How disappointing that Reich's answer is simply redistribution of wealth through taxation, rather than a fundamental change to how wealth is accrued.
Thursday, March 31, 2022
This month's issue of the Socialist Standard drew attention to the dire conditions being faced by Sri Lankan fellow workers suffering under an economic melt-down. It has seemingly grown worse.
Every day motorists line up at fuel pumps at the break of dawn and wait hours until they open. The military has posted soldiers at hundreds of gas stations on March 22 after complaints of stockpiling and inefficient distribution, and farmers and fishermen have joined a growing wave of protests. While Sri Lanka was in economic trouble even before COVID-19 with struggles to pay foreign debt and slow growth, the series of lockdowns dealt a major blow to the informal sector, which accounts for nearly 60% of the country's workforce. Job losses and reduced earnings increased poverty in the country of 22 million.
The share of the poor based on a daily income of $3.20 was estimated to have grown to 11.7% in 2020 - or by more than half a million people - from 9.2% a year before, according to the World Bank.
Central bank data shows that the government had identified 5 million families with "fragile financial status of low-income households" and provided them a 5,000 rupee allowance during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
The farmworkers who feed us are on the frontlines of climate change, poverty, and the broken immigration system. They shouldn’t be treated as sacrificial or replaceable—especially when they’re nothing short of essential.
There are between 2.5 and 3 million agricultural workers in the United States. Migrant farmworkers account for an estimated 75 percent of these, and 50 percent of migrant farmworkers are undocumented. Many live in this country at risk of deportation, in substandard housing conditions, and in extreme poverty.
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Wherever it operates, capitalism cannot remain static. Competition between capitalist groups accelerates the need for each group to produce huge masses of commodities that can be profitably sold at competitive prices. Having secured these commodities there come the capitalists of each country the need to sell them. Competition for markets, fields of exploitation, and trade routes are rife and the rival competitors find that friction between themselves becomes ever more serious.
It is in this framework of exploitation and competition that Russia, with its growing industrial and agricultural capacity, finds itself thrown into conflict with America—the country most likely to endanger its future capitalist development.
America’s vast resources and advancement in war weapons, however, are sufficient, should war break out, to tax or even overcome the strength of Russia—if it were alone. The motive behind Russia’s attempted annexation of Ukraine now begins to show itself. It is gathering strength for a possible war not only against America but any other rival power such as the European Union.
To take sides in the conflict between opposing spheres of capitalist interests is to give credibility to the system which generates the very conditions that create conflicts.
As socialism changes the basis of society, so it will bring in changed social relationships which will immediately be expressed and recognised in human harmony. Social ownership of the means of living entails a class-free society, a world of united people whose entire interests are entirely as one. So socialism will replace antagonism with cooperation; it will substitute abundance for scarcity and human welfare for minority dominance.
The Socialist Party fights to end wars, not in order to go back to the old world of so-called ‘peace’, of economic recessions recurring military crises, of armament manufacturing, but in order that working people prevail against the war-makers, against the criminal ruling classes responsible for war.
We fight so there shall be no more war profiteers, no more spending of hundreds and thousands of millions on the weapons of destruction, while the sick and the aged are short of benefits for their barest needs of existence.
We fight for a world in which the skill of the workers and the wonders of the modern industry shall be used to provide in abundance all the needs of the people and fill every home with plenty; in which the people will own the wealth they produce, and all will have work and all will have leisure; in which want and poverty will become as forgotten memory as war.
We fight for a world in which peoples will live at peace, because the power of the Stock Exchange speculators, of the arms magnates and the fomenters of war, will have been broken and ended; in which oppression and domination will have been abolished and in its place the union of free peoples of world-building; in which everyone will be free and equal and will partake in the common advance of humanity.
The whole thing about nationalism is some accident of language, accent or local behaviour. The whole horror of nationalism is its resolve to maim and kill any other if such a person doesn't share its particular language, accent or local behaviour. Thus, politicians, generals and other functionaries of capitalism exploit fears to make themselves great.
We are without nationalism, religion or racialism. We are socialists. We are in the process of becoming truly human. That is the appeal of socialism. Every human being on the planet enjoys community. We all love to sing together. We all love to dance together. We are human.
We fight for a free socialist world. Join the Socialist Party and help win this new world, uniting fellow-workers in the struggle against fratricidal wars.
Amnesty International warned that the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched a "witch hunt" against critics of Moscow's deadly assault on Ukraine, hitting anti-war protesters with criminal charges over peaceful demonstrations and prosecuting activists for condemning the invasion on social media.
"The persecution of those opposed to Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine goes far beyond previous efforts to stifle protesters and activists," Marie Struthers, Amnesty's director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said in a statement. "Those caught criticizing the war face an absurd number of arbitrary charges merely for speaking out. They are not only charged with 'discrediting' the armed forces, but also with slander, fraud, or accusations of 'terrorism.'"
Thousands of anti-war demonstrators have been arrested inside Russia since Putin launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, and rights groups have accused Moscow of brutalizing detained protesters in an effort to squash dissent. Amnesty noted Wednesday that a number of anti-war critics have been investigated and charged under a recently enacted law prohibiting the spread of "fake" information about Russia's military. Violations of the new law are punishable by fines or—if the "fake" information leads to "serious consequences"—up to 15 years in prison. Russia's parliament later expanded the law to criminalize the dissemination of "false" information about all Russian state bodies operating abroad.
"The ongoing criminalization of 'fake news' is as arbitrary and unlawful as the Kremlin's efforts to crush all forms of anti-war sentiment," said Struthers. "And by embarking on this unrelenting witch hunt, the Russian authorities show they are capable of bringing charges against absolutely anyone."
The two-day national level strike by workers given by 10 central trade unions and other supporting organizations in India drew a strong response by over 200 million (20 crore) workers on March 28 and 29, according to organizers. These workers included those from ports and mines, railways and transport, banking and insurance, refineries and telecom, public as well as private sector (including multinational companies). There was a significant presence of women in the strike, particularly those employed in various development schemes, often at very low wages.
The strike was in addition supported by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella organization of 40 farmers’ organizations that had spearheaded a massive and successful farmers’ protest movement last year.
This strike came at a time of increasing reports of the twin burdens of unemployment and inflation. Rates of urban unemployment have been at high levels, while the price of essential goods has been increasing. In the process, most worker households have faced increasing difficulties in making basic needs. Reports of workers being made to work for longer hours in more difficult conditions have appeared increasingly, resulting in several industrial and construction site accidents.
There are increasing apprehensions of workers losing jobs and rights in the course of policies of relentlessly increasing privatization under different names and schemes. Instead of striving to rapidly increase social security cover for unorganized sector workers who are largely deprived of this, the policies of the government are widely seen to be creating more uncertain and difficult conditions for workers.
Fashioning the Future
Finely woven fabric of the nation
Was cloth of gold once, fit for a flag,
Now flagging, becoming threadbare, a rag
Running Into holes, an old creation
Increasingly shoddy and worn too thin
To help keep the poor from exposure. A darn
Here, a patch there, yet too few seem to learn
The whole weave is rotten. Time to begin
A new yarn that everyone can fashion
Into what then best suits their needs, with no
More make do and mend. Now’s the time to sew
Social material together with passion.
Emperors, however, seeking to impress,
Are all naked, no matter how they dress.
conducted by Oil Change International, Greenpeace USA, and Global Witness estimates that U.S. oil and gas corporations are poised to rake in windfall profits of up to $126 billion this year as they exploit Russia's deadly assault on Ukraine to raise prices at the pump.
"Under conservative estimates, we find the U.S. upstream oil and gas industry will collect a windfall of $37 to $126 billion in 2022 alone," the groups' report states. The higher-end profit estimate is dependent on oil prices spiking to $120 per barrel this summer and remaining elevated as the West moves to restrict Russian oil imports—a major opportunity for U.S. fossil fuel companies, particularly as the Biden administration looks to ramp up gas exports to Europe. If oil prices average $88 per barrel, the new analysis finds, the U.S. oil and gas industry would reap $37 billion in additional profits in 2022.
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
“The fraternisation of the workers of the world is for me the highest and most sacred thing on earth; it is my guiding star, my ideal, my fatherland. I would rather forfeit my life than be unfaithful to this ideal!” - Rosa Luxemburg
Capitalism is a dangerous society. We live in a harsh, brutal society. Every day we read on the media about poverty, hunger, war and crime. The Socialist Party is true to itself and the working class and makes its stand staunchly in favour of the class war, the only war that can put an end to all war, and quite as staunchly against every war waged by the ruling class to rob and kill and enslave the working class. Uncompromising socialist opposition against war, against those who caused it, who profit by it, who want to continue to support the war. The first step in the struggle against war is a clear understanding of the nature and causes of war.
Capitalists of every major nation are faced with the following situation: In order to sustain the system which sustains them, they must find continuous outlets for capital investment and re-investment; but the domestic market, provided by the capitalist mode of production within any single nation, is not, sufficient to re-convert into capital values the values of commodities turned out even by existing capital equipment, much less of new.
Consequently, the capitalists of each nation are forced to seek outlets for capital investment (and likewise consumer markets) beyond the national borders. Since the world is limited in extent, since the areas available for new forms of capital expansion and exploitation are growingly restricted, conflict is not only likely but inevitable. The battles of the capitalists have been fought out on a worldwide scale. Into the satellite states, economic blocs, spheres of influence, flow the surplus capital funds, expecting to be set to work at making profits. capitalist society is continuously at war, first trade wars, later proxy wars, then open hostilities. It is war all the time, changing only in the form it takes, in the degree of violence.
The new war crisis is no longer a matter of prophecy and prediction. It is already here, inaugurated by the launching of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We have entered the period of the armed conflict of the imperialist powers for a re-division of the world. This does not, of course, mean that open world war is scheduled to begin immediately. Delay, hesitation, manoeuvering are still, for the moment, possible. What it means is that the approach of the world war has now become the decisive and determining diplomatic factor in international and national developments.
The problem of war is the supreme test for the working class and the party of the working class. Once again it is the war crisis that strips bare the pretenders within the working class, the left-wing patriots. The construction of a new society which will wipe war and the threat of war from the face of the planet can be achieved only by the action of the international working class. A brief study of the nature and causes of modern war is sufficient to prove that war is an essential part of capitalism. The inner conflicts of capitalism lead and must lead to war. War is not the cause of the troubles of society. The opposite is true. War is a symptom and result of the irreconcilable troubles and conflicts of the present form of society, that is to say, of capitalism. The only way to fight against war is to fight against the causes of war.
Since the causes of war are part of the inner nature of capitalism, it follows that the only way to fight against war is to fight against capitalism. It follows that the only possible struggle against war is the struggle for the workers’ revolution, for a world socialist society. The capitalist nationalist system breeds wars, and we shall have to build a cooperative commonwealth in order to be secure in peace. On the question of war, every responsible person must be completely serious. No evasions, no half-truths can be accepted. The only answer to war is the full answer, with no sugar-coating. The great aim of the World Socialist Movement is the abolition of war. Modern warfare threatens not merely suffering and death to working people, but if it turns nuclear, the actual destruction of human civilisation, the thrusting of humankind back into barbarism. No one can doubt this to be literally true.
The camouflage that war carries – appearing as due to “national” or “cultural” differences, as follows – must not be allowed to hide the fundamental conflicts which are the true source of modern war. Though these other factors may provide the final push that sets open war going or may modify the character of a war, there is nothing in their own nature that must necessarily lead to war. They are the tools of the forces making for war, not the cause of these forces.
A dozen riot police officers from southern Russia’s Krasnodar region, who were fired for not complying with the order to invade Ukraine, are now set to fight a legal battle against their dismissal.
The Rosgvardia, or Russian national guard, officers from the Omon special unit had refused to follow the order from their squad leader to enter Ukraine on 25 February — a day after Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of the neighbouring country, calling it a “special military operation”.
Calling the orders “illegal”, the 12 fighters explained that none of them carried a foreign passport, which would allow them to enter another country. Besides, they added, their duties did not allow them to leave Russia’s frontiers as their responsibilities were within the bounds of Russia, reported The Insider.
The fighters added that they abstained from participating in the Russian invasion as they were not informed about the need to go on a business trip to Ukraine for a special military operation. They were not told about the goals or conditions of the military action ordered, the report added.
“None of them had a passport with them, nor any intention of leaving the territory of Russia as their official duties were limited to the territory of the Russian Federation,” human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov said, adding that the police officers were within their rights to not follow the orders to enter Ukraine.
Mikhail Benyash, the lawyer representing the officers, said that these men did not want to kill or be killed, reported The Telegraph.
“Also, the Omon has a different function. They don’t know how to shoot ground-to-air gun systems,” he added. “They don’t drive tanks. What can they do against a regular army with a baton and a shield?”
The unit from the Krasnodar region of southern Russia had been deployed on what they thought was an exercise in Crimea when they were ordered to cross the border into Ukraine on 25 February.
Soon after, the 12 officers were fired from their positions and sent back to Krasnodar, prompting them to take legal action to get their jobs back.
Human rights lawyer Mr Chikov said the illegal act of crossing the state border is marked as a crime under the Russian Criminal Code’s Article 322. Additionally, armed groups could be held for numerous violations of the Ukrainian Criminal Code if caught for illegal entry, he said.
Monday, March 28, 2022
Once again European cities are being bombed.
Once again displaced persons are on the move. This has never ceased to be the fate of people in Africa and Asia but one of the claims of Western capitalism was that it had at least established peace and prosperity in Europe.
Once again full-scale war has returned to Europe.
Once again the illusion that permanent peace and prosperity is possible under capitalism has been shattered.
Once again the socialist assertion that nationalism can never serve the interests of the working class is being attested to daily amidst the horrors of the war in Ukraine.
The simple fact is that worker is butchering worker – for the privilege of rearranging capitalist state borders. Needless to say, in this as in all wars it is the working class who suffer most. They do the fighting and the dying and it is their lives and homes that count for most of the “collateral damage” whether or not they swallow the nationalist filth of their leaders. This war is not the result of ancient hatreds or peculiar Slavic mentality, they are the result of capitalism and can therefore happen anywhere in the world, even here. Even by the barbaric standards of contemporary capitalism, the situation in Ukraine is dire.
We in the Socialist Party place on record our complete abhorrence with regard to the plight of our class brothers and sisters in Ukraine and have no equivocation in denouncing the murderous gangsters who have blood on their hands. The Russian missile strikes on Ukraine are aimed not just at direct military targets but at the industrial infrastructure of power stations, fuel depots, factories, chemical plants, roads, railways and bridges which serve civilian purposes as well as supplying the Ukrainian military machine. All this represents the destruction of useful wealth. As socialists have always said, war means social regression.
Wars are inevitable under capitalism because of the economic competition between states that is built in to it, but is normally only a last resort when a state’s “vital interest” is involved. Governments are little more than the executives of their respective master classes and in the cut-throat world of capitalist competition they must be seen to be promoting their profit-oriented interests, and to hell with the cost of life. In other words, this war is no different from any of the wars that have taken place in modern times. It’s a business war.
Capitalism is driven by the competitive struggle for profits between corporations and states. Conflict, economic, political and, as a last resort, the military is built-in to capitalism over sources of raw materials, investment outlets, markets, trade routes, and strategic points to control and protect these. When a state judges that its “vital interest” is threatened – e.g. needing to secure access to a key raw material, trade route or military outpost-it goes to war. The USA and the UK did this when they invaded Iraq in 2003 and Russia is doing this now by invading Ukraine.
Capitalism breeds war, though most people would prefer to live in peace. Consequently, massive propaganda exercises are employed by the state to stoke their fears and anxieties that stem from material poverty and insecurity. Invariably they also endeavour to present it as being in some way humanitarian. This is because people have a healthy horror of war. They know war means death and destruction. Death not only of the soldiers on both sides, but also of women, children and old people as “collateral damage” – who make up many of the casualties of modern war – and destruction not only of military installations and hardware but also of bridges, roads, power stations, ports, hospitals and other socially-useful installations.
Many people’s gut reaction is simply that war is crazy. Socialists share this anti-war sentiment. It is one of the reasons why we are real socialists, advocates of a united world community without frontiers based on all the Earth’s resources, natural and industrial, becoming the common heritage of all humanity and being used to satisfy people’s needs instead of for profit. We have concluded that capitalism means war and that therefore to get rid of wars and the threat of wars and the constant preparation for war represented by maintaining armed forces-you have got to get rid of capitalism.
That voices are raised against the war, millions of voices shows that there is hope. That workers – whose experience of life stems from using their energies and talents to cooperatively solve problems and achieve goals; who realise the potential for mutual dependence and support; who enjoy some security of life won through the class struggle – are determined to oppose the war shows that opposition to war has its basis in material reality rather than mere moral condemnation.
War is completely unnecessary. We are living in a world that has enough resources to provide plenty for all, eliminate world poverty, ignorance and disease, to provide adequate and comfortable life for everyone on the planet. Yet under capitalism resources are squandered on armaments, of the individual as well as of mass destruction, and, as now, in actual war. Even in times of peace-as the armed truce between wars is called capitalism's pursuit of profit pollutes and plunders the planet and upsets the balance of nature with potentially devastating consequences. The economic law “no profit, no production” applies implacably, resulting in millions dying of hunger and related diseases every year simply because it is not profitable to produce the food to feed them and, in fact, often while the food that could feed them is destroyed so as to maintain prices and profits.
As we have announced several times in the past, if we are to prevent the 21st century from becoming a more violent re-run of the 20th, that witnessed two world wars, the first use of nuclear weapons and many hundreds of smaller conflicts—all in the name of profit—it is essential we, the victims, the cannon fodder, the class that has the biggest price to pay to satisfy the whims of the mighty, begin to organise now, not tomorrow and nor in years to come when the air-raid sirens are screaming. We as a class have suffered too much and have too much to lose to leave decisions regarding the future of our planet in the hands of a group of arrogant, conceited and profit-crazed individuals. Let’s really organise to take their power away, before it is too late.