Saturday, May 27, 2017

Bringing the soil back to life

A book – “The Great Climate Robbery: How the food system drives climate change and what we can do about it,” published by GRAIN, offers a comprehensive account of the unrelenting and largely successful campaign by big companies to take over the world’s food supply and exploit it for profit.

The writers say small farms have been squeezed into less than one-quarter of the world’s agricultural lands, but they continue to produce most of the world’s food. Unless small farmers are protected and more land is returned to the kind of sustainable practice employed by small farmers, then there is no hope of feeding the world’s population in the future, they say.

Over the past 50 years, 140 million hectares, the size of almost all the farms in India, has been taken over by four crops grown on large industrial plantations. These are soybean, palm oil, rape-seed, and sugar cane. The authors complain that there has been zero political will to challenge the dominant model of industrial food production and distribution. Peasants are getting the blame for cutting down trees when in fact deforestation is being driven by big companies growing industrial crops, they say.

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, small farmers produce 80% of food in non-industrial countries. Their great advantage, apart from producing more food from a smaller area, is that they supply local markets with fresh rather than processed products, and less is wasted.

The book also details how the march of industrial agriculture has created a food chain that is now a heavy emitter of greenhouse gases. The rise of palm oil plantations for processed food, the overuse of fertilisers and the long distances produce travels to reach our plates altogether produce about 50% of all human greenhouse gas emissions. Although industrial farming methods produce only 11%-15% of emissions, the book examines the entire food business – from deforestation to convert land to farmland, to transport, food-processing factories, the freezing and retail industries, and discarded food waste.

The book describes how the expansion of unsustainable agricultural practices over the past century has led to vast quantities of organic matter being lost from soils. This loss is responsible for between 25% and 40% of the current carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. By restoring small farmers’ sustainable practices, this organic matter could be put back into the soil, offsetting up to 30% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, the authors say. Instead, in order to counter the loss of this carbon from soils, more and more chemical fertiliser is used. Insecticides and herbicides are poured on the land, impoverishing biodiversity.

 Dr. Vandana Shiva, says the book shows “that industrial corporate agriculture is a major part of the climate crisis, and small-scale ecological farming is a significant solution. It also alerts us to the false solutions of those who created the problem – the Exxons of agriculture.”

 Naomi Klein, says: “It explains why the fight to stop the industrial food juggernaut is the same as the fight for a habitable, just planet.”

The book is a call to wrest control from the industrial agricultural giant whose job it is to make profits for shareholders – not to feed the world – and to hand the land back to farmers. It is not over-population that endangers life on the planet, but rather it is in the way we have had our economic activity disorganized by capitalism in a way that destroys Nature. Capitalism rears its ugly head once again, nothing like monopolization, dead soil, and monoculture as a methodology of corporate domination and destruction of our ecology, as usual. Nevertheless, If we are chiefly concerned about environmental impact, farm size matters a lot less than the techniques and technologies those farms use.

Taken from here

The Issue of Indigenous Peoples

Asia is home to the largest number of indigenous peoples on Earth, with an estimated 260 million of a total of 370 million original inhabitants worldwide. In spite of their huge number-equaling half of the combined population of Europe– they are often victims of discrimination and denial of their rights.

“Several countries have legislations that to some extent protect the rights of indigenous peoples, like the Philippines, India and Nepal, Signe Leth, Senior Advisor on women and land rights in Asia at the International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), said “These rights are, however, systematically watered down, often simply ignored or overruled.”  The IWGIA’s expert explained to IPS that they fight against forest degradation, protect biodiversity, and lead a sustainable life with respect for the surrounding nature. “However, they are often fighting highly powerful forces trying to exploit their areas – even paying for it with their lives.”

In India, 461 ethnic groups are recognised as “Scheduled Tribes.” They are considered to be India’s indigenous peoples, according to IWGIA‘s independent authors.
In mainland India, the Scheduled Tribes are usually referred to as Adivasis, which literally means indigenous peoples. With an estimated population of 84.3 million, they comprise 8.2 per cent of the country’s total population.
“There are, however, many more ethnic groups that would qualify for Scheduled Tribe status but which are not officially recognized. Estimates of the total number of tribal groups are as high as 635.”
The largest concentrations of indigenous peoples are found in the seven states of North-East India, and the so-called “central tribal belt” stretching from Rajasthan to West Bengal, according to the IWGIA Indian chapter’s independent authors.
“India has a long history of indigenous peoples’ movements aimed at asserting their rights” It has several laws and constitutional provisions, such as the Fifth Schedule for mainland India and the Sixth Schedule for certain areas of North-East India, which recognise indigenous peoples’ rights to land and self-governance. “The laws aimed at protecting indigenous peoples have, however, numerous shortcomings and their implementation is far from satisfactory." The International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs also reminds that the Indian government voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in the UN General Assembly in 2007. “However, it does not consider the concept of “indigenous peoples”, and thus the UNDRIP, applicable to India.”
Socialism for everyone. Contact:
The World Socialist Party (India)257 Baghajatin ‘E’ Block (East), Kolkata – 700086,
Tel: 2425-0208,

Friday, May 26, 2017

We can make a better world

The Socialist Party of Great Britain, the second oldest political party in the country, are contesting three seats in the coming election of 8th June. The Socialist Party offers the only alternative to the profit system. Rather than the daily struggle that most people face today, we could have a world where we all have access to what we require to satisfy our needs, and are not rationed by the size of our wage packet or state handout. The Socialist Party stands for a future that works with everyone able to sit in the ‘driving seat’. Look at what is ahead on the economy - yet more austerity, yet more pain. On the environment, we see impending disaster where 20-plus years of talking has got us no nearer to doing anything substantial in protecting the planet.  The current capitalist system is criminal. We cannot accept this as the best way to run things.  The other parties support the present system and tinker around with the present system trying to fix it but the same problems remain and for the same reason: capitalism is a profit-driven system where making profits takes, and has to take, priority over meeting people’s needs and safeguarding the environment. No government can change this. What is required is a complete Revolution to get rid of capitalism altogether. The others want to change a few laws, shift money about a bit; but in the end profits always come first. Is this the only way?  We are standing in this election to raise the issue of the need to end capitalism and replace it.  We will be standing for that and nothing else.

We can land space probes onto comets, restore sight to the blind and perform triple heart bypass operations so surely we have the brains to figure out a better system, one where we will be producing to satisfy people’s needs, not for profit, where no one has to live in poverty while a small minority are wealthy beyond imagination. The Socialist Party believes in a society of cooperation, in helping each other, not exploiting our neighbours. We believe that power should be shared, not in the hands of a greedy elite who control how much you are paid, where you work when you work or even if you can get work? You have no say in any of these issues which have a big effect on you and those who benefit from the present system would have you believe there is no alternative. It helps them if you believe it so.

 But what can you do about it? You don’t have to believe you are powerless.  If you choose not to support this anymore and vote socialist you will be one of an increasing number challenging the system.  You will be signalling your support for a world cooperative society where wealth is freely shared according to need, where decisions are made for the common good rather than for the gain of vested business interests and where you have as much said as the next person regardless of status.

The Socialist Party is not overly concerned that transnational corporations and the super-rich evade paying their taxes. We are much more concerned with the actual existence of such a class of super-rich within society. Their income and wealth derive from the exploitation of the rest of us who, by our work, produce all the wealth of society. Socialism will put an end to this by making the means of wealth production common property under the democratic control of the community. There will be no rich or super-rich nor poor or super-poor, just a classless society of free and equal men and women cooperating to produce and distribute what they need in accordance with the socialist principle of "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs". 

Much of the NHS is already run for profit by private companies (the Carer network for example), and it matters little whether these companies are based in the UK or in the US. Those parts of the NHS which are not directly privatised are still restricted in what they can deliver because they are funded by taxes. The sources of those taxes are private companies, which restrict what they pay their workers (or to the State) in order to maximise profits. So whether privatised by US-based companies or ‘nationalised’, the NHS will continue to suffer an endemic crisis. Similar comments apply to all public services.

The Socialist Party stands for the creation of a global system where we will freely co-operate to produce what we need and access will be based solely on our self-defined needs. In terms of the NHS that means people will become doctors and nurses because that work is fulfilling in its own right, and access will be based solely on medical need. In a society, without the limitations of money and profit, there is no limit to what the human race can achieve in all fields, including medicine. Politicians could commit to a free NHS but then it would ration and exclude a whole range of treatments. The real issue is whether the level of health care freely available in our society matches the needs of the population and already that is not the case. During the financial crisis, the banks were handed literally billions and billions of pounds with no strings attached: just to keep them from going under. Two were nationalised at great public expense. Why? Because their precarious position seriously jeopardised the wealth of big corporations and investors. If there were another banking crisis, the same would happen again: because they are held by our Government to be more important than we are. Unless we tackle this unbalanced system of power and privilege, commitments to free NHS care at the point of use are simply platitudes. What is the point of free health care if you cannot afford somewhere decent to live? If you cannot feed your children healthy food? You can see plainly where loyalties lie. The Government is there to serve the rich and powerful, and until that changes anything else is window dressing. They will promise anything and mean nothing. The answer? Kick them all out in a democratic revolution that changes things for good. Vote the Socialist Party on June 8. Your health care would be free in socialism because everything would be free – we advocate a money-free society. We really believe money is the root of much evil and we can do without it pretty well, actually. We know it sounds strange and off-beat but a few minutes reflection and perhaps it is not such a bad idea after all. There are plenty of cash-free relationships in the world and there is no reason why we can’t generalise these further.

You may not agree and find it hard to accept. But if I have made any connections, if there are resonances with some of the things we’ve said, get in touch, come and talk to us. In this party everyone is equal and has an equal say: there is no leader. This is a truly bottom-up movement aimed at creating a bottom-up society. This revolution in human affairs will only be realised democratically, through the ballot box. By voting for the Socialist Party in the forthcoming election you take the first step to bringing that about. The Socialist Party exists to argue that people are intelligent enough to arrange things so that society runs to benefit us all and not just the 1%. The whole thing has to be restructured so that we are in control.  A vote for us is signalling that you too want the entire system to change: you have had enough of this exploitation and degradation. Things will only move forward when people start to assert their dissatisfaction with what is happening.  Vote for the Socialist Party and start to bring about the change that is necessary.

Australia has more billionaires than ever before

The total wealth on the Financial Review Rich List is a record $233 billion.
The top 10 wealthiest Australians are worth about $75 billion alone, while the average wealth for the 200 list members is a whopping $1.16 billion, the 2017 Rich List reveals.
Anthony Pratt tops the Rich List with record personal wealth of $12.6 billion and is one of three billionaires worth more than $10 billion – a first in the list's 34-year history.

Property tycoon Harry Triguboff has been knocked down to second spot, despite his wealth increasing to $11.45 billion, while stronger commodity prices boosted Ms Rinehart's fortune by more than $4 billion to an estimated $10.41 billion

1. Paper, packaging and recycling magnate Anthony Pratt - $12.6 billion
2. Property tycoon Harry Triguboff - $11.45 billion
3. Mining magnate Gina Rinehart - $10.41 billion
4. Westfield chairman Frank Lowy - $8.26 billion
5. Glencore boss Ivan Glasenberg - $6.85 billion

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Spoiling the Ballot

In the recent French presidential election of the 35,467,172 who went to cast a vote, a near-record 25 per cent abstained from casting their ballot and some 4 million put a blank or spoilt paper into the ballot box. That's about 11.5%. Who says not voting for any of those on offer can not become a valid political tactic in the future? In a few weeks we will again be invited to attend at various polling stations to place our little cross to confirm your voluntary assent to the continuance of Capitalism, and your willing acceptance to be governed. The Socialist Party suggests as an alternative. If, where a socialist candidate is not running, you write the word "World Socialism" across your ballot paper so that you have signified that you are not a willing supporter of capitalism and its political parties. Is it foolish to show on the ballot paper what you do want? A ballot paper ‘spoilt’ for socialism is a happy ballot paper.

Socialists will be going to the polling stations to show that we consider the vote a potential weapon that the working class can use to dislodge the capitalist class and clear the way for the establishment in place of capitalism of a system based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production so that they can be used to turn out what people need. But, except in the few constituencies where they will be candidates standing for this, we shan't be voting for any of the candidates on offer but instead casting a write-in vote for world socialism by writing this across our ballot paper. We urge all fellow-workers to do the same.

The working class interest lies in the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of socialism. Whether they are merely self-serving careerists or they sincerely wish to change things for the better, the aspiring politicians will come up against the reality of an economic and social system where profits come before anything else. Instead of controlling capitalism, capitalism will control them as can be seen when George Osborne in his recent budget had to downgrade his previous estimates on future economic growth, due to the recent deterioration in the world economy. There are political groups that recognise this and call on workers to abstain from the electoral process. We reject this approach and argue that for a socialist working class to gain political power they will need to contest elections at all levels of government in order to capture the machinery of the state. Elections also provide an opportunity for the Socialist Party to make the case against capitalism and for socialism – a world of common ownership and free access to all that is produced. We are using this election to put forward the socialist proposition that the only solution of today's social problems is the establishment of a world community without frontiers based on common ownership and democratic control of the means of wealth production and distribution, with production solely for use not sale or profit. On this basis the world-wide productive apparatus could turn out the abundance that it is technically capable of but which it is prevented from doing today by the restrictions of capitalism and its rule of "no profit, no production". This would permit society to implement the long-standing socialist principle of "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs". In other words, free access for every man, woman and child to what they need to live and enjoy life. This, we say, is technically possible; but first the means for producing wealth must become the common heritage of all mankind, the only basis on which the purpose of production can be changed from profit making to satisfying human needs.

The Socialist Party is like no other political party. First, because it doesn't want power for itself. In the new society we advocate, there will be no power structures anyway and our organisation would cease to exist. Second, because we have no leaders or followers and think instead that collective decision-making - democracy - is the only suitable way to operate a free society. Do you know of any other organisation that can say this? We doubt it.
So what's the catch? The catch is, we will not lead you and we can't do all the work for you. You have to be your own leader, else democracy is meaningless. So if you're prepared to stand up for yourself, don't wait for other people to do it first - get in touch with us and help out.

We say, do not vote for capitalist parties on June 8th but work with us for the overthrow of this system and the building of a new one that will be in keeping with our interests.  Socialists do not support any capitalist faction anywhere or at any time. We will not enage in any tactical voting ruse. If there is no socialist candidate on the ballot go to the poll and write “World Socialism” across your ballot paper (this is emphatically not an abstention). It will at least indicate to our opponents that there is a rising tide of revolutionary feeling which will in time sweep away their rotten system with all its parasites and hangers-on. What have you to lose? Go to it.

We cast a write-in vote by writing "SOCIALISM" or "WORLD SOCIALISM" across the ballot paper. What's the alternative? To not vote at all? More and more people are doing this, and it's not as bad as voting for one or other of the parties that stand for keeping capitalism going. But it's a bit of a cop-out. The anarchists like it, because they don't believe in electoral political action. We don't agree with their view. Our ancestors were right to struggle for the vote. The fact that up to now it hasn't been used properly is no reason for rejecting it as ineffectual. We say in this General Election, the working class should write-in for ‘WORLD SOCIALISM’.

Canterbury Street Stall (Sat 27th)

Saturday, 27 May 
 From 12:00pm
In the Parade pedestrian precinct

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Building Solidarity by Standing Up for Socialism


It is clear that no fundamental change will happen as a result of this election on 8the June. Only the Socialist Party promises a challenge to capitalism. Socialism is a system of social organisation that has never been tried and, these days, rarely explained.

For many left-wingers activists the Socialist Party's notion of engaging with electoral politics has long been anathema and described as a diversion. They remain adamant that building protest movements remains the key to social change and that electoral politics is a curse to be avoided at all costs. From past history, there is, of course, some validity to this anti-parliamentarian stance. But it neglects any self-criticism of traps and delusions of a direct action strategy that sets about changing the world without taking power. Choosing between socialist electoral politics and social movements is a false choice.  Sectional movements cannot win on their own against the combined power of capital and the state. If protests inevitably come up against the limits of ‘throwing stones’ at the state; if the state needs to be entered to effect change and block reaction; and if insurrection is discounted as a way of coming to power; then parliamentary processes and the struggle over remaking state institutions cannot be avoided. It is, however, clear that socialist political action cannot deliver unless backed by the deepest mass movements, not least that of a renewed and revitalized labour movement. Parliamentary and extra-parliamentary activity are not in opposition but inextricably intertwined in the struggle over power and revolutionary ruptures. The point is that elections remain critical moments of political mobilization, of tests of organizational capacity, and of ideological contestation. But they are still far from, in capitalist democracies, the sum total of all politics. The challenge for the working class is to contemplate and put in motion organizational forms and political parties of a new kind, committed to transcending capitalism and realising an alternative society no longer governed by the logics of profit and endless accumulation. Socialists need to do education on the limits and realities that make it impossible for the reformist political parties to become an instrument for the kind of social transformation we need. Wherever we are active, we have to build an understanding of common working class interests and of the capitalist system. Inside our trade unions, in our workplaces and communities socialists need to contribute to the eventual creation of a socialist political presence, in the larger working class, and eventually as a participant and reference point in the electoral and larger political system.

Reformers believe that capitalism can be humanised. They use phrases like “crony capitalism” to suggest that capitalism is only bad when bad people are capitalists. Reformers think that if we encourage employers to be better people, this exploitation will not occur. But socialists understand that exploitation under capitalism is inevitable and that the real issue is to get rid of capitalism. This cannot be brought about through the crazy oscillations of the floating voter nor by the expedient manoeuvres of the tactical vote. It needs a stable political awareness that capitalism cannot be reformed. A voter who has that knowledge does not drift or wriggle; they cannot be tempted to vote for any of the capitalist parties under the delusion that this is a useful thing to do because it keeps one of the others out or lets another in. The socialist vote cannot be bought or manipulated or netted. Socialists vote applying their knowledge, which means they use their vote to the limits of its awesome power to establish the society of freedom.

 The ruling class feel their strength and the screw is being tightened still further. Workers who were barely surviving are having what were called their ‘benefits' (a prime example of Orwellian double-speak) cut. Workers in need of the ‘safety net' of the Welfare State are enduring an extremely humiliating experience. These are times of exceptionally blatant degradation for the working class.

Yet through all this the political party which openly and arrogantly proclaimed its support for capitalism maintains its popularity. The Conservatives appear strong and united, apparently entrenched in power for ever. And it is predicted that at election time, the workers will give them a hearty vote of confidence. The Labour Party is in disarray, intent upon stabbing Corbyn in the back.

Capitalism today is the same society as it was in the 1930s. It is similarly anarchic. It produces the same desperate, devastating problems. Its leaders are as impotent now as they were in 1930s. In fact, capitalism cannot change. When it produces a war, or famine, or mass unemployment, it is not behaving in a wayward fashion but exactly in character. There can be no escape from the results of the system, short of abolishing capitalism itself. That is the crucial issue in this General Election, and the lesson to be gained from looking back at our history. At present the working class absorb a staggering amount of punishment from the workings of capitalism and they dumbly accept that this must always be. But the future is in our hands. We have the power world wide to end capitalism and all its problems. We can have a world of common ownership and free access—a world of abundance and harmonious cooperation. If there is one lesson for the working class to learn and it is of the urgent need for the new social system— socialism. Workers need a political party to build a democratic movement designed to oppose and end a system based on the exploitation of the majority by the minority – vote for the Socialist Party.

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