unskilled, because they are workers, cannot survive except by selling their labouring power. Yet were it not for the working class, the whole social fabric would collapse in an instant. It is they who do the useful work. It is they who produce the wealth.

class loyalty

The media and the political mouthpieces of capitalist ideology have done their job well. Scottish workers are being caught up by the "patriotism" of the referendum debate - either for independence or for the union. Capitalism has reached a point at which it threatens all humanity and not just the divided national, religious, racial (or other falsely labeled) identity groups.

The patriotism of the capitalist class is better called national chauvinism. This "patriotism" equates loyalty to the nation with loyalty to the capitalist-controlled government and its policies. It seeks the acquiescence of workers in the crimes, aggressions, depredations and depravities of the ruling class and its agents.  It is intended to trick workers into sanctioning whatever is deemed in the interests of the business class. It's nationalistic baloney asserts that our interests as a “nation” are totally bound up with, if not identical , to those of our exploiters. But as we know, in c…

Class

The newspaper reads"The number of middle-class homeowners in Scotland who are declaring themselves bankrupt is rising dramatically...The trend is being blamed on the well-off no longer being able to use rising equity in their homes to finance their lifestyles and pay off debts.."

Oh , how often we come across the expression "middle class" , as if those people are somehow different from the working class. This article from the archives of the Socialist Standard explains why there is no such thing as middle class and that we are all members of the working class.

Getting the blues in suburbia

There aren't many factory workers like me in the area where I live - a pleasant suburb called Giffnock which lies just over the south side of the Glasgow boundary. I moved there about five years ago and when my workmates heard where I was moving to they were amazed. Al­most all of them live in council flats or houses (Scotland has a much higher percentage of council and other r…

Labour cant and won't

Goodness me , after all this time Labour has re-discovered that class counts .

"...we know that inequality doesn't just come from your gender, race, sexual orientation or disability. What overarches all of these is where you live, your family background, your wealth and social class..." says Harriet Harman to the TUC conference

Ms Harman accused the Conservatives of being "false friends of equality" and of "sidling up to the unions".

Hmmm.....Socialist Courier wonders what the reason for her own speech may have been , eh ?

This is just more hypocrisy and cant from the Labour Party .

Gordon Brown conceded in an interview with Monitor magazine that "social mobility has not improved in Britain as we would have wanted".

health and wealth

We here at Socialist Courier have frequently posted stories that reveal the class link concerning health -- the wealthier you are , the better health you possess and the longer you live . Another report once again confirms this view .

The importance of money was illustrated by an ethnic breakdown of outcomes in the US. White Americans, who are on the whole wealthier and therefore more able to afford the insurance which underpins the US system, were up to 14% more likely than others to survive cancer.Meanwhile the report states that the UK had 69.7% survival for breast cancer, just above 40% for colon and rectal cancer for both men and women and 51.1% for prostate cancer. And "...there were also large regional variations within the UK, which were linked to differences in access to care and ability of patients to navigate the local health services. Both are directly linked to deprivation..."

work causes cancer

Further to this earlier post that health inequalities between rich and poor have widened since Labour came to office in 1997 , American research shows that night-shift workers, and their number is growing by about 3% per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , are known to be at higher risk for accidents, sleep disorders and psychological stress due to daytime demands, such as family and other obligations, that interfere with sleeping. Now scientific evidence suggests their disrupted circadian rhythms may also cause a kind of biological revolt, raising their likelihood of obesity, cancer, reproductive health problems, mental illness and gastrointestinal disorders.

The evidence for an increased cancer risk is so compelling that, in December, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a unit of the World Health Organization, declared that shift work is "probably carcinogenic to humans."

*Night-shift workers have a 40% to 50% increased risk of heart disease …

Scottish Capitalists - Little Changes

Scottish investment trust boards are still open to the charge that they recruit their members primarily on the golf course, according to research .

Coburn Blair, an Edinburgh-based specialist in recruiting non-executive directors, has analysed the boards of the 48 investment trusts managed by Scottish-based fund managers and concludes: "... in truth, not a lot has changed."

Although some boards now go through a formal selection process, others in practice continue to recruit informally in the way they have always done.
"If you want to join an investment trust board it still certainly helps if you're already known to the chairman or other board members. So, if it's fair to say that the Edinburgh mafia of old is no longer such a cosy clique as it used to be, it is still true that once you're on the board of one investment trust and can demonstrate you know how to hold your knife and fork at the after-meeting lunch, it's usually only a matter of time before yo…

A Fragmented Society

From the president of the Headteachers' Association of Scotland.

"The expectations which have been placed on Scottish education are enormous in a society which has grave problems of obesity in young people and in the population at large, in which one in ten young people and one in four in the population will experience mental health issues.

"[A society] in which binge drinking in public and hazardous and harmful drinking in private are a growing concern. In which teenage pregnancy is among the highest in Europe, in which one in four young people can expect to experience family break-up.

"[A society] in which antisocial behaviour is a major issue in many communities and, in which, the gap between the most advantaged and most disadvantage members has never been greater, there are extraordinary demands on schools to fill the gaps in a fragmented society."

A spokesman for the Educational Institute of Scotland, the country's biggest teaching union, said : "Scho…

Class-rooms and Class Divisions

According to new research Children from disadvantaged backgrounds need to do more than just attend a good school to boost their educational achievement . School quality accounted for a fraction of variations in achievement . Children's social background had much more of an impact.

Family disadvantage is passed on from one generation to the next in a cycle of underachievement . Parents who were making a choice between low income and long hours found it hard to give children good life chances . Children were highly aware of their social position and the limitations it placed upon them.

The research did not imply that poorer parents don't care about their children's education. Many parents on low incomes lack the resources that allow them to help out, to provide conducive environments or to access relevant services.

The belfast poor

Up to 80% of children in west Belfast's most deprived areas are living in poverty, an academic has claimed.



Workless Protestant households are closing the gap with their Catholic counterparts - but it is a levelling downwards .



No gains for the catholic working-class community except for those government jobs for those so-called and mis-named freedom fighters now in Stormont and certainly no improvements for the protestant workers who shed their blood for the Establishment .

Now is the time to recognise class loyalty - not loyalism

Scotland's Slaves

Some migrant workers in Scotland are being treated like "modern day slaves", according to campaigners being reported by the BBC . Promises of good accommodation and pay quickly disappear when they arrive in Scotland.

Two Polish workers told BBC Scotland that after two weeks of labour they actually owed the farmer money.

The Prague Post reports that the life many migrant workers find in Scotland is not what they had envisioned. They are frequently abused and coerced into accepting illegal working conditions, said Beth Herzfeld of Anti-Slavery International.
The most common form of abuse is debt-bondage. This is the illegal practice of paying an employer up-front for work, rent and food . Sometimes said, it takes workers six weeks to repay these debts, and then they are fired. This is a common “trick” employers use to leech money from vulnerable workers explains Paul Millar , the Czech honorary consul in Scotland .
According to Herzfeld, debt-bondage is one of the tactics used …

Private schools - only for the richer of us

Marx talks of how capitalism drives those professionals often vaguely called the middle class into the ranks of the proletariat so i note this story in the Herald .

Teachers, engineers, and police officers have been priced out of private education by a 40% rise in fees in just five years, according to the Bank of Scotland.
It now costs an average of £8247 every year to educate a child privately in Scotland compared with £6039 in 2002, and fees are now rising at twice the rate of inflation. Only prices for houses are growing faster. The average earner in a number of occupations, including engineers, journalists and teachers, can no longer afford private education for their offspring. average school fees were now only in the reach of 13 occupations, down from 23 in 2002.

Affordability was measured at a quarter of average earnings for the profession. So a scientist, earning an average of £37,290 a year, would have to give up an unaffordable 26% of his or her income to put one child throug…

More on class divisions

The gap between rich and poor in the UK is as wide as it has been for forty years, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has said in a report. Full report here

Since 1970, area rates of poverty and wealth in Britain have changed significantly. Britain is moving back towards levels of inequality in wealth and poverty last seen more than 40 years ago. Over the last 15 years, more households have become poor, but fewer are very poor. Even though there was less extreme poverty, the overall number of 'breadline poor' households increased – households where people live below the standard poverty line. This number has consistently been above 17 per cent, peaking at 27 per cent in 2001 . Already-wealthy areas have tended to become disproportionately wealthier.

There is evidence of increasing polarisation, where rich and poor now live further apart. In areas of some cities over half of all households are now breadline poor. Both poor and wealthy households have become more and more geographica…

Education and class division

Dr Elliot Major said: "This analysis shows that the school you attend at age 11 has a huge impact on your life chances, and particularly how likely you are to reach the top of your chosen profession. We are still to a large extent a society divided by wealth, with future elites groomed at particular schools and universities, while the educational opportunities available to those from non-privileged backgrounds make it much more difficult for them to reach the top."

Lee Elliot Major of the Sutton Trust, an educational charity, compared the school and university background of 500 people currently at the top of their fields with 500 similarly successful people 20 years ago.

Class and the class-room

By the age of three, children from disadvantaged homes are up to a year behind in their learning than those from more privileged backgrounds.

The Millennium Cohort Study also found large differences between children living in families above and below the poverty line.
The poorest children were 10 months behind their wealthier peers in tests of their grasp of shapes, numbers, letters and colours known as "school readiness" tests. And they were five months behind their wealthier peers in vocabulary tests.

One of the researchers, Professor Heather Joshi, said: "The advantaged children tended to be way ahead of the average and the disadvantaged children were lagging behind. If you look at the front-runners and the runner ups - there's almost a year's worth of differences."

These results will not be a surprise to education experts or government policy advisers [ Nor a surprise to the members of the Socialist Party either ] who have long known that parents' educ…

Social mobility

From The Scotsman :-

Alan Milburn, the former Labour cabinet minister who grew up in a single-parent family on a council estate, yesterday said it would be harder today for someone from a similar background to get ahead in society than it was a generation ago. Mr Milburn, a close friend of Tony Blair, said that "shamefully", Britain has become a less socially mobile society in recent years, questioning whether today's deprived children will be able to break out of poverty in adulthood.
A London School of Economics report in 2005 showed declining social mobility in Britain, with more poor children becoming poor adults, and more rich children staying rich in later life. The LSE team found that 31 per cent of boys born in 1958 in the lowest-earning group stayed there in adulthood. But that rose to 38 per cent of boys born in 1970. Also according to the LSE data, 27 per cent of British boys born in 1970 ended up in the same earnings group as their parents.