Sunday, January 08, 2017
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.
We ask your earnest consideration of blogs that follow, because, being of the same class, suffering the same ills that you suffer we know that only with your deliverance can we be delivered.
The means of production and distribution which you, made and which you renew and enlarge belong to the capitalists. The wealth which you produce provides, for the whole human race. Yet only part of it goes to the working class, who produce it, while the rest goes to the master class, who do not. It is plain that the more the' masters take, the less there is for you, and the, more you secure the less there remains for the masters.
What does this mean? Can it mean anything else than opposing interests? Of course it cannot. It is the interest of each class to obtain more of the wealth produced, and since the more either class gets the less there is left for the other, their interests must clash.
The capitalists admit that the more they get of the wealth produced the less is left for the workers, but they deny that there are opposing interests. They claim that the interest of both classes is to combine to produce more wealth.
We shall show presently that to produce more wealth by no means necessarily increases either the absolute or the relative portion received by the producers; But even if it were true .that the interest of both classes is to combine to produce more wealth, it ;would remain as true as ever that it would be to the interest of each to obtain the largest possible share, of the "wealth produced, and hence the class interests would still clash.
As a matter of fact, the classes do combine, willingly or unwillingly, but very effectually, to produce ever greater wealth, yet although they succeed in this, the signs of opposing interests, strikes and lock-outs, remain as glaring as ever.
It is because it is so plainly the interest of the capitalist class to do all they can to prevent the workers obtaining ownership and control of the means of production and distribution: and more of the wealth they produce, and, therefore, above all, to keep them from learning why they are poor, and how to throw off their poverty, that the latter must look only to their own class for help.
They must examine closely every message that is opposed and reviled by the masters and by their instruments and hirelings— their press, parsons, and politicians.
It is for these reasons that all workers should read this blog.
Adapted from the pamphlet Socialism.
Sunday, July 07, 2013
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 the class between the landed aristocracy (who at that time dominated political power) and the working class. However, the middle class of industrial capitalists replaced the landed aristocracy as the ruling class and the two classes merged into the capitalist class we know today. In other words, the 19th century middle class became part of the upper class and disappeared as a “middle” class. The term, however, lived on and came to be applied to civil servants, teachers and other such white-collar workers.
Having to work for an employer was how Marx defined the working class. Commodities express the amount of labor time embodied in them and that is how Marx has defined money.
The traditional division between “working class” and “middle class” implies that there is a conflict between these two groups, with the middle class being better paid, educated and housed, often at the expense of the working class. In order for the left liberal politics to maintain its appeal, the enemy had to be found, not in the abstract workings of a social system, but in the concrete everyday realities. The owning class is too remote to be tangible, and certainly too remote to be vulnerable. So the left reformers dragoon the “middle-class” into the role. Their immediate enemy is the “middle class” ie the lower /middle echelons of management, civil servants, social workers, teachers and all the other functionaries of capital. Making a supposed middle-class into an enemy is as divisive as anything dreamed up by the owning class.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
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.
Saturday, February 09, 2013
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 class societies the state does not serve everyone equally. Instead, its main efforts are directed to helping the class that rules over the economy. In capitalism, that means essentially helping the capitalist class accumulate capital, repress opposition to their exploitative rule, and legitimise all the forms in which this goes on. But to do this job well, the state has to appear legitimate in the eyes of most of its citizens, which requires above all else that its consistent bias on behalf of the capitalist ruling class be hidden from view. The flag and other patriotic symbolism are crucial to the success of this effort. Throughout, emotions play a much larger role than reason or thinking generally, and the strongest emotion evoked by patriotism is the pleasure of belonging to a cooperative social community where everyone is concerned with the fate of others. Unfortunately, the social community only exists in the shadow of an illusory community dominated by the ruling economic class and its state, where none of this applies.
Then there is a form of patriotism to which workers should adhere; it is loyalty, not to the institutions of the nation, but to the people; more precisely, to the majority of the people -- the working class -- with whom they share a common material interest. For workers today, class consciousness -- loyalty to one's class -- is patriotism. International working-class interests are the paramount interests to be served -- not those of any capitalist nation state. Without solidarity to one's class and to one's comrades. workers are helpless in the face of the ruling class's monopoly of the means of production. If workers can stick together, they can respond to employers' control of work. Solidarity between workers is therefore an essential prerequisite for success in class struggle. Class consciousness is the key to working-class victory in ending the class struggle.
Patriotism works to disguise the real differences which exist amongst people—which are differences of class and which involve irreconcilable differences of interests—and to encourage workers to identify with the institution—the state—which is the primary defender of class society. The slogan “workers of the world unite” is in part a call on proletarians to acknowledge that their home is in the company of other members of their class wherever they are to be found.
Scotland is divided into two classes -- the working class and the class of employers/investors that lives off its labour. We can wonder how a capitalist party which of course the SNP is can keep on winning all the elections. The answer often lies far less in their programs than in the flag and other patriotic symbols with which these programs come wrapped. Most workers vote against their class interests because they "love" their "country".
There are a various definitions of what class is. Many of them assign people to class groups on the basis of cultural and behavioural attributes such as dress, speech, education levels, shopping habits, and employment sector. Such concepts are fallacious in that they reduce class to a matter of choice, taste, when it is nothing of the sort. Whether you read the Sun or the Times, or whether you shop at Asda or at Sainsbury's, is entirely irrelevant. The middle class are, in reality, workers. They too have to sell their labour to a master in order to survive, and the fact that the wages of that labour may be more, or that the job may be “white collar” rather than “blue collar” is of no significance.
In essence, there are two classes: the working class and the capitalist or ruling class. What matters is your relation to capital. The working class are the vast majority of people on the planet, those who must sell their labour in order to earn a living and survive. The ruling class are, to use a rough figure, the top one-percent of society. They do not have to sell their labour or work, but instead are maintained by expropriating rent, interest, and profit from the working class who produce it. They are, in short, parasites. The bourgeoisie are united across the national divide and therefore so should we. The working class must unite to fight against attacks and refuse to be divided or distracted. This is the only way to defend the gains of the past and fight for a future society worth living in.
Working people have only one country—the planet earth. There is only one foreigner—the boss.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
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
Of course, when I moved into the place I found the reality to be just as I expected. Nearly every household is dependent on at least one wage or salary earner and so far I haven't met or even heard of a single millionaire. On the other hand, I have met people who have equally strange notions about factory workers. They presumably get their ideas (prejudices would be a better word) from the media and are quick to condemn strikes and wage demands which they imagine industrial workers indulge in every five minutes, just for the fun of it.
Obviously, different sections of the working class have false ideas about the others, but it only needs a look beneath the surface to see the essential sameness of all their lives.
Every morning from Monday to Friday, excluding holidays, I leave home at three minutes to seven. I buy my newspaper in the newsagent round the corner and stand in a shop doorway waiting for my lift to work. I get picked up about five minutes past seven and we are on our way. The streets are deserted and as we approach Eastwood Toll we, pass the big houses and the tall blocks of luxury flats which sell for around £80,000. All of them are in, darkness so the occupants must still be in bed, and' it's the same with the bungalows just along the road.
In the next ten minutes we pass through the massive Pollok council estate. There's plenty of lights burning in the houses here and lots of activity, with people walking along the streets, standing at bus stops or waiting at corners for their lifts. Most of them probably feel, like me, that it's tough having to start so early, but in an hour's time the Fenwick and Kilmarnock roads will be jammed with the cars of the salary-slaves from Newton Mearns, Whitecraigs, Williamwood and Giffnock all heading into. the city. For despite what my workmates may think, most of those who live in the big houses, luxury flats and bungalows are employees too, and the fact that they start around nine changes nothing-except that they get home in the evening an hour or two later than we do.
So there are superficial differences between these owner-occupiers and council tenants but the things they have in common are much more important. Like problems, for instance. When we read about all those redundancies in factories, shipyards and steelworks, does anyone imagine that only the shopfloor workers are involved? "White-collar" workers, right up to the highest levels of management, get the push, too. They are not immune to this (nobody is these days) and many of them live in places like Giffnock.
Just recently we noticed that Ian, one of near neighbours, was home a lot during the day and, his car was usually parked outside his house. Eventually we learned what had happened. He worked as some kind of executive (he sometimes talked about his "staff" ) in a big whiskey company, and as the trade is in the middle of its biggest slump in over fifty years his employers had "let him go".
Ian's problem now is to find a new employer. Naturally, a man in his position will look up the situations vacant columns in so-called "quality" newspapers like the Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald rather than the more "popular" Daily Record. There was a time when he could have made an appointment at the impressively titled Executive Register, but not now. The Register was closed as part of the government's economy drive so instead of a private interview in a posh office with a fitted carpet, Ian may have to go to the local Job Centre the same as anyone else.
It cannot be denied that the inhabitants of Giffnock are generally a bit better off than those in, say, Pollok. Here and there you can see an extension being built onto the back of a house or maybe double glazing being installed, but they feel the pinch just the same as workers in industry. Another neighbour, Colin, hasn't taken his family on holiday for two years. "Can't afford it", he tells me; the high interest rates which mortgage payers currently face could be the reason. There must be lots like him in Giffnock.
So some of them try to earn a bit extra just as electricians, plumbers, painters, joiners, and other workers do by taking on "homers" in their spare time. The local newsagents have some cards in their windows which demonstrate this. For example, a local man who is probably an architect will draw up plans for your new extension or garage; an accountant offers his services and someone who is "fully qualified" will provide English tuition in the evenings. In the next street there is a woman who does part-time market research. They need more cash, too.
The classified ads in the newspapers also tell a story. Some years ago the discovery of oil in the North Sea encouraged speculation that the fuel would cost next to nothing, so people in places like Giffnock rushed to have oil-fired central heating systems installed. Nowadays the rush is to convert to cheaper gas and the ads are filled with unwanted oil burners and tanks but you can't give them away. I know, I had to pay the local dustmen to get rid of mine.
The fact that many people in places like Giffnock live in better houses, do different work or earn more money than some others does not elevate them out of the working class. They still have to work for a living, worry about making ends meet, face the indignity of the sack and in one degree or another, suffer the problems created by capitalist society. This is what places them firmly in the ranks of the workers whether or not they like it or my workmates know it, and the passing of time makes it more and more evident.
Socialist Standard January 1981
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
"...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".
Thursday, July 17, 2008
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..."
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
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 compared with day workers, various studies have found.
* People who get five hours of sleep, common among night-shift workers, are 50% more likely to be obese than normal sleepers, Columbia University researchers have found. Several dozen other studies have tied sleep loss to weight gain as well.
* Women night-shift workers have higher rates of miscarriage, pre-term birth and low birth-weight babies.
* Night-shift workers show increased rates of breast (by 50%) and colon (by 35%) cancer in numerous, independent studies. And animal studies have shown that exposure to dim light during the night-time can substantially increase tumor development.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
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 you're invited to join a second board and then another and another."
James Ferguson, a former director of Stewart Ivory, holds the record for purely Scottish trusts, sitting on five boards, while Douglas McDougall, the former senior partner of Baillie Gifford, currently holds seven appointments including English trusts. [ This seems to reflect a general trend within capitalism as an American blog reports "Several studies show that those 15-20% of corporate directors who sit on two or more boards, who are called the "inner circle" of the corporate directorate, unite 80-90% of the largest corporations in the United States into a well-connected "corporate community" and that the upper class has it's own exclusive social institutions which include private schools, summer resorts and retreats, and social clubs and gatherings.]
Turnover on the boards is not as high as the industry's trade body, the Association of Investment Companies (AIC), suggests it should be.The AIC recommendation is that directors serve no more than nine years unless they show a good reason, but in practice many serve much longer. The average length of tenure of chairmen in Scotland is 10 years, and Sir William Thomson, now 67, has been on the board of British Assets Trust for 23 years. Sir Angus Grossart gave up the chairmanship of Scottish Investment Trust after 27 years, under pressure from shareholders in 2003, while Sir George Mathewson, 24 years a director of the same trust, recently stood down from two of its key committees but not from the board.
The report says: "The non-execs are paid on average between £10,000 and £20,000 a year and while the highest-paid Scottish chairman earns £63,000, most earn less than £30,000, which is not a fortune - but not bad when one considers the hours required: most boards meet formally no more than six times a year."
Friday, November 16, 2007
"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 : "Schools will always reflect society, but that does not mean they can be expected to solve all of society's problems..."
A recent study revealed children in the UK were the unhappiest of any of Europe's wealthier nations.
For our childrens' and grand-childrens' sake - Isn't it time for socialism
Friday, September 07, 2007
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.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
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
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
“You could work all day for a pittance, basically... " Tusker said.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
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 through school for a year. But an architect, with an average income £42,224, would only be parting with a bearable 23% of their earnings.The professions that could afford fees were company directors, bank managers, accountants, production managers, IT professionals, doctors, pilots, senior police officers, lawyers, architects and customer care managers.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
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 geographically segregated from the rest of society. 'Average' households (neither poor nor wealthy) have been diminishing in number and gradually disappearing from London and the south east. Poor, rich and average households became less and less likely to live next door to one another between 1970 and 2000. As both the poor and wealthy have become more and more clustered in different areas
While in another BBC report , the Centreforum research paper , Tackling Educational Inequality , wants the funds (£2.4 billion) schools in England get to teach pupils from disadvantaged homes to be doubled .
It said low attainment too often stemmed from children's backgrounds, not their abilities.
"Britain is a bastion of educational inequality," said Paul Marshall, chairman of Centreforum, an independent liberal think tank. "The die is cast at an early age and rather than recast the die, the English educational system tends steadily to reinforce the advantages of birth."
Friday, June 29, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
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' educational achievement and family income are indicators of a child's educational success.
An earlier BBC report describes that little progress has been made to close the achievement gap between rich and poor pupils . Children from poorer homes (eligible for free school meals ) are almost half as likely to get good GCSE results as pupils from richer homes .
Thursday, January 25, 2007
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