Friday, May 31, 2024

SPGB Meeting TONIGHT 1930 (GMT +1) ZOOM

 Friday 31 May 19.30 (GMT + 1)

Discussion on recent subjects in the news
To join the meeting click

Thursday, May 30, 2024

SPGB Meeting Friday 31 May 1930(GMT +1) ZOOM


Friday 31 May 19.30 (GMT + 1)
Discussion on recent subjects in the news
To join the meeting click

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Socialist Sonnet No. 150

General Election


The prime minister’s been to the palace,

As the royal prerogative’s involved,

The monarch declared parliament dissolved.

And then there began the unseemly chase

For votes; promises made that can’t be kept

To enhance general prosperity,

While maintaining stringent austerity;

Just mark your cross and passively accept.

Even the best of intentions must fail,

Left, right or centre put on a good show,

But whoever wins most certainly knows

Capital’s priorities will prevail.

Then, when a new government’s been arranged,

Whether red, yellow or blue, nothing’s changed.


D. A.

Educating The Guardian about Socialism


The Guardian, 29 May, posits the question, is Keir Starmer really a socialist?

The newspaper then gives an explanation, for readers who might not know. What socialism is. Cough.

Like many political philosophies, it means different things to different people. But broadly socialists believe all human beings are of equal worth and that society should be organised to reflect that. Fairness, equality, justice and the common good are the foundations of socialism. The wealth created by humans should be used to benefit everyone. Some socialists believe that key industries and sectors, such as utilities, transport and housing, should be owned by the state and run in the public interest rather than for private profit. Other socialists believe that all industries and sectors should be run this way.’

How did Socialism originate The Guardian asks?

It began as a reaction to capitalism, which really took off in the Industrial Revolution. People were concentrated into towns and cities to work long hours for low wages, often in dangerous conditions, in factories, mills, mines and other workplaces. The factory owners grew rich on the backs of the working class. Some people began to argue that the workers themselves should collectively own the factories and so on, either through workers’ co-operatives or through public/government ownership. Karl Marx was the most high-profile advocate of this.’

There are three phases of socialism. They are interrelated and interdependent and part of an unfolding process.

(1) Socialism first appears on the scene ideologically. It arose out of the material conditions of the earlier portion of the 19th Century. This is the birth of socialist science. It is materialistic. It recognizes that everything in existence is interrelated and in a constant process of change. (In a very real sense, it might even be said that socialism is the science that integrates all branches of science into a correlated whole.) Specifically, it indicates the general outlines and the process of social evolution and, more particularly, the nature of capitalism. It explains how the seed of the forthcoming society is fertilized within the womb of an old society.
(2) Then, socialism arises as a movement. It is not alone sufficient to understand the world. the task is to change it. Its very raison d'etre is to exert all its efforts to arouse the working class and all others to become socialists so that the vast majority becomes conscious of its interests, and proceeds to institute socialism. The socialist revolution cannot be rammed down the throats of "followers." The socialist revolution is majority, conscious and political. It is and can only be democratic by its very inherent nature. It is not a new ruling class come to power with a subject class having to submit.
(3) Finally, in the course of its evolution, capitalism has laid the groundwork for socialism, a classless, money-less, wage-less society. Socialism is "a society from which exploitation has been banished and in which the unfolding of each individual would be the condition for the freedom of all."

The Socialist Standard, August 1954

Has Socialism been tried the newspaper asks? Put down your coffee before you read this. Wouldn’t want you to spit it out due to your uncontrollable laughter.

Yes. The Russian Revolution of 1917 heralded a communist regime that grew into the Soviet Union. Under Joseph Stalin it turned into a dictatorship that inflicted misery, hardship and death on millions of people. As well as in eastern Europe, socialism or communism has been tried in China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and countries in Latin America and Africa. Few would say they have been a roaring success.’




We begin with these three points because they are vital to any kind of an understanding of what we mean by socialism.

We reject the idea that socialism has been tried in countries sometimes referred to as socialist. These countries were based upon state capitalism. Look below at our definition of socialism and ask yourself if this in any way describes the police states of modern China and Cuba or the old regimes in Russia and eastern Europe.

We reject the idea of socialism in one country. National socialism equals non-socialism. The capitalist system is global and so must the system which will replace it.

We reject the idea that people can be led into socialism. Socialism will not be established by good leaders or battling armies, but by thinking men, women and children. There can be no socialism without socialists.

So what does Socialism mean then?

That’s a straight question, so here’s a straight answer.

Socialism means a global system of social organisation based on

  • COMMON OWNERSHIP: All the productive wealth of the world will belong to all the people of the world. No more transnational corporations or small businesses and therefore nobody will own the world. It will be possessed by all of its inhabitants.

  • DEMOCRATIC CONTROL BY ALL: Who will run socialist society? We all will. There will be no more government and governed. People will make decisions freely in their communities, in regions and globally. With the existing means of information technology and mass communication this is all possible.

  • PRODUCTION FOR USE: Instead of producing goods and services for sale and profit, the sole reason for production will be to satisfy needs and desires.

  • FREE ACCESS: A society in which everyone owns everything, decides everything and only produces anything because it is useful will be one in which all will have free access to what is produced. Money will cease to have any function. People will not work for wages or salaries, but to give what they can and take what they need.

It’s a great idea, but ... But, what?

From the Socialist Standard, May 1995

Following a history of the Labour Party the Guardian asks,

Is it still a socialist organisation?

That rather depends. Its famous clause IV – “To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry … [on] the basis of the common ownership of the means of production” – was ditched by Tony Blair in 1995. But socialism came roaring back under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership – which was welcomed by some but also blamed for putting off potential Labour voters. After Corbyn was dumped as leader, the national anthem was sung at Labour’s 2022 conference along with The Red Flag. But now Starmer, considered by many to have shifted the party back to the centre ground of UK politics, has said he is a socialist, a progressive and a leader who puts the country first.’

The Labour Party has no answers to basic working class problems because it is ignorant of their cause. Socialists are concerned with causation, with how capitalism works, what socialism means and how to create a new order of society. This requires a reasoned, analytical approach based upon the method of materialism. The SPGB urges our fellow workers to seriously consider this alternative approach to politics...In a few years Labour will be back in office repeating the anti-working class crimes that all Labour governments have committed to ensure the smooth running of capitalism. Come the next Labour government, whoever is Prime Minister, there will be Labour Lefties whining that principles have been betrayed; they will not have been, for Labour has no principles to betray.

From the Socialist Standard, November 1983

The piece ends with the question,

So could we be heading for a socialist UK after the next election?

No. The Labour leadership shows little inclination to introduce radical policies, renationalise on any scale or boot the bosses out. Its hallmarks are political caution, economic stability and reassuring business leaders – not exactly a rerun of 1917. The expectations of many who describe themselves as socialists are low, and they may get even lower as the election campaign goes on.’

Got that one right at least. One out of seven correct ‘explanations’ Educate yourself Guardian.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Rebuilding the Maginot Line

Two pieces featured in The Sun, 28 May. Check history, the Maginot Line didn’t work either.

‘POLAND is crafting a £2 billion 430-mile line of military defences to protect the rest of Nato from Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Its eastern flank, bordered byRussia’s Kaliningrad and Belarus, will be shored up with minefields, anti-tank ditches and bunkers.’

‘A top official warned “size matters” as the Army nosedived to a historic low of just 73,000 trained troops.’..

‘Major General James Martin, the head of the UK’s main war fighting division, warned his force was “less resilient” due to shortages.

Asked if the Army was big enough to field a war-fighting division – a measure of Britain’s might and a core commitment to NATO – Gen Martin said: “It depends what you mean by a war-fighting division.”

A division is 3,000 to 5,000 men and normally consists of three brigades.

But 3rd Division, which he commands, it has been slashed just one and a half brigades.

It remains Britain’s primary war fighting force designed to face a Russian equivalent.

But the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank warned - before the war in Ukraine - that it was “highly likely that a Russian tank division would over match this much weaker British formation”’

The following is from the Socialist Standard, August 1951

‘Every time a war comes, it's surprising. That doesn’t mean that the war, as such, is unpredictable—the Socialist Party of Great Britain has quite consistently predicted the wars that have happened since its inception—but simply that they aren’t quite the sort of war that’s expected. It always seems to be assumed that the next war will be much like the last, only bigger and better.

This assumption is usually wrong.

The 1914-18 war produced the first example of complete trench-warfare. Nobody expected that when the war began, and at first everyone was surprised, particularly the cavalry! As the war went on, both sides adapted themselves to the new situation. Trench warfare was accepted as the new norm.

When the 1939-45 war started, everyone was fully prepared—for trench warfare! The mightiest trenches ever constructed—the Maginot and Siegfried lines— were bristling with artillery, commodious and comfortable, well equipped with all the latest scientific devices. They were hardly used. The Blitzkreig had arrived on the scene. The enemy was advancing from behind, and the guns faced only forward! Everyone was surprised, particularly the fathers of the Maginot line! The blitzkreig, together with the increased use of air offensives, culminating in the devastation of the atomic bomb, became accepted as the new norm.

At the present time, everybody seems to be talking in terms of an all-out war between America and Russia, blitzkreig, atom bombs and all. But if we can get over our desire to be surprised, we can see that it may be different, simply because as things stand neither side stands much chance of winning such a war. Furthermore, it has been shown conclusively that the “winners” of such wars end up in hardly a better position than the “losers." Again, anyone thinking of starting a war would much rather it took place on someone else’s territory, rather than on his own. He might otherwise suffer himself, and that would never do!

What may happen, then? Are we not to have a war at all?

It seems doubtful at this stage whether capitalism can do without a war of some kind going on. When it was feared that there might be a cease-fire in Korea,, the whole of Wall Street slumped in one afternoon.

But the kind of war that will take place may be the type that is now going on in Malaya, Indo-China and Korea, and which may start in Persia, various parts of Africa, some parts (later on) of India and Germany. That is, it will be the type we first became familiar with in Spain—a “ Civil War ” which is either fomented or used—or both—by great powers who have theoretically no part in it whatever. This has been dubbed a “limited liability” war, and this phrase expresses very well the capitalist nature of the proceedings.

It can take three forms: the one, where an oppressed colonial people revolt, through the medium of a nationalist movement, against the “mother country"; another, where the oppressed peasantry or proletarians revolt, via a freedom movement, against the ruling class of their own country; and the third, where one part of a country which has been, split away, goes to the rescue of their “oppressed” brothers in the other.

Now, each of these types of war has in it the power to elicit sympathy. But in reality our sympathy should be for them, rather than with them, because they are so palpably misled. Their nationalist movements, in which they place so much hope, are movements leading them towards a narrow capitalism in which capitalists of their own nationality will oppress them and exploit them quite as enthusiastically as the colonists—and probably more so. Their “freedom” movements, in which they believe so fervently, will only succeed in changing one ruling class for a fresher and more efficient set of masters. And the “oppressed brothers” who are “rescued” or “ liberated ” soon find that under capitalism there is no rescuer powerful enough to save them, no liberation by mere force of arms.

These things would be true even if the protagonists were left to fight things out themselves. But they’re not.

As soon as one of these little struggles starts, round through the air swing the Russian and American vultures, the Russians with words (and arms), and the Americans with money (and arms). And another “limited liability” war has started. Strangely enough, the most important ones always start where strategy would dictate, either for position or for raw materials. Not so much for markets, because war is itself a market, a market in which expensive goods are sold, in large quantities, to people who are forced to pay for them, willy-nilly. For position, because a big war (Russia v. America) may come, and both sides want to get in the most favourable position in case it does; for raw materials, for internal consumption, export of finished goods, and war production, all of which must be conducted at a profit—preferably of the handsome variety.

But the “limited liability” wars could carry on for fifty years before the big battle commenced, quite easily. There are enough oppressed people in the world, in one way or another, to keep a dozen armies busy for thrice that time. And, as we have seen it suits the capitalist book very well to have a war or two going on. It’s very stimulating to trade.

But what a trade! Imagine for fifty years, the workers pouring out their, sweat and toil, producing commodities, not for their own consumption, but for the destruction of life and wealth in other countries, in which process the commodities consume themselves.

As the poet says.—

... and gun sales lead to more gun sales
they do not clutter the market for gunnery
there is no saturation ...

because no other consumers are necessary. The great problem of markets is solved! Solved by allowing millions of hours of socially necessary labour-time, embodied in bullets, shells, bombs, tanks, bombers and fuel, to expend itself in the shortest possible period, and in the process to destroy lives and wealth laboriously built up over many decades. What a society, in which labour time so spent is “necessary”! Nowhere better than here is the open antagonism between what suits capitalists and what suits workers more glaringly revealed.

Capitalism thrives (albeit a temporary and precarious thriving) on the prosecution of wars. In the years following the great slump of 1929-32, re-armament was the main stream on which capitalism floated to recovery—if you can call what happened in 1939 recovery. Workers don't thrive on war. It’s workers who are driven to produce ever more and more, it’s workers who make sacrifices, it's workers who die. Capitalism wants fifty years—or more if possible—of “limited liability” wars. Workers don’t. There is nothing they want less—except the big all-out atom war that’s always lurking in the background as a possibility. But it’s what they’ll get—if they don’t get wise and turn to Socialism. There is no answer to Capitalism, and no answer to the workers’ problems, inside Capitalism. Capitalism must burst apart and change to Socialism. But this can only come about if you, the workers, understand and want Socialism.

You see where Capitalism is heading. Workers! Let’s use our heads, and head for something different!’

J. C. Rowan

Monday, May 27, 2024

Colonel Blimp is making a comeback

It seems the Rishi Sunak is not the only one who wants to be a comedian. Another Tory, according to The Sun, 26 May, is extolling the ‘benefits’ of national service. As the Socialist Standard article below points out, ‘The motive for nationalism is to protect the interests of the dominant class in a nation state .’

‘NATIONAL Service would instil a sense of duty in young Brits of the future, Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer said.’

The following, on nationalism, is from the Socialist Standard, July 1991.

‘Nationalism is at the top of the list of political illusions used to blind capitalism's victims. As Marx and Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto in 1848, “the communists are reproached with desiring to abolish countries and nationality. The working class have no country. We can not take from them what they have not got”.

From Cairo to the Cape there is hardly any sign of liberty, not even the capitalist brand such as exists in places like Britain where the working class is at least able to organise itself into trade unions and political parties. This kind of liberty in the West is interpreted by the newly emerged tin-pot dictators as "bourgeois democracy". For centuries the African continent was carved up among the powers of Europe, mainly England, France and Portugal as well as Belgium. Italy and pre-1914 Germany. Now most African countries have gained their independence, but you can hardly see any difference except the colour of the flag. There is no remedy for the oppressed class simply by changing white masters to black dictators.

So national liberation is an illusion for liberty and freedom. Religion and tribalism, sown by the former colonialists, cause wholesale bloodshed and killing. Consequently many people hate the system of oppression operated by their own governments (the tin-pot dictators) and have had to flee to save their own lives. That's why you can see today many refugees from Africa and throughout the world. These refugees are treated badly wherever they go and are classified as stateless. Therefore to “have a country or to belong to a nation" is absolutely meaningless.

In the struggle to win the minds of the working class socialists have to confront the strongest sacred belief, and one of the biggest obstacles to the establishment of socialism: nationalism—the loyalty felt by many members of the working class to "their country”, the political unit in which they happen to be born and live.

Feelings of loyalty to a nation-state are purely subjective, having no basis in reality. The working class in Britain has more in common with the workers in other countries than it has with the Duke of Westminster. Nationalist ideologies and movements represent the interests of the capitalist class.

Politically, nationalism is ambiguous, in that it can take on a “right-wing” or “left-wing" form. This depends on the position of the capitalist class at a particular time and place. If political power is held by the aristocracy or nobility, and the capitalist class is struggling to assert itself, then nationalism will have left-wing connotations. This was the case in Europe until 1848. when nationalism was a romantic revolutionary force against the traditional ruling class. However, once the bourgeoisie has captured and consolidated its power, then nationalism becomes a conservative and "right-wing" force.

In the advanced part of the world—UK, USA and Western Europe—nationalism is conservative, while in the Third World countries nationalists who are engaged in struggles against a foreign ruling class or home-made dictator are “left-wing". The World Socialist Movement opposes all nationalist movements recognising that the working class “has no country”.

Modern capitalism raised the setting up of nation-states to a fine art. As the first capitalist states expanded into other continents, they became accustomed to defining frontiers with a paper and pencil, as they did the map of Africa, which provided the borders for the new states they eventually set up. The motive for nationalism is to protect the interests of the dominant class in a nation state. But, because nationalism is important to the interests of a ruling class, there are problems when within a nation-state there is a minority group which fosters its own identity and traditions and which therefore may be perceived to owe its loyalty or at least a greater loyalty to the group rather than the state.

In Britain today, in a pub or social club at the weekend, we can hear all kinds of ideas being expressed, many of them picked up from the newspapers like the Sun, Mirror and Express or television. We hear the nationalist who announces that he is proud to be British. Yet 80 percent of the people in Britain own less shares between them than the richest 1 percent. Those who speak of “our country" usually have little more than a rent book, a mortgage or a UB40 card to show for it.

Then we can listen to the racists who will blame problems on blacks. Jews or Irish. Their racism arises from fear that someone else is competing with them for council houses and on the wage-slave market (labour exchange). Workers who are patriotic will readily sacrifice themselves when called upon to do so, either by allowing themselves to be exploited more intensely at work or by participating in a war against a group of foreign exploiters or dictators. The Gulf War is a classic example of this. So workers should reject the nonsense idea of nationalism and should unite for their common good to abolish capitalism and nationalism and work for socialism.’

Michael Ghebre

Sunday, May 26, 2024

P.M. wants to do comedy?

Checks calendar, no, April First has been and gone. Seriously? One headline will suffice for the news that, ‘Prime Minister reveals radical plan to force 18-year-olds to serve in the military for 12 months - or give up weekends to carry out civil duties.’ MailOnline 26 May. If this was a boxing match it would already be being investigated for one opponent making ity plain that they were going to throw the fight. What would Malcolm Tucker have to say about this obvious vote winner. Sarcasm.

The following is from the Socialist Standard, May 1912 and is still applicable.

‘The question as to whether or not conscription will, in the near future, become a necessity, appears to be once again very much “in the air."
Lord Roberts, in the course of a recent speech, during which he implied the failure, and foreshadowed the disintegration, of the Territorial force, advocated more strenuously than ever his pet notion of universal military service. In this advocacy he is, of course, acting quite logically —more logically, indeed, than those “lovers of peace” (chiefly to be found among the Liberals and Labourists) who, while upholding and using all their efforts to maintain the present capitalist social system, at the same time deprecate what is, in reality, quite in accordance, morally and politically, with the development of capitalism.

Professor Edward Jenks, in his "Short History of Politics,” points out that the principle which binds together modern social groups is military allegiance. He continues

In the States which practice conscription, or universal military service, this is very obvious. The most heinous political offence which a Frenchman or German can commit, is attempting to evade military service; or, possibly worse, taking part in military service against his own country. But even in Great Britain, where conscription is not practised, the tie is really the same. It is unquestionable that the Queen,” (this was written in 1900) “through her Ministers, has the right, in case of necessity, to call upon every one of her male subjects to render personal military service; and any British subject, captured fighting against his country, would be liable to suffer death as a traitor.”

To put the matter clearly, the social group known as capitalist society is bound together by the tie of military allegiance. Capitalist society exists, and is allowed to exist, by the will of the majority of the units of which it is composed. Therefore such units should be prepared to do their share in the maintenance of the tie which binds the system together, seeing that they are in favour of the capitalist system of society.

But to those who happen to loathe capitalism, and all its insane and unhealthy institutions, and whose aim is to hasten its downfall in order to raise in its stead what they consider a rational, sane, and healthy system to the Socialist, in fact — the whole question takes another aspect.

The Socialist will ask himself : “What is conscription to me and my class? Will it benefit me or the class to which I belong ? ”

To a man such as Lord Roberts, who has managed to make a fortune and win a title through professional soldiering, military service will, of course, seem all that is desirable. But what the devil is the poor drudge of capitalism, the wage slave, to get out of it? A fortune and a title? Hardly! At what should be the best portion of his life — his early manhood — he would be taken, numbered like a convict or a beast of burden at a cattle show, herded with his fellow beasts in compounds, trained and drilled and bullied and brow-beaten, taught to walk upright and to handle a rifle, taught to shoot sufficiently straight to kill and maim certain of his fellows (whom he has never seen before and with whom he has no quarrel), coming out of the Army at the end of his term with all the virtues of an efficient, non-thinking, non-questioning wage-slave, with all the initiative and all the self-confidence knocked out of him. Truly a delightful prospect!

Lord Roberts and his co-agitators talk glibly of patriotism, of the duty of defending the Empire, of the glory to be obtained in resisting the encroachments of Germany. Let these people who talk so much about patriotism and duty and glory show, however, how the British working man would be any worse off under the rule of William of Germany than he is under George of England (even admitting the almost unthinkable possibility of a German occupation of Great Britain).

As the average member of the working class has no property to defend, no country to call his own, no prospect of ever being in a better position under capitalism than he is in now, why should he fight to maintain the rights of those who have property, who have a stake in the country, who are in a position of opulence?

It is significant to notice how, not only at the present day, but in all history and through all literature, it is always the man who has something to maintain, something to defend, who talks about duty and patriotism, about the honour of the country and the glories of the Empire. Having nothing, what necessity is there for us to fight in order to defend that nothing?

Still, as aforesaid, if the people of Great Britain are so much in love with capitalism, so desirous of upholding the institutions of modern society, it is their obvious duty to defend their little corner of capitalism with all their strength.

We, as Socialists, for our part, are not particularly concerned with conscription one way or the other, except in its aspect as being a phase of capitalist development. With the downfall of capitalism will fall all the institutions of capitalism — militarism included. Instead of wanting to be trained and drilled so that at the word of command we may slaughter and maim certain of our fellows, against whom we have no cause for animosity and who are all in the same social condition of life as we are, we are training and drilling ourselves to be ready for the time when the workers of the world will unite in establishing a sane, healthy, and joyous system of society the system we know as Socialism. Our object is not to destroy life, but to raise it to a plane where it shall have free play for all its activities. Which is the better ideal, ours or the militarists’ ?

When the question is considered, one feels almost sorry for such men as Lord Roberts, whose only aim in life seems to be the organisation of a universal army of professional murderers. What a glorious ideal of what noble human beings! And what a heaven sent system that breeds such men and such ideals!

F. J. Webb

Saturday, May 25, 2024

UK in the capitalism doo doo


‘The UK economy is in a tight spot and the new government which will come to power after the general elections scheduled for July will face the hardest fiscal challenge the country has seen in decades, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) think tank indicated in a report/

According to the analysts, the new administration will inherit three key problems: a debt burden close to 100% of gross domestic product (GDP), high interest rates and low growth. The government, they claim, has “limited headroom” for dealing with these challenges, and will have to decide quickly between several unappealing options.

One option researchers singled out is to implement spending cuts. However, they say this option “will inevitably be painful,” as public services, the Home Office, justice, and local government are already struggling due to scarce funding. Another option is to further raise taxes, but this would also be difficult, given that at their current pace they are already due to hit an 80-year high by 2028-29.

“The fact that this is only just enough to stabilize debt in five years’ time speaks to the difficulty of the economic and fiscal inheritance awaiting the next government,” the IFS stated.

A third option to deal with fiscal challenges would be to borrow more, but this step would further increase the UK’s debt burden, which both the ruling Conservative party and the Labour opposition have pledged to stabilize.

According to analysts, things could be easier if the UK’s nominal GDP started to grow quickly, due to either high inflation or rapid ‘real’ economic growth. However, according to the latest forecasts, the next British government will face lower than average nominal GDP growth of 3.6% per year coupled with higher than average debt interest spending, which, the IFS said, is not a promising combination.

According to IFS Director Paul Johnson, who commented on his agency’s findings in an interview with Bloomberg, the UK could hope for GDP growth to pick up and thus avoid making the tough choices outlined in the report. However, the prospect is unlikely.

“Money is tight. Public services are creaking, taxes are at historically high levels, and both parties are hemmed in by their very clear pledges to get debt falling… We could get miraculously lucky with growth and escape having to make these tough choices. But we might not. Just because thousands of English and Scottish football fans are crossing their fingers and hoping for the best this summer doesn’t mean that the next Cabinet should do the same,” Johnson stated.’

Friday, May 24, 2024

Election -Wot Election?

How might Molly and Desmond be reacting to the news of the forthcoming July general election? Might they cynically think, although correctly, that the Labour lot will be just as bad as the Tories? Might it be that they consider themselves politically homeless and can’t in all honestly vote for anyone? Might they decide to hold their noses and vote for what they consider to be the lesser of two evils? Might they shrug their shoulders and say they have enough on their plate trying to survive under a capitalist system which is going from bad to worse? Might they be unaware of the real alternative on offer?

This headline appeared in the MailOnline, 23 May, ‘Election? What election? British public reveal they'd rather be watching the Euros and enjoying the summer booze and barbecues than vote on July 4 - as one woman admits she has no idea who Rishi Sunak is.’

The following piece from the Socialist Standard, January 1966, would prove extremely illuminating for anyone holding such views. In the meantime until a majority of the working class understand and want Socialism we can only say 'ob-la-di, ob-la-da ,life goes on ,brah.'

‘To establish Socialism, the working class must organise to win control of the state and turn it from the instrument of oppression which it is today into the agent of their emancipation. This principle asserts the conscious, majority, political nature of the socialist revolution.

The State is the public power of coercion and consists of the armed forces, law courts, prisons and police. Today the State is used by the capitalist class to maintain their dominant social position in a society based on the forcible exclusion of the majority from the means of production.

The first step in the evolution of the modern State was the centralisation of the means of coercion in the hands of Kings and their officials. As the capitalist class grew economically stronger they began to struggle to bring the State under their control. In Britain their weapon in this struggle was Parliament. This struggle to bring the Slate under parliamentary control was finally won with the expulsion of James II in 1688.

In Britain Parliament is the instrument by which the capitalist class control the State. Parliament makes the laws which the State must try to enforce. Thus the State is not an independent agent but is more or less effectively controlled by the capitalist class through representative institutions. The capitalist class does not rule directly. The parliamentary parties, their leaders and members, represent the capitalist class and actually manage their common affairs. The second function of Parliament for capitalism is in the debating and settling of common affairs. For capitalism is an ever-changing system, and change demands adjustments elsewhere. It is the task of the capitalist political parties to draw attention to, and take up, the problems at home and abroad which arise in this way. Party politics is the attempt to find solutions to these problems. Leaving the solutions to the free play of political forces has proved a much better method, as far as capitalism is concerned, than the Absolutist and Bureaucratic methods of the political regimes it overthrew.

Originally Parliament was an exclusive body with the franchise restricted to property owners but the struggle of the working class has forced the extension of the franchise to property-less elements also. The vote is an unqualified gain to the working class. It is something which was won by struggle and which could not be taken away without a struggle. It is a potential class weapon. In Britain the working class have come to appreciate the importance of having the vote, but not yet of how to use it to serve their own interests. But having the vote is itself a restraining influence on the capitalist class and the extent to which they can use the State against the working class.

The next step in the evolution of working class understanding is to use their votes to gain control of the State and turn it into the agent of their emancipation. To do this they most organise as an uncompromisingly Socialist political party. Working class power will be used to dispossess the capitalist class of their privileged social position. When the working class win State power there will be no question of forming a “socialist government.” Like the capitalist class the working class can only control the State through representative institutions; those who are actually sent to the scat of power will go as delegates, they will not be in a position to use the State against the socialist majority who sent them any more than the State officials of today could for long declare their independence of capitalist control. With the establishment of Socialist society will disappear the conditions for a State power of coercion; in its place will be an administration.

A number of objections have been put against this position of the Socialist Party for the most part based on experiences and conditions where both the capitalist class and working class were weak.

Anarchist anti-political propaganda frequently refers to Parliament as a “façade” or a “cypher”; Ministers are just “puppets”; somewhere behind the facade is the “real seat of power.” These are arguments anarchists have been using for years under all conditions. Their use today ignores the fact that the struggles of both the capitalist class and the working class have altered political conditions from when these dogmas were first formulated. For the view of Parliament as a facade, having no control over the State, does correspond to the reality of the pre-World War I Empires of Germany, Russia and Austro-Hungary. Here pressure had led to the establishment of elected assemblies, but these assemblies had no real power. The Emperors and their officials still directly controlled the State. Parliament was a façade, Ministers were puppets, the real seat of power did lie elsewhere. One of the early German Socialists in a famous phrase described one such assembly as “the fig-leaf of Absolutism.”

But to suggest, as anarchists do, that a modern Parliament can be compared to the Duma of Tsarist Russia or the Reichstag of Imperial Germany is just plain nonsense. In Britain Parliament controls the State; this is how the capitalist class rule. It is alright to say, “It doesn’t matter who gets in, the capitalists always rule,” but how do they rule? In fact, they rule through Parliament; the anarchists have apparently found some alternative and secret capitalist organisation for controlling the State. This is absurd, and dangerous, as it leads workers to underestimate the power of the vote.

Other critics admit the need for winning political power but argue that as the Socialist movement grows the capitalist class will suspend Parliament and unleash Fascism. First let us consider the suspension of Parliament. For the capitalist class this would mean the dissolution of the organisation whereby they control the State; they could be abdicating power to a group over which they would have little or no control. In the second place it would lead to confusion and disorder, with the breaking up of established ways of settling common problems. Thus the suspension of Parliament, and the consequent abdication of political power, would be a desperate act.

Once the Fascists were in power parliamentary institutions were smashed; and voting and trade union liberties suppressed. Compared with parliamentary rule Fascism was a step backwards. It is true that some capitalists were prepared to support such movements, and so were the working class. On the Continent the working class have been more violent which is often taken as a sign of their being more “revolutionary.” But in fact it means just the opposite: violence is a sign of the immaturity of a working class as it means they are too weak, to restrain anti-democratic elements.

Fascism did not arise as a counter to the Socialist movement (though it was to a large extent a means of disciplining an unruly working class). In Britain the capitalist class could not suspend Parliament without the support of the working class. In fact, the growth of the Socialist movement itself will change political and social conditions; it will be a restraining influence on the capitalist class rather than a provocation to violence.

A third anti-parliamentary argument uses as evidence the experience of reformist governments like the various British Labour Party governments, the Social Democratic governments of pre-Hitler Germany and the Popular Front government of Leon Blum in France in 1936. From these the lesson is drawn of “the uselessness of the State machinery for the purposes of the proletarian revolution.” In actual fact, however, such governments fail not because they attempt to use political means to benefit the working class, but because what they can do in this respect is severely limited by the basis on which they sought power and by the workings of the capitalist system. Mere political decrees cannot overcome economic forces. Capitalism can only be overthrown by the determined struggle of a Socialist working class. Reform parties, however, do not have such support behind them hence their attempts to make capitalism benefit the working class by parliamentary means are doomed to failure from the start. The reason for this is not because the government is “torpedoed by the bureaucracy” or by financiers but because capitalism cannot be made to work in the interests of the working class. There are things that Parliament and political power can do and there are things they cannot do. Parliament does control the State; it does not control the economic forces that are capitalism. The working class doesn’t need political power to form a government and try to run capitalism but to force the capitalist class to surrender their privileges. The experience of non-socialist, reformist. political action is no argument against the conscious, majority, political action for Socialism.’

Adam Buick

Promoted by the Socialist party of Great Britain, 52 Clapham High Street, London, SW4 7UN

SPGB Meeting TONIGHT 1930 (GMT+1] ZOOM



Event Details

  • Date:  – 

Guest Speaker: Keith Scholey

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Thursday, May 23, 2024

SPGB Meeting Friday 24 May 1930 (GMT+1) ZOOM


Friday 24 May 19.30 (GMT + 1)


*Guest Speaker: Keith Scholey*


To join the meeting click


Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Socialist Sonnet No. 149

Water’s Utility


‘Water, water, everywhere, nor any

Drop to drink.’ Rain falls freely to earth,

Yet water is not free; so what is it worth?

A fortune to a water company,

Feeling free to pollute rivers and lakes

With sewage in all its variety,

Product of our effluent society.

Consumers pay the bill, while capital takes

The dividends. So, what nature provides

Becomes a commodity by and by,

To profit those who’ll control the supply

As long as capitalism abides.

‘Nor any drop to drink’ safe to say

Unless the drinker can afford to pay.


D. A.

Infected blood - infected society


The contaminated blood scandal is a perfect mirror of the society we live in. It is a society ruled by the god money.

Why were 30,000 people infected with hepatitis and HIV? Simple. The infected blood was collected ‘on the cheap’ from suspect sources, administered on the cheap without proper testing and then its victims were ignored because it was not going to be cheap to compensate them.

Speed the day when we have a moneyless society where resources used and work carried out correspond to human needs and not to the gods of money and profit.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

We're doomed I tell ye!


Don’t retired British army Generals get paid enough by the capitalist system after they have spent their lives working to carry out the orders of said system in its support that they have to supplement teir pensions by ramping up the scare factor with interviews to The Sun?

How long before the two minute Putin/Russia hate is introduced across the land?

The Sun has an interview with an ex-General -republished by the MailOnline too - where he states: ‘Vladimir Putin could pound Britain with dozens of the same missiles he's using to blitz Ukraine - and there's nothing the UK could do to stop them, an ex-general has warned. The weapons would have the capacity to reach Britain in just 90 minutes, travelling at speeds of 600mph, according to General Sir Richard Barrons. The retired British Army officer estimated that an attack would involve Russia firing over the missiles in waves of 60 to 90 at a time. Speaking to The Sun, General Barrons warned that the UK would currently be unable to fend off such an onslaught.’

This military ‘expert’ posits that Russia would attack the UK using the type of missiles Russia is using against Ukaine. Apparently, they would tale ninety minutes to arrive here and would comes in waves of ‘sixty to ninety at a time.’

SOYMB is not a military ‘expert’ but in the case of the Russians being seriously peeved wouldn’t they send fewer and more effective ICBM’s?

The article says that, ‘Defence Secretary Grant Shapps told The Sun’s World At War that Britain was in talks to join Europe’s Sky Shield air defence system. He said the MoD was in early stage talks “on what a European sky shield might look like”. The scheme was proposed by Berlin in response to Moscow’s strikes on Ukraine. If Britain joins it would likely mean US Patriot missiles, Israeli Arrow-3s and German IRIS-T missiles deployed on British soil.’

Shades of the eighties and Greenham Common and American cruise missiles based here.

Is this the point of this drip drip scaremongering? Is the point to frighten the population so much that any repressive measures enacted by the government for the ‘sake of national security’ will be unquestionably accepted?

They’ll be telling us next that the Russians are re-enacting communism -it never was, the Soviet Union was state capitalist, and that it’s a threat to the wonderful capitalist system that we all enjoy.

We might know know the precise point of such cock-and-bull stories but we do know that the need for a majority to realise that the need for the transition to a socialist society is more pressing than ever

Monday, May 20, 2024

The War Game 1965


All those politicians and ‘leaders’ who are so blithely talking of nuclear war might believe that they will be ‘safe’ in their bunkers from the devastation that it would bring to the world.

Are Hiroshima and Nagasaki so easily forgotten?

Socialism is even more of an imperative to not only bring an end to exploitation but to bring an end to a system which would literally see the end of us all.

The following is from the Socialist Standard, October 1980.

‘This BBC documentary film made in 1965, shows the possible effects of nuclear attack, and was banned from television screening. It is currently being used quite widely by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament as a recruiting film. The effects of the winds and heat of fire-storms, of the displacement of oxygen by carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, and of radiation itself are portrayed to horrific effect. Mass neurosis and widespread mental debilitation are evident, and those who survive are driven to violent rioting over meagre food supplies. Evacuation and other civil defence provisions are shown as tragically futile, and it is suggested that Britain, with its NATO bases, would be the worst hit area in the world in the event of war. Armed police are shown prowling the streets and supervising the burning of bodies and there is a pervasive chaos of devastation.

The film was based on the supposition of a “minimal” attack; today the effects of nuclear weaponry would be many times more destructive. (Sigvard Eklund, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency estimates the number of warheads in the world today to be 50,000, with the power of 1,000,000 Hiroshimas.) All the same, the film is essential viewing for anyone who is concerned to get even a vague idea of what the threat of war really amounts to. The War Game also ridicules the attitudes of the clergy, quoting one minister who has said that he trusts nuclear bombs will be used “with wisdom”, and another who defends their use provided that the war they are to be used in is a “just war”.

One important irony in the film’s use as propaganda by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, is that it is based in part on the effects suffered at the bombing of Dresden in 1945, when no nuclear weapons were used. The fact is that it is not just nuclear weapons which can be responsible for unspeakable human suffering and universal devastation; “conventional” arms are quite sufficient for the purpose, to say nothing of the horrors of chemical and biological warfare. So that if CND were in some miraculous way able to persuade governments to start dismantling some of their immense nuclear stock, there would still remain all manner of other terrible weaponry. The problem is that these people, however genuinely concerned they may be about the threat of war, have responded by considering the tools with which war is waged, instead of the cause of war itself (of whatever kind) and removing that once and for all.

The cause of war was stated by Joseph Chamberlain nearly a century ago when he said that

‘All the great offices of state are occupied with commercial affairs. The Foreign Office and the Colonial Office are chiefly engaged in finding new markets and in defending old ones’
and by W M Hughes, ex-Prime Minister of Australia:
‘The increasing intensity of competition for economic markets must lead to armed conflict unless an economic settlement is found. This, however, is hardly to be hoped for. Talk about peace in a world armed to the teeth is utterly futile.’

So what are these “markets” over which so much blood is spilt? They are simply the areas in which capitalist enterprises, including that monster enterprise, the USSR, try to sell commodities in order to realise a profit. The markets, materials, territories and trade routes fought over in wars all represent profit, which belongs to the property-owning, capital-controlling class in society. The working class have no reason to fight over the property and profit of the various sections of the world’s ruling class.

The cause of war is world capitalism, the profit system, and it is that which will have to be removed. If it is not acceptable to see welfare services cut back while a minor nation like Britain spends more than a million pounds an hour on arms, then we must withdraw our support not just from Conservative politicians, but from all of the representatives of the profit system. And that applies equally to the Labour Party and the USSR patriots of the Communist Party who want nuclear bombs to defend state capitalist Russia.

It should not be forgotten, though, that war is just one particularly destructive aspect of the capitalist system. Capitalism’s converse of “peace” in some ways holds in store just as many horrors.

The expressive faces of despair which feature in The War Game are by no means uncommon in the world today. The problems of starvation or malnourishment are rife in capitalism, and sometimes unemployment is all that the working class can hope for from this system of wage-labour and capital, whether the state of affairs is officially described as “peace” or as “war”.’

Clifford Slapper

Sunday, May 19, 2024

72 minutes. Five billion people

 Have Australia and New Zealand come up with a new strategy to encourage migration to their countries? Slogan, we are te safest places to be in the aftermath of a nuclear war?

There have been several recent MSM pieces about a possible nuclear war. The latest comes from The MailOnline, 16 May, which carries an article titled, ‘Nuclear war expert reveals what would really happen after an atomic blast - and the safest part of the world to live.’ Although featured on the front online web page the article is listed under the Femail section which is presumable aimed specifically at women readers.

A nuclear war expert who claims we are getting closer to atomic warfare says it would take 72 minutes to wipe out five billion people if the worst comes to pass.

Annie Jacobsen said: 'If a nuclear exchange happens - and we're talking strategic ballistic missiles - it will not stop until the world ends and we are talking about in seconds and minutes not in days and weeks and months.'

'An ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) travels from one continent to the next in roughly 30 minutes carrying a nuclear warhead to strike a target.

She said: 'On top of the initial flash of thermonuclear light which is 180 million degrees, which catches everything on fire in a nine mile diameter radius; on top of the bulldozing effect of the wind and all the buildings coming down and more fires igniting on top of the radiation poisoning people to death in minutes and hours and days and weeks, if they happen to have survived, on top of all of that, each one of these fires creates a mega fire that is 100 or more square miles and so.'

The author said if the world went into nuclear war you would 'want to die instantly' because 'there is no more law and order.'

She said: 'There's a quote from Nikita Khrushchev, the first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, he said: '"After nuclear war the survivors would envy the dead".

'Who's left? It's man returning to the most primal, most violent state as people fight over the tiny resources that remain, and by the way they're all malnourished, everybody's sick and most people have lost everything and everyone they know. How's that going to feel?'

If nuclear war did break out Annie said the safest place to be would be in Australia or New Zealand because of the agricultural resources.

She said: 'Agriculture would fail and when agriculture fails people just die and on top of that you have the radiation poisoning because the ozone layer will be so damaged and destroyed that you can't be outside in the sunlight and so people will be forced to live underground - fighting for food everywhere except in New Zealand and Australia.'

Nevil Shute in his 1957 novel On the Beach has the population of those countries eventually succumbing to the spread of radiation southwards.

Saturday, May 18, 2024


‘Ukraine can use any weapons supplied by the UK to launch strikes on Russia’s Crimean Peninsula, British Defence Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed to journalists. London considers the region, which joined Russia in 2014 following a referendum, to be an “integral part of Ukraine,” he said.

Russia has already warned that it could retaliate to any strikes by attacking British military targets in Ukraine and beyond.

Speaking at a Royal Navy conference in the British capital, Shapps maintained that a victory for Russia would be “unimaginable and unacceptable” for the UK, and called for intensified arms deliveries to Kiev.

When asked specifically about the weapons the UK has supplied to Ukraine, the defence secretary replied that “we have provided munitions for weapons to be used in the territory of Ukraine, including Crimea.” He refused to reveal further details about the exact agreements reached by London and Kiev, saying he would “not go beyond that in talking about tactics.”

Earlier in May, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron told Reuters that Ukraine had the right to use long-range missiles sent by the UK to strike deep inside Russia. Moscow condemned the remarks, summoning London’s ambassador to warn him about possible retaliation, should British weapons be used in Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory.

A potential response could involve strikes against “any British military facilities and equipment on the territory of Ukraine and beyond,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Cameron’s words de-facto “recognized his country as a party to the conflict,” it added.

The ministry also said British weapons are being actively used by Kiev in “terrorist attacks on civilian infrastructure and the civilian population of Donbass and other Russian regions.” Russian diplomats further accused London of using arms supplies to Ukraine to gain a more prominent position within NATO.

The UK remains one of the largest donors of weaponry to Kiev, providing £7.1 billion ($8.9 billion) in assistance since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in February 2022, according to Sergey Belyaev, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second European Department.’

‘Moscow will retaliate against British targets in Ukraine or elsewhere if Kiev uses UK-provided missiles to strike Russian territory, the Foreign Ministry told London’s ambassador.

Ambassador Nigel Casey was summoned to the ministry following remarks by British Foreign Secretary David Cameron to Reuters that Ukraine has the right to use long-range missiles sent by the UK to strike deep inside Russia.

Casey was warned that the response to Ukrainian strikes using British weapons on Russian territory could be any British military facilities and equipment on the territory of Ukraine and beyond,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement following the meeting.

The US and its allies had previously qualified their deliveries of long-range weapons to Kiev by saying they could only be used on territories that Ukraine claims as its own – Crimea, the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, and Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Cameron’s statements to the contrary “de facto recognized his country as a party to the conflict.”

Russia understands Cameron’s comments as “evidence of a serious escalation and confirmation of London’s increasing involvement in military operations on the side of Kiev,” the ministry added.

Casey was urged to “think about the inevitable catastrophic consequences of such hostile steps from London and to immediately refute in the most decisive and unequivocal manner the bellicose provocative statements of the head of the Foreign Office.”

Earlier the Russian Defence Ministry announced an exercise to test the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons. President Vladimir Putin ordered the drills after “provocative statements and threats” by Western officials, the military said.

Moscow hopes the drills will “cool down the ‘hot heads’ in Western capitals and help them understand the possible catastrophic consequences of the strategic risks they generate,” as well as “keep them from both assisting the Kiev regime in its terrorist actions and being drawn into a direct armed confrontation with Russia,” the Foreign Ministry said in a follow-up statement.’