Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Socialist Answers

Danny Lambert was the Socialist Party of Great Britain Parliamentary Candidate for Vauxhall in the recent general election and he was able to explain our party’s position on a number of issues

1. Housing

Councillor Lib Peck, Labour Leader of the ‘co-operative’ Lambeth Council wrote recently in the free Lambeth Talk magazine with no sense of irony; ‘I look back on 2013 with a sense of pride in our achievements.’

2013 saw Lambeth Labour Council use heavies or bailiffs in jumpsuits and helmets to kick out so-called squatters out of properties in Rushcroft Road, Brixton who had been living there for 32 years. From April 2013 the Government reduced housing benefit for working age tenants in social housing who have spare bedrooms (the Bedroom Tax). The Loughborough Estate Tenants and Residents Association urged Lambeth Council not to make those tenants leave their homes who face eviction as a result of the Bedroom Tax. Residents are ‘terrified’ by the rent arrears they have built up since the introduction of the Bedroom Tax. Lambeth Council is refusing to rule out the eviction of tenants who fail to keep up with their rent.

Then there are the short-life housing co-operatives in Lambeth which were uninhabitable 30 years ago and Lambeth residents took them on and made them family homes only now to be told they are to be evicted. The co-operative Labour Council in Lambeth want to sell these properties to property developers. Family homes lovingly taken care of by people will be repossessed by the Council and sold to the likes of  millionaire ex-cabinet minister and  former jail bird  Chris Huhne who was seen viewing two short-life properties in Lilleshall Road in Clapham that are being sold off at auction by Lambeth Council.

Housing has everything to do with the market. Houses like everything else under capitalism are produced to be sold with a view to profit. They are not produced simply for people to live in. The provision of somewhere to live is determined by money considerations and market forces. Capitalism will never be able to provide secure and decent housing for all. If you can’t afford the rent or mortgage then you don’t count  in capitalism.

The housing problem would not exist in a socialist society that aimed at meeting human needs rather than making profits for the few. With the ending of ownership, the meaning of ‘tenancy’ will mean something different than it does in capitalism. It will mean the democratically agreed right to occupy a home for as long as you want.

2. Local Business

The Socialist Party advocates the abolition of Capitalism which is a system of society based on the class monopoly of the means of life, it has the following six essential characteristics:
1. Generalised commodity production, nearly all wealth being produced for sale on a market.
2. The investment of capital in production with a view to obtaining a monetary profit.
3. The exploitation of wage labour, the source of profit being the unpaid labour of the producers.
4. The regulation of production by the market via a competitive struggle for profits.
5. The accumulation of capital out of profits, leading to the expansion and development of the forces of production.
6. A single world economy.

3. Education

Education of the young is the first way in which they are given a foretaste of what life will be like when they reach adulthood. Most children are given a deceptively benign introduction to capitalist schooling. At first no pressure is put on them to do other than play and have their natural inquisitiveness and sense of adventure stimulated and satisfied. But this soon gives way to the real business of education. Schooling takes the place of kindergarten. Some children don’t even have the benefit of kindergarten—they are thrown straight into school. Starting with first year children, a concept called ‘career education’ has been used to permeate all academic subjects at all levels of education: The whole curriculum, from start to finish, is conducted within an atmosphere of competition and stress, together with a weeding-out process which segregates those with supposedly superior talents from those less fortunate. This is accomplished through the use of tests, examinations and grading, all of which have a direct bearing upon ultimate occupations and potential earnings. Such an environment prevents the pleasurable pursuit of education as a primary end in itself. The young find themselves involved in an intensive training programme, presented under the guise of education, which will ultimately affect the price of their labour-power and in many instances can prove disastrous healthwise.

Thus schools—or at least the general run of state schools and even many of the fee-paying schools—produce minimally skilled workers for wage or salary labour. These institutions ‘educate’ workers to an ideology of compliance. Schools play an essential role in maintaining the status quo. ‘A capitalist society requires certain general human traits and institutional features, and schools function to fulfil these demands’. Education for life has long been a goal set up and discussed by teachers and others. Capitalism is increasingly eroding that role, transforming it into education for employment (or unemployment). The idea is ‘that school should equip children from all social backgrounds with a greater understanding and experience of the world of work, and in the process equip them with social and technical skills required by employers’  The raw material of education—the acquisition and evaluation of knowledge—is strongly influenced by its capitalist environment. ‘Really useful knowledge has come to mean skills which help you get on and make it, not insights that help you combine with others to build a better world’. The privatisation of the public realm, the permeation of market values into the most intimate reaches of personal and social life, is apparent at all levels of education. Privatisation is particularly evident in academia itself. Academics are increasingly obliged to act (and some no doubt willingly act) as agents of capital within the public sector. They look for commercial funding for projects that are tied to national policy institutions and are partnered by prestigious firms, usually national or multinational in scope. Their own advancement is no longer dependent primarily on publications. Instead it depends at least partly on success in marketing activity. The scope of subject relevance is limited tacitly to exclude challenge of the status quo.

4. Leisure

In a 1966 article the idea was posited that in the future capitalism would develop into ‘The Leisure Society’ because of the rise of automation. This had not come to pass, as it never would under capitalism. Automation, productivity has increased and so have the profits of the capitalist class, but real wages for workers have not increased in decades. It is leisure and idleness the worker needs (leisure to enjoy and idleness to recuperate), the worker does not pursue work because he/she loves the burden of toil; he/she does so because, as a rule, unless he/she works he/she cannot obtain the wherewithal to live. It is not their fault, but a misfortune – we are born into wage slavery. The promise of ease and comfort, leisure and luxury, to the many can only be fulfilled when the many own the product of their energy, and that would be in a socialist society.

5. Environment

The techniques employed to transform materials must, if they are to avoid upsetting natural cycles which are fundamental to nature, avoid releasing into the biosphere or leaving as waste products, toxic substances or substances that cannot be assimilated by nature. In other words, a non-polluting technology should be applied. This is quite feasible from a technical point of view since non-polluting transformation techniques are known in all fields of production. However, they are not employed on any wide scale today because they would add to production costs and so are ruled out by the economic laws of capitalism.

If human society is to be able to organize its production in an ecologically acceptable way, then it must abolish the capitalist economic mechanism of capital accumulation and gear production instead to the direct satisfaction of needs.

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