Saturday, April 30, 2016

Socialism V Zionism

Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are in the news with accusations against members of the Labour Party for holding such views.  Ken Livingstone has been suspended for claiming links between Zionists and the Nazi’s during the 1930s. 

Socialists and Zionists have been opponents since the beginning. Inevitably, as they represented two incompatible views as to the solution workers of Jewish background should seek to the problem of anti-Semitism. Socialists never supported Zionism but opposed it as yet another nationalist delusion, as what we aspire to is a World without national frontiers in which free movement is possible and where all people live together as equals. To escape the vicious circle, we must respond to ethnic persecution not by promoting "our own" brand of nationalist or religious politics, but by asserting our identity as human beings and citizens of the future world cooperative commonwealth.

For a long time, the Jews have been one of capitalism's handier scapegoats vulnerable to the racist urgings to blame a scapegoat rather than consider how capitalism works and why it imposes such problems on them. They are liable to ignore the fact that the majority of Jews are also members of the working class, enduring the same poverty, poor housing and so on. They go through the same struggle for survival but Jews are no more aware of their class interests than are any other group of workers. In their ignorance they supported the establishment of the state of Israel and, if they live there, they serve the interests of the ruling class in the same way as workers everywhere - by acquiescing in their own exploitation, by participating in their rulers' wars, by voting for one capitalist party or another at election time. Israel is now a powerful, militaristic capitalist state nuclear power. It might have been hoped that the Jews' terrible history would have encouraged them to something more hopeful.

It's now nearly 120 years since Theodor Herzl wrote Der Judenstaat (The State of the Jews) and launched the Zionist movement having concluded that Jews would only be safe when they had a state of their own. Herzl realised that if his project was to succeed he had to seek support wherever it might be found. And who was more likely to back his movement than the anti-Semites? And so Herzl set off for Russia to sell his idea to the tsar's minister of police, Plehve, a notorious anti-Semite widely regarded as responsible for the Kishinev pogrom of 1903. An opportunistic alliance with another anti-semitic ruler of Russia – Stalin – was crucial to the establishment of the state of Israel. On Stalin's instructions, Czechoslovakia provided arms and training that enabled the fledgling Zionist armed forces in Palestine to win the war of independence in 1947-48. Stalin's motive was to undermine the position of Britain in the Middle East. For some years, the Israeli government continued to rely on Soviet military and diplomatic support, while keeping silent about the persecution of Soviet Jews, then at its height. Israel also entailed maintaining good relations with anti-semitic regimes, notably Argentina, where a disproportionate number of Jews were among those killed, imprisoned and tortured by the military junta that ruled the country from 1976 to 1983. Given the "anti-democratic, anti-semitic and Nazi tendencies" of the Argentine officer corps, we may assume that they were persecuted not merely as political opponents but also as Jews. Meanwhile, a stream of Israeli generals passed through Buenos Aires, selling the junta arms.

The assumption underlying the Zionist movement was that to establish a “national home for the Jewish people” was the only way to end their age-old persecution, especially under the yoke of the Tsars. This closely mirrored the aspirations of other thwarted nationalities such as the Poles, the Czechs, the Finns and the like. Marx argued that Jewish people should seek emancipation, not as Jews, but as human beings. To do this they should abandon their religion - just as Christians should abandon theirs - and become members of a secular human community in which money and the state should be abolished, i.e. Socialism. In the meantime, under capitalism, Jews should enjoy the same political rights, in a secular democratic state, as Christians and others.  In Tsarist Russia,the Jewish Labour League, the Bund, which was affiliated with the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, had as its purpose Jewish cultural autonomy within a Social-Democratic Russia. They saw that on the principle of divide and rule, the Tsars had actually fostered anti-Semitism. They were convinced that the Jewish problem was a by-product of the private property system and would end with the end of that system. They did not think in terms of a return, to “the promised land” as a solution to their problems. The Zionist movement propounded the view that the Jews were a separate nation and that as such they were entitled to their own state, in Palestine. People of Jewish background should not seek emancipation as human beings but as Jews. Neither should they seek integration within the political states in which they found themselves, but separation, in a state of their own.

Many organisations and movements have clamoured for the allegiance of the workers during the twentieth century, all claiming some panacea, some new device which would, at long last, make capitalism palatable. The Jewish workers have been exposed to all the usual propaganda, but for them the basic issue of twentieth-century society - capitalism or socialism - has been even further confused by the Zionist Movement. This claimed that the problems of Jewry could only be solved by the establishment of one single homeland for Jews, a Jewish state. Like many other reformist movements, the Zionists have now had a chance to work out their theories in practice; Israel has been established. What evidence is there as to whether Jewish workers are any happier in capitalist Israel than they are in capitalist Britain or America? Zionism hasn’t established a workers’ paradise. The sole fruit of the decades of struggle and strife which Zionism has known has been - the establishment of yet another capitalist state. Which is an achievement the workers of the world, Jewish and Gentile, white and black, could well have done without.

But it is not just a matter of Zionists and anti-Semites sometimes having strategic or business interests in common. There are ideological affinities. Zionists, like anti-Semites, are mostly racists and nationalists for whom it is abnormal that an ethnic group should live dispersed as a minority in various countries. What if the Jews in a given country are well integrated, face no significant anti-Semitism, and show no interest in being "normalised"? Originally Zionism was conceived as a means of solving the problem of anti-Semitism. From this point of view, where the problem does not exist there is no need for the solution. However, ends and means were inverted long ago, and Zionism became an end in itself, with anti-semitism a condition of its success. Anti-Semitism might still be regarded in principle as an evil, but as a necessary evil. Often it was also said to be a lesser evil compared to the threat of assimilation supposedly inherent in rising rates of intermarriage.

Israel's ruling √©lite ordered the construction of their wall in 1994, and duly baptised it the 'Separation Barrier'. You would have thought that the Israeli's might have recalled the wall that the Nazi's imprisoned 400,000 Jews behind in what became known as the ‘Warsaw Ghetto’ prior to their elimination, but evidently memories are short, and propaganda long. The justification for its construction is that it has been built to protect Israeli's from Palestinian suicide bomb attacks. Opponents regard the wall as a means to further annex Palestinian land, and that security is just a subterfuge. The wall also violates international law as laid down by the International Court of Justice. However, ‘justice’ under capitalism inevitably pans out as ‘might is right’, especially when the US is your Godfather.

The establishment of an Israeli state was the goal of Zionism and its founder Theodor Herzl’s entry in his 1895 diary, reveals the thoughts of a ‘righteous’ man:
“We must expropriate gently the private property on the state assigned to us. We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it employment in our country. The property owners will come over to our side. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discretely and circumspectly” (Righteous victims).

The Israeli 'settlers are also opposed to the barrier, but their opposition is because it appears to relinquish the Jewish claim to the 'Land of Israel'. This is the land that God promised to the descendants of Abraham. This is a biblical deal struck between God and the Jewish ‘people’ some 3500 years ago. It is also the ideological engine of Zionism, and the Likud party’s rationale for the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.

Socialists argue against the idea that the Jews were a nation or a race; most Jews were workers and should join with other workers to achieve socialism which would mean “the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex”. Even though many Zionists were not religious, all they had to go on to justify Palestine as the place for their Jewish State was an irrational belief, the religious myth set out in some holy book that the Jewish God had given Palestine to the Jews to be their homeland. Many Jewish workers were convinced by the Socialist argument and rejected Zionism, and played - and still play - a considerable part in the Socialist movement. Most Jews rejected Zionism in practice - and still do - by integrating into the countries where they lived. The terrible experience of the Second World war, however, convinced many (though by no means most) European Jews to embrace the idea of a Zionist State

Israelis may well have wondered whether there is any country in the world where Jews are less safe. Thoughtful Israelis may also wonder how much of the anti-semitism in the world today is generated by Israel itself through its mistreatment of Palestinians. The establishment of Israel did not end anti-semitism. In fact it caused it to spread to where it had never existed before - to the Arab-speaking parts of the world. For centuries Jews had lived in peace and security, integrated and speaking Arabic, in these parts of the world. Now, as a direct result of the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine,, they came to suffer the same persecution that the European Jews had. The result was that centuries of integration was undone in decades. Today there are virtually no Jews living in Arab countries: most Arab Jews are now in Israel where they form an underprivileged group. The dreams of Jewish workers of a life free from persecution and oppression finds its echo today in the dreams of Palestinian workers. Jewish dreams have not been answered by the setting up of the state of Israel and Palestinian dreams will not be answered by the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Zionists are always complaining about anti-semitism, real or imaginary. They use such complaints especially as a gambit to de-legitimise criticism of Zionism and Israel. From the start, however, Zionist opposition to anti-semitism has been superficial and selective, because Zionism is itself closely connected to anti-semitism. The Zionist needs anti-semitism like heroin addicts need their fix. It may seem a trifle naive to ask why Israel's ruling circles don't realise that by their own actions they are generating anti-semitism. They realise. But they make it a point not to give a damn what the world thinks of them.

Zionism has misled many Jewish workers with its promise of a "homeland for Jews". The Zionist myth is that the Jews had reclaimed an empty, barren land - 'a land without people for a people without land'- and made the desert bloom. The other side of Israeli Independence is the Nakba (the catastrophe) when the Palestinians lost their homeland to the Jewish state. Dispossession still continues in various ways. There are demands that Zionist organisations like the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency should be disbanded and the neo-apartheid system ended; there should be equality between all citizens.

Since that time the dream of a “homeland” free from oppression and insecurity that led so many Jews to rally round their leaders in the name of Zionism, has been bitterly disappointed. The state of Israel has been at war with its Arab neighbours almost for its entire existence. The expropriation of land from the Arabs and the occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have resulted in a legacy of frustration and bitterness among many of the 750,000 Arabs who stayed in Israel after the 1948 exodus and continue to endure discrimination in employment and welfare and among the one and a half million refugees in camps in the occupied territories.

 It is not surprising that settlement of the occupied territories by orthodox Jewish zealots who subscribe to racist religious nationalism which advocates the expulsion of all Arabs from “Greater Israel”, has resulted in an equally vicious hatred of Jews by many Palestinians. But to strive for the replacement of an oppressive Israeli state by a Palestinian one cannot be an answer. It can only result in continued oppression — class oppression — by a Palestinian ruling class that would replace the Israeli ruling class.

 Emma Goldman in her 1938 work On Zionism identified 'Zionism as the dream of capitalist Jewry the world over for a Jewish State with all its trimmings, such as Government, laws, police, militarism and the rest. In other words, a Jewish State machinery to protect the privileges of the few against the many.' The founders of Israel sought to expel as much of the Arab majority as they could and make their profits by creating an almost all-Jewish working class in the mistaken belief 'it is better to be exploited by one's fellow countrymen' (Marx 1848).

 Israel is the most economically and socially developed capitalist nation state in the Middle East with a large working class. It is a bourgeois democracy but also a sectarian/apartheid state. Israeli capitalism not only exploits the Jewish working class but also a Palestinian working class and increasingly migrant labour from Asia and Eastern Europe. Palestinians in the state of Israel comprise 20 percent of the population and face discrimination, and are considered to be second class citizens because the very definition of a Jewish state excludes them. Next there are the Bedouin Arabs who live in unrecognized villages unconnected to water and electricity systems. At the bottom of the economic pyramid are the African migrants from Eritrea and the Sudan who cannot legally work but are used as cheap labour in hotel, restaurant and cleaning companies, and when arrested are put in detention centres such as the one in the Negev desert.

Our opposition to Zionism does not mean that we support Hamas or Hezbollah. Unlike some, we don’t single out Jewish nationalism for special condemnation. We condemn all nationalisms equally. The “Palestinian nation” is just as much a myth as the “Jewish nation”, or any other nation. Nationalism is the ideology which seeks to justify the capitalist division of the world into separate “nation-states”, each competing to gain a place in the sun for its ruling class and each with killing machines at its disposal. We utterly reject this view of the way humanity should organise itself. Peace is always better than war. Because wars are never fought in the interests of ordinary people. And because in wars it is always ordinary people who suffer. So, irrespective of the issues involved or the terms agreed, Socialists can only welcome the ending of any war in any part of the world. Stop the killing is our permanent policy. Both Zionism and Palestinian nationalism hold back the growth of class consciousness among the working class in Israel and Palestine. Emma Goldman claimed the origin of the Arab-Israeli war stemmed from the fact that 'the Arab feudal lords had sold the land to the Jews without the knowledge of the Arab people.' Goldman concluded that 'the land should belong to those who till the soil', in other words, the Jewish and Palestinian working class regardless of religion and national identity in a socialist society of common ownership and democratic control.

Zionist nationalism had its share of leftist confusionists in its early days — people who imagined that the establishment of an independent Jewish state would provide not only a refuge from the threat of racist persecution but a territory in which a new socialist order would emerge. In his book, From Class To Nation, David Ben Gurion wrote optimistically:
 "Socialist Zionism means a full Zionism. . .This is a sort of Zionism which will not be content with redeeming only a part of the people, but aims at the complete redemption of all the people of Israel; this is a sort of Zionism which envisages the Land of Israel as a homeland not only for a few privileged and wealthy but wants it to be a homeland for every Jew who returns there - a homeland that equally provides for all her children, revives them, makes them into citizens and redeems all of them without discrimination."
Ben Gurion was later to become Prime Minister of the Israeli state.

 Things did not turn out as those who saw Zionism as a step forward to socialism had thought it would. It is very easy to say, before a nation has been established, that it will not only be a homeland for the "privileged and wealthy". But under capitalism, in which Israel exists, countries belong to the minority class who own their resources and for all the talk of equality Israel is a country of brutal contradictions between affluence for a few and poverty for many. The almost racist assumption in the above quotation explains much that has happened since.

 If Israel is to be a homeland for the Jews, then what is to happen to those not invited into the new land of supposed equality? The answer is to be found all too evidently in the recent brutalities committed by the Israeli state on the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Israel is not unique in its anti-social military savagery: all capitalist nations act that way — they usually call it "national defence". But those who advocated the creation of such a state in the name of socialism have much to answer for. There is no shortage of disillusioned left-wing Zionists in Israel today who will have to make up their minds whether to support nationalism or its ceaseless enemy - socialism.

The Socialist Party certainly doesn’t single out Zionism for special treatment. We are opposed to all nationalisms.  We accept that many other capitalist states and factions in the Middle East have pursued policies that are nationalist and anti-socialist.  Neither Israeli nor Palestinian capitalism can serve the interest of the vast majority of the population. The workings of world capitalism in the Middle East show that peace and prosperity there are only possible in a world-wide framework - socialism. The curse of nationalism is not new. Let it be clear that unlike certain anti-Zionists, socialists do not oppose the tunnel-vision mentality of nationalism only when it is Jewish. To us, the Star of David flag-waving, trigger-happy Zionists are no more ignorant and abhorrent than those who have swallowed the diversionary, nationalist message of Hamas. Socialists do not take sides in national conflicts because it is not our aim to support one or other of the competing capitalist or would-be capitalist factions, each of which seeks its own territories and exploitable populations. No socialist will ever fight to defend a border—we want to do away with the divisiveness of countries and states.

There is a bitter irony about Zionist nationalism. That the survivors of Nazi persecution sought refuge in a nation of their own—a country which would never persecute or exterminate anyone and would be free of the perverse anti-semitism on which Nazism was based—is not difficult to understand. In Israel, not a few Zionists are now beginning to ask themselves the question: "How can it be that the country created by the holocaust is now inflicting similar misery on people who are just as defenceless as the Jews in Europe had been?" The truth is that those who saw a solution in Zionist nationalism—in having their own laws, prisons, borders, army and weapons of destruction—were naive. Their form of nationalism is no less aggressive or bigoted than is ever the case under a system of society where the laws of the jungle are presented as being the rules of civilised conduct. Every nation's flag is dripping with the blood of its enemies; every ruling class pays for its power in other people's lives. Nationalism can never be a solution to the problems of oppression: it was not for the Jews; it would not be for the Palestinians.

 The problem is class, not national, racial, or religious origins. In the 1940s an aspirant Israeli ruling class, represented by such vicious thugs as the Stern gang used terrorist tactics to secure their goal. Having obtained power violently, who could have expected the Israeli ruling class to have maintained power except by the continued use of violence? Israeli workers identify with the aims of their rulers—they see their national identity as more important than their class identity with Arab and other workers. In this they are dangerously mistaken.

News from the GLA South Western Front

It's the case not the face that counts
Today's Richmond and Twickenham Times has a full page on the six candidates standing in the South West constituency. Unfortunately, it is about who I am rather than what the Party stands for. The information on our candidate was not supplied by us but was taken from Wikipedia. The nearest it gets to saying what we stand for is where says I am a "speaker and writer about a moneyless and wageless society". We have agreed, though, to supply a photo for the online version despite that for us it's "the case not the face" that counts, on the grounds that a "face" will attract more people to read what's underneath it than just plain text. But don't worry, the chosen photo shows a Party banner in the background saying "Abolish the Wages System".

The same paper's online edition also carried a report on the hustings in Twickenham on 12 April (here)

The Surrey Comet only has a page on 5 of the 12 candidates for mayor and nothing on who's standing for the GLA but we can't really complain as they had published two letters from us. The Liberal candidate will have more reason to as she's never been mentioned and the UKIP candidate might not have liked being reminded on the front page that he once denounced the "gaystapo" (on the other hand, maybe he accepts that any publicity is better than none).

We have now finished distributing our quota of one-third of the 30,000 election manifestos and only have 1000 or so, found at Head Office, left to do. By chance, they have been distributed more or less equally between the three boroughs of Kingston, Richmond, and Hounslow. This was not the plan as the intention was to concentrate on Hounslow where the branch meets. 11-12000 is slightly more than a token coverage as it's only about 4% of the total number of postal drops in the constituency.

A hundred were distributed in Oxford as on a visit there for a William Morris event (saw the room in University College where Morris gave his first talk as a socialist entitled "Art under Plutocracy", part of which we first republished in 1907 as Art, Labour and Socialism) I noticed that nearly all the streets near where I was saying had houses displaying "Vote Green" or "Vote Labour" posters in their windows. They all got the only leaflet I had with me (our GLA manifesto). Assuming that those displaying posters are among the 5% of the population said to follow politics this is a self-selected target and 100 delivered to them should be the equivalent of 2000 delivered to all doors. It will also serve here as a reminder that, after contesting both the Euroelections in 2014 and the General Election last year in Oxford, we are still around. More of the leaflets will be distributed at the Mayday trade union event in Oxford on Saturday.

Tomorrow [today the 30th] we will be having a street stall in Kingston but not in Brentford as announced.

Friday, April 29, 2016

London May Day Rally

Clerkenwell Green,

Sunday 1st of May, 11:00

The march will be forming up all morning on Clerkenwell Green and will leave the square around midday, marching to Trafalgar Square.

We'll be there.

Members and sympathisers meet outside Marx House where there'll be a comrade with a load of leaflets and some Socialist Standards.

The Sam Packer Story (1966) - short story

A Short Story from the December 1966 issue of theSocialist Standard

Sam Packer was in his teens when he got a job at the factory. He was a bright lad, energetic and jolly, and his workmates took an instant liking to him. Sam soon became one of the firm’s most popular employees; the foreman smiled at him; the manager acknowledged him with a nod.

After doing odd jobs for a few years Sam qualified for a place at a bench and promptly celebrated his promotion by getting married. Marriage set his life on a different tack. Pocket money, sufficient when he was single, dwindled when he had a wife to maintain. It almost disappeared when the children came.

The few pay increases the firm conceded had to go straight into Mrs. Sam Packer's purse because of rising living costs. Sam did his best to economise, rolling his cigarettes, mending the family’s shoes, wearing second-hand clothing and riding to work on a bicycle with sandwiches for lunch. In desperation, after a bout of nagging from his wife, Sam went to the factory office and asked for a raise. Very abruptly he was told that such matters were dealt with through trade union channels and that the firm, facing financial problems, could not afford to pay increases.

The “financial problem" story was true, the firm was soon absorbed into a large combine. Sam found the new management remote and impersonal. A notice was posted informing the staff that, following reorganisation, there would be certain redundancies. A demand for a pay increase was rejected.

Sam was furious. He talked of throwing up the job but his wife nagged the fear of unemployment into him. One evening, with several mates, Sam went to his trade union branch meeting where he got on his feet and bellowed out all the rude things about his employers that his mates were thinking. He was clapped and cheered and went home happily with the applause ringing in his ears.

Sam became a regular attender at the union meetings, speaking as often as the chairman would let him on every subject that came up for discussion. Always critical, always expressing the general discontent, always demanding fair play for the workers, he established a local reputation. “Sam’s the boy,” said his mates, “He’ll tell ’em.”

When a shop steward suddenly died Sam’s nomination for the job was unopposed. He was required to attend trade union conferences and, after an attack of butterflies-in-the-stomach, he made his first conference speech, following it with regular contributions to the debates. Consistently he proposed motions of censure against union officials, criticisms of employers and threats of strike action.

At the close of each conference Sam would go to a nearby pub and argue over a pint with other ale-supping delegates. He became as popular with them as he was with his local workmates.

One day, at the factory union meeting, the members took one of Sam’s fiery speeches seriously and decided to strike. Sam was thrust into the position of a strike leader. It was the first time he had been called upon to do more than talk and he was bewildered.

The employers, with ears to the ground and spies at the union meeting, learned of the strike decision. Business was brisk and they were not prepared to face a stoppage at that moment, so they sent a polite invitation to Sam to meet them at their headquarters. He entered the boardroom with knees knocking, but the assembled management greeted him so warmly, addressing him as Mr. Packer, passing round their cigarettes and making flattering remarks about his ability as a trade union leader, that he soon got over his nervousness.

The chairman candidly admitted that the company was making a moderate profit and was prepared to show appreciation to its staff by introducing a bonus system. He pointed out how, with increased production, the bonus could grow and make a substantial increase in the staff’s earnings. Sam was relieved. They sold him the idea with ease. He shook hands all round and left the building with a jaunty step.

Back at the factory Sam called a special union meeting and recommended to the members the acceptance of the firm's offer. Against feeble opposition the meeting agreed to accept, to withdraw the strike decision and to give Sam a vote of thanks.

With his reputation enhanced Sam was elected on to one committee after another. He served on district committees, area committees, finance committees and, eventually, national committees. He was sent to Trades-Union Congress and to Labour Party conferences. His name became known in trade union circles from Penzance to Penrith, from Lowestoft to Llandudno. He was photographed by the press and interviewed for television. He dressed smartly and gave up rolling his cigarettes.

He worked at the factory for only one or two days a week. His employers gave him leave to attend his union meetings and the union paid him an allowance for the days devoted to union business. He was continuously invited to attend social functions sometimes in the company of employers he had recently faced across a negotiating table. He lost his taste for beer and cigarettes and acquired one for spirits and cigars.

Being on christian-name intimacy with the top brass of his union, Sam was groomed for a full-time job as a union officer and when he got it he moved from his old address to a modem flat near to his union office. His workmates at the factory, who had been seeing him less and less, now saw him not at all. His salary enabled his family to treble its living standard. He had a sleek car and his cigars and his waistline gradually increased their girth.

There was a fly in Sam's ointment. He missed the exhilaration of the applause that used to accompany his old fiery oratory. If he gave vent to a speech in front of employers they smiled indulgently and his fellow union officers made cracks about soap-box oratory. He was expected to devise compromises and work out alternative propositions. He was not good at it. It fogged him, his mind rambled and he lapsed into silence.

As a trade union officer Sam was drawn into Labour Party activity. When a by-election occurred in his constituency he threw himself into the fray with zest. He was in top form addressing audiences in his old spirited manner, lambasting his party's opponents and drawing laughs and claps with his wisecracks, his slashing criticisms and his slangy oratory. Only question time made him uncomfortable. He did not know the answers so he skirted round questions with wit and sarcasm. After the by-election he decided to better equip himself with a study course on political economy through his union education scheme.

Promotion in his union further increased Sam's salary, the size of his car and the length of his holidays. He attended international conferences, flying to foreign cities and staying in the best hotels. To improve his image he took his wife around with him. The days of living in a two-roomed flat, riding a bicycle to work, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes and mending his own shoes were so far behind him that he could afford to boast about them in contrast to his new status.

Mr. Sam Packer no longer spoke of workers’ rights, fair wages, the unscrupulous boss class and working class solidarity. Instead he spoke of national economy, trade balances, export problems, productivity and international finance. Although he allowed himself to be called a Socialist he carefully avoided references to class interests.

One day the 'phone rang in Mr. Packer's office. It was his National Secretary calling to tell him that the workers at the factory where he used to work were on strike for more pay. The employers had 'phoned union headquarters to complain that, as they abided by national agreements, they expected the workers to do likewise and what was the union going to do about the strike? The National Secretary had assured them that the Union did not condone unofficial disputes and that a union officer would be sent to the effected area to get the men back to work. That was a job for Samuel Packer.

Press reporters were waiting outside the office to bombard Mr. Packer with questions. He gave them a statement. He said that the strike was unjustified, that it was probably the work of an handful of agitators, that the workers would see reason when matters were explained to them and that the public could be assured that there would soon be a resumption of work.

A meeting of the strikers was specially convened to hear union officer Packer tell them that their action was ill-timed and ill-advised and that, if they forced wages up at this time, the price of their products would increase and foreign competitors would undersell them. If goods could not be sold the workers who produced them, explained Mr. Packer, would soon be out of a job. The sensible thing was to increase production without increasing costs, to be competitive in the markets of the world, capture orders and have plenty of work. When that was done there would be good prospects of a big pay increase.

One questioner asked, if jobs depended on selling goods and selling goods depended on low wages, then wouldn't jobs and low wages always go together? Another worker said that when he worked in an overseas factory he had been told the same story; the workers were being played off against one another.

Mr. Packer replied that he could smell a red agitator a mile away. He, with other union officers, was in the best position to keep a finger on the pulse of the national situation and to advise workers when to seek wage increases and when to bide their time. If they were as reasonable as he thought they were they would go back to work and leave their claims in the hands of the union where, he swore on oath, their interests would be well looked after.

The chairman counted the votes amid uproar and announced a narrow majority for a return to work.

Months later, at a Labour Party meeting, Mr. Packer accepted a challenge from a member of the audience to debate the question “Is the Labour Party a Socialist Party?" This, he thought, would be fun. He was astounded when Transport House informed him that, if he engaged in this debate, he must do so as an individual, not as a Labour Party representative.

For Mr. Packer the debate was a fiasco. He defined Socialism as “The greatest good to the greatest number," “Christianity in practice" and “The brotherhood of man." He amplified these definitions by reference to the Labour Party’s schemes for building houses, hospitals and schools, for increasing production and old age pensions and decreasing armaments.

His opponent defined Socialism as a system of society wherein the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth were commonly owned and democratically controlled by, and in the interest of the whole community. This, said Mr. Packer, was idealism, a pipe dream and totally impracticable. Human nature would not allow it. He believed in a practical kind of Socialism. 

Mr. Packer's opponent explained how this so-called practical Socialism was really a continuation of the existing social set-up with its wars, poverty, unemployment and insecurity. He quoted from Mr. Packer’s own trade union speeches to show that the abolition on the wages system was the only solution to the problems of wage earners.

In his winding-up address Mr. Packer became confused, then annoyed and finally abusive. He left the hall with a red face amid grins and laughs.

When the office of national union secretary became vacant Mr. Packer was an unsuccessful candidate for the job, but compensation came when, in the New Year’s Honours List, he was cited for the O.B.E.

Subsequently he accepted nomination as a parliamentary candidate in a safe Labour constituency. As a Member of Parliament his infrequent speeches were as empty as the benches around him. The Honourable Member Mr. Packer, O.B.E., knew the right people and was appointed to the board of a nationalised industry at a salary of £12,000 a year. He hob-nobbed with his fellow board members, all of whom were either ex-bankers or ex-company directors. He objected to any reference to his humble origin.

He gradually faded from the public limelight till he was stricken by thrombosis in his London home and died, despite the attention of two hastily summoned Harley Street physicians.

A few grilled old workers at the factory read of his death in their morning papers. The announcement was wedged between news of a wage freeze, closing factories, short-time working, redeployment and unemployment. One old timer, as he spread his breakfast margarine, said, “Packer, he used to work at our place. Led us up the garden, proper, he did. Still, it was our own fault. We ought to do our own thinking instead of leaving it to blokes like him.”

W. Waters

Manchester May Day March and Rally

Saturday, April 30,
12:30 PM

Manchester Art Gallery
Mosley Street,
Manchester M3 3JL

A Manchester Trades Union Council arranged event.   Members plan to sell and distribute literature at the site in Sackville Gardens.

Meet at the gallery for 12.30

Burnley May Day Rally

A May Day Walk in the Country

Sunday, May 1, 11:00 AM

A walk from Nelson to Clarion House.

Start: Nelson Library, 11.00am.
Market Square,
Nelson BB9 7PU

The full walk has two 'stiffish' climbs, views of Pendle Hill, and wooded and riverside sections. We won’t be rushing. Packed lunch needed.  We’ll walk about 3 miles to Clarion House, arriving about 12.30. Clarion House provides a beautiful view, an open fire, snacks and big mugs of tea. (We can give a lift back to Nelson at this point, for anyone who wants it.)

Then, when we’re ready, it’s roughly another 3 miles from Clarion House to Barrowford, which has the Bankers’ Draft micro-pub and the White Bear pub. There are regular buses from Barrowford back to Nelson.

Manchester Event Organiser, Co-Organiser

Australia’s Guantanamo to close

Australia pledged an extra $450 million in sweeteners to Papua New Guinea (PNG) to settle refugees – but most of the money is yet to be spent and could now disappear with the PNG’s supreme court decision that the Manus Island detention centre has to close. The deal with PNG was known as a "joint understanding" with Australia. The inducements Australia offered in 2013 included an expansive new hospital, roadworks, and upgrades to the PNG university and law courts buildings.

"Most funding under the [Manus Island] agreement has not been spent," said Australian National University aid expert Stephen Howes. "The PNG government will still claim that funding. They delivered three years of the detention centre, not expecting the asylum seekers to remain so long." In the three years after Australia started sending asylum seekers off shore, not a single one had been resettled.

PNG politicians are now blaming Australia for failing to live up to its end of the Manus Island bargain, with most of the proposed building projects stemming from the refugee deal only in the planning stage and far from completed. In one case, Australia had agreed to $8.5 million in "design work" for the Madang - Ramu highway on the PNG east coast, but the local transport minister this month said Australia had failed to lay asphalt on the rugged 195 kilometre highway, which is crumbling under land slips.

There is still no timeframe for the centre's closure, and PNG Immigration authorities said they were still seeking legal advice about how to proceed. Internal gates at the Manus Island detention centre have been opened and the refugees and asylum seekers inside are now allowed to move around more freely, detainees say. The Manus Island detention centre is made up of internally-secured accommodation compounds, which for the past two weeks have been used to separate detainees based on whether their refugee claims had succeeded. Detainees said there were celebrations after internal gates were opened about 11:30pm on Thursday night, allowing them to move about and see their friends. The perimeter gates remain locked and detainees cannot leave the centre, but they also say security staff have told them they are now allowed to possess and use mobile phones, which were previously banned.

Few Australians knew about what actually took place on Manus Island — and that’s pretty much the way the government wanted to keep it. Even human rights groups and lawyers have had difficulty getting access to the island. “The government has kept Manus Island and Nauru under a cloud of secrecy so its human rights abuses are far from scrutiny,” the spokesman said. A lot of what it does will be kept secret with harsh penalties for those who speak out.

The Manus Island Detention Centre cost an estimated $1 billion over four years alone. Further estimates obtained by the Refugee Action Coalition claim the cost offshore processing is around $400,000 per person per year. A Refugee Action Coalition spokesman said the $2 billion contract awarded last year to Transfield Services, now called Broadspectrum, to provide services at the government’s Nauru and Manus Island detention centres, was one example of how government money would have been better spent elsewhere. “This could buy a lot of services,” the spokesman told Green senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the centres were not only “cruel and illegal” but also immensely expensive to operate. “This money would be better spent on schools, hospitals and support for the homeless, but instead the government has spent billions on being cruel to people seeking asylum,” Ms Hanson-Young said.

Australia’s offshore detention policies have long drawn criticism from human rights groups with the nation earning damning report cards in world reports.
Amnesty International refugee co-ordinator Graham Thom said the money spent on “Australia’s inhumane detention policies” could be better spent elsewhere. Dr Thom said the money should instead should be reinvested in the Asia-Pacific region to create fair and efficient processes, as well as safe and legal routes which protect people looking for refuge.
“Mandatory offshore detention is not only illegal but harmful to the health and well-being of the hundreds of people stuck in centres like Manus and Nauru,” he said. “In the three years that the Manus Centre has been operational two lives have tragically been lost.”
According to Amnesty’s 2013 report This is Breaking People, hundreds of people lived in cramped and crowded dormitories, were kept thirsty by a constant lack of drinking water and were forced to queue for hours under blistering sun or in pouring rain for food. It also revealed people were forced to live in unhygienic spaces because there were not enough toilets and showers.

Australia director at Human Rights Watch Elaine Pearson said locking people up for years on end had severe mental health impacts and it was time for the Manus detention centre to be closed once and for all.
“This ruling is a massive victory for asylum seekers and refugees who remain locked up on a detention centre on a naval base in Manus, many for almost three years now,” she said. “PNG’s Supreme Court has recognised that detaining people who have committed no crime is wrong. For these men, their only ‘mistake’ was to try to seek sanctuary in Australia — that doesn’t deserve years in limbo locked up in a remote island prison.”

The World's Inequality

ActionAid, an international NGO working against poverty and injustice, published that the richest 1% of the global population now control over half of the global wealth, while the poorer half of the world control less than 1% of wealth, the report says.

The combined wealth of the 200 richest people in the world – $3.18 trillion – is greater than the total wealth of Africa – $2.83 trillion – and nearly equivalent to the total wealth of Brazil – $3.194 trillion.

According to the report, the richest 64 individuals control as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people combined.

“When so many of the world’s resources are controlled by so few, we cannot talk about poverty and inequality without also talking about extreme wealth, consumption patterns and elite capture of power,” said Farah Kabir, country director of ActionAid Bangladesh. All governments have now promised to act on inequality but almost all were failing to walk the talk. The power of money was ripping societies apart, she added.

The study reveals that inequalities of all kinds are on the rise. This is happening despite the fact that the moral, political and economic justifications for such inequalities – whether between women and men, between Dalit and Brahmin, or between black and white – are increasingly being challenged.

The study finds that women in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia earn 80% less than men. Women from 32 countries also contribute as much as $3 trillion in labour value to global healthcare in 2010, nearly half of it unpaid, the report states.

Feeding America Report

A new report from the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief organization, Feeding America, points to a persistent problem of food insecurity: the socio-economic condition where people have limited or uncertain access to adequate food.

The report said food insecurity rates across counties remained high at 14.7 percent in 2014, the most recent year its data obtained.

James Ziliak, director of the Center for Poverty Research at the University of Kentucky, said food insecurity remains elevated in part because of the sluggish nature of the economic recovery, which has been especially hard for low-income earners. “They were slow to regain full-time employment, and many households still have not,” he said. “And the jobs they were able to get after the Great Recession were often times below what they made before the recession.”

Feeding America’s report said 90 percent of the counties with the highest food insecurity rates in 2014 were in the South, where average incomes are lower, according to Ziliak. "Another factor is the fraction of the population that lives in rural communities is higher, and rural Americans are at greater risk of food insecurity,” he said. Counties in Mississippi and in Arizona have the direst problem of counties nationwide with food insecurity and hunger. The worst numbers tend to emerge in counties where most of the population is black or Native American, the organization reports. The study shows that Jefferson County, Miss., has the highest rate among U.S. counties of food insecurity at 38%. Residents have become apathetic and cynical about it, said Jake McGraw, public policy director for the William Winter Institute of Racial Reconciliation, a nonprofit based in University, Miss. Jefferson County is extremely rural and jobs are scarce, McGraw said. Two-thirds of the people with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits have to drive 30 miles to use them, he said. Exacerbating the problem is that the state has imposed much lower income cut-offs for public food assistance than other states, he said. “Even with that threshold, we still have the highest percentage of poor population that get food stamps,” he said. “We have such great need that many people use it as a lifeline," he said. When it comes to food insecurity among children, Apache County, Ariz., has the biggest problem nationwide, the study shows. Apache’s rate of child food insecurity is 42% while the national average is 24%, Feeding America reports. Apache includes parts of the Navajo Nation, as well as the Zuni and Fort Apache Native American reservations. Local companies are laying off employees and residents are limited in what kind of foods they can try to grow because of the desert climate, said Ginny Hildebrand, CEO of the United Food Bank, an agency based in Mesa, Ariz., that serves food banks in the region and supplies local children with weekly food packs to tide them over on the weekends, when they don’t have school lunches. The closest major grocery store is 60 miles away, she said. “This is really the Third World among us,” Hildebrand said. “When you don’t have food and it’s an ongoing persistent challenge to food yourself, food begins to be a very precious gift … Most people in our country cannot begin to perceive that.”

The packs are intended for the children, but wind up helping to feed entire families, Hildebrand said. In one public school in the area 100% of the children qualify for school lunches, she said.

The problem is in every county in the country, according to Feeding America. Feeding America’s chief executive, Diana Aviv, said there are many households in the country where families may not fall below the federal poverty level but are still struggling. “The public at large thinks that this problem has gone away,” she said. She also pointed out that most of the benefits of post-recession recovery have gone to Americans at upper-income levels.

The report counts 167 counties where the majority of food insecure children don’t qualify for federal nutrition programs. Aviv said many families in that situation lean heavily on food banks and soup kitchens in her organization’s network. “There is no member of Congress that can say happily that they in fact have no food insecurity in their counties,” Feeding America CEO Diana Aviv told USA TODAY. “It’s simply not true,” she said.

The study shows that in 2007, before the recession, 12.2% of the country was food insecure, Aviv said. By 2008, that number jumped to 16.4% and in 2014, the most recent year for which there is data, the number had dropped to only 15.4% she said. The numbers for childhood food insecurity are even starker, Aviv said. The number was 16.9% in 2007, rose to 22.5% in 2008 and dropped to only 20.9% in by 2014, Aviv said. “It hasn’t kept up with the increase in jobs or the decline in unemployment,” she said.

Fact of the Day (Mexico)

Children and adolescent suffer the most from poverty in Mexico, with over half (about 21.4 million) living under the poverty line, illustrating the persistent and serious inequality the country faces. 4.6 million are living in extreme poverty.

Folkestone Street Stall - 30th April

Folkestone Street Stall 

Saturday, 30 April 2016 - 12:00pm

Venue: Folkestone Town Hall, 
junction of Sandgate Road and Guildhall Street, 
CT20 1DY
Meet members of the SPGB and quiz and question them on aspects of the socialist case and pick up literature to study at your leisure

Bombing Afghan and Syrian hospitals

About 16 US military personnel, including one general, have been disciplined in relation to the bombing of a civilian hospital run by the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) in Kunduz, Afghanistan last year that killed 42 people, a senior US official said. No criminal charges were filed and the soldiers and officers received administrative punishments. None of those punished were sent to court martial.

Air strikes on the Medecins Sans Frontieres-backed al-Quds in Aleppo, Syria hospital killed at least 27 people, 14 patients, and three doctors. Sources blamed the Syrian military or  Russia's. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demanded a credible investigation into the hospital attack. 

Even if guilt is admitted, can we expect either the Syrian or Russian governments to punish their personnel appropriately? 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

I'm not interested in politics (1966) - short story

A Short Story from the September 1966 issue of the Socialist Standard

The inexperienced young speaker had been on the Socialist Party platform for about ten minutes. Most of that time had been spent talking to thin air, and he was becoming disheartened. In desperation he called out to someone of about the same age who was passing by.

“Excuse me, do you mind coming over here and chatting for a bit? I’m getting rather lonely up here. 1 shan’t keep you long—I only want to talk to you till I’ve got an audience, anyway.” Surprisingly, the passer-by obliged.

"Who's this mob you're speaking for?” he asked.

"The Socialist Party of Great Britain,” replied the speaker, “not to be confused with cheap imitations.”

“Well, you're wasting your time with me. I'm not interested in politics.”

“That’s O.K. Neither am I.”

“What are you doing up there, then?”

“I’ll explain. I’m up here because I happen to think life’s pretty scabby.”

"You sound very bitter. What makes you say that?" 

“Well, certain things I think we might agree about. Work’s the biggest moan for a start. I don’t suppose I’ve been going to work any longer than you, but I'm fed up already with the way my life revolves around it.

"Up we get at some uncivilised hour when the alarm clock goes off, and after that the whole day is regulated. Some stuffy office till the best hours of the day arc gone—in winter you don’t even see daylight except through the window. I spend the majority of my waking hours doing something I'm not interested in, and my own life can only begin in the few hours when I’m not at my job. Even then my activities are limited because I'm constantly aware that I must be up in time to go back to work the following day.

“And that’s not the worst of it. You and I are going to have to do this five days a week, 50 weeks a year, for the next 40 years or so. And if you want to know what the result of the process is just look round at our parents. I sometimes look at my own father and wonder what he's got to show for a lifetime’s hard work. Answer: a mortgage round his neck, callouses on his hands, and me—hardly a great accumulation. You might as well say he's ended up with what he started out with—nothing.
"But on the other hand he's been through two world wars and a slump, so a whippersnapper like me can't tell him anything. Whether our generation ends lip with this big-headed attitude remains to be seen."

"Well, you haven't told me anything yet. I do agree that life’s pretty rotten in the ways you’ve said. But that doesn’t explain what you’re doing up on that platform. I thought you would consider your time too precious to waste.”

“I’d like to explain, but I don't want to keep you out late. I expect you’ve got to go to work tomorrow yourself.”

“Of course I have. So has everyone else.”

“Well not quite everyone; Some of those people who are so wealthy they don’t need to work, probably won’t for a start.”

“You mean the bosses?”

“Yes. Not the managers, who probably put in more hours, unpaid worry included, than you or me. 1 mean the people who actually own all the industries in the country. They are few in number—about 10 per cent of the population— and for that reason are very rich.

“Now don’t you feel slightly peeved that there are people in this privileged position? They don’t have to put up with the same dull routine as we do.”

“I suppose so, but I can’t do anything about it, can I? And anyway, good luck to them, they must have worked some time to have got what they have."

“No. First, it’s not strictly true that members of this privileged class must have necessarily worked to own all they do. A great deal of their wealth is inherited. But in any case, let’s ask ourselves how these fortunes are made in the first place. After all, they’re so huge it seems unlikely that they are made simply by living a frugal life.”

“You tell me then."

“Well, what I want to suggest is that these fortunes are made out of mugs like you and me.

“In any industry, the workers produce more in terms of wealth than they receive as wages—because they are not paid for what they produce, but just enough for them to live at a certain standard of living. This is then used up and then back we go to work again the following week. In other words, it’s because wages, on an average, only provide us with enough to keep alive and healthy—plus enough to reproduce sufficient offspring to carry on the job of piling up more wealth than we ever see—that we have to perpetuate the agony in the way I've described. And it is the difference between this amount and the amount actually produced by workers which accounts for the profits of the owners. So we also perpetuate our compulsory generosity at the same time.”

“But even if all this is true, it doesn't get us very far. After all. these people do own everything, and even if I agree that their position depends on exploiting us, we can’t do anything about it by shouting our heads off on a soap-box."

“This is the other point you made a moment ago, and I must say I disagree with you. For a start it depends on how many people listen to what you say on the soap-box.

“Now the present system, and the way it is run. depends entirely on the effort of people like us, who have to work. We run the whole show from, lop to bottom. For that reason, if all of us united together, it would be in our power to set up a system where there would not be the rat-race that exists at present.”

“What do you suggest—shooting all the owners or something!"

“No. Even if that were a practical possibility it would only result in other people taking over their privileged position. What I do seriously suggest is a complete and fundamental change in the way we run our lives at present. I suggest that we set up a system where we all co-operate to make necessary work as pleasant as possible and our conditions of life the best possible, too. This, in turn, I suggest, can be done by establishing a society where all wealth is owned in common.”

“It sounds marvellous. How are you going to do it?"

“No. How are YOU going to do it. 1 can’t do a thing on my own, and neither can the Socialist Party. What is needed is a majority of people like us to do something.

“And this brings me back to what 1 said about not being interested in politics. 1 joined this party only because I realised that my own interests are identical with the interests of 90 per cent of people in society; and that all of us can only achieve an appreciable improvement in our position by political action.

“This doesn’t mean going into Parliament and forming a government. Rather it means going into Parliament to end the need for a Parliament at all! As far as the hours spent there by the professionals concerned, I find it about as boring as you do. But for all that it’s very important. It is from Parliament, you see, that the system of private ownership is ultimately run. The government of the day deals with affairs which affect the owners of industry as a class rather than as individuals. Hence all the time spent on finance, influence and control over whole industries, and so on. All this will go when private ownership goes.

“Now one day, we hope, this is a task for which the Socialist Party can be used. It doesn’t run for office, as all the other political parties do, since they clearly don’t want to abolish property society. It exists as a vehicle which the population can use for ending property society, if it decides to, by sending the party’s delegates to Parliament for that purpose.

“This is the reason, and the only reason, the Socialist Party contests elections. We always lose, but that doesn’t mean to say we’re wasting our time. We expect to lose elections until enough people have accepted the arguments for the radical change I’ve been talking about. And by contesting elections we help to propagate these ideas. So at this stage we are mainly a propaganda organisation; that explains what I’m doing on this platform.”

“But your party can’t be very powerful. I hadn’t even heard of it before tonight."

“Well, we’d be very fortunate if that was all that was wrong! But I find myself in the following position, and I suggest that whether you realise it or not, so are you. I can see that there can only be a radical change in the way I must lead my life if there is a corresponding radical change in society. I recognise that this must be done ultimately by a majority of the population bringing about the kind of change I’ve indicated.

“Now I agree with you that the task seems almost hopeless. But there is a slim chance, and so far as I'm aware the only organisation which gives voice to these ideas is the Socialist Party of Great Britain.”

Keith Graham

Global Citizenship - World Socialism

People are increasingly identifying themselves as global rather than national citizens, according to a BBC World Service poll. 

The trend is particularly marked in emerging economies, where people see themselves as outward-looking and internationally minded. More than half of those asked (56%) in emerging economies saw themselves first and foremost as global citizens rather than national citizens. In Nigeria (73%), China (71%), Peru (70%) and India (67%) the data is particularly marked. Indonesia has the weakest sense of national citizenship (4%). Instead, it seems Indonesians have a much stronger sense of localism, with over half of respondents seeing their immediate communities as the most important way of defining themselves. In Pakistan, 43% appear to identify themselves first and foremost by their religion - considerably higher than any other country.

By contrast, the trend in the industrialised nations seems to be heading in the opposite direction. In Germany, fewer people say they feel like global citizens now, compared with 2001. Only 30% of respondents see themselves as global citizens. According to Lionel Bellier from GlobeScan, this is the lowest proportion seen in Germany since the poll began 15 years ago.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Trumpism and the “Dollar-ocracy”

American nationalism is not a harmless pageant but national triumphalism. In most countries the national anthem is played only at international events, not at domestic games. Saluting the flag and making a pledge of allegiance to one’s nation in schools are practices usually reserved for dictatorships. What is American “exceptionalism” that places it above and outside accepted international law?  Republican front-runner and now Presidential favourite, Donald Trump, has promised to deport every last one of the estimated 11 million undocumented migrants in the United States, the whole lot of them, while as a bonus banning Muslims from the country.

How did Trump get really rich? His answer is in his book "The Art of the Deal." Our answer is much simpler. Trump's father, Fred. Donald Trump went from rich to even richer, which is very much more easily accomplished than rags to riches.

Trump's father found a government program that provided funds for private builders to build housing for lower and middle-income people. Trump Snr. got a loan of $10.3 million from the Federal Housing Administration and then built the required houses, Shore Haven Apartments, for about $1 million less than that. Fred Trump had found a cash cow, and a way to milk it, and he kept on milking it until he was one of the biggest landlords in New York's outer boroughs.

Donald Trump initially intended to follow in dad's footsteps and go big on the housing loan program, constructing low- and middle-income housing in Manhattan. Unfortunately for Trump New York City canceled the program in 1975 - just as he was about to get his hands on the udder teats.

Where Trump did shine was in his Manhattan real estate investments. But here again, the key wasn't deals. In this case, he inherited control and eventually one-quarter ownership of a family organization worth about $200 million in 1974, and invested heavily in Manhattan. Back in 1974, $200 million was worth something: close to $800 million in today's money. Manhattan real estate took off in a spectacular fashion - average land prices went up by well over 6,000% between 1973 and the present day. That means Trump could have bought pieces of Manhattan real estate at random - and at fair market prices without bothering to negotiate - and still achieved those returns. To this day, despite all of his other business ventures, New York real estate makes up about 60% of the value of his personal portfolio. For sure had Trump bet his millions of dollars in capital on a property recovery in Detroit, his life story would have been rather different.

Backing Hillary Clinton — no matter how hard you hold your nose — will not do: Voting for Clinton solidifies the notion that no matter how regressive a figure the Democratic Party nominates, progressives and others will vote for them. This mindset turns voters into robots. While Clinton stresses what she allegedly share in common with Sanders supporters she is entrenched with the establishment in her ties to Wall Street, corporate power and hawkish U.S. foreign policy. There is every indication that a Clinton presidency would be a major boost to corporate and Wall Street control over the U.S. and the world — as well as a major boost to perpetual U.S. wars into the coming decades with quite certain devastating results.

Voters need to have “somewhere to go” or they will continue to be a plaything of the elites like Trump, playing an Oscar winning role that actor-cum-president Ronald Reagan would have been proud of. Or such as Hilarity Clinton adopting whatever position that will garner her more votes. There is a discernable populism spreading through the United States that rejects Establishment politicians. Just where it eventually ends up cannot be predicted. We do, however, confidently predict that neither Trump or Clinton will run capitalism in the interest of the vast majority who make up the working class in America. Whoever wins in November, the American ruling class will have been successful. It is virtually indisputable that whoever in the Oval Office the capitalist class will continue to do their utmost to get more out of us for less by intensifying the exploitation process and attacking our living standards. This can only set the scene for the intensification of class struggle, a struggle which is our only hope in resisting the attacks of capital. But no-one should be in any doubt that the only way that our problems can be really solved is when such a defensive class struggle transforms itself into a pro-active struggle which finally abolishes capitalism itself.

Thoughts on Feel the Berne

 Now that Bernie Sanders is clearly not going to prevail, the moment may well be ripe to rally a people’s movement. It could be the turning point for making change.

Sanders ran as a DAMNOCRAT. Whether or not Bernie Sanders’ choice to run as a Democrat was ‘pragmatic’ depends on what his ultimate goals are. To his credit, Sanders appears to see himself more as a vehicle for re-emergent leftish politics as his motivation. No such movement is currently on the horizon, however. The Democratic Party, like the Republican Party, is the Party of Capital. Bernie Sanders said he used the Democratic Party to get media coverage for standing for president. He saw what happened to Ralph Nader in the past and how today the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, is side-lined by the news organisations. Are people voting for Sanders regardless of what party he is in? If so then where will their support go now that he has no chance of becoming the Democratic nominee for President.

Clinton is a wolf in sheep's clothing. She has been saying that she is a progressive for political expediency. Hilarity Clinton’s record is not one of someone who throws herself into passionate causes for social justice and human rights. Facing threats from climate change, she supports destructive practices like offshore drilling and natural gas fracking. She supported legislation for a border fence in 2006. She supported regime change in Libya, Syria, and Iraq, and the impact of regime change policies has been catastrophic. Clinton has taken money from lobbyists for private prison companies. She supports maintaining the death penalty. She supported the Patriot Act and Patriot Act reauthorization in 2006. She supported bailing out Wall Street. She has remained silent on key measures, like deferred action and criminal history ineligibility, which could greatly benefit migrants in the United States. She also clings to the Affordable Care Act, which represented a windfall for health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, as an adequate substitute for a Medicare for All system. Clinton’s track record goes against everything Sanders' activists have fought for in the past decades. The corporate media, a major part of the Clinton campaign funders, endorses her  “pragmatic” (lower your expectations) message that minimized the ongoing crisis felt by the millions left behind without health care, unemployed or stuck in low-paying jobs, facing mountains of student debt, and all the other pervasive disparities.

Without vibrant grassroots movements changing reality, the richest and most corrupt people in power will keep on trampling upon the livelihoods working class Americans. We need BOTH activism on the streets and on specific issues (demonstrating against grievances) AND we need effective electoral action for social change. A powerful socialist party should be the conduit for change.

Mass protests, sit-ins and shut-downs have often been targeting the wrong target. Occupy Wall Street understood they should target Wall Street not just government. That was a step in the right direction. We now need to go one step further. We need to target the mouthpiece propaganda arm of the plutocracy. We need to target the media. We need millions, not thousands. 

Socialists are “progressives”. We are not anti-development. We want development, but not at any cost. We want that every person should get equal education and healthy life. We want polluted rivers to be pollution free. We want wastelands to be turned green. We want that everyone should get clean air, water, and wholesome food. Technology should work in harmony and cooperation with nature. This is our model of development. Socialists seek to build unity for without unity, we cannot fight and we need to learn from struggles of others.  A socialist party is an organisation which can connect the dots between issues and movements -- from winning justice for workers to fighting for immigrant rights to interacting with global grassroots social justice movements. We cannot afford to choose between the fronts upon which we must battle. Socialists seek to build a world socialist movement for without unity, we cannot fight and we need to learn from struggles of others. 

“Are demonstrations of any use, some ask, when resistance is so unyielding? Would the slower processes of legislation and law enforcement ultimately accomplish greater results more painlessly? Demonstrations, experience has shown, are part of the process of stimulating legislation and law enforcement. The federal government reacts to events more quickly when a situation of conflict cries out for its intervention. Beyond this, demonstrations have a creative effect on the social and psychological climate that is not matched by the legislative process. Those who have lived under the corrosive humiliation of daily intimidation are imbued by demonstrations with a sense of courage and dignity that strengthens their personalities. Through demonstrations, Negroes learn that unity and militance have more force than bullets. They find that the bruises of clubs, electric cattle prods and fists hurt less than the scars of submission. And segregationists learn from demonstrations that Negroes who have been taught to fear can also be taught to be fearless. Finally, the millions of Americans on the sidelines learn that inhumanity wears an official badge and wields the power of law in large areas of the democratic nation of their pride…Demonstrations may be limited in the future, but contrary to some belief, they will not be abandoned. Demonstrations educate the onlooker as well as the participant, and education requires repetition. That is one reason why they have not outlived their usefulness. Furthermore, it would be false optimism to expect ready compliance to the new law everywhere. The Negro’s weapon of non-violent direct action is his only serviceable tool against injustice. He may be willing to sheath that sword but he has learned the wisdom of keeping it sharp.” - Martin Luther King