Thursday, November 28, 2019

Change before we can't

Mankind is at a crossroads. We can travel the road of capitalism, i.e., we can travel the road of chaos, war, poverty and barbarism, or we can take the socialist road toward true freedom, peace and security, the road toward a society of plenty for all which would end the exploitation of man by man for all time.

Capitalists are the most class-conscious people in the world. Despite their family quarrels over how to divide the wealth that is produced by labour and appropriated by capital, the capitalists all stand shoulder to shoulder when they sense any danger to their system of robbery. Some capitalists call themselves Tory, while others call themselves Labour Party (though many of them contribute money to both capitalist parties). All capitalists stand united, regardless of politics, race or creed. That is the defence of their “sacred” system of private property as they hypocritically call it – or the system of capitalist exploitation, as honest men call it. The capitalists realise this and are already showing how they can stand shoulder to shoulder when their ancient privilege to live by the toil of others stands in danger. Will the workers learn in sufficient time also to stand shoulder to shoulder? Will they learn the bitter lessons quickly enough to develop the class consciousness necessary to stop voting across class lines and build their own working class party? 

The working class movements in all the major countries are so disoriented that to hope for socialism – i.e., for peace and plenty for all humanity – seems completely illusory. What then of the future? Is there nothing but despair? Science and technology can make all manner of instruments of war but socialism is revolved to produce the things people need by the people who need jobs. Working people can and must make this come true. We are certain that before long the world will witness heroic uprisings of the great masses in all countries seeking to break once and for all the chains of exploitation and establish the true free society of socialism. In these future struggles for liberty the peoples of the world will not be found wanting.

Why is wealth piled up on one side and poverty on the other? Why “boom” years followed by “depression”? Why the turmoil of strikes, strife, struggle; man against man, class against class, nation against nation? Because the very root of capitalism is wrong. Because the basic idea is unsound. Because the foundation is illogical. Because the capitalist system is founded on a CONTRADICTION. What is this contradiction? It is the system in which the one who owns the tools of production does not work them; and — The person who works them does not own them. This is, the basic contradiction of capitalism.

Only a rich man could set up a factory. Land owners, bankers, merchants had the capital. They became the capitalists. Each machine now turned out as much as several workmen formerly did with hand tools. The owner of the machine could pay the worker to run it and still keep a good margin pf profit. The profit bought more machines. More workers were employed. More profit. More machines. On one hand, a handful of men who owned the tools of production. On the other hand, the mass of workers who could only make a living by working for the capitalists. What happened now? The product no longer belonged to the producer – the worker at the machine. It belonged to the capitalist owner of the machine. He sold it for the best price the market would pay. And he gave the worker the smallest wage he would work for. The less the wage for the worker, the bigger the profit for the capitalist. The bigger the wage for the worker, the less the profit for the capitalist. The capitalist was interested in longer hours, speed-up, and low wages? The worker was interested in shorter hours, easier work, and high wages. Capitalism created a class of owners pitted against a class of workers – at war with each other – engaged in a CLASS STRUGGLE with each other. The capitalist owner of industry has only one reason to run his factory – profit. 

Under capitalism, the needs of the people for various goods are not the PRIMARY purpose of production. The capitalist will just as soon make rifles as Bibles, medicine as poison gas, pre-fabricated houses as “block-buster” bombs, artistic reprints as pornography. All he asks is: “Which will pay more?” The fact that the millions of people depend upon industry for food, clothing, housing, furniture, transportation, communications and amusement is of interest to the capitalist only as the “market” in which he can realize a profit. Capitalism pits worker against worker in bidding for a job. It pits Capitalist against capitalist in fighting for profits. It pits workers against capitalist in class struggle. It pits capitalist nation against capitalist nation in imperialist war. It pits producer against consumer, landlord against tenant, farmer against city dweller, white against black. The capitalist is the dictator over his factory. He can run it or shut it down to please himself. If there is profit in production he hires men, works overtime, night shifts. If profit falls off, he throws his workers into the street to shift for themselves. He operates anarchistically. Without plan, without social purpose. His only god is the Almighty Dollar – his Holy Script is the magic word, “Dividends.” That is why capitalism is more destructive than all the earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, cloudbursts, tidal waves and volcanic eruptions ever visited upon earth from the beginning of time. Capitalism kills and cripples millions in its wars, in class strife and civil wars, in hunger and freezing, in industrial accidents and disease, in malnutrition and child labour, in poverty and crime. It destroys the wealth of society and wastes the labour potential of millions of idle hands. All in the mad race for a crust of bread, for survival, for security. In an age when plenty is possible for all! It is the system of COMPETITION – It is the system of dog eat dog, of each person for oneself. Capitalism stands before us indicted as a system of criminal insanity.

Socialism, and only socialism, will create a world without national barriers, without international rivalries, without master and slave nations and, hence, a world without war. Governments will become administrative bodies regulating production and consumption. They will not be the instruments of the capitalist class, i.e., capitalist governments whose main reason for existence is to guarantee the political as well as the economic rule of big business, their profits, their private ownership of the instruments of production, and the conduct of war in the economic and political interests of this class.

A world’s administration primary duty will be to conduct the affairs of the world with the aim of eliminating poverty, joblessness, hunger and general insecurity. Its sole criterion would be the needs of the people.

Why will socialism guarantee peace, security and freedom and prevent the destruction of mankind? Socialism will destroy tile root evil of modern society, i.e., the private ownership of the means of production, the factories, mines, mills, machinery and land, which produce the necessities of life. Under socialism, these instruments of production will become the property of society, owned in common, producing for use, for the general welfare of the people as a whole. With the abolition of the private ownership of the means of life and with it the factor of profit as the prime mover of production, the sharp divisions of society between nations and classes will disappear. Then, and only then, will society be in a position to become a social order of abundance and plenty for all, for socialism will create a new world of genuine cooperation and collaboration between the peoples of the earth. In abolishing classes in society, socialism will change the form and type of administration which exist today. The preoccupation of administration under socialism will be to assist in the elevation of society, to improve continually the living standards of the people, to extend their leisure time and thus make it possible to heighten the cultural level of the whole world. In abolishing classes, the State and war, socialism will at the same time destroy all forms of dictatorship, political as well as economic. The socialist world will be the freest, most democratic society the world has ever known, truly representing the majority of the population and subject to its recall. A citizen of a socialist society will look back upon the capitalist era with its wars, destruction and bloody and cruel dictatorships as we now look back upon the dawn of written history.

World socialism will assess the industrial potential of the world, determine its resources, the needs of the people and plan production with the aim of increasing the standards of living of a free people, creating abundance, increasing leisure and opportunity for cultural enjoyment. Socialism will not concern itself with profits and war, but with providing decent housing for all the people. Socialism will provide for a multitude of schools for all the people. Socialism will eliminate illiteracy, which is one of the hallmarks of capitalism, and cease to regard schools primarily as institutions to produce skilled labour to help operate the profit economy.

The modern world contains all the pre-conditions necessary for socialism. All about us we observe gigantic industrial establishments containing machinery which could produce the goods of life in abundance. Man has developed a marvelous technology. The discovery and control of atomic energy has not only made it more possible for man to control his natural and social environment to create a fruitful life of abundance, but has made it imperative.

Socialism will place at the disposal of science and the scientists all the material means to help create an ever-improving social life for mankind. Under capitalism, scientists are mere wage workers hiring out their skills to private industry. The fruits of their intelligence, learning arid research become the exclusive property of the capitalists who profit from the work of these scientists. Thus, science has become subordinated to profits rather than to the common good of all mankind. Yet the future society depends in large measure on changing this relation of science to society. Only socialism can place science where it properly belongs: in the service of the people Socialism will create a system of health preservation and insurance in which the needs of the people and the improvement of the human race would be the paramount consideration. Above all, socialism will provide jobs for all. But this will be work without exploitation. For the aim of socialism is not the increased exploitation and intensification of labour, but the utilisation of machinery, technology, science and invention to diminish toil, to create time in which to permit all the people to enjoy the benefits of social progress.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Socialism need not be a dream

There’s probably no bigger crime in politics than to imagine a world without war, inequality, a world without frontiers and without classes. It is dismissed as a utopian dream. To advocate the socialist vision of a world beyond capitalism, where the human needs of all prevail over the private profits of a few, is to be thought of as a crank.. But these days there is now a new openness to socialist ideas. People are disappointed and demoralised by the reality of growing wealth inequality and the increasing misery. There has been a decline of living standards, and mounting insecurity for working people. The destruction of the environment and global-warming have dashed the hopes for the future for many people. Now there are millions of others who want something better from life. Socialism is no longer taboo.

Some on the Left promote a kinder, more equitable version of capitalism, one in which the existence of elite wealth is taxed to pay for free health care and education, to provide affordable housing. This is the policy of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Of course, it isn’t socialism  but basically a modernised version of the New Deal. This isn’t the socialism of Karl Marx or Eugene Debs. There’s no  actual anti-capitalist revolution on the Justice Democrats agenda, no common ownership and democratic control of industry and production, placing the decision-making powers into the hands of the working people themselves. It is a gentler more humane model of capitalism that has long existed in parts of Europe, where the welfare system provides free education and health care, and businesses are obliged to offer benefits like longer vacations, paid family leave so to stabilize capitalist economies. This is not workers appropriating the wealth they produce but workers being incorporated into a partnership with capitalists, sharing a seat at the board-room table so that employers and the government can feel safe at the price of paying a bit more in tax and passing a few worker-friendly laws. As of the second quarter of 2019, the wealth of the 1% was estimated by the Federal Reserve Board to be $34.72 trillion. If their wealth remains unchanged during the next ten years, using the estimate of Sander’s wealth tax coming to $4.35 trillion, their wealth will be reduced by less than 13% to $30.37 trillion. By contrast, the wealthiest 1% hold real estate valued at $4 trillion with home mortgages of $440 billion. The property tax at 1% comes to $40 billion which represents 0.115% of their total wealth. The 1% will continue holding a substantial sum and be in a position to exercise much power. We will still have our billionaires even though the “socialist” Sander’s has stated “I don’t think that billionaires should exist.”

Such reformism is not enough to save society. The rule of capital is toxic no matter how much honey is used to make it palatable. Capitalists, Wall Street and the corporate media consider a return to even the New Deal policies that Sanders espouses irreconcilable with their drive for profits. The present system with its unfolding climate crisis is leading us into the abyss. There is not much time to get organised politically, to take hold of  the reins of society from the populist demagogues, the planet polluters, the militarists, and Wall Street CEOs who have brought society to the brink of disaster.

To save society and the planet, we don’t need billionaires named Bezos or Buffet to bless us with their philanthropy, as long as we recognise the sanctity of their extreme wealth. Actually, the whole of the capitalist class are unnecessary to civilization’s survival, they are a brake on human development. The first bold steps towards a new society is the creation of a mass independent socialist party. The sooner the capitalist profit system can be relegated to history’s proverbial dustbin, the sooner our species can discover what it actually means to be fully human, fully alive. The choice of a socialist future, or no future, hangs in the balance

Adapted from here

And here

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

A few observations.

Nationalism is a delusion and a snare and quite incompatible with socialist principles. A world of harmony and plenty could only be created by the actions of workers the world over, no matter what their language, colour, sex or ethnic group. Only if the workers of England, Scotland and Wales are united in the struggle to overthrow their common ruling class are they likely to meet with success.

It’s an old theory that the cause of poverty and misery is “too many people.” At first sight this theory might seem to make sense, but what it ignores is that although the population of the world has increased so has its ability to produce. Productivity has increased such that now plenty for all is quite possible—when once the wealth of the world is owned in common so that the motive of production can be used.

Many anti-immigration advocates believe this myth of overpopulation and that Britain is already “overcrowded"; this drives rents up; immigration only makes matters worse. We must point out that it’s quite invalid to treat what is called Britain in isolation. The population and resources of this island are not an independent unit producing for itself in isolation from the rest of the world.

 Today the world is one economic unit; all the parts of the world are interdependent. But the political units into which the world is divided tend to obscure this. So if we’re discussing economic problems we can only do so validly by treating the world as a whole. In the division of productive functions in the world some parts concentrate on producing raw materials, others manufactured goods, and others workers. These productive resources are only brought together under capitalism through the workings of the market. Today Britain is one of the parts where there is work and African countries where there is not. The tendency will thus be for workers to migrate from Africa to Britain. Just as if there were a demand for wheat in Germany wheat would tend to go there. This is no fancy example: under capitalism workers are commodities just like wheat, cocoa or coffee.

Many say immigrants should stay “in their own country.” But workers everywhere, save in the legal sense, have no country. The wealth of the world is monopolised by a tiny minority on whom they depend for a living. Workers from the various parts of the world have no opposed interests. They are all in the same economic position: wage and salary workers work for those who own. Their interests are the same: to end the system that degrades them by treating them as mere things.

The Socialist Party doesn’t advocate multi-cultural integration of immigrants into our way of life. What is “our way of life" but working for the wealthy? Socialists aren’t interested in helping the owners get workers who are less used to wage-slavery to adjust, integrate or fit in with capitalism. Socialists suggest that workers everywhere organise to end the way of life capitalism imposes on them.

Nor do Socialists hold much trust in laws to ban discrimination. The power of the State can’t stamp out the prejudices which arise out of the very system it is used to uphold.

It is only in a world where wealth is commonly owned and democratically run by the community in its interest that prejudice and antagonism between peoples will disappear. In a socialist world there won’t be the built-in generators of prejudice there are under capitalism.

In Labour Party left-wing circles nationalisation is still seen as socialism or at least as a step towards socialism. But the Socialist Party view the matter differently. Nationalisation is just a way of running capitalist industry, a form of state capitalism. Nationalisation preserves the right of the former owners to a free income from the unpaid labour of the working class. Only, instead of getting their tribute as dividends and interest on private shares and stocks they get it as interest on government bonds given as compensation. The Stock Exchange is an elaborate market which allows capitalists to switch their money from industry to industry in accordance with the rates of profit. Many shareholders took the chance to use this mechanism: they sold their stock and used the proceeds to buy private shares again. As Marx pointed out the capitalist couldn’t care where his money is invested, in whisky or bibles, as long as he gets his profits. As a matter of fact, some shareholders may not have been too unhappy about the nationalisation as it gave them a chance to get out of a particular.

To the Socialist Party nationalisation has never had any attraction, either as a means or an end. State capitalism is not in the interests of the working class and for this reason we are opposed to it. What we stand for is something different.

Supporters and opponents alike often mistakenly analyse the tendency towards state capitalism as socialist. Indeed, as a result of years of misuse the word “socialism” has now virtually come to mean “state capitalism” for most people. But socialism must be clearly distinguished from State capitalism otherwise the working class will be intervening on the political scene only to support State capital against private capital, just as in the last century they intervened to support the industrial capitalists against the landed aristocracy. Socialism means a system of society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production by and in the interests of society as a whole. While state capitalism retains all the features and categories of the capitalist economy – the wages system, commodity production, profits, money, banks socialism abolishes them. Socialism is opposed to both private and state capitalism and alone is in the interests of the working class.

Socialism alone can provide the economic foundation for the full and free development of men and women.