Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Socialist Standard July 2007

Editorial

  • The Profit System Must Go
  • Regular Columns

  • Pathfinders Upload, Download, Freeload!
  • Cooking the Books 1 Oliver in Blunderland
  • Cooking the Books 2 Who Will Verify The Verifiers?
  • Greasy Pole Blair Bites The Hand That Feed Him
  • 50 Years Ago Socialists and the Press

  • Main Articles

  • Suicide Bombers: Heroes and Villains? On the morning of 7 July 2005 the inhabitants of London awoke and prepared to go out for the day. Fifty-six of them were to die the victims of terrorist bombings. For twenty years in countries across the globe members of our class have been subjected to other such murderous outrages. What motivates the bombers and who supports their actions?
  • Back To Power-Sharing What thirty years of death and destruction in Northern Ireland brought?
  • The French Elections: Mr Nasty Wins The recent round of elections in France resulted in the rout of the French Left. Were the workers wrong not to vote for them?
  • The Hanging Gardens of Bombay In India, the Prime Minister's is worried about the way the rich flaunt their wealth . . .
  • The Haves and the Have-Yachts . . . in Britain Blair and Brown make the super-rich welcome.
  • Free Access to What? Some Problems of Consumption in Socialism How will the range of goods and services to be supplied be determined in a socialist society?

  • Letters, Reviews & Meetings

  • Letters to the Editors 'The Panama Canal'
  • Book Reviews The Progressive Patriot by Billy Bragg; A History of Modern Britain by Andrew Marr; Brave Community: The Digger Movement in the English Revolution by John Gurney; Operation Supergoose by William Hart

  • Meetings Birmingham, Swansea, West London, Manchester & Norwich.
  • Voice From The Back

  • Hard Times; Moral Majority Nonsense; USA: Fantasy and Reality; Merchants of Death ; Let Them Suffer; Capitalism Distorts Science; Growing Old Disgracefully
  • From each according to their ability

    From the SPGB blog, Socialism Or Your Money Back:

    "I don't want to take £1 billion pounds to the grave with me." (Sir Tom Hunter, Daily Telegraph, 18 July 2007).

    Andrew Carnegie, Bill Clinton, Bob Geldof et al would no doubt agree that there can be only a small percentage of financial, business, sport or artistic successes in any one generation. There just isn't space at the top of any profession or vocation for the majority of the population. The system doesn't work like that. A pyramid requires a very broad, solid base made up of multitudinous blocks rising in successively smaller layers to the apex. The financial structure of the world is the same; the many enabling the few to amass their fortunes. In sport or art, whether through talent or promotion, a similar structure exists.

    Whilst the super-rich can afford to give away much of their monetary wealth without hardship or set up trusts, charities, concerts and the like to alleviate some of the world's worst conditions (and the rest of us can donate much smaller amounts according to our individual situation and whim), the plain facts are that each year, year in, year out, millions more around the world find themselves in abject poverty. Whatever is given in aid, grants or donations is never, and will never be, sufficient to "make poverty history".

    Sir Tom Hunter appears not at all gloomy about the world situation and claims "he gets a bigger buzz from a successful philanthropic venture than from his businesses". There is an obvious satisfaction to be gained from personally being able to bring positive solutions to problems of those less fortunate than oneself; however, even supposing all the world's billionaires were to prove as altruistic in ministering to the world's needy, it would only result in a partial cure of humanity's sores rather than total elimination of the disease.

    The Daily Telegraph article ends with Carnegie's assertion that "all personal wealth beyond that required to supply the needs of one's family should be regarded as a trust fund to be administered for the benefit of the community." Which is not all that different from Karl Marx's dictum "from each according to their ability, to each according to their need". However, the poor of the world don't need a hand-out. They simply need to be a part of a world system that doesn't exploit them and with the universal right to nutritious food and clean water, shelter, responsibility for self-determination, all long recognized as prerequisites for a fulfilling life.

    With "from each according to ability, to each according to need" applied globally it will not only be possible but achievable in the foreseeable future to eliminate poverty, malnutrition and the other ills inherent in global capitalism.

    When doctors, teachers, musicians, scientists, technicians, farmers, entrepreneurs use their expertise solely for the benefit of the (world) community; when the Earth's rich resources are used for people, not profit; when all citizens of the world are seen to have equal, intrinsic worth regardless of background, intelligence or class; when our collective aims are truly altruistic rather than accumulative then there would be no worries about taking money to the grave. Wealth would be real, not virtual; the Earth's resources would belong to all, not to be pillaged for profit for the minority; talent, skills and human endeavour would be the wealth to be spent by all for the benefit of all.

    How satisfying to go to the grave fully used up with absolutely nothing going to waste.
    Janet Surman