Thursday, April 27, 2023

Pro Deo et Libertate? De omnibus dubitandum!


 The original Manifesto of 1848 listed some progressive reforms, but ceased advocating them by 1872. The measures – ranging from nationalisation to a heavy progressive or graduated income tax – may have had merit in 1848 but not today. Indeed, Marx and Engels in their joint preface to the 1872 edition stated: ‘No special stress is laid on the revolutionary measures proposed at the end of Section II. That passage would, in many respects, be differently worded today.’    Yet The Patriot Post considers the ten reforms '..still part of Marxist philosophy and pretty scary..' (26 April).

'Let the ruling classes tremble..' as  there is still much that socialists today would incorporate into a Manifesto for this century including:

‘The working men have no country. We cannot take away from them what they have not got.’

‘…every class struggle is a political struggle.’

The struggle for socialism ‘is the independent movement of the immense majority, in the interests of the immense majority.’

‘The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.’

‘Workers of the world, unite!’

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Inflation in France and Spain

 Food prices in France and Spain are continuing their relentless rise, as the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation rages across the EU, according to data published by Bloomberg on Monday.

The cost of the main groceries needed to cook the French dish coq-au-vin soared 15.4% in March to more than €19 ($21) compared to the same period a year ago, according to data from the national statistics office and the Ministry of Agriculture and Nutrition.

France is the top consumer of poultry in the EU. The cost of chicken, the main ingredient in the traditional dish, surged by about 18%, carrots by 33.5%, butter gained 23.9% and even wine, which saw the slowest price increase, soared by 8.4% on an annual basis.

The cost-of-living crisis has deepened in France. According to a recent report by statistics agency INSEE, inflation in the Eurozone’s second-largest economy has continued at a record pace, and faster than expected in February, largely due to surging food prices. Food, services, and manufactured goods have been the main contributors to inflation.

French authorities previously introduced a so-called “anti-inflation food basket” comprising about 50 basic items, and have obliged large retailers not to hike prices on these essentials.

Meanwhile, the prices of the key ingredients used in the Spanish dish paella have also surged, Bloomberg’s monthly Paella Index, based on data provided by Spain’s National Statistics Institute showed. Cooking the Spanish signature dish is now 18.5% more expensive than a year ago. The price of olive oil has jumped 32.1%, while vegetables and legume prices are up 27.8% on the year, and 5.7% on a monthly basis. Rice prices have risen 22.1% from a year ago.

The Spanish Agrarian Association of Young Farmers is warning of further price hikes due to likely olive oil shortages following last year's drought, as yields are already significantly down in Spain, the world’s largest olive oil producer.

Rice prices may also increase due to a 40% year-on-year decline in production in 2022, the worst on record according to the Rice Federation of the Isla Mayor municipality, Spain’s leading producer of the crop.

RT 20/4/23


The Evolution of Money: From Barter to Inflation

 Since inflation is a monetary question and nothing but a monetary question, it cannot be understood without first knowing what money is. To most people money is the notes and coins they use to buy things, a convenient technical device for ensuring the smooth exchange and distribution of goods. While it is indeed such a medium of exchange, the currency we use today is not, strictly speaking, money at all, but only tokens for it. But to explain money it is convenient to start with this role of medium of exchange…

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Summer School 2023

 Howard Moss' talk,  'Work: Paid and Unpaid,' will look at the nature of the work that the speaker and others close to him have engaged in over the years and draw conclusions about the experience in the context of the system we live under. He will then reflect on some of the implications for the possible nature of work in a future socialist society.

Friday, April 21, 2023

And if you’re slightly overdrawn? USA Debt

US public debt will continue to rise in the coming years amid increased government borrowing, the International Monetary Fund said in its Fiscal Monitor report released on Wednesday.

IMF economists believe the rise will come partly because Washington is spending more on healthcare and social security, as well as clean energy projects and other domestic economic policies.

The US debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to be 122.2% this year, just slightly above 121.7% in 2022. It is expected to rise further to 136.2% of GDP in 2028, up from 107.4% in 2018, and higher than the Covid pandemic-era peak of 133.5% in 2020, according to the IMF.

The agency noted that the US and China are the two main drivers of the global increase in public debt. It cautioned that expanding government borrowing and spending could exacerbate inflationary pressures, undermining the efforts of the central banks.

“By the end of our projection horizon – 2028 – public debt in the world is expected to reach almost 100% of GDP,” the head of the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department, Vitor Gaspar, told the Financial Times, adding that this is “back to the record levels set in the year of the pandemic.”

The IMF also said that recent banking problems in the US and Switzerland have added to the risks of a global financial crisis, which could put even more pressure on public sector balance sheets.

RT 14/4/23


Land of the free? American workers concerns misplaced

 Nearly seven in 10 Americans hold negative views about the US economy and two-thirds say inflation is outpacing their wages, according to a stunning survey published Tuesday.

A total of 69% say they are downbeat about the country’s financial shape now and in the future, the highest percentage in the 17-year history of the CNBC All-America Economic Survey.

For context, pessimism about the current and future economy stood at 37% in April 2021 and rose to 68% in July 2022, roughly tracking with a spike in annual inflation from 4.2% in April 2021 to a four-decade high of 9.1% in June 2022.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Where are Germans going to live?

 Real estate experts expect a further decline in new residential construction in Germany as building permits for dwellings slumped 20.6% year-on-year in February, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) reported on Tuesday.

According to the latest numbers, a total of 22,300 building permits for dwellings were issued in February, representing a decrease of 5,800 permits compared to the same period last year. The number of construction permits has been steadily declining since last May and has fallen by 10% each month from October 2022, Destatis said.

In its spring report, the German Property Federation (ZIA) said that housing shortages are likely to have reached their highest level in 20 years and that the gap between supply and demand may widen to 700,000 buildings by 2025.

Industry experts blame the aftermath of the pandemic, coupled with material shortages and surging energy and building materials prices for the unfolding crisis. According to ZIA’s president, Andreas Mattner, the country is already experiencing a dire lack of housing and that a "very bad awakening" is on the horizon for Europe's largest economy.

Another survey by the German Economic Institute (IW) said that more than half of German construction companies expected a decline in output this year while only 15% believe business will expand.

The building industry had warned last year of a dramatic decline in residential construction. In 2022, about 280,000 apartments were completed, while it is expected that about 245,000 will be finished this year.

The president of the Federation of the German Construction Industry (HDB), Peter Huebner, confirmed that high materials prices and soaring mortgage rates are making residential construction increasingly difficult.

In January, German Housing Minister Klara Geywitz admitted that the government's building target of 400,000 apartments per year would be missed in 2023.

According to ZIA estimates, 1.4 million people will be looking for a place to live in 2024 and will not be able to find one "if we don't turn things around immediately."

RT 19/4/23


UK Inflation

 Inflation in the UK came in at over 10% year-on-year in March, the highest rate among countries in Western Europe, official data showed on Wednesday.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the consumer price index (CPI) in the UK fell by less than expected to 10.1% in March, whereas economists had predicted a drop to 9.8%. The February reading stood at 10.4% year-on-year.

“The largest upward contributions to the annual CPIH inflation rate in March 2023 came from housing and household services (principally from electricity, gas and other fuels), and food and non-alcoholic beverages,” the ONS said.

Food prices rose at their fastest rate in 45 years, with the sharpest increases in March reported in goods such as olive oil (up 49%) and milk (up 38%).

Britain is now the only country in Western Europe to report double-digit inflation. Austria is next at 9.2%, followed by Italy at 8.2%, according to data compiled by Reuters. The lowest CPI among the 14 countries in Western Europe was recorded in Spain (3.1%).

 in the UK came in at over 10% year-on-year in March, the highest rate among countries in Western Europe, official data showed on Wednesday.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the consumer price index (CPI) in the UK fell by less than expected to 10.1% in March, whereas economists had predicted a drop to 9.8%. The February reading stood at 10.4% year-on-year.

“The largest upward contributions to the annual CPIH inflation rate in March 2023 came from housing and household services (principally from electricity, gas and other fuels), and food and non-alcoholic beverages,” the ONS said.

Food prices rose at their fastest rate in 45 years, with the sharpest increases in March reported in goods such as olive oil (up 49%) and milk (up 38%).

Britain is now the only country in Western Europe to report double-digit inflation. Austria is next at 9.2%, followed by Italy at 8.2%, according to data compiled by Reuters. The lowest CPI among the 14 countries in Western Europe was recorded in Spain (3.1%).

Rt 19/4/23

THE cost of some everyday groceries has more than doubled in the past year.

As prices continue to soar at their fastest rate in 45 years, the Office for National Statistics has revealed that food and drink price inflation surged in March, rising by 19.2 per cent.

The price of bread and cereals increased by the fastest on record.


Wednesday, April 19, 2023

 Socialist Stanza No. 7

Just Stop…


Once it was the anarchist’s bomb

Or some outrageous assault,

Aimed to rouse somnolent masses

To a clamorous revolt.


But each grandiose outrage was

Quickly dismissed, having failed

And leaving the people unmoved,

The militant hung or jailed.


In this media age, radicals

Are much more likely to front

An act of inconvenience,

A gross publicity stunt.


No matter what’s the spectacle

The activist has arranged,

Distracted viewers switch channels

And that’s about all that’s changed.


D. A.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023


  One of the talks at this year's  Summer School will be given by Paddy Shannon.  He will entertain and enlighten us on 'AI and the Future of Work'.    Much as we hate capitalist employment, our lives depend on finding it. So what are we to make of the impending Artificial Intelligence revolution which, combined with robotics, threatens to destroy up to 30% of all jobs by the mid-2030s? 90% of the world's most successful companies are already investing in AI, so is the future for workers going to be rosy, with high pay and abundant leisure time, a hellish Dickensian nightmare, or the much-vaunted Singularity beyond which capitalism as we know it may not even exist?

More announcements are on the way soon!

Monday, April 17, 2023

Sooothsayer sees strife stalking social system

 A major financial crash will likely hit by mid-June, Harry Dent, economist and author of several best-selling books, told the David Lin report, last week. Dent, who has a history of making controversial predictions, believes that the current market bubble will burst and result in a financial meltdown. 

The bubble is a result of the US Federal Reserve’s loose monetary policy, which has artificially inflated the stock market, according to Dent. He expects the S&P 500 to collapse by 86% “in this crash” and the Nasdaq to plummet by 92%.

The crypto market will go into a tailspin alongside stocks, the economist warned, predicting that Bitcoin will tumble 95-96% from its November 2021 high.

“Bitcoin will fall from $69,000 to about three to four thousand,” he said, adding that “It’s exactly what Amazon and the dot-coms did.”

Dent points to what he sees as overlapping crises as the reason for his pessimism. The pandemic shattered the global economy in many ways, leading to job losses and reducing consumer spending. Additionally, unprecedented inflation in most wealthy countries and supply-chain disruptions have sparked serious concerns among investors and economists, forcing them to realise that “this is not a big correction — it is a major crash, one that you have not seen … in your lifetime, and the one that even the millennials will not see a bigger crash than this,” Dent added.

According to the economist, despite efforts by central banks and their “declared war on recession” “we keep falling back into the recession” because the economy underneath is “really weak and really needs to get rid of a lot of really bad debt and zombie companies and the central banks won’t let the economy do its thing.” 

Dent cautioned about a third wave of the crisis coming, emphasising that in his view “it’s going to creep up” on the Federal Reserve “before they can reverse the tightening.” 

“We have not cleaned up the massive debts and overvaluations of the biggest financial assets bubble in everything. We have never had a financial asset bubble in everything like this. This bubble has not been allowed to burst and clear out its excesses which we need to do. And I think we are into that process now,” Dent concluded.

The economist expects “a crash more like 1929 to 1932” referring to the Great Depression, stressing that this is his “best forecast at this time.”

RT 12/4/23


Reading Capital as Crisis Theory

Get rid of politicians?

 “Taxpayers fund radical anti-election lobby group” read the shock horror headline in the Times (12 April). It was an article by two journalists about the Sortition Foundation that campaigns (as you might have guessed if you were familiar with the meaning of the word “sortition”) for political decisions to be made by people chosen by lot rather than by elections. This is something that is accepted by governments for at least advising them on some matters. Such “citizens’ assemblies” are chosen by lot in the same sort of way that juries are in court cases. It was also practised in Ancient Athens. As such, it has as much democratic legitimacy as elections, despite what the article suggests. 

The Sortition Foundation wants MPs to be chosen in this way. Which would of course eliminate the professional politician. A book by one of the Foundation’s founders, Brett Hennig, is called The End of Politicians. Naturally this wouldn’t be welcomed by the politicians. The journalists pointed out to one of the stupidest MPs, failed Tory leader Sir Ian Duncan Smith, that the foundation had been paid by the government to organise some citizens’ assemblies and got him to protest:

“How could they award contracts and award contracts and pay money over to such an organisation that wants to get rid of politicians.”

Getting rid of politicians might be considered a good idea by many. Being a career politician is a particular unsavoury profession — trading on problems people face and making a career out of making pie-crust promises to solve them. However, getting rid of them won’t solve those problems.

The Sortition Foundation argues that getting rid of politicians would make for better decision-making. “By removing elections,” one of its researchers is quoted as writing, “we remove the need for our representatives to court those with wealth and resources”. It wouldn’t, however, remove those with wealth and resources or their need to court political decision-makers.

The Foundation is assuming that in present-day society there is a common interest that a national citizens’ assembly — a “House of Citizens” — would be better able to identify. But, under capitalism, there is no common social interest. Capitalism is a society divided into two basic classes — those who own the places where the wealth of society is produced and the rest who can only get a living by selling their ability to work for a wage or salary— with antagonistic and irreconcilable interests. In addition, different sections of the owning class have different and conflicting interests. MPs chosen by lot would still be subject to lobbying and influence by these sections and would not be able to overcome the antagonism of interests between the owners and the wage-working majority. Capitalist economic reality would give them no choice but to take decisions that gave priority to profit making and taking.

Choosing MPs by election is a better system for capitalism. It enables the support for differing sections of the owning class to be measured and for the section with the most support to have its way. As long as capitalism is in existence, it is also better from the socialist point of view since it enables the socialist movement to send its delegates to the law-making assembly that is the key to controlling political power. Sortition would get in the way of this as there is no guarantee that a Parliament chosen by lot would reflect the degree of support for socialism amongst the population or a majority for socialism.

This said, in socialism, where would be a common social interest, there would be a wide opportunity to fill some posts by lot, maybe entire local councils, as one aspect of the participatory democracy that will be an essential part of socialism. But under capitalism it wouldn’t, and couldn’t, work as intended.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Pricing food out of reach

 Food prices surged 18% globally last year, including a 21% rise in the cost of grain, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) estimated in its Global Trade Outlook published on Wednesday.

According to the organisation, fertiliser prices saw an even larger increase of 63% year-on-year. 

The WTO noted that, in theory, higher food costs “should encourage more agricultural production, resulting in greater availability and lower prices for food in the future,” but warned that move expensive fertilisers could lead to reduced crop yields and, ultimately, new price spikes.

The organisation also noted that food prices fluctuated strongly in 2022, first jumping 19% between January and May, following the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, and then dropping 15% between May and December.

Overall, while “global food supplies are less precarious than many had feared” in connection with the Ukraine crisis, they “remain a cause for concern,” WTO warned. According to its calculations, the volume of world wheat trade, for instance, fell by roughly 7.5% since 2021, which leaves “little margin for error if a major producer suffers a crop failure or climate-related natural disaster.”

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Wednesday called on developed economies to be vigilant to signs of the food crisis triggering hunger in poorer nations. She reiterated her earlier calls for lifting export restrictions on food and fertilisers, noting that as of April 2023, some 67 countries have such curbs. 

She also warned that global trade is likely to “remain under pressure from external factors in 2023.” According to her, these include the crisis in Ukraine and other geopolitical tensions, inflation, and the impact of tightening monetary policy.

“This makes it even more important for governments to avoid trade fragmentation and refrain from introducing obstacles to trade. Investing in multilateral cooperation on trade... would bolster economic growth and people's living standards over the long term,” she concluded.

RT 8/4/23


French workers exploitation extended

 French President Emmanuel Macron has signed a bill raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 years. The reform has sparked nationwide unrest, with the political opposition and unions vowing continue contesting it.

The amendments were published in France’s Official Journal early on Saturday.

“The Social Security Code is thus amended... In the first paragraph, the word: ‘sixty-two’ is replaced by the word: ‘sixty-four’,” the statement reads.

The retirement age will be incrementally raised by three months at a time, starting from September, until it reaches 64 in September 2030.

On Friday, France’s highest constitutional authority gave the green light to most of the amendments proposed by the president. The Constitutional Council also shot down a request for a referendum, filed by left-wing politicians.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne described the decision on Friday as the “end of the institutional and democratic journey.”

The opposition and unions, however, refused to back down, with a decision on a second request for a plebiscite expected early next month.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the right-wing National Rally, predicted that the signing of the bill would “mark the final break between the French people and Emmanuel Macron.”

That sentiment was echoed by the First Secretary of the Socialist Party, Olivier Faure, who expressed doubt as to whether the president “will be able to govern” after his decision. Faure also pledged to “continue democratic harassment to roll back the president and his government.”

Veteran left-wing politician Jean-Luc Melenchon called for unity among those opposing the reform, and denounced France’s trajectory toward a “presidential monarchy.”

Meanwhile, unions have called on the French to rally on May 1 as part of “exceptional and popular mobilisation.”

Ahead of the Council’s decision, hundreds of thousands of protesters poured onto the streets of French cities and towns on Thursday.

In Paris, rioters vandalised several buildings, with police bludgeoning protesters with batons and firing tear gas into the crowds.

President Macron insists that the reform is necessary to prop up France’s ailing retirement system.

However, much of the French public has objected to the amendments being rammed through by Macron without allowing a vote in the lower House of Parliament. Opposition legislators twice tabled no-confidence motions against the government, ultimately losing both.

RT  15/4/23


Power struggle in Sudan. Who suffers?

 Over 50 people have reportedly been killed and nearly 600 injured in fierce clashes between rival factions in Sudan, as the country’s army and Rapid Support Forces continue to accuse each other of sparking the bloodshed, while making conflicting claims on their gains.

According to the latest estimates by the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors, cited by Reuters, at least 56 people had been killed and another 595 wounded as of Sunday morning. Another medical union, the Sudan Doctor’s Syndicate, previously told AP it was unclear how many of the victims were civilians, and warned that the death toll could rise due to “many uncounted casualties” in various parts of the country.  

The row over how the RSF should be integrated into the military, and which authority should oversee the process, erupted in bloodshed on Saturday morning, with gunfire and explosions heard across the capital throughout the day and into the night.

Both sides used armoured vehicles and pick-up trucks with mounted machine guns in battles in and around Khartoum, according to dramatic videos. Witnesses also reported seeing tanks and jets, as the military said it launched several airstrikes against RSF positions.

The paramilitary unit claimed to have seized the presidential palace, state TV station, multiple airports and the army chief's residence, and said it had inflicted heavy casualties on the Sudanese army. The leader of RSF claimed his forces are in control of 90% of strategic sites in the capital, Khartoum.

The military insists that all strategic facilities in the capital and across the country are still under its control. The military ruled out negotiations with the RSF, calling it a “rebellious militia” that must be dissolved.

The rivalry dates back to the rule of President Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in April 2019. Sudan has since been in a state of political crisis. The country is currently led by the Transitional Sovereign Council. Its president – and de facto ruler of the nation – is army Chief General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan. RSF commander General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, is the deputy chairman.

The exact power balance and the situation on the ground remains unclear, with the international community in unison calling for a ceasefire. The United Nations, the African Union and the Arab League have all urged the parties to return to negotiations.

China urged talks between the warring sides to “prevent the situation from escalating,” while the US urged “all actors to stop the violence immediately and avoid further escalations or troop mobilisations.” 

Moscow expressed hope that the conflict will “exit the military armed phase and turn into negotiations between the warring sides” as soon as possible, while urging Russian citizens currently in Sudan to stay at home.

RT 16/4/23


You’re still only being offered the crumbs Scotland

The Scottish DailyMail has an article which seems designed to ‘frighten the horses,’ and voters of the constituents of that particular paper. Some  appear not to be wholly in favour of ‘free’ money saying  ‘some may "milk the system", "that it could reduce motivation to work", and give "freedom to make bad choices".

Perhaps anyone enamoured of the capitalist system might find it more profitable, and fulfilling, to learn about the only viable alternative.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain has branches in Scotland (contact details available from )

“A Scottish Government spokesman told the Mail on Sunday: "Everyone in Scotland deserves to live healthy, financially secure, fulfilling lives and a Minimum Income Guarantee is an important step towards that."

A SPBG spokesperson commented, everyone in the world deserves to live healthy, secure, fulfilling lives and Socialism is the way to achieve that goal.

There isn’t a ‘communism lite.’ If there isn’t a money-free, class-free, produce for use not profit society, then there’s not socialism/communism.

“Taxpayers in Scotland face footing the bill for an SNP benefits free-for-all which could see every adult in Scotland paid at least £25,000 a year.

Under the plans for a Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG), billions of pounds would be handed to the jobless and lower earners to ensure everyone has a "dignified" quality of life.

Supporters of the proposal – dubbed 'Communism Lite' – say it would help fight poverty and tackle health inequalities and they are clear that it should be funded by massively raising taxes on medium and high earners.”

ScottishDailyMail 16/4/23


American diners enjoy fruits of Capitalism /sarc

 The cost of eating at restaurants in the US outpaced grocery prices on a 12-month basis in March for the first time since mid-2021, Labor Department data showed on Wednesday.

According to the calculations, restaurant prices have risen 8.8% over the last 12 months, surging for the third consecutive month and up by 0.6% from February. Meanwhile, grocery, or ‘food at home’, inflation has risen by 8.4% year-on-year, dropping 0.3% from February.

The data may be a bad sign for the American restaurant industry, analysts say, which has already been struggling as consumers cut back on eating out in an attempt to save money amid the cost-of-living crisis. According to CNBC, many restaurants have recently been hiking prices to avoid a drop in their profit margins, forcing consumers to further limit their restaurant visits or spend less when they eat out.

However, Bruce Grindy, the chief economist from the National Restaurant Association, said the statistics may have been distorted by the increase in food prices at schools due to the expiry of free lunch programs that were set up during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As a result, this price index rose sharply in recent months, which is putting upward pressure on the overall food-away-from-home index,” he wrote in a blog post on Wednesday, as cited by CNBC. He noted that he expected this index to continue muddling the overall food-away-from-home readings until the fourth quarter of the year.

RT 15/4/23


Egypt Inflation

Annual urban inflation in Egypt jumped to 32.7% in March, its highest level since 2017, data from the national statistics agency CAPMAS showed on Monday. The increase has been driven by a sharp rise in food prices and the devaluation of the Egyptian pound.   

While consumer prices grew less than economists expected, inflation was still higher than the 31.9% recorded in February, led by a 62.9% rise in food and beverage costs.   

On a monthly basis, urban inflation growth slowed to 2.7% in March, down from 6.5% in February and 4.7% in January.  

Soaring prices are attributed to a plunge in the national currency following a series of devaluations over the last year. Surging seasonal demand during the month of Ramadan, high fuel prices and a shortage of raw materials, as well as a lack of foreign currency were also blamed for soaring consumer prices.  

A major importer of commodities, Egypt has devalued its currency three times since last March, further lifting the costs of most foreign goods.    

Skyrocketing inflation has also dealt a blow to Egyptian households as half of its 104 million people are now living near or below the poverty line.  

In an effort to contain prices, the Egyptian central bank raised interest rates in March by 200 basis points, although analysts have doubted that the measure will bring immediate relief.  

As pressure on the country’s financial system mounts, authorities are seeking ways to boost foreign investment, including plans to sell stakes in a number of domestic companies.

RT 10/4/2


Saturday, April 15, 2023

Brits enjoying fruits of Capitalism /sarc

 UK consumers slashed spending on luxuries and dining out in March as household incomes continue to suffer amid stubborn double-digit inflation, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing Barclays data.   

More than half of Barclays cardholders cut spending on luxury items and one-off treats, while six in ten trimmed expenses on eating out and purchases of new clothes, the bank said after analysing data on credit and debit card transactions.   

According to the lender, overall consumer spending grew 4% last month from a year earlier, with expenses in supermarkets climbing 7.8% – well below the rate of increase in prices for food and non-alcoholic drinks.  

Overall inflation for food and non-alcoholic beverages surged to 18% in February, the highest level since 1977.

The data indicates that British consumers are increasingly changing their shopping habits to save money amid the worsening cost-of-living crisis. Cash-strapped households are becoming more exposed as wage growth fails to keep pace with the biggest jump in prices in 40 years.

Annual inflation unexpectedly rose to 10.4% in February, marking the sixth straight month in double digits and placing further pressure on UK households.

RT 12/4/23


Netherlands enjoy fruits of Capitalism - Bankruptcies

The number of bankruptcies in the Netherlands has more than doubled in the first quarter of 2023, the NL Times portal reported on Sunday, citing data by Faillissements Dossier.

According to the report, cafes, restaurants, retail shops and online retailers have been the most affected businesses.

Some 781 companies and institutions reportedly went bankrupt in the country from January to March, compared to 506 a year earlier. The number of bankrupt cafes and restaurants nearly tripled to 54, the data showed.

The report attributed the growing number of insolvencies in the Eurozone's fifth-largest economy to a sharp increase in energy prices and high inflation levels.

The Statistics Netherlands agency (CBS) said last month it would change the way it measures energy prices paid by consumers in order to improve estimates of inflation. According to CBS, it will start using transaction data from energy suppliers to determine the real costs for consumers.

Credit insurer Atradius earlier forecast that more than 4,000 companies in the Netherlands could go bankrupt in 2023 due to high energy costs, rising interest rates, and high wage demands.

RT 11/4/23


Argentina Inflation

 Argentinian inflation saw an enormous year-on-year surge to 104.3% in March, marking the highest annual rate since 1991, according to data released by the National Institute for Statistics and Census (INDEC) on Friday.

The inflation-rate reading for the month came in at 7.7%, higher than the median forecast of 7% among analysts polled by Bloomberg. Economists surveyed by Reuters had provided a more pessimistic outlook of 7.1%.

Total inflation for the first three months of the year was 21.7%. In February, the inflation rate hit 102.5%, meaning the price of many consumer goods has more than doubled since the same period a year ago.

The highest increase and the biggest influence on the overall index came from the cost of education, which saw a month-on-month surge of 29.1%. The massive increase was attributed to the start of the school year.

Clothing as well as food and non-alcoholic beverages, where the hike was caused mainly by the cost of meat, dairy products and eggs, increased by 9.4% and 9.3% month-on-month respectively. Also, due to a breakout of avian flu in Argentina, prices for chicken and eggs soared over 25%.

Argentina has been among the countries with the highest inflation rates for several years in a row. Buenos Aires has long tried to contain inflation but divisions have marred the nation’s economic policy. Last summer, three economy ministers succeeded one another in the space of just four weeks as the economic crisis deepened.

In December, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved another $6 billion of bailout money. It was the latest payout for Argentina in a 30-month programme that is expected to reach a total of $44 billion.

RT 15/4/23


Friday, April 14, 2023


 One of the talks at this year's  Summer School! will be given by Bill Martin.  He will entertain and enlighten us on ‘The Mysteries of the Pyramids’.   These ancient monuments are a testament to the skills and abilities of humanity through the ages: and they are also clues as to how and why people laboured in the past. This talk will look at some of this evidence, and use it to discuss how human labour time is a constant factor in historical modes of production whilst also varying in how and why it was used. It will also look at how this evidence of human ingenuity is refracted through a modern ideological prism.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

The dead hand of Leftism

 According to Karl Marx, the Marxist revolution would be led by enlightened leaders, known as “the vanguard of the proletariat.” 

You will not find this phrase in any of his works.   Indeed, he stated quite the opposite:
'.. When the [First] International was formed we expressly formulated the battle-cry: the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves. We cannot therefore cooperate with people who say that the workers are too uneducated to emancipate themselves and must first be freed from above by philanthropic bourgeois and petty-bourgeois...'  (Karl Marx and Frederick Engels to Bebel, Liebknecht, Bracke, and Others, September 1879).

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Socialist Stanza No. 6

Medical Examination


The doctor became a hero

As the epidemic spread;

So many colleagues counted

Amongst the too many dead.


Never enough equipment,

Warnings through the years ignored,

Long, long hours with forty winks snatched

And then back on to the ward.


A round of applause come Thursday;

But when the pandemic ceased

There was no reward or let-up

As the waiting lists increased.


Inflation took a scalpel to

Doctors’ retention and pay:

Will their value be realised

When the last one’s gone away?


D. A.

Kiwi capitalist whines about cheaper competitor

 The price Kiwis pay for nationwide overnight postage is “ridiculously cheap” and should cost at least twice as much, the chief executive of listed company Freightways says.

Mark Troughear said on the Herald’s Stock Takes podcast that overnight $3 postage to get a small parcel from the North Island to the South was “chronically underpriced” for the undertaking required, using expensive aircraft and often unsuitable roads.

The reality is we have some services that are just chronically underpriced. It’s nuts.

“It’s a phenomenally high level of service ... For a ridiculously cheap price.”

Taxation - the curse of the capitalist class! /sarc

There are only two things certain in life - death and taxes. Christopher Bullock (1716)

With the transition to a money-free, class-free society one of these will no longer exist.

“Progressive” politicians, and their supporters, can often be heard hollering the slogan, ‘Tax the rich!’  Labour politician Denis Healey said, ‘until the pips squeak.’ It is not surprising that  the capitalist class should resist attempts to reduce the wealth accumulated from the exploitation of the working class.

“A  record number of super-rich Norwegians are abandoning Norway for low-tax countries after the centre-left government increased wealth taxes to 1.1%.

More than 30 Norwegian billionaires and multimillionaires left Norway in 2022, according to research by the newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv. This was more than the total number of super-rich people who left the country during the previous 13 years, it added. Even more super-rich individuals are expected to leave this year because of the increase in wealth tax in November, costing the government tens of millions in lost tax receipts.”

The Socialist Party of Great Britain provides a more relevant solution to the problem of the capitalist class and their continued clinging to wealth and to power.

Don’t tax the rich – Abolish them

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Chomsky's support for Extinction Rebellion and Ukraine

 'Chomsky: The Global South is calling for some negotiated settlement to put an end to the horrors before they get worse. Of course, the Russian invasion was a criminal act of aggression. No question about that. Ukrainians have a right to defend themselves. I don’t think there should be any question about that either...

Barsamian: The lunatics seemingly control the asylum. What signs of sanity are out there to counter the lunatics?

Chomsky: Plenty. There’s lots of popular activism. It’s in the streets. Young people calling for the decent treatment of others. A lot of it is very solid and serious. Extinction Rebellion..'.

Once upon a time he had some better ideas including:

‘Presupposing that there have to be states is like saying, what kind of feudal system should we have that would be the best one? What kind of slavery would be the best kind?’ (Manufacturing Consent, 1988).

‘A democratic revolution would take place when it is supported by the great mass of the people, when they know what they are doing and they know why they are doing it and they know what they want to see come into existence. Maybe not in detail but at least in some manner. A revolution is something that great masses of people have to understand and be personally committed to’ (Linguistics and Politics, September–October 1969, New Left Review).

Monday, April 10, 2023

Capitalism - has no place for the old

 CHARITIES are warning the increase in state pension will be wiped out by a soaring cost of living.

From today (April 10), pensioners will see their weekly payments rise by almost £19 after the government increased the rate by 10.1%.

But charity bosses have warned the rising cost of essentials such as foodenergy, fuel, social care and accommodation will cancel out the boost, reports The Daily Mail.