Friday, January 08, 2016

De omnibus dubitandum

 Compilation of comments from the Guardian placed by Wee Matt

"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles."

 Marx and Engels are spot on there. Marx saw the struggle of the bourgeoisie to win power from the landed aristocracy as inevitable. It heralded, not just the birth of capitalism, but its assumption of power as an economic and political class, which would in turn help develop the forces of production changing them from the small handyman craft productive systems into the socialised production methods with a skilled educated workforce, however unconsciously this heralded the possibility, that they may be eventually captured by the subject wealth producer working class. Now, we workers, run capitalism from top-to-bottom. A free access society of common ownership and democratic control has been possible since the start of the 20th century. A change of ownership from elites, individuals, corporations, states, to common ownership, is a simple matter of changing political awareness and consciousness to this end, as in the ultimate self-interest, of all of humanity.

 As a preview of globalisation and a snapshot of methods applied to get there, Marx had this to say:
"...And whereas in the sixteenth century, and partly still in the seventeenth, the sudden expansion of trade and the creation of a new world market had an overwhelming influence on the defeat of the old mode of production and the rise of the capitalist mode, this happened in reverse on the basis of the capitalist mode of production, once it had been created. The world market itself forms the basis for this mode of production. On the other hand, the immanent need that this has to produce on an ever greater scale drives it to the constant expansion of the world market, so that now it not trade that revolutionizes industry, but rather industry that constantly revolutionizes trade. Moreover, commercial supremacy is now linked with greater or lesser prevalence of the conditioned for large-scale industry…. In India, moreover, the English applied their direct political and economic power, as masters and landlords, to destroying these small economic communities." (Capital Vol.3)

 On the franchise, in 1879 Marx commented:
"The point was not to pursue the franchise as though it were a Workers' Holy Grail, but to transform it from the institute of fraud . . . into an instrument of emancipation"
"We cannot, therefore, co-operate with people who openly state that the workers are too uneducated to emancipate themselves"

 Marx's analysis of capitalism is acknowledged, even by some conservatives, who do not agree with his conclusions as influential, formative, groundbreaking, pioneering, original, creative, innovative works. He was never meant to be read uncritically. His favourite aphorism was, "de dubitas dubitandum" (doubt everything).

 The notion that inequalities can be legislated away is a fanciful one. Inequality is a prerequisite for the exploitation of waged slaves. Exploitation takes place at the point of production in order to satisfy the needs of the parasite capitalist class to Accumulate! Accumulate! Supply and demand are artificially induced by inequality inbuilt into the system.  Workers 'never' receive the value of their commodity (labour power). So true demand never equates with actual human needs, only with purchasing power. Production is turned off, before needs can be met in the interests of the profit of the parasite class, who individually, corporately, collectively and through state control in state-capitalist command economies, own the means of production and distribution. All wealth flows from labour. Capital (stolen surplus-value in a rigged market) is an encumbrance upon the satisfaction of human needs, as the needs of Capital require the exploitation of the majority along with attendant war, policing and the curtailment of freedom to be available for exploitative waged slavery upon pain of penury.

 Socialism is a post-capitalist world which indeed may be one of a superabundance of the necessities of living a useful and productive life free from wage-slavery, poverty, the booms, busts, wars and other attendant social ills of capitalism. “We'll look after you cradle to the grave,” was the promise of the capitalist class to the wage-slaves. They can’t afford that and we can't afford them. Don't settle for crumbs. Inequality has nothing all to do with immigration.

 Workers from the UK work elsewhere in the world including the E.U. The capitalist class as a whole supports the free movement of labour, if and when profitable, except when this proves unpopular, but it can then be used by their political opportunists and lackeys to scapegoat my fellow workers, rather than the instigators of the poverty and terror they flee from. We all have more in common with fellow workers worldwide than any of our home-grown capitalist economic blood-sucking class.

 Inequality is an essential component of capitalism in order that we are subject to waged slavery to enrich the parasite capitalist class. It is the capitalist class of social leeches who are the enemy and not our fellow workers from overseas or at home. The poor are the essential part of creating the wealth for the rich. It is from labour that all wealth is derived. Capitalism cannot be reformed in any lasting way. To remove the blight of poverty disease and war from the planet we must hasten, the introduction of common ownership and democratic control of production and distribution.

 There is no middle class. The middle class were the rising mercantile class and industrialists who became the upper class as they merged with the aristocrats and landowners in 19th and very early 20th century. The common perception of higher paid, white collar workers, academics, doctors, scientists etc. as constituting a 'middle' class with interests separate from other workers is a false one in general economic and political interest terms. 'Intellectuals' are just as likely to be and identify themselves as, working class. That they 'have to' sell their 'mental and physical' energies for a wage or a salary is a determination of their actual class position, even if they are falsely categorised within a mystical middle class category. Marx learned his socialism from the workers already organised for it and drew his lessons from the actuality of the slaughter of those workers.

 Taxation more or less, government spending more or less, is essentially an argument between small-fry tiddler capitalists losers, too irrelevant for to be swallowed up by, bigger fish capitalists winners with the ear of government, who would hope to be swallowed up by conglomerate sharks, the latter two being the vested interests capitalist governments listen to and of course, the masters of war. If one 'has to' work for a wage or salary, even if one sends young Dimkins to a private school and owns a dwelling with or without a mortgage, we have more interests in common with workers worldwide than with the local regional or global capitalist class.

 'We' the public at large, do not sponsor the state, except in local community charges and VAT through taxation. It is the capitalist class as a whole from their profits who sponsor the state. It is precisely because of the dominant interests of the capitalist class as a whole, the state cannot be reformed to represent a common interests of 'We'. That this assent to be governed 'over' has to be won in a bourgeois democracy via an extended franchised plebiscite, (won through trade unions and political struggle) only makes it a necessity for the P.R. pretence that we share a common purpose vis-a-vis taxation and the like. It is a manipulated delusion, that taxation should be a concern of the vast majority, which disguises the real interests of those ruling groups, upon whose interests governments govern over us. Your employer pays all of it, as it is deducted before you receive it. Your wage/salary IS the bottom line. If by government magic the 'nominal' tax you pay was removed your wage/salary ration would be reduced, as this would mean an increase in the bottom line and the employer won't pay twice for the upkeep of their government and give you a rise. The adjustment is to ensure if you are single, unmarried etc. you don't get the same ration as someone with kids (future wage-slaves) to support etc.

 Who sponsors the state? The capitalist class. Many are obsessed with the incorrect idea that the state and its government is an independent entity. The state springs up from the interests of dominant ruling class groups, from the days of kings and princes, to the rise of the merchant adventurers and then the capitalist class, now global in their reach to ensure the best governments money can buy. The state Genie is out of the bottle and it is now a local, regional and global capitalist one. You cannot tame it, or put it back in the bottle and retain wage slavery, with production for sale on the market. The state and government 'over' the people will not cease to exist until those states are captured by the worlds workers to prevent bloodshed, the last great emancipation, that of the wage slaves and the world is owned in common as true social and economic equals, in a class free , access free, wage- slavery free society and thus the dominant capitalist class and economic interests groups cease to exist as a class, as all of our interests will then be in common, to produce for use according to our capacity and access according to our needs. The state and governments will be redundant in the moneyless classless society.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Capitalism is our prison

Scotland’s jail population is 7894, comprising around 7462 men and 432 women.

West Dunbartonshire has one of the worst prison rates in Scotland, a new report reveals. The number of adults hailing from the Dumbarton, Alexandria and Clydebank areas who are banged up behind bars is 48 percent higher than the national average.

The local authority area contains the third highest prison level in the country with 265 prisoners per 100,000 people, compared to only 179 per 100,000 across Scotland.

However, West Dunbartonshire’s incarceration rate per 100,000 in adult population lags behind worst place Dundee and second worst Glasgow. The statistics, based on 2013 occupancy rates, reveal that the majority of prisoners are male — 184 men and young males compared to just 12 female.

The study flags up a strong link between jail population and area deprivation. West Dunbartonshire is frequently ranked among the most poverty-blighted areas in Scotland. Between 22 percent and 26 percent of the area’s children and young people are currently living in poverty, while 23 percent of families in West Dunbartonshire are materially deprived.

“Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind then that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; and while there is a criminal element, I am of it; and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” Eugene V Debs

Common ownership is 'no' ownership.

Comments from the Guardian placed by Wee Matt

Democracy within capitalism serves elitist capitalist ends, i.e. springing from bourgeois democracy, which is constrained by the reinforced illusion, that 'business friendly' political parties, whether, Left, Right, Centrist, Green, Purple, Blue, Red, or Tartan necessitate the retention of unequal relations of production and distribution, through the retention of production for sale on a market with a view of realising profit for a minority class who enjoy a parasitic relationship to the production of a wage enslaved majority. The cliched analogy of "turkeys being allowed to vote for an alternative Christmas", which will still have the same outcomes springs to mind.

 That the capitalist class have different agendas is true, we have commercial versus industrial capitalists, local versus regional or global capitalist interests. That they compete against each other is true, even globally, unto war, hence the rise of governments to adjudicate upon and manage those different interests and maintain a regulated framework, for the collective 'capitalist' modus operandi. When we have a slump in trade globally, as at present, caused by the anarchy of the capitalist markets, which entails they go hell for leather to satisfy market demand, but crash when demand slackens, with unsaleable commodities and over extended debt, these rivalries come to the fore, but there is at the same time opportunities to carve out market niches, while driving down the rations of workers.

 Capitalist democracy is a sham. A growing awareness by the immense majority to the fact that, capitalism cannot be reformed and has to be replaced, by a post-capitalist, production for use, free access society without elites or governments, will see this same oppositionalism and consequent entrenchment of the ruling classes and a subsequent mislabeling and traducing of the growing politically aware majority until it becomes an unstoppable force, as nothing will stop an idea which time has come. It matters not if the new post-capitalist, democratic, free access, society is called socialism, communism, anarcho-communism or macaroni. "What is in a name a rose by any other name would smell as sweet". Marxism is not an ideology, but rather an analytical tool. Even Marx himself was said to have stated,"Thank heaven I am not a Marxist".

 The Socialist Party won't settle for crumbs from the rich war-mongering, leeching capitalist’s table. We want a post-capitalist, free access society. We want the whole world and everything in and on it, to be owned in common and controlled democratically, by the whole world’s population with wage slavery abolished forever. Who are we? The bottom line of your pay-slip is the wage you are paid not the nominal tax added to it. The Welfare State sprung out of the promises of successive governments to build a land fit for heroes made during the world wars and is a cost on employers, which must be borne by business, to keep an adequate supply of wage-slaves for present and future exploitation and of course, to prevent social unrest.

  Socialism is where we are truly social equals, free from fear of penury to develop further our understanding of our human condition. We are not speaking of a society such as the present one where production is rationed with production of commodities for sale on a market for a profit, leading to scarcity, with potentially rewarding outcomes for hoarding, there will be no elites controlling access etc. A post-capitalist world is also at the same time a post-scarcity one, as production for use, leads to the production of surpluses, as production is not switched off before needs are met, due to a fall in artificial demand via price mechanisms as at present.

 Relative to the present day then, there will be a superabundance of necessities. Greed and hoarding would be seen as silly. We would not need to change a person’s behaviour because that person needs first to understand that the world is experienced as phenomena, not objects, and that objects cannot provide happiness because objects are not identical with phenomena. i.e. that happiness is profoundly contingent. Thus we will be able to access all needs freely, without hindrance according to our 'self-determined' needs, operating upon the maxim of "From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs". A new sort of social behaviour will arise out of the implementation of the new society and new challenges. The idea is that, with the full development of socialism and unfettered productive forces, there will be enough to satisfy everyone's needs.

 If we do not learn the lessons of history we are doomed to repeat it. There is also a point we need to see and take this on board, about emergent elites or vanguards. The S.P.G.B. eschew leadership, for this reason. All previous revolutions have been minority ones and led by elites. We are talking of a majority revolution, such as the world has never seen. A democratic expression of a majority, who are and have become, politically aware and conscious of the aims and outcomes. Common ownership is effectively 'no' ownership. We will all own and share resources. With free access as a consequence.

 There is already a class struggle going on? The capitalists know full well they constitute a class in and for itself. A war on the poorest, is just but one aspect of it, with workers against workers also, enlisted to do battle on their masters behalf, to determine, deserving as opposed to undeserving recipients of poverty relief, to distract them from their own relationship to the phenomenal wealth, which they collectively produce for the minority ruling class. This in turn raises questions and possibilities of consciousness raising as the political debate ensues. We cannot get away from the class struggle, if we wish to establish a classless society.

 The capture of power of the State initially, is to render it innocuous. The State has to cease to be an administration over 'people' and become, shorn of its oppressive functions and apparatus, as there would be no longer any ruling class, elite interests, become an administration over 'things'. There are useful potential functions, we want doctors and airline pilots to be accredited in some accountable way. There would also be some world bodies capable of co-ordination stuff in an epidemic or a natural disaster to our brothers and sisters, the equivalent of the W.H.O. for instance. The forms and norms of everyday society would be in our own hands to develop, locally, regionally, globally as we extended functional decision making, where necessary over into recallable delegated bodies, free of the possibility of these becoming decision making functions 'over' the populace, as vested interests would not be able to arise to prevail, in a commonly owned production for use society with free access to the common wealth.

 The discussions on what forms the 'post-capitalist' world will take are already ongoing, as we see others, apart from people like myself even beginning to use this term  post-capitalism. This arises from the crisis of production, the possibilities of automation, a web of cooperatives and shared endeavours in the systems and software technology, alerting us to the possibility of self-regulated stock control, accounting in kind and no more need for monetary exchange. But all of this, interesting even seminal, as those developments are potentially depend upon their maximised fruition upon ownership and control being in the hands of 'all' of us and not some 'elite'.

 The real revolution will take place in the minds and hearts of the populace who make it happen and will be seen in existing developments in the general world. So there are no "blueprints for the cookshops of the future" in our scenario either. The people who make it happen, will make it work.

Wee Matt
Edinburgh Br

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Get off your knees.

Another compilation of comments from the Guardian by Wee Matt

It is not a question of despising the rich, but addressing from whence their riches came. It is a social and political question of whether this allocation of privileged access to wealth, whether through inherited plunder of continents, or the slave trade, or modern waged slavery, by gun or by guile should continue. The Socialist Party doesn't think the capitalist class are scum, although some of them might qualify for this description. Many of them will be decent and honourable people. They are just playing the fortunate hand which they inherit and their education and so on equips them more than adequately to do this. They are schooled to think that this is the best of all possible outcomes, whether laissez faire trickle down or Keynesian re-distributive methods, with a modicum of state regulatory oversight for the greatest possible good for society. The dominant ideology of any society will be that of the ruling class. The raison d'ĂȘtre of capitalism is to accumulate or die within an intensely competitive environment.

 Their self-interest is a class interest even if some do not see it in those stark terms. It is the impersonal anarchy of the competitive global market system which determines embarkation upon ventures with outcomes such as "business by other means" war, mass lay-offs and redundancies, pressure upon labour costs to drive down subsistence levels of the wage slaves in order to render a leaner fitter business model for the purpose of further competition with advantageous outcomes over competitors.

Attempts to reform this will eventually and inevitably, lead to corrections upon the business friendly but welfare subsidised models and a return to the austere conditions of the rapacious austerity model, which will restrict the development of reform, however public spirited and well-meaning the governmental administrations, which arise in response to this. This is not to oppose reforms as such, they are a part of the class struggle after all and gave us the NHS and so on, but to oppose 'Reformism', as being any political solution to the problems of capitalism (war, poverty, waged slavery, inequality etc.) and capitalist accumulation, which can only be at the expense of the wealth producing working class. It is essential that the working class recognise it is in their immediate 'class interest' 99% to take control, of the means of producing and distributing wealth.

 No more money, banks, bankers, politicians and governments lording it over people. This would mean houses built to live in, food to eat, clothing to wear, medicine to treat the sick, rather than for sale on a market with a view of profit. Poverty is relative and absolute. It is an essential component of capitalism. How else will we agree to be wage slaves? Exploitation takes place at the point of production regardless of how well or poorly educated we are. Regardless of the size of the wage or salary.

 It is in the ultimate interest of humanity and the planet and environment, the 100% that this occur, although we do not expect the 1% to see this immediately, but no matter, they are superfluous to the production of wealth. We collectively run capitalism from top to bottom and nothing will stop an idea which time has come. All wealth springs from labour and should return to labour. It is a matter of class interest. We need to become more aware of the forms that conspicuous consumption by the rich take in the new century. It is not a question of envy. All this wealth is derived from the exploitation of the working class, the wealth producers, but who do not own. 

Capitalism and its inevitable concomitants of war, poverty, and planetary despoliation is well past its sell-by date.  Time to establish a post-capitalist production for use, free access world for all of the world’s people. We need to abolish wages and all prices and have production for use, with free access and common ownership. Dissolve all government 'over' the people and elect yourselves to govern over resources. We want the people to empower themselves. We do not seek followers but 'thinkers'.

 Miniscule we may well be, as we want people to educate themselves to aim for socialism for themselves, rather than lead them into being followers, as the Left-wing and capitalist supporting parties seem to do. We tell people 'don't vote for us as a 'protest' vote, only as a recognition of your understanding of the case for socialism.

 Britain's oldest socialist party, the S.P.G.B., has no leaders and all their meetings are open to the public, including Executive Committee meetings. The E.C. act as housekeepers, but do not run or govern the party. Only the members can make policy by individual Party poll. It is effectively ruled by the members, who have to satisfy the party they know what socialism is and is not, before they can join, as each member's vote carries equal weight.

"The emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves. We cannot, therefore, co-operate with people who openly state that the workers are too uneducated to emancipate themselves and must be freed from above by philanthropic big bourgeois and petty bourgeois.’ Marx and Engels

The Socialist Party is focused upon the solution of socialism, free from the tyranny of markets, waged slavery and private, corporate or state ownership of resources, and the establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth, by and in the interest of the whole community, rather than a perpetuation of the same old repeated reformist non-solutions. Within Labour and Left parties,you won't have any socialist policy, but a recipe for reforms of capitalism. However well-meaning they are bound to fail. Capitalist politics are designed for the reproduction of capitalist rule.

 To change this we need to move into a post-capitalist narrative, in preparation for a (re-callable) delegated democratic, free access, post capitalist future. Socialism will be a system which would not have money, other than as a curiosity for decorating the living rooms, or in showcases in museums of antiquity, for children to learn how we wealth producers (labour) kept ourselves enslaved within a waged system in which the wealth producers (labour) received a waged ration of the collective produce and the idle parasite class (capitalists) received the bulk of the wealth produced. We collectively 'make' or build, everything. Why do we, the workers, the 99%, 'have to' buy anything, when all wealth comes from labour?

 No form of capitalism can be made to work in the interests of all. It never could be so. It is critically dependent upon the maximisation of exploited labour, from which all wealth derives, including the state, the armed forces, to protect the spoils and engage in competition with other capitalist nations and alliances, for raw materials and to plunder resources to the brink of war and beyond. It is a utopian fantasy that there is such a thing, as a 'fair days pay for a fair days work' or even a 'right to work'. Capitalism nevertheless put in place the technology and the necessity for an educated skilled workforce to run it, within its restricted remit of, production for the profit of the minority.

 But workers now run capitalism from top to bottom and are more than capable of running the new society without elites. So the capitalist class are superfluous to the production process, a mere parasite class, redundant in the process and we can take it all over and have a production for the use of all, free access society with no need to compete with and against others, thus ending the rat race of war and all the other aspects of capitalism. The biggest catastrophe for the labour movement, (as opposed to the Labour Party,) is that the workers elected a capitalist party to reform capitalism, rather than electing themselves to remove capitalism with its inevitable war and poverty. You do not need leaders. It is a capitalist political snare.

"I am not a Labor Leader; I do not want you to follow me or anyone else; if you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of this capitalist wilderness, you will stay right where you are. I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I led you in, some one else would lead you out. You must use your heads as well as your hands, and get yourself out of your present condition; as it is now the capitalists use your heads and your hands."- Eugene V. Debs

 Workers already run capitalism from top-to-bottom. We can run the new post-capitalist, commonly-owned, free-access society without any hierarchies. Capitalism is not forever. However the fact of it ,is that our unmanageable market-system its instability-prone outcomes, propels capitalist apologists to try and justify its excesses within parameters which ensure its continuation and reproduction. This drains many of their critical capacity to envision the post-capitalist future potential of the whole human species. Competition for markets, trade routes and raw materials with its attendant ever present threats of war, big and small, gluts, depression, booms and busts, redundancy and overwork, poverty actual, absolute and relative, in the midst of potential of plenty. Production for profit of the few, can be swiftly be replaced by production for use by all.

 Freedom from the anarchic tyranny of markets, in conditions of waged slavery for the profit of a few, replaced by production for use by free workers, to satisfy the needs of humanity. Rationed access by prices, for the producers of wealth, replaced by free access according to self-determined needs. Privileged ownership by individuals, corporation, states replaced by common ownership by us all. Government 'over' us to protect the privileges of the few and limit our democratic impulses within those which best serve the continued dominance of privilege, rather than the democratic freedoms of a delegated administration over things and resources by true social equals. If you are born poor you will die poor, generally speaking and relatively speaking, with few exceptions. If you are born into the parasite capitalist owning class, you will die richer than when you were born, with few exceptions.

Capitalism cannot be regulated, reformed and cured of its booms, busts, wars, and inequality of outcomes, as it thrives upon those, as essential for its existence. We have not experimented with socialism/communism. But ‘They’ have experimented with either developing capitalism in a state capitalist format, (successfully being seen as a threat, to the other older capitalist models, not in any ideological sense but as competing trade or competing geopolitical threats to the dominant existing ones) or experimented as a Utopian/Owenite style meddling/tinkering with capitalism, in the social democratic interventionist regulationist models of the Labour party or Scandinavian parties, in the hope of achieving more equitable outcomes. Nor can it be captured by vanguardist elements in Jacobin/Lenin leaderist style revolutions, (leadership is a capitalist political principle) as this folly will only repeat previous systems of elite class dominance over the mass of populations.

 But capitalism can and must, be superseded by a new society, emerging with its technological capacities for production intact, with the immense majority in favour, consciously opting for a real functioning democracy of social equals, in relation to the ownership and control of societal outputs of production. Of course we can delegate specialist functions rather than spend time nattering, but the delegates must be instantly recallable.

 The world’s workers not only produce all of the world’s wealth, but we run capitalism from top to bottom. We manage it and make decisions on behalf of the minority capitalist class. We are more than capable of running the new society, utilising its informational technology, in conditions of common ownership of the means of production and distribution and collective common ownership of the resulting output of production for use, within a genuine democratic framework of genuine social equality, with free access to the collective produce. Those post- capitalist conditions of real social and economic freedom for all, will ensure a flowering of humanity, the advancement of creative and scientific solutions, such as the world has never seen. We have a world to win.

The socialist model is not Utopian but a matter of class interest. The last great emancipation will be that of the wage slaves, as we have a free access world to make and win. As William Morris explained:
“One man with an idea in his head is in danger of being considered a madman: two men with the same idea in common may be foolish, but can hardly be mad; ten men sharing an idea begin to act, a hundred draw attention as fanatics, a thousand and society begins to tremble, a hundred thousand and there is war abroad, and the cause has victories tangible and real; and why only a hundred thousand? Why not a hundred million and peace upon the earth? You and I who agree together, it is we who have to answer that question.”

The great appear great because we are on our knees: Let us rise. Stand tall, Look around and Demand change – Your survival depends on it.  

Wee Matt
Edinburgh Br.

Paid to stay in Glasgow

The arts body Creative Scotland has given an artist £15,000 to spend a year without leaving Glasgow. Ellie Harrison's project is called the Glasgow Effect - a term relating to poor health in parts of the city. Ellie’s project is based on the premise that if society wishes to achieve global change, then individuals have to be more active within their communities at a local level. In restricting herself to staying within the city boundaries she is keen to explore what impact this will have her on her life and on her work as an artist with national and international commitments.

The 36-year-old, who will take a leave of absence from her job as a lecturer in contemporary art practices at Duncan of Jordanstone College in Dundee, said the experiment would enable her “to cut her carbon footprint and increase her sense of belonging, by encouraging her to seek out and create local opportunities.”

Many, many people haven't left the city in the past year as a result of financial pressures.

 Local resident, Laura Walsh, pointed out that being forced to stay in the city permanently was simply a fact of life for many people. “I haven't left Glasgow in nearly four years, living on benefits and raising a child at the same time can do that to you. There have even been times I couldn't even afford the bus to travel to the next town,”

 Some can't afford the fare to the city-centre. 

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

It’s human nature, aint it?

More comments from the Guardian placed by Wee Matt

"He who is morally impressed by power is never in a critical mood, and he is never a revolutionary character" - Erich Fromm

Some people prefer to live with a flawed understanding of the world around them, which attributes a 'base' human nature as a prime motivator to peoples’ behaviour, but humans behave differently depending upon the conditions that they live in. Even very short term changes in those conditions can dramatically change the way people behave. Most of what people refer to as "human nature" is actually human behaviour: reactions to the world around them. Human behaviour reflects society.

 In a society such as capitalism, people's needs are not met and reasonable people feel insecure. People tend to acquire and hoard goods because possession provides some security. People have a tendency to distrust others because the world is organized in such a dog-eat-dog manner. Under capitalism, and the previous systems, people have good reason to worry about tomorrow—they can lose their jobs, or be injured, or grow old, and need a cushion of wealth to fall back on.

 In a socialist society, everyone is entitled to have their needs met. They won't be kicked out onto the street, or forced to give up the pleasures of life. There will be no poverty. The "cushion" will be cooperatively provided by all. The 'Human Nature' argument is just a fueling of prejudice and all this prejudice, none of which can survive a moment's critical thought, has been used politically to resist progress. It has been used as an objection to socialism.

 The arguments that our behaviour is determined by our physical inheritance may pose as science but in reality they are socially determined prejudice, used as part of crude political ideology. In this argument all the bad examples of human behaviour which in the main are generated by capitalism, are called upon to say that a society based on equality and voluntary co-operation is impossible. Human beings are social animals capable of a wide range of behaviours. Millions are engaged in altruistic and voluntarist pursuits.

 Their very existence gives the lie to 'Human Nature arguments. The weakest argument around. Human behaviour is culturally created. In any case it is a matter of "enlightened self-interest" to get rid of minority ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, ending competition leading to war and impoverishment, and take them into common ownership with democratic control to have production for use, to produce a superabundance of wealth, from which we can all take according to our needs and contribute according to our abilities.

The Socialist Party is not part of the Left wing of capitalism and stands for its removal, not its reproduction. You should make common cause with fellow workers worldwide to establish a classless, post-capitalist, production for use, free access, commonly owned society. Abolish the wages and prices system.

 We leave you to the fantasy that the system in which poverty and war are concomitants, which created two world wars, culminating in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, is the best there is. The imperialist ambitions which caused the horrors of the Congo and Auschwitz, is incapable of being replaced by a humanity centred solution.

 Capitalism is an obsolete and outmoded method of production, which can never satisfy human needs while retaining private, corporate or state ownership of resources and the means and instruments for producing wealth as its mode of production can only satisfy market requirements and not human needs. It cannot exist without a vast infrastructure dedicated to waging of war (mis-named defence), poverty, absolute and relative and cannot husband the natural resources of the planet, due to the intense competitive nature of its market led system leading to clashes between rival capitalist interests over raw materials trade routes and geo-political advancement of its dominant market players. Religion is just a tool used by power seekers in the capitalist system to divide and rule it is no more to blame than nationalism, xenophobia, plundering of other countries for vital resources.

A genuine post-capitalist society would utilise the immense forces of production of capitalism, shorn of its private, corporate or state ownership, its wasteful war production and machinery, necessary only because of its intense competition with rival parasitic capitalist groups, leading to war over trade routes, markets and raw materials as well as geo-political advantage. It would replace production for sale on a market and waged-slavery and the waged rationed access to the wealth produced, with co-operative production for use, free labour and free access, to the social product for all, in conditions of production for use and unleash the technological capacity, within a moneyless society to provide a superabundance of the necessities of life, which we all could democratically oversee.

 Labour -power is the only commodity workers have in a rigged market, where we do not even have a "Right to work" and we do not receive the value of our labour. The only commodity this applies to is the workers labour power. We only receive the market price (wages) which is not equivalent to its value. The capitalist class pocket the full value of the surplus after realising the sale of the products of labour. If you are born poor you will die poor, generally speaking and relatively speaking with few exceptions. If you are born into the parasite capitalist owning class you will die richer than when you were born with few exceptions.

The whole world and everything in it and on it, is already run from top to bottom by the world's workers within the capitalist system. We are constrained by the mode of production for sale in the market, in conditions of waged slavery, a system where access to food, clothing, shelter and everything else, is rationed according to ability to pay for the goods and services, which we already collectively produce.

 Not only is all wealth produced by the worlds workers, we run this vast wealth production, in the factories and mines and workshops, even electing governments 'over' us, in the interests of the profits of the parasite capitalist economic class. The owners of this system generally do not run or manage it.

 The world’s economic activity should all be owned in common and controlled democratically, by the whole world’s population in a new post-capitalist arrangement of, production for use, with free access and democratic control over 'resources' and not people. The ends determine the means and the new society has to be a product of the democratic decision and will of the immense majority. Peacefully if we can, and forcefully only if we must if the democratic will of the immense majority is thwarted.

, Typical lefty Trotskyist behaviour in the Leninist mode think the end justifies the means. Instead of showing capitalism cannot be reformed and advocating its replacement, they advocate supporting of reformism to show later how the workers have been betrayed. They think workers are too dumb to realise their answer lies in replacing capitalism with a post-capitalist society and set out to be the vanguard which will lead them. There will not be a socialist state.

 Socialism is a direct democratic, self-organising world society, which achieves economic and political equality equilibrium, by the production for use non-ownership with free access and automatic stock control feedback loops.

 Capitalism is not self-organising, it is controlled violence, however, it is certainly a very resilient system, when it gains assent from the populace through the ballot box and ideological state apparatus, education, media etc. but it is just as likely to use direct top-down violence when its hegemony is threatened, by breaking the heads of the populace and proxy adventures, but the state-capitalism is not a product of socialism, no more than Bismarck's Germany was, but a product of trying to direct and develop capitalism, on top of a feudal system within a competitive capitalist world environment.

 Socialists seek a class-free, prices-free, wage-free society, with private, state, corporate ownership abolished and replaced, with a tyranny-free, war-free, poverty-free, world commonwealth.

"He who owns the means by which I live owns my very life." - Shakespeare.

Wee Matt
Edinburgh Br.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Scotland and the Easter Rising

‘Scotland and the Easter Rising’ edited by Glasgow University Professor of English Literature Willy Maley and doctoral candidate Kirsty Lusk to be published later this month, reveal the connections between Scotland and the six-day armed uprising. Central to the book is the story of James Connolly, born in the Cowgate area of Edinburgh to Irish immigrant parents, who was Commandant General of the Republican forces during Easter Week 1916 and was a signatory to the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. When the Rising eventually failed Connolly, who was seriously injured in the fighting, was rounded up with others and executed by a British firing squad.

Margaret Skinnider, suffragette, born in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, is another republican sympathiser who features heavily in the book. She served as a scout, dispatch-rider, sniper and raider in the Rising. Skinnider was the only female combatant injured in action during the battle. Skinnider, a 23-year-old Scottish teacher, became convinced of the need for Irish independence during childhood holidays. Skinnider hid bomb detonators ­beneath her hat as she travelled by ferry to Dublin in 1915 and once there became involved in preparations for the Rising.

Lusk notes: “Skinnider had joined a rifle club in Glasgow, one of many set up, ironically, to train women in case they were required to defend Britain, and she proved herself a better shot than any of the boys when taken to a local shooting gallery. Skinnider took a spot in the rafters of the Royal College of Surgeons to fight as a sniper against the British soldiers placed at the Shelbourne Hotel. ‘More than once I saw the man I aimed at fall,’ she recounts.”

Maley remarks in the article “I believe that the Easter Rising still has important lessons to teach us...” 
Indeed, it does…lessons on what not to do in the advance of socialist ideas. 

The late Ian Bell in his article asked why Connolly was absent from debates leading up to the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. He certainly wasn’t forgotten by Socialist Courier blog-posts as a search of our archives would demonstrate and was cited when we pointed out the futility of nationalism. 

Hopeless future

One in four Scots is so worried about covering the cost of their housing that they fear they’ll have to default on a mortgage or rent payment, according to a new poll. Shelter, who commissioned the poll, said hundreds of thousands of Scots were living on a “knife edge”.

Adam Lang, from Shelter Scotland, said it was “a worrying sign of the times”. Shelter, he said, had seen a jump in the number of calls to the organisation. In 2014, they took 21,284 calls, up from 19,906 in 2013.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale will say in a speech that young people in Scotland have “left behind by austerity” which has made the prospect of owning a house unrealistic. The press release of her speech says: “For too many young couples in Scotland today, buying a house isn’t a realistic prospect. A lot of young people are stuck in a cycle from which there appears to be no escape. They decide to rent a flat to save for a deposit to buy a house, but the rent is too high so they can’t save much for that deposit, which means they continue to pay the high rent for years to come. Lots of young people now live at home with their parents well into their thirties, as it’s the only realistic prospect of ever being able to save for a house. The price of austerity has been that aspiration has stalled for a whole generation.”

Dissolve all governments and elect yourselves

The first in a series of compilations of comments placed in the Guardian by Wee Matt of Edinburgh branch.

"Rise, like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you:
Ye are many—they are few!"

Social systems do not 'naturally' arise, but are a consequence of technology and class struggle. All previous revolutions have been minority led ones thus, establishing new ruling elites. The post capitalist revolution will be the work of the immense majority, the abolition of waged slavery and the ending of elites and privilege, with the establishment of common ownership and free access to the wealth created under conditions of democratic control over resources by all.

 Nothing is forever, including capitalism. It is an obsolete and outmoded method of production. It can never satisfy human needs while retaining private, corporate or state ownership of resources and the means and instruments for producing wealth as its mode of production, can only satisfy market requirements and not human needs. The ideas of capitalism, overthrowing feudal relations and the Divine Right of Kings, would have seemed a fantasy in feudal times.

 The bourgeois democracy brought in by capitalism, is its own Achilles heel. The educated working class who presently produce all of the wealth, but do not own it, who run capitalism from top to bottom, yet it is not in their own interests, but the interests of a privileged minority, will dig the grave of capitalism. The wealth producers 99%, are compelled to wage-enslaved production (for sale) of wealth for the 1% capitalist parasitic class. The interests of the 99% lies in removing ownership and control from the 1% and establishing a commonly owned society. Nothing will stop an idea which time has come.

 Our present system of society is fraught with contradictions. We have the technological potential to adequately feed, clothe, house and provide a decent life for every man, woman and child on Earth, yet instead of abundance for all there exists poverty, insecurity and misery for the vast majority.

At the heart of all these social problems is the conflict between the need to accumulate and reproduce capital on one hand and the need to fulfill human want on the other. Productive activity is mediated through the mechanism of market exchange, so production ceases when profit fails to be realised, not when human need is satisfied. Instead of directly co-ordinating to fulfil its needs, humanity is dominated by the blind imperatives of an economic system. If humanity as a whole were to democratically take control of the productive apparatus of society and free its operations from the constraints of the profit motive, an already existing, but as yet untapped potential for abundance could be realised.

This would of course entail a complete transformation in property relations. Instead of a society based on minority control, production for profit, and market exchange, we would have one based on common ownership and production for need. Instead of being mediated through the market system, production decisions would be co-ordinated directly according to the self-defined needs of global society, and the means of production belong to everybody.

The capitalist system deliberately depresses wages in an economic downturn. Damn all to do with our fellow workers from other lands. Instead of slavishly scapegoating fellow workers, we should get up off our knees, be making common cause with workers of all lands and none, to remove this iniquitous system of capitalism with its 'production for sale to profit a minority owning parasite class. There is no such thing as middle class. Even if you have a huge mortgage almost paid and send young Dimkins to a private school. If you have to work for a wage or salary you are working class. Wages/salaries (rations) are just so much food, clothing, shelter, and enough if you have any kids to bring them up to be the next generation of wage slaves. They are set at a rate which ensure you show up of more exploitation in order to survive while you employer gets rich from selling off the (unpaid) surplus value you produce. Tax is not our problem. You only ever get the bottom line in your pay cheque. Taxation is a burden upon the employing class, so sod 'em. If by some stroke the nominal tax (the top line) paid by your employer was reduced, so too would your wages. Wages are subsistence payments.

 Meanwhile the parasite class are creaming off all of the surplus wealth which is created by the working class. We need to take the ownership of the wealth producing and distribution capacity from the hands of the parasite class, whether individuals, combinations, states or corporations and make them owned by us all in common, within a democratic, classless, post-capitalist framework of production for use instead of for sale with free access by all to the collective wealth.

We have been able to do this since the start of the 20th century, but settled for reforms instead or state capitalist solutions. State provision has damn all to do with 'socialism'. Most people think it means some kind of reformist capitalism with a vague 'fair do's' for the worker, or if they are on the 'Left' some kind of state ownership of resources.

 Communism/Socialism, (the terms are interchangeably), is a democratic, commonly owned, production for use, money-free, post- capitalist society which has yet to arrive and not to be confused, with the post-feudal state capitalist regime of the Soviets era, or the reform capitalism of the Labour Party or Social-Democratic parties of Europe. The NHS is a product of capitalism, designed to be cheaper for the capitalist class, employers etc. than private healthcare insurance options. Realistically within capitalism, we could have massive council house building projects, but there would be screams of rage from those whose profit was affected, the same parasite capitalist builders who prosecuted the Shrewsbury workers, also from those whose house values were eroded and yet another government would eventually try to rein this in. Capitalism cannot be reformed. Profit is paramount.

 The Socialist Party does not advocating a ‘citizens wage’, indeed, it wishes to abolish the wages system in its entirety and establish a commonly owned world. If wage or salary earners are paid £100 a week by the government, they can use this income to maintain themselves; which means that the employer will be relieved of having to include an amount to cover this expenditure in the wage packet or salary cheque. Economic forces will therefore tend to ensure that wages and salaries fall to a level which, when added to Basic Income, will allow the employee to maintain him or herself. In other words, wages or salaries would become sufficient only to top up Basic Income to the economically determined level. Or, put the other way round, Basic Income (like Family Allowances today) would be a subsidy to employers, and a massive one at that.

 Free access would be a much more direct way of ensuring that people were freed from material insecurity than the impractical Basic Income Scheme proposed by the reformist parties. It would also involve, as a corollary, the transformation of work. Instead of working for wages to produce profits for an employer, people will be able to co-operate to produce what they really needed. In fact such direct production for use, replacing production for sale and the profit motive, is the only possible framework within which we can satisfy our needs in an ecologically acceptable way. For, with the end of production for sale will go also the pressure for blind economic growth generated by the competitive struggle for profits.
“The watchword of Capital Accumulate! Accumulate!”- Marx

The socialist answer would be to allow people free access to the common store of wealth set aside for personal consumption, according to what they themselves judged to be their reasonable needs. Other needs would be satisfied on the same basis. Houses and flats would be rent-free, with heating, lighting and water supplied free of charge. Transport, communications, health care and education would be organised as free public services. There need be no admission charges to museums, parks, libraries and other places of entertainment and recreation. Socialism has NEVER existed anywhere, to have had its time. 
Even Tony Benn acknowledged that “The Labour party has never been a socialist party, although there have always been socialists in it – a bit like Christians in the Church of England.” 
The Labour Party has never been a socialist party but reformist capitalist one. Socialism has never been tried or existed. All you have ever had were attempts to tame capitalism's worst excesses and those failed because capitalism cannot be reformed. 

The Russian revolution was a post-feudal one, not a post-capitalist one.

"State capitalism would be a step forward for us." - Lenin
"What you have is state capitalism." John Foster Dulles to Nikita Khruschev

 Engels and Marx would have no problem seeing that as a bourgeois revolution without a huge emerging bourgeois capitalist class, the intelligentsia and the State stepping into the breach. Real Marxists in the UK, the S.P.G.B., called it state capitalism in 1918.

 If production were geared directly to supplying needs, it would eventually tend to platform off at a level sufficient to provide for current needs and repairing and maintaining the existing stock of means of production. Abolish the wages system, we have a commonly-owned world to win. If there are wages and salaries, it is not socialism. State ownership is not socialism. Social programmes are not socialism. Socialism means democracy at all levels of society, including the workplace. Socialism means a wage-free, money-free society. Socialism means voluntary labour. Socialism means free access to the goods produced by society. Millions already engage in voluntary work. In any case, with production for use, we can accelerate the production of necessities and so have free access to all we need and require. It would be no problem. Food to eat, houses to live in, medicine for the sick, rather than for sale for the profit of a minority with access rationed via wages, as presently. What are waiting for? Another capitalist fallout leading to World War 3 and more war-science on civilians such as Nagasaki and Hiroshima by the ‘good’ guys?

"The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor" - Voltaire
" comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt"  - Marx

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Capitalism is exploitation.

Capitalism is a system in which the means for producing the wealth (the land, the mines, factories, the machines, etc.) are in private hands. A tiny handful of people own these “means of production” as they are called. But they do not work them. The immense majority of the people own nothing (in the sense that they can live on what they own) but their power to work.
By exploitation we mean living off the labour of other people. There have been previous forms of exploitation. In slave society, the slave-owners lived off the labour of the slaves who were their property. In feudal society, the feudal lords lived off the forced labour of the serfs. In capitalist society the worker is neither a slave nor yet a serf, i.e. forced to do free, unpaid labour for a master. But he is exploited just the same, even though the form of this exploitation is not so open and clear as was the case with the slaves and the serfs.
The essence of exploitation under capitalism consists in this — that the workers, when set to work with raw materials and machinery, produce far more in values than what is paid out by the capitalists in wages. In short, they produce a surplus which is taken by the capitalists and for which they are not paid. Thus they are robbed of the values they produce. This is the source of capitalist profit. It is on this surplus, produced by the workers, that the capitalist lives in riches and luxury.

Capitalism is a system of booms and slumps

From the earliest days of its existence until today, capitalism has been marked by periodic slumps, economic crises, depressions or recessions as they are called. Every seven to ten years a crisis of greater or lesser severity has taken place, bringing with it mass unemployment and misery for working people.

Capitalism is a system of exploiters and exploited, of rich and poor.

The ending of injustices caused by class society in its various forms, has long been the dream of mankind. It found expression in the teachings of the early Christians, in the writings of men like John Ball, Thomas More, Robert Owen, the Chartists and the other pioneers of the British workers movement. But so long as modern, large-scale factory production did not exist, Socialism—which alone can end the exploitation of man by man—could remain only a dream. It was capitalism, in the search for greater profits, which mastered natural forces expanded the production of goods on an enormous scale, united the scattered, individual production of men into highly developed, large-scale factory production, thus establishing the basis on which socialism can be built.

What will such a socialist society look like? How will exploitation and oppression be ended?

The means of production—the factories, mines, land and transport—are taken away from the capitalists. They are transformed into social property by common ownership. This means that they belong to and are worked by the whole of the people, that the fruits of production likewise become social property, used to advance the standard of life of all the people. No longer can some men (the capitalists) by virtue of the fact that they own the means of production, live off (exploit) the labour of others (the working class). No longer are the workers compelled to sell their labour power to the capitalists in order to live. The workers are no longer property-less proletarians. They now own the means of production and work them in their own interests and in the interests of society. For society is now composed or workers by hand and brain, i.e. of an associated body of wealth-producers. Production is planned to meet the constantly rising material and cultural needs of the people. This is only possible because the means of production have been taken out of the hands of competing private owners, whose only concern was to produce what was profitable, not what was needed by the people. Thus there is an end to crises, slumps and unemployment, of poverty in the midst of plenty. Socialism means peace. There are no longer capitalists who profit by war, who see in war the way to secure sources of raw materials, markets and a chance to dominate the world. Socialism is the only system in which the old definition of democracy as “government of the people, by the people, for the people” becomes a reality. Capitalist democracy is government of the people by the capitalists in the interests of the capitalists. Socialism cannot be imposed on the people from above. It develops from below, from the new opportunities which socialist society provides to men and women to develop all their capacities in their own interests and in the interests of society as a whole.

But capitalism by itself does not “evolve” into socialism. It has to be transformed into socialism by the conscious action and struggle of men and women. Capitalism creates the living social force which, by its very position in capitalist society, is compelled to change capitalism into socialism. This force is the working class s. The age-long dream of the thinkers and the fighters of the past can only be transformed into reality when the working class wages the struggle to take political and economic power from the capitalist class and, having succeeded in this, sets about building a socialist society.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Leninspeak (1983)

From the May 1983 issue of the Socialist Standard

It really is ironic that those members of the Militant group who face expulsion from the Labour Party should complain about the lack of democracy and tolerance which they allege is being shown to them. After all, as worshippers of Lenin they must know that their hero was no democrat and showed little tolerance of his opponents outside or inside Bolshevik ranks. We have yet to hear them condemn this.

One of the most amazing legacies of the Russian revolution and its aftermath is Lenin’s image as a humane, even saintly figure, despite the wealth of evidence to the contrary. To this day thousands of people all over the world will revile Stalin but revere Lenin, yet the truth is that it was the latter who commenced the reign of terror after November 1917 and who deserves his own place in history as a brutal, lying, ruthless dictator.

Right up till the Bolshevik seizure of power Lenin had been agitating for the abolition of the state apparatus including the army, police and bureaucracy. Every official, he said, should be elected and subject to recall at any time. He was all for freedom of the press and the right to demonstrate for “any party, any group". Immediately on gaining power he even promised to uphold the verdict of the coming elections for the Constituent Assembly
As a democratic government, we cannot ignore the decision of the rank and file of the people, even though we may disagree with it . . . and even if the peasants continue to follow the Social-Revolutionaries, even if they give this party a majority in the Constituent Assembly, we shall still say, be it so. (Report on the Land Question, 8 November 1917.)
All of this was, of course, mere window dressing, for Lenin knew that the Russian people would never have supported what he really had in mind for them. Far from abolishing the state apparatus he set about strengthening it, especially the secret police (Cheka), in order to impose the Bolshevik dictatorship. And instead of officials being elected and recallable the Bolsheviks simply appointed their own men who were answerable to them alone.

Gradually all opposition press was outlawed and their demonstrations forbidden. When the long-called-for elections for the Constituent Assembly resulted in a humiliating defeat for the Bolsheviks Lenin dissolved the Assembly by force. Later on he explained away those earlier promises on the grounds that
This was an essential period in the beginning of the revolution; without it we would not have risen on the crest of the revolutionary wave, we should have dragged in its wake. (Report of the Central Committee to the 11th Congress of the Russian Communist Party, 27 March 1922.)
In the run-up to the November coup Lenin and the Bolsheviks had won widespread support with their slogan “peace, bread and land". Of course the promises of politicians are always easier to make than to fulfil, as the Russian workers and peasants very soon discovered. The peasants, having got rid of the landlord, now had their grain and cattle forcibly taken from them in return for worthless paper money. Those who resisted were shot and many villages were burnt. Lenin claimed that his policy of robbing the peasants was necessary to avoid famine but, inevitably, the peasants retaliated by burning their crops and killing their cattle and so Lenin’s policy produced famine anyway.

In the cities and towns unemployment was rife and the workers, in or out of a job, were starving. Lenin’s response to the plight of the Petrograd workers was to tell them to
. . . set out in their tens of thousands for the Urals, the Volga and the south, where there is an abundance of grain, where they can feed themselves and their families . . . (To The Workers of Petrograd, 12 July 1918.)
How the workers and their families were go get to these areas in view of the fact that the civil war had broken out in each of them, Lenin didn’t say.

Early in 1919 many strikes and protest demonstrations were crushed with great loss of life. Starvation continued to be the workers’ lot for several more years but anyone who argued that the chronic food scarcity could be eased by allowing the peasants to trade their produce instead of having it stolen by the state should, said Lenin, be shot. This argument was “counter-revolutionary” — until Lenin himself made it official policy early in 1921.

Another myth surrounding the period of Lenin’s dictatorship is that at least there was democracy within the Communist Party. This is the so-called “democratic centralism", but Lenin no more welcomed opposition from his own comrades than he did from anyone else. Communists who criticised him or his policies were denounced as “unsound elements", “deviationists” or worse, and their arguments “mere chatter”, “phrase mongering” and “dangerous rubbish".

Lenin’s anger boiled over at those communists who wanted free trade unions independent of party control. He raged at the “loudmouths" and demanded complete loyalty or else they would throw away the revolution because
Undoubtedly, the capitalists of the Entente will take advantage of our party’s sickness to organise a new invasion; and the Social-Revolutionaries will take advantage of it for the purpose of organising conspiracies and rebellions. (The Party Crisis, 19 January 1921.)
He also complained that the debate on the trade unions had been
. . .  an excessive luxury. Speaking for myself I cannot but add that in my opinion this luxury was really absolutely impermissible. (Report on the political activities of the Central Committee to the 10th Congress of the Russian Communist Party, 8 March 1921.)
In short, shut-up and don’t rock the boat. Faced with this attitude the dissidents had no chance. Their various groups, such as “Workers’ Opposition", were expelled (even when they agreed to abide by majority decisions against them) and many of their leaders and members were jailed or exiled.

All Lenin’s actions were the result of his single-minded determination to seize power and hold on to it. even if it meant that millions of Russian workers and peasants died in famine and repression. The seizure of power was, given the chaotic condition of Russia at the time, comparatively simple: to hold on to power he had to create a state apparatus which, under his personal direction, was used to terrorise all opposition into submission.

The Leninists of today will argue that all of this was a case of the end justifying the means, that it was done in order to bring about socialism. But undemocratic means can never bring about democratic ends; any minority which seizes power can only retain it by violent, undemocratic methods. In any case, even before 1917 the Mensheviks and many European social democrats had used Karl Marx’s theory of social development to demolish the idea that socialism could be established in a backward country like Russia. The absence of larger-scale industry and the consequent smallness of the working class, both of which are essential ingredients for socialism, plus the presence of a vast, reactionary peasantry made socialism impossible. This earned them Lenin’s undying hatred, a hatred which only increased as he saw their view justified by events. All that was left to Lenin in the circumstances was to commence building up state-capitalism. The Russia of today is a grim reminder of how well he succeeded.

Vic Vanni
Glasgow Br. 

Capitalism is hell on earth

Working men or women who tries to find a way clear through the hardships of present-day conditions are faced with a difficult task. On every side is distress and confusion. Rising bills, falling wages, the uncertainty of a job, or the deepening misery of months and even years of unemployment; wars and ever new threats of war; news of violent struggle and disturbances abroad—all these are the daily conditions of life now. The Labour Party has nothing to say. They are ready to make all kinds of promises for a beautiful future time when they shall be holding government office. New cults and idols are held out before the workers presenting sham solutions to conceal from the workers their growing enslavement and hide from them the issue of Revolution. The workers are beaten down, because they were divided and uncertain, of their path, because they are misled by leaders in coalition with the capitalists. Capitalism can only maintain itself by driving down the workers, by harder and harder exploitation. Longer hours, lower wages, misery and war—these are the offerings of capitalism in the present epoch.

Various left-wingers instead of the aim of socialism which inspired the pioneers of the workers movement’, have in the past put forward the aim of a “mixed economy” and of state capitalism which leaves the exploitation of the workers unchanged and has nothing to do with socialism. Nowhere in the world has socialism ever been established. The failure of the Left is not the failure of socialism. The Socialist Party’s electoral programme has never been a platform of election promises and palliatives. It is the working of the capitalist system itself which produces unemployment and crises, by piling up profits for the few while wages are kept down to the minimum. In their insatiable drive for profits, the bosses in every capitalist country keep down the wages and purchasing power of their own working class and are constantly driven to seek new markets abroad. This is the basic cause for the cut-throat competition, the sharp contradictions, and the increasing unemployment in the whole capitalist world. We must stand together against the employers. The only struggle for us is the struggle of the workers against our exploiters. If the workers do not awaken in time to the issue before us a terrible fate awaits all.

In the name of those millions of our class butchered in all of capitalism’s wars; in the name of the mental and physical wrecks left to homelessness on the streets of our villages and cities; in the name of the bereaved and desolate mothers and wives who mourn the vain sacrifice of their loved ones, we appeal to you to arouse yourselves before it is too late. “War is Hell” and Hell’s gate has once again been thrown wide open across many parts of the globe. Workers, you have nothing to do with the quarrels of your ruling class. Your task is to war against your exploiters as the only way of freeing your class from all war and the industrial slavery that is grinding us down into ever increasing poverty. Today governments tell us the old lie of the jingoists that “the best way to keep the peace is to prepare for war” Aircraft or troops in the Middle East are not a guarantee of peace but a provocation for further war. It is madness to say that displays of military force can help towards peace.

What is wrong with the way society is organised, the “system of society” which prevails?  It is divided into rich and poor—a tiny handful of rich (1 per cent of the population own more than half the nation’s wealth) who do no work, and the overwhelming majority who work their whole lives through. The aim of our Party is to establish socialism and abolish the right of one person to rob another of the fruits of his or her labour. This is what makes our Party different from all others. 

Friday, January 01, 2016

Looking Forward to 2016

Today, on the first day of a new year, there is doubt and uncertainty about the future. But our New Year message is one of hope and confidence that once the working people take political power into their own hands, they can build world socialism using all its resources for the benefit of its people and contributing to human progress throughout the world. We remain convinced that socialism can only come as a result of the taking of power from the hands of the capitalist class by the working class. The fact that it is possible for this revolution to take place peacefully does not make it less of a revolution. The degree to which the capitalist class resists the establishment of socialism depends in the first place on how well organised, how politically conscious, how determined, and how strong are the forces of the working class.  In the second place, it depends on whether, faced with this overwhelming force, the capitalists decide to yield to the democratic will of the people, or stake everything on a desperate resistance. It is not possible to give any final guarantee as to what the capitalists will do. But the aim of the working people should be to ensure that the transition to socialism is a peaceful one. The first condition for this is the organisation of overwhelming majority of the working class for the ending of the capitalist system. The more this strength is mobilised, the less likely it becomes that the capitalists will resort to violence. If they do, the responsibility will be on them, not on the working class. Let us repeat and never forget, that democracy, even under capitalist economy, offers the best field for the development of the class struggle.

 Democracy has always been a bread-and-butter question. The demands of the Chartists were democratic demands for one vote for every man, for annual parliaments, and so on; but the Chartist leader Stephens was right when he said the Charter was a ‘knife and fork question’. The workers who rallied behind the Charter wanted the vote, because they wanted to end their economic slavery, their twelve-hour day, to end child-labour in the cotton mills and women’s labour in the mines. Having won the vote in 1867, the workers in further struggles were able to force through laws giving better conditions to miners, to factory workers, to seamen; in 1875 they won the right to picket. And after they had gained a firm legal position for the unions in 1905, British workers were able to win big strikes for wage increases and shorter hours in the year before the war. Democracy is not abstract. It means that the people have definite rights – the right to organise, the right to strike, the right to vote, the right to free speech. These rights are weapons without which the British people would be no better off today than they were a hundred years ago. These rights did not drop from heaven. Men died to win them. Nor can we say that once these rights are won they are safe forever. They always represent a concession which the capitalists would like to take away. The struggle for democracy is always going on. In the coming new year, the Tories are intent upon weakening the power of the trade unions. We need to stop them.

Transforming Parliament into an instrument of the will of the working people, is one of the most important points of our position. When we speak of Parliament’s role in the transition to Socialism we do not mean the same thing those who talk of the “Parliamentary road”. We mean a mass revolutionary movement resulting in a parliamentary majority which takes decisive action to break the power of the capitalists and transfer political power to the working class. We do not think capitalism can be “reformed” into socialism. It is impossible to proceed to the building of socialism if the existing capitalist state machine is left as it is.

What we mean by socialism is what the Marxist pioneers meant—the ending of the exploitation of man by man, the abolition of the system of rent, interest and profit, planned production for use instead of private profit, and the common ownership of the means of production and distribution by the people. This is the reason why our Declarations of Principles is set out in the clearest terms to explain the way towards our aim of socialism. It is only through this change in social relations and in the material basis of society that the transformation of man himself can come about, with a great educational and cultural advances. We reject the standpoint that capitalism has found a way to solve its problems. We are against all theories which seek to argue that some sort of “reformed” or “people’s” capitalism can abolish the possibility of slumps, guarantee full employment and rising standards, and remove the drive to war. The mounting problems of the workers, the pensioners and benefit claimants, the women and young people, together with the constant menace of wars, shows how wrong are those who would have us believe that we are living in a paradise on earth today. And behind and at the root of all the immediate difficulties facing the people are the great fundamental problems which only socialism can solve. Increasingly, people are asking questions about the world’s future to which only socialism can provide a constructive answer. The world is ripe and over-ripe for socialism. Only socialism can end the contradiction between social production and individual appropriation, abolish the exploitation of man by man, make possible long-term planning, and utilise the planet’s resources and every new development in technique and scientific knowledge for the benefit of the people.

They think us dull, they think us dead,
But we shall rise again.
A trumpet through the land shall ring,
A heaving through the mass,
A trampling through their palaces
Until they break like glass.

Ernest Jones