Passion for Socialism

A society based on sharing and caring.

Passion for Socialism

A society based on sharing and caring.

Photo by Stephen Philpott on Unsplash

A Manifesto for World Socialism

 

"Yet every day our cause becomes clearer and the people more clever."

Joseph Dietzgen, Social Democratic Philosophy

 

Capitalism is a system of violence. Poverty is built into its operation. The struggle for a livable planet is a life-and-death issue. Corporate greed has polluted our air, turned our soil toxic and poisoned our waters. Our survival necessitates social control of technology and production and the elimination of the blind consumerism that causes us to squander so many of the world's resources needlessly. The environmental movement holds revolutionary potential. The threat to the environment touches everyone. The need to deepen their understanding of the relationship between humanity and the rest of nature. People will have to change how they live and how society is organized. We believe in a socialism where fulfillment will be found in the relationships among people and not in the consumption of things. Only conscious socialist planning by all of society can make this a reality.

 

Without revolutionary organization, we cannot advance the revolutionary movement. As working people, we need our own party to fight for our interests, to help unify our struggles and to enable us to bring about socialism. The job of World Socialists is to continue the work of socialist propaganda at all times without fear or compromise. We point our fellow workers to a new world, the cooperative commonwealth. When they want it is within their grasp. If they have to fight for it with only a fraction of the courage, sacrifice and determination they fight the quarrels of their masters, then no combination of powers, even were they a thousand times more powerful than they are, could stand against it. New movements will arise which promise an easy road to the new world. There will be disappointments and setbacks. But out of the struggles and their lessons there will be some who will learn, and they will add to the strength of the socialist movement, preparing the way for the inevitable time when masses must accept the socialist message. Historically, the stage has not yet been reached when workers in large numbers grasp the socialist's message. But it can be hastened the more our message is spread. It is the business of all socialists to work for this end. It is your job if you are a socialist, to lend a helping hand in every possible way and so assist the movement to take all the shocks and use all the opportunities that the future may hold for it. Socialism is an historical necessity thrown up by the economic and social development of centuries. The alternative to it is chaos and conflict. As socialists we are conscious agents of the process of history.

 

The aim of World Socialists is to abolish poverty. That can be done only by abolishing the system based on class division—those who possess but do not produce and those who produce but do not possess.

 

The reformer does not want to abolish poverty in the only way in which it can be done. Instead he wants to diminish poverty or remove some of the features that result from poverty. The most fatuous form this desire takes is to be found in the recurrent schemes for keeping rich and poor but mixing them up a little—just as a defender of slavery might dwell on the beautiful thought of occasional friendly gatherings of slaves and slave owners.

 

There is, however, no indication that our rulers can cure unemployment. The capitalist employs a person for the purpose of producing a profit. If he or she can make no profit, he will not hire the worker, but will fire him or her, and so the unemployed army is created and will number millions, as our experience has shown us.

 

The socialist way is to cure unemployment by socializing the means of producing products and services so that no man or woman can be hired or fired by a capitalist owner, who now is solely concerned with a profit. Under Socialism, there would be no private owner to dictate to labor, and as a corollary there would he no profit. A man would have the right to work and the right to live. There would be no inequality of income, no money required to buy goods, and the wealth produced would be freely consumed by its creators, that is, the entire population. The workers alone have the power to change the world, provided they understand and apply the socialist remedy, i.e., of expropriating the means of producing products and services from their masters and converting them into social property.

 

World Socialists do not waste time and energy chasing reforms. It seeks political power for the sole purpose of abolishing capitalism. The socialist ideal is, of course the substitution of collective ownership and control for capitalistic ownership and control with the consequent extinction of exploitation altogether. The Left are for state capitalism or collective exploitation. We are not concerned with state capitalism. We are concerned with socialism which is the negation of capitalism. Consequently, state capitalism cannot be the ideal of any socialist. Ergo those who preach state capitalism or collective exploitation are not socialists.

 

It has always been the contention of World Socialists that:

1. Capitalism, wherever it operates, despite differences in climate, language and culture, produces the same set of conditions from which inevitably flow the same problems. This is not to say that conditions are everywhere identical under capitalism; different areas are often undergoing different stages of capitalist evolution, depending on historical background. However, when industrialism comes, late or early, capitalism comes with it: they are bound up in each other.

2. Capitalism, desiring always a submissive working class, seeks everywhere to condition the people: through religion, universities, the media of disseminating thought and ideas.

3. Despite the constant effort in this direction, there exists, invariably in capitalist society, groupings that contradict and are in opposition to capitalist society (where it hurts them) and towards one another.

 

Don’t like the world as it is? Imagine something different. The proposed alternative society to capitalism can only be socialism. What is involved is suppressing the production of exchange values for the benefit of the capitalist minority and replacing it with the production of use values for the satisfaction of real human needs, democratically determined. There is no other possible choice, no other possible alternative to this mode of production.

 

Source  |  Socialist Courier  |  Adapted

 

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Passion for Socialism


Photo by Matthew Smith on Unsplash

Sustainable Socialism

 

The science of ecology gives us powerful tools for understanding how nature functions — as interrelated, integrated ecosystems. It gives us essential insights into humanity’s impact on the environment, but it lacks a serious political social analysis. There exists a reformist fallacy that capitalists foreseeing an environmental apocalyptical future would stop investing their capital in unethical enterprises. Capitalists are the servants (“the functionaries” as Marx described them) of capital. They cannot but accumulate more and more capital: that is their function. Let us suppose that many capitalists do perceive that their interests are facing an ecological threat. What good would it do them to withdraw their capital? The capitalists are incapable of class unity, and no sooner would one withdraw investment than another would take his place as a new functionary of capital.

 

While science and technology have increased the land’s capacity for producing food, it is sobering thought to realize that of the over 7 billion people inhabiting the earth, nearly 1 billion are hungry.

 

Sustainability. That’s the popular word today in discussions of food production and the environment. But for farmers, ‘sustainability’ means not only those practices that are good for managing soil, water, and land, it also means a few things practical to the business side of the farm, such as having enough land and feed to sustain the cattle, or managing the farm to stay profitable and in business, or managing the land in a way that brings opportunities to future generations. At its basic level, sustainability can mean maximizing the land’s potential to produce more forage per acre and more milk per cow. Profitability. Whatever the specific definition of ‘sustainable,’ one thing is for certain: economics drive solutions within capitalism.

 

Is it necessary for people to eat as much meat as we do? Until relatively recently, meat was generally only eaten on special occasions and, even then, largely by the rich. For millennia we have raised animals on non-arable land and fed them indigestible waste from our food production, either harvesting their milk or their meat in return. Eating meat was occasional.

 

Climate change, with all the challenges that that brings, will be accelerated if we continue to factory farm at the rate we presently do. Intensive farming process is doing little to help the environment. We humans face a choice. As populations grow towards crisis levels and earth resources come under near-intolerable pressure, we must decide how to feed ourselves.

 

Socialism can make an ecologically balanced world possible, which is impossible under capitalism. The needs of people and the planet will be the driving forces of the economy, rather than profit. It will set about restoring ecosystems and re-establishing agriculture and industry based on environmentally sound principles. The only way we can change the world is to be fighting for the goal of socialism today. The longer we take to get started, the harder it will be.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

We recognize that there may not be one single way of doing things, and precise details and ways of doing things might vary from one part of the world to another, even between neighboring communities. Of course, we can reach some generalized conclusions based on basic premises – that socialism will be necessarily democratic, for example – and can outline broad principles or options that could be applied. That is, we do not have to draw up a plan for socialism, but simply and broadly demonstrate that it is possible and therefore refute the label of “utopianism”.

 

We look to the real world to see how it is, and how it could be. Socialist society is not starting from a blank sheet and we are inheriting an already existing economic system. Workers with all their skills and experience of co-operating to run capitalism in the interests of the capitalists could begin to run society in their own interest. We do not need to build the new society in the womb of the old, that is here already.

 

Abundance is not a situation where an infinite amount of every good could be produced. Similarly, scarcity is not the situation which exists in the absence of this impossible abundance. Abundance is a situation where productive resources are sufficient to produce enough wealth to satisfy human needs, while scarcity is a situation where productive resources are insufficient for this purpose. "Unlimited wants" is an abstraction of Capitalism. Needs are indeed finite.

 

Not all resources are available in enough supply to meet all uses for them. Land is an obvious case in point: a piece of land cannot be used at the same time for housing and for farming. Some criteria will indeed have to be developed for deciding what use to put them to Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs”, perhaps. Needs that were most pressing and upon which the satisfaction of others needs were contingent, would take priority over those other needs, high priority end goals would take precedence over low priority end goals where resources common to both are revealed to be in short supply.

 

Cost benefit analysis is an elaborate skill in capitalism and could be a neutral tool based on a “points system” to evaluate a range of different projects facing society.

 

Allocation calculations in socialism will not be economic but technical. In socialism calculations will be done directly in physical quantities of real things [calculation in kind], in use-values, without any general equivalent unit of calculation … money and prices.

 

Source  |  Socialism or Your Money Back Blog  |  Adapted

 

 

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Passion for Socialism


The Red Flag Will Rise Again

 

Socialism, as a system of ideas, has either been ignored, or dismissed contemptuously, as an outworn, superseded ideology. All socialists are rebels against enslavement and exploitation. Working people will not be emancipated through the efforts of humanitarians and nothing can be expected from the politicians. Socialists reject the policy of state ownership. We reject the idea that state capitalism is an introductory phase of socialism. State capitalism is not the abandonment of capitalism. When the World Socialists conquer the state it will not nationalize industry. Rather its first act is to abolish the state, its parliamentary regime and forms of activity. Socialism, it must be emphasized, abolishes the state. Industry is not transformed into the state, but state and industry, as now constituted, are transformed into socialism, functioning industrially and socially through new administrative norms of the organized producers, and not through the state. State capitalism is not socialism and never can become socialism, precisely because it is a state proposition. The lure that is offered to the workers is the promise to “democratize” state capitalism and the belief that it will growing into socialism, placing the government, in the hands of “the people.” This policy dispenses with the necessity of overthrowing the state as an indispensable phase of the social revolution and tactically strengthens the state and weakens the workers. The reformists are deceiving workers when they declare that nationalization, and the state sector of a capitalist country are "socialist".

 

A change is absolutely imperative. Is it possible to modify and reform the present system by eliminating its bad features? That is what many liberals and reformists have been trying to do for many years without the slightest success. The social ills afflicting the working people can all be traced to one fundamental cause, to the fact that the means of production belong to a small group of private owners who are interested in producing things only if they can make a profit out of such production. Knowing the basic cause of society's illnesses, we are in the position of a doctor who knows the cause of the sickness of a human being. We can prescribe the cure. The cure is socialism.

 

Socialism is the working class in power. Working class power is the essential condition for far-reaching social change. Socialism can be built only when the working class has taken state power from the capitalist class: that is, when there has been a revolution. Socialism is built upon workers’ common ownership of the means of production. Socialism is not some Utopian scheme. Capitalism has created the economic conditions for socialism. Today there is social production but no social ownership. Socialism will bring social ownership of social production. It is the next step in the evolution of society. Socialism will be won through the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism by the capture of political power by the working class who will take over the economic forces developed by capitalism and operate them in the interests of society. Socialism will not mean government control. Transforming the main productive resources of society into common property will enable working people to assume administration of production and distribution. Workers will be able to manage democratically their own workplaces through workers’ councils and elected administrators. In this way workers will be able to make their workplaces safe and efficient places that can well serve their own interests as well as society’s. The economy will be geared not to the interest of profit, but to serving human needs. This will release the productive capacity of the economy from the limitations of profit maximization. A great expansion of useful production and the wealth of society will become possible. Socialism will open the way for great changes in society. The people will establish a social democracy, a genuine democracy. Everything would be for the best in the very best of all possible worlds. In a socialist society the means of production will be free to provide for the needs of the people. The capitalist profit-makers will pass into history. Whether capitalism or socialism will be the order of society depends on what the working class does. Its struggle for socialism cannot be postponed. There is a working class and a capitalist class. There is a class war. Socialism is the expropriation of that capitalist class. Progressives and the Left do not recognize this task. They do not realize the futility of their insignificant reforms. To help forward the real struggle for socialism it is not enough simply to profess belief in socialism or to pronounce oneself a Marxist. It is necessary to apply Marxism and founding a policy upon it. There must be continuous Marxist explanation and education. All illusions about easy short cuts to socialism must be exposed.

 

The basic idea of socialism is that all the means of production and distribution be owned in common by all of the people, and that every person, who is not too young, or too old, or too sick, cooperate in producing those things which every member of society needs and uses. Instead of having individuals or corporations own all the factories and hire workers to produce goods only when a profit can be made from their sale, society as a whole will own the factories, and the workers will produce the things required to feed, house and clothe all of the people, and to satisfy all of their cultural needs, elected or appointed administrators will calculate approximately how much of each article will be necessary to satisfy the needs of society and the factories will be set into motion to produce more than enough of each item. Instead of the anarchy and competition that prevail at the present, production and distribution will be thoroughly planned by capable administrators with the help and participation of the workers. The plans will be constantly subjected to analysis and revision. It is impossible, of course, to furnish a complete blueprint indicating every detail of the functioning of society under socialism. Of one thing we can be certain. A change in the system of property from private ownership, producing for profit, to common ownership, producing for use, will solve the major problems facing people today.

 

World Socialists contend that industry has developed to a point where a enough quantity of goods can be produced to assure everyone a very high standard of living. Since things will be produced for use and not for profit, planning will be possible and feasible. A change from capitalism to socialism, by eliminating the waste inherent in capitalism, would easily raise the standard of living of all people across all lands. If because of some mistake too much will be produced, it will merely signify more leisure for the workers. With profits eliminated and production increased, there will be no difficulty for society to take care of those unable to work.

 

You can readily see that the solution offered by the World Socialists for the problems of all of humanity is a very radical solution, one that goes to the root of the whole matter. In our opinion it is the only solution possible. It is incumbent upon socialists to show how that solution can be realized. It is necessary to convince many more people, than are at present convinced, of the desirability and necessity for socialism. Mighty forces stand in the path of the working class. The state consisting of the police, the army, the courts, the jails, the government; the institutions that exist for the purpose of subduing and deceiving the minds of the masses, such as the church, the press, the schools, etc.; the divisions in the ranks of the workers themselves, divisions that are fostered by the ruling class. Can these mighty forces ever be defeated? Will the workers ever unite and join in the struggle for true freedom and true equality? There are many who throw up their hands in despair, proclaiming the hopelessness of the struggle.

 

The overwhelming majority of the population would benefit by a change from the present system to socialism. If the working people should be aroused and determined to abolish capitalism, the police and the army would be helpless, even if we assume that all of those would be loyal to the capitalist class. Even their police and their armies would not be reliable because the police and the army are composed of people who come from the working class and who permit themselves to be used against their class brothers simply because they do not know better. If the capitalists were to depend upon force alone to guarantee their privileged position, their situation would be precarious indeed. After all they represent only a small minority of the people. What the capitalist class must depend upon, more than on force, is deceit. All the force in the world would not avail the capitalists if they could not deceive and confuse people. It is the deception of our fellow workers, more than anything else, that assures the existence of a social order which brings so much misery and suffering to the vast majority of the people. Influenced by the false ideas propagated by the capitalist class, the workers not only fail to struggle against their real enemies but permit themselves to be arrayed against one another. They allow themselves to be divided on racial and national grounds. Prejudices are fostered amongst the workers and thereby the struggle against the common enemy is weakened.

 

When the problems confronting a people cannot be solved by the ruling class, when the people are compelled to suffer without getting relief, when they behold an arrogant minority wallowing in luxury, indifferent to the fate of others, then they are in a mood to listen to those who propose a radical solution. The ideas which the ruling class pounded into the minds of the masses lose their hold and new ideas are accepted. The cover which blinded the workers is lifted from their eyes and they realize that they must take their fate into their own hands. No force on earth can stop them. When a system of society outlives its usefulness, when in the womb of the old society there has been prepared the possibility of a new social order, when the masses suffer needlessly, and when the ruling class is unable to solve the problems facing society—under such circumstances—the ideas representing the new social order are accepted by the masses, and instruments of force and deceit at the disposal of the ruling class are helpless to preserve the old order. A revolution occurs and a new social system comes into being. And once the workers rally around the ideas of socialism, nothing in the world can stop their progress. Neither state repression, nor the lies of the media, will save the present system.

 

To achieve socialism workers must first gain political power. The capitalist class under feudalism had economic power; it required political power to consolidate and guarantee its economic power; it obtained political supremacy by a revolutionary overthrow of the feudal nobility. The workers under capitalism have no economic power (except in the sense that they can bring industry to a halt by withdrawing their labor power) and neither have they political power. Before they can take over the industries and proceed to construct a socialist society, they will have to take over the power of government. We need not look very closely at the working class to see that it has very serious divisions. There are divisions between skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers; there are differences in political development; there are divisions based upon race, creed and nationality. The workers, furthermore, are not born socialists. The conditions under which they labor make them amenable to socialist ideas but there must be some organization that assumes the responsibility of teaching the workers those ideas, of convincing them of the necessity to struggle for socialism, of representing their historic interests. What is absolutely necessary is an organization of workers who, regardless of their skill or lack of skill, regardless of any secondary differences, agree upon the necessity of solving the problems of the working class through the overthrow of the capitalist system and the establishment of socialism.

 

The Red Flag will be hoisted again because it is the flag of the oppressed, the flag of those deprived of their liberty, their labor, who are forced into wage slavery.

 

Source  |  Socialist Courier  |  Adapted

 

 

P4S
Passion for Socialism


Explaining the coming crisis 
of capitalism

 

by Alex Grant

 

Business news headlines recently bemoaned the incidence of “bond yield inversions” in a series of countries as the supposed harbinger of doom and destruction. Many working-class people were left scratching their heads about what on earth this all means. 10 years after the “Great Recession”, many could be forgiven for thinking that we have been living in permanent recession and things can’t get any worse. The reality is that, while things have not been good in most countries, things can also get far, far, worse. In this article, we will explain why.

 

What is a bond yield inversion, and why does it matter?

 

A bond is a term for the purchase of someone else’s debt. In other words, if you buy a bond, you are lending someone money (often a government or large corporation). Bonds are different from stocks, which give the owner a share of the profits of a company.

 

Bonds can be short term or long term. This refers to the amount of time that you have agreed to lend someone your money. In normal times, the longer the term, the higher the return. Say you lend someone money for 12 months, you might expect a two percent rate of return; but if you lend money for five or ten years you might demand a four or five percent rate. It is natural to demand a higher rate for a longer period because you are taking a higher risk over that time. The value of your loaned money could be eroded by inflation, or you could even lose the entire amount if a company goes bankrupt or if a government goes into default (refuses to pay). Another term for interest rate is “bond yield”. A “bond yield inversion” is the weird and dangerous phenomenon when interest rates on long-term loans are lower than short-term loans.

 

Why would interest rates for long-term debt become lower than short-term? This is another way of saying that life in the short term is far riskier than life in the long term (even when the risk of inflation and bankruptcy is factored in).

 

Imagine that you are a billionaire and are trying to figure out what to do with the mountains of cash you have screwed out of the workers (to use technical terminology). If capitalism seems to be doing well, you’ll invest this money in stocks to get a share of the profit made from exploiting workers. This is risky, but gives the best potential return. But if you think that there is going to be a slump, then you’ll pull your money out of the stock market before everybody else does the same and you lose millions when share values go down. Now our poor billionaire is looking for a place to put his or her money. They could buy a short-term bond, but that won’t help because they’ll get the money back right in the middle of the crisis. So their only option (apart from sitting on cash, or buying gold) is to buy long-term bonds.

 

Image: public domain

The yield of the long-term bond is driven down when lots of people want to buy them. This is because bonds are sold using an auction-like process. A government may say, “I want to borrow $1 million at a one-percent rate, who is interested?” If nobody is interested, such as when nobody wants to buy Greek debt, then that government will have to raise the rate to attract more people. But if it is the government of Germany, and lots of people want to buy their debt at a yield of one percent, then perhaps they can offer only 0.5 per cent, or even zero percent, and still get the money they need.

 

Low long-term yields are a symptom of the fact that the capitalists have no faith in the capitalist system. Don’t bother listening to the paid propagandists of the bosses who say that the “free market economy” is the most efficient way of allocating resources; instead, watch what the moneybags actually do with their precious hoard. They care too much about protecting their ill-gotten gains to believe their own propaganda for a single second. They just want to keep their heads down and hope that by the time their long-term bond matures the crisis will have gone away. They don’t care about being productive, and they definitely have no interest in providing jobs for working-class people. They only care about their money.

 

The situation has gotten so out of control that there are even bonds with a negative yield! This means it costs money to lend money, and you get extra money for borrowing money. The logic being that, while the loaner will lose money, they’ll lose less money than if they invested elsewhere. This can seem crazy, but there is $16 trillion currently invested in these assets that are 100 percent guaranteed to lose money. One Danish bank even released a negative rate mortgage, where they gift you money to buy a home. The capitalist system is clearly inside out and upside down.

 

Historically, since the Second World War, every time the return on 10-year U.S. government bonds has gone below the U.S. two-year bonds, there has been a recession soon after. While it is possible for yields to be negative without being followed by a recession, pretty much every recession is preceded by this kind of behaviour.

 

Bourgeois confusion

 

However, if one looks for an explanation as to why a recession is coming there is much confusion. Liberal politicians are talking about the “Trump slump”, with the prospect of the U.S.-China trade war causing a global recession. In related terms, a no-deal “Boris Brexit” also would serve to place additional barriers in the way of free trade. Even the Hong Kong protests have made markets jittery, due to the possibility of the movement spreading, and the fact that Hong Kong is an important financial centre in its own right.

Image: Michael Vadon

Right-wing populists like Donald Trump think they can win a trade war. This leaves the intelligent bourgeois aghast, as they have spent the last 80 years trying to expand trade and avoid protectionism. In their view, protectionism extended the 1929 stock market crash into the decade-long depression of the “Dirty Thirties”. They actually have a point here, as protectionism does strangle the capitalist economy. Tariff barriers and competitive devaluations mean that, instead of buying a more efficiently produced (and therefore cheaper) foreign good, you are forced to buy a more expensive and less efficiently produced domestic item. If you are the only one using protectionist measures, then you have successfully exported your unemployment to another country, but when everybody does it, then on average the entire world economy becomes less efficient. You have to do more work to get less stuff. This is why big business opposes trade wars and favours free trade.

 

The self-declared “community of nations” is complaining about Trump violating the “rules-based international order”. Does that mean workers should support these liberals against Trump? The “rules-based international order” promoted by countries such as Germany, France, and Canada is a euphemism. These pretty words to conceal a thief's bargain to share out the loot of exploiting the world working class. Trump, the biggest gangster, is merely trying to rewrite the terms of the deal in his own favour. Our opinion on this fight is the same as our opinion with regard to differences between the New York Mafia, the London Mob, and the Tokyo Yakuza.

 

But while there is potential for a trade war to exacerbate the coming slump, just as subprime debt worsened the 2008 slump, or the dot-com bubble in 2000, or the oil crisis in 1973, none of these precipitating factors really explain the cause of a recession. It has been more than 10 years since the last global downturn, one of the longest periods of growth in the history of capitalism, and generalised processes demand a generalised explanation. Possibly the best explanation for the root causes of capitalist crisis comes from the Communist Manifesto:

 

“In these crises, there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity—the epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation, had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property. The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them.”

 

Evidence of overproduction is wide and spreading. One key economic statistic that shows this is called “capacity utilization”. This measures how much of the productive potential of machinery and factories are actually in use to create commodities. Globally, this statistic has been in decline over the last 50 years. For example, in the USA, capacity utilization regularly surpassed 85 percent in the 1970s. However, after plunging to almost 65 percent during the last crisis, this figure hasn’t been able to recover. Now, between 20-25 percent of machinery sits idle even in a so-called “boom”. This waste of productive potential is an indictment of capitalism in the 21st century, which Marx and Engels explained back in Victorian times. Conversely, it also shows the potential of a society that produces for need instead of greed. Overnight we could increase output by 20 per cent merely by utilizing the existing productive forces. We would direct these resources to the genuine needs of the people, to end the housing crisis, build environmentally sustainable transit infrastructure, schools and hospitals, etc.

Another example of the crisis of overproduction are the mounting hoards of corporate “dead money”. Mark Carney, formerly the governor of the Bank of Canada, and now governor of the Bank of England, made headlines back in 2015 when he chided corporations for sitting on cash and not investing. This lack of investment led to stagnation in productivity. At the time, in Canada, dead money amounted to just under $700 billion. The bosses responded with indignation to this criticism from “one of their own”. They asked why they would invest in increasing productivity when there was a capacity utilisation crisis. Why spend money to produce more commodities when you can already make more commodities than the market can absorb? Carney quietly moved on, as did journalists, but the problem has not gone away.

 

Canadian “dead money” has ballooned by $65 billion per year to a total of $950 billion. These figures can be repeated in country after country. The billionaire class is acting like a dragon from a Tolkien novel, sitting on its jealously guarded pile of gold. But if the workers dare ask that this hoard be used for jobs, or homes, or education, they are met with smoke and fire. This is yet another glaring example of why humanity can no longer live with this monstrous system, which is completely incapable of advancing society and must be slain for the people to prosper.

 

The fundamental contradiction of capitalism is that the workers are not paid the full value of their labour. Therefore, the workers cannot buy back the items they have just produced. But while the consumption power of the working class is restricted by a whole series of factors, the individual capitalists continue planning production as if there are no such limitations. This inevitably leads the capitalist system into recurring crises of overproduction.

Marx & Engels described the fundamentals of capitalist overproduction in Victorian times. The same contradiction exists today / Image: Socialist Appeal

The capitalists can temporarily get around this in a number of ways. They can re-invest the surplus product in production. But doing this merely exacerbates the problem, as increased productivity in the long run, leads to more items being produced that the workers cannot buy. At the moment however as we have seen with the capacity utilisation and dead money crisis, corporations have stopped re-investing. The bosses can also export the surplus product, but again this builds up productive potential in other countries and re-creates the same crisis of overproduction. Now Trump’s trade war is shutting the door on this method of postponing a crisis. Finally, they can artificially boost the market by extending debt to workers, corporations, and governments. This can also work for a period, but eventually these debts must be repaid with interest. Again, the Communist Manifesto explains this clearly:

 

“And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.”

 

In 2009, governments bailed out the banks and massively increased debt. Now this debt remains—personal, corporate, and government—but a new crisis is coming. The capitalist class has utilised almost every tool at its disposal to avert another crisis. It has used up all of its escape routes and does not know what to do. It is desperately afraid of the social consequences of the “enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces” which would lead to massive layoffs and destitution. A decade ago, the bankrupt labour bureaucracy managed to encourage the workers to keep their heads down and not fight. But in the intervening period, the ideas of socialism have become popularised in a way not seen in generations. The political system in country after country is on the verge of collapse in this time of modest growth. Just imagine what will happen during a generalised slump.

 

One political commentator for the CBC said the following:

 

“We are in unknown territory, out past the ‘here be monsters’ sign. None of us has any idea how this will turn out, economists included. As we saw in 2008, the collateral damage when things start to go badly can be devastating. Personally, I have a bad feeling about it all.”

 

Theoretically speaking, there is no “final crisis” of capitalism. They will always find a route out, one way or another. But the capitalists have no idea where this route lies, and neither do we. One thing is clear, however: whichever way out they find, it will be at the expense of the workers and the poor. The bosses can no longer move society forward and stand at the edge of an abyss. We must build the forces that can create a socialist society as the only alternative to capitalist catastrophe.

 

Source  |  In Defence of Marxism  

 

 

P4S
Passion for Socialism


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A Vision of Another World

 

As the 20th September Global Climate Strike approaches why do we say that the alternative to socialism is barbarism? Why revive a phrase that seemingly was consigned to history?

 

Socialism is not inevitable and if the socialist movement fails, capitalism may well in all probability destroy modern civilization. We argue that the continuation of capitalism would lead to the collapse of civilized society and the coming of a new Dark Age, similar to Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire: “The collapse of all civilization as in ancient Rome, depopulation, desolation, degeneration — a great cemetery.” (Luxemburg, The Junius Pamphlet)

 

She also declared, “Humanity is facing the alternative: Dissolution and downfall in capitalist anarchy, or regeneration through the social revolution.” (A Call to the Workers of the World.)

 

That isn’t a new concept, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles…that each time ended, either in the revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.” (Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto.)

 

The present possibility of barbarism in the 21st Century is no more a far-fetched speculation. Climate change is a threat to humanity. The scenarios being presented by respected experts are a breakdown in agricultural systems, crop failures, water shortages, deforestation and wildfires, mass migration from coastal regions because of sea-level rises, the increased spread of diseases and climate wars over declining resources. If capitalism continues with business as usual, 21st Century barbarism will be a reality.

 

We reject the euphemistic softening of the green-washing of the brutal ecological consequences of capitalism. We believe that the present capitalist system cannot regulate, much less overcome, the global warming crises. It cannot solve the ecological crisis because to do so requires setting limits upon capital accumulation—an unacceptable option for a profit system predicated upon the rule: Grow or Die! The logic of capitalism defines the strategies of CEOs and politicians. All want their money assets to grow.

 

“Externality” is a term capitalist economists use when capitalist corporations don’t pay for the damage they cause. Pollution is the perfect example — individual corporations pollute, but society as a whole bears the cost. Adam Smith’s invisible hand, which supposedly ensures the best of all possible worlds, doesn’t work on externalities.

 

The popular capitalist solution to market failure is to create more markets via carbon trading and carbon taxes. Sweden’s Dag Hammerskold Foundation shows not only that emissions trading doesn’t work, but that it actually makes things worse, by delaying practical action to reduce emissions by the biggest corporate offenders. What’s more, since there is no practical method of measuring the results of emissions trading, the entire process is subject to massive fraud. Emissions trading has produced huge windfalls for the polluters — it instantly increases their assets and does little to reduce emissions. Another “market-driven” approach proposes levying taxes levied on corporate greenhouse gas emissions. But if the “carbon taxes” are too low, they won’t stop emissions — and if they are high enough, corporations will shift their operations to countries that don’t interfere with business-as-usual. In any event, it is very unlikely that capitalist politicians will actually impose taxes sufficiently punitive that would force their corporate backers to make real changes.

Photo by Chris LeBoutillier on Pexels.com

Most scientists, politicians, and business leaders tend to put their hope in technology. There is a widespread expectation that new technologies will replace fossil fuels by harnessing renewable energy such as solar and wind. Many also trust that there will be technologies for removing carbon dioxide such as cap and capture and for geo-engineering the Earth’s climate. Technology although possibly a valuable tool is not a magic wand to save modern civilization. But doubts about profitability have discouraged investments.

 

Any reasonable person must eventually ask why businesses and their governments seek to avoid effective action on global warming other than superficial cosmetic changes when they do accept the dire threats of what the future holds. The answer is that the problem is rooted in the very nature of capitalist society, which is made up of thousands of separate corporations, all competing for investment and for profits. If a company decides to invest heavily in cutting carbon emissions, its profits will go down. Investors will move their capital into more profitable investments. Eventually the green company will go out of business. Capitalism is anarchic and its unplanned growth isn’t an aberration, or an externality, or a market failure. It is the nature of the beast.

 

Socialism still stands for the replacement of capitalism, a task now given an added urgency for the survival of civilization itself. We say that capitalism is inherently unsustainable and will break down into the barbarism if our effort to build socialism proves unsuccessful. It is humanity’s obligation that the struggle for socialism succeeds. Socialism is emancipatory, embracing the goal of transformation of needs, a shift toward use-values over exchange-values—a project of far-reaching significance grounded not in the sense of imposing scarcity, hardship and austere consumption. It is a society of freely associated producers, a world society in ecological harmony with nature, unthinkable under present capitalist conditions. Socialism will be worldwide and universal, or it will be nothing. Air and water don’t stop at borders. So long as capitalism remains the world’s dominant economic system, positive changes in individual countries will be undermined by countermoves in other countries seeking competitive advantage. Change must be all-encompassing.

 

Extinction Rebellion and the rest of the climate movement are demanding something should be urgently done but believe that reforms and legislation is compatible with profits and global markets. Our goal is to overthrow the capitalist mode of production. The problem is capitalism and its emphasis on growth. For the planet to stand any chance, the world’s production and distribution system must be redesigned.

 

Socialists seek to bring the cooperative commonwealth into existence. Only an economy that is organized for human needs, not profit, has any chance of slowing climate change and reversing the damage that’s already been done. Only democratic socialist planning can overcome the problems caused by capitalist chaos. Socialism did not triumph in the 20th Century. Today We will either see the fabric of civilization unravel under the onslaught of an increasingly unstable climate events— or else we will construct a new society forged on a new set of global relationships. Echoing Marx and Engels and Luxemburg, we say that humanity’s choice is Socialism or Barbarism. There is no other way.

 

Source | Socialism or Your Money Back Blog | Adapted

 

 

P4S
Passion for Socialism


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Understanding Socialism

 

What is socialism? If we are socialists, what are we actually seeking to create. Too often we are offered definitions given new meanings from their original usage. There are “socialists” who wish the term to be associated with various nationalization schemes despite them often being promoted by certain capitalists interests who have come to realize that private enterprise is failing to provide proper investment and that state aid is required. To call such policies ‘socialist’ is highly misleading. 

 

State ownership and control is not socialism. The same despotic rule remains. Those who work the most and hardest still get the least remuneration, and the work-force are still deprived of all voice in the administration of their industry, just the same as in all private enterprises. Schemes of state and municipal ownership are but schemes for the improvement of the mechanism of government policies to make the capitalist regime respectable and more efficient to serve the purposes of the capitalist. They also represent the class-conscious unity of the business man who feels that capitalist should not prey upon capitalist, yet all may unite to prey upon the workers. Opportunist politicians and reformists have been agitating for various nationalizations for decades, while never daring to pose the real issue of private property as an institution and as the basis of the social order. Nationalization and municipalization are palliatives and meagre ones too. Those who talk about this as “socialism” in any sense at best confuse workers on what really constitutes socialism – namely, the common ownership and control of the means of production and distribution by the community and the ending of the profit system.

 

Under state ownership, profits continue for private investors; that is, the bankers, capitalists, etc., who purchase, bonds and receive their profits in the form of interest and dividends. In a limited and small sense, they can benefit the masses avoiding being gouged by the predatory profiteers.

 

Capitalism does not consist merely in the private ownership of the necessaries for production. If such ownership were the determining feature of capitalism, then capitalism reigned in the days of serfdom. The serf owned his tools, the feudal lord owned the land, two necessaries for production. Yet that was not capitalism. Capitalism is that social system under which the tool of production (capital) has grown to such mammoth size that the class that owns it rules like a despot. 

 

And there are competing sectors of capitalism, always striving for supremacy:

1. Commercial capitalism, dominated by merchant traders, buying cheap, selling dear;

2. Industrial capitalism, dominated by manufacturers;

3. Finance capitalism, dominated by bankers seeking interest on their lent-out money; and

4. Land-owning capitalism, those real property magnates living off rent. Like financiers they are parasites upon the industrialists, who in turn leech off their worker.

 

So socialism does not consist merely in the overthrow of private ownership in any or all of the necessaries of life. If such overthrow of private ownership were socialism, then the overthrow of the one-time private ownership of military forces, and the present State-ownership of the same, would be socialism. Obviously, that is not socialism. A limb of a human being is not a human being. Socialism is that social system under which the necessaries of production are owned, controlled, and administered by the people, for the people, and under which, accordingly, the cause of political and economic despotism having been abolished, class rule is at end. That is socialism, nothing short of that.

 

The conscious support of our fellow-workers is what we want. We are fighting for their hearts and minds. The World Socialist  Movement exposes the real nature of capitalism and reveals the futility of reform.

 

Source  |  Socialist Courier

 

 

P4S
Passion for Socialism


Here We Stand

 

The World Socialist Movement says once more time that all workers are in a class war. The capitalist class and the working class have no common interests. The survival of the capitalist class depends on its ability to drive the working class into deeper and deeper misery.

 

The World Socialist Movement understands its role as one to assist the working class to fight the capitalist class to the end, for an end to wage slavery. The working class is not a small, narrow class. The working class constitutes the majority of the population. The working class is composed of unskilled and skilled employees, farm-workers, and non-production workers such as office staff including lower-middle management, transportation and service workers. It can be defined as all those who:

* Do not own the means of production; 

* Have to sell their labour-power to the capitalist class to make a living; and

* Directly, or indirectly, create surplus value...which is then expropriated by the capitalist class.

 

This exploitation, or expropriation of surplus value, creates an irreconcilable, antagonistic class contradiction between the working class and the capitalists. Only the emancipation from wage labor itself can liberate the working class. Its purpose, therefore, is to overthrow the capitalist class and replace capitalism with socialism which is a class-free society.

 

We mean to replace capitalism, and to substitute universal socialist organization and cooperation. Our first principle as socialists is that all should be well-fed, well-housed, and well-educated. World Socialists oppose the spreading of the illusion of a class partnership, that there is an ever-expanding “pie” to be divided up and “shared” between workers and capitalists. Reformists constantly spread the view that the capitalist system is fine except for a few adjustments or improvements. The working class and capitalists, can get along with one another, they tell us and that there is no reason for conflict. The reformists claim the neutrality of the government mediation and the legal system. But the facts of the class struggle, of our declining standard of living, dwindling trade union rights, and the viciousness with which the capitalists attacks those on State benefits puts the lie to this class partnership fakery. 

 

In a capitalist society where class struggle is the rule, no institution is neutral. The State is in the hands of the capitalist class. Our goal is overthrowing capitalism as a system. Our struggle is against the system of wage slavery. Our object is the complete abolition of capitalism and reorganizing the whole world on a socialist basis. We recognize that in this endeavor, we are up against a most ruthless brutal ruling class. It is necessary to add a word of caution. Some on the left think a socialist revolution can be done without winning over a majority of the people to revolutionary principles. We warn, here, it would be a dangerous game to play with the principles of revolutionary socialism, aye it would be a violation of them. It would cast suspicion on our revolutionary integrity, and for a certainty it will keep us from our goal.

 

There are a number of illusions preventing our fellow workers from seeing the underlying cause of their problems and from looking toward a socialist solution. World Socialists dedicate themselves to exposing the domination of our life by a class of capitalists who use their immense propaganda machine to promote ignorance and confusion. Capitalism has outlived its usefulness and is daily threatening mankind with destruction and devastation by either global war or global warming. We strive to establish a democratic socialist society. Our desire is to advance the cause of socialism worldwide. 

 

World Socialists believe in the entire transformation of the social system itself, and this remains our primary and immediate aim. We pledge ourselves to seize all the means of production and distribution from the hands of the exploiters and bring these into common ownership under the management of the associated producers and to continue the struggle against the existing system of exploitation until this new society has come into being.

 

Source  |  Socialist Courier  |  Adapted

P4S
Passion for Socialism


Photo by Arie Wubben on Unsplash

The Difference Between
Socialism and Communism

 

There is no difference.

 

The two terms are interchangeable: both describe the class-free, state-free society of equal producers advocated by the co-founders of scientific socialism, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Initially they used "communism" to describe the future classless society because of the popular association of "socialism" with the Utopian "socialists" of that time.

 

As Engels explained in his 1888 preface to the English translation of The Communist Manifesto: "When it [the Manifesto] appeared, we could not have called it a socialist manifesto. Two kinds of people were regarded as socialists in 1847. On the one hand were the followers of the various Utopian systems, especially the Owenites [followers of Robert Owen] in England and the Fourierists [followers of Charles Fourier] in France, both of which at that time had dwindled to mere sects that were already dying out. On the other hand were the numerous social quacks who, with their various panaceas and every type of patchwork, wanted to do away with social evils without, in the slightest, harming capital and profit. In both cases they were people outside the labor movement and looked far more for support from the 'educated' classes.

 

"On the other hand, that part of the working class which was convinced of the inadequacy of a mere political revolution and demanded a fundamental transformation of society -- that part at the time called itself communist.... In 1847 socialism signified a bourgeois movement and communism a working-class movement. Socialism, at least on the Continent, was respectable enough for the drawing room; communism was the exact opposite. Since we were already then definitely of the opinion that 'the emancipation of the workers had to be the task of the working class itself,' we could not for one moment be in doubt as to which of the two names to choose. Nor has it ever occurred to us to renounce it since then."

 

Subsequently, as the Utopian "socialists" faded into oblivion and were largely forgotten, Marx and Engels generally preferred to use the term "socialism" in their writings. Today, both "socialism" and "communism" have been wrongly associated with false and pernicious definitions. Thanks to the so-called social democrats, or reformist "socialists" (for example, the Socialist Party of France, the Labour Party in Britain, the Democratic Socialists of America, in the United States), many people have come to equate "socialism" with any industry or program that is administered by the capitalist political state, be it a nationalised healthcare system, the postal service or a welfare program.

 

"Communism," meanwhile, has come to be associated with the system of bureaucratic despotism, the state-capitalist command economy run by the so-called “Communist” parties, that unraveled in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, but which still prevails in China and Cuba.

 

Further adding to the semantic confusion is the false concept that the Communist parties and other Leninist organisations have promoted for many years -- the concept that a post/capitalist society first goes through a lengthy "socialist" stage, before arriving at the classless society of "communism."

 

This is a distortion of Marxism, invented by Lenin in his work, State and Revolution. Marx did describe a "first phase" and "higher phase" of "communist society" in his Critique of the Gotha Program. But he was not describing a "transitional" stage in which classes and the state would still exist, and a "higher" stage in which they would disappear, and he did not describe the "first phase" as "socialism" and the "higher phase" as "communism." Rather, he was describing a development that would occur after the classless society, based on social ownership and democratic workers' control of the means of production -- a society that could be described as either "socialism" or "communism" -- was fully established. In the "first phase," some measure of labor time would still be needed to govern the exchange and distribution of the workers' product; in the "higher phase," distribution could be conducted according to the principle: "From everyone according to his faculties, to everyone according to his needs."

 

Lenin described Marx's two "phases" as "the scientific difference between socialism and communism." Subsequently, in the ideology of the Soviet Communist Party and its progeny, "socialism" became associated with the state-ruled society of bureaucratic state despotism, and "communism" with the classless society that somehow would arrive some day in the distant future. But these false and confusing definitions of "socialism" and "communism" have no basis in Marx's writings or in scientific socialist thought.

 

Naturally, the capitalist class and its leading propagandists in the United States have been all too happy to seize upon any and all of the false definitions of "socialism" and "communism" in order to confuse the working class and discredit both words in workers' minds.

 

Standing against such misinformation, the World Socialist Movement have a well established history of fighting to uphold the correct, scientific, Marxist meaning of socialism or communism. In defending and advocating Marx's and Engels' conception of the future class-free society, though, we have focused on winning over workers by using the term that Marx and Engels preferred in their later years -- socialism. You've heard bad things about socialism. It's because the capitalists who own the industries don't want people to know that there is a better and fairer way for society to be organised. They don't want socialism because socialism would mean that they would have to give back all the wealth they've made off the backs of working people. So they spread a lot of lies and confusion about socialism.

 

Source  |  Socialist Courier  |  Adapted

 

P4S
Passion for Socialism


Image by skeeze from Pixabay

Against Reformism

 

The Socialist Party [of Great Britain] has never said that all people are equal, in the sense of having the same abilities and the same needs. Far from it; we have always recognized that each individual human being has different abilities and needs, a point summed up in the old socialist slogan "from each according to ability, to each according to needs”. The word equal has a double meaning— the same and not inferior or superior to. Because people are different does not necessarily mean that they are inferior or superior. Yet this simple error is often made. To talk about inferior/superior is to erect some standard against which people can be judged, a standard that is man-made and outside biology and genetics. We answer that every human being, whatever his abilities, is of equal worth and should have an equal say in the running of human affairs. That is the equality socialists stand for. Even if science were to establish a correlation between intellectual ability and some physical characteristic, that would not alter the socialist case in the least. A world community, without frontiers, based on common property and production solely for use, would still be the solution to working-class problems. The case for socialism has never rested on the absurd proposition that all men are the same, physically and intellectually.

 

The Socialist Party is in favour of workers trying to improve their conditions under capitalism. It does not say that we support specific reform measures in the housing field. We are opposed to all reformist movements. But this does not mean that we are opposed on principle to any reform of capitalism. What we say is that a socialist party ought not to advocate reforms for fear of attracting non-socialist support, and in a bid to keep that support being dragged into compromise with capitalism. We thus campaign for Socialism alone, and not for or against specific reforms. We are indeed very happy to receive any crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table.

 

We have long held that socialist MPs or local councillors ought to judge on their merits any reform measures placed before them by other parties. We accept that on occasions this would mean their voting for reforms. But the socialist delegates would not themselves propose reforms. So it is not true that in such a situation the Socialist Party would be advocating reforms as well as socialism. The difference would be that then, as compared with now, the larger socialist movement would be able to have some political influence which it would obviously use to further working-class interests.

 

We do not advocate reforms. We do, however, judge reforms proposed by other parties on their merits. Our knowledge of how capitalism works enables us to see that most of them are pretty futile, though at times we recognise that some could be useful in a small way — and say so.

 

Reformism is a ceaseless following of blind alleyways in which the workers get bewildered and hopeless. Unless they understand the socialist position, they are tempted to make useless angry demonstrations and riots which can only result in loss of life or injury to our class and give the government a chance to demonstrate their power and make an example of a few of the workers. There is only one sound policy to pursue, and that is the constant preaching of socialism. When we have sufficient knowledge as a class, we can obtain political power. Remembering that the salvation of the workers must be the work of the workers, we must neither put our faith in the Lord, nor leaders, nor psychologists. Given the knowledge, the rest, by comparison, will be simplicity itself.

 

Source  |  Socialism or Your Money Back Blog

 

 

P4S
Passion for Socialism


Humanity or Capitalism

 

Capitalism has deteriorated to the point where it threatens the existence of civilization and perhaps even mankind. The system faces problems it cannot possibly solve. Most serious of these are the intensification of the effects of climate change and the growing unemployment as a result of automation and the ever present threat of nuclear war. Other problems that defy capitalist solution are: wide displacement and impoverishment of refugees and migrants, mounting racism, and rising levels of mental illnesses. All these are symptomatic of a social system that is taking us toward social catastrophe.

 

Capitalism is an economic system in which goods are produced to be sold at a profit. The goods are produced by the working class in industries owned by a small class of capitalist parasites. The capitalist owners of industry become the owners of the products. The workers get for their creative efforts a wage , an amount just barely sufficient to maintain themselves and their families. It is the relation of this amount to the value of the workers' output that is at the bottom of capitalism's recessions and conflicts. Don't be misled by delusions. While the capitalists probably do fear the danger that their class rule and privilege might result in a climate cataclysm, there is still no guarantee that their class interests will not drive them to gamble with the planet. As for the nonsense that government intervention and the Green New Deal is able to restore stability and prosperity remember that all of the original New Deal's "pump priming" failed. It took a world war to end the economic slump.

 

The Socialist Party [of Great Britain] says this: Global warming, recessions and wars are inevitable effects of capitalism, therefore they can never be eliminated as long as the system survives. Only when our economic life has been entirely rebuilt on a new foundation can lasting sustainability, peace and economic well-being for all be achieved. Production for private profit must be replaced by production for the common good. Instead of letting a tiny useless class appropriate the largest share of our collective product, the workers who create it must retain its full social value. Likewise, the existing despotic capitalist control of the economy must yield to a democratic management of the industries by the workers who run them. And, of course, to permit the foregoing fundamental changes, the industries and natural resources of the Earth must become the social property of all of its peoples. We must establish a new society -- a Socialist society. We mean genuine Marxian socialism and emphatically not those monstrous counterfeits which workers in the past have been deceived by in the past.

 

Working people have the potential political power to dispossess the capitalist class in order to place the economy under common ownership. It is of crucial importance that the workers vote for socialism. There can be no peace or economic security without socialism! Nor can we solve our other tragic problems until we get rid of their capitalist cause. Put your full weight behind the only movement that can transform our world into a model of peace, abundance, freedom and social sanity.

 

Are we going to keep the system of private ownership? Shall we attempt to preserve a social system that has proved its incapacity to solve the problem of poverty in the midst of plenty? Do you favour prolonging the life of a society in which a few own all the means of wealth-production, in which labour-saving machinery, instead of lightening labor's toil, throws workers out of their jobs onto the industrial scrapheap? Must mankind pass through still another vicious cycle of recessions and continue to suffer war and climate crises? Or shall we do the common-sense thing, make the means of production our collective property, abolish exploitation of the many by the few, and use our productive genius to create leisure and abundance for all?

 

If you agree with us that society must be reconstructed, then there are certain things we must understand. The first is that we can expect no help whatsoever from the beneficiaries of capitalism. Here and there a capitalist may see the handwriting on the wall and join with the workers, but as a class the capitalists, like the slave-owning and feudal classes before them, will strive to prolong their poverty-ridden, war-breeding system. The workers of hand and brain must build this new world and emancipate themselves through their own class conscious efforts. The second thing we must understand is this: Though the workers are in the overwhelming majority, and have tremendous potential power, they can apply their collective strength to the task at hand only through political and economic organization. This means that by organizing as a political party the working class and avails itself of the ballot. This is the peaceful method. It permits the forces of progress to proclaim their purpose openly, and mobilize themselves for political victory and the conquest of the capitalist political State. 

 

The people run the industries today, under capitalism, and will run them tomorrow, in socialism. The difference will be (1) that tomorrow, with socialism, production will be carried on to satisfy human needs-instead of for sale and profit - and (2) the despotic management of capitalism will be replaced by the workers' own democratically elected and democratically controlled administrators and delegates, the most complete democracy ever achieved since the breakdown of the tribal councils of primitive communist societies. There can be no bureaucrats or technocrats. This will be a living, vibrant democracy in which all power is in the only safe, place for power to be- with the people integrally organized in every community and workplace across the land.

 

Will you take an active role in the revolutionary process that is already unfolding? Will you put in the energy and effort?

 

Source  |  Socialist Courier

 

 

P4S
Passion for Socialism


Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Nationalism –
the handmaiden of the capitalist

 

The Socialist Party [of Great Britain] is opposed to the state because it is the instrument of the capitalist class used to impose and maintain its domination over the working class. In overthrowing capitalism the world socialist movement aims to abolish ALL nation states and national borders. The proposition that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, which leads some people to support nationalists, invariably misjudges who or what the real enemy is, and so ends up dragging the working class into taking sides with 'nice” factions of the capitalist class in its squabbles with the 'nasty” factions of the same class. However, the real enemy of the working class is not any of these different factions of the ruling class but the entire capitalist system itself. The outcome of past 'national liberation' struggles shows that the working class always ends up being oppressed just as much by its so-called 'liberators' as it was by its old colonial foreign masters. Yesterday's freedom fighters have today changed from combat fatigues into business suits.

 

To speak of the Scottish nation' or 'the Welsh people' as if these are homogeneous entities flies in the face of the reality that capitalist society is divided into mutually antagonistic classes. 'The people as a whole' have never determined their own 'political, social and economic affairs'. In every country, political, social and economic policies are drawn up by, and in the interests of, the ruling class. What is presented as being for the good of the nation is purely for the benefit of the bosses. Any ideology which denies this is so, is a barrier which must be overcome if the working class is to assert its own independent class interests. By campaigning for independence, nationalists encourages workers to waste their efforts in chasing something which cannot be achieved. It is an illusion to suggest that a sovereign Scotland or separate Wales could determine its affairs free from the global economy. A government of an 'independent' Scotland or Wales would find itself having to come to terms with a worldwide economic system dominated by powerful trading blocs and transnational corporations. Its room for manoeuvre within this framework is extremely limited and would continue to be subjected to its domination.

 

Nationalism isn’t “natural”. It is the manufactured ideology of the capitalist class. Nationalism, whatever form it takes, does two things: it tries to create a community of interest between the bosses and the working class; and it binds this community to the capitalist nation-state, reinforcing the latter’s power and role in exploitation. There is no ‘progressive’ form that this can take.

 

The real issue is that they face an increasingly dire future under whatever capitalist regime. The world's working class has seen living standards falling across the planet. It is not surprising that there has been a rise of nationalist and populist movements. They all claim the old conventional status quo parties are the cause and they have the solution in their policies. They all want us to believe that they can manage capitalism fairly, that they can magically escape the imperative of capitalist production. They all pretend that the accelerating attacks on wages, conditions and social services can be blamed on others such as greedy banks, or tax-dodging rich rather than being integral and intrinsic to the global profit system.

 

We have over a century of experience of national liberation, anti-colonialism, separatist struggles which in most cases culminated in an oppressive new ruling class. Do we expect different results? Even if the Scottish government or Plaid Cymru are now against draconian cuts to the Welfare State, this is in no sense a permanent situation. None of the promised reforms from nationalists are guaranteed. Nor can we trust them to share the wealth, to protect social services, to not attack the unemployed or the disabled, not to make cuts, to deport people or remove trade union restrictions. Massive political and economic forces will be brought to bear on any post-independent government – it will be austerity policies for the economic interests of its ruling class. When the left nationalists employs radical rhetoric such as participatory democracy it is to soften their reformism with some mild criticism of the status quo. This is wishful thinking from these ever-hopeful entryists.

 

The real issue for the world’s workers is that they face an increasingly dire future under whichever capitalist regime rules. Our only hope lies in getting rid of the system that produces such misery.

 

The nation state is the political organisation of capitalism. With socialism, nation states will disappear. The Socialist Party opposes every attempt to rally the working class to the cause of nationalism, a reactionary force which divides and weakens the working class.

 

The ruling class - or those who aspire to become the ruling class - have always been able to rope the working class into fighting their battles for them. Our attitude to the issue of nationalism may not find much of an echo among many workers at present, but for genuine socialists there can be no alternative to calling for a united working class struggle against the capitalist, foreign or domestic.

 

Source  |  Socialism or Your Money Back Blog

 

 

P4S
Passion for Socialism


Image by Hermann Traub from Pixabay

Marxism is What?

 

What Marx meant and what Marxism means has been debated by literally thousands of writers on the subject, supporters as well as opponents. The validity of Marxism is far more widely rejected than accepted. The “failure” of Marxism has been the prevailing message. And even proponents of Marxist ideas squabble about the correct “party-line.”

 

Marx saw the theft of the peasants’ lands as the birthmark of capitalism. Marx opposed slavery, and chose as his favourite hero Spartacus, leader of the slaves’ revolt. Marx thought that, with socialism, the state would wither away. Marx explained the whole social world rests on the labour of working people. Marx argued that humanity needs to take back, collectively and democratically, its own power to shape the world. To do that, it must destroy the power of the ruling classes. Marx described a divided social system across the globe, driven by competition between rival capitalists and rival states, as a system out of all control where misery and poverty continues. It is subject to immense convulsions and crises, which alternately promote expansions of exploitation slumps, when workers are cast on the scrapheap. Marx insisted that capitalists have ‘despotic’ power over workers at work, and called the workers ‘wage slaves’. Marx once wrote that the choice for humanity was between socialism and barbarism: the truth of that observation is more obvious and chilling today.

 

Marx said that it’s no good just wishing for a different world, or drawing up schemes for social regeneration. Socialism only becomes really possible on two conditions.

 

The first condition is that human productivity should have developed sufficiently to make communism practicable. A poverty-stricken world, where men and women can barely produce enough for their own needs, could not sustain a genuinely democratic society: everyone would be at each others throats. This is why Marx praised capitalism for its achievement in creating the material conditions for socialism where everyone could have enough to eat, adequate clothing and decent housing, with ample leisure time. Today everyone knows that not a child needs to starve, that not a single sick person needs to lack medical care.

 

The second condition is for socialism to be more than an Utopian dream, there needs to be a social force to bring it into being and according to Marx, that agency is the working class. Workers are unlike previous exploited and oppressed classes in history. Capitalism itself shoves them together, in cities and workplaces, endowing them with collective power; capitalism forces them to cooperate with each other; capitalism, precisely in order to exploit workers better, must educate them and raise their cultural level – far above, indeed, the level of previous ruling classes. And capitalism compels them into a life of permanent struggle, whether they like it or not. What distinguishes the working class, therefore, from all previous exploited classes is not its misery as they live on average better and longer lives than chattel slaves or feudal serfs. But crucially, the working class has immense power and capacities. It is the first class in history which is capable of overthrowing class society entirely. The very heart of Marxist ideas is the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves, their aim was the abolition of all class rule and the end of all servitude, misery, degradation and political dependence across the world. Always and everywhere he opposed those who preached ‘socialism from above’. For Marxists, the working class alone has the capacity to free the new society that lies, waiting to be built, within the present chaotic and divided world of capitalism. No one need starve in a world where food surpluses are produced every year. No one need be homeless, or tortured, or bossed about by bureaucrats and leaders.

 

The job of socialists to spread these ideas and to organise themselves, showing the way forward to working class solidarity and power. It is not surprising that at this moment the capitalist intellectuals reject Marxism. But the authentic tradition of Marxism and the real Karl Marx can again be discovered. The genuine socialists have some very marvellous ideas that need spreading far and wide.

 

Source  |  Socialist Courier

 

 

P4S
Passion for Socialism


Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

It's a Gamble

 

Blog #21  -  21 June 2019

 

People want an anti-capitalist party, an anti-war party, a party for the environment and humankind. Socialists must start now to build a party that will speak for the workers. We cannot wait for ‘ideal’ conditions which never come.

 

There is a recognizable political cycle. We have been through it before, over and over again. It is the cycle of lesser evil. Politicians knowingly market themselves to lesser evil voters by constructing phony sales pitches, making themselves look more progressive than they really are. For instance, for the sake of argument, there is a campaign to get Joe Biden into office so to ward off a greater evil of Trump. But once in office, Biden comes under irresistible pressure from his capitalist masters to break his “populist” promises, to disappoint, disillusion and betray the working people who placed their trust and hope in him. Some supporters sink back into apathy and despair, while others fall prey to the populist-type backlash. These reactions give the Republicans their chance to return to political power. Those who support the lesser evil play an essential role in constantly reproducing the cycle. They share the responsibility for its persistence. Support for the lesser evil also entails support – indirect and delayed, but support nonetheless – for the greater evil. Whichever party assumes office, it has but one remit once in office – to further the interests of the corporate elite. It’s just not a feasible option for any newly elected president to entertain any idea other than guaranteeing a safe playing field for the domestic profit-machine. The lesser evil invariably paves the way and makes inevitable the greater evil because people cease to vote when they have been betrayed by the lesser evil. What lesser evilism is about is supping with the devil, but with a longer spoon. No matter what the outcome of the 2020 election, no matter who wins, the continued existence of capitalism is guaranteed. The problems of capitalist society have been described by journalists, novelists, historians, economists, sociologists, and even many politicians. But only socialists recognize that these problems cannot be solved until capitalism is replaced by a social system in which people throughout the world will work harmoniously together to produce and distribute wealth to satisfy society’s needs.

 

Workers' cannot be defended by an adoption of the 'lesser evil', that is, a policy of concessions to and compromise with elements of capitalism. We do not unite with non-socialist organizations which claim to be defending our fellow-workers. A worker that has been robbed is like a cow that has been milked. The poor dumb animal is incapable of worrying about what becomes of the milk, but the so-called “intelligent” worker takes sides, as they often do, with one gang of robbers that has plundered him as against the bunch of thieves. We should realize that voting for one crooked politician to stop another, backfires on the working class. Your vote does count in elections. It counts for capitalism. It becomes the mandate for all the actions of government over the next four years. sides in the quarrel which goes on over that which has been taken from him. When sections of the capitalists, who exploit the working-class milch-cow squabble over their share of the surplus value, workers who line up and take sides in this quarrel are in the same position as the worker who has been robbed by thieves who then later fight over the division of the booty. It would be funny if it were not so sad and tragic to see.

 

Of two evils, choose neither. Abstention from voting, but more importantly spoiling your ballot, is a valid legitimate expression of a person’s political position. Voting is presented as a sacred cow. Popular slogans such as “if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain”, or “it is your duty to vote” are repeated ad nauseum. It is almost impossible to watch the news without the classic platitude from celebrities to public intellectuals: “Whatever you do, just make sure you get out there and vote”. They ask “How do we bring the non-voters into our political process?” or “How can we engage voters?” but rarely do they question “Why are these voters not engaged” and never “Is their disengagement correct?” and “Should we join them in solidarity?”

 

In the conflict between Tweedledum and Tweedledumber, the advice is to spoil the ballot paper and abstain from voting for either evil. The only way we can prevail is by offering an alternative – don’t play the game, don’t be forced into a false and hypocritical “choice”. The only way to save democracy is to expose the falsity of the choice at hand. Reformists are Judas goats, helping to lead the working class into the slaughterhouse. Well-meaning, good-intentioned reformers have nearly obliterated one of the fundamental principles of socialism, that the independent working class must create its own revolutionary party and put an end to class collaboration. A genuine working-class party would tell the truth about the system. By not voting working people will register their rejection of pro-capitalist candidates. The enormous success of the lesser-evil political system is in getting about half the people simply not to vote and forcing those who do to vote, in favour of what they oppose. The solution to the lesser evil/greater evil is to build the independent activity and consciousness of the working class. The working class must make use of democratic rights under capitalism to build their own organization of struggle and in doing so we shall acquire the ability to bring down this wretched system of exploitation, oppression, and sham democracy. The working class needs a political alternative.

 

Source  |  Socialism or Your Money Back Blog

 

 

 

P4S
Passion for Socialism

 


Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

Who controls my bread,
controls my head

 

Blog #20  -  17 June 2019

 

In the past few hundred years, capitalism has become the dominant form of production and of division of society into classes, i.e. the dominant mode of production. Its distinguishing characteristic is to have simplified class antagonisms by increasingly reducing them to the one opposing the proletariat (or working class) to the bourgeoisie, to capitalism.

The key to the economic and political power of the bourgeoisie is the private ownership of the means of production and exchange (land, buildings, factories, machines, stores, transportation, etc.) and the exploitation of the labor-power of the working class. The bourgeoisie is a class whose reason for existence is the accumulation of capital, i.e. the continual growth of its economic power; a capitalist who does not grow is, as a general rule, a capitalist condemned to disappear. On the other hand, the capitalist has nothing if he cannot find in society a large number of people who have no other means of subsistence but the sale of their labor-power in exchange for a wage equivalent to the strict minimum for survival. The secret of capitalist exploitation lies precisely in the fact that what the capitalist buys from the worker is not his work but rather his labor-power. If the capitalist had to pay for the work furnished, he would not be able to make the profit he does. Let’s look at an example to illustrate this.

Suppose that a worker produces 10 pairs of shoes a week which sell for $25.00, thus making a total value of $250.00 per week on the market. This worker receives a weekly wage of $100.00. Where does the value of the shoes come from? The raw materials – the leather, thread, and glue – along with the other means of production such as electricity, the machines, etc. alone account for $75.00 to which is added the value added by the worker’s labor, i.e. $250.00 less $75.00 or $175.00. This sum represents the amount that the worker added by his work to the value of the materials that he was given at the beginning. If the capitalist paid the worker according to the value of his labor, he would have to give him $175.00. However, this is not what happens because the wages paid to the worker do not correspond to the value of the work he furnishes; rather, they correspond, on the average, to what it costs the worker to reproduce this labor-power or, in other words, to recuperate his energies and ensure his subsistence given the cost of living and the living conditions at a given time.

There lies the essence of capitalist exploitation: the worker gives a certain value of work to the capitalist, but his wages do not correspond to this value but to only a fraction of it. The value of the non-paid work is called the surplus-value; the capitalist appropriates this non-paid fraction which constitutes the source of his profit, the source of capital. Here lies the key to the exploitation of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie, the key to the enrichment of the bourgeoisie on the backs of workers.

The history of humanity shows that the exploiting classes are eventually overthrown by those whom they oppress. Capitalism is no exception. It also is condemned as the slave society and feudalism before it. Capitalism is undermined by its own contradictions. This means that, with the development of capitalism, the working class whose historic mission is to dig the grave of capitalism, develops and is strengthened. This also means that capitalism can no longer ensure humanity’s progress; on the contrary, it slows down this progress. It has thus become a reactionary mode of production. Capitalism's fundamental law is the search for individual profit, has reached the point where the development of the productive forces is incompatible with the search for profit. Corporations prevent the utilization of a large number of technical and scientific innovations which although they would benefit the majority of people, would not be good for profits. Land speculation and the law of profit have had disastrous effects on agriculture which goes from the underutilization of arable land to the massive destruction of agricultural products. The quality of goods diminishes constantly. While the productive potential is enormous, capitalism slows down its development. 

Contrary to the other revolutionary classes of humanity’s history, the historic mission of the proletariat is not to substitute one exploiting class for another but rather to rid humanity of all exploitation. When the bourgeoisie drove out the feudal nobles and kings, it did so, of course, in the name of all the people; but, in fact, it only replaced the old oppressors with new ones. It couldn’t have been otherwise because the bourgeoisie was itself a class whose existence was based on the private ownership of the means of production and the exploitation of the labor of others. Thus, it only substituted a new form of class exploitation for an old one.

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

What characterizes the working class, on the other hand, is that it does not own the means of production and that it is the object of exploitation. As a class, it has no other future but the total elimination of exploitation of Man by Man. This is why we can say that the movement for the emancipation of workers has to lead to the liberation of all of humanity.

In attacking the foundation of the capitalist system – the private ownership of the means of production and wage labor – the proletariat undertakes at the same time the elimination of classes themselves. In effect, to eliminate the private ownership of the means of production is to destroy the material basis on which all exploiting classes are founded. Consequently, it is also to eliminate classes themselves. Therefore, we say that the aim of the proletariat’s struggle is the class-free society, a community in which no person exploits the labor of another. After the proletariat, there are no classes to serve as the object of exploitation. To eliminate the exploitation of the proletariat is to eliminate all exploitation. The liberating task of the proletariat also comes from the fact that in order to carry it out fully, it must attack the conditions which, historically, have made class exploitation possible.

Among these, most important are the State, the division between city and countryside, and the division between manual and intellectual work. The very existence of the State is an expression of the fact that society is divided into classes and that it is necessary to fix the relations between the classes. This is why the State monopolized violence by depriving the exploited and oppressed classes of the weapons necessary for their liberation. This is why the State seals in law the rules of the ownership system. Thus, to say that the struggle of the working class leads to a class-free society is to say that it leads to a state-free society.

The first act, the decisive act on the road leading to the total emancipation of workers, is the socialist revolution.

Source  |  Socialist Courier

 

 

 

P4S

Passion for Socialism


The Way of the Socialist Revolution

 

Blog #19  -  13 June 2019

 

People are beginning to speak more and more often of the ‘end of civilization’, or at least of the ‘crisis of the capitalist system’. It is chaos and empty darkness that are now facing the world. Capitalism has nothing more to offer to people. Many people who describe themselves as socialists believe that socialism is about expanding the state through nationalization. The more left-wing they are, the more they promote state-ownership. What is wrong with the state is that it protects the ruling class, capitalism and private property. Reformists argue that the possibility remains that the state can be won to other, socialist purposes. It is an enemy in its own right; its existence is nothing but a barrier to socialism. State-free societies do not lack social regulation. For the longest period of human history, our species has managed without states. Those who oppose class exploitation must, necessarily, oppose the state. 'Socialists' who wish to maintain the existing state are simply not serious.

 

Necessity is driving them towards socialism. People need to choose between leaving the running of the planet in incompetent and incapable hands that have brought forth this disorder or taking power into our own hands. Necessity forces the working people to make their choice. There is a pressing need made the working class to stand up for socialism. We need to construct a kind of socialism where workers, consumers, and ordinary citizens make the decisions through both direct and indirect democratic processes at all levels. Do we really want to leave to our children and grandchildren a world that will still be controlled by corporations dependent upon such a private institution as the stock exchange where financial speculators control people’s welfare and well-being? Socialism deserves a discussion, because it is a debate about the issues that face our future generations. No rational discourse of socialism in mainstream media has been permitted. Having no socialism sort anywhere on earth, our movement is breaking new ground toward envisioning a new society of both economic prosperity and genuine freedom, that can protect the planet, ensure human rights, and raise the standard of living in a new world of peace.

 

The Socialist Party [of Great Britain] is opposed to the system of society in which we live today because knowing that there are millions of our brothers and sisters suffering for the barest necessities of life. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” That theological question has now been answered by the Socialist Party. Yes, we are my brothers (and sisters) keepers. It is that sort of society we are seeking.

 

Are today's anti-capitalists moving towards a common vision of a new social system? The people were fighting for a new way of life. This is the capitalist world. This is the world of competition, of exploitation, of production for profit. The great mass of working people are its victims; the downtrodden and suffering people who have paid for the universal slaughter with their lives and labour, who suffer hunger, homelessness and disease; the exploited, harassed and suffering people – they are being made to pay the price of capital's expansion. People cry out for real freedom, security and peace. There will be no peace, freedom or security for the hundreds of millions of people. The capitalist ruling class main achievement is destruction. The capitalist world remains an armed camp awaiting only the passage of a few more years before it is ready to plunge into bloody carnage to determine which of the great powers shall dominate the world in the interest of profit. Capitalism outlived its usefulness long ago. It is no longer capable of progress, of raising the standards of living of the people. Capitalism is only capable of guaranteeing new wars, poverty and misery. World history shows that we live in a situation where devastating wars and exploitation and oppression of working people have become a daily part of life. Hunger, poverty, illiteracy, and all kinds of degradations make the lives of hundreds of millions of men, women, and children scarcely tolerable.

 

In our world, injustice and the denial of the most elementary rights have become common practice. More and more peoples are under the fascist heel of military regimes and police states. The number of victims of world reaction has increased to such an extent that they can no longer be counted. Billions of dollars are spent to perfect methods of repression and torture. There has been attempts at the systematic elimination of entire populations. Humanity’s resources are wasted in senseless adventures while people’s basic needs remain unsatisfied, land is despoiled, misery increases, and poverty spreads. The gap between rich countries and poor ones, far from diminishing, is increasing. There is an increasingly evident imbalance between humanity’s capacity for progress and the wretched reality that hundreds of millions of people must live under daily. In most countries, moral and cultural decay, crime, alcoholism, drugs, and prostitution are spreading like a cancer. Prisons are being built at an unprecedented rate. Factories are closed. Populism, national chauvinism, racism, and bigotry are developing at an alarming rate.

 

The Socialist Party asks why is it that we must put up with these conditions? Who is responsible? What economic, political, and social system creates and perpetuates this situation? How can things be changed? Representatives of the ruling class respond that this situation is inevitable, that oppression and exploitation and economic, political, and social inequalities have always existed and will always exist. They invoke the laws of nature, divine laws, and all kinds of things over which people have no control. Reality, however, is quite different. It shows that these are the explanations of those who profit from this misery and whose power depends on maintaining the present conditions. The reality is that, despite diversity in political regimes, in language, and in culture and beyond differences in race and nationality, the vast majority of the people of the globe share a common condition: that of living in a society where the owners of the means of production impose their will over those who possess nothing or little. In other words, most people live in a society divided into social classes where the propertied classes, the capitalists and landowners, dominate the classes who have little or no property, the working class and the small farmers. The economic base of this social regime is the capitalist system.

 

But the people of the world want an end to this system. They want jobs, peace, freedom, security. They want a new life; they want a change from the chaos of the profit system which has proved its incapability to maintain a high level of production in the interest of the people. The struggle of the peoples of the whole world will go on. Capitalism has brought civilization to the brink of disaster. A new life, a new social, system, that is, socialism, is the only hope for humanity. When they fight for plenty for all, they are fighting for socialism. If more workers are to be won to the cause of socialism we must greatly advance in our ability to explain the advantages of a socialist world and how we can achieve it.

 

Source  |  Socialist Courier

 

 

P4S
Passion for Socialism


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Prosecuting Capitalism:
The Case For and Against

 

Blog # 18  -  9 June 2019

 

by Paul Bennett

 

We look at some arguments that might be presented in defense of capitalism and provide answers to them.

 

In Defense

Capitalism has had an overwhelmingly positive influence on the world. Three hundred years ago, before the development of capitalism, most people lived lives of unremitting toil, in near destitution. They suffered poor health and had far shorter lifespans than today. They enjoyed none of the conveniences of modern times, hardly travelled to other places and had little by way of entertainment or relaxation. Capitalism is not perfect, but it has undoubtedly transformed people’s lives massively for the better.

 

Against

There is no denying capitalism’s impact on people and the world we inhabit, but this needs to be put into context. The development of capitalism involved wars and genocide, as colonialism led to the conquest of most of the world and rival states fought each other. Slavery and the slave trade caused untold misery and were an integral part of the rise of capitalism. There has been huge environmental damage, and the conditions of famine and starvation that affect hundreds of millions now are human made, not natural. Even in developed countries, there is widespread poverty, as shown by the increase in food banks. Moreover, pre-capitalist societies were by no means as dreadful as claimed, with hunter-gatherer economies having been described as ‘the original affluent society’, since they could satisfy their material wants through a few hours’ labor each day.

 

In Defense

Capitalism emphasizes personal responsibility and ensures that rewards depend on a person’s own contributions. Lazy people who take no responsibility for their actions and lifestyle do not deserve to do well.

 

Against

Capitalism absolutely does not mean that people are rewarded based on their own efforts. For one thing, capitalism stops many from working, as they cannot be employed in such a way as to create profits for an employer. For another, plenty of people work hard throughout their lives and end up with next to nothing. Lastly, those who really benefit, in terms of both wealth and power, do not do so based on their own work but by exploiting others. Nobody becomes a billionaire by working ten thousand times harder than the average worker.

 

In Defense

Capitalism offers equality of opportunity. Everyone has the same chance to make a success of their life. It is not a rigid society ruled by an aristocratic elite that nobody else can join.

 

Against

There is simply no equality of opportunity under capitalism. Some people inherit fortunes and benefit from expensive educations, while others are born in poverty and suffer from their youngest days from ill health and dreadful living conditions, and racism and sexism also prevent many from realizing their potential. A very few people start out poor and become extremely rich, but that does not alter the fact that capitalism is in no way a ‘level playing field’, and that it necessarily involves massive inequalities of outcome.

 

In Defense

All attempts to replace capitalism with an alternative have ended in disaster. Look at Russia after 1917 and China after 1949: vicious dictatorships with reigns of terror that led to millions of deaths.

 

Against

Despite the rhetoric surrounding them, these were not in fact alternatives to capitalism at all. In Russia and China, far more people were forced to become wage workers, and the system of commodities, where goods and services are produced for sale, was greatly expanded. The state-owned the main means of production (land, factories, offices, etc.) and the minority who controlled the state effectively became the capitalist class. This was a system of state capitalism, which differed in some ways from private capitalism, but still retained the main features of all varieties of capitalism.

 

In Defense

Some impractical dreamers do talk about a world without capitalism and the wages system, where there would supposedly be free access to what has been produced. But this would never function in the way envisaged, as most people would simply not perform any work and would just leave that to a few keen types while doing nothing themselves.

 

Against

Even under capitalism, there are many examples of people doing voluntary work, from charities and sports clubs to lifeboats and mountain rescue. They perform this work because they know it is useful and for the companionship it offers. Moreover, it has been shown that volunteering is good for volunteers, in terms of their health and their social contacts. In a society without wages and employment, steps would be taken to make work as enjoyable and rewarding as possible, including shorter working hours.

 

In Defense

In any case, there is simply no prospect of a system like that ever coming into existence. While they grumble and want small changes here and there, most people are – quite rightly – content with capitalism and do not wish to see it replaced.

 

Against

But ideas do change over time. No one believes any longer in the divine right of kings; nobody in a developed capitalist country nowadays would argue that women should not have the vote; cremation was once looked on as completely unacceptable; ideas relating to gay and lesbian relationships have changed enormously over the last half-century or so; racist views, while still influential, are far less prevalent than they were a couple of generations ago; religion no longer plays the central role in almost everyone’s life that it once did; awareness of environmental issues has increased enormously in recent years. Ideas and opinions do alter, if not always as quickly as some of us would like. Currently, most people are indeed content with capitalism, but people’s ideas are not set in stone, and the examples above and the shift away from allegiance to traditional parties show that they can certainly change.

 

Source  |  Socialist Party of Great Britain

 

 

P4S


Marxism is what?

 

Blog #17  -  05 June 2019

 

What Marx meant and what Marxism means has been debated by literally thousands of writers on the subject, supporters as well as opponents. The validity of Marxism is far more widely rejected than accepted. The “failure” of Marxism has been the prevailing message. And even proponents of Marxist ideas squabble about the correct “party-line.”

 

Marx saw the theft of the peasants’ lands as the birthmark of capitalism. Marx opposed slavery, and chose as his favourite hero Spartacus, leader of the slaves’ revolt. Marx thought that, with socialism, the state would wither away. Marx explained the whole social world rests on the labour of working people. Marx argued that humanity needs to take back, collectively and democratically, its own power to shape the world. To do that, it must destroy the power of the ruling classes. Marx described a divided social system across the globe, driven by competition between rival capitalists and rival states, as a system out of all control where misery and poverty continues. It is subject to immense convulsions and crises, which alternately promote expansions of exploitation slumps, when workers are cast on the scrapheap. Marx insisted that capitalists have ‘despotic’ power over workers at work, and called the workers ‘wage slaves’. Marx once wrote that the choice for humanity was between socialism and barbarism: the truth of that observation is more obvious and chilling today.

 

Marx said that it’s no good just wishing for a different world, or drawing up schemes for social regeneration. Socialism only becomes really possible on two conditions.

 

The first condition is that human productivity should have developed sufficiently to make communism practicable. A poverty-stricken world, where men and women can barely produce enough for their own needs, could not sustain a genuinely democratic society: everyone would be at each others throats. This is why Marx praised capitalism for its achievement in creating the material conditions for socialism where everyone could have enough to eat, adequate clothing and decent housing, with ample leisure time. Today everyone knows that not a child needs to starve, that not a single sick person needs to lack medical care.

 

The second condition is for socialism to be more than an Utopian dream, there needs to be a social force to bring it into being and according to Marx, that agency is the working class. Workers are unlike previous exploited and oppressed classes in history. Capitalism itself shoves them together, in cities and workplaces, endowing them with collective power; capitalism forces them to cooperate with each other; capitalism, precisely in order to exploit workers better, must educate them and raise their cultural level – far above, indeed, the level of previous ruling classes. And capitalism compels them into a life of permanent struggle, whether they like it or not. What distinguishes the working class, therefore, from all previous exploited classes is not its misery as they live on average better and longer lives than chattel slaves or feudal serfs. But crucially, the working class has immense power and capacities. It is the first class in history which is capable of overthrowing class society entirely. The very heart of Marxist ideas is the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves, their aim was the abolition of all class rule and the end of all servitude, misery, degradation and political dependence across the world. Always and everywhere he opposed those who preached ‘socialism from above’. For Marxists, the working class alone has the capacity to free the new society that lies, waiting to be built, within the present chaotic and divided world of capitalism. No one need starve in a world where food surpluses are produced every year. No one need be homeless, or tortured, or bossed about by bureaucrats and leaders.

 

The job of socialists to spread these ideas and to organise themselves, showing the way forward to working class solidarity and power. It is not surprising that at this moment the capitalist intellectuals reject Marxism. But the authentic tradition of Marxism and the real Karl Marx can again be discovered. The genuine socialists have some very marvellous ideas that need spreading far and wide.

 

Source  |  Socialist Courier

 

 

P4S

 


Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

A New World

 

Blog #15  -  2 June 2019

 

by P.J. Penner, P4S Editor and Publisher

 

Socialists have many ideas and plans to create a world that meets the social and economic needs of everyone. This will be a world in which the people work cooperatively with each other instead of combative competition just to get and stay ahead.

 

The world will be at peace with each other working to meet the needs of the local and global community and enjoying the many pleasures that life will bring when people do not have to worry about meeting their basic needs while falling further behind each month . The people will have the time and energy to enjoy their hobbies, go to concerts, go to sporting events, etc.

 

The production of products and services will have the sole purpose of meeting the needs of people instead of earning a profit. Capitalism and money will be abolished. We’ll have access to products and services that we’ve never seen before because the for-profit mode of production and distribution will be replaced by producing products and services to meet the needs of the people. The global community will have access to food, materials and other products that could not have been provided previously because it wasn’t profitable to produce or distribute them under capitalism.

 

There won’t be an authoritarian leader or government to coerce or use violence to force the people into accepting never-ending military conflict based on religion, borders or the greed of capitalism. These three aspects of discontent have historically been the core reasons for war. Under a Socialist society, there will be no need or reason for any of the three.

 

Radical democracy is a cornerstone of Socialism. As we know all too well today, the representative form of government is nothing more than a government that represents the capitalists and other ruling elites. Real representation for the working class is nowhere to be found. Democracy by representation isn’t really democracy at all.

 

Under Socialism, each person will have a voice and vote regarding the things that affect their lives every day. Every person has a responsibility and social obligation to be socially active in their local community. This is known as direct democracy and the system can be easily implemented using a computer or any “smart” device.

 

In addition to direct democracy, a system of worker and consumer councils will be utilized. There will be local councils, regional councils, international councils and global councils. The local councils will democratically elect a delegate to a regional council, the regional council will democratically elect a delegate to the international council and so on. Each delegate will have a very limited mandate that limits their authority to the electorate’s position on a any number of issues that were determined democratically by vote at the local level. Delegates will serve a limited term and can be recalled at any time with a simple majority vote. No council above the local councils have any authority to enact any laws unless or until it has been approved by majority vote by the local councils.

 

Socialists are working to build a society we all want and need to live a happy and fulfilled life.

 

 

 

P4S