Friday, June 14, 2024

SPGB Meeting TONIGHT 1930 (GMT +1) ZOOM



Event Details

  • Date:  – 

The SPGB was founded on 12 June 1904.
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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Happy Birthday SPGB!


Happy Birthday Socialist Party of Great Britain!

Formed 12 June, 1904


The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.

What is meant by “a system of society”?

The world is a “global village”. Each region may have its own particular and distinct customs, but they are part of a greater system of society that is world-wide. This system of society is capitalism and every region and nation operates within this system of society in one way or another. Socialism is not a cooperative island in the middle of capitalism, but a global system of society that will replace capitalism.

The means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth”?

This includes the forests, mines, and oceans from which natural wealth is extracted, the factories in which this natural wealth is processed, and the distribution of that wealth via transportation networks (such as roads and truck lines) and distribution centres (such as grocery and department stores). It does not include your personal belongings such as your toothbrush or clothing, or the family heirloom.

Common Ownership”?

Common ownership means that society as a whole owns the means and instruments for distributing wealth. It also implies the democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth, for if everyone owns, then everyone must have equal right to control the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth.

Common ownership is not state ownership. State ownership is merely the ownership by the capitalist class as a whole, instead of by individual capitalists, and the government then runs the state enterprises to serve the capitalist class. In the self-proclaimed “communist” states the state enterprises serve those who control the party/state apparatus. The working class does not own or control. It produces for a privileged minority.

Declaration of Principles

The Socialist Party of Great Britain holds

Working class emancipation necessarily excludes the role of political leadership. The Socialist Party has an absolute need of supporters with understanding and self-reliance. Even if we could conceive of a leader-ridden working class displacing the capitalist class from power such an immature class would be helpless to undertake the responsibilities of democratic socialist society.

  1. That society as at present constituted is based upon the ownership of the means of living (i.e., land, factories, railways, etc.) by the capitalist or master class, and the consequent enslavement of the working class, by whose labour alone wealth is produced.

    How are decisions about the operation of society made? What principles govern what goods will be produced in what quantity and quality, or what social programs and laws will exist?

    If decisions were made based upon the needs of humanity then the food that is regularly destroyed by the truckload would instead feed the starving.

    Decisions are made based upon the expectation of making a profit. The ecology of the world is being devastated, even though this devastation may wipe out the human race, because of profit. Poor quality goods are produced, not because people want to have junk, but because it is profitable to produce junk. The rich can get the best, the rest of us often have little choice. Anyone can think of dozens of examples of how decision making puts profit-making before the satisfaction of human needs.

    The owners of the production and distribution facilities are responsible to no-one but themselves. Governments pass laws that maintain profits for the owners as a group. Sometimes one owner or one sub-group of owners loses a bit, but overall, the class of owners always benefits in the long run. By focussing on the worst excesses, and legalizing the rest, their profits are protected from demands for significant changes.

    While many British people have generally seen the benefits of increased production in terms of material wealth, the decisions are made not to improve our lives, but to improve the lives of those who own the means of production. The gap between the very rich and the rest of us continues to grow.

  2. That in society, therefore, there is an antagonism of interests, manifesting itself as a class struggle between those who possess but do not produce and those who produce but do not possess.

    There are many different divisions in society. Divisions of hatred by sex, skin colour, national origin, religion or the amount of money that a person makes, among others. The insecurity of capitalism breeds these hatreds. We must eliminate their breeding ground, before they infect our children.

    Socialists see a division of society based upon the means of acquiring wealth. If you must work for a living then you are working class, if your main income is derived from the work of others then you are a capitalist. This distinction clearly exists. Even though some of us own shares, workers do not have the luxury to quit their jobs and live off investment income.

    When you analyze society using this class division, many problems that otherwise defy understanding have obvious solutions. Profit is derived by owning. Wages or salary are derived by labouring, by expending our physical or mental energy working for those who own the means of production and distribution.

    The owner of a particular factory may not even know that they own it. It may be just a part of an immense holding company that is administered by someone else. The workers in the factory, however, are directly connected to the production. It is the labour of these workers (including the plant management) that creates the profits that keep the capitalists rich. It is vital that the capitalists pay their workers less than the value that their labour produces. It is this difference between the value of what workers are paid and the value of what they produce that is the source of profit.

  3. That this antagonism can be abolished only by the emancipation of the working class from the domination of the master class, by the conversion into the common property of society of the means of production and distribution, and their democratic control by the whole people.

    As long as the ownership of the means of production and distribution rests with the minority capitalist class, this antagonism will continue to exist. The antagonism is caused by the necessarily differing interests of the classes. No matter how nice capitalists may be on a personal level, they will always have different interests than the working class. It is not a matter of good and evil or anything like that, it is inherent in any class system. Therefore the only way to eliminate the antagonism is to eliminate the class system and establish a system of common ownership where the previous antagonism has no basis.

  4. That as in the order of social evolution the working class is the last class to achieve its freedom, the emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind, without distinction of race or sex.

    The hate and distrust that exists in society today is a direct result of the nature of societies past and present. A society in which we must compete to survive, in which our jobs are threatened by other workers, in which we do not feel secure, is fertile breeding ground for racism, sexism, nationalism and all the other hatreds that abound.

    Even today, while this hatred is sometimes used to pit one worker against another, it appears that overall, these hatreds are being rooted out and made socially unacceptable. This is particularly noticeable in countries like South Africa where there is a shortage of white workers, and black workers must be brought into previously “white” workplaces without the major disruption that is caused by overt racism.

    No society can meet our human needs as long as there are different classes of people. Every person has abilities that differentiate them from others, but we are all equal in our humanity. We all have strengths and weaknesses. What we need is a society that allows us to use our strengths, and that accepts and accommodates our weaknesses.

    Socialism will be a society geared to meeting human needs, and the need to be accepted for what we are is probably the most basic of human needs. When the breeding ground for these hatreds has disappeared, people will naturally be able to eradicate them with all the other negative leftovers of capitalism.

  5. That this emancipation must be the work of the working class itself.

  6. That as the machinery of government, including the armed forces of the nation, exists only to conserve the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers, the working class must organize consciously and politically for the conquest of the powers of government, national and local, in order that this machinery, including these forces, may be converted from an instrument of oppression into the agent of emancipation and the overthrow of privilege, aristocratic and plutocratic.

    It would be foolish to expect the capitalist class to voluntarily give up its privileged position in society. Governments exist solely to administer the society as it exists, in the interests of the ruling (capitalist) class, so governments will not end the privilege. Capitalism will continue as long as the working class accepts it. The working class will have to force the capitalist class to give up its position of privilege.

    Socialism will be the result of workers democratically choosing a new, classless society based upon the satisfaction of human needs. And since capitalism is a global system of society, it must be replaced globally.

    It is dangerous and futile to follow those who support violence by workers against the armed force of the state. Violent revolution has sometimes meant different faces in the capitalist class, always meant dead workers, and never meant the liberation of the working class. Unless workers organize consciously and politically and take control over the state machinery, including its armed forces, the state will be ensured a bloody victory.

    Political democracy is the greatest tool (next to its labour-power) that the working class has at its disposal. When the majority of workers support socialism, so-called “revolutionary” war will not be required. The real revolution is for workers to stop following leaders, to start understanding why society functions as it does and to start thinking for themselves.

  7. That as all political parties are but the expression of class interests, and as the interest of the working class is diametrically opposed to the interests of all sections of the master class, the party seeking working class emancipation must be hostile to every other party.

    Political parties of the left, right and centre, claim to be working for the betterment of society. Because society functions in the interests of the capitalist class, it is clear that these parties are then supporting the interests of the capitalist class. History shows us that no matter what these parties say, when elected they administer capitalism in the only way it can be administered – in the interests of the capitalist class.

    Each of them has their own idea of how to run capitalism, often stealing the ideas of their supposed political opposites. The reforms that they implement must reflect economic reality. If they do not, they will not get re-elected – until the next party fails to reflect that reality. There is no way that capitalism can meet the needs of the majority, but all of these parties pretend it can if only they find the right plan. None of them have any really new ideas, only rehashed reforms that have failed in the past. Voting for any of these parties is voting for capitalism, forever.

    Socialists are therefore hostile, not in the sense of committing violent acts against other parties or their members, but to the ideas of those parties which support capitalism.

  8. The Socialist Party of Great Britain, therefore, enters the field of political action determined to wage war against all other political parties, whether alleged labour or avowedly capitalist, and calls upon the members of the working class of this country to muster under its banner to the end that a speedy termination may be wrought to the system which deprives them of the fruits of their labour, and that poverty may give place to comfort, privilege to equality, and slavery to freedom.

    The Socialist Party is part of a global socialist movement that believes capitalism cannot meet the needs of the majority of the people in the world. It does not today, and it never can.

    In order to meet these needs capitalism must be replaced by socialism.

    The only way to achieve socialism is for the working class to recognize this and consciously and politically work to replace capitalism with socialism. The Socialist Party of Great Britain does not support the idea of reforming capitalism and therefore does not work for reforms. There are plenty of other organizations that do and yet the problems remain. By relegating socialism to the future, it is relegated to never. Only a party dedicated only to socialism can promote socialism in any real, honest manner.

    Among all the political parties in Great Britain, only the Socialist Party is dedicated to socialism as an immediate goal. It is this objective that makes the Socialist Party revolutionary – our dedication to peaceful, democratic and immediate change.

    The Socialist Party is, therefore, engaged in a war of ideas against all other parties. Those other parties, no matter what they claim, are supporting the capitalist system and opposing the immediate establishment of socialism.

    Only the conscious support of the working class will create socialism, and to this end the Socialist Party seeks to increase understanding of, and mobilize support for, socialism.

    The Socialist Party calls upon every worker to support these efforts in any way that they can.

The Socialist Party Election Leaflet: People or Profit?

The Socialist Party urges a truly democratic society in which people take all the decisions that shape their lives. This means a society without rich and poor, without owners and workers, without governments and governed, a society without leaders and led. In such a society people would cooperate to use all the world’s natural and industrial resources in their own interests. They would free production from the artificial restraint of profit and establish a system of society in which each person has free access to the benefits of civilisation. Socialist society would mean the end of buying, selling and exchange; an end to borders and frontiers; an end to organised violence and coercion, waste, want and war.

You can use your vote to show you want to overturn capitalism and end the problems it causes once and for all. When enough of us join together, determined to end inequality and deprivation, we can transform elections into a means of doing away with a society of minority rule in favour of a society of real democracy and social equality. If you agree with the idea of a society of common and democratic ownership where no one is left behind and things are produced because they are needed, and not to make a profit for some capitalist corporation, and are prepared to join with us to achieve this then join our write-in vote for socialism by writing WORLD SOCIALISM across your ballot paper.

Object: The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.

For further details on our campaign email or scan this (See Link) below)

Promoted by The Socialist Party, 52 Clapham High St, London SW4 7UN. Printed by Ideal Printers, 4 Shrewton Rd, London SW17 9HX


Socialist Sonnet No. 153

Promises! Promises!


Neither Utopia nor Shangri-La

Can appear in any manifesto,

Because their authors quite probably know

Of necessity politicians are

Constrained by capital’s imperative

To, unhindered, manufacture profit:

Should that consume the world, then so be it.

A government may continue to live

For however long as it doesn’t ignore

The market, for it’ll not be mistreated,

Or that government shall be unseated

No matter what the voters voted for.

Even promises of sincere intent

Can be frustrated by disinvestment.


D. A.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Not just a chocolate bar - a commodity.

Now Tesco slaps £1.25 bar of Cadbury chocolate inside a security box - after supermarket introduced tags on shopping baskets amid fears cost-of-living crisis is fuelling surge in shoplifting

From the February 1985 issue of the Socialist Standard

They might have said: "The people who own this supermarket hope you will come in and buy food here. But no matter how much you need it. you must not take anything from the shop unless you pay for it because that's the way we get profits on our investments. If you don't obey these rules you will probably be punished under the law."

What they actually said, in two posters side by side on the door, was: "Welcome to Safeways'. "Shoplifters Will Be Prosecuted".

Like many other offences, shoplifting has apparently been on the increase, from 126,844 incidents recorded by the police in 1972 to 242,304 in 1982. The total value of goods lost to the shops in this way is set at about £8 million a year but it is likely that it really amounts to a lot more than that; in particular shop assistants are suspected of a vast amount of undetected theft. Anyone starting a career in crime by testing out their welcome at Safeways may be reassured by the fact that about 50 per cent of contested cases result in an acquittal in court.

There are various methods for the apprentice shoplifter to consider, from the simple one of putting items straight into a shopping bag instead of into the basket so thoughtfully provided by the supermarket and leaving without paying for them; to the more difficult, like grabbing a discarded receipt. finding foods for the same price and getting a refund on them. In between lie methods requiring some manual dexterity, like swapping those sticky price tags or "gleaning"—opening packs of food and eating it while in the store, which can give a supermarket shelf the appearance of a field ravaged by locusts. Some known shoplifters. presumably on their day off, relax by playing games, attracting attention by concealing some item on their person and walking around the shop for a while before replacing it. to the chagrin of the watching store detective.

Who are the shoplifters? An article in Justice of the Peace (28 January 1984) said there has been ". . . an increase in the incidence of organised or group shoplifting (the Australian gang) and the use of violence arid intimidation. . ." but this aggravation of magistrates' paranoia represents too alarmist a picture. A very high "clear-up" rate is claimed by the police for shoplifting — 88 per cent compared to 37 per cent for all offences — which is a measure of the shoplifters' ineptitude. Then there is the fact that nearly half of the incidents recorded in 1982 concerned goods worth £5 or less, which is hardly the type of loot looked for by determined. sophisticated gangs. In fact, juveniles make up the largest group of shoplifters and. according to the Home Office (Designing Out Crime, HMSO). it is the offence most often committed by youngsters truanting from school.

The rising tide of shoplifting has been resisted by the shops in a strengthening of their defences. The Association of Prevention of Theft From Shops, whose Director is a Baroness, acts as an intelligence agency. Many goods are so packaged that it is very difficult to conceal others in with them (it is. of course, also very difficult to unpack the things when you get them home). In clothing shops, tags which can only be removed by a cashier set off a clamorous alarm if anyone tries to take them through the doorway. Shops are surveyed by closed circuit TV and patrolled by store detectives, whose vigilance may be sharpened by the commission they get for every successful arrest.

It is ironic that all this effort is expended to deal with a problem which the shops originally made for themselves. The age of the shoplifter is also the age of the self-service store: “Shoplifting", the Home Office unsurprisingly concluded, "is discouraged by the presence of assistants who are there to serve the customer." But the old style shops, where assistants, who had knowledge and skill as well as patience, served customers across counters, were relatively costly in floor space and wages. (Imagine the acreage of counters, and the swarms of staff, the average Safeways would need if they used that method today.)

All of that was swept away soon after the war in what was called the Great Marketing Revolution, in which a lot of money was invested with the object of cutting staff and making more profitable use of shop floor areas. The revolution left the customers to do the serving themselves, from displays replenished by squads of nocturnal "shelf-fillers" and then to volunteer to pay at check out tills operated at the kind of pressure to ensure the minimum of customer contact and the maximum of alienation. Now nobody stands chatting in a supermarket; the shelves can't talk back and the check out operators haven't got the time.

The big snag with the revolution was that it also allowed the customers to help themselves from the displays and so opened a field of crime to thousands of people who would not otherwise have had such a tempting opportunity. Vagrant alcoholics could help themselves to their booze, penurious mothers could help feed their children, aimless truants could arrange an afternoon s supply of free sweets and fags. About 4,000 of the yearly convictions for shoplifting are of people of 60 and over, many of them never having been in court before and who, but for the existence of the self-service shop, would almost certainly never have fallen foul of the law.

This has given rise to the stereotype of the menopausal shoplifter, a concept whose significance is obscured by the implication that age has to be a disability when in fact the problem lies in the disabling effects of capitalist society. The magistrates' courts see a continuous procession of these wretched, frightened people, often middle-aged women in despair. These women are often described in court, by helpful policemen. as "respectable", which means that they have been nurtured since birth on an insidious diet of capitalist morality. For them, the apex of attractiveness coincides with that of their profitability as an employee — with their youth. The fulfilment of their life began with employment, followed by marriage and a coping with children, housework. the mortgage and the bills while still disseminating a stereotypical sexual allure. At an age when cosmetic artifices can no longer smooth wrinkles, when no profit-conscious employer would give them a seat in the typing pool or at an assembly line, when their children have left home to grapple with the stresses of their own marriage, many women may feel their usefulness died with their fertility and that now they are unwanted, unattended.

An obvious way to draw attention to themselves is to offend against all they have been conditioned to regard as moral and correct. Such people could hardly burgle a house or hold up a bank but shoplifting is an easily available crime, fitting neatly into their daily routine of housework and shopping. Too often, however, their arrest is only another stage in a chronic depression. Hundreds of people every year are driven into a mental breakdown by their arrest and during a recent 18 month period the Portia Trust recorded 32 suicides by people accused of shoplifting. The other side of this bitter story is to be found in the people who own the supermarkets and the companies which supply them, among whom there are some massive fortunes: the Vestey family (£1.5 billion); the Sainsbury family (£900 million); James Goldsmith (£500 million); Garfield Weston (£300 million) (Sunday Times. 7 October 1984). These are some of the class whose interests are protected by the store detectives, the police and the courts, who welcome us to their shops as long as we pay for what we take away, whose interests are in the end responsible for the alienation, misery, depression and suicides.

In its early days shoplifting was perhaps not regarded quite so seriously. In fact one study found that some shops took the level of their loss as an index of their attractiveness. According to the Home Office. "Retailers . . . may be disinclined to change marketing techniques so long as these gain more in sales than they lose in theft". The balancing point, of course, is concerned with profits, which is as it should be in a society whose wealth is produced to be sold rather than to satisfy human needs. The shops warn us that in the end we all pay because they simply raise their prices to cover their losses to the shoplifters. But if it were possible for a company always to recoup losses in that way they would not need to defend themselves so tenaciously against theft, or wage demands, or a slump in their sales.

The shoplifters go to their work untroubled by the spurious, justifying economics of capitalism's defenders. Except that they might ponder on the greater act of legalised theft which establishes the property rights of the owners and whether a more comprehensive appropriation than their furtive acts might do better for the human race.’


Can't Pay, Won't Pay?

Monday, June 10, 2024

Recruits required for Kaiser Karno's Army.

' Germany must prepare to wage war before the end of the decade, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has declared. However, the German military lacks basic equipment, and a parliamentary report suggests it won’t be war-ready for half a century.

“We must be ready for war by 2029,” Pistorius proclaimed on Wednesday, during a session of parliament. “We must provide deterrence to prevent things coming to the worst,” he added, in comments carried by Der Spiegel.

There are currently around 181,000 active-duty members of the Bundeswehr, or German armed forces. Pistorius told lawmakers that this number must increase, ideally through a “new form of military service” that “cannot be completely free of obligations.”

However, Germany abolished mandatory military service in 2011, and reviving the draft has proven difficult for Pistorius. After weighing military reform packages presented by his ministry in April, Pistorius announced a plan to incentivize more teenagers to join the Bundeswehr. The plan is reportedly the most cautious of the three suggested by the ministry and does not mention the word “conscription.”

Instead, it would require all 18-year-olds to answer a questionnaire about their physical condition, with the most promising candidates encouraged to sign up with free driving licenses and student loan discounts, among other rewards, Der Spiegel reported.

“In an emergency, we need strong young women and men who can defend this country,” the minister said on Wednesday.

Aside from boosting recruitment, Germany has also struggled to get weapons and equipment into the hands of those already serving. Despite Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s 2022 pledge to spend €100 billion ($107.35 billion) equipping and modernizing the Bundeswehr, no significant improvements have been made in the two years since, an annual report by the parliamentary commissioner for the Bundeswehr, Eva Hoegl, revealed in March.

According to a Defence Ministry document seen by German news outlet Bild, the Bundeswehr’s orders for uniforms, helmets, backpacks, and bulletproof vests were not fully met last year. Troops are also short on night-vision goggles, the paper stated, noting that a batch intended for German soldiers was sent to the Israeli military instead.’

“Rank-and-file soldiers… lack even the most ordinary infrastructure, ammunition and equipment,” the New York Times reported in November, revealing that training exercises were routinely cancelled at the Bundeswehr’s artillery school due to ammunition being sent to Ukraine. At the time, troops at the school had not fired the military’s latest howitzers, due to all 14 being shipped straight to Kiev.

Should Germany’s military revitalization continue at its current pace, “it would take about half a century before just the current infrastructure of the [military] was completely renovated,” Hoegl wrote in her 2023 report to parliament.'