'It is very difficult to estimate the extent of their [fission products] effect especially as the most important substances would be those of long life, which are the hardest to study under laboratory conditions. It does however seem certain that the area devastated by the explosion would be dangerous to life for a considerable time' (Maud Committee report, 1941).
Sunday, July 30, 2023
Saturday, July 29, 2023
The following articles have been added to the Jack Fitzgerald Internet Archive:
November 1911: Asked & Answered: Prices and Values.
November 1914: Birds of a feather.
March 1915: The Confusion of the “Clarion” “Economists”.
June/July 1915: Capitalist economics.
March 1918: Working Harder for the Capitalist.
That completes all the articles in the Socialist Standard signed by him
Thursday, July 27, 2023
During a life cut tragically short, Sinead came to the attention of socialists for advocating the need to abolish money.
The article below is taken from the January 1993 edition of the Socialist Standard.
The music business certainly contains some odd contrasts. On 5 November, the world’s biggest music publishing company, Time Warner, handed a cheque for £26 million to Elton John and Bernie Taupin for the future marketing rights to all their songs from 1974 onwards, including the next six future albums. This was the largest advance ever paid in music history. It reflected the safety of investing in the popular material involved.
Around the same time, a fairly successful but somewhat more controversial singer hit the headlines, not just of the music press, but also in the tabloids and elsewhere. Sinead O’Connor had torn up a picture of the Pope, live on camera on the “Saturday Night live” American network comedy show. This only added to an already radical reputation, which had polarised opinion between the “moral majority”, particularly in the States, who see her as a public enemy and figure of hate, and the few who have been intrigued by the passionate protests she has pursued.
On an earlier occasion, she had refused to participate in a concert which was to have ended with a rendition of the Stars And Stripes, and for this Frank Sinatra was quoted as eloquently saying that he would like to “kick her butt”. The Sun did an excited expose about her alleged support for the IRA, which later turned out to be unfounded. She horrified the music industry by refusing to collect her “Brits” and US “Grammy” awards in 1991 as she disagreed with the acquisitive and competitive ethos it represented. Then, at the time of the Gulf War, this popular singing star again distinguished herself from her musical colleagues by nailing her colours to the mast and going on record as being emphatically opposed to the war.
In the USA, ugly scenes ensued in which piles of her records have been destroyed in public (no doubt in the name of freedom of expression). In Britain, she has been ridiculed instead, through the somewhat limp wit of radio DJs, attempting pathetically to stray into the vocal exposition of their insipid conservatism.
Matters came to a head last October, when she was violently shouted off the stage at a special New York concert held to commemorate thirty years of records produced by Bob Dylan. How ironic that this smug party held for the protest singer of a previous generation should have displayed such brutal intolerance for someone who had spoken out with views which had protested against certain sacred cows in the 1990s. Did they think that the sixties had been so successful in liberating humanity that “protest” could be quietly laid to rest?
It was in the aftermath of that concert that she announced her resignation from her singing career, stating that she had striven to achieve fame only in order to obtain a platform for certain strongly-held views. She then explained these views in some detail through various press interviews. It was subsequently announced that her record company had then persuaded her to reconsider her decision, and she was therefore included in the bill for an Amnesty International concert.
So what were the ideas which lay beneath this wave of controversy?
The opposition to Sinead O’Connor’s pronouncements about the need to abolish money had a tiresomely familiar ring to socialists. In supposedly radical journals like New Musical Express and supposedly liberal organs like the Guardian the tired old arguments in defence of the money system were trotted out with religious devotion, as if kept permanently ready, to use at the first signs of any heretical statements made against the money god:
“Take away money, then you take away the pillars of society…Money may well be the root of all evil. but what choice do we have? Right now. no money equals no power. No power equals a voice in the wilderness. Sad, but that’s the real world. (NME. 14 November).
So you don’t accept that human nature is essentially competitive and that money is just part of this? … But what about you, Sinead? You must have a few quid stacked away somewhere? (NME. 31 October).
“Mad Woman in the Artic, Part II”; “I’m not a raving loony”. Sinead O’Connor told the Sun last week. “My biggest aim is to get rid of money”, she continued. “If everyone agreed to do it at the same time, it could happen”. Unsold piles of the last Sinead CD could be the new currency.”(Guardian, 31 October).
Revolutionary socialists, who have been working for many years for the creation of a moneyless system of society, have grown used to these inane defences of the money system. They confuse the notion of a fixed “human nature” with the wide variety of human behaviours which have evolved through the conditions of various social systems.
It was of note that in the main NME interview involved, O’Connor made no fewer than fifteen separate references to the urgent need to abolish the money system. Whilst socialists will want to question some of the religious commentaries which were woven in with this, it was very heartening nevertheless to see this proposal receiving this unexpected platform:
“So the only solution to all of the problems in the world – starvation, homelessness, joblessness, etc – is to get rid of money… A survey has to be conducted. Let’s have a vote and see…”If everyone else was going to do it, would you be prepared to live without money?” Let’s see how people feel about it – -supposedly we live in a democracy. I bet you that people will be able to do it…as long as there exists the system of money, there will always be people who have some and those who haven’t… Ninety-five per cent of the world’s wealth is owned by five per cent of the world’s population. That’s the whole problem…We can do it, but there’s no point unless everyone’s gonna do it, it just can’t work… Look at our lives, how they’re run by money… get rid of money. In one foul swoop, you get rid of the whole thing. With love, and our supposed belief in God…Have the faith to go through the rocky part and believe that God’s gonna help us out. (NME, 31October).
She holds the view that most modern social problems had their origin in the rise of the Catholic Church and “Roman Empire” based in the Vatican, with its sanctioning of various invasions and imperialisms, and its imposition of repressive moral codes over millions of people. In her own country of origin, Ireland, she describes how alcoholism, drug-abuse and, in particular, child abuse have in her view been the inevitable legacy of that historical process. She makes no secret of the fact that her own childhood there was plagued by persistent sexual abuse. It might readily be seen that her theorising about the key historical role of the Vatican in the rise of a globally exploitative system is a reflection of her own experiences and is too narrowly based on one interpretation of the development of certain, mainly European countries and in particular of Ireland. She fails to take a broader world view of the ruling class which in fact encompasses all religions, and in many cases none. On the other hand, these arguments are soon tied in with sounder lines of economic criticism:
“We’re all trapped in a society that has been very, very carefully orchestrated and structured to control us by people who want power over us, for money…they took us away from the truth, brutalised us and then only offered us one God, a God outside and above us, unattainable. They made our God into money.” (NME, 31 October).
She goes on to explain that the people who did all this were the Catholic Church, especially with reference to their role in Irish history. Again, this is a peculiarly narrow definition of the minority class enemy which exploits us, and leaves out of account the quite separate evolution of ruling groups in other ways in other parts of the world. Her proposed solution, however, of abolishing the social system which is based on money, is both universally applicable and urgently needed. There is an international ruling class which certainly does impose moral codes and supervise institutionalised poverty and abuse.
Regardless of the reservations referred to above. Sinead O’Connor is to be applauded for these specific proclamations which she has pursued so single-mindedly. The profusion of panic, misunderstanding and venom with which her comments were greeted is in fact testimony to the refreshingly different and viable ideas involved.
Wednesday, July 26, 2023
‘JUST TOP SOIL’ on orange T shirts; two fans
At the Ashes Test cocking a snook
At those match disrupters trying to look
Progressive, but ill-conceived, naïve plans
To be unsporting are easily foiled
And only provoke public annoyance
Rather than helping the cause to advance,
The wheels of reaction are too well oiled.
Protest brings headlines, but not policy,
Action leading to inaction, a schism
Obscuring how it’s capitalism
Frustrates reformers whoever they be.
Neither slogans nor satire can arrange
Circumstances to bring radical change.
Tuesday, July 25, 2023
Yes, “sex work is...work" and employment is prostitution! Marx saw sex work as ’only a specific expression of the general prostitution of the labourer’ (Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts, 1844). Prostitution along with female genital mutilation, misogyny, virginity tests, being taught that menstruation is unclean, circumcision for non-medical reasons, caste/class, homophobia, marriage to children, as well as blasphemy as a crime, non-evidence based medicine & cock and dog fighting - all of them should be thrown in the dustbin of history!
The dehuminization of those involved will only end when the terms buyer and seller become redundant with the establishment of socialism.
Monday, July 24, 2023
From a foreign news source, a report about the hardships the Dutch continue to suffer as energy utility consumer costs continue to rise. What’s going to happen when winter comes and the option to use as little energy as possible is dramatically reduced by the need not to freeze to death?
‘Household energy bills in the Netherlands are up drastically from last year, despite government subsidies and a consumer price cap.
The average gas and electricity bill rocketed by 37% in June compared to the same month of last year, data released last week by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) revealed. The increase will add €630 ($702) to annual household energy costs, bringing the average bill to €2,320 ($2,586) per year, compared to €1,691 last June.
Wholesale energy prices across the EU rose dramatically last year as Russian supplies shrank, following sanctions resulting from the Ukraine conflict.
Last October, the Dutch government announced a relief package of €23.5 billion to compensate for the rise in energy tariffs. The country has also introduced a consumer price cap, amounting to €1.45 per cubic meter of gas and €0.4 per kilowatt hour of electricity.
However, even with state aid, energy bills in the country are still higher than last June, partly due to increased taxes, the NL Times news outlet noted. The Dutch government has provided fewer tax discounts on energy, while a temporary reduction in the VAT rate has also been reversed.
Higher prices have forced Dutch families to slash energy consumption, taking an average of €40 off annual bills for gas and electricity, according to CBS.
Economists warn that the average household energy bill in the Netherlands may reach €2,500 once the state-imposed price cap expires in 2024.’
Friday, July 21, 2023
Thw historian, biographer and political commentator. Geoffrey Roberts states in an interview today: 'The most important thing to understand about Stalin is that he was an intellectual, driven by his Marxist ideas, a true believer in his communist ideology. And he didn’t just believe it, he felt it. Socialism was an emotional thing for Stalin. His often-monstrous actions stemmed from his politics and ideology, not his personality.'
In the 1930s Stalin outlawed abortion and homosexuality and pursued state capitalist industrialisation, at the cost of millions of lives, and in 1936 announced that Russia was ‘socialist’. That very year, on 28 August, Pravda proclaimed him divine:
O Great Stalin, O Leader of the Peoples,
Thou who didst give birth to man,
Thou who didst make fertile the earth,
Thou who dost rejuvenate the Centuries,
Thou who givest blossom to the spring...
The same year, a mere mortal observed: 'There are in the U.S.S.R. privileged and exploited classes, dominant classes and subject classes. Between them the standard of living is sharply separated. The classes of travel on the railways correspond exactly to the social classes; similarly with ships, restaurants, theatres, shops, and with houses; for one group palaces in pleasant neighbourhoods, for the others wooden barracks alongside tool stores and oily machines. .It is always the same people who live in the palaces and the same people who live in the barracks. There is no longer private property, there is only one property – State property. But the State no more represents the whole community than under preceding régimes' (What the Russian Revolution Has Become, Robert Guiheneuf, 1936).
Ironic considering 30 years earlier Stalin's understanding of socialism was sound:
‘Future society will be socialist society. This also means that with the abolition of exploitation, commodity production and buying and selling will also be abolished and, therefore, there will be no room for buyers and sellers of labour power, for employers and employed—there will be only free workers… Where there are no classes, where there are neither rich nor poor, there is no need for a state, there is no need also for political power, which oppresses the poor and protects the rich. Consequently, in socialist society there will be no need for the existence of political power’ (Anarchism or Socialism? 1906).
Thursday, July 20, 2023
Kenyans are experiencing the effects of both capitalism and the futility of trusting in ‘leaders’. The soaring cost of living has led to protests with extreme violence resulting, according to the United Nations human Rights Office, in protesters deaths and injuries. To protect its power, and those of the asset owning class, the State will always initially resort to those members of the working class who have undertaken to defend bourgeoisie interests even to the extent of beating and shooting fellow workers.
‘Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has called for three days of anti-government protests starting on Wednesday.
The latest demonstrations are against tax hikes and follow two previous sets of protests this year against the soaring cost of living in East Africa’s economic hub and alleged malpractice in last year’s presidential election, which Odinga lost.
The new taxes were to take effect on July 1, but a Nairobi court halted their implementation pending further legal proceedings. Still, a tax increase on petroleum products was imposed, increasing fuel costs.
Odinga said more protests could be held after this week.
What are the latest protests about?
Odinga announced the protests on June 14 against a new finance bill, which introduced a 1.5 percent housing levy, a 16 percent tax on petroleum products and a 16 percent value-added tax (VAT) on money that policyholders receive as compensation from insurance companies.
“That finance bill will be the last nail in the coffin,” Odinga told his supporters. “If it is passed, it will make Kenyans slaves of paying taxes. …When they pass that bill, that will be the trumpet call. Will you be ready?”
The bill was signed into law on June 26.
On July 10, Kenya’s High Court extended an order barring Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u from implementing it.
The government mostly obeyed the ruling except for the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority, which increased fuel prices, triggering an increase in public transport costs.
The price increases are from 182.04 shillings ($1.29) to 195.53 shillings ($1.38) per litre of petrol, 164.28 shillings ($1.16) to 176.67 shillings ($1.25) for a litre of diesel and from 161.48 shillings ($1.14) to 173.44 shillings ($1.22) per litre of kerosene.
What is the finance act about?
During the presidential campaign,the eventual winner, William Ruto, promised to reduce the cost of living and positioned himself as a poor “hustler” eager to wrest power away from the ruling dynasties that President Uhuru Kenyatta and Odinga, sons of independent Kenya’s first president and vice president, represented. The younger Kenyatta endorsed the younger Odinga rather than his deputy, but Ruto was declared the winner and was sworn into office in September. President Ruto inherited an enormous government debt. At the time Kenyatta took office in 2013, it stood at 1.79 trillion shillings ($13bn). By the time Kenyatta left office, it had ballooned to 8.7 trillion shillings ($61bn).
Ruto then removed fuel subsidies, leading to a spike in the prices of basic commodities like bread and maize flour, which are directly affected by the cost of energy and transport.“In addition to being very costly, consumption subsidy interventions are prone to abuse, they distort markets and create uncertainty, including artificial shortages of the very products being subsidised,” he said in his inauguration speech.
New taxes followed. In addition to the housing levy, petroleum products tax and insurance compensation tax, digital assets taxes were also introduced. The government also imposed a 3 percent levy on transfer charges applied during the exchange of assets that cover non-fungible tokens (NFTs), cryptocurrencies, and digital currencies.
The finance act also introduced a 15 percent withholding tax for digital content creators, a 35 percent tax for people earning above 500,000 shillings ($3,536) annually and the VAT on petroleum products was increased from 8 percent to 16 percent.
According to economists, the law will increase tax revenues collected from high-income earners while shrinking individual net income for low-income earners because of increased tax burdens.
What have the effects of the protests been?
According to a statement by a spokesman for the United Nations Human Rights Office, up to 23 people were killed by the police and dozens were injured in demonstrations in the past week. A couple of opposition members were also arrested.
“The UN is very concerned by the widespread violence and allegations of disproportionate use of force, including the use of firearms by the police during protests in Kenya,” Jeremy Laurence said. “We call for prompt, thorough, independent and transparent investigations into the deaths and injuries.
”What happens next?
Thousands of opposition supporters have protested in Nairobi and a number of other cities on back-to-back Mondays and Thursdays despite a strong pushback from law enforcement, so massive numbers are expected for the protests this week’.
Wednesday, July 19, 2023
‘The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation. The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image’. Manifesto of the Communist Party.
China purports to be communist. Mao Zedong declared China a ‘communist’ state on 1st October, 1949. China was then, not communist but a state capitalist society. ‘The change from state capitalism to a mixed state and private system may have been started by Deng Xiaoping in 1978, but the idea of China being part of the global economy did not originate with Deng. As Mao Zedong is reported to have told a US diplomat in 1945: ‘China needs to build up light industries to supply her own market and raise the living standards of her own people. Eventually she can supply these goods to other countries in the Far East. To help pay for this foreign trade and investment, she has raw materials and agricultural products. America is not only the most suitable country to assist this economic development of China: she is also the only country fully able to participate’, Socialist Standard July 2017. ‘
The piece below, taken from a Time article entitled: ‘China’s Solution to Inequality? Cracking Down on Displays of Wealth and Poverty’, demonstrates the inequality that permeates Chines society. It would seem to show that young people in particular are badly served in a society exhibiting many capitalistic traits.
‘In recent weeks, senior Chinese officials held urgent meetings with business leaders to discuss revitalizing the economy. The country’s youth unemployment rate has climbed to a record 20.4% in April, and then to 20.8% in May, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. (When officials revealed that they considered anyone working at least an hour a week to be employed, speculation abounded online that the real unemployment rate is in fact much higher.)
This has come as a rude awakening for millions of Chinese young adults, who have long been told that studying hard would come with the reward of financial stability. In response, Chinese authorities have urged them to swallow their pride and accept lower-end jobs—a proposition that has left many feeling betrayed.
“In a context like today’s China, the wealth gap is so big that young people from an average family background realize that no matter how hard they try they can never reach that kind of wealth. So they just stop trying,” says Huang. ( Tianlei Huang, the China Program coordinator at the Peterson Institute for International Economics).
China’s Gini coefficient, which measures inequality, has decreased significantly since the 2000s, but continues to hover above 0.46, which by international standards signals a high level of income inequality.
“The showing off of wealth among wealthy people, especially those who work in the government and state companies, is like adding oil to fire,” says Shan. “It just reveals the hard truth of how unequal the society is.”’.
(Shan Wei, a senior research fellow of Chinese politics at the National University of Singapore).
More at link.
Inequality where ever it is found in the world under the present system will only be abolished when capitalism is abolished and is replaced by real socialism.
‘Afghanistan's supreme leader said Sunday the country's women were being saved from "traditional oppressions" by the adoption of Islamic governance and their status as "free and dignified human beings" restored.
In a statement marking this week's Eid al-Adha holiday, Hibatullah Akhundzada -- who rarely appears in public and rules by decree from the Taliban's birthplace in Kandahar -- said steps had been taken to provide women with a "comfortable and prosperous life according to Islamic Sharia".
The United Nations expressed "deep concern" last week that women were being deprived of their rights under Afghanistan's Taliban government and warned of systematic gender apartheid.
Since returning to power in August 2021, Taliban authorities have stopped girls and women from attending high school or university, banned them from parks, gyms and public baths, and ordered them to cover up when leaving home.
They have also barred them from working for the UN or NGOs, while most female government employees have been dismissed from their jobs or are being paid to stay at home.
However, Akhundzada said "necessary steps have been taken for the betterment of women as half of the society".
"All institutions have been obliged to help women in securing marriage, inheritance and other rights," his statement read.
Akhundzada said a six-point decree issued in December 2021 guaranteed women their rights.
Among other things, the decree outlawed forced marriages and enshrined the right to inheritance and divorce.
"The negative aspects of the past 20-year occupation related to women's hijab and misguidance will end soon," Akhundzada said.
A report to the UN's Human Rights Council last week by Richard Bennett, the special rapporteur for Afghanistan, said the plight of women and girls in the country "was among the worst in the world".
Namibia is a a country in Southern Africa. Its population is over two million eight hundred thousand. Twenty six per cent of its population live in extreme poverty.
The most deprivation occurs in the the rural areas.
A report in the Namibian would appear to indicate that almost half of Namibia’s population are living in poverty or extreme poverty.
‘Almost half of the country’s population are faced with poverty, says prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila. She was speaking at the launch of the delayed sixth National Development Plan (NDP6) by the National Planning Commission (NPC).
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the government had reduced poverty from 38% to about 18%, however, matters have since worsened.
“If you look at the new formula to calculate poverty, close to 50% of the population is living under poverty,” she said. Since 2016, the country experienced a macro-economic deterioration which exposed Namibia’s vulnerability to external shocks, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said.
“These had a negative impact on our poverty and inequality. In fact, the gains we made in reducing poverty were almost completely wiped out,” she said.
A month ago, The Namibian reported that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said 43% of the country’s population are experiencing multidimensional poverty.
According to the UNFPA 2022 annual report, the Gini coefficient index shows that income inequality in Namibia stands at 57,2%.
The Gini index is a summary measure of income inequality, which incorporates the detailed shared data into a single statistic, summarising the dispersion of income across the entire income distribution.
The report indicates that the unemployment rate stands at 33,4%, with youths aged 15-34 taking up 46,1%, while women take up 48,5%.
The report further indicates that 46% of households are female-headed, while 41% are male-headed.
At that time, economic analyst Arney Tjaronda told The Namibian these figures are not surprising, as the cost of living has drastically increased while salaries remain low.
He said most concerning is the high unemployment rate in the country, and a job market that is unable to absorb the high number of graduates’.
An unemployment rate of over a third with young people and women being affected the most means that many Nambians are struggling under capitalism.
The World Bank notes: ‘Economic advantage remains in the hands of a relatively small segment of the population, and significant inequality continues. This lack of inclusiveness and society’s vast disparities have led to a dual economy—a highly developed modern sector, co-existing with an informal subsistence-oriented one’.
‘Namibia ranks as one of the world’s most unequal countries. Its Gini coefficient of 59.1 in 2015 was second only to South Africa. Geographical disparities in both economic opportunities and access to services are large and widening. High levels of inequality result in starkly different poverty rates across different groups, including by age and gender’.
‘Due to consistently negative per capita GDP growth since 2016, and the negative impact of COVID-19 on livelihoods, poverty rates are projected to have increased. Typically, female-headed households, less educated, larger families, children and the elderly, and labourers in subsistence farming, are particularly prone to poverty.
Capitalism is global. Capitalism is the cause of such misery. Capitalism is not the solution. Socialism is.