Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The bleeding of Africa

More wealth leaves Africa every year than enters it – by more than $40bn (£31bn) – according to research that challenges “misleading” perceptions of foreign aid. The rest of the world is profiting more than most African citizens from the continent’s wealth.

African countries received $162bn in 2015, mainly in loans, aid and personal remittances. But in the same year, $203bn was taken from the continent, either directly through multinationals repatriating profits and illegally moving money into tax havens, or by costs imposed by the rest of the world through climate change adaptation and mitigation. This led to an annual financial deficit of $41.3bn from the 47 African countries where many people remain trapped in poverty.
 Illicit financial flows, defined as the illegal movement of cash between countries, account for $68bn a year, three times as much as the $19bn Africa receives in aid. 
African governments received $32bn in loans in 2015, but paid more than half of that – $18bn – in debt interest, with the level of debt rising rapidly.
The prevailing narrative, where rich country governments say their foreign aid is helping Africa, is “a distraction and misleading”,  campaigners said.
Aisha Dodwell, a campaigner for Global Justice Now, said: “There’s such a powerful narrative in western societies that Africa is poor and that it needs our help. This research shows that what African countries really need is for the rest of the world to stop systematically looting them. While the form of colonial plunder may have changed over time, its basic nature remains unchanged.”
Dr Jason Hickel, an economic anthropologist at the London School of Economics, commenting on the report, agreed that the prevailing view of foreign aid was skewed. Hickel said: “One of the many problems with the aid narrative is it leads the public to believe that rich countries are helping developing countries, but that narrative skews the often extractive relationship that exists between rich and poor countries.” A key issue, he said, was illicit financial flows, via multinational corporations, to overseas tax havens.
Bernard Adaba, policy analyst with Isodec (Integrated Social Development Centre) in Ghana said: “Development is a lost cause in Africa while we are haemorrhaging billions every year to extractive industries, western tax havens and illegal logging and fishing. Some serious structural changes need to be made to promote economic policies that enable African countries to best serve the needs of their people, rather than simply being cash cows for western corporations and governments. The bleeding of Africa must stop!”
 South Africa’s potential mineral wealth is estimated to be around $2.5tn, while the mineral reserves of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are thought to be worth $24tn. However, the continent’s natural resources are owned and exploited by foreign, private corporations. 

Licenced to kill

For two years now, Saudi forces have unleashed a brutal humanitarian catastrophe on the people of Yemen. The response from the UK government has been to keep arming and supporting the Saudi regime, irrespective of the destruction it has caused. 10,000 people have been killed and millions have been left without access to vital infrastructure, clean water or electricity. An estimated 17 million people are food-insecure and require urgent humanitarian assistance.
For decades now, Saudi Arabia has been by far the largest buyer of UK arms. The Saudi air force is using UK-licensed fighter jets, bombs, and missiles in its ongoing bombardment of Yemen.

Since the bombing began in March 2015, the UK has licensed over £3.3bn worth of arms to the regime, including:
  •  £2.2 bn worth of ML10 licences (aircraft, helicopters, drones)
  • £1.1 bn worth of ML4 licences (grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)
  • £430,000 worth of ML6 licences (armoured vehicles, tanks)
These weapons have underpinned a close political and military relationship, causing the UK to make excuses and look the other way while atrocities have taken place. They have also been used with devastating consequences: Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are among those that have linked UK bombs to attacks on civilian infrastructure.

 The message being sent out is that Yemeni lives are less important than profits for arms companies. An appalling humanitarian crisis mounts today in Yemen where a naval blockade, ruthlessly imposed by the Saudi government, has led to mass poverty and famine. The Saudi Arabian coalitionSaudi forces, backed by the US and UK, are bombing schools, hospitals, homes, farms, and food-markets. It remains the ‘forgotten war’ simply because the mainstream media chooses not to highlight  the horrors being inflicted on Yemen. There is no media indignation at the atrocities nor reports portraying any of the human tragedies. There is no highly personalised demonisation of the leaders of Saudi Arabia – as applied in the past to dictators such as Saddam Hussein of Iraq,  Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, and Slobodan Miloševic of Serbia or today's Syria's Bashir Assad. The Saudi king and his sheiks are given a free pass. 
It shows the bias of the mainstream news media to follow government policy, to defer to, and indeed support, government policy.  The media present scant critical perspectives.

The Godless "God-men"

An increasing number of so-called "spiritual" gurus or "godmen" in India are implicated in crimes ranging from sexual abuse to murder. 

A 23-year-old law student in the southern state of Kerala chopped off the genitals of a self-proclaimed holy man who tried to rape her and who she alleged has been sexually assaulting her for the past eight years. The young woman  attacked by Gangeshananda Theerthapada, also known as Sree Hari, who claimed to be a spiritual healer and visited their home frequently to cure her bed-ridden father.

Millions of Indians seem to be in thrall of these smooth-talking "godmen" who have built vast empires preying on their gullibility.

Three years ago, police had to battle the supporters of Rampal Singh Jatin, a controversial guru from the northern state of Haryana before they could arrest him. Their investigations uncovered sordid details about the supposedly holy man's sex life -
a world of abuse and excess that was just as remarkable as his sprawling abode. He preferred "hostesses," whom he called "sadhikayaen" 
Another self-styled spiritual godman, Asaram Bapu, was arrested in 2013 after a teenage girl accused him of rape. She claimed that the guru lured her by promising to cleanse her of evil spirits. It wasn't the first time criminal charges were leveled against him. In 2008, two young boys died in his retreat in the western state of Gujarat. 
Mahendra Giri, 65, was also arrested in 2013 for illegally confining and repeatedly raping a 24-year-old woman at his ashram over four months. 
In 2010, controversial Hindu godman Swami Nityananda  was arrested after a leaked video showed him engaging in sexual activities with an actress from southern India.
Bhavdeep Kang, author of "Gurus: Stories of India's Leading Babas" believes that godmen are rarely held accountable, least of all by their devotees. "The centrality of the godman in the lives of their flock - as spiritual preceptor, family confidante and business advisor - creates a dependency syndrome, making the devotee as invested in the purity of the guru as the guru himself," Kang told DW. She reckons the self-styled gurus assume the role of counselor, offering an answer to the dissonance and stresses of modern life, triggered by high-speed socio-economic transformation, dislocation of communities and the atomization of society.
Starting out as small time preachers from villages and towns in the country's rural hinterland, these so-called holy men cultivate a relationship with poor locals and over time, they acquire cult status commanding a huge following (and sometimes even political connections) to camouflage their nefarious activities. Despite the scandals and the fall from grace, there is no dearth of self-styled godmen operating in the country. Faith in the unreasonable and irrational remains firm.
Prabir Ghosh, general secretary of the Science and Rationalists' Association of India, believes devotees are beholden to these holy men by becoming part of the faithful. "We Indians are great believers in miracles and feel that somebody can get us out of our miseries. This is the prime reason we fall for these godmen," says Ghosh.
"People everywhere in India are prone to mystics. Many fall prey to the saffron robes these godmen wear believing they are true saviors, and afterwards blind faith takes over," Pradeep Singh, a sociologist, explained.
End superstition:
The World Socialist Party (India): 257 Baghajatin ‘E’ Block (East), Kolkata – 700086,
Tel: 2425-0208,

One law for the rich, another for the poor

Maria – was sentenced to three years, two months and three days in prison for shoplifting a chocolate egg and a chicken breast for her children from a supermarket in Matão, São Paulo.
She was kept in detention for five months before her trial, then found guilty of a first-degree crime. Although she was briefly remanded during her appeal, a second judge sent her to prison pregnant in November 2016. She has since given birth – to her fourth child – behind bars and is now nursing her baby son in an over-crowded cell. Once the child is six months, it will be taken from her care. The ombudsman, Maíra Cora Diniz, said the penalty for Maria was “absurdly” disproportionate to the crime, which did not involve violence, damage or social disturbance. The public defender also noted that the sentence would also punish the baby, which would be wrenched from its mother at a point when it still needed breastfeeding.
Meantime,  those found guilty of such "white-collar" crimes  such as in the Lava Jato investigation, which uncovered a vast network of bribes and kickbacks from public contracts that were channelled through major corporations, including Petrobras and Odebrecht, to the major political parties and secret accounts held by dozens of senior politicians,  which defrauded taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars – have received lighter sentences than Maria because they have cut deals with prosecutors or their lawyers have cited extenuating family or health circumstances. Several have been released. Others have been put under house arrest, where they can live in relative luxury.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

If you do not want socialism, we do not want your vote

" If a worker wants to take part in the self-emancipation of his class , the basic requirement is that he should cease allowing others to teach him and should set about teaching himself." - Joseph Dietzgen 

There is still a lot of educating to do and we are going to begin by educating ourselves.

The June the 8 General Election is yet another chance to choose whether to be ruled over by Tweedledum or Tweedledee. Politics is the art of keeping a slave class in subjection. So long as the workers see no further than the effects of capitalism and aspire no higher than to battle with those effects, just so long will they trust in political leaders to guide them.  The duty of working men and women is to refuse to allow themselves to be used as cats-paws of the wealthy, and to join with their fellows in The Socialist Party, the organisation of their class; thus working for the emancipation of the toilers as a whole. If we cannot have democracy under the present social system, at least we may have men and women imbued with the democratic spirit. Indeed, every socialist must be so imbued.

The Socialist Party insists upon the necessity for the education and organisation of the workers on the basis of the class struggle and this involves a constant loyalty to democratic methods. From the workers' point of view, the vote has only one meaning. It is the instrument of emancipation. As such, the most enlightened of the Chartists regarded it, and the socialist merely preserves the lessons of experience, keeping in line with the historical development of the working-class. We seek to instil into the minds of the members of our class the facts that they are slaves needing emancipation, and that they may achieve it when they will by using the powers lying to their hands. Thus, for us, democracy is not something which resides already in a bourgeois Parliament. On the contrary, it can spring into life only with the conscious self-assertion of the working-class majority having for its object the emancipation of all mankind through the abolition of the private ownership of the means of life.

The apologists of capitalism always use sweet words, but the bitter truths leave a nasty taste in our mouths. When the workers first won the franchise many of them voted for their masters out of a sort of feudal loyalty, and others were cheaply woo'd with flattery and petty bribes. Capitalism never did give security and prosperity to the workers and never did run smoothly. There are no "better ways" of running capitalism. Almost everyone would like at least some degree of control over what shapes their lives. Many know they have not got that now, and probably most of those, if they thought about it, would realise that in the past, they didn’t have that degree of control either. Simplistic, misleading explanations are concocted as to why people are powerless. These include: ‘greedy bankers’, ‘corrupt politicians’, ‘fat cats’, the ‘nanny state’ etc. The basic reason why the working class majority feel powerless and not really ‘free’ is because they do not own any significant amount of the means for producing and distributing wealth, which people need in order to live. The poverty and insecurity from which you suffer has its roots in the class ownership of the means of life.

To accomplish the task of replacing capitalism by the ‘free and equal association of the producers’ the workers possess only two effective weapons at their disposal – knowledge of history and a class-wide revolutionary organization i.e. a participatory democratic party and movement. This is indispensable. Without such a party and movement the workers are nothing but defenceless wage slaves. When workers unite for higher wages and reforms they are merely a class-in-itself. They become a class-for-itself when permeated with socialist knowledge about their common radical cause and by uniting themselves politically ‘to win the battle of democracy’ by unseating the bureaucratic ruling elites everywhere. The working class will have to get this done by applying their franchise in elections state-wise and world-wide more or less simultaneously to seize the reins of states, and get them transformed to use to dispossess the capitalist class. This is done by lopping off their repressive organs, dismantling the bureaucratic-military structure, and by democratising and absorbing the state’s useful organs into the new socio-economic formations of production for use in place of production for profit – rearranging administration of affairs of life on local, regional and global organisational scales. This will usher in a new era of equality and freedom.

Any socialists elected to parliament would consistently expose reformism for its inability to solve the problems of capitalism but may be prepared to consider on their merits particular, individual reforms that clearly benefited the working class or socialist movement, but always under democratic direction from the wider movement.


God's Salesmen

 Five hundred years ago, the Catholic Church allowed sinners to redeem themselves by buying so-called "indulgences." The money was then channeled to the Pope in Rome. 

Pastor Chris is the founder of one of many African churches that celebrate wealth. His "Christ Embassy" is one of the most successful, with two million followers on the social media platform Facebook. Three satellite TV channels broadcast his sermons, miracle cures and exorcisms to Nigeria, South Africa and Great Britain. And the pastor's acolytes are pretty generous. In 2011, Forbes Magazine estimated his wealth to be between 30 and 50 million USD (26 - 44 million euro). Wealthy preachers often live in luxury, as proof of the power of their prayers. But heavenly intervention is not responsible for this kind of success - all of the money comes out of the pockets of the faithful.  

The prosperity theology propagated mostly by Pentecostal churches is not a purely African phenomenon. In Latin and North America, as well as in Asia and Europe, there are self-appointed prophets and apostles who trade salvation for cash. Often this brand of Christianity has elements of spiritualism and shamanism, which attribute supernatural powers to the priests and pastors.These churches and their ministers market themselves as all-purpose weapons against disease, poverty, unemployment and childlessness. Often they are sought out by the poor who are looking for an explanation for their place in the world through the prosperity gospel and hope for a miracle to escape poverty.

Myanmar's Children

As many as 150 children die every day in Myanmar before they reach their fifth birthday, the UN children’s agency said on Tuesday, in a report calling for the government to end blocks on humanitarian access to conflict areas.

Life for many children in Myanmar remains a struggle, Unicef said. Nearly 30% of children under five suffer from moderate or severe malnutrition and more than half of all children live below the poverty line. The child mortality rate is estimated at about 50 per 1,000 live births in Myanmar. In the UK, the rate is four per 1,000.

The Socialist Commandments (1912)


The socialist sunday school movement arose out of the London dock strike of 1892 when food kitchens and educational classes were set up for the children of striking dockers. It was at these classes that children were taught the causes and results of poverty for working people. By 1912 there were over 200 socialist Sunday schools organised throughout Britain.

IT'S ONLY MAYKE BELIEVE! (weekly poem)



Much to the chagrin of some of her backbenchers,
Mrs May has promised that the Conservatives will
increase workers rights after the General Election.

Strike legislation will be scrapped,
And Benefits increased;
The Bedroom Tax will soon be capped,
And Council Tax decreased!

Train Fares will be reduced by half,
And Gas and 'Leccy' too;
Life could be one long jolly laugh,
When you vote Tory Blue.

Food Banks will pay those who've survived,
To take their food away;
The NHS will be revived,
Soon after Polling Day.

The roads and lanes of this fair isle,
Will soon be crater free;
With all pollution (in a while!) (1)
Cleaned up for you and me.

In fact all these new strategies,
Will soon be on the way;
With Cameron's naff policies,
Reversed by Mrs May.

It's all as if the Tory team,
Of old did not exist;
Although, of course, one can still dream,
Or better still, get pissed!

(1) A High Court judge recently ordered the Government
to publish immediately its city pollution reduction plans.

© Richard Layton

More poverty looming ahead

A record 60% of British people in poverty live in a household where someone is in work, according to researchers, with the risk of falling into financial hardship especially high for families in private rented housing.

 The study by Cardiff University academics says the risk of poverty for adults in working families grew by a quarter over the past decade. Low pay is a trigger for in-work poverty but the primary determinant is the number of workers in a household, with single-earner families at a very significantly elevated risk of hardship, the study says.

The study found in-work poverty was disproportionately concentrated in households in private rented housing, who have been hit by a combination of rising rents and caps on housing benefit. The continued growth of this form of housing tenure is projected to increase numbers facing in-work poverty.

The Tax Cheats

"In the case of Ecuador, we calculated that an approximate amount of $30 billion is held in tax havens. Just so you get a general idea of what that means, Ecuador’s gross domestic product (GDP) is roughly around $100 billion so $30 billion means almost 1/3rd of our GDP." explained, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Guillaume Long.

 He continued, "There are have been estimates that public infrastructure that is needed right now in the developing world is roughly $1.5 trillion. This includes hospitals, schools—the kind of infrastructure that the developing world needs to reduce huge rates of inequality, poverty, and some of the things we are trying to amend through, for example, the SDGs. And that’s only probably about 15% of illegal assets held abroad in tax havens and various offshore accounts." 

He added,  "There are huge numbers that are being reported. Oxfam talks of $7.6 trillion in tax dodging—I’m not even talking about illicit financial flows, not even talking about offshore accounts, I’m talking about $7.6 trillion in tax dodging."

Monday, May 22, 2017

There Are None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See

How blinkered can some politicians be?

 US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross suggested no protesters was a sign of Saudi Arabia’s goodwill. Ross travelled with the US president to Saudi Arabia. Speaking with CNBC on Monday morning, Ross said there was “no sign of” protesters and seemed to suggest this was a sign of the country’s goodwill towards the US.

“There was not a single hint of a protester anywhere there during the whole time we were there,” Ross said. “Not one guy with a bad placard...There was not a single effort at any incursion, there wasn’t anything,” Ross said. “The mood was a genuinely good mood.”
Adam Coogle, Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch, said “anyone who follows the situation in Saudi Arabia will not be surprised at all” by the lack of protesters.  "No one wants to sit in jail for ten years because they protested Trump.”
In Saudi Arabia,  the government categorically forbids participation in political protests or unauthorized public assemblies.  The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner found that “children involved in demonstrations have been tried and sentenced, including to death, by the specialized criminal court” in Saudi Arabia.

Thanks for nothing

Andrew Forrest, founder and chairman of iron ore giant Fortescue Metals Group, the world's fourth largest and Australia's third largest iron ore miner behind BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.
has made the biggest single philanthropic donation in Australian history. They would give away Aus$400 million ($298 million, 266 million euros). Aus$75 million were earmarked towards fighting cancer, with the same amount being donated to higher education and research, towards "giving every child their best chance," and towards removing "modern slavery from human history.

Sadly, modern slavery does not include wage-slavery in its definition. The capitalist market, above all drives businesses to extract ever greater profits from the world economy, which forms the objective basis for the growth of modern slavery. Calling on workers of other countries to boycott the products of companies exploiting slave labor only serves to line up workers behind the interests of other, more “humane” capitalists. While the conditions of life for the 45.8 million people who are enslaved are particularly brutal, the majority of the rest of the working class works under hardly less brutal conditions, especially those toiling in the sweat-shops.

Nevertheless, it must be a great feeling for anyone with a social conscience to be so ridiculously rich that they can spend their entire time doing something to alleviate a major global problem and actually feel that they are achieving something lasting and significant. Cash-with-conscience philanthropists with billion dollar bank accounts must feel like blessed saints. How could even the most jaded and cynical socialist find anything to criticise in the activities of such a man?  But, of course, members of the Socialist Party, can.

We'll skip over the fact that charitable donations are tax-deductable so indirectly the government is paying a share. We'll also pass over the fact that Forrest was a leading proponent in thwarting the miners tax which saved his and other corporations paying the government $26 billion over a three-year period according to the Parliamentary Budget Office. In 2011, at the height of the mining boom, it was revealed that Forrest’s Fortescue Metals had never paid company tax. This didn’t stop Forrest becoming one of the most vocal opponents of Kevin Rudd’s very modest Mining Resource Rent Tax. Forrest accused those who supported the tax of engaging in “class warfare” and threatened to sell his mining interests overseas if the tax goes ahead. He said that he had shelved $17.5 billion in new mining projects as a result of the tax. Threats of “capital flight” are standard when a capitalist enterprise sees its profit margin threatened with even a slight decrease and governments routinely bend over backwards in response. So we have an individual that has chosen to pay as little as possible in tax to a government because he believes he knows better than the government on how to spend it on social issues. Forrest’s attitude towards Aboriginal people is they require to recognise his jobs in mining as their saviour.

In the past, Forrest  was in dispute with the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) over royalties from his Solomon Hub mining project on Aboriginal land showed his paternalistic attitude. This project was set to raise $200 billion over a 30 year period and YAC demanded similar royalties to what other mining companies were paying. Forrest denounced this as “mining welfare” and denigrated the whole community by saying “little Aboriginal girls” in the local town of Roebourne were offering themselves for “the cost of a cigarette” and “I’m not going to encourage, with our cash, that kind of behaviour”.
Forrest also funded the documentary The Songs of the Mission which offers a “different perspective” on the Stolen Generations and features Aboriginal people who had a “positive” experience in the missions.
Okay, we cannot always choose our family but we can disassociate ourselves from them. Both his in-laws were members of the League of Rights. His sister-in-law married a prominent league member who organised a speaking tour of Holocaust denier David Irving.
Forrest thinks that money solves problems, but these are problems all created by money in the first place. In the market economy, the rich are rich because the poor are poor. Indeed, companies grow because the rich are rich and exploit the poor, and it can’t work any other way. Forrest holds a paternalistic pro-capitalist view of the world, that people like himself should run things. There’s no reason to be grateful for the crumbs off his table.

Socialism and Solidarity are the Key

Our aim is socialism, which we define as a world-wide society in which the Earth's resources will be the common property of all humanity under democratic control at world, regional and local level as appropriate. It will be a society where we shall work voluntarily as best we can, as far as our ability goes, to suit our joint needs, as part of a co-operative society. It will be a society in which the state, as the public power of repression at the disposal of a ruling class, will have been abolished and replaced by a participatory democracy. This is our immediate aim, not some long-term goal. We are workers who don't see ourselves as a group doing anything for other fellow workers other than putting before them the basic socialist propositions that under capitalism there is an irreconcilable conflict of interest between capitalists and workers; that capitalism can never be reformed so as to work in the interest of workers; that what is required is a society of common ownership, democratic control and production for use not profit. If workers want such a socialist society this is something they must do for themselves without following leaders or relying on benefactors. We can't establish it for them. As we say in our declaration of principles "the emancipation of the working class must be the working of the working class itself".

We don't suffer from the illusion that existing MPs and local councillors can do anything to further the cause of socialism. Their job, and in fact aspiration, is merely to run the political side of capitalism in Britain, and capitalism can only be run as a profit system in which priority must always be given to making profits over meeting needs. We also agree that there can be no real democracy under capitalism in the sense of a situation in which everybody has an equal say in deciding what should be done and in which those decisions can be implemented without hindrance. This is not the case today. Having said this, in many parts of the world including Britain a sufficient degree of democracy exists for a socialist majority to be able to use existing elective bodies, such as parliament, to win control of the state machine through the ballot box. Of course, to work, this presupposes a socialist-minded and democratically organised majority outside parliament standing firmly behind the delegates they will have sent into parliament with the single mandate to take the formal steps to stop the state supporting capitalism.

The state is based on minority rule. It was set up and exists in opposition to the majority and so can never be truly democratic. The current state is owned and run by the kleptocratic class of capitalists, a tiny proportion of the population. Thus their state is predicated upon an opposition between the desire of the masses and the will of their clique. Their state is set up against the majority, because they can never be a majority. Their ideas, thinking, and tactics, are all those of a tiny minority. 

Our members have got together for the single purpose of helping the emergence of an understanding of and a desire for socialism. When this does emerge – fortunately it does not depend on our own meagre efforts but more on people's experience of capitalism and its failure and inability to solve the problems they face – it is our opinion that will express itself, among other ways, through the ballot box. Those who want socialism will use their votes to send delegates to elected bodies with a mandate to use political control to end class ownership and usher in the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and to dismantle the apparatus of class rule. We certainly think that all those who want socialism and are agreed that this is the right way to proceed to get it as quickly and as peacefully as possible should get together in a single organisation, a single socialist political party.  If they were prepared to drop campaigning for reforms and to accept campaigning for socialism as the immediate priority then of course we should all get together and have a bigger and better socialist organisation, so helping to speed the demise of capitalism and avoid the miseries it has in store for us if allowed to continue.

Toronto meeting

The Toronto Branch of the Socialist Party of Canada presents a

Meeting in Toronto

on Wednesday, 24 May 2017
from 6:30pm to 8:30pm (18:30-20:30)

at The Second Cup Coffee House
on the north side of Bloor Street,
four stores east of Spadina Avenue.
(324 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON   M5S 1W5)

A socialist discussion evening
hosted by the Socialist Party of Canada

Join us. Free and open to all. Bring a friend.

Why is the world so cramped


Fact of the Day

Land ownership has become highly concentrated in Paraguay, where 0.4% of landowners have grabbed 56% of the land.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Free the Refugees

Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, on Sunday called on Libyan authorities to release asylum seekers and refugees held in detention centers, saying he was "shocked" by conditions at the facilities.

"I was shocked at the harsh conditions in which refugees and migrants are held, generally due to lack of resources," Grandi said in a statement. "Children, women and men who have suffered so much already should not have to endure such hardship."

The Choice is Ours

"Intelligence enough to conceive, courage enough to will, power enough to compel. If our ideas of a new Society are anything more than a dream, these three qualities must animate the due effective majority of the working-people; and then, I say, the thing will be done." - William Morris

Many people complain that in this general election the political parties are the same. The Socialist Party of Great Britain, however, is very different. Our message is not designed to sell you political leaders at election times, nor does it consist of simple sound-bites and sloganeering.  Ours is the politics of revolution. We do not mean bloodshed and barricades when we speak of revolution, but a fundamental change in social relationships. The Socialist Party stands for a totally new system of social organisation in which the means of producing and distributing wealth—the land, factories, mines, docks, hospitals, railways—are commonly owned and democratically controlled by all members of society, without distinction of race or sex. In socialism each member of society will give according to ability and take according to self-determined needs. Money, wages, buying and selling will be things of the past, when wealth is held in common. Clearly, such a system does not operate anywhere in the world today. Neither could it exist in one country; the world system of capitalism can only be replaced by the world system of socialism. The socialist revolution is not an unattainable ideal. It can and will happen when millions of workers all over the world recognise their class interests, form socialist parties and use the political strength which they have. Once a majority of workers are resolved to establish socialism there is nothing that can effectively stand in their way. 

The Socialist Party has no leaders but is a party of conscious members who need no chiefs to tell us what to do. All of our affairs are open to the scrutiny of the public. We are a political party, concerned with socialist propaganda; we publish literature and we organise lecture meetings to spread the understanding of socialist ideas. In this general election we are putting up candidates in as many constituencies as is practical. We don't relish the fact that we are a small party which does not include millions of workers in its membership. We are certainly not complacent or proud about the fact that we are small. But we are proud of the fact that we have been consistently correct about what we have said.

 We wouldn’t deny that members of many parties share the "basic aspiration" of wanting a better world. Where the disagreements begin is over the features of this better world, which we say can only be achieved on the basis of the common ownership and democratic control of productive resources—our definition of the word socialism. There are others who say that their aim is socialism, or make reference to the works of Marx, but few of them mean by socialism what we do. For them "socialism" means state ownership and control, which in our view amounts only to state capitalism. So why should we get together with people who don’t have the same aim as us? As to the much smaller group of people out there who define socialism in the same way as us, they generally disagree with the way we advocate achieving it, i.e. the democratic political action, via the ballot box, of a majority of conscious socialists. We certainly think that all those who want socialism in the sense of a society based on the common ownership and democratic control of resources should get together in a single organisation that concentrates on advocating socialism and nothing else. Our message to them is stop entertaining illusions about minority action or reforms and join us in creating a bigger socialist party. We are not sitting back waiting for everybody to suddenly want socialism. We are actively working to help socialists become a majority.

So as long as capitalism exists there'll be this discontent which will eventually lead to a realisation that the way out is to establish a world-wide society of common ownership, democratic control and production to satisfy people's needs, not for profit. Our task, as people who have already come to this realisation, is to point this out to others, as part of the process of the development of socialist ideas. At the moment, it is true, this largely involves talking and writing but, later, when there are many more of us practical plans will no doubt be drawn up, for instance stopping world hunger, restoring the balance between human society and nature, solving the housing problem for implementation after the winning of control of political power via the ballot box.

The Socialist Party urges all workers to consider their position. They have to strike and face lock-outs because they are slaves to the capitalist class. They cannot enter into ownership of the means of life whilst the capitalist is in possession of political power. That power is given them by the workers themselves, who have been trained for centuries to think along capitalist lines, and then through the medium of the ballot box have, in consequence, elected the capitalists to, power. The wealth of the world is produced by the workers and it is, therefore, just sound common sense to say that what the workers can produce for the capitalist they can produce for themselves. But socialist understanding and determination is essential to that task. Until the workers are prepared to give their consideration to this aspect of their problems, all the protests and strikes in the world will not rid them of their troubles. The Socialist Party is hostile to all defenders of capitalism, but none more than those who preserve capitalism in the name of fighting for “socialism”. They are not only crazy, they are dangerous.

Socialism and protecting the planet

Summer School 2017 will again be held at Fircroft College, Birmingham, between Friday, 21 and Sunday, 23 July. Full residential cost (including accommodation and meals Friday evening to Sunday afternoon) is £100. The concessionary rate is £50. Day visitors are welcome, but please book in advance.
 The talks and discussions will focus on the current state of the environment, and its prospects for the future. 
Janet Surman will be giving a talk “World Military V. The Global Environment.” Paddy Shannon discussion topic is titled “The Vegans Are Coming!” Glenn Morris will talk on the theme “Destroying the Hand that Feeds Us.” Saturday evening will feature a quiz, “One World, Our World.”

Socialism offers a way of living that isn't dominated by profit, greed, exploitation, wasteful production and environmental damage.