Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A world without money – is it possible?

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 What do Socialists mean when we say we want to abolish money? Are we advocating a return to a barter system,where people would, perhaps, swap three tins of beans for one smoked haddock?

  Not at all. The abolition of money means that every single person will be able to. take freely from the store of social wealth whatever he or she needs. We are envisaginging a society where there will be no restrictions (such as are imposed today by the size of your wage packet or salary cheque) on the amount of goods and services which any individual consumes, enjoys, or uses. No exchange ,buying and selling prices, or profits. Instead a system of free access.

  But, we are often asked, can enough food ,clothing, shelter, etc. be produced to make such a system possible? The answer is undoubtedly YES. Human knowledge of production techniques has increased fantastically over the last hundred years. We are now in a situation of potential abundance.

  However this potential can only be realised when the world's resources are used rationally to benefit the World Community. The great problem at present is that the means of producing wealth are owned and controlled by a small minority and operated for their benefit. This results in an artificial scarcity being maintained by a massive waste and misuse of resources.

For example-

  Deliberate underproduction to keep up prices — it is general practise for farmers in North America and Europe to be paid by the government for not producing food.

  Completed products lie unused or are even destroyed — in London and other cities huge offices blocks often stand empty for years while thousands are homeless. Perfectly edible food is destroyed when it cannot be sold profitably.

  Cars, radios, televisions and many other goods have planned obscolescence built into them — in other words they are designed to fall apart relatively quickly so the consumer has to buy another one.

  Millions of people toil away doing jobs that are totally unproductive and are only needed in a private property system, e.g. bank clerks, shop assistants, bus conductors, soldiers, police, lawyers, etc., and throughout the world, millions more are unemployed.

  Automative techniques that could greatly increase output (and also eliminate, many boring jobs) are often not adopted due to it being more profitable to use labour,

  If all this waste were eliminated and the whole social effort of production was directly geared to meeting human needs there would certainly be enough for all.

  However some people object that if goods and services were free people would be greedy and take far more than they needed. "What would happen if everybody in the world wanted 500 packets of cornflakes each?" Socialists are sometimes asked. But greed is not innate. It only occurs because there is a condition of scarcity and a desire to acquire goods is encouraged by advertising etc.. When the normal situation is one of abundance people have no reason to take more than they need. For example even in today's society people do not grab and hoard a much water as they can.

  Another objection sometimes made to the case for free access is that if people could just take what they needed nobody would work. However work in Socialism should not be equated with the drudgery and degradation of employment under capitalism. With boring and unpleasant jobs automated and people having control over what is produced and how,work could be an enjoyable and creative experience. Moreover such a society could only exist when the mass of the population were in favour of it, and people would, hardly be likely to act in a way that might destroy a system which they actively supported.

  This brings us to our last point. It is obvious that we are advocating a society so different from today's that it would be impossible to establish it merely by electing a new government,or by passing reforms within the present structure. The only way is for the majority of the world's working class to organise democratically and independently to capture political power,and effect a revolutionary change by transforming the means of production into the common property of the world's people.



THERE’LL ALWAYS BE AN ENGLAND! (Version One)

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With Parliament shortly about to vote on renewing Trident
at a cost of £Billions, the Government refuses to confirm
whether a test missile in 2016 went drastically off course.

We must defend this sceptred isle,
From Forth to German Bight,
But not if Trident goes off course,
And hits the Isle of Wight; (1)
A missile on the Cowes Yacht Club,
Would more than cause a fright!

For we’ve got plenty to defend,
Our infrastructure’s grand,
With rutted roads and traffic jams,
Throughout this pleasant land;
It’s as if our society,
Was built on shifting sand.

Admittedly, our railways are,
In somewhat of a state,
Think, ‘the wrong snow, ‘leaves on the line’,
And ‘trains are running late’;
And annual rising fares that seem,
To be the travellers fate.

There’s litter everywhere you look,
An air of general slease,
In hospitals and parking bays,
Excessive parking fees;
The whole of our society’s
In a state of unease.

There’s sink estates both north and south,
Where hooligans run free,
In souped-up cars each Friday night,
In anti-social glee;
A product of the system and
Their warped psychology.

Yes folks, that’s our society,
Defend it if you must,
Perhaps a missile will, someday,
Blow all of it to dust;
And there’ll be some, to be quite blunt,
Who wouldn’t be that fussed!

(1) A Trident missile fired by the Navy flew off course.
 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Forthcoming talks at Head Office and Forum in Wakefield

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Sunday, 19 February at 3pm - 'Debunking the end of history'
Sunday, 19 March at 3pm - 'The Fall of Tsarism'


Saturday, 1 April at 1pm - 'British Socialism and WW1'

Summer School 2017

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Summer School 2017 



21st – 23rd July
Fircroft College, Birmingham



These days, concerns about the environment tend to get pushed into the background by issues like Brexit, Trump’s presidency and ongoing austerity measures. But climate change, pollution and extinctions don’t go away just because the headlines are filled with other events. 2016 was the warmest year on record, with implications for sea levels and habitats; more and more waste is produced for future generations to deal with, and many hundreds of species continue to become extinct every year.
 
Legislation places some restrictions on the use of dangerous materials, hunting and waste disposal, for example. However, legislators can only work within a system which is structured to safeguard the interests of the wealthy elite, rather than everyone. And of course laws don’t always prevent environmentally-damaging methods from being used if they save or make money. Capitalism turns the natural world into a resource to be exploited for a profit.
 
The Socialist Party argues that the environment can only be managed responsibly if society as a whole is managed co-operatively and in everyone’s interests. If our industries and services were owned and run in common, then we would be able to produce what we need and want in the most reasonable, sustainable way.
 
Our weekend of talks and discussions looks at the current state of the environment, and its prospects for the future we make for it.
 
Full residential cost (including accommodation and meals Friday evening to Sunday afternoon) is £100. The concessionary rate is £50. Day visitors are welcome, but please book in advance.


to Summer School, Sutton Farm, Aldborough,
Boroughbridge, York, YO51 9ER,
 or book online at spgb.net/summerschool2017.
 E-mail enquiries to spgbschool@yahoo.co.uk

Stoke by-election

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Another UKIP by-election challenge

So, UKIP is standing their new leader, Paul Something, to contest the Stoke Central by-election next month, to give voters there an opportunity to kick both the government and its lame opposition.


 And, why not? We all know that the Tories and Labour are no use to us: they have a reverse Midas touch that turns everything to muck. What could be finer than to give them a kick up the pants to get them to smarten up their act?


 Except, of course, that this is an invitation to give ourselves a good kicking.

 That's what government is there to do, to kick on behalf of the people who own the world. A shoe on the UKIP foot would kick us as hard as one on Labour's or the Tories'.


 You can protest vote all you want, but if your call is for a different government, all you'll ever get is kicked. Real power comes from wealth. So long as the tiny minority own the wealth, they have the power.


 So, to have democracy, we have to organise ourselves to take hold of that wealth, together. But, since the wealth is controlled worldwide, we need to organise worldwide, without borders, in order to secure the control of the world's wealth for us all. Without that, we can have no democracy or power.


 We can make a start by letting other people know that we want this sort of revolution. In the by-election voters can do this by making a write-in vote: put 'World Socialism!' across their ballot paper.


 You don't have to vote for any wanna be leader. The more people who stand up for Socialism, the more able we'll be to link up, and force the change we need. Instead of scrapping to protect a tiny patch of the world, we'll have the whole to share.



Sunday, January 29, 2017

What is Patriotism? An Analysis

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  A meeting of the leaders of far right parties this weekend proclaimed “the return of nation-states” and “patriotism as the policy of the future” (BBC -Link)  In reply we republish the classic socialist analysis of patriotism that appeared in the December 1915 Socialist Standard that “The only universal bond of nationality or patriotism that exists for us to-day is, then, that of subjection to a single government. Patriotism in the worker is pride in the common yoke imposed by a politically unified ruling class.”

The Johnsonian Definition and Others

 The answer depends largely upon the point of view. From one standpoint patriotism appears as the actual religion of the modern State. From another it is the decadence and perversion of a noble and deep-rooted impulse of loyalty to the social unit, acquired by mankind during the earliest stages of social life. From yet another viewpoint, that of capitalist interests, patriotism is nothing more or less than a convenient and potent instrument of domination.

 The word itself, both etymologically and historically, has its root in paternity. In tribal days the feeling of social solidarity, which has now become debased into patriotism, was completely bound up with the religion of ancestor worship. In tribal religion, as in the tribe itself, all were united by ties of blood. The gods and their rights and ceremonies were exclusive to the tribesmen. All strangers were rigidly debarred from worship. The gods themselves were usually dead warriors. Every war was a holy war. Among the ancient Israelites, for instance, the holy Ark of Jehovah of Hosts accompanied the tribes to battle. It was this abode or movable tomb of the ancestral deity that went with the Jews in their march through the desert, and even to Jericho, playing an important part in the fall of that remarkable city. All the traditions of the Jewish religion, in fact, were identified with great national triumphs.

The Merits of the Early Brand

  Thus tribal religion was completely interwoven with tribal aspirations and integrity. Tribal “patriotism" and religion were identical. Indeed, without the strongest possible social bond, without a kind of “patriotism" that implied the unhesitating self-sacrifice of the individual for the communal existence, it would have been utterly impossible for tribal man to have won through to civilisation. Natural selection insured that only those social groups which developed this supreme instinct of mutual aid could survive; the rest were crushed out in the struggle for existence. Is it a matter for wonder if it be found that such a magnificent social impulse, so vital to the struggling groups of tribal man, received periodical consecration in the willing human sacrifices so common in primitive religious ceremonial ? Bound up with the deliberate manufacture of gods for the protection of the tribe and its works, there is indicated a social recognition of the need for, and value of, the sacrifice of the individual for the common weal.

 This noble impulse of social solidarity is the common inheritance of all mankind. But being a powerful social force it has lent itself to exploitation. Therefore, with the development of class rule this great impulse is made subordinate to the class interests of the rulers. It becomes debased and perverted to definite anti-social ends. As soon as the people become a slave class “the land of their fathers” is theirs no more. Patriotism to them becomes a fraudulent thing. The “country” is that of their masters alone. Nevertheless, the instinct of loyalty to the community is too deep-seated to be eradicated so easily, and it becomes a deadly weapon in the hands of the rulers against the people themselves.

 With the decay of society based on kinship, religion changed also, and from being tribal and exclusive it became universal and propagandist. “Patriotism” at the same time began to distinguish itself from religion. The instinctive tribal loyalty became transformed, by the aid of religion and the fiction of kinship, into political loyalty. In a number of instances in political society, as in Tudor England, the struggle for priority between religion and patriotism became so acute as to help in the introduction of a more subservient form of religion. Thus patriotism became emancipated from religion, and the latter became a mere accessory to patriotism as handmaiden of class rule.

A Most Accommodating Conception

 Though universal religion did not split up at the same time as the great empire that gave it birth, patriotism did so. The latter has, in fact, always adapted, enlarged, or contracted itself to fit the existing political unit, whether feudal estate, village, township, county, kingdom, republic or empire. No political form has been too absurd for it to fill with its loyalty. No discordance of race, colour or language has been universally effective against it.

 What, then, is patriotism in essence to-day? It is usually defined as being devotion to the land of our fathers. But which is the land of our fathers? Our fathers came from many different parts of the world. The political division of the world in which we live is an artificial entity. The land has been wrested from other races. The nation they call “ours” is the result of a conquest over original inhabitants, and over ourselves, by successive ruling classes. Unlike the free tribesmen we are hirelings; we possess no country.

 Nationality, of which patriotism is the superstition, covers no real entity other than that of a common oppression, a unified government. It does not comprise any unity of race, for in no nation is there one pure race, or anything like it. It does not cover a unity of language, for scarcely a nation exists in which several distinct languages are not indigenous. Nor is it any fixity of territory, for this changes from decade to decade, while the inhabitants of the transferred territory have to transfer their allegiance, their patriotism, to the new nation.

The Product of the Analysis

 The only universal bond of nationality or patriotism that exists for us to-day is, then, that of subjection to a single government. Patriotism in the worker is pride in the common yoke imposed by a politically unified ruling class. Yet it is this artificial entity that we are called upon to honour before life itself. This badge of political servitude is called an object worthy of supreme sacrifice. The workers are expected to abandon all vital interests and sacrifice all they hold dear for the preservation of an artificial nationality that is little more than a manufactured unit of discord: a mere focus of economic and political strife.

Ignoble Exploitation

 Thus one of the noblest fruits of man’s social evolution—the impulse of sacrifice for the social existence—is being prostituted by the capitalist class to maintain a system of exploitation, to obtain a commercial supremacy, and preserve or extend the boundaries of a superfluous political entity. The workers are duped by the ruling class into sacrificing themselves for the preservation of a politico-economic yoke of a particular form and colour. Many so-called Socialists have fallen headlong into this trap.

 Had social solidarity developed in equal measure with the broadening of men’s real interests, it would now be universal in character instead of national. The wholesale mixture of races, and the economic interdependence of the whole world, show that nationalism is now a barrier, and patriotism, as we know it, a curse. Only the whole world can now be rightly called the land of our fathers. Only in the service of the people of the whole world, and not against those of any part of it, can the instinct of social service find its highest and complete expression. The great Socialist has pointed the way. He did not call upon the workers of Germany alone to unite. He appealed to the toilers of the whole world to join hands; to a whole world of labour whose only loss could be its parti-coloured chains. And in this alone lies the consummation of that tribal instinct of social solidarity of which patriotism is the perverted descendant.

Something Better than Patriotism

 Capitalism, therefore, stands as the barrier the destruction of which will not only set free the productive forces of society for the good of all, but will also liberate human solidarity and brotherhood from the narrow confines of nationality and patriotism. Only victorious labour can make true the simple but pregnant statement: “Mankind are my brethren, the world is my country.” Patriotism and nationalism as we know them will then be remembered only as artificial restrictions of men’s sympathy and mutual help; as obstacles to the expansion of the human mind; as impediments to the needful and helpful development of human unity and co-operation; as bonds that bound men to slavery; as incentives that set brothers at each other's throats.

 Despite its shameless perversion by a robber class the great impulse to human solidarity is by no means dead. Economic factors give it an ever firmer basis, and in the Socialist movement it develops apace. Even the hellish system of individualism, with its doctrine of every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost, has been unable to kill it. And in the great class struggle of the workers against the drones, of the socially useful against the socially pernicious, in this last great struggle for the liberation of humanity from; wage-slavery, the great principle of human solidarity, based upon the necessities of to-day and impelled by the deep-seated instincts of the race, will come to full fruition and win its supreme historical battle.

A Vile Use of a Noble Sentiment

 That is our hope and aspiration. For the present, however, we are surrounded by the horrors of war added to the horrors of exploitation, and subjected to the operation of open repression as well as to the arts of hypocrisy and fraud. With the weakening power of religion to keep the workers obedient, the false cult of nationality and patriotism is being exploited to the full. Like religion, patriotism has its vestments, its ceremonies, its sacred emblems, its sacred hymns and inspired music; all of which are called in aid of the class interests of our masters, and utilised desperately to lure millions to the shambles for their benefit. Thus is an heroic and glorious social impulse perverted and debased to the support of a régime of wage-slavery, and to the furtherance of the damnable policy of the slave-holding class: to divide and rule.

F. C. Watts

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Joe Hill

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The Dream of Joe Hill lives on

It is right that the life of Joe Hill should be remembered still, for he was a worker who sang with militant passion in favour of the interests of his class and was framed by the American state on a murder charge for doing so.

I.W.W. AND A.F.L.

 Joe Hill was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (the IWW or Wobblies) which was set up in the USA in 1905 in opposition to the traditional capitalist trade unions within the American Federation of Labor (AFL). The AFL accepted the necessity of the capitalist system and collaborated with the bosses to make the system stable, much as the hacks who run the British TUC do today. The Wobblies were not out to win a 'fair deal' from capitalism (that's like turkeys trying to win a fair deal from Christmas), but to abolish the system which thrives upon the poverty of the wealth producers.


Wages and Profit

  Abolishing capitalism, as far as the Wobblies were concerned then, and The Socialist Party is concerned today, involves nothing less than abolishing the wages system. No longer should men and women be the wage (or salary) slaves of a small minority who monopolise the major resources of the earth. To sell our mental and physical energies to employers for a wage is a symbol of our servitude. Only when we are all free to work voluntarily according to our abilities and take from the common store of goods and services according to our self-defined needs shall we be really free. Profits come from the workers being robbed of the wealth they produce; it is time to put an end to the profit system.

 That was the message of Joe Hill, and even though The Socialist Party would have differences with the Wobblies (which our party raised at the time) we too advocate the abolition of the wages system.


Abolishing Wages

 Abolishing wage slavery? When did you hear even the most radical figure in the Labour Party advocate that? They do not because they are a party of capitalist reform, out to tinker with the sick effects of the system, not to abolish it. The basic position of The Socialist Party is that we are out to achieve socialism and nothing less. The dream of Joe Hill - and countless other forgotten workers who dared to reject the inevitability of this crazy social system - must not be forgotten or relegated to a romantic memory. Their struggle is our struggle: their dream of a different kind of world is for us to take up and convert into social reality.


Friday, January 27, 2017

What about human nature?

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  Assuming that socialism has been established, with men and women having free access to whatever they require, our opponents have envisaged a continuous mad rush to the distribution centres. "Everyone will become a glutton, universal greed will be the order of the day. "

 Sorry, but we could not disagree more. Remember, socialism can only be established when the vast majority are socialists. This presupposes a socially and politically mature population, who will understand the meaning and implications of socialism They will have been students of capitalism, prepared for the social obligations of socialism.

 And so we come to the absurd, hypothetical situation where we are told that people will react and behave like lunatics. For example, can you tell us why you would want to go to a distribution centre and take home a hundred suits, when you know that society can produce as many suits as it wants or needs at any time? All you would have to do when you are in the mood for a suit would be to go and take one, or two, or three, or more. But to indulge in hoarding within socialism is to conceive of a reaction and a conduct that takes place under capitalism.

 Capitalism is the system that instils fear and insecurity into people making them behave in such a fashion. Change the material conditions of the environment and the behaviour pattern of people will change also.

 All physically normal people have intelligence. This intelligence, harnessed to socialist knowledge, will assure society that the vast majority will act with social consciousness and comprehension, and control if necessary, when the material conditions of society have been changed from capitalism to socialism.

 We are further chided, "But who will want to work under socialism?" Again, socialism requires socialists and socialists will be only too anxious to give to society according to their individual ability. It would not bother us one iota if certain individuals wanted to stay in bed all day under socialism. We would be unconcerned because of the realization that the vast majority will not, and cannot, act in such a fashion. It is the nature of the human to be active and productive. Anyone wanting to stay in bed all day within a socialist society, or who will not share in the work, will be in a very distinct minority, probably in need of medical attention.

 It is the conditions of work under this system that people despise. The fact that you are working for a boss, barely making ends meet; the fact that you can be fired or out of work at short notice: the fact that jobs can be monotonous and injurious to health. But. change the conditions, as they will be in socialism, and people will react to work in a completely different way.

 History will show that manners, laws, customs, religion, and morality have been in a constant state of revision and development As the material conditions , have altered so has man's reactions. Human behaviour is affected by the prevailing social circumstances.

 Capitalism creates wars and people become warlike and will fight and kill. The competition in the market place between capitalists seeking an outlet for their commodities, and workers competing with each other for jobs and-job seniority, breeds characteristics that are the antithesis of social desirability. But, revolutionize the basis of society to cooperation, mutual aid and – people's behaviour will undergo a fundamental change accordingly

 We find nothing at fault with human nature, only in the ideas that people at present hold in relationship to the world in which they live. Our accusing finger is directed at capitalism. There is nothing in human nature that will create a barrier either for the establishment of socialism or for its operation.

 If men and women are prepared under capitalism to make the supreme sacrifice, mistakenly of course, of giving their lives, limbs, and children in the wars. cause they believe, erroneously, that they are fighting for ideals such as freedom and democracy, whereas in reality they are fighting for the property issues, markets. trade routes and spheres of influence of their respective ruling class: then we say men and women who will ultimately acquire socialist knowledge will have the human qualities to do whatever is necessary to make socialism work.



Thursday, January 26, 2017

'Paul Mason and Postcapitalism' (manchester public meeting)

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'Paul Mason and Postcapitalism'


Saturday, 28 January  - 2:00pm

Venue: The Unicorn Pub, 
26 Church Street, 
Manchester M4 1PW
This talk will examine Paul Mason's book 'Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future'. 
Mason discusses some of the changes that are taking place under capitalism: the massive growth in IT, co-operative production, the possibility of free and abundant goods. 

Is the emerging information economy compatible with a market economy? What will be the impact of the automation of semi-skilled jobs? Mason proposes Project Zero: a gradual transition to a post-capitalist society, where more and more will be produced for free, but there will still be money, banks and markets. Is this really a viable alternative, and is it preferable to a money-free and class-free world based on free access?
 
Everyone welcome - bring a friend.

Advocate socialism

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Capitalism is obsolete

 We advocate Socialism, a system of society without wages, money, prices, or profits. In brief, a non-capitalist society. The means of production will be owned in common by society as a whole and democratically administered. The goods produced will be available to everyone. The keynote of Socialism is summed up in the phrase "from each according to ability, to each according to need".

 Socialism is necessarily a universal conception. It is impossible for Socialism to exist in one country while the rest of the world remains based on capitalist competition and profit seeking. The establishment of Socialism throughout the world will mean the elimination of the capitalist struggles for markets and profits, and therefore will eliminate the chief cause of war.

 Socialism is an administration of things and not a government of people. It is concerned with production and distribution for use only. It is a society where the full and free development of the individual shall be the ruling principle provided the individual does not interfere destructively with the wishes of the majority. Order and harmony is to replace law and coercion. The act of establishing Socialism must be a revolutionary act ― the capture of political control for the purpose of transferring the ownership of the means of life from the present capitalist class to society as a whole. The workers must be fully conscious of what they are doing and the majority of the population must be in favour of the change to Socialism.

 The basic feature of capitalism is that on the one hand the means of production are owned by a minority of the population ― the capitalist class, while on the other hand the vast majority of the population ― the working class are wage or salaried workers who do not work for themselves but for the capitalist owners. Another important feature of capitalism is that production is carried on primarily for the purpose of making a profit.

 The source of this profit comes from the exploitation of the working class by the capitalists. Depressions, economic insecurity, inequality of incomes, unemployment, and the possibility of another catastrophic world war ― this is what capitalism has to offer the working class. It does not offer a solution in the quest for peace, security and abundance nor the free development of the individual.

 While not opposing the efforts of the workers to obtain more of what they can under capitalism, as a Socialist organization we do not advocate reforms or engage in the struggle for them. Understanding that the solution for the workers is not in trying to make capitalism work in their interest, we do not dissipate our energies in trying to reform capitalism, but concentrate on the task of preparing socialists to introduce Socialism and abolish capitalism.

 The relationships of wage, labour, capital, and market economy exists in every country in the world today. Capitalism is international. No government can lead the way to Socialism, it merely carries on capitalism in the interest of capitalism. Nationalization is state-controlled capitalism and state capitalism is not socialism. We contend that capitalism cannot be reformed in the interest of the whole of society, we contend also that it can be superseded by a better, higher social order. It is to this end ― that of changing the economic system we direct our efforts. Capitalism has long since served its historic mission of introducing a socially necessary technological age.


 Let us free this modern technology from the shackles of the profit motive and allow it to develop its energies for the sole use and benefit of humankind.







Wednesday, January 25, 2017

War

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Arguments for murder

 Exterminating human beings seems to be an unintelligent way of running a society, especially when it is considered that the main purpose humans live in society is to ensure their survival. One would think that any system of society that ceases to ensure survival would meet with the disapproval of its members. But there are a number of currently popular arguments that are intended to justify such legalised murder.

1. THE ECONOMIC ARGUMENT. War can be profitable for one or other of the sides.
Wars are not fought between the owners and non-owners of wealth, but between one set of owners and another. Every war in the history of capitalism has been fought, directly or indirectly, to secure markets and raw materials. Wars are squalid battles between capitalist countries over who owns what is in and on the Earth.

2. THE MORAL/RELIGIOUS ARGUMENT. The enemy in war is invariably immoral, valueless and ungodly and thus deserves to be killed.
One of the early members of the Socialist Party of Great Britain said that the sight of the priests blessing the guns in 1915 made him first consider becoming a socialist. In the last world war the messengers of God blessed the aeroplanes of both the British and the Nazis before they went off to carry out their respective holy missions of murder.
Most workers accept morality because they feel powerless to reject the guidance of their rulers. The church encourages this sense of impotence by telling us that not only is it sinful to kill, but it is unpatriotic and sinful not to kill when our masters so decide.

3. THE ANTROPOLOGICAL ARGUMENT. Humans like fighting because they are naturally aggressive.
Anthropologists who have asserted that homo sapiens is essentially aggressive have been opposed by many empirical observations. Where there is harmony of interests, non-aggressive, co-operative people are found. It is not human nature for humans to wish to kill one another, and if it is why do they have to wait for a legal decree before war can commence? The anti-social conception of humans is not indicative of inherent human characteristics, but of a system that forces people to act inhumanely and, in that sense, unnaturally. The myth about the Glory of War has been somewhat exposed by the accounts that have followed all wars are not about bravery and heroism, but about the indignity of plunder and the inhumanity of slaughter.

4. THE POLITICAL ARGUMENT. Murder is right when it is in defence of the Queen/President/State/State-to-be.
This is the least convincing argument to attempt to justify war. No doubt there is a considerable number of people in Britain who would be prepared to lay down their lives for the Queen. Perhaps it would be a solution if they were simply to lay down their lives and be given honorary peerages; this would at least prevent involving those of us who do not want to die on behalf of monarchs, nations or religion. Islamic fanatics, left-wing insurrectionists and nationalists are not only claiming the right to die for their cause, but are demanding that other workers die with them. A system of society that compels workers to fight for a country that they do not own is urgently in need of being removed. If there is a nuclear war – or even a serious conventional war – millions of workers would die in defence of countries that are not and cannot be theirs.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Burns Night

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On 25 January Scots people round the world celebrate Burns night, piping in the haggis along with the neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes), and all the rest of it, to celebrate Burns’ birthday. What do socialists think of Burns? Is it possible that Burns could be called a socialist?
  The answer must be ‘No’. In the eighteenth century the co-operative, friendly, work-together society that socialists strive for had not yet been crystallized into a political programme; the aggressive, snarling, stab-in-the-back society that capitalism tries to impose on us all was triumphant, or about-to-be-triumphant, everywhere in the world. And Burns was a Scots nationalist (‘Scots wha hae wi’ Wallace bled . . .). Yet there are many facets of Burns’ poetry, and of Burns’ philosophy, that must strike a chord with all socialists (and it is well worth making the effort, though sometimes it’s not easy, to understand Burns’ Ayrshire dialect of our common language.) For example, Burns was always (just like socialists) able to see the larger significance of what appeared to be small, unimportant events – to see the greater meaning lying behind something apparently trivial. There are two well-known examples.
 In church one day Burns sat near a well-to-do lady, dressed in her Sunday finery, seemingly pleased with her smart appearance. But then Burns saw a louse, openly crawling up her fashionable bonnet. Burns enjoys the joke, pretending to tell the louse to clear out, and get its dinner off some ragged beggar instead; but then the contrast between the lady in her posh clothes, and the “winks and finger-ends” which showed that other people had seen the louse, leads to a thought of deeper moment:
Oh wad some Power the giftie gie us, 
To see oursels as ithers see us, 
It wad frae mony a blunder free us, 
An' foolish notion; 
What airs in dress and gait wad lea’e us, 
And e’en devotion!’
  Then there was the time when Burns was out ploughing one December – he had a small farm – and suddenly realized that he had destroyed a mouse’s hide-out, which it had constructed with much labour to shelter itself from the winter weather (“ That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble, Has cost thee mony a weary nibble”). The poet apologizes for breaking ‘Nature’s social union’, and goes on:
But Mousie, thou are no thy lane, [you aren’t alone] 
 In proving foresight may be vain: The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley,
 [often go wrong]
An’lea’e us nought but grief and pain, For promis’d joy!’
  Then Burns added an extra verse. In some ways, he thought, it could be said the mouse was better off, being only concerned with the present; while the poet could see nothing to please him in either the past or the future. 
 ‘But Och! I backward cast my e’e, 
On prospects drear! 
An’ forwa rd, tho I canna see,
 I guess and fear!’
  Burns had little time for the social set-up of his day. In The Twa Dogs, Burns describes a landlord:
Our laird gets in his racked rents, 
His coals, his kane, and all his stents, [kane - fowls paid as rent, stents – dues] 
He rises when he likes himsel’,
 His flunkies answer at his bell;’
He travels in a horse-drawn coach, and his silk purse is full of gold pieces. As for the landlord’s factor or land-agent, when the rent is due he tyrannizes over the impecunious small tenants:
Poor tenant bodies, scant o’ cash, 
How they maun thole a factor’s snash: [must endure his abuse]
 He’ll stamp an’ threaten, curse and swear, 
He’ll apprehend them, take their gear; [he’ll collar them, take their possessions] 
 While they maun stan’, wi’ aspect humble,
 An’ hear it a’, an’ fear and tremble!’
Then in The Cotter’s Saturday Night Burns praises ‘an honest man’, while dismissing his supposed social superiors – ‘Princes and lords are but the breath of kings’:
What is a lordling’s pomp!  A cumbrous load, 
Disguising oft the wretch of human kind, S
tudied in arts of hell, in wickedness refin’d!’
Perhaps Burns’ philosophy is most clearly expressed in A man’s a man for a’ that.
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp, The Man’s the gowd [gold] for a’ that.’
As for the upper class:
Ye see yon birkie [bighead], ca’d [called] a lord, 
Wha struts, and stares, and a’ that; 
 Tho’ hundreds worship at his word, He’s but a coof [fool] for a’ that:
 For a’ that, and a’ that, His ribband, star [decorations], and a’ that, 
The man of independent mind, He looks and laughs at a’ that’.
Then Burns sums it up:
Then let us pray [earnestly desire] that come it may, (As come it will for a’ that,)
 That Sense and Worth, o’er all the earth, Shall bear the gree, [be victorious], an’ a’ that.
 For a’ that, an’ a’ that, It’s coming yet for a’ that, 
 That Man to Man, the world o’er, Shall brothers be for a’ that. ‘
If you take “Man” to be all humans, or if you add “Woman to Woman shall sisters be”, it’s a sentiment socialists share.
ALWYN EDGAR








 














A HARD BREXIT’S A-GONNA FALL!

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(apologies to Bob Dylan)

When Britain leaves the EU club, we’ll gain the upper hand,
As they’ll all rush to trade with us, so won’t life be just grand!
Their orchestra cannot compete, with our small one-man band,                 
And with no European Court, we’ve got some rum deals planned!
 
The Krauts will do most anything, to try and make amends,                  
And emphasise our Saxon links, so we remain their friends;
All their exporters will want to, expand their dividends,
And thus are desperate to flog, us more Mercedes-Benz.

The Frogs and their wine industry, could face oblivion, 
If Britain’s boozers all eschew, their glass of Sauvignon.
They’ll even eat our food to keep, relationships, “Très bon”!
And it’ll be the opposite, of a de Gaulle-like “Non”! (1)

And as for poor old Italy, Ferrari will go broke,        
As we’ve got the Fiesta for, all those that want some poke.
So our car firms (like British Leyland) won’t collapse and choke,
We’ll flog Reliant Robins using mirrors, fumes and smoke!

We’ll call the shots on Brexit terms, so they’re, “Red, white and blue”,
And kid all those daft Brexiteers, who haven’t got a clue;
That better days are on their way (if only it were true!)
Whereas for their stupidity, they’re gonna get what’s due.

And if all fails we have at least, a second valid choice, 
And that’s the bribery techniques, perfected by Rolls-Royce; (2)
It’s cost them millions in fines, but still we can rejoice,  
As Del Boy can sell jets and cars, with one trustworthy voice!

We’ll cherry-pick the best deals so, that Britain’s got it made,
And ‘have our cake and eat it’ as, ‘leaked’ by a Tory aide; (3) 
The EU states outnumber us but they’ll kill for our trade,
According to Farage and all, the Brexiteer Brigade.

Yes Britain holds all the ‘Trump cards’, if you’ll forgive the pun,
We’ll put our trust in Donald if, you think old England’s done;
And wave the Union Jack until, the battle has been won,
But ‘til then have to stomach all, the bullshit being spun!        

(1) Gen. de Gaulle blocked Britain’s attempts to join the EEC.

(2) Rolls-Royce have been fined £671m on bribery charges.
They blamed agents but lobbied Blair to weaken bribery curbs.

(3) The Press photographed written notes carried by a Tory aide.

© Richard Layton  

Red Rabbie - The People’s Poet

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The Wakefield Socialist History Group 

Robert Burns and other radical poets

Saturday January 28 
1.00pm

The Red Shed.
18 Vicarage Street South

Wakefield WF1

"It's coming yet, for a' that, that man to man the world o'er, shall brithers be for a' that."

Unlike Byron and Shelley, Burns had only the most basic education and his early life was one of poverty and toil, having been born into a family of poor tenant farmers.

“Here’s freedom to him that wad read,
Here’s freedom to him that wad write!
There’s nane ever feared that the Truth should be heard,
But they who the Truth wad indite.”

Burns lived through the momentous events of the French revolution that had an influence across all of Europe. Burns greeted the French Revolution with enthusiasm.

Burns was an active member of the Dumfries branch of The Friends of the People. Formed in 1792, this was the first organisation in Scottish history to openly call for universal suffrage for all men, rich or poor It was led by the radical lawyer Thomas Muir who was convicted of sedition and sentenced to transportation to Australia. Burns remained a staunch republican till his death.

“you can’t know Burns unless you can hate the Lockharts and all the estimable bourgeois and upper classes as he really did” DH Lawrence

For some Rabbie Burns was Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Che Guevara all rolled into one. He travelled around Scotland and is known to have fathered 12 children and is estimated to have over six hundred living descendants. Burns the rock star in his day, yet like so many of those he died as poor as he was brought up and hounded by creditors.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Two worlds

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There is the world we live in and the world we could live in as soon as we decide to make the change..
THE WORLD WE LIVE IN. For most of those 'fortunate' enough to have a job, life is, at best, a pale, hire-purchased imitation of what is taken for granted all the time by the small group of people who own enough wealth to enable them to live by profit, rent or interest. In the wider world outside, the capitalist world of which we are an integral part, our problems are duplicated and magnified a thousand-fold. Multi millions of people are unemployed, homeless, or slum-ridden. Human rights are a sick joke in most areas of the world. Strikes, on the one hand, by workers fighting to defend their mean living standards and, on the other hand, by capitalists withholding their capital when faced with falling profits, abound. Crime, social alienation, waste, wars and preparation for wars. Almost every single second a human being dies from hunger. Every single day there is, at least, one war being fought somewhere.... The list of horrors is endless and these obscenities exist throughout the allegedly civilised world – under governments that claim to be 'socialist' or 'communist' as well as under governments openly espousing capitalism.
THE WORLD WE COULD LIVE IN. The alternative to the present form of social organisation, and the evils it generates, is world socialism. We accept that the term 'socialism' has been defiled by politicians and political parties who have applied it to their schemes and hopes for reforming capitalism these schemes have failed utterly and their failure has not only meant the continuation of capitalism and its inevitable miseries – sometimes made worse by authoritarian government; it has, also, provided the capitalist class and its political apologists and pensioned press with a weapon to contuse the great majority of workers and convince them that Socialism has been tried and has been seen to fail.
THE WORLD SOCIALIST MOVEMENT STANDS SOLELY FOR SOCIALISM: we do not contend with other political parties for the opportunity to form governments pledged to 'reform' capitalism. On the contrary, our purpose is the total abolition of capitalism and we affirm that, whatever the political complexion of a party running capitalism may be, whatever the amount of wisdom or sincerity to be found in its membership or leaders, capitalism will still give rise to poverty, insecurity, war and all the other evils which afflict our world today.
WHAT, THEN, DO WE MEAN BY WORLD SOCIALISM? We mean a world-wide system of common ownership and democratic control of the means of wealth production and distribution. We mean a world wherein wealth will be produced solely to satisfy human needs, a world where every human being will have free and equal access to the things they need. A world where ownership of humanity's means of existence will be banished along with class, money, wages, and all the other wasteful and useless trappings of capitalism.