Saturday, February 02, 2013

Fainthearts Not Bravehearts

“Let's not be English, French or German anymore. Let's be European. No not European, let's be men. Let's be Humanity. All we have to do is get rid of one last piece of egocentricity - patriotism." Victor Hugo

The curse of nationalism is not new. There is always a load of myth and romanticism surrounding nationalism. Nationalism is an idea that varies in time and places which has as it central core the belief that a national population group is the most important political category, and political rights are primarily given to individuals as members of nations. Many of the areas within the UK have arguably been "nations" at some time in the past. Nationalism, for the Left is garbed in “national liberation” clothes to make it sound even more revolutionary. Nations, borders and flags indeed give people identity but that national identity is made up for reasons of power and controlling of the population that the nation state has inside its borders. For nationalists, freedom is achieved when an independent local government is established. Nationalist politics, however, cannot deliver freedom for the majority of people. The capitalist state is a structure of coercion which concentrates power in the hands of a small ruling class and despite constitutions and “rights” the state makes it impossible for the mass of the people to actively participate in the decisions which affect their conditions of life.

 Why love a country more than any another simply on the basis of the bit of soil you happen to have been born on? The only thing that matters is class, not nationality or any of the other diversions that stop the "have nots" from challenging the "haves". Whilst the "have nots" are busy feuding with each other on behalf of the "haves" they are missing the real battle.  It is the working classes who are sent to war to kill and be killed on behalf of the "haves". They are the true enemy, not the working classes of other nations. Nationalism is a politics of a frustrated local elite who seek to build support for their own class programme by arguing that class alliances and independence are the way to resolve the genuine grievances of the people. Yet the local ruling class is dependent for its economic and political survival on the maintenance on close ties with other capitalists. They accumulate wealth by relying on the multi-national corporations, who it joins in joint business ventures. We reject the idea that there is a common "national interest" between the different classes within a "nation". Their interests are in direct contradiction. The phrase "national interests" hides the interests of the ruling classes, which are against the interests of the people themselves. Nationalism is not a vehicle for the expression of the will of the majority of the people - the workers - but is instead a tool of the ruling class. It serves to distract the people from their daily misery with a romantic invention, appealing to their emotion over their intellect in order to create a myth of "national interest", in which all classes of a country have more in common than their respective foreign brethren. The realisation of an independent Scotland means the realisation of the right of the local Scottish capitalists to take power and exploit the proletariat. It is capital that will continue to dominate our political institutions in whatever form they take and capital has no country. Separatism offers precisely nothing to the working class.

The Indian poet and Asia’s first Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore wrote:

"The last sun of the century sets amidst the blood-red clouds of the West and the whirlwind of hatred.
The naked passion of the self-love of Nations, in its drunken delirium of greed, is dancing to the clash of steel and howling verses of vengeance.
The hungry self of the Nation shall burst in a violence of fury from its shameless feeding.
For it has made the world its food.
And licking it, crunching it and swallowing it in big morsels,
It swells and swells
Till in the midst of its unholy feast descends the sudden shaft of heaven piercing its heart of grossness.

Nationalism as a source of war and carnage; death, destruction and divisiveness, rather than international solidarity remains at the heart of Tagore’s poem. He said that if nationalism is something imaginary, humanity has to readjust their imagination  by extending the horizon of their mind’s eye, so that the fellowship of the species does not stop at a geographical border. The mythical image of nationalism as as a movement of pioneering, progressive, pious, peace-loving nation-building has been more than exposed. Every form of nationalism is no less aggressive or bigoted than is ever the case under a system of society where the laws of the jungle are presented as being the rules of civilised conduct. Every nation's flag is dripping with the blood of its enemies; every ruling class pays for its power in other people's lives.

The Socialist Party case against nationalism is straightforward. We do not advocate re-drawing the border. No socialist will ever fight to defend any border — we want to do away with the divisiveness of countries and states. Nationalism can never be a solution to the problems of oppression. The problem is class, not national, racial, or religious origins. As a class, workers have no country. The Scots do not own Scotland. There are two classes in society: those who possess without producing and those who produce without possessing.  Some Scottish workers identify with the aims of their rulers — they see their national identity as more important than their class identity with other workers. In this they are dangerously mistaken. Workers across the globe share a common exploitation at the hands of an increasingly global capitalist class. Nationalism means lining up with the same people who exploit them. Rather than submitting to the divide-and-rule  policy of the nation state, they should fight alongside other workers who, like them, exist to enrich the people at the top. Socialists say that a Scottish worker has more in common with an English, French or German worker than they do with their own boss. Nationalism has served as a convenient weapon of ruling elites to keep “the people” on-side. All sorts of unpleasant dictatorships have stirred up nationalist fervour to prop themselves up. We seek to do away with artificial boundaries and borders. The world will not be divided into countries by lines drawn on a map by capitalists to mark out their property. Our vision for a free society is that of a working class revolution which can finally uproot and defeat capitalism which brings not only exploitation but alienation too. Our goal is the humanisation of the economic system. We condemn the capitalist system where it must always be "You or I" and rarely "You and I".

We advocate class war and declare that the capitalist can never have interests in harmony with the worker. We hold up socialism as the only hope of the workers.
“Its coming yet for a’ that"

Thursday, January 31, 2013


From time to time news filters down to us mere mortals what gigantic incomes are enjoyed by the owning class. A recent example was the case of Richard Handler, chief executive of Jefferies International the investment bank. "In a report filed with the SEC, the investment bank revealed the former junk bond trader was paid £19 million, comprising a base salary of £1 million, a cash bonus of £5 million and £13 million in stock. ..... Mr Handler still trails Lloyd Blankfein, of Goldman Sachs, who was paid £21 million last year." (Times, 30 January) These vast incomes are being enjoyed by a tiny minority whilst millions of people are trying to survive on $2 a day. RD

We need a need-based health service

The NHS is failing to provide needs-based care in areas of blanket deprivation, GPs working in Scotland's poorest areas will tell MSPs. The GPs from The Deep End group, which represents 100 practices in the poorest parts of the country are expected to warn that the health service's approach is a "recipe for widening health inequality" when they appear before the Public Audit Committee.

The report warned that the distribution of GPs in Scotland does not reflect the higher levels of poor health and greater need in poorer areas and that "deep-seated inequalities remain between the least and most deprived communities" despite research showing higher rates of multimorbidity (more than one chronic medical condition) in patients from the most deprived areas.

This, combined with "dysfunctional links between general practice and other parts of the NHS", is "a partial explanation of 20 years of failure in addressing inequalities in health. The GPs called for more time for doctors seeing patients in deprived communities, as well as better integration with other services such as social work and addiction services. "The focus should be on sustainable development, with an emphasis on continuity and the productive power of long-term relationships."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Great Lamb Robbery

The NFU of England and Wales has highlighted  that while farm-gate prices have dropped by nearly one- quarter, and wholesale prices for UK legs of lamb are down by 17%, prices in the shops for UK product have only fallen by 2% in the same time period. Figures also show the wholesale price of New Zealand lamb has dropped by 23% (year on year), and yet the retail price for consumers has only come down 12% in the same period.

Are the supermarkets thinking it's better to be hung for a sheep than for lamb in their profiteering?

Struggling Scots

It is not independence most Scot are struggling for - it is to pay their bills.

One in six Scots households are raiding their savings to pay for day-to-day living expenses as they struggle to cope with higher utility, food and fuel bills in the face of another year of frozen wage packets. Almost half of people have admitted in a new poll to regularly delving into their savings last year, with one-third unable to put any money aside in 2012.

 40% of private-sector workers were given a freeze in their 2012 pay settlements. 250,000 council workers are due to see their wages go up by just 1% in April, ending a two-year freeze.

Citizens Advice Scotland  chief executive Margaret Lynch said: "This report shows the grim reality of what life is like for Scotland's families in today's economy...The economic equation is simple: basic living costs are going up all the time while household incomes are frozen, or falling. So people are struggling just to pay for the essentials in life – things like rent or mortgage, fuel and food."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Some Poetry by Langston Hughes


The ivory gods,
And the ebony gods,
And the gods of diamonds and jade,
Sit silently on their temple shelves
While the people
Are afraid.
Yet the ivory gods.
And the ebony gods,
And the gods of diamond-jade,
Are only silly puppet gods
That the people themselves
Have made.

I Dream A World

I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom's way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Rid, Rid Rotten Revue show

This legendary show put on by the Glasgow branch of the Socialist Party back in the early/mid 1980s, has now been transferred from tape cassette to digital and can be accessed following the links below. The venue was The Admiral Bar. It was a 'revue' show, described as "An evening of music, songs, sketches and humour, and just a wee bit of social comment." It's all very skilfully joined together by the Master of Ceremonies, Richard Donnelly.

Peter Ross, a contemporary of a young Billy Connolly and worked with him in his pre-comedy days, plays guitar and sings.

The files have been uploaded to a site called 'DropBox', but you don't have to be a member to access them - they are publicly available to anyone with the correct web address:

The MP3 digital file for Side A can be played or downloaded from Side B is at

Alternatively, there's a link for each individual song/sketch etc.

If you click on:
this opens up all 23 tracks and a note file with track info on it. You can choose to download each one individually, or do the whole lot in one download as a 'zip' file.

Here's the track listings
01 Introduction Dick Donnelly
02 The Red, Red, Rotten Revue Peter Ross
03 That's Why the Worker is a Slave Hughie Armstrong
04 The News at Ten Terry Ross
05 Survivors Terry and Ken
06 Knocking at Heaven's Door Hughie and Dick
07 Going up to Heaven Peter Ross
08 Pie in the Sky Peter Ross
09 Flash Harry Vic Vanni
10 What a Swell Party Hughie Armstrong
11 Introduction Dick Donnelly
12 Ah Wis Like That... Ken, Hughie, Ian, Campbell & Terry
13 Tra-la-la, twiddle-dee dee-dee Peter Ross
14 Drinking Doubles Peter Ross
15 The Craven Vic Vanni
16 You're a Worker... Peter Ross
17 Unemployment Blues Peter Ross
18 The Ultimate Nationalist Hughie Armstrong
19 Home Rule for Govan Peter Ross
20 A Lass in Plunderland Terry
21 Boring Employment Hughie Armstrong
22 The Red, Red, Rotten Revue (Reprise) Peter Ross
23 Closing Comments Dick Donnelly


Products like iPads and iPhones may seem modern and attractive but behind their manufacture lies the usual capitalist tale of exploitation. 'Apple has discovered multiple cases of child labour in its supply chain ...... An internal audit found a flipside to the western consumer's insatiable thirst for innovative and competitively priced gadgets. It uncovered 106 cases of underage labour being used at Apple suppliers last year and 70 cases historically. The report follows a series of worker suicides over working conditions at Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that assembles must-have products such as the iPad and iPhone, and lethal explosions at other plants. (Guardian, 25 January) Child labour, lethal explosions and suicide -hardly "modern and attractive" is it? RD

Nice Norway

"If you look around the world, I think there are more or less decent societies. Norway is pretty decent in many ways." Chomsky said in an interview.

It is all a matter of degree. But we should not look at capitalist countries with rose-tinted glasses.

We read:
The Norwegian government's pension fund, which invests its huge oil income in more than 7,500 companies in 46 countries and is worth about £250bn. Its portfolio is more like a dirty list of the world's worst corporations, including numerous oil, mining and agribusiness corporations criticised for their human rights record and environmental impacts. The fund also invests in half a dozen tax havens and numerous Israeli and other companies accused of contributing to the occupation of Palestinian territories.

Norway's StatoilHydro, 67% owned by the government, operates in several countries accused of corruption and dire human rights records, such as Azerbaijan, Angola, Iran and Nigeria, and is eyeing up Iraq. Ministers have been speaking openly about reorienting Norwegian diplomacy to push into new oil markets such as Saudi Arabia.

On the environment, Norway's benign image is also removed from reality. True, nearly all domestic electricity comes from hydroelectric plants and Norway was one of the first to adopt a carbon tax to address global warming, in 1991. Yet with 0.1% of the world's population, Norway emits 0.3% of greenhouse gas emissions; if oil exports are included, the figure may be about 2%. The government is committed to making Norway carbon neutral by 2050, yet this will partly be achieved by buying carbon reductions in other countries, not reducing to zero Norway's own emissions.

Norwegian arms exports – little known outside the country – are booming. Although amounting to 0.1 per cent of world arms exports, Norway's weapons sales have tripled since 2000, reaching £336m worth in 2007. Norwegian arms were used by the US and Britain during the invasion of Iraq while a lack of controls in Oslo have allowed high explosives sold to the US to be re-exported to Israel for use in the occupied territories.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Whenever capitalist politicians find themselves in an economic crisis they always look for ways to cut government expenditure. They do so without recourse to their favourite electioneering ideas of "fairness" or "social justice". 'The squeeze on tax credits and benefits will push 200,000 more children into poverty, the government has admitted for the first time. This suggests that in total a million extra children will be in poverty as a result of government welfare measures. The extra 200,000 children in poverty is a result of the government's decision to lift most in-work and out-of-work benefits by only 1% a year over the next three years, instead of increasing them in line with inflation.' (Guardian 17 January) Once again it is the needy and vulnerable who suffer in capitalism's economic downturns. RD


Politicians love to paint a picture of a Britain where the majority of people live deeply satisfying lifes, but recent statistics would seem to show a less than cheerful existence for millions of the population.'Almost 30% of people in Britain are unable to afford even a week's annual holiday, up from less than a quarter before the financial crisis, according to an analysis by the Office for National Statistics, which reveals the day-to-day struggle facing many families. The finding is part of a wider report comparing levels of poverty and social exclusion across the UK and the rest of the European Union. More than a fifth of the population – 22.7%, or 14 million people – were considered "at risk of poverty or social exclusion" in 2011, the latest year for which data is available.' (Guardian 16 January) RD

Exploiting nature

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has approved a scheme by Scottish Coal to empty Loch Fitty, near Dunfermline in Fife, to dig up 3.4 million tonnes of coal from underneath its bed. Sepa's experts initially warned the plan would have a negative impact on people and the water environment. But internal emails show their initial advice was revised to make it more favourable to the development, at the request of senior managers.

"This looks like a desperate attempt by Scottish Coal to generate extra profits by ripping out every last ounce of coal from beneath Fife that it can," said Lang Banks, the director of WWF Scotland.

Existing mines are running out of coal, so Scottish Coal is anxious to extend them or dig new sites to meet the demand for coal to burn in power stations like Longannet on the Firth of Forth.

The Tyranny of Work

The mental health of Scottish workers is being put at risk thanks to the "relentless pressure" of management systems meant to increase their productivity. Unions and researchers claim workers have suffered extreme stress, depression and in a few cases threatened suicide.  Austerity has allowed some firms to use management techniques to make their staff's lives a misery.

The impact on the mental health of employees was highlighted in the report Performance Management And The New Workplace Tyranny. Phil Taylor, professor of work and employment studies at the university in Glasgow, carried out the research.  He said performance management had evolved into a "continuous, all-encompassing" process of "tight monitoring and strict target compliance".

Taylor said: "Many who have been in the workplace for 10, 15, 20 years, talk with great pain about how the workplace they joined has been transformed beyond all recognition over those decades and the aspects of work that gave them a degree of happiness or satisfaction – such as talking to colleagues, satisfying customers or doing a good job – have been subordinated to the pressure of targets. That is a genuine degradation: people shouldn't have to work like this. You are only as good as your last score, and you can have people who have been utterly loyal and committed to an organisation and excellent performers, then being thrust into the underperformance camp. That can exacerbate feelings of pressure and can lead to stress, which compounds the difficulties of actually doing the work and makes it difficult to get out of that category."

Mary Alexander, deputy regional secretary of Unite in Scotland, said an example from the financial industry showed it could take as little as six weeks from being put on a performance improvement process to being fired. She said, sales targets which were being set were often "not achievable and unrealistic".

Dr Andrew Fraser, director of public health science at NHS Health Scotland said: "We know that a tough and unsupportive working environment, and specifically workplace bullying and harassment can have a negative impact on a person's mental health and that, as a result of sustained bullying, some people may experience stress and anxiety. If that experience is sustained and not addressed by management at all levels, workplace stress may lead to depression which is a major risk factor for suicide." 

Meanwhile another report  reveals than more than 500 Scottish construction workers were blacklisted for jobs because of union activity. Personal details about 3213 workers were discovered at a Worcestershire-based firm called The Consulting Association. The files were used by more than 40 firms including Balfour Beatty, Robert McAlpine, Laing O'Rourke and Costain to check the backgrounds of potential workers. On the list are 142 workers from Glasgow, Clydebank and Dumbarton, 53 from Ayrshire, 51 from Edinburgh, and 28 from Aberdeen.

 The Consulting Association had links with police and security services. Construction industry directors were addressed by a "key officer" from the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit (Netcu), a Huntingdon-based police organisation set up to counter "extremist" protest groups.

Quote of the day

Anthony Seldon, headmaster of Wellington College, complains that his pupils are suffering unreasonable discrimination. He claimed there are 62 pupils at Wellington bright enough to get an Oxbridge interview this year, but said he only expects 20 offers of places to come in.
He said: “From our perspective it looks as if some public school students are being discriminated against"

The rich seem to think their offspring are entitled to a place at the Oxbridge

Saturday, January 26, 2013


For more than 25 years Cardinal Roger M. Mahony served the Roman Catholic Church in Los Angeles, but his retiral nearly 2 years ago is hardly likely to be a peaceful one. 'Internal church personnel files released this week as part of a civil court case reveal that he and his top adviser knowingly shielded priests accused of child sexual abuse from law enforcement. ...... Lawyers for the Los Angeles Archdiocese fought for years to prevent the release of the files, but a demand for transparency was a primary goal of the more than 500 victims of clergy abuse who signed a record settlement for $660 million with the archdiocese in July 2007. When a judge ordered the files to be made public despite the church's objections, the archdiocese fought to be allowed to redact names and identifying details. But it recently lost that battle and now awaits an imminent cascade of 30,000 more documents that could further tarnish Cardinal Mahony's legacy.' (New York Times, 22 January) The Roman Catholic Church like other institutions inside capitalism may speak movingly about honour and morality but in practice they are prepared to spend $660 million to keep their child abuse secret. RD


Socialists are scorned by the "practical" people who want to deal with capitalism's problems one by one in a series of reforms of capitalism instead of getting rid of the whole system. Here is a recent example. 'A coalition of 100 UK development charities and faith groups will on Wednesday launch a major campaign to lobby David Cameron, the prime minister, to use Britain's presidency of the G8 to leverage action on ending global hunger. The If campaign is the largest coalition of its kind since Make Poverty History in 2005, the last time Britain held the G8 presidency. ..... In a report published to coincide with the launch, Enough Food for Everyone If, campaigners estimate that 28% of children in developing countries are underweight or stunted.' (Guardian, 23 January) The report goes on to say that at present "one in eight people go to bed hungry every night, and each year 2.3 million children die from malnutrition." This is the result of "practical" solutions. RD

Who owns the North Pole - part 56

 The white wilderness' black plague

The Arctic is changing at a breathtaking pace, which has oil and gas companies flocking to the region. Thawing sea ice and improved technology is opening up the race for natural resource exploration in the Arctic Circle, home to nearly a quarter of the world's untapped oil reserves. Natural resources that will become much more accessible when the Arctic ice melts are of critical importance. International oil companies are racing to develop new oilfields in the Arctic.

China is hungry for natural resources, and the Arctic is home to a wealth of them. Beijing insists that its interest in the region is first and foremost for research purposes, that the Arctic can help shed light on climate change, that it offers useful shipping routes, and so on and so forth. Beijing would also welcome a chance to be granted observer status on the Arctic Council. At a conference in Tromsø, the Chinese ambassador to Norway resorted to a linguistic slight of hand to justify his country's focus on the Artic region: Northeastern China, Zhao explained, stretches almost to 50 degrees north latitude, making his country what he called "a near-Arctic state." According to that logic, the German island of Sylt, which lies at 54 degrees north latitude, could also be described as "near-Arctic" -- but no one would.

Chinese companies have understood that although oil and gas from the Arctic could make a long-term contribution to the country's energy supply, it won't come cheap. China will have to "play by the rules of capitalism." China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) wants to acquire its Canadian competitor Nexen, but the deal first has to be approved by US authorities. Beijing's raw-materials managers are also eyeing Greenland. Just outside the capital, Nuuk, a British company has teamed up with Chinese financiers to develop a giant iron ore mine. Over 2,300 Chinese workers will be employed here, boosting the island's population by 4 percent. The total investment will be around €1.7 billion.  Chinese investment in Greenland's mining sector would be as welcome as investment from any other country. "China is all over the world. It is no surprise that they are also interested in Greenland's resources," said Sara Olsvig is a member of the Danish parliament who represents a separatist party in Greenland.

Norway's new Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide declared that "the Arctic is not special in legal terms; it is just an ocean." The Antarctic is protected by a special treaty. "Some people have the misconception that the Arctic is similar to the Antarctic, a common heritage of mankind. But whilst the Antarctic is a continent, the Arctic is an ocean. And it is governed by the law of the sea. It is an area of opportunity."  The fate of the Arctic affects the whole planet. Yet Norways minister insists "We need no specific rules like the ones that apply to Antarctica. The Arctic is not something completely unique compared to other waters."

For the Danes, European Union solidarity ends at the Arctic Circle. Countries like Germany are only welcome as "guests," say Danish polar strategists. Diplomats from Finland, Iceland and Sweden are upset; indigenous groups are furious. Five countries bordering the Arctic Ocean are meet behind closed doors to discuss the region's future. Many of those who have interests in the Arctic are not invited. "This is our homeland, why shouldn't we have a say?" asked Gunn-Britt Retter, a Norwegian who defends the interests of the Sami people in the Arctic Council. Members of the Inuit Circumpolar Council are also displeased.

 The Arctic Council produced a carefully crafted diplomatic text. the existing legal framework "provides a solid foundation for responsible management by the five coastal States." The statement also emphasized that "We ... see no need to develop a new comprehensive international legal regime to govern the Arctic Ocean."  The Arctic Council use scientific data and the somewhat vague rules of international law to increase and extend their influence. Outside investors need legal security, and to know that the agreements they enter into won't suddenly lose their validity.

"We are witnessing a unique historical situation,"
says Rüdiger Gerdes, a physicist studying sea ice at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, in Bremerhaven, Germany. "As new ocean territory opens, it awakens new greed."

 "Around the Arctic there is neither the technology nor the capacity to respond to oil accidents,"
says Alexander Shestakov, the head of the WWF Arctic Program. "That isn't just the opinion of an environmental organization, it's an acknowledged fact." Environmental protection has never been a high priority for Russian strategists, who see the energy sector as the instrument Moscow can use to cement its position as a world power. For decades, Moscow ignored environmental degradation above the Arctic Circle. Putin has promised to adhere to "strict environmental guidelines," but just how little these assurances mean can be seen in the pioneering project at the Prirazlomnoye oilfield. If an accident occurred here, the platform's crew would be left completely to its own devices, with the closest rescue team stationed 1,000 kilometers away in the Barents Sea port city of Murmansk. Gazprom Neft Shelf is the Gazprom subsidiary that holds the license for the Prirazlomnoye oilfield, and its emergency plan for handling potential environmental damages currently consists of three axes, 25 buckets, 15 shovels, 15 rakes and two all-terrain vehicles. The drilling platform's insurance against environmental damage amounts to a laughable €180,000. In December 2011, a mobile drilling platform called Kolskaya sank in the Sea of Okhotsk, 200 kilometers off the coast of Sakhalin island, while being towed by an icebreaker. Gazflot, another Gazprom subsidiary, had been using the platform outside of the approved season. With 53 of the 67 crew members on the rig declared dead or missing in the icy sea, it was the largest number of causalities that an accident in the Russian oil sector has seen. According to state-run regulatory authorities, pipelines here in the world's largest country burst at over 25,000 locations each year. Greenpeace estimates this leads to leaks of 5 million tons of oil -- seven times the amount that flowed into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil platform. Snowmelt here in spring and rain in summer wash around 500,000 metric tons of oil into the region's major rivers and then into the Arctic Ocean.

"The companies would rather pay the laughably low fines,"
Greenpeace activist Roman Dolgov says. When Greenpeace reported 14 oil spills in Komi last year, Russia's environmental authorities fined Lukoil, a company with annual sales of €80 billion, a total penalty equivalent to €27,500.

Yekaterina Dyakova, a biology teacher at the village of Ust-Usa said "Everywhere else, oil is seen as black gold," she adds. "For us, it's the black plague."

Once the villagers drank the water from the river, but to do so now could be fatal. In between the rainbow-colored streaks of oil, pale foam floats toward the Arctic. A doctor has kept records of patients' medical histories in Ust-Usa and the surrounding villages. The incidence of cancer is 50 percent higher than it was in 2000, and children and teenagers suffer from respiratory illnesses twice as often. Few men in these villages ever reach retirement age. Average life expectancy here is 58, compared to a national average of 70.

Scottish Nationalism

Due to a broken link Socialist Courier is re-posting Vic Vanni's 1975 articles on the history of Scottish nationalism

Scottish Nationalism

Nationalists believe that all classes in society should hold allegiance to "The Nation". Socialists do not and point out how nations have always been the creation of a ruling group having nothing to do with working-class interests.

What is a nation? It is simply the people and the territory which have been appropriated by a class of robbers at some point in history. It has less to do with a common language, religion, race, culture, and all the other things which nationalists imagine or pretend are essential ingredients in the making of nations.

This is certainly true of Scotland and far from having a common history or anything else the population there are mainly the descendants of native Picts, invaders from Ireland (the original Scots), Western Europe and Scandinavia. After centuries of what were really tribal wars the whole land came under one king by the middle of the ninth century and the nation was born –by the coercion of the people and in the interests of a class of bandit chieftains.

Right up until the union of the Scottish and English crowns in 1707 there were really two distinct nations in Scotland. The Highlanders  spoke Gaelic and had a culture (way of life) very different from that of the dialect-English speaking Lowlanders. Indeed

“In rural districts, the Scottish dialect or dialects was barely intelligible even to a Scot of another district”
(James G. Kellas. Modern Scotland –the Nation Since1870. p. 7)

So the nationalist idea of a once united Scotland is just a myth. Yet no one can deny that despite over two hundred years of Scotland's incorporation within the United Kingdom most Scots feel themselves to be part of a separate nation. This can be explained by the fact that the Act of Union allowed Scotland to retain its own law, religion, and education system thus ensuring the continuation of national identity.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Socialists used to say that the perfect worker from the standpoint of an employer would be one who left school, worked two nights and a Sunday for fifty years and then dropped dead on the first day he went to collect his old age pension. If that seems a bit cynical then you haven't heard about this Japanese politician. 'Japan's new finance minister has claimed that the elderly should 'hurry up and die' to help ease the cost to the taxpayer of caring for them, it has emerged. Taro Aso made the controversial statement as he discussed how to deal with the country's emerging demographic crisis as its population continues to shrink while life expectancy soars.' (Daily Mail, 22 January) RD


Researchers found that patients were almost 10% more likely to die when there were fewer medically-trained staff available. 'It is thought that those being treated in overstretched hospitals are more prone to developing fatal complications and infections because they are not properly monitored. The study from the University of Southampton and Imperial College London looked at almost 70 million records of patients who had surgery between 1997 and 2009. .....They found that across the NHS every year around 28,000 patients died as a result of complications which might potentially have been cured, the Daily Mail reported.' (Daily Telegraph, 22 January) The alternatives seem very clear - be a member of the owning class and get the best possible health care or be a member of the working class and risk the chance of death because of possible lack of staff. RD