Friday, June 24, 2022

Quote of the Day

 “There is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022. And 2023 could be even worse.” - U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres 

UN chief warns of 'catastrophe' from global food shortage | AP News

A World of Free Access

 


Extracts translated from Description du monde de demain. Un monde sans monnaie ni troc ni échange: une civilisation de l’accès (Description of the World of Tomorrow. A World Without Money or Barter or Exchange: a Civilisation of Free Access) by Jean-Francois Aupetitgendre and Marc Chinal (Editions Réfléchir n’a Jamais Tué Personne, Lyons, 2021)


‘Nothing in this society escapes the imprint of money. It follows from this that wanting to abolish money is to be obliged to think differently about absolutely everything, our very notions of time and space included.’ (p.16)


‘A society of free access would give freedom of choice to all those who currently find themselves in intolerable situations…. In the current system of society moving house to escape from a violent partner, for example, is a real battle if the person cannot show they have gainful employment and does not have money for a deposit on new accommodation. Such victims, without the capitalist ‘get-out’ of financial independence, find themselves trapped. The same thing applies to all the situations brought to the public gaze by the “Me too’ movement. Why would a woman give in to the unwelcome advances of a boss if she did not fear losing out in some way? What pressure could the predator exert if his prospective victim already had free access to everything he might have to offer?’ (p.23)      


‘In a society of free access, all human activities will be chosen by the person doing them and will not bring with them any particular advantages, material benefits, or payment of any kind. Questions around equal reward or prestige will simply not apply. It’s the end of the road for the little Hitler, the office dictator, the ‘prestigious’ role, higher or lower pay.’ (p.23)


 ‘All our technological choices, past and present, are distorted by the buying and selling system and the absolute necessity in all its workings to turn a financial profit.’ (p.34)


‘Let’s imagine that there’s no longer any ownership of the means of production, no more patents, no more “intellectual property”, that every innovation is immediately commonly owned, that there are no longer any brand names to be defended against others, no more fancy advertising.  If we take what’s best in every make of washing machine, car or computer, would we not be able to make all manufactured objects wholly practical, indestructible and resource-light and at a environmentally minimal cost, and to manufacture only the number we need as we need them? How much less destruction and waste if we can finally make money obsolete!’ (p.36)


‘[In a moneyless society] some of the situations that cause violence would still certainly exist: envy, jealousy or frustration can lead to violence, but far less so than the acquisitive pressure current society exerts. An easy test is to look at official statistics and the reasons for incarceration. A quick calculation shows that at least two thirds of crimes are directly attributable to the money system.’ (p.40)


‘Free access is not an exchange economy and is regulated only by the availability of stock, by the ongoing supply of goods, and also by their impact on the environment, all things which concern equally all members of society’’ (p.55)


‘A society of free access by its very nature is a society without commercial imperatives or economic competition. And even the most able will be aware that they need the cooperation of the less able. If conflicts of interests do arise, new methods will emerge to resolve them, with conciliation rather than confrontation the order of the day.’ (p.63)


‘Campaigners who seek alternative methods of organising capitalism believing that they are being more  realistic may well get a shock one day when they realise that all they have done has been to prolong the agony of buying and selling society and hold back the consciousness of so many people.’ (64)


‘The problem is not solved if we aim at the wrong target, at the wrong enemy, if, in thinking we are fighting against capitalism, all we are doing in fact is alleviating some of its worst effects. The point is not to somehow manage capital better but to abolish it, and at the same time the exchange mechanism which is fundamental to it.’ (p.65)


‘Wanting to create an egalitarian, ecologically sound, peaceful society without free access is like wanting to build a car without inventing the wheel.’ (p.66)


‘The only true realists, the only true pragmatists, are those who want to abolish once and for all money, the  state, the market, commodities, the wage and salary system, exchange value and above all the need to turn a financial profit.’ (p.69)


‘[Free access society] will have no state with governments having overwhelming power for the length of their mandate but, instead, representatives elected for specific purposes and readily recallable by the majority. We are often told that such a system would be certain to be long-winded, confrontational and slow …..But a slowly taken decision involving consequences for millions should be a guarantee of quality. And the fact that there will no longer be “professional” politicians but rather delegates elected or appointed for a specific purpose and with a particular mandate will guard against power being taken by individuals or parties.’ (p.82)


‘In present society, absolutely anything can be bought and sold, whether it’s time, knowledge, virginity, or even human organs.’ (p.107)


‘Money is a tool of exchange, but also, wherever we care to look, a tool of exclusion.’ (p.111)


‘We are not talking about returning to a “pre-monetary” world but about using our current knowledge to build a “post-monetary” world, transcending the primitive system of exchange, and getting to a world of comfortable abundance and free access.’ (p.129)


‘A society with commercial goals needs citizens to constantly consume, to fall into the traps laid by manipulative advertising; it needs citizens who are frustrated in their everyday lives and who can be made to believe that happiness comes from purchasing the latest product or service.’ (p.142)


‘Any belief in human solidarity in a monetary world is based on a misconceived vision of that system, even if  associative activities do, despite everything, sometimes take place. But real ongoing solidarity in a monetary world is simply an illusion.’ (p.148-9)


‘Is some form of universal basic income a solution to the problems of the capitalist system? Definitely not.’ (p.170)


‘Real direct democracy does not consist in giving power to those who speak the most eloquently or the loudest. Nor does it open the door to armed or deranged groups of people. The only political arrangement  possible for a post-monetary system is to give to each person equal responsibility and equal access to knowledge and training as well as to decision-making.’ (p.187)


‘An efficient society is one that knows its limits, one that, instead of constantly seeking economic growth, focuses on satisfying everyone’s needs. Once these needs are satisfied, ‘economic growth’ for the sake of it serves no purpose. Once a washing machine is made truly to last, with the means to repair it available if it does break down available, there is no point in continuing to make more of them. Energies need to go into something else. Production responds to need. That is true efficiency.’ (p.191)


‘[Even in capitalism, people know that] a truly good occupation is not one that gives you the most material gain, but one that is socially useful. ’ (p.194)


‘Think of all the occupations directly or indirectly tied to the use of money: banks, insurance, accountancy, taxation, financial administration, commercial law ….. All these occupations will disappear immediately in a post-monetary system.’ (p.205)


‘A society of free access is founded on real direct democracy with each citizen needing to be conscious of this in order to make “reciprocity” function. It follows that any kind of armed or authoritarian revolution is completely incompatible with this vision. Armed or violent revolutions need sheep to send to the slaughter and obedience to leaders. The development towards a free access society needs human beings with clarity of consciousness.’ (p.216)


‘A free access society is not impossible. What is impossible is for us to continue to survive in a world which is poisonous and being poisoned and will continue to be so. What is impossible is to live in harmony in a world where the aim is to compete with our neighbours near and far just to have the means to live decently, a world where supplying armaments is a highly printable pursuit. When a society is harmful, the rules of operation must be changed.’ (p.274)

 

‘When in the society we are aiming for we will have finished repairing the mistakes of the past, then we will no doubt turn towards what we still do not have and we will go further. But we will do this in respecting the environment and the planet’s living beings and without forgetting that we do have limits but that respecting those is no real problem.’ (p.283).

Fact of the Day

 The percentage of the world’s population living without democracy has grown from 49% to 70% in only a decade.

Undemocratic systems are affecting 5.4 billion people.

Populist leaders: Democracies in danger of extinction | The Global Observer | Opinion | EL PAÍS English Edition (elpais.com)



Suffering Children

 Almost 8 million children under 5 in 15 crisis-hit countries are at risk of death from severe wasting unless they receive immediate therapeutic food and care – with the numbers rising, UNICEF warned.

Since the start of the year, the escalating global food crisis has forced one child every 60 seconds  to suffer from severe wasting in 15 countries bearing the brunt of the crisis, including in the Horn of Africa and the Central Sahel. This rise in severe wasting is in addition to existing levels of child undernutrition. Within the 15 countries, UNICEF estimates that at least 40 million children are severely nutrition insecure, meaning they are not receiving the bare minimum diverse diet they need to grow and develop in early childhood. Further, 21 million children are severely food insecure, meaning they lack access to enough food to meet minimum food needs, leaving them at high risk of severe wasting.

“We are now seeing the tinderbox of conditions for extreme levels of child wasting begin to catch fire,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “Food aid is critical, but we cannot save starving children with bags of wheat. We need to reach these children now with therapeutic treatment before it is too late.” 

The price of ready-to-use therapeutic food to treat severe wasting has soared by 16 per cent in recent weeks due to a sharp rise in the cost of raw ingredients

“It is hard to describe what it means for a child to be ‘severely wasted,’ but when you meet a child who is suffering from this most lethal form of malnutrition, you understand – and you never forget,” said Russell.

Severe wasting – where children are too thin for their height – is the most visible and lethal form of undernutrition. Weakened immune systems increase the risk of death among children under 5 by up to 11 times compared to well-nourished children.

Global hunger crisis pushing one child into severe malnutrition every minute in 15 crisis-hit countries [EN/AR] - World | ReliefWeb

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Haiti's Sweat-Shops

 Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, has promoted itself as a cheap and available destination for US clothing brands seeking low-cost suppliers that can take advantage of 2006 legislation that allows duty-free entry for goods made there by US companies.

The government has not raised the minimum wage since 2019, despite inflation of more than 15%. The country is experiencing catastrophic levels of insecurity and political instability after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last year. As a result, food and fuel prices have escalated. Unions are fighting for an increase in the minimum daily wage of garment workers from 500 to 1,500 gourdes ($5-15).

About 60,000 Haitians work in one of the country’s 41 garment factories, producing clothes for more than 60 American companies.

Yet activists say conditions at the factories are akin to prison camps, with non-existent labour rights and where sexual abuse is rife.

“Workers are not considered as humans or as needing rights,” says Yannick Etienne, of the workers’ rights organisation Batay Ouvriye. “The pay is so low that it puts women in situations where they have to accept [forced] sex in order to pay their rent.”

Female garment factory workers the Guardian spoke to confirm that to get a job – which has become harder because so many people are looking for work – women are expected to have sex with a male manager.

“If you don’t accept to have sex with the manager, your application will be rejected,” one worker says, adding that she works on a line that produces 3,600 T-shirts a day. “You must oblige or you won’t have a job, and also if you want a promotion, you must have sex with your supervisor.”

Workers interviewed by the Guardian also spoke of having to use rags as sanitary towels because they could not afford to buy their own.

Rose-Myrtha Louis, a coordinator at the Haitian Workers’ Renovation Syndicate, said: “We are supposed to have access to pads, but we have to use waste from T-shirts [because] we don’t have enough money. It has given us infections. It’s just another way we are suffering.”

A 2021 report from Better Work Haiti, a labour compliance group backed by the International Labour Organization and the World Bank, found that 80% of workers and their families have had to cut down on meals. It also found that 96% of factories surveyed failed to comply with Haiti’s health insurance and social security contribution requirements, putting workers’ lives at risk.

“When you consider the price that the clothes are sold for, and the wages we receive, it’s as if we are selling our blood,” explained Marie, one of the workers.

Sex for a job: the scandal of Haiti’s exploited US garment workers | Haiti | The Guardian

For a new world

 


We believe it is worthwhile for all workers to consider our case very carefully. You will find it unique. The Socialist Party is fundamentally different from all other political parties.


We intend to fight every election on the same platform as we have done in the past, that is, on the straight issue of socialism or capitalism. We do not indulge in ballyhoo or electioneering stunts. We appeal to your understanding and intelligence, and not to your emotions and prejudices.


Who are the Working Class?


The Socialist Party is very particular about the accurate use of such words, therefore let us define what we mean when we use this term. By a worker, we mean all those men and women who because they own little but their ability to work, must sell this ability for wages. Whether you be a doctor or a docker, a university professor or a street sweeper. If you have to work in order to live, you are a member of the working class.


Who are the Capitalist Class?


90 per cent of Britain's wealth is owned by less than 10 per cent, of the country's population. This group owns the means of producing and distributing wealth (i.e., the factories, the workshops, transport, etc.). Because they own these things they do not have to work for wages. Their income comes from rent, interest and profit which all come from the difference between what the working class produces and what they receive in wages. In other words, the capitalist class live on the unpaid labour of the working class.


Cause of all our problems


We intend to show the socialist attitude to such questions as poverty, housing, war and rates. To really get to know the socialist position we strongly advise you to attend our meetings and read our literature. Basically the position is that all the social problems confronting the worker today are the product of the type of world we live in. We call this society capitalism, i.e., a society that has a working class producing all the wealth but only receiving back a small proportion of this wealth in wages, and a capitalist class living in ease and plenty on the exploitation of the worker.


Poverty—Its Cause


At every election the reformist politicians promise to abolish the poverty of the worker, but despite these promises, we are still poor. We who produce the ocean-going luxury yachts must be content with a day's outing on the river. We who build the mansions and the palaces must be content with a council house. We who toil all week in the factory, office, shipyard and warehouse, must content ourselves with the cheap and the shoddy yet produce all the beautiful articles for our parasitic masters to enjoy. While we have a subject class working for wages and a ruling class living on the workers' labour, there will always be poverty despite the sugar-coated promises of the politicians.


Housing and you


There is no doubt that in the political messages you receive from our opponents, you will find a part dealing with housing. Rosy promises will be offered in this matter. We ask you to consider this question a little more carefully than in the past. Observe that all our opponents speak of a housing problem. This is rubbish. There is no housing problem. Any worker can have a house tomorrow just by using the phone. Building firms advertise in every newspaper begging people to buy houses. The only thing that stops a worker from getting a house is his poverty. If you have the money you can have any house you desire. The thousands of workers clamouring for houses are not suffering from a housing problem but a poverty problem. While capitalism lasts, the worker will always suffer poverty. Don’t be taken in by the politicians' promise of a new house. You can’t live on a promise.


War and the Worker


Inside capitalism, everything is produced for a profit. But to realise a profit, the commodity has to be sold. To sell goods abroad is essential for any capitalist country. In attempting to beat down competition from other sellers, the various governments threaten and bluster. But when the threats fail they go to war. Wars are fought for economic reasons, for markets, for sources of raw material, and for trade routes and military bases. The working class of the world own little but their ability to work. Wars are won by one capitalist group over another. Remember our opponents supported wars in the past and will do so again. Only the Socialist Party has taken the correct working-class standpoint on this issue—that is, wars are fought for economic reasons and workers have nothing to gain in fighting their masters’ battles.


The Fraud of Taxes 


At every election the reformers make a great fuss about council tax, business rates and local government spending. We state categorically that this has nothing to do with the working class. A rise or fall in taxes would benefit certain sections of the capitalist class and injure other sections, but basically, it would not alter the position of the worker. We would still be as poor no matter the level of taxes. Don’t be taken in by the job-hunting would-be politicians. It has nothing to do with you.


Our Opponents


All the political parties claim to be different. Progressives talk about a new broom sweeping clean. The Labour Party talk about their democratic socialism, and the Green Party about their reforms of the monetary system. The Scottish nationalists claim what is needed is sovereignty. The Lib-Dems and the Leftists, all of them claim to have a solution to your problems. We ask you to examine all their programmes—one thing will strike you forcibly. Despite all their various claims, when you examine them, you will find they have all something in common. All of them think that capitalism can be reformed in the workers' interests. All they ask is your vote and they claim everything will be all right. None of them wants to change capitalism to socialism. All of them support the continuance of capitalism.


It may be objected that such parties as the Labour and the left-wing parties have the interests of the working class at heart. After all, they claim to be socialist. How true is this claim? The Labour Party have been in power for many years. Has this fundamentally altered your position as workers? The Labour Party has broken strikes and supported a wage freeze, conscription and war. Are these working-class actions? They say that nationalisation is socialism, but this is a lie. State control has been introduced and supported by the Conservatives when it suits them, and likewise by the Labour Party. It is just another form or method for running capitalism. Whether the industry is nationalised or not, you still have workers and capitalists; exploited and exploiter.

The Non-Socialist Socialists


Unlike the Labour and other reformist organisations, we make no promises. The Socialist Party was formed in 1904 with one object: That is, the establishment of socialism. This can only be brought about by the majority of the working class understanding and desiring socialism. We make no claim to be leaders, for only when the working class understand what socialism is, will capitalism be abolished.


What is Capitalism?

· A world where the workers produce all the wealth yet live in poverty and insecurity.

· A world that burns wealth to keep up prices while a third of the world starves.

· A world that lives in perpetual fear of war.

· A world where a handful live in ease and affluence on the misery of the majority.

· A world that causes worker to oppose worker in the quest of a living.

· A world where men are dehumanised and degraded for the insatiable greed of capital.


What is Socialism ?


· A world where the means of living will be owned in common.

· A world where everything will be produced for use and not for profit.

· A world where war, crime, unemployment and poverty will be impossible.

· A world where everyone will produce according to their ability and take according to their needs.

· Socialism is a new social system.

 

There will be no owners or non-owners. As everything will be owned in common there will be no money, banks, stock exchanges or insurance companies. Today, perhaps as many as four-fifths are doing work that would be completely useless under socialism (e.g., ticket collectors, members of the armed forces, bank clerks, etc.). This means they will be able to do productive work for the first time and this should greatly decrease the working day.


We make no promises


Socialism is not a dream. It is a historic development and can become a reality as soon as you, the worker, understand and desire it. The real dreamers today are those who think you can have capitalism without wars, poverty and unemployment.


The Socialist Party does not beg for your vote on any reform. If, in fact, you want some reform of the present social system, then your vote is not for the Socialist Party


What it stresses, again and again, is that in order to bring about socialism the majority must understand it. If you understand and desire socialism if you are aware that capitalism can never operate for the benefit of the working class, then you will be aware that support for any of our opponents is a vote for the retention of capitalism and a vote for the Socialist Party is a vote registering your protest against capitalism, a vote for socialism—the new world.