Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Fight Ineos - The Anti-Union Bosses

The Unite union is to challenge the decision by Ineos,the owners of the Grangemouth petrochemical plant, to refuse it official recognition. The union said most workers at the plant still wanted Unite to represent them. In April, the firm said it was ending collective bargaining agreements at the plant.
Unite said it has balloted the workforce and found more than 50% of workers still wanted the union to represent them. It now plans to challenge Ineos through official channels. This will involve an application to the independent Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) to require Ineos to recognise Unite. If the union can demonstrate a certain level of membership and support for recognition, then the CAC can issue a declaration making recognition compulsory.
Unite's assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: "We now have a considerable majority of the workers who have signed up to say they want the union recognised at the site as is their legal right. The company must now negotiate a new deal."

Post-Scarcity Socialism

The world is haunted by a spectre - The spectre of abundance. Scarcity has been conquered. The resources, technology and human skills already exist to produce enough to amply satisfy likely human needs and wants. Many thinkers, whether be they admirers of John Lennon or Karl Marx, have envisioned the world in which there is no need for money, no market exchange, and no property.

Down through history, a visionary slogan has been whispered by a few held n ancient dream. Ever since human beings developed money, they have hated it and tried to rid themselves of it. The abolition of money the most radical demand of every social revolution for centuries past. We must not suppose that it is therefore destined to remain a Utopia, that the wheel will simply turn full circle once more. Today there is an entirely new element in the situation: Plenty. All previous societies have been rationed societies, based on the scarcity of food, clothing and shelter. The modern world is also a society of scarcity, but with a difference. Today's shortages are unnecessary; today's scarcity is artificial. More than that: this scarcity is achieved at the expense of strenuous effort, ingenious organization and the most sophisticated planning.

Money means rationing. It is only useful when there are shortages to be rationed. No one can buy or sell air: it's free because there is plenty of it around. Food, clothing, shelter and entertainment should be free as air. But the means of rationing scarcity themselves keep the scarcity in existence. The only excuse for money is that there is not enough wealth to go round but it is the money system which makes sure there cannot be enough to go round. By abolishing money we create the conditions where money is unnecessary. The money system is obsolete and anti-human. The world is crying out for change. Millions of children die each year of starvation while the rich spare themselves no luxury or indulgence.

The Socialist Party is propagating the notion of a money-free world. We must stop thinking of a moneyless society as an 'ultimate aim' with no effect upon our actions now. We must realise that the abolition of money (and prices and wages) is the immediate demand. A practical proposition and an urgent necessity, not something to be vaguely worked towards.

There is a commonly held view that automation and robotics are going to ensure that money will disappear as consequence of new technology. This is quite wrong. Today's capitalist society only automates to increase profits and for no other reason. Employers even take machines out and put workers back in if they find that labour-power is cheaper.  The argument for the Universal Basic Income (the citizens' wage) is that useless workers in industry will be gradually be laid off and paid for not working. The process will be extended until money can be abolished. In the meantime, those being paid for doing nothing will do what they like. What is wrong with this projection? Many things, but chiefly two. First, it fails to take account of the systematic nature of society. Second, it assumes that present-day society exhibits a harmony of interests. The matter is that workers are working not for the sake of the production of goods but the production of profits. Today's world is a jungle of conflicting vested interests. The abolition of money will represent the liberation of wage-slaves, but also the dispossession of master-class. Proponents of “free money” ignore the economic imperative of capitalism, enforced through competition, to accumulate more and more capital out of profits, and so profits must come first before meeting the consumption needs of the population. Catering for these is kept to the minimum to maintain productive efficiency or, in the case of 'free money' payments to the poor, to the minimum needed to avoid bread riots.

Some ask, that without the incentive of monetary reward, who will do the dirty work in a socialist society? Co-operative socially conscious adults will perform these tasks, as they will do everything else. Of course, some presently unpleasant jobs can be made pleasurable or unnecessary, but given that men and women will still have to do some things they dislike we can only suggest that it is better to live freely and engage in occasional chores than to be compelled to do so because of our poverty. Remember, in socialism individuals will have the opportunity to experience a variety of occupations; to do different things at different times. If there are shortages in socialism (and this could be so in times of natural disaster), society will democratically have to distribute available goods according to need. ‘From each according to ability to each according to need’ will be the economic law of socialism. Those who do not wish to co-operate in a socialist society will be free to stand aside. But why should anyone refuse to co-operate when it is in his or her material interest to do so? Socialism can only be achieved when men and women are conscious of the need for collective co-operation.

The Socialist Party is called Utopians because it dares to suggest that we could run our lives in a much more harmonious way, instead of succumbing to the prevailing view that things must carry on more or less as they are. The idea of socialism stopped being an unrealisable dream once capitalism reached the level of industrial technology for the potential to produce an abundance of goods to meet everyone's needs and had developed sufficiently to allow the working class to become politically organised. There's nothing utopian about suggesting that we could organise a better world now. The real dreamers are those who rather muddle along hoping that this or that reform will somehow make the profit-system behave humanely—something it has never done so far and never will. William Morris saw the dangers of treating the problems of capitalism separately by reforms and insisted on the need to work for a socialist society and nothing else. He argued that "it is essential that the ideal of the new society should always be kept before the eyes of the working classes, lest the continuity of the demands of the people should be broken, or lest they should be misdirected".  

Monday, September 04, 2017

In which sense did Karl Marx favour the progress of democracy?

It's often pointed out that our political system is completely corrupted by money yet history teaches that people's influence on their governments is much more powerful than we usually imagine. It's weakened primarily by people's failure to do anything and the mistaken belief that we don't have the power to shape the world as we wish it to be.
Marx and Engels strongly supported political action in the sense of participating in elections. They stressed the importance of the vote. Engels explains that universal suffrage "in an England two-thirds of whose inhabitants are industrial proletarians means the exclusive political rule of the working class with all the revolutionary changes in social conditions which are inseparable from it."
Marx argued along the same lines, for example, in 1855, he stated that "universal suffrage . . . implies the assumption of political power as means of satisfying [the workers'] social means" and, in Britain, "revolution is the direct content of universal suffrage."
In 1852 Marx wrote, concerning the Chartists:
“But universal suffrage is the equivalent of political power for the working class of England, where the proletariat forms the large majority of the population, where, in a long though underground civil war, it has gained a clear consciousness of its position as a class and where even the rural districts know no longer any peasants, but only landlords, industrial capitalists (farmers) and hired labourers. The carrying of universal suffrage in England would, therefore be a far more socialistic measure than anything which has been honoured with that name on the continent. Its inevitable result, here is the political supremacy of the working class.”
His meaning is clear - a working class majority in Parliament, backed by a majority of the population, can bring about the real transfer of power.
If there is any remaining doubt that this was indeed Marx’s position twenty years later, in a speech at Amsterdam, he said:
“We know that heed must be paid to the institutions, customs and traditions of the various countries, and we do not deny that there are countries, such as America and England and if I was familiar with its institutions, I might include Holland, where the workers may attain their goal by peaceful means. That being the case, we must recognise that in most continental countries the lever of revolution will have to be force; a resort to force will be necessary one day in order to set up the rule of labour.”
Peaceful means meant electoral means to Marx. He reaffirms “the way to show political power [in Britain] lies open to the working class. Insurrection would be madness where peaceful agitation would more swiftly and surely do the work.”
Engels in 1891 argued in his critique of the draft of the Erfurt program of the German Social Democrats:"If one thing is certain it is that our Party and the working class can only come to power under the form of a democratic republic. This is even the specific form for the dictatorship of the proletariat, as the Great French Revolution has already shown."
Later Engels in 1887 comments that in the USA the workers "next step towards their deliverance" was "the formation of a political workingmen's party, with a platform of its own, and the conquest of the Capitol and the White House for its goal." This new party "like all political parties everywhere . . . aspires to the conquest of political power."
As regards Britain in 1881 he observes, "where the industrial and agricultural working class forms the immense majority of the people, democracy means the dominion of the working class, neither more nor less. Let, then, that working class prepare itself for the task in store for it - the ruling of this great Empire . . . And the best way to do this is to use the power already in their hands, the actual majority they possess . . . to send to Parliament men of their own order." In case this was not clear enough, he lamented that "...everywhere the labourer struggles for political power, for direct representation of his class in the legislature - everywhere but in Great Britain."
The 1st of May, 1893, saw Engels argue that the task of the British working class was not only to pursue economic struggles "but above all in winning political rights, parliament, through the working class organised into an independent party" (significantly, the original manuscript stated "but in winning parliament, the political power").
Some so-called Marxists insist that Marx and Engels opinion about capturing the State changed with the Paris Commune and will quote “The Paris Commune... had shown that ‘the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes’ but Engels points out specifically that “[This quote from The Civil War in France] is simply a question of showing that the victorious proletariat must first refashion the old bureaucratic, administrative centralised state power before it can use it for its own purposes.”
Elsewhere Engels writes “[In Holland] only a few changes will have to be made to establish that free self-government by the working class”
“...the only organisation the victorious working class finds ready-made for use, is that of the State. It may require adaptation to the new functions. But to destroy that at such a moment, would be to destroy the only organism by means of which the working class can exert its newly conquered power” (Engels)
“the republic... is the ready-for-use form for the future rule of the proletariat.”
In his introduction to Marx's The Class Struggles in France. Engels proposes the use of the ballot box as the ideal way, if not the only way, for the party to take power. He noted that "[w]e, the 'revolutionists', the 'overthrowers'" were "thriving far better on legal methods than on illegal methods and overthrow" and the bourgeoisie "cry despairingly . . . legality is the death of us" and were "much more afraid of the legal than of the illegal action of the workers' party, of the results of elections than of those of rebellion." He argued that it was essential "not to fitter away this daily increasing shock force [of party voters] in vanguard skirmishes, but to keep it intact until the decisive day."
Engels was very critical of those suggesting the general strike was the means. Engels had argued in the 1870s against the Bakuninists for thinking that "a general strike is the lever employed by which the social revolution is started." He accusing them of imagining that "one fine morning, all the workers in all the industries of a country, or even of the whole world, stop work, thus forcing the propertied classes either humbly to submit within four weeks at most, or to attack the workers, who would then have the right to defend themselves and use the opportunity to pull down the entire old society."
He stated that it was universally admitted that to carry out the general strike strategy, there had to be a perfect organisation of the working class and plentiful funds. He noted that that was "the rub" as no government would stand by and "allow the organisation or funds of the workers to reach such a level." Moreover, the revolution would happen long before "such an ideal organisation" was set up and if they had been "there would be no need to use the roundabout way of a general strike" to achieve it.
Socialists are in favour of using the vote to introduce socialism in accord with Marx and Engels who argued in April 1883 he and Marx “... have always held that . . . the proletarian class will first have to possess itself of the organised political force of the State and with its aid stamp out the resistance of the Capitalist class and re-organise society."
As Engels put it in 1886, Marx had drawn "the conclusion that, at least in Europe, England is the only country where the inevitable social revolution might be effected entirely by peaceful and legal means. He certainly never forgot to add that he hardly expected the English ruling classes to submit, without a 'pro-slavery rebellion,' to this peaceful and legal revolution." ["Preface to the English edition" in Marx, Capital]
The companion parties of the World Socialist Movement differ from those who wish to “smash the state”. As Engels said "the only organisation the victorious working class finds ready-made for use, is that of the State. It may require adaptation to the new functions. But to destroy that at such a moment, would be to destroy the only organism by means of which the working class can exert its newly conquered power." and that the state "is nothing but a machine for the oppression of one class by another" and "at best an evil inherited by the proletariat after its victorious struggle for class supremacy, whose worst sides the victorious proletariat, just like the Commune, cannot avoid having to lop off at once as much as possible."
When Engels wrote "Marx and I, for forty years, repeated ad nauseam that for us the democratic republic is the only political form in which the struggle between the working class and the capitalist class can first be universalised and then culminate in the decisive victory of the proletariat.", the Socialist Party  can only add that since its formation in 1904 this to has been its object.
Universal suffrage was, to quote Engels, "a splendid weapon" which, while "slower and more boring than the call to revolution", was "ten times more sure and what is even better, it indicates with the most perfect accuracy the day when a call to armed revolution has to be made." This was because it was "even ten to one that universal suffrage, intelligently used by the workers, will drive the rulers to overthrow legality, that is, to put us in the most favourable position to make revolution."
"The big mistake", Engels said was "to think that the revolution is something that can be made overnight. As a matter of fact it is a process of development of the masses that takes several years even under conditions accelerating this process." Thus it was a case of, "as a revolutionary, any means which leads to the goal is suitable, including the most violent and the most pacific." However as he elaborated from experience since writing in The Communist Manifesto calling for "violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie") Engels now judged "the conditions of struggle had essentially changed. Rebellion in the old style, street fighting with barricades . . . , was to a considerable extent obsolete."
The closest that Marx or Engels came to advocating workers councils was in 1850 when Marx suggested that the German workers "establish their own revolutionary workers' governments" alongside of the "new official governments". These could be of two forms, either of "municipal committees and municipal councils" or "workers' clubs or workers' committees."
The Socialist Party remains true to Marx and Engels for using the ballot box to achieve the socialist revolution although this does not preclude utilising such other organs as seen as necessary once political power is seized by those means.
Matthew Culbert  Matthew Culbert

Abolition of Money! 

Many of our fellow-workers cannot conceive of a world without money and prices, but those of us in the Socialist Party of Great Britain can. We envision a largely self-regulating system of stock control in which calculations on what is produced and where and when are made in kind rather than in terms of a common unit like money. A self-monitoring and self-adjusting system of stock control will permit the producers themselves in their worker councils, neighbourhood assemblies, industrial unions or whatever to ascertain more or less immediately the availability of goods of any particular item throughout the system; the communications technology to enable this to happen is already in place, a benefit of global capitalism and its extensive supply-chains. Socialism comes from capitalism which has already created a large, organised, highly trained working class which carries out by itself all essential productive, administrative and educative activity throughout the world and which is inexorably driven because of its subordinate social position and its conditions of work, to challenge the status quo. Capitalism has also produced and carries on producing, the material conditions necessary for the establishment and the practical organisation of a united world-wide society rapid world-wide communications and a potential abundance of goods and services. Furthermore, many of the problems of modern capitalism (pollution, the threat of nuclear war, terrorism) are world problems which can only be approached on a world scale and which therefore spread among workers a consciousness of the need for global solutions.

Achieving 'abundance' can be understood as the maintenance of an adequate buffer of stock in the light of extrapolated trends in demand. The relative abundance or scarcity of a good would be indicated by how easy or difficult it was to maintain such an adequate buffer stock in the face of a demand trend (upward, static, downward). It will thus be possible to choose how to combine different factors for production, and whether to use one rather than another, on the basis of their relative abundance/scarcity. By following the rule of using the minimum necessary amounts of the least abundant factors it will be possible to ensure their efficient allocation. Money and prices would not come into it. Socialism is a system of society which makes commodity-production and money outdated precisely because it is a society based on the common ownership and popular control of the means of production"; in other words, a society where what is produced is shared collectively by the community. Consumer goods produced under such circumstances cannot be sold to the members of the community which already owns them; all that can happen to them is that they can be allocated, divided, handed out or made available to the members of the community in accordance with a democratic decision. The essence of socialist distribution is free access according to self-defined requirements as judged by the individual members of socialist society, in other words, that consumer goods and services should be freely available for people to take and use as and when they needed them, or as Marx said, “from each according to ability, to each according to need”.  Marx mentioned labour-time vouchers as one possible way of distributing consumer goods in the early days of socialist society — but Marx was clear that such vouchers would not be money, could not be money n fact, since money implied commodity-production which socialism precisely abolishes in favour of production directly and solely for use. Today there is no longer any need to think in terms of vouchers as a means of distributing goods in socialist society. This is why we emphasise free access to consumer goods and services according to individual needs as the socialist mode of distribution and as something that could be implemented very rapidly once capitalism has been abolished.

In socialism there will be an abundance of everything for people will be able to make use of the fantastic capacity of technology. We will not have to restrain the use of something like cybernetics and automation, for fear of causing unemployment. On the contrary, it will mean, rather, the redundancy of drudgery and sweated toil in socialism as more efficient production and more time for leisure is introduced and,it will not, as now, be the cause for misery.  To quote Oscar Wilde, as so many do, in his essay on The Soul of Man Under Socialism, said “In socialism, all unintellectual labour, all monotonous dull labour, all labour that deals with unpleasant things and involves dreadful conditions will be done by machinery, and just as trees grow while the countryman is asleep, so while humanity is enjoying itself in cultivated leisure, machinery will be doing the necessary and unpleasant work.” Socialist society will be void of instability and insecurity. 

Apart from the unshackled use of industrial technology on the earth’s resources, people in socialism will also be able to benefit from the work of millions of men and women who had previously been employed in socially useless work under capitalism. The multitudes for instance, who were being trained by their governments in the savagery of war, or who were building death-machines, or bank employees—the list is extensive. We obviously cannot provide a blueprint as the precise details of socialism will be decided by the majority who in the future will establish that society and live in it. But we can make certain general statements about its nature.

We can say that it will mean the end of buying and selling, the end of money and the wages system. We can say that, with the disappearance of such factors as cost and competition, it will mean people planning production democratically according to their wants and taking what they need to consume from the abundance of resources made available by modern technology. We can say that it will mean voluntary cooperation, work as a pleasure, not toil, and all men and women as social equals. We can say that it will mean complete democracy in all departments of life with freedom to choose one’s activities and occupations without being pushed around by decisions from above or by any kind of arbitrary authority. We can say that socialism will be world-wide—it cannot be anything else; ‘British Socialism’ is a contradiction in terms and anyway the world is now so closely united in terms of communications, fashions and the rapid flow of ideas that if people in one place were ready for socialism the rest of the world could not be far behind.

Meet The Edinburgh Branch

Thursday, 7 September – 7:00pm

Thursday, 5 October – 7:00pm

Thursday, 2 November  – 7:00pm

Thursday, 7 December  – 7:00pm

Venue: The Quaker Hall, Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh EH1 2JL

Members of Edinburgh branch regularly hear from people that they are not really interested in politics. The truth is that any action to operate society is political and if people refuse to take political action which is in their own interest, others are only too willing to fill the gap, and run society in their own way, for their own gain.

Today there are numerous left-wing organisations which, to a varying degree, draw their political inspiration from Lenin, Trotsky and the Bolsheviks. Despite bitter disputes over the minutia of their faith, they all conform to a common pattern. Each adopts a programme of immediate demands which are designed as bait to attract working class support with a general rule that the party which must lead the masses, develops a highly centralised leadership within the party, with the rank and file members subordinate to an inner elite. The Socialist Party of Great Britain from its inception has rejected this form of organisation. The Socialist Party hammers home the simple point which it has since never failed to stress—that there can be no socialism without a majority of the working class understanding what needs to be done and prepared to take decisive action to establish the new society.

The Socialist Party strives to educate and propagate the knowledge that will finally oust that which in the past and up to the present has helped to subjugate and exploit the world’s workers. Socialism is not a better way of running capitalism but a world wide system of society in which the private ownership of the means of production and distribution would be replaced by social ownership.  Capitalism is a filthy rotten and decrepit social and economic system, whose apologists will stoop to any level to ensure their profits are never threatened. If this means starting a war, destroying crops from above with poison sprays, overthrowing a democratically-elected government, then so be it—there is no shortage of evidence to support this.

Karl Marx's son-in-law wrote Lafargue “A citizen who gives his labour for money degrades himself to the rank of slaves.”

Join us to discuss socialism and organise to promote a world of production for use, not profit. A world of common ownership and democratic control without the state, leaders, nations, war or money.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Solidarity with Newcomers

A refugee family originally from Egypt now living in Scotland have talked about the fear for their lives after an arson attack at their home in Edinburgh at a block of flats in Wester Hailes on Saturday.
The refugee, who moved from Wales to Scotland in July last year, said: "I heard about Scottish people, they're friendly and welcoming to people from different countries and different cultures, never thought this was going to happen with us in Scotland. We can't feel safe nowhere, it's just a disappointment really. "
He said his family were first targeted five months ago when his young daughter's buggy was set alight on the ground floor of their block. Since the first attack his wife had stopped wearing her niqab because she no longer felt safe.
He said: "We couldn't believe this happened. We had spoken to the police and the council as well."

Fleecing the punters

Edinburgh airport charge airlines £4.95 to park an Airbus A320 on the apron for 15 minutes yet stopping a car for the same amount of time in the controversial drop-off zone would set you back £5.

An A320, used by British Airways and EasyJet for flights to London airports, is charged parking of £3.23 per 15 minutes at its “empty” weight of 43 tons. Even when it is stationary and full of passengers, fuel and luggage, approaching a weight of 66 tons, it will still only be charged £4.95 for parking.
Edinburgh’s drop-off fees start at £1 for up to five minutes, £3 for up to 10 minutes, and £5 between 10 minutes and 20 minutes.

How would a socialist society coordinate supply to meet needs?

The Way out of the Mess

Socialism means different things to different people. To some it means social reforms, to others state ownership of industry, to others the kind of one-party state that once existed in Russia or China. Very few people however view socialism in the same way as the Socialist Party of Great Britain, that is as a worldwide society without buying and selling in which production takes place not for profit but solely to satisfy human needs. By socialism we mean the class-free, money-free, State-free society that will immediately follow capitalism. In other words, we don't subscribe to the common distortion which has 'socialism' ( really state-capitalism), with money and wages and one-party governments, as a society existing between capitalism and communism. For us, the words 'socialism' and 'communism' are exact synonyms and thus interchangeable.

People who possess nothing sell their labour and get wages which allow them to buy what they need to live. It is clear that such a system cannot co-exist with abundance. Only scarce products keep their value and sell at a profit. Abundant products have no value: they are given and taken. Abundance will never exist in capitalism since production is not motivated by the desire to satisfy consumption but by that of realising a profit. When this profit becomes impossible, production stops. It is then said that there is a crisis, even if many consumers lack the bare necessities. The magnificent scientific achievements of the 20th century have made abundance appear in all the industrialised countries, upsetting their economies from top to bottom since these can only function with a “scarcity" of products and services.  The exchange economy must be replaced by an economy in which wealth is no longer produced to be exchanged but is produced instead simply in order to be distributed to human beings to satisfy their needs.  Under this new system, the means for producing wealth will cease to be the private property of individuals or the State and become the common heritage of all the members of society which will enable them all to draw what they require from the shared store of goods set aside for individual consumption.

Doom and gloom are presently the prevalent moods with many predicting the end of civilisation as a result of global warming.  It’s refreshing that there exists a rather more optimistic alternative for the future. We have arrived at a period in which technology has the potential to raise the basic standard of living for every man, woman and child on the planet. Within a generation, we are capable of providing goods and services, once reserved for the wealthy few, to any and all who need them. Or desire them. Abundance for all is within our grasp. Under capitalism, the advances in technology will be abused. Drones, for instance, which could be used to transport medicine to remote areas, are being used to kill people. Nor can capitalism remove its profit-seeking for capital accumulation as the driving force of economic activity.  Nor will it eliminate the enormous waste of resources this involves, nor prevent economic crises like the present one when austerity, not abundance is the order of the day.

  The all-round application of science and technology has created potential abundance and, from time to time, unsold overstocks at world level, on the one hand, and devastating unemployment on the other. Then goods remain unsold; means of production and machines remain idle, while work-hands remain jobless. This situation has become a regular problem for the global capitalist class. In their ultra-modern factories, farms and workplaces a continually decreasing number of workers are daily producing huge amounts of goods and services and adding to the already existing potential and actual plenty. Abundance for all, that is socialism. However, the task of taking possession of abundance remains pending. It's historical taken – the working class is still lacking this revolutionary will.

By what magic do you intend to bring out this fabulous era of abundance the plutocrats and oligarchs will ask ironically. There's no mystery about it. We will be able to make abundance appear because it is already here. It is not so much that socialism is suddenly going to produce abundance but because capitalism artificially maintains scarcity, it will be more a matter of simply liberating it.

In socialism, goods will be freely available and free of charge. The organisation of society to its very foundations will be without money.

The Socialist Party is like no other political party. First, because it doesn't want power for itself. In the new society we advocate, there will be no power structures anyway and our organisation would cease to exist. Second, because we have no leaders or followers and think instead that collective decision-making - democracy - is the only suitable way to operate a free society. Do you know of any other organisation that can say this? We doubt it. .Socialism is the voluntary co-operation of the majority in a world of abundance. The abundance exists now Only the money and profit system stands in the way. All that is needed is for people to agree that capitalism is unnecessary and undesirable. The power is in our hands. We are the workers who run society. Without us nothing moves, nothing functions, nothing gets made. If we refuse en masse to support a system of poverty, wars, states, prisons and money-scarcity, it cannot continue to operate. Don't be misled into thinking that socialism is an idle day-dream. It can be a reality. It can be established immediately. It is the sole alternative to chaos and the only real way to achieve equality and freedom.  if there is no future for the socialist movement then there no future for humanity itself. 

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Janus Sheridan's Two Faces

Once again, this blog is astounded at the audacity of Tommy "liar, liar, pants on fire" Sheridan 

We read  "Solidarity leader Tommy Sheridan spoke outside the Reichstag building at the event organised by Germans for Scottish Independence. Organisers said they wanted to raise awareness of the campaign in Germany and show support for the independence movement in Scotland."

The hypocrisy once more is shown of the man whose personal vanity project "Solidarity" campaigned for "Leave" in the EU referendum and cut links with much of Europe's working class.

But anything for a bit publicity, eh, Tam?

It is time for socialism

The future of human survival depends upon our ability to create a society based on socialist principles. We overthrow capitalism. Resistance to capitalism is fragmented into mostly separate movements and these must become a unified coordinated struggle against the system that represses all of them.  Only a movement that musters all these diverse struggles under one banner will lead us toward an economic democracy. The Social Revolution seeks to transform the existing system and create a different society.  It requires a strong class politics to win over workers.  Shared experiences and common interests can defeat ingrained cultural differences and prejudices.  For the majority of people, living standards are on the decline, job-security is diminishing, wages and social welfare systems are being brutally cut. This may cause a certain amount of despair but it also brings anger against the system but which can be badly focussed.  People must be willing to work together and not scape-goat other victims.  Nevertheless, the system's ruthlessness and callousness offer an opportunity and a challenge for the Socialist Party to promote and advocate the socialist alternative. Only a mass socialist movements can create the transformation we need. The left offers just rhetoric but socialists must present real solutions if we can have genuine hope to win over the majority. Rather than calling for reform, the Socialist Party possesses a compelling vision of a radical change to the current political and economic systems.  A new socialist vision for a socialist society cannot be built on the discredited history of the left-wing parties. And our class politics moves beyond the token protests.  Our campaigns must help people to start re-imagining the future and what can be achieved when the resources of the planet become the common property of all. To be effective, we must communicate in a language that speaks to people's needs, enabling them to both identify and recognize themselves with the conditions that produce the suffering they experience.   The socialist project is about identifying the root causes of our exploitation and oppression. We have a system based on capitalism, by definition, it means there are very few winners and very many losers.  The 95 percent that are on the losing end. The few are using the profits extracted from the many to stay in control and suppress democracy. The problems workers face are too deeply ingrained within the capitalist system to resolve without ending it. The Socialist Party supports workers in their struggles over wages and working conditions and we wish our fellow-proletarians every success, but we do not see it as our task to give detailed advice on how to conduct these struggles. That is something for those involved to decide themselves. We would merely urge workers to recognise that they have a fundamental conflict of interest with their employers (whether private or state); to subordinate sectional demands to the interests of the working class as a whole; and to decide democratically on what action to take, whatever it might be. Trade union action, whether official or unofficial, has its limits. It defends wages and working conditions, but it leaves the places of work in the hands of their owners. As long as this class ownership lasts, workers will have to —and should—take such defensive action but they should also realise its limitations and the need to organise on the political field too in order to capture the machinery of government and make the means of production the common property of society as a whole.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Socialism - a politics of solidarity

We cannot traffic in our principles, we can make no compromise, no agreement with the ruling system. We must break with the ruling system and fight it to a finish." - Wilhelm Liebneckt

The Socialist Party rejects this view which implies that the working class is a simple tool to be used as a mass basis for the capture of power by a left-wing political party. Lenin's theory of the vanguard party — his most notorious departure from Marx which says that the revolution can only be achieved by a party of professional revolutionaries leading the discontented masses — was taken straight from the Russian revolutionary tradition. Its pedigree can be traced back through Tkachev and Ogarev to West European thinkers like Babeuf and Buonarroti whose idea of revolution was coloured by the Great French Bourgeois Revolution. Marx went beyond, and specifically repudiated, the idea of self-appointed liberators leading the mass of ignorant people to freedom. Lenin constantly referred back to the French Revolution and the attitude of the Jacobins for inspiration. The practical policy that grew out of the French Revolution and continued like a red thread through the working class movement afterwards, openly adopted successively by Blanqui and Lenin was based on the idea that an active minority can carry with it an inert and ignorant mass; it is a policy that depends upon leadership and ultimately places power in the hands of one or two outstanding people. Many people still think that Lenin was a socialist. Nothing could be further from the truth. By the turn of the nineteenth century, Jacobin ideas have almost died out in France but were enjoying a revival in Russia, a country whose political and social system had many of the features of France’s ancien regime. Here the idea of a minority revolutionary dictatorship had an attraction for the anti- Tsarist revolutionaries, including some of those who considered themselves Marxists. Among the latter was Lenin. All the guidance by revolutionary vanguard parties with "infallible” leaders like Lenin at their head can never be a substitute for a self-reliant working class.

The change from capitalism to socialism can only be carried out consciously, as the conscious act of the great majority of the working class. Members of the Socialist Party, unlike Bolshevik professional revolutionaries, do not try to latch on to the working class. Socialist Party members are not a special type of person whose ideas are formed in a different way from the rest of the working class. We are simply part of the working class who want and understand socialism, faced with the problem of how to get their ideas over to our fellow-workers. To do this, we need to take no special steps to be with the working class. We are already there. The task of the Socialist Party at present, when they are a tiny minority, is to organise ourselves in as effective a way as possible to put over the case for socialism and to help the evolution of socialist understanding. For this, an independent political organisation and propaganda agency is best suited. This is the only organisational form which allows socialists to express their views fully and freely, openly and honestly. If they were part of an organisation whose aims they did not share, the Socialist Party would have to waste its time on the problems of that organisation. And besides, we would be associated with it and its failures.

There are many ways of getting ideas across to other workers; through your own journal, pamphlets and leaflets; through meetings indoor and outdoor; through canvassing and discussion. This is currently the work of the Socialist Party. We contest elections in opposition to the other parties. Elections are about who shall control the state. At present, because the great majority of workers don't know what socialism is or don't see it as a real alternative, they elect to office people pledged to run capitalism. Socialist Party members, however, vote only for socialist candidates. We play no part in handing over political power to the capitalist class. 

The Socialist Party is not opposed to the Parliamentary system. We hold that the only important thing that is wrong about Parliament, from our point of view, is that it is controlled by the wrong people and for the wrong purpose. Its M.P.s at present have been sent there by electors who want capitalism to be retained. When a majority of the electors have become socialists they will send their delegates to Parliament with the mandate to establish socialism. In the words of our Declaration of Principles, the machinery of government, including the armed forces of the nation, will be converted from an instrument of oppression into the agent of emancipation. We have always held the above views, and have never been beguiled by the various opposing views that have had their long or short periods of popularity. Our Party never went in for theories of armed revolt or general strikes, or "taking and holding" the factories by industrial organisations. History is a weapon in the hands of a Socialist party. But for capitalist parties, it is just an embarrassment, especially when the record of their own blunders and compromises is recalled. Apart from minor errors, our party's analysis of political events and social developments has been correct throughout the years we have been working for socialism. 

Lenin’s switch in 1917 from aiming at a democratic republic to a "socialist” one took him even further away from Marxism, but it did not invalidate his previous analysis of how Russia’s bourgeois revolution would come. The role of the Bolsheviks in Russia’s bourgeois revolution did indeed turn out to be the same as that of the Jacobins in France’s, that is, to carry through measures against the old order the bourgeoisie themselves were incapable of. The great difference was that while the Jacobins' rule did not last, the Bolsheviks’ rule did and the Bolshevik rulers gradually evolved into a new bourgeoisie (or capitalist class) themselves.  The Leninists of today will argue 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.

Socialist Standard No. 1357 September 2017