Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Election Video

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FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY’S INN? (our weekly poem)

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FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY’S INN?

Three British judges have been sacked for
viewing pornography on their court computers

If you appear in court today,
Charged with a beastly crime;
You may well recognise the Judge,
With whom you‘ll do your time!
He could this time be sat upon,
The dock side of the bench;
As viewing porn’s caused quite a stir,
And a judicial stench.

We used to think someone who wore,
A judge’s powdered wig;
Was a self-righteous citizen,
And something of a prig.
But now we know the truth of things,
That a small group of them;
Are into gross depravity,
Including S.& M.!

So if there’s a large ball and chain,
Installed inside your cell;
You’ll know they’ve bondage on their mind,
And you’re in for real hell.
As a guest of Her Majesty,
It’s bad enough in jail;
But being spanked whilst slopping-out,
Is quite beyond the pail!

© Richard Layton


We Said It Then - We Say It Now (5)

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Following the election of a hung Parliament in February’s election, Harold Wilson sought another mandate in October and won an overall majority with less than 40% of the vote.
  
THE SOCIALIST MANIFESTO

THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN do not have a candidate in this area but read on. Your understanding of, and agreement with the Socialist case, could ensure you an opportunity of registering a vote for Socialism.

The Labour, Tory and Liberal parties are agreed that we are in a serious situation; all politicians are talking of the dangers of another slump, similar to that of the 'thirties; some of them talk of the collapse of parliamentary democracy. In contrast THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN gives hope of a better world if you are prepared to take it.

You will be going to vote in the belief that your cross on the ballot paper will have some influence in improving our lives, or at least in protecting our living standards. This is understandable but on what do you base your belief?

EMPTY PROMISES

The other parties are bidding for your vote with programmes which may seem to offer some hope of easing, or even abolishing, many of the problems of this country and of the world. Millions of people find these programmes attractive enough to vote for one or other of them. THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN argues that none of them stands up to examination.

For example, recent elections have been dominated by promises to deal with economic crises balance of payment problems, inflation, unemployment and so on. Yet these crises keep bursting upon the scene and as fast as the promises are made they are discredited by events.

Yet again; every government comes into power pledged to abolish slums and to eliminate the housing problem. They seem to have it all worked out, with their declarations of intent and their statistics. The result, according to Shelter, is that "today's housing crisis is a disgrace to any civilised society."

All the other parties offer plans designed to make war a thing of the past. They ring the changes on appeasement, resistance, diplomatic initiatives. In spite of all these plans the world scrapes through a succession of wars Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, the Middle East, Cyprus with the threat of nuclear conflagration hanging over our heads.

It is true that at times some problems are alleviated or even suppressed, but this is only for others to take their place. For example; we are told that our lives have been improved by the development of productive techniques, but we are also faced with the fact that these very developments pollute our environment to such an extent that they may present a threat almost as great as a nuclear war.

THEY FAIL

Why do other political parties fail? Why are their promises so ineffective? What causes the problems of the world? THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN urge you to examine the social system we live under — capitalism.

This is a society based on the private ownership of the means of wealth production and distribution. Private ownership at once divides society into two classes the owning, or capitalist class and the deprived, or working class. It is the working class who suffer poverty and all it means in terms of bad housing, inadequate medical services, sub-standard food and so on. Capitalism is a society of competition which splits the world into rival nations and power blocs and is the direct cause of modern war.

WHAT MUST BE DONE?


THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN puts forward the alternative society. Socialism will be a society in which the whole of humanity, without distinction of race or sex, will own in common all we use to make and distribute wealth. Common ownership means a society without classes, without privileges, without different standards of consumption. In Socialist society everyone will have free access to the world's wealth and will stand equally in that respect.

Socialism will produce its wealth for human use instead of for sale. This will make it a society of co-operation instead of competition. There will be no frontiers to divide the world's people. Socialism will be one world, with one people working together for the common wealth.

Socialism will be an efficient world, in contrast to capitalism, where waste and shoddiness are profitable. For the first time, men and women in Socialism will realise their capabilities to the full. Socialism will produce an abundance and at only one standard the best we are capable of.

IS IT ALL A DREAM?
HOW DO WE GET SOCIALISM?

THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN is not another collection of leaders telling you to trust us and promising you almost anything. No leader can give you Socialism, no clever politician can pull you by the nose into the new society. Neither will it happen by accident.

Socialism must be your work; it needs a conscious political act by the mass of the people, opting for the new society in full knowledge of what it is. Your endeavours alone in building a strong Socialist movement in this area will serve notice on the politicians that their time is up, and that what you want is a revolutionary change.

We are a political party, hostile to all others, including those phoney revolutionaries of the Left the Communist Party, International Marxist Group, International Socialists, Workers Revolutionary Party, etc. THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN is different we are the political instrument to be used by the working class to transform the world from a chaos of deprivation and strife into an order of abundance and harmony.

10th October, 1974


The poor will always be with us...

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If you follow the news you will have seen the headlines proclaiming that global poverty has been cut by half over the past couple of decades. Its sounds like brilliant, but it’s just not true. The statistics have been manipulated to make it seem as though our economic system is working for the majority of humanity when in fact it is not.

 Economist David Woodward in an article published in the World Economic Review shows that, given our existing economic model, poverty eradication can’t happen. Not that it probably won’t happen, but that it physically can’t. It’s a structural impossibility. If we assume that we can maintain the fastest rate of income growth that the poorest 10% of the world’s population have ever enjoyed over the past few decades. That was between 1993 and 2008 – after the debt crisis of the 1980s that crippled much of the developing world and before the banking collapse of 2008. During that period, their incomes increased at a rate of 1.29% each year. So how long will it take to eradicate poverty if we extrapolate this trend? 100 years. That’s what it will require to bring the world’s poorest above the standard poverty line of $1.25/day.

And keep in mind that Woodward’s methodology is not able to capture the poorest 1% of the world’s population, who will still remain in poverty even at the end of this period. That’s 90 million people, more than the entire population of Germany today, who will remain in poverty forever. Whatever the SDGs will achieve, poverty “eradication” won’t be one of those things.

If the 100-year timeline isn’t disappointing enough, it gets worse. A growing number of scholars are beginning to point out that $1.25/day – which is the official poverty line of the SDGs – is actually not adequate for people to survive on. In reality, if people are to meet their most basic needs and achieve normal human life expectancy, they need closer to $5/day. How long would it take to eradicate poverty at this more accurate line? 207 years.

Progress is woefully slow because to date the only strategy for reducing poverty is to increase global GDP growth. Politicians, economists and the development industry all have no other ideas. But GDP growth doesn’t really benefit the poor – or the majority of humanity, for that matter. Of all the income generated by global GDP growth between 1999 and 2008, the poorest 60% of humanity received only 5% of it. The richest 40%, by contrast, received the rest – a whopping 95%. So much for the trickle-down effect. To eradicate poverty global GDP would have to increase to 175 times its present size if we go with $5/day. In other words, if we want to eradicate poverty with our current model of economic development, we need to extract, produce, and consume 175 times more commodities than we presently do. This is horrifying to contemplate. And even if such outlandish growth were possible, it would drive climate change to unimaginable levels and wipe out any gains in poverty reduction.

To add insult to injury, to achieve this level of GDP growth, global per capita income would have to be no less than $1.3 million. In other words, the average income would have to be $1.3 million per year simply so that the poorest two-thirds of humanity could earn $5 per day. It’s completely absurd, but shows just how deeply inequality is hardwired into our economic system.

The entire capitalist system is based on poor people working for little to allow wealthy poeple to live lives of comfort and ease. All capitalism is exploitation even a "less aggressive" form still relies on exploitation somewhere We already have the material conditions ready for socialism, but whether we have the revolution or drive ourselves into extinction, well,  that's another story.

And let us not over-look the consequences of this poverty. Brain scans of children and young adults have revealed that specific brain regions tend to be smaller in those from poorer backgrounds than those born into wealthier families. The brain regions involved are crucial for the development of language, memory and reasoning skills, making them central to a child’s potential to thrive at school and gain a good education.

“The brain is the product of both genetics and experience, and experience is particularly powerful in molding brain development in childhood,” said Kim Noble, first author on the study at Columbia University in New York. 

We know that living in a poor community makes you less likely to live a long life. New evidence suggests that living in a community with high income inequality also seems to be bad for your health. A study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute examined a series of risk factors that help explain the health (or sickness) of counties in the United States. In addition to the suspects you might expect — a high smoking rate, a lot of violent crime — the researchers found that people in unequal communities were more likely to die before the age of 75 than people in more equal communities, even if the average incomes were the same.
“It’s not just the level of income in a community that matters — it’s also how income is distributed,” said Bridget Catlin, the co-director of the project, called the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

A World to Build

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As the general election approaches the whole of the mainstream media machine is in over-drive to convince people that they will be really shaping their own destinies by using their vote. This election campaign is largely a television advertising war. Unlike the anarchists, the Socialist Party does not put forward mass abstentions as a principle. We point out that the capitalist state machine will continue to function whether people vote or not. The failure of Parliament to promote the interests of the people effectively must be explained in a class way, that is to say, we must combat the belief that it is all just a matter of the weakness of human nature that power corrupts the politicians. We do not say that all is needed is the correct leader in order to exercise control over us lesser mortals - for our own good, of course. Instead we try to help people to draw the conclusion from their own experience that all governments in capitalist society are for the express purpose of maintaining the privileged position of all those who own the wealth. What is very clear is that whichever party forms the government they serve the interests of the capitalist ruling class. Capitalism is a system that offers no future for any worker.

For many years people have been told to vote for a “lesser evil” yet how many great evils of today were spawned by the “lesser evils” of yesterday. As socialists, we support no capitalist side in this election. Voting for Labour or Tory means supporting both parties’ attacks against the working class.

The socialists are conducting their election campaign for the purpose of rallying our fellow workers to the idea of socialism. The purpose in their standing is not to make the system work but to carry on agitation and education around the issues of the day. The other parties, however, are not bothering about anything but seats in the Parliament, and do not care whether the voters have any clear principles. Socialist ideas take root and grow in circumstances where people decide to organise and do something to change their circumstances. Voting for the Socialist Party is an opportunity to make use of your democratic rights and will put new heart and spirit into those who desire a new society. Our candidates are standing not to further their own careers. In these elections the seeds of socialism will have been sown and hopefully germinate, sprout shoots and grow.

Socialists often hear the comment that "Socialism is a good idea but it’s not practical." But today it’s becoming more apparent than ever that it is the present system — capitalism — that is impractical and unworkable. Capitalism must be abolished. Working people need to throw the capitalist parties out of office and the entire apparatus of government must be replaced. The needs of working people can only be met by creating a socialist economy, where ownership and control are taken from the tiny minority of capitalists and placed in the hands of the working people, to be run democratically. Reorganised on a socialist basis, our world can be free of racism, sexism, poverty, economic insecurity and exploitation. When the vast resources available to us are used to serve the needs of all instead of the profits of the few, and with a world socialist commonwealth, then the way will be opened for unparalleled growth in culture, freedom and the development of every individual. Such a society is worth fighting for. The only way we can get a rational society, based on the needs of the majority, is by organising and fighting for it. In this general election campaign we will be advocating for social change. We will be passing out our leaflets, answering questions and just generally "talking” socialism. We take every opportunity to convince people of the need to do away with the repressive, unjust capitalist system, and replace it with socialism. Nor will we be closing up shop after polling day. We know that a better world is not only possible, but absolutely necessary. The capitalist system is run for the profits of the few, not the needs of the majority. Workers are thus continually forced to fight to defend their interests.

The Socialist Party participate in these elections to spread our case for socialism. Our intention is to prove to workers that their problems cannot be solved without the overthrow of the capitalist system.

The Socialist Party Candidates
Islington North - Bill Martin; Vauxhall -  Danny Lambert; Swansea West - Brian Johnson; Easington - Steve Colborn ; Oxford East - Kevin Parkin; Oxford West and Abingdon - Mike Foster ; Canterbury - Robert Cox; Folkestone and Hythe - Andy Thomas; Brighton Pavilion - Howard Pilott; Brighton Kemptown - Jacqueline Shodeke.

Capitalism's Wars For Profit

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War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it. – George Orwell

The late United States Marine Corps Major General Smedley D. Butler is perhaps most famous for his post-retirement speech titled “War is a Racket”. In the early 1930s, Butler presented the speech on a nationwide tour. It was so popular that he wrote a longer version as a small book that was published in 1935.
Butler points to a variety of examples, mostly from World War I, where industrialists whose operations were subsidised by public funding were able to generate substantial profits essentially from mass human suffering.
It contains this summary:
“War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.”
Butler went on to say…
“In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few — the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
And what is this bill?
This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.
For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.”

Despite warnings of its existence and imminent expansion, the military-industrial complex (or military-industrial-congressional complex) remains in operation today. It is an iron triangle that comprises the policy and monetary relationships which exist between legislators, national armed forces, and the arms industry that supports them. These relationships include political contributions, political approval for military spending, lobbying to support bureaucracies, and oversight of the industry.
It is a major reason we are stuck in a perpetual war.

In their article titled Companies Profiting the Most From War, Thomas C. Frohlich and Mark Lieberman listed the 10 companies profiting the most from war. To identify them, they examined the companies with the most arms sales based on information from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Arms sales, including advisory, planes, vehicles, and weapons, were defined by sales to military customers as well as contracts to government militaries. Also considered were each company’s 2013 total sales and profits, the total number of employees at the company, as well as nation-level military spending, all provided by SIPRI.

From the article:
U.S. companies still dominate the arms market by a large margin, with six among the top 10 arms sellers. In the top 100 arms-producing companies, 39 are based in the United States, and U.S. companies accounted for more than 58% of total arms sales among the top 100. U.S. company arms sales in the top 10 alone made up 35% of total arms sales among the top 100. By contrast, Western European companies, which make up the rest of the top 10 arms producers, accounted for just 28% of the total top 100 arms sales.
The full list of ten, with all details, can be viewed at the link below but here is just one taken as an example: 
 
6. General Dynamics (U.S.)
Arm sales 2013: $18.7 billion, profit $2.4 billion
Open Secrets labeled this company a “heavy hitter”, which means it is “one of the 140 biggest overall donors to federal elections since the 1990 election cycle, as compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.”
General Dynamics is one of the nation’s top defense contractors, assembling virtually every type of military machinery engaged in modern combat. The company builds warships, nuclear submarines, tanks and combat jets, not to mention the command and control systems that link all of these technologies together. The company has lobbied hard to encourage lawmakers to step up appropriations for the Navy, one of the company’s biggest clients.
It has fought attempts to shrink the nation’s fleet of submarines and warships, thereby helping block Defense Department attempts to shift that money to other facets of the nation’s land and air defenses.
Details:
Profile for 2014 Election Cycle
CONTRIBUTIONS: $1,974,599 (ranks 140 of 16,793)
LOBBYING: $10,720,923 (2014), $11,066,974 (2013) (ranks 27 of 4,065 in 2014)
Contributions to candidates: $1,405,525 (for a list of recipients, click here)
Contributions to Leadership PACs: $401,300
Contributions to parties: $162,974
Contributions to 527 committees: $4,350
Contributions to outside spending groups: $5,450
For a list of bills this company has lobbied, click here.

The total of contributions to candidates from General Dynamics PACs is 6 times larger than contributions from individuals.
6 Congressional members own shares in this company (click here for the list).
REVOLVING DOOR: 96 out of 133 General Dynamics lobbyists in 2013-2014 have previously held government jobs.
CEO Phebe Novakovic earned nearly $19 million in total compensation in fiscal 2014.


In the George Orwell classic 1984, there is a state of perpetual war between the nations of Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. The enemy in the conflict is ambiguous, and the battlefield exists in an elusive and distant land. The enemy could be Eurasia one day, and Eastasia the next, but that location is really insignificant. The mission of perpetual war for these superpowers is to justify psychological and physical control over their populations, to keep their people busy, fearful and hateful towards the enemy. The perpetual war also serves as an excuse for a nation’s failings and shortcomings. The economy, the labor force and industry are all centered around war rather than consumer goods. People live a miserable existence with poverty and no hope of improving their standard of living.

The authorities would like us to believe that “fighting for our freedoms” in lands thousands of miles away is a necessary evil.
In War is a Racket, Butler suggested the following three steps to smash the war racket:
  1. We must take the profit out of war.
  2. We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war.
  3. We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes.
Butler concluded his speech with the following exclamation:
TO HELL WITH WAR!
Maybe 80 years on General Smedley Butler would see good reason to add:

'AND TO HELL WITH THE PROFIT SYSTEM!'




Sunday, March 29, 2015

Why your vote for socialism is vital

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On Saturday four members set up an election stall in Folkestone, including the local SPGB candidate Andy Thomas and Max Hess who will be running in the local council election, which is held on the same day as the general election.

The town was very busy, and the comrades were assisted by a nearby street trader who, unprompted, announced their presence over his public address system. About 400 election leaflets were distributed around the town centre and several items of literature sold.  The party got a good reception, in some instances quite enthusiastic. The weather was problematic, being very windy. Later it rained and the stall was packed up about 3pm.

We were also out in Oxford, basically testing spots for a regular stall for the rest of the campaign but, as in Folkestone, the weather wasn't on our side. All the same, four of us gave away leaflets at two different places, one in Oxford East in the morning, the other in Oxford West in the afternoon as well as investigating the pitch at Cowley Centre where TUSC hold a regular weekly stall. They seem to want to live off Bob Crow's reputation as both of the leaflets they were handing out carried his photo.

Passing through the main street in the centre (Cornmarket) from our first pitch to the other we were surprised to come across some members of the EDL handing out leaflets for their planned protest next Saturday against "Muslim grooming gangs in Oxford" proclaiming "Control immigration from Islamic countries for a start". Nobody was objecting, though there was a discreet police presence not too far away presumably in case they did. Instead of trying to kick their heads in we gave them a socialist leaflet. The only political discussion we had in Oxford West was with someone who said they were going to vote tactically LibDem to keep the Tories out. Work that one out if you can.
Next stall is planned for Thursday 9 April at 5pm in the city centre

“The issue is Socialism versus Capitalism. I am for Socialism because I am for humanity.” -Eugene Debs

Working people must vote together as a united class in support of the Socialist Party, the party that represents them as a class, and when they do, the state will pass into their hands and capitalism will fall; private ownership will give way to social ownership, and production for profit to production for use; the wage system will disappear, and with it the ignorance and poverty, misery and crime that wage-slavery breeds.

The Socialist Party has declared class war upon the capitalists and their system. We say: Arise, you workers! It is in your power to put an end to this system. Wipe out the wage system, so that you can walk this earth free men and women! We only know that the principles of socialism are necessary to the emancipation of the working class. The attitude of the Socialist Party toward the trade union movement broadly endorsing and commending it, but stopping there, and allowing it to manage its own internal affairs is, without doubt, the correct one, as any interference or meddling must result in harm with no possible hope of good. The Socialist Party beseech you to get in touch with your fellow workers and to become conscious of your interests, your powers and your possibilities as a class. You need to know that as long as you are indifferent, as long as you are apathetic and unorganised, you will remain exactly where you are. You will be exploited; you will be degraded, and you will have to beg for a job. You will get just enough for your slavish toil to keep you in working order, and you will be looked down upon with scorn and contempt by the very parasites that lives off your sweat and unpaid labour.

If you are to receive respect you have got to begin by respecting yourself. Rise up from your knees. Turn your back on the corrupt Labour Party and the still more corrupt Tory Party— both lackeys of the ruling class. We say a party is either a capitalist party or it is a workers’ party. If a party serves the capitalist exploiter it is at the expense of his exploited victim, and if a party serves the exploited worker it is at the cost of his or her economic master. As long as you permit the 1% to own the sources and means of wealth, the tools of production, they will be in power. You will be in servitude. You will produce the wealth and they will have it under whatever government you may have. They will do nothing and you will have that – nothing. The plutocrats now in power cannot rule honestly. They must rule corruptly. They are in the minority. They have not the votes of their own to put them in power, but they have the money with which to control the electorate. They have the money with which to corrupt the politicians and to buy the media. They have the power to do this because they have the money, and they have the money because they own the means of production and distribution. In the competitive system the politician sells himself to the highest bidder, the same as the worker does. Who is the highest bidder? The corporations, of course.

The working class have not yet learned how to unite and act together. The capitalists are perfectly willing that you shall organise, as long as you don’t do a thing against them; as long as you don’t do a thing for yourselves. You cannot do a thing for yourselves without antagonising them. If you continue to support a system in which you are degraded, then you have no right to complain. You must submit to what comes, for you yourself are responsible. As individuals you are helpless, but united you represent an irresistible power.

And those on the vanguard Left would have us believe that because we have no “intellectual” leaders we would have no movement. They seek to be our shepherds and we are their flock of sheep, fit only to follow these self-appointed saviours into the land of milk and honey. They do the thinking and you do the voting. The average person imagines that he or she must have a leader to look to; a guide to follow, right or wrong; that without a leader we are lost and we therefore instinctively look to a leader.  You have depended too much on that leader and not enough on yourself. The Socialist Party don’t want you to follow us. We want you to cultivate self-reliance and independence so that you rely only upon yourselves. As long as you can be led by an individual you will be betrayed by an individual. That does not mean that all leaders are dishonest or corrupt. Some are sincere but still ignorant of capitalism themselves.  The blind leading the blind. Perhaps, the most dangerous leader is not the corrupt leader, but the honest, ignorant leader who is just as fatal to your interests as the one who deliberately sells you out for a paltry bribe.

The Socialist Party propose that society in its collective capacity shall produce, not for profit, but in abundance to satisfy all human wants. We are not going to destroy personal possessions. We are going to so establish a society where person will have all the possessions necessary keep him or her in comfort. Most people have little or no property of any kind today. The 1% have got it all. They have dispossessed the people and it is our position that when we get into power we will dispossess them in turn. On the 7th of May, on polling day, the time has come for you to use your brains in your own interest. Your vote is your voice. Make it heard.

Your Candidates in May 2015
Bill Martin - Islington North;
Danny Lambert – Vauxhall;
Brian Johnson - Swansea West;
Steve Colborn – Easington;
Kevin Parkin - Oxford East;
Mike Foster - Oxford West and Abingdon;
Robert Cox – Canterbury;
Andy Thomas - Folkestone and Hythe;
Howard Pilott - Brighton Pavilion;
Jacqueline Shodeke - Brighton Kemptown.



Maid To Order

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The following is an abridged and adaptation of an insightful article at the TruthOut website on migrant domestic workers by Arianne Shahvisi, a professor of philosophy at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

Sociologist Arlie Hochschild describes the migration of domestic labor from poorer countries to wealthier countries as a global heart transplant. Women workers from a few pockets of the global South prop up caring services in the rest of the world as full-time employment, coupled with increasing levels of privatization, turns care work into a tradeable commodity. This is evident in hospitals, nurseries and care homes the world over, but takes on a particularly strange dynamic when migrant domestic workers - many of whom have their own children - are raising the children of other nations, so that the women of those communities may be liberated from one of the burdens of womanhood. Migrant domestic workers resist definition. Their work is unique in that it is a complex yet direct mock-up of global society: It is symbolic of binary power relations between genders, races, nations and classes.

A quarter of a million migrant domestic workers serve the ‘middle classes’ of Lebanon, whose population is just 4 million. They have no recourse to domestic labor laws and no right to remain in the country in the event of terminated employment. Instead, as in many other countries across the region, migrant workers enter Lebanon through a "kafala" system of sponsorship, in which the state leaves it to the host household to manage the visa and legal status of their sponsored domestic worker and grants a residence permit on the strict condition that the worker remains in the custody of the household throughout the term of her employment.
CLICK READ MORE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

Saturday, March 28, 2015

We Said it Then, We Say it Now (4)

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Another in our series of past election manifestoes. This one is from February 1974, a year that had two general elections.

A SIMPLE BASIC PROPOSITION

From The Socialist Party of Great Britain

General Election Statement

THIS snap election does not enable us to put up any candidates and run a worthwhile campaign. But we have important things to say. In all reason, by now you must be nearly submerged under the deluge of election propaganda.'Honourable settlement'; 'Fair shares'; 'One nation'. Cynical phrases that reek of unreality. Do you really think that whichever Government is elected, it will mean any major change or solve the fundamental problems that confront us. In a lifetime you have seen successive Governments making bold promises, trying to grapple with situations, going out of office, their promises unfulfilled.

YOU and millions like you are now asking Cannot something be done? Must we always live with unemployment, war, price rises, industrial conflict, poverty and insecurity? The answer is an emphatic YES if you continue to support those out-moded political ideas that you have held in the past. This challenge is not only to the Tory supporter with his idea of 'a national identity'; to the Labour man with his 'radical' proposals for more nationalisation; to the thousands of young people on the ' Left fringe' who still talk of 'Revolutionary situations'; 'Smash the State', etc.ideas as phoney as they are harmful to the workers. Our challenge is to everyone. The time has come for you to take an honest look at your position, and urgently. To take a stand in the class struggle. Not to try and patch up by social reform, a wreck of a system, but to take part in a world-wide movement to build a new way of lifea Socialist society.

SOCIAL problems arise from the inexorable workings of the capitalist system. These are not British problems but world problems, linked with world capitalism, whether in Russia, America, China, or the rest of the world. A crazy set-up, where the world and its riches are owned by a few. Where you, the worker, sell your ability to an employer, the capitalist, in order to live. Where profit is the lynch pin in production. Profitable buying and sellinghuman needs an afterthought. This is the system which Heath and the Tories have been unable to control. Like the previous Labour Government, they have been blown off course. They might get returned to have another crack. Or will the Labour Party breakdown gang be given another chance to fumble with running repairs; they were hardly successful last time. Frankly, the outcome is no concern of ours.

THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN is a revolutionary organisation. Our one object is the establishment of Socialism. A Social system in which the means of production and distribution are owned by the whole of mankind, regardless of race or sex. COMMON OWNERSHIP. A WAY with buying and selling IN with production for use. AWAY with money IN with distribution according to need. AWAY with the wages system IN with contribution according to ability. IN with co-operation for the common good. Socialism will alone solve the basic conflicts that confront society. It cannot be established by waving a magic wand, by a new political leader or a bunch of so-called intellectuals. It is YOU and YOU alone who hold the key. Socialism will be democratically brought about by political action, when you in a majority understand and desire it. Not a moment before.

SOCIALISM is not just a bread and butter effort. It can release and utilise our potential, so long strangled by the un-natural atmosphere of capitalism. The new society will mean fulfilment to us as human beings.

LET your imagination run riot. The possibilities for achieving a full and enjoyable life are legion. It's up to you. 1974 could be a momentous year in your life. Find out more about THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN. Help our movement for Social Revolution.

February 1974



Free Market Capitalism - Products, Profits, Privatisation

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The Project on Government Oversight found that in 33 of 35 cases the federal government spent more on private contractors than on public employees for the same services. The authors of the report summarized, "Our findings were shocking." 

Yet our elected leaders persist in their belief that free-market capitalism works best. Here are a few fact-based examples that say otherwise.

Health Care: Markups of 100%....1,000%....100,000% 

Broadcast Journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1955: Who owns the patent on this vaccine?
Polio Researcher Jonas Salk: Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?

We don't hear much of that anymore. The public-minded sentiment of the 1950s has yielded to the neoliberal winner-take-all business model.

In his most recent exposé of the health care industry in the U.S., Steve Brill notes that it's "the only industry in which technological advances have increased costs instead of lowering them." An investigation of fourteen private hospitals by National Nurses United found that they realized a 1,000% markup on their total costs, four times that of public hospitals. Other sources have found that private health insurance administrative costs are 5 to 6 times higher than Medicare administrative costs.

Markup reached 100,000% for the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, which grabbed a patent for a new hepatitis drug and set the pricing to take whatever they could get from desperate American patients.

Housing: Big Profits, Once the Minorities Are Squeezed Out 

A report by a coalition of housing rights groups concluded that "public housing is a vital national resource that provides decent and affordable homes to over a million families across the country." But, according to the report, a privatization program started during the Clinton administration resulted in "the wholesale destruction of communities" and "the displacement of very large numbers of low-income households of color." 

It's gotten even worse since then, as Blackstone and Goldman Sachs have figured out how to take money from former homeowners, with three deviously effective strategies:
  1. Buy houses and hold them to force prices up 
  2. Meanwhile, charge high rents (with little or no maintenance) 
  3. Package the deals as rental-backed securities with artificially high-grade ratings

Private Banks: Giving Them Half Our Retirement Money 

The public bank of North Dakota had an equity return of 23.4% before the state's oil boom. The normally privatization-minded Wall Street Journal admits that "The BND's costs are extremely low: no exorbitantly-paid executives; no bonuses, fees, or commissions; only one branch office; very low borrowing costs.."

But thanks to private banks, interest claims one out of every three dollars that we spend, and by the time we retire with a 401(k), over half of our money is lost to the banks.

Internet: The Fastest Download in the U.S. (is on a Public Network) 

That's in Chattanooga, a rapidly growing city, named by Nerdwallet as one of the "most improved cities since the recession," and offering its residents Internet speeds 50 times faster than the American average.

Elsewhere, 61 percent of Americans are left with a single private company, often Comcast or Time Warner, to provide cable service. Now those two companies, both high on the most hated list, are trying to merge into one.

The Post Office: Private Companies Depend on it to Handle the Unprofitable Routes

It costs less than 50 cents to send a letter to any remote location in the United States. For an envelope with a two-day guarantee, this is how the U.S. Postal Service recently matched up against competitors:
  • U.S. Post Office 2-Day $5.68 
  • Federal Express 2-Day $19.28 
  • United Parcel Service 2 Day $24.09 
USPS is so inexpensive, in fact, that Fedex actually uses the U.S. Post Office for about 30 percent of its ground shipments. As Ralph Nader notes, the USPS has not taken any taxpayer money since 1971, and if it weren't required by an inexplicable requirement to pre-fund employee benefits for 75 years, it would be making a profit. Instead, this national institution has been forced to cut jobs and routes and mailing centers.

Privatization places profits over people. Average Americans are the products, and few of us see any profits.

by Paul Buchheit - taken from here (and find links)

An old music hall song comes to mind:

"It's the same the whole world over,
It's the poor that gets the blame,
It's the rich that gets the pleasure,
Ain't it all a bleedin' shame?"

Let's remember capitalism didn't start being nasty last year, last decade or even last century but, being a system built on profit, it will squeeze profit from any nook and cranny, any opportunity at whatever cost - that is its business. Our business is to arm ourselves with the facts and to spread them far and wide to demonstrate that it (capitalism) won't go away quietly but will need to be pushed by the will of the majority global population. The sooner the better.

 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Scrap Capitalism

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From the October 2014 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is time to forever scrap forever this cock-eyed system that takes from the poor and gives to the rich; that preaches austerity for the 95 percent whilst the elite get yet richer; where millionaire leaders shed crocodile tears over poverty as they live in luxury. Somehow it has been sold to us that this is usual – moreover it is the only way to organise society, and it is good and healthy. You could not make it up.

We could share all the world. Scrap capitalism, abolish the monetary system and suddenly the playing field is not so uneven. We will not have achieved utopia but many of the idiocies of the current system will have gone: life will not be quite so problematic. No longer would the accountant who finds havens for the rich to hide their wealth to avoid tax earn a thousand times more than the carers looking after the health of your old aunt – because there would no longer be wages. No more wages slavery, just imagine. You’d be able to do what you do and be able to take what you need.

You will no doubt be told it’s mad and totally unachievable. But think what would have been said about the internet or triple heart bypass surgery 50 years ago. Human beings are incredibly intelligent – just look at how much and how quickly we can achieve things when we set our minds to it – and we in the Socialist Party are simply saying the world can be organised in a more intelligent way. It cannot be seen as either intelligent or necessary that most of the wealth of the world is given to so few.

All the other parties offer you some variant of what we have already – possibly a few more checks and balances. Sadly history shows that, whatever the government, the rich come out on top. We are here to say it need not be like this.

Howard Pilott,
Socialist Party’s PPC for Brighton Pavilion


A Time to Party!

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“To convert the ballot box from a means of fraud into a means of liberation”- Engels

The Socialist Party is fundamentally different from all other parties. Its aim is revolutionary. It expresses in political terms the aspiration of the working class to freedom. The only issue in this general election is capitalism versus socialism. It is the question of the right of one class of human beings exploiting another class of human beings to the very point of physical existence. It is an issue of human freedom versus human slavery. The workers have always been and still are the world’s slaves yet is they who have produced all the world’s wealth. The people of the world have achieved many great things except their own freedom. But an awakening is bound to come. It will dawn upon them that society is divided into two classes - capitalists and workers, exploiters and the employed; that the capitalists, while comparatively few, own the nation and control the government; that the courts and the soldiers are at their command, while the great majority of people remain in slavish misery.

The Socialist Party candidates do not plead for votes but expect that when workers fully understand their exploited condition it will be freely given to them. We, in the Socialist Party, endeavor to dispel the prejudice that exists and end the darkness that still prevails within the working class. We offer the enlightenment of political education and the power of political organisation. The appeal of the Socialist Party is to all, regardless of nationality, sex or race.  Economic slavery is the world’s greatest curse today. Poverty and misery and crime are its inevitable results. The Socialist Party is the one party which stands squarely and uncompromisingly for the abolition of wage slavery; the one party pledged to the industrial freedom of all the people. So long as the world’s resources and technology are the private property of a privileged class the mass of people will be at their mercy, poverty will be their lot. The struggle in which the world is engaged today is a class struggle and that in this struggle the workers can never win by giving their votes to capitalist parties. The big vested interests, the plutocracy, rule the land and loot the people with the same brutal defiance under either Labour or Tory governments. Too often people make their choice between Tweedledee and Tweedledum. No longer can the political harlots of capitalism betray the workers with manifesto promises manufactured for that purpose. It is now time to abandon once and for all political parties of whatever name which do not challenge the very existence of capitalism as an institution.

The working class will never be emancipated by the grace of the capitalist class, but only by overthrowing that class. It is self-defeating for working people to turn to pro-capitalist parties on polling day as it would be for them to turn to the employers’ associations when they are striking. Businessmen despise the working class. Why should the working class give their support to a pro-business party? Withdraw that support and capitalism begins to die. The boss-class can enslave and rob the workers only by the consent of the workers when they cast their ballots in elections. Every vote cast for a capitalist party, whatever its name, is a vote for wage-slavery, for poverty and degradation. Every vote cast for the Socialist Party, is a vote for liberation. We urge workers to make their power felt in this election.

The Socialist Party’s objective is not only to destroy capitalist despotism but to establish social democracy. Standing as it does for the emancipation of the working class from wage-slavery, for social self-rule and the equal freedom of all, the Socialist Party is the party of progress and the party of the future. Its triumph will signal the birth of a new civilisation and the dawn of a better days for all humanity. If you understand and accept our case for socialism, join the Socialist Party and hasten the day of victory. Don't wait until to-morrow. Join now! Its members are men and women who think for themselves and have convictions of their own. If you want socialism, we are inviting, nay, we are challenging you, to join us and do your part. The Socialist Party offers the only remedy, which is socialism.

The Working Class Voice
Brighton Kemptown - Jacqueline Shodeke
Brighton Pavilion - Howard Pilott
Canterbury - Robert Cox
Easington - Steve Colborn
Folkestone and Hythe - Andy Thomas
Islington North - Bill Martin
Oxford East - Kevin Parkin
Oxford West and Abingdon - Mike Foster
Swansea West - Brian Johnson
Vauxhall - Danny Lambert



Thursday, March 26, 2015

Another World Is Possible, Without the 1%

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 'There will be no victory in the fight against poverty unless this trend of worsening inequality is reversed,' writes Winnie Byanyima of Oxfam International. 

 Activists from around the world will defy the terrorists to attend the World Social Forum in Tunis on March 25, determined to make the occasion a beacon for free speech, justice and equality. I am proud to join the leaders of Greenpeace, ActionAid, Civicus and the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) in highlighting the urgent need to tackle the vested interests of the 1 percent, in order to build a better world for all of humanity.

If you are in the top 1 percent of the global wealth stakes, our economic system works exceptionally well. Since the financial crisis in 2008, most of the wealth created in the world has ended up in your bank accounts. By next year, you could own more wealth than the rest of the world put together.
This is not just a global phenomenon. The growing gap between rich and poor is a reality for seven out of ten people on the planet. Last week the World Bank calculated that ten Africans own more wealth than half the continent. Statistics like these are actually a cold shower on people’s natural, positive aspirations to improve their lot – they’re telling us the 99 percent won’t get there, or anywhere close.

Wealth is used to entrench inequality, not to trickle down and solve it. Our research shows how pharmaceutical and financial lobbyists spend hundreds of millions of dollars to influence government legislation in their industries’ favour, saving them billions of dollars, for instance by securing the banks’ huge state bailouts. Across the world, we see that great money doesn’t only buy a nice car or a better education or healthcare. It can buy power: impunity from justice; an election; a pliant media; favourable laws. With the privatisation of our universities it can even buy the world of ideas.
There will be no victory in the fight against poverty unless this trend of worsening inequality is reversed. This is recognised by figures as diverse as the Managing Director of the IMF and the Pope. But we cannot win it under the current broken economic system.

This is a system that sees a world possessed of huge wealth nevertheless leaving the vast majority of humanity behind with virtually nothing at all. One where women are systematically exploited; at the current rate of progress it will take 75 years before women are paid the same as men, never mind that women’s unpaid care work continues to remain invisible. And it is a system that is leading us to runaway climate change.
Yet the 1 percent are quick to tell us that there is no real alternative. Sadly, they say, nothing is ever perfect and of course there will be winners and losers (and typically, by implication, talented winners and feckless losers). But that we should be grateful – it’s the best we can hope for.
What an appalling failure of imagination. What a shocking lack of faith in human invention, ingenuity and spirit. I am sure of two things. One is that another world is possible; the second that it cannot be imagined or created by the 1% – it is up to us.

I believe we can build a human economy where people are the bottom line. We need a world where people do not have to live in fear of the economic repercussions of getting sick, or losing their home or job. Where every child gets to fulfil their potential. Where corporations pay their fair share of taxes and work for the good of the majority, not just their shareholders.  Where the planet is preserved and sustained for our children and their children’s children.
This is not an impossible dream, it is a practical possibility, well within our reach. To get there we need to organise. We need to harness the boundless energy and creativity of our youth. We are many, they are few.

from here

We hear and read constantly of this 'broken economic system' and then are usually given some lame ideas for reforming it to improve discrete areas of some of our lives for an indeterminate period, reforms that very soon either fail to materialise or quickly fade into something less than promised or expected. It's heartening to note that Winnie Byanyima didn't go that far but the semi-redacted (by me) sentence in her final paragraph is one clue that we shouldn't get too excited about her having woken up to the whole reality of capitalism. Reforms have been an integral part of capitalism from its beginnings, enabling different parties to come to power for a spell after spinning stories for the electorate. And where are we as a result of that? Does she really believe it's possible to attain all she speaks of within the current system knowing the power of the 1%?  They're never going to let that happen.

We can agree with her that 'another world is possible and that it won't be created by the 1%' and also that 'it is up to us,' however let's not even waste time thinking about trying to fix it. Rather the solution is to abolish it altogether in favour of a system organised by and in the interest of the vast majority based on common ownership and democratic control. That system is socialism.




The Body Count

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A few years ago a study published in the respected medical journal stated the death toll of the Iraq war was one million. E-mails that the BBC was able to procure based on the British Freedom of Information act show that Blair’s advisors were fairly frustrated at first to hear that the Lancet study’s method of investigation was unshakeable. The government finally declared that, even though the method had also been used in other conflict situations, the Lancet numbers were much higher than those provided by statistics from other sources, and that this demonstrated how greatly estimates could vary depending on the method of data collection. From the very small circle of scientists who had initially expressed fierce criticism, after a while the only thing one heard was that “there is considerable debate amongst the scientific community over the accuracy of the figures.” From then on, most of the media would mention the study, if at all, only with the addendum “controversial.” This label, however, is simply untrue. This new study by the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and other groups examined the toll from the so-called war on terror in three countries — Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan – confirm the obscenely high deadly toll of the Iraq war and others since. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware. In Afghanistan, the longest war in NATO’s history, Wikipedia  reveals the number of 14,576 domestic and foreign security forces killed, and between 12,500 and 14,700 civilians killed (as of 2012). Searching for the number of Al-Qaida and “Taliban” members, it is stated that no reliable data are possible. This in turn suggests that the other figures indicated are somehow reliable. But in fact, they are not. This is not meant as criticism of the diligent Wikipedia writers, rather as a comment on the general superficiality used to deal with the devastating consequences of the war.

The U.S.-led Multinational Force (MNA) in Iraq, the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and the U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF-A), also in Afghanistan, have carefully kept a running total of fatalities they have suffered. However, the military’s only interest has been in counting “their” bodies: 4,804 MNA soldiers have died in Iraq between March 2003 and February 2012, the date when the U.S. body counting stopped. As of early end 2014, 3.485 ISAF and OEF soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan since 2001.

The picture of physically wounded military personnel for both war theatres is incomplete. Only the U.S. military is identified: (a) 32,223 were wounded during the 2003 Iraq invasion and its aftermath, and (b) until November 2014 20.040 were wounded in Afghanistan. No figures are known for mental disorders involving military personnel who have been deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Officially ignored are casualties, injured or killed, involving enemy combatants and civilians.  This, of course, comes as no surprise. It is not an oversight but a deliberate omission. The U.S. authorities have kept no known records of such deaths. This would have destroyed the arguments that freeing Iraq by military force from a dictatorship, removing Al-Qaeda from Afghanistan and eliminating safe-havens for terrorists in Pakistan’s tribal areas has prevented terrorism from reaching the U.S. homeland, improved global security and advanced human rights, all at “defendable” costs. U.S. journalist Nir Rosen noted, “the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis are not better off, … the children who lost their fathers aren’t better off, … the hundreds and thousands of refugees are not better off.”

The desire of governments to hide the complete picture and costs of military interventions and wars is nothing new. For the United States, the history of the Vietnam war is emblematic. The immense toll on Southeast Asia, including the estimated death of at least two million Vietnamese non-combatant civilians, and the long-term health and environmental impacts of herbicides such as Agent Orange, are still not fully recognized by the majority of the American people. Such historical amnesia can be traced to widespread cover-up by US authorities and their media minions of the crimes against humanity committed in “our” name. Similarly, the Vietnam war’s consequent political destabilization of the region, associated with the rise of the horrific Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, is reminiscent of the recent "post-war" destabilization in Iraq and neighbors that has been conducive to the rise of brutal Caliphate "wannabes" such as ISIS that is now terrorizing the region. The war in Pakistan is therefore a consequence of the U.S./NATO war in Afghanistan. It began in 2004 with the massive advance of the Pakistani military against Al-Qaeda hide-outs and “Taliban” in southern Waziristan. The initial hope that this could contain the war has turned into its opposite. The war intensified, terrorist reprisals increased, and the war spread to other areas of Pakistan.

A politically useful option for U.S. political elites has been to attribute the on-going violence to internecine conflicts of various types, including historical religious animosities, as if the resurgence and brutality of such conflicts is unrelated to the destabilization caused by decades of outside military intervention. As such, underreporting of the human toll attributable to ongoing Western interventions, whether deliberate, or through self-censorship, has been key to removing the "fingerprints" of responsibility. Today, permanent acceptance of war and occupation is most easily accomplished by using humanitarian, human rights pretexts for war, such as “reconstruction,” “stabilization,” “securing human rights” or “democratization.” After the so-called “global war on terror” was at first justified as a (pre-emptive) self-defense, even later on the continued occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq were likewise explained by those alleged goals. While at the beginning such military interventions were called “humanitarian interventions,” today their proponents try to classify them as part of the so-called “Responsibility to Protect” which Western states try to enshrine as a new norm in international law. According to first estimates, the war in Libya in 2011, where NATO intervened in support of insurrectionary forces, has cost at least 50,000 Libyan lives. Even though the intervention was justified by the claim of “protecting the civilian population.” Unfortunately, the justification of military interventions in order to “fight terror” is still part and parcel of the political debate, even though there is enough evidence that a substantial part of terrorism is engendered by military, intelligence, and economic interventions of the very same countries that consequently make use of the pretext of terror to politically legitimize their military and geo-strategic expeditions.

The total body count in the three main war zones Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan during 12 years of ‘war on terrorism’. comes to the conclusion that the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs. And this is only a conservative estimate. The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.

Aside from the number of the victims of a conflict, it is of course also important to know who is responsible for them and to what extent. A priori, of course, those who started the war also carry the main responsibility for all victims. Since the assault on Iraq unequivocally constituted an aggression in violation of international law, the U.S. and its allies are also responsible for all its consequences. United States military forces have killed more innocent foreign civilians than the forces of any other country since the end of World War II, an uncomfortable truth for a nation whose people overwhelmingly consider themselves liberators, even as their government has supported countless brutal dictatorships