Monday, March 25, 2019

Championing the Working Class

What is capitalism? Capitalism is an economic term, applied to the economic system of our civilisation, by means of which a small minority of people achieve economic independence and have the privilege of living idly upon the toil of others, who produce a surplus value above that which they receive for their own sustenance. Capitalism refers to the system. A capitalist is one who profits by the system. If he works himself, it does not alter the fact that he has an income apart from his work sufficient to sustain him for life without toil, and therefore his is economically independent. Capitalism therefore consists of two classes of society: the capitalist class, which has achieved economic independence and the working class, which includes those who are not able to do more than sustain life by means of selling their labour power to the capitalist class. Capitalism is based upon two sets of conflicting economic interests. One class believes that it is justly entitled to the economic power and security which it has, but which it manifestly did not create; the other class believes that it is being unjustly deprived of that which it has created yet will never possesses. This is the class struggle. The source of all profit is the exploitation of the working class; where it goes is irrelevant. The logic of the class struggle is simple, A handful of capitalists and financiers who are in control manufacturing, the banks, the natural resources and the government, are steadily whittling away at the living standards and democratic rights of all the working class. The reason why a handful are able to dominate is that the millions of workers are scattered, powerless, without unity and direction. Labour must be organised to challenge the capitalist foe. In addition to obvious splitting tactics to divide our class with racism, sexism or nationalism, the capitalists also divide our class with reformism.

Reformism thinks only of how to solve problems within the framework allowed by capital. Reformism regards socialism as a remote goal and nothing more, and actually repudiates the socialist revolution. Reformism advocates not class struggle, but class collaboration. Reformism is a programme of relying on gradual change and making things a little bit better, slowly. It develops out of faith in the fair mindedness of the wealthy. Reformists feel that they can serve the people by forming an alliance with the enemy. Reformists slyly serve the interests of the ruling class. The Socialist Party says reformism is not a moderate or too slow form of socialism, but its mortal enemy. Reformism is trickery used to keep the working class under wage slavery. Reformism keeps the working class indefinitely under the yoke of capitalism.  Reformists maintain that we can arrive at a certain type of “socialism” by winning reforms one after the other. What they don’t say is that whatever the rich has to give up with one hand after a hard struggle, it will just take back with the other. It’s the same story with regard to all those who hold reformist ideas. The Socialist Party makes no compromises. In our education work we show how reformism upholds capitalism and sabotages the fight for socialism. Marxists link themselves with their fellow-workers as socialists. They don’t hide their positions out of fear of cutting themselves off from the masses but rather carry out their educational work in order to demonstrate revolutionary positions. To fight against reformism means stopping the creation illusions about capitalism. Skilful politicians endeavour to reform, in other words patch up the old system of antiquated and shaky domination, or erect a new system of domination. This is what is called good politics. Others try to help the exploited acquire the strength to deliver themselves from oppression and domination. It is this which in parliamentary terms is called bad politics.

 The Socialist Party champions the working class, declaring its intention to be advocate the abolition of wage slavery by the establishment of a world system based upon common ownership of the means of production and distribution, to be administered by society in the common interest of all its members and the complete emancipation of the socially useful classes from the domination of capitalism. With socialism, private ownership and barter in capital being at an end, money would lose the functions which it possessed under capitalism and would be disappear. Our object is to establish social justice for the people of the world. Let it be understood by everybody that the purpose of the Socialist Party is to secure the conquest of the world for the workers of the world. We aim at a new society – the socialist commonwealth. The meaning of this should be clear to all workers. It is a fight against the Labour Government and the so-called “Left Wing”, as the enemies of the working class, and we must bring our sharpest weapons of attack to bear on them. There is not and cannot be any political party which genuinely fights for the people other than one which is clearly and unambiguously a socialist party. If socialists dilute their own principles and party, hoping to catch the popularity of the common people, it thereby dilutes its fight against the capitalists. Let socialists organise and oppose resolutely, uncompromisingly against the 1%.

The aim of the Socialist Party is to replace world capitalist economy by world socialism for it alone can abolish the contradictions of the capitalist system which threaten to degrade and destroy the humanity. It is mankind’s only way out by creating a united commonwealth of labour, abolishing private ownership of the means of production and converting these means into social property, and replacing those competitive and blind processes of the world market by planned production for the purpose of satisfying social needs. With the abolition of competition and anarchy in production, devastating crises and still more devastating wars will disappear. Instead of colossal waste of productive forces and spasmodic development of society, there will be a planned production for use of all material resources. The abolition of private property and the disappearance of classes will do away with the exploitation of man by man. Work will cease to be toiling for the benefit of a class enemy. Deprivation, want and inequality will disappear and the wretched misery of we, the wage-slaves, will end.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Good Times Don't Last Long Under Capitalism

For the average working guy Mississsauga, Ontario was a pretty good place to live, about as good as it could get under capitalism. 

Sad to say, it ain’t that way now. The place is well maintained, the public services are administered well and it was a relatively cheap place to live, though that has changed recently and drastically. 

In an effort to encourage the development of new buildings, last fall the Ontario government lifted rent controls from new units unoccupied prior to Nov.15. Now the average rent for a one bedroom condo in Mississauga is $2000 a month, up from $1,794 in October. The amazing thing is that rents there are higher than most parts of Toronto. Only in it’s central zone is Toronto higher, with $2,241 a month. 

One may well ask how a working class family can cope with these rents. Most probably can’t, nor can they save for a down payment on a mortgage. 

Good times don’t last very long under capitalism and the only things you can be sure of are hardship and insecurity.

For socialism, Steve, Mehmet, John & contributing members of the SPC

We Can Set Our Own Family Policy.

The Federal Services Minister Seamus O’Regan said he was working night and day to come up with proposed welfare legislation to benefit their children, but if he is, the Native Canadians aren’t happy.

 As the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said in an open letter to Justin Trudeau, "We do not wish to see the federal government put in place a child welfare system that subordinates or places us under a province with no recognition of our right to set our own family policy and protect our own children and families.” 

It’s the idea of the proposed bill allowing provincial intrusion into their affairs that has their panties in a twist. 

Cameron said it was, "A renewal of colonialism”.

 However the matter plays out, one wonders when have the effects of colonialism on aboriginals ever ended that they should be renewed. 

Also we can be sure the political upholders of capitalism won’t do a thing for them if it clashes with the interests of the capitalist class.

For socialism, 
Steve, Mehmet, John & contributing members of the SPC .

An answer for May

Take your pick

We have to choose whether capitalism with all its attendant miseries and horrors is to remain or whether we intend to be free of its wage slavery. The Socialist Party explains to our fellow workers the nature of the struggle in which they are participating. To tell them of the principles for which we work and fight. To reveal what we are confident is the way out for our class from the horrid nightmare of the competitive struggle which sets nation against nation, class against class, and individual against individual. The struggle between individual capitalists to realise profits sets employer against employer. The conflict between national groups of financiers sets nation against nation, and produces war. But despite their individual and national conflicts the whole capitalist class stands united in their common desire to exploit the working class. Hence under capitalism the freedom of the working class consists in the freedom to starve or accept such conditions as are imposed upon them by the employing class. But the freedom of the master class consists in their untrammelled freedom to buy labour-power to create profit. Thus, the workers are not free. Neither owning nor controlling the means of life, they are wage slaves of their employers, and are but mere commodities. The struggle is between the possessing ruling class, which owns the means of production, and the working class, which is subjected to exploitation and oppression precisely because the means of production are in the hands of the exploiters.

Jobs are disappearing, wiped out by factory closures, out-sourcing and off-shoring and automation. Unions have lost members and forced to submit to humiliating concessions. The social services of the Welfare State which gave some protection against unchecked capitalist exploitation have been gutted. No section of the working class has escaped hard times. Workers in industries, accustomed to relatively good wages and secure jobs, have gotten a jarring reminder of what too many other workers were never allowed to forget: that economic survival under capitalism is not something you can take for granted. Yet the economic crisis did not bring us all down to the same level. On the contrary, those who were worst off to begin with have been hurt the hardest. We hear from the politicians, the media and the economists that the recession is behind us as corporate profits soar and share dividends rise. The clear message is what working people have lost in the course of the last recession will not be returned to us.

This is nothing new. For generations, workers have borne the brunt of each economic downturn. But employers mouthpieces have been assigning blame to migrant workers, accused of “stealing” our jobs and asylum seekers getting “priority and privileged access” to social services.  Worker have raised new cries for restrictive immigration laws. Wherever we look, we see capitalists appealing to the most backward, chauvinist sentiments in the working class – sowing seeds of disunity that will spread like weeds if not vigorously opposed. The capitalist’s divide-and-conquer game doesn’t end with racist and nationalist propaganda. More and more, their collective bargaining strategies are calculated to set workers at one another’s throats with the introduction of dual contracts where newcomers or those without seniority are paid less. Instead of competing for jobs, we need unity of employed and unemployed. Instead of resigning ourselves to weaker unions, we need to organise our class. Instead of flag-waving, we need international unity and defence. We’re up against a enemies who represent different class interests than our own. 

 In opposition to all other parties—Conservative, Liberal, Nationalist or Labour—we affirm that so long as one section of the community own and control the means of production, and the rest of the community are compelled to work for that section in order to obtain the means of life, there can be no peace between them. We want no more promises. We want no more charity. The Socialist Party works for the building of the world anew, for the sweeping away of ignorance, for the full development of men and women, free from class exploitation, and the degradations of poverty. We don’t have an effective socialist party right now. Building one is a big job. But it needs to be done – and it is up to all workers who sense that capitalism can never provide them with a decent life or secure livelihoods to see that it happens. Decline to make your stand alongside us and by your neglect, you condone misery, exploitation, greed and war. The hour is great. The eyes of the world are upon you. The choice is yours.

Trust your leaders

How often have you heard the plea, “What we want is honest leadership” and the failure to keep pledges blamed on “treachery of the leadership” and the need for a more “revered leader” to fulfil the promises. Leaders has always been an accepted fact in workers’ movements. For centuries it has been taken for granted that there are individuals specially marked out to be at the head of their fellow-workers. They are offered the opportunity to exercise power and are presented with positions of higher standing over those less fortunate. The idea of leadership is often put down to an inherent attribute of humanity’s hierarchy often based on some sort of biological endowment; as a proof of this we are referred to a bull lording it over his herd as an illustration.  However, one simple fact, is overlooked and it is that leadership, if meaning one who directs, controls and is followed, then it is unknown to many hunter-gatherers and tribal people.

Leadership is a form of domination. Within the working-class movement leaders lead from behind. That is to say, they can only follow the course the mass agrees to follow.

“There goes my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.” Gandhi

While action by the mass of workers depends upon leaders and leaders depend upon masses there is bound to be this instability.

The first thing a leader must do is to convince the masses that the course he or she proposes following is the best one. Out of this arises rivalry and antagonism amongst leaders, each striving for support and building up of clique of “true believers.” This creates the intrigues and internecine warfare that plays a prominent part in labour politics. The qualities that make leaders are varied. In some cases, it is the power of their oratory, the ability to make fine speeches, in others a capacity for intrigue, and in others again, the ability for the back-room routine paperwork. A brass neck and a thick skin are also helpful. Extravagant promises impossible of fulfilment are also part of the general stock-in-trade.

It has to be conceded that leaders do not always start out with the idea of making a career or tricking their followers, although there are many who do so. What generally happens is that they gradually drift into a position where their interests are not identical with those of their followers. Leaders who have sprung from poor circumstances dread the possibility of falling back into the ranks of those looking for employment, and consequently they do all they can to keep in existence trade union and political jobs, and to hold on to the jobs they have obtained. Any attack upon the job either by erstwhile followers or budding rivals is bitterly resented. Leaders are jealous of one others' popularity.  Exclusive inner-circles develop, placing barriers around the available jobs, and a great part of the political life is taken up with this side, instead of pushing for the workers' interests. At times, where circumstances dictate it, the interests of followers are sacrificed to the interests of keeping the job. There are innumerable examples of the callous way in which many who have risen to position on the backs of followers and have then abandoned their followers for a political advancement.  

  “…you will find that almost all of those corporation lawyers and cowardly politicians, members of Congress, and misrepresentatives of the masses — you will find that almost all of them claim, in glowing terms, that they have risen from the ranks to places of eminence and distinction. I am very glad I cannot make that claim for myself. I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks.” Eugene Debs

In general, leaders who have “got there" favour arbitration rather than confrontation. The tendency of leadership is also towards conservatism—to keep the status quo going. Many a leader starts off as a firebrand but then gradually drifts into the “respectable” camp but gradually they do not want any disruption or seek any change in the conditions that guarantee them security, and hence they look with suspicion upon anything new. Often, they are in a better position to obtain a grasp of the situation, possessing more access to information than the rank and file, and this tends to give them an inflated idea of their own importance. Hence, they resent criticism.  The position of working-class leaders permits them to mix with a more privileged circle that was formerly unknown to them. The Red Clydesiders when they went to Parliament adopted the habits and dress of their “social betters”. They made the most of their new connections and gaining the reputation of being practical and respectable, they received the trust of those in the ruling class. Such “red radicals” without deliberate intention, lived it up and were presented with the rewards of office, expenses and higher pay. "We were the stuff of which reform is made." David Kirkwood
 It didn’t go unnoticed by younger aspiring leaders, now hoping to make their own political careers. The battle-cry of the old leader is often outdone by that of a newcomer, and the popular idol of one day disappears and is replaced by another to follow the same path.

Relying on leaders dulls the critical faculties of people who habitually depend upon others to solve their difficulties. They become averse to working out solutions to their own problems. They expect the leaders to do their thinking, and when events take place that needs thoughtful action they have lost the ability. They blame the leadership for failure. Repeated failure develops apathy, and the feeling that success is impossible. The actions of leaders are limited by the outlook of the majority of the workers, it would be necessary for the majority to possess knowledge understand the position clearly in order that they might act effectively. When the majority do understand what is required they will no longer need leaders to tell them what to do.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Until the Socialist Commonwealth

There was a time when men and women joined together in parties and societies, for the purpose of furthering a cause or principle dear to their hearts. These organisations were supposed to exist for the idea or cause it represented. Now, on the contrary, the tendency is to regard the cause as existing for the sake of organisation. “The end is nothing, the movement everything,” is a rallying-cry of the practical party-man of the present day. The principles, the ideas, for which these movements are supposed to stand for are now quite subordinate to the party-machine.

There is probably no word better abused at the present moment than the word “socialism”. There seems a great difficulty with many persons, calling themselves “socialists” nowadays who fancy themselves before all things as sensible, level-headed politicians which means the continuance of capitalism and of the traditional policy of capitalism in its essential features, notwithstanding modifications of detail. In other words, preserving the stability of the present social system. The Socialist Party’s object is to strike a blow at this continuity of capitalism.

Socialism does not mean co-operatives competing against one another and also with traditional capitalist enterprises. It means the whole community, backed by the forces at the disposal of the community, organised for the work of production and distribution, and employing for this purpose the latest and most approved methods and the latest and most approved technology.

Socialism is a lot more than the capitalist gospel of success – acquisition for acquisition’s sake - and the selfish individualist doctrine of life where every person’s aim is to become a capitalist, large or small which is to buy his work-force in the cheapest market (exploit the workers), and sell the resulting product at the highest price (i.e., overcharge the consumer). Now, it is a matter of fact, it is economically impossible for every man to become a capitalist, so that the attempt to carry out this doctrine, as in the present state of things, must invariably result in the separation of society into two classes – victimisers (employers or investors) and victims (working people.)

Distinct from the Labour Party, the Socialist Party have always stoutly upheld the banner of Internationalism in the matter of immigration.

The wealth of the community, whether land, raw material, or instruments of production, socialism would place in the hands of the people themselves. The Socialist Party alone holds a clear goal- the entire transformation of human society. An economically free community cannot fail to be the foundation of a free social life, a life free from the shackles of wage slavery and the sordid struggle for the bare means of subsistence imposed on mankind. Socialism means the proclaims the “joy of life” as the right of all

The ways of the men and women of the co-operative commonwealth of the future will not be our ways, nor their thoughts our thoughts. We only deceive ourselves if we think so. “Why don’t you practice what you preach?” is a common jibe at socialists. We answer, “Because we cannot; if we could practice what we preached we should not require to preach any longer, so that the fact of our preaching is a sign that the time of our practicing has not yet arrived!” 
The accusation also assumes that socialism is an individualist-ethical theory, primarily designed for the direct reform of the personal character of individuals. This it is not. Socialism is an economic theory of the evolution and transformation of society. 
The Socialist Party doesn’t profess to practice what they preach, because what we preach is social revolution, i.e., the entire transformation of society. It is perfectly obvious that no individual can practice the transformation of society, except by working for the said transformation to the best of his or her ability. This is the only sort of “practicing” a socialist can do nowadays. Only when we have changed the existing conditions and secured for all the reward of their work, then and not till then shall me be able to “practice what we preach.”

Scotland's Worth

Natural resources in Scotland have been valued at one-third of the UK’s total.

 The research, by the Office of National Statistics, examined the value or profit provided by natural resources such as wind, water, oil and gas, and how they are used. 

The partial-asset value of Scottish natural capital was estimated to be £273 billion – 34 per cent of the UK as a whole – in 2015.

Renewable energy is the fastest-growing natural resource consumed in Scotland, while oil and gas production has halved in less than two decades.

 Electricity generated from renewable sources was five times higher in 2017 than at the turn of the millennium and now accounts for more than half of all the country’s energy production. 

Wind is the largest producer of electricity from renewable sources, overtaking hydropower as the main source of renewable energy in 2010. It accounted for 68 per cent of the electricity generated from renewables up to 2017.

Oil and gas production has steadily fallen since 1998, dropping 58 per cent in less than two decades. In 2017, combined oil and gas production in Scotland was 
73.7 million tonnes of oil equivalent, down from 
176.6 million tonnes.

The fish caught in Scottish waters has reached record numbers. The amount of fish captured in 2016 was more than two-thirds higher than in 2003 – a 70 per cent increase from 628.2 thousand tonnes to 1,065.2 thousand tonnes. 
There was an annual expansion in fish capture of nearly 35 per cent in 2014 and an increase of 14 per cent in 2016. 

Scottish commercial property attracted more investment last year from wealthy overseas investors than France, Japan and South Korea.  total investment from “internationally-based ultra-high-net-worth individuals” in Scottish commercial property totalled some $376.3 million (£283.6m) in 2018. The figure for France was about $360m, Japan came in at $110m, while South Korea was just $10m. Scotland was placed eighth globally for cross-border private capital investment in commercial property, such as offices, shops and industrial sites, behind Canada at $770m.

Jenners’ historic department store on Edinburgh’s Princes Street was bought by a Danish investor for £53m.


All other political parties live only in the present. The Socialist Party is the only one which has a definite aim in the future, the only one whose present policy is dictated by a general, consistent purpose. Socialists view socialism as the higher stage social evolution of human society. All the accumulated advances in machinery and technology, all that science and art had given to the humanity over generations is to be for use, not for the few, but for the benefit of mankind as a whole. Based on the common ownership of the means of production and distribution, the socialist system is to be built, ending all social oppression by dissolving the hostile classes into a community of free and equal producers striving not for sectional interests, but for the common good. This is the socialist commonwealth, liberating the individual from all economic, political and social exploitation, providing for real liberty and for the full and harmonious development of the personality.

Under capitalism, with its wage slavery, the worker is nominally free; but as the land, the factories and all the product of the worker’s labour belong to the employing class. The workers are at liberty to change their individual masters, if they can, that is all. Wage slaves have ceased to be at the mercy of individual employers, but they cannot emancipate themselves from slavery to the employing class. “Free” and “independent” workers sell their labour power, which is the only commodity they possess, to the capitalists who own or control all the means of producing wealth, including the tools and resources.

There is a continuous class war between wage slaves and the capitalist class, with its parasites. So long as wages are paid by one class to another class, so long will men and women remain slaves to the employing class.

Under the modern methods of production the workers are controlled by their machines, instead of being in control of them. Under the capitalist system of production for exchange the producers themselves have no control over their own products.

Goods are produced, not directly for social purposes, but to be put on the market for sale , in order to create a profit for the capitalists. If capitalists are unable for any reason to produce goods profitably, the wage-earners cease to be employed, though there may be a vast quantity of useful goods glutting the warehouses on the one hand, and millions of people who are anxious to have them on the other.

Rent, profit and interest are all provided by the workers. They are, all three, the component parts of the labour value embodied in saleable commodities by the labour power of the workers, over and above the actual wages paid to the toiler, and the cost of raw materials, incidental materials, etc., needed by the capitalist for the conduct of his business.

Production for profit and exchange by wage labour assumes the existence, from historic causes, of large numbers of people who are divorced from the land and possess no property of their own. The only way to solve the growing antagonism between the two great classes of modern society is, by substituting co­operation for competition, in all branches of production and distribution. This involves a social revolution. The abolition of the present system of production means substituting production for use for production for sale.

Workers have advanced their labour power to the capitalist before they are paid their wages for its use. Capitalists, as a class, run no risks whatever; the unfortunate in the competitive struggle for gain are simply wiped out by their competitors, who benefit by their downfall. Shareholders in capitalist companies rarely or never render any service to the company, or the community, as shareholders. In the vast majority of cases they have never visited the enterprises from which they draw their dividends.

As formulated by its chief advocates, socialism aims at the entire emancipation of the workers from the mastery of the capitalists and the immediate establishment of a co-operative commonwealth. That is, in fact, the emancipation of the whole wage-slave class.

It is not our purpose to meet all the objections, misconceptions and
misstatements with which the capitalist class strives to combat socialism. It is fruitless less to attempt to enlighten malice and ignorance. The Socialist Party’s task is to show that the socialist commonwealth is not impossible, not a mere fanciful dream. The capitalist social system has run its course. The substitution of a new social order for the existing one is no longer simply desirable, it has become a necessity. So many false notions about the socialism have been inherited or invented but so long as our vision is turned in the same direction we can prevail.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Child Poverty to Rise

The Scottish government is at risk of missing its own child poverty targets by more than 100,000 children.

Austerity measures will put child poverty across the country on course to hit a 20-year peak of about 29% of children living in relative poverty by 2023, its report forecasts. The figure is considerably higher than the Scottish government’s target of 18%. The most recent figures on relative child poverty show 23% of children across Scotland were living on less than 60% of median household incomes in 2016-17.

Adam Corlett, senior economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, acknowledged that the rise in child poverty “is almost entirely driven by UK-wide decisions”, including the four-year freeze on working-age benefits and the two-child limit on working-age benefit support.

Truth Will Out

The working class are “slave” class. We are the people who produce the wealth capitalism. The urgent task still awaits us — the harnessing of capitalism’s productive forces in the interests of all to banish deprivation from the earth forever. For the Socialist Party, this is not a question of techniques and technology of production, but of social organisation. Appealing to the kind sentiments of the people that run a heartless system won’t get us very far. People don’t get very far if they depend on the moral scruples of the powerful. Humane principles are low priorities in the profit-driven society. By and large, the capitalists from Wall Street and the boardrooms of the corporations already know what they are doing. Many activists have begun recognising the limits of lobbying or traditional protest marches. Those activities are always necessary, and their importance should not be underestimated, yet they’re still insufficient. Workers need to build electoral muscle, wresting political power away from the ruling class. Only by mobilising to take power can we realistically hope to overcome and dismantle the capitalist power structures.

Bourgeois thinkers assume that the triumph of capitalism coincides with the highest attainable summit of human existence. These scholars of history stubbornly refuse to learn from the past when the slow, steady evolution of social conditions exploded at critical junctures into tremendous upheavals which overturned the old order. History is full of such sudden transitions and forward leaps. Capitalism which faces the same prospect as Indian tribalism, colonial feudalism and chattel slavery. It has become obsolete and opposed to progress. The major evils from which mankind suffers are directly attributable to the outworn institution of capitalist private property. The emancipation of mankind from poverty, tyranny and wars is inseparable from the liberation of the means of production from the grip of capitalist ownership and control. The capitalists are destined to be dislodged like the feudal barons and the Southern slavocracy. Uprooting all the abominations of class society, and cultivating everything worthy in knowledge and culture taken over from capitalism, will be enjoyed in its finest forms through the socialist revolution of the working people. Mankind cannot resume its upward climb until civilisation is rescued from capitalist barbarism. The duty of the Socialist Party is to foresee the rebirth of mass radicalism and to prepare its advent by developing and disseminating the ideas of socialism. Our immediate goal is the social revolution. The goal of the Labour Party is legislative reforms. But we know that the promised reforms will not be realised and that, even realised, they will only ameliorate the lot of one section of workers at the expense of the others.

 So, we only see one solution: the revolution. We separate ourselves from reformists, for we believe we must fight against everything that slows it down and all that could reconcile us to the current order of things. We are above all socialists, i.e., we want to destroy the cause of all iniquities, all exploitation, all poverty and crime: private property. We revolt against current society not in the name of an abstract principles but for the effective amelioration of humanity’s lot. The revolution we conceive of can only be made by and for the people, without any false representatives. The salvation of the revolution lies in the organisation of the working class. The basis of future organisations of labour is the federation of associations. There will be trial and error. We will not immediately fall upon a perfect system. There will be no divine inspiration, but experience and agreements will tell the individual and the labour associations what society has need of at a given moment. Thus understood, the revolution obviously can’t be the work of a party or a coalition of parties: it demands the assistance of the entire labour movement. The workers have no need of chiefs: they are quite capable of charging one of their own with a particular task.

When the unions demand improvements, salary increases, reductions in working hours, abolition of work rules; when they go on strike to defend their dignity or to affirm their solidarity with colleagues or fellow workers, we have to say to them that none of this resolves the question. We must promote a wider and effective need, for the revolution, for the abolition of private property and government. We must do everything possible to broaden and generalise the movement and give it a revolutionary content. But above all we must support the workers, offer them our solidarity. To turn away from the workers’ movement would mean appearing to be friends of the rich. Even if the economic effects of strikes are partial, transitory, and often non-existent or disastrous, that doesn’t change the fact that every strike is an act of dignity, an act of revolt, and serves to get workers used to thinking of the boss as an enemy and to fight for what he or she wants without waiting for grace from on high. A striker is already no longer a slave who
blesses the boss but already a subversive rebel, already engaged on the path of socialism and revolution. It is up to us to help him and her advance along that road. We must prove to the world that socialism isn’t an abstract ideal, a dream or a distant vision, but a vital and living principle, destined to renew the world and establishing it on the imperishable foundations of well-being and human fraternity.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Lest we forget

The Passing of Comrade Henderson (1957)

Obituary from the Nov-Dec 1957 issue of The Western Socialist
Comrade Walter Henderson was born at Fifeshire, Scotland, one of a family of twelve brothers, and came across to Canada in 1911. He had been raised in a strict religious environment. In about 1913-14 some comrades first contacted him at Brandon, Manitoba, where he was conducting a Sunday school class in St. Paul’s church. In 1914 with the outbreak of World War I work was disrupted and suspended in that part of Canada. Henderson, with thousands of others, lost his job. He drifted into Winnipeg and hung around the Labor Temple where he met some members of the Socialist Party of Canada. He listened to them attentively, and by the time the war was over he had dropped his religion completely and was an enthusiastic member of the Winnipeg Local of the Socialist Party of Canada.
For a time he worked on the Winnipeg Street Railway. During the Winnipeg strike he was a most valiant and militant fighter. Later on he went to work in the Fort Rouge Railroad shops, where workers in the boiler department made him a delegate to the Trades & Labour Council. 
In 1923 Henderson came to Los Angeles. He got a job at the trade he had learned back in Scotland — plastering. With no jobs available in the depression, 1929, he and his wife Bridget, started a small bakery. After about four years of this he found himself back in the plasterer’s game.
From 1923 on he was a member of the Plasterers’ Local No. 2. For thirty years he was their delegate to the Los Angeles Central Labor Council and for about two years he was a business agent.
The present writer knew Com. Henderson for forty years, having worked with him most of the time. We both were charter members of Local Los Angeles WSP back in 1931. It was always a pleasure to be in his company. At all our social gatherings he was the life of the party. He was active in Party work until the very last. I ’phoned him about three hours before he passed away. He was, as always, full of enthusiasm, telling me he had just written four letters to San Francisco comrades making arrangements for them to hear tape recordings heard at recent WSP conference at Boston.
On Sunday, November 10th, two days before he passed away, our local group met at a comrade’s house. He was full of fun, but said he was not feeling up to par. He told us at this time he was much concerned about increasing the sale of our papers on the newsstands. He was also elated that he had collected $18.00 to send to the national office. I do not remember him ever missing a business meeting unless he was out of town.
Our comrade had hundreds of friends in the labor movement, many of whom disagreed with his Socialist principles but respected his sincerity. He was always outspoken and never hesitant in exposing those whom he thought were guilty of deception and hocus pocus in the labor movement.
At his funeral several hundred crowded the two rooms of the funeral parlor, with as many more unable to get inside. A summarized account of his life in the Socialist movement was given by W. A. Pritchard, a friend of his with whom he had worked in the Socialist Party of Canada years before.
He is survived by his widow, who shared with him the same social concepts of life, and two married daughters He is also survived by a brother Dave, with whom many of the comrades are well acquainted. To the entire family we extend our deepest sympathy at their great loss.
His passing is an irretrievable loss to all that knew him as a Socialist. All we can do now is to say farewell to a loyal friend and ardent comrade. We will carry on.

Fred Evans

From here

A life worth living for all

The inability of seemingly powerful and well-entrenched liberal and left parties to prevent the triumph of right-wing reaction has been a bitter pill to swallow. The conditions have aggravated the sense of working-class political impotence. Forced to abandon their traditional beliefs and failing to find satisfactory alternatives, the workers have become easy prey to demagogy and trickery. As standards of human existence deteriorate these factors will not contribute to clearer thinking by the workers.

Capitalism is insane. It cannot work efficiently— it can't work at all! The Socialist Party does not direct its appeal for the establishment of socialism to the capitalists. We know it would be worse than useless. No ruling class ever gave up its power of domination without being forced to do so. Make no mistake about it, when the master class are confronted with a serious attack upon the private property institution no abstract “civil rights” will prevent them using all the might at their command to maintain their power. The appeal of the Socialist Party is directed to the working class because this class has everything to gain by the acceptance of socialist principles. At this stage the question arises as to the means to be employed against the might of the ruling class. We assert that the workers must look to themselves to get out of capitalist conditions. While it is true that the master class use their power to consolidate their domination of the working class, it is also true that this power has been handed to them by the latter. In other words, at every election the workers have voted the capitalists into power. It is as though the lamb delivered itself over to the lion. The workers must understand that they can use this political weapon in the interest of themselves. They must study socialism wherein they will learn the cause of their subjection, how they are subjected, and the means by which they can combine their forces as a class and use their might to ensure the right to live a comfortable and healthy life.

It is true that the workers control in politics, in the sense that they have a majority of the total votes; but once they have voted that power, either to Coalitionists, Liberals or Labour Leaders, their control is gone, and the party they vote into office wields the full power of the State. The workers can only use the power that their number gives them when they consciously organise for a specific object and send their own representatives to the national and local assemblies for the accomplishment of that object. The whole question of slavery or freedom centres around this point: will the workers continue to allow themselves to be led, or will they direct the affairs of life in their common interest, through representatives selected and appointed by themselves? They can only do the latter when they are in agreement as to the object of their political activities. The only object, correctly understood, on which all workers could agree is the socialist object. The establishment of a system of society based on the common ownership and democratic control of all the means of wealth production. The task for every socialist is, therefore, to help in the work of making more socialists.

Before a socialist revolution can take place a majority of the working class must understand and accept the essentials of socialism and organise to establish it. This understanding not only renders “leaders” unnecessary, it forbids their existence. The working class will keep control in its own hands and administrators will have to carry out the workers’ instructions. To talk of a “socialist revolution” as being “led by socialists” is at once to proclaim one’s entire ignorance of even the elements of socialism.  Capitalism itself rests upon ignorance, and its political parties, with their symbols and slogans, their banners and big drums, are all up to their necks in it. The mass of the people are taken in by the ballyhoo. They support the system of private property for the flimsiest of reasons and never seriously consider the proposition that there is a better way of running the world. As long as such ideas keep their grip, the world will remain in confusion. Apart from anything else, democracy will always be unsafe. Both Labour and Conservative parties support this chaos of ignorance. Beside that momentous fact, what does it really matter which has the bigger posters, or the more press advertisements, or bangs the bigger drum?

Only socialism can guarantee the conditions of a life worth living for all. Because its establishment depends upon an understanding of the necessary social changes by a majority of the population, these changes cannot be left to parties acting apart from or above the workers. The workers cannot vote for Socialism as they do for reformist policies and then go home or go to work and carry on as usual. To put the matter in this way is to show its absurdity. Socialist ideas are not acquired merely by the experience of hardships and tragedy under capitalism. They must be propagated and learned. The party of the workers, therefore, cannot be anything less than a socialist party; its task, the conversion of the working class to the principles of socialism. Nor can it at present be much more. It must eschew all the cheap tricks of electioneering and propaganda; whether these consist of open support for capitalism on the plea of "urgent" problems, or a futile appeal for "a socialist Britain now." Such activities will not bring socialism any nearer; the workers who support them are only postponing or evading their real responsibility. That they do so is not due to any evil machinations or secret plots by these power-seeking parties. On the contrary, the existence of these organisations and the popularity of their illusory remedies is conditioned by the inadequacy of working-class political understanding. So long as the workers do not comprehend the necessity and meaning of a revolutionary social change, they will have no choice but to leave their fate in the hands of "parties" and "leaders." With the development of socialist consciousness (class-consciousness) will come the realisation that they, the workers themselves, must take
control of society. Knowing what has to be done will give them the will and assurance needed. The Socialist Party therefore reject all comparison with other political parties. We do not ask for power; we help to educate the working-class itself into taking it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Who owns Scotland?

A study by the Scottish Land Commission found that about 1,125 owners, including Highland lairds and major public bodies such as Forest Enterprise and the National Trust for Scotland, own 70% of Scotland’s rural land, covering more than 4.1m hectares (10m acres) of countryside.

That includes 87 owners whose holdings total 1.7m ha, with some estates owned by the same family for more than 400 years. Scotland’s two most powerful private landowners – the Danish clothing billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne; and the Duke of Buccleuch – each own more than 80,000 ha (200,000 acres), spread across multiple properties.

The Forestry Commission owns 638,600 ha and the National Trust for Scotland, a conservation charity, which owns 76,000 ha.

Scotland’s land ownership registry was badly out of date and only covered 33% of the country’s land area.

The Church of England has quietly become Scotland’s largest private forestry owner. In December 2014, its investment fund bought 13 forestry plots, and two in Wales, for £49m, doubling its forestry holdings to 13,215 ha. A commercial plantation’s uniform blocks of spruce and conifers are disliked by conservationists but loved by investors because they attract grants and offer reliable profits.

Late last year, a Danish clothing billionaire, Anders Povlsen, and his wife Anne, became Scotland’s largest private landowners after buying a small 1,100 acre estate near Aviemore. They already had six estates in Sutherland, in the far north of Scotland, and Glenfeshie, one of the most famous estates in the Cairngorms. They now own 89,000 ha (220,000 acres) across the Highlands, where they champion re-wilding, heavily restricting deer and sheep grazing. Povlsen, reputedly worth £4.5bn, also spends heavily on community facilities.
The Duke of Buccleuch, who was Scotland’s largest landowner until overtaken by the Povlsens last year, has been downsizing in the south-west of Scotland. He put 3,626 ha (8,959 acres) of farmland near Langholm on sale last year, reportedly valued at more than £19m.