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Protect the Vote! Use it Wisely!

Why haven't we had a socialist revolution? How much longer can capitalism last? How bad must conditions get before workers take action? There has been no revolution, but rather the working class, while angry, has been mired by confusion, uncertainty and despair.

Socialism is not a predestined inevitable development. Socialism is not an automatic affair, workers as a class must play an active role in the socialist revolution. Capitalism will not vanish. It will remain until it is overthrown. And capitalism can be overthrown only as the result of class conscious mass struggle.

Promoting class conciousness, however, is no easy matter. Workers are bombarded daily in the media with capitalist propaganda. Politicians and economists obscure the capitalist roots of economic crisis and falsely predict a “recovery” after a painful period of "adjustment." And some union leaders tell workers that they need to make concessions to their exploiters instead of fighting back. Worse stil…

Nasty Nationalism

Myanmar's Muslim minority, demonised and persecuted for decades, is facing a fresh wave of violence amid media silence. Rohingya Muslims  number 1.3 million out of the country's 60 million people.

 The Oxford-educated, daughter of a General,  Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi,  characterises the waves of organised violence and  hate campaigns currently being committed by her fellow Buddhists - monks and non-monks alike - as violence of two equal sides, claims that Burmese Buddhists live in the perceived fear of the rise of great Muslim power worldwide.

The Rohingya and other Muslims make up more than 90 percent of the victims of violence, which has displaced more than 140,000 in Rakhine State. Anti-Muslim violence spread to 11 different towns elsewhere in the country, resulting in 100 Muslim deaths, displacing 12,000 Muslims, and destroying 1,300 Muslim homes and 37 Mosques. Since the 1990s, Rohingya Muslims of northern Arakan state have been confined within a web of…

The Socialist Party case for democracy

People talk incessantly about “The System”. “The System is bad”, “The System must be changed”. “Vote for me, because I am going to change The System”. What system, exactly?

The original theory of democracy envisaged popular participation in the running of affairs, what is called "participatory democracy". This is the sort of democracy the Socialist Party of Great Britain favour but we know the most we will get under capitalism is the right to vote, under more-or-less fair conditions, for who shall control political power— a minimalist form of democracy that at least provides a mechanism whereby a socialist majority could vote in socialist delegates instead of capitalist politicians. This  form of politics is an effective antidote to bureaucratism, radical in the sense that it is not simply concentrating on the issue of democracy but upon the whole concept of leadership. Socialism is not the result of blind faith, followers, or, by the same token, vanguards and leaders. Noth…

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…

We Are All Leaders

These are not times for reform and tweaking the system. Capitalism is in the process of destroying the Earth. The Socialist Party knows that no leaders are going to pull the workers into socialism. Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. Mainstream politics cannot comprehend the absence of leaders in the movement and that it is not a weakness but a strength, testifying to our determination not to be followers.

Forget about looking for leaders. What we need is a movement that rises from the people and empowers ourselves. People need to stop looking up, and start looking around. There is an old adage, if the people lead, the leaders will follow. People need organisations, and people need to come together. But by self-organisation from the root, you will find that you have got no leaders - and do not want them because you do not lead them.

A leader may say “all that our organisation…

We are all chiefs

In the previous post Socialist Courier discussed the democracy of Greece but the Iroquois tribes, before its social relations were shaped by the European colonisers, were according to Engels, perhaps even more democratic than the Greeks."There cannot be any poor or needy--the communal household and the gens know their responsibility toward the old, the sick, and those disabled in war. There is no place yet for slaves, nor, as a rule, for the subjugation of other tribes" wrote Engels.


Marx and Engels used much of the field research of the early anthropologist, Lewis Henry Morgan.
The status of women in communal societies like the Iroquois' was far higher than in class societies that followed. Among the Iroquois, a woman could dissolve her marriage simply by placing her husband's belongings outside the household door. As Gary B. Nash notes in his fascinating study of early America, Red, White, and Black: "Thus power was shared between the sexes and the European …

Socialism and Social Democracy

What is democracy? We can do no better than use the familiar explanation “It is the rule of the people, by the people, and for the people.”


When the Athenians talked about demokratia, “rule by the people” (the dêmos) they did not just mean the election of “representatives”, to rule on behalf of the electors, but actual, direct rule by every citizen. An Assembly, which actually took decisions, voted on all major issues, passed laws and voted on foreign policy. When it met, about once a week, every citizen could have his say, speaking for as long as he liked – until people got bored with his speech and pulled him off the platform.

From the study of history it is found that the public assembly of all the citizens made all important decisions. They organized the administration of the state, appointed officials and kept check on them. The public assembly of all the citizens was the government. The vast majority of officials were chosen by lot which amounted to putting names into a hat an…

Separate Scotland

The voices of millions of Scots on low and average incomes rarely being heard, according to a report by a leading Scottish think tank. The Jimmy Reid Foundation's report, Not By The People concluded: "Scotland is run by people who pay higher-rate tax and they seek advice on how to run Scotland primarily from other people who pay higher-rate tax."

 Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS teachers' union, said "This report describes a Scotland of two peoples; one runs the country, the other just lives here... Democracy is about more than simply voting twice a decade."

Although only 13% of Scots have incomes above £34,000, this group accounted for 67% of those giving evidence to committees and 71% of all appointments to public bodies.

In contrast, the 70% of Scots with incomes below the average salary of £24,500 accounted for 11% of public-sector appointments and just 3% of committee witnesses between 2007 and 2012.

The Foundation said it had deliberately er…

Royal secrets

An Amendment Bill to the original 2002 Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act proposes changing the “qualified” exemption to royal communications to an absolute exemption. Communications by the Royal Family are currently subject to a qualified Freedom of Information exemption. A qualified exemption means that a “balance of public interest” test is applied – and only where the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure can information be withheld. The qualified exemption relates to communications with the Queen, other members of the Royal Family or the royal household.

The Amendment Bill proposes to change this to create an absolute exemption for information relating to communications with Her Majesty, the heir or second in line of succession, with no requirement to consider the balance of public interest.

http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/secrecy-for-queen-s-finances-challenged-1-2347440