Friday, February 13, 2015

Global March of the Gurus (2005)

Book Review from the January 2005 issue of the Socialist Standard

How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World. By Francis Wheen, Fourth Estate, 2004.

A few years ago Wheen had a critically and commercially successful biography of Karl Marx. This survey – A Short History of Modern Delusions, as the book’s subtitle puts it – takes 1979 as the decisive year. In that year two key events occurred that shaped the modern world: Margaret Thatcher came to power in Britain and Ayatollah Khomeini returned to dominate Iran.

The link between the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism is uncontroversial. The Shah of Iran was a stooge of western governments, there to guarantee oil supplies. The ideology used to remove him therefore took the form of an anti-western Islam. This ideology then spread through the Middle East and beyond. But Wheen’s interpretation of Thatcher’s rise and the global spread of free market fundamentalism is less convincing. In Wheen’s account, the old status quo (which he clearly favours) was overthrown by New Right zealots spouting mumbo-jumbo. Or put another way, the post-war consensus on the mixed economy, guided by government intervention and Keynesian economics, was supplanted by monetarism, privatisation and the worship of market forces. Of course these facts are not in dispute and Thatcherite/Blairite ideology is mumbo-jumbo dressed-up as common sense (“we are all ‘Thatcherite’ now,” said Peter Mandelson, Labour MP, in 2002). However, what Wheen fails to appreciate is why the post-war consensus was so easily swept away. In the 1970s the long post-war boom had come to an end and the Keynesian status quo was perceived to be a failure in dealing with recession and high unemployment. Hence the spread of free market mumbo-jumbo.

Wheen sets great store by the Enlightenment values of reason and progress. This book is far more wide ranging than space here permits us to discuss. Cults, gurus, irrational panics and post-modernists are all subject to a withering criticism very much in the style of George Orwell. Despite the reservations above, this is a superb piece of work and it will be an invaluable resource for socialists.
Lew Higgins

Yo-Yos a-Go-Go

The Pathfinders Column from the February 2015 issue of the Socialist Standard
What on earth is going on with the price of oil? For the past five years it’s been stable at somewhere north of $115 a barrel, but since last June it’s fallen by 40 percent to below $70.
The fall in price has caused pandemonium in energy boardrooms just as companies have been sinking unprecedented amounts into R&D looking for new sources of the increasingly hard-to-get black gold and other fossil fuels – an estimated $670 billion last year alone. Samsung are just in the process of launching Prelude, the biggest ship ever built, with a water displacement equal to the world’s six largest aircraft carriers combined (BBC Online, 16 December 2014). Its purpose? To act as a giant floating platform to exploit deep-ocean natural gas fields and liquefy the gas on the spot instead of pumping it through expensive pipelines to existing facilities on shore. Prelude is supposed to be the prelude to an entire fleet of LNG monsters, but now that the rug has been pulled from under it, it may turn out to be the world’s largest floating white elephant instead.
Environmentalists will be delighted that new drilling projects in the Arctic are likely to be shelved, ditto further exploitation of the super-dirty Canadian tar sands. Meanwhile anti-fracking campaigners in the north of England will be ecstatic that Lancashire County Council have vetoed Cuadrilla’s plans to drill for shale gas at two sites near Blackpool, and even more so at the fact that fracking companies who have sunk millions into new drilling sites across the world have been left high and dry with ‘stranded assets’ as the oil price crash has wiped out the value of ‘alternative’ shale and left their operations uneconomic.
Motorists too will be able to celebrate by flooring it in their gas-guzzlers, while shrinking gas bills are expected to lead to a warm glow among household consumers. Providing of course that the energy companies heed the government’s urgent demands to lower their tariffs in line with the price fall. But energy companies won’t be too keen to respond, and not just for the obvious reason that they make more money out of customers that way, but also because, as they are fond of pleading, oil prices can go up as well as down, and they don’t want to catch themselves flat-footed with a price cut just as Brent crude decides to go stratospheric.
So, good news all round then? Well not exactly. Low oil prices will encourage consumption, which will wipe the smile of the faces of those environmentalists, considering that 14 out of the last 15 years have been the warmest on record (BBC Online, 16 January) and that sea level rise is now estimated to be 25 percent steeper than previously thought (BBC Online, 14 January). Still,New Scientist finds reasons to be cheerful, with an optimistic guess that the price-crash might spell the beginning of the end of the world’s oil dependency (‘Over a barrel’, 17 January).
Wholesale gas prices have also dropped 20 percent since November, and may drop further. China is moving away from coal and towards gas, which will stiffen the price, but then on the other hand, Japan is moving away from gas and back towards nuclear, which will weaken it.
Worse news is to follow for the benighted energy corporations, bless ‘em, with a new paper (Nature, 8 January) which could be seen as kicking them when they’re down. Building on estimates by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that, in order to keep within the target global temperature increase of 2oC, total carbon emissions from now until 2050 cannot exceed 1,240 gigatonnes, the report authors quietly went about their sums, totting up the actual potential gigatonnage that’s left in the ground. Their conclusion was that with remaining reserves (defined as recoverable under present economic conditions) equating to nearly 2,900 gigatonnes, and total recoverable resources around 11,000 gigatonnes ‘the disparity between what resources and reserves exist and what can be emitted while avoiding a temperature rise greater than the agreed 2C limit is therefore stark.’ In other words, about a third of oil reserves, 50 percent of gas and 80 percent of coal must be left in the ground. To the industry’s argument of mitigation through proposed Carbon Capture and Sequestration schemes (CCS) the authors give short shrift. CCS is too little, too expensive, too uncertain and too late anyway. The damage has already been done. There’s no more wiggle room.
Worried, the Bank of England is conducting an enquiry into the risk of a global economic crash if governments are reckless enough to pay attention to climate scientists and start tightening the climate change rules, rendering fossil assets essentially worthless. However Shell and other firms are more sanguine, seeing no great risk to their business model because they don’t believe that politicians, for all their bluster, will stick to their promises on carbon limits (BBC Online, 7 January). Which sounds about right.
So why did the price drop? Partly because, with global warming, northern winters are getting milder. Partly because the recession has led to low economic activity and therefore low oil consumption. Partly because America got carried away with its fracking bonanza and stopped importing oil, unintentionally creating a world glut. And partly because Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s leading producer, is refusing to curb output because it’s having a price war with Iran and Russia. With $900 billion in cash reserves Saudi Arabia can easily afford to sell low (their extraction costs are around $6 a barrel) thus murdering the opposition, as well as all those Yankee frackers who thought they were riding the gravy train (Economist, 8 December 2014).
In other words, the price drop is due to a number of contingent factors which may or may not apply at any given point in the future. Now that quantitative easing has been applied in Europe, the oil price has seen a 2 percent uptick. If OPEC decides to curb output, the oil price will rocket and with it the value of shale assets. The plan to turn the Arctic into an oil well will be back on the table, and the Canadian tar pits will start to look inviting again.
What’s so weird about capitalism, and not in a good way, is how a global fall in the price of one key commodity can reverse global policy overnight. It’s even worse with ‘long latency’ commodities where changes at industrial source take years to feed through to the market, by which time they may have precisely the wrong effect and start a panic.
How is humanity supposed to plan for the future, given this yo-yo economics? How are we supposed to make our civilisation sustainable, and guarantee a planet in good health for our descendants? We can’t, basically. For that we would need a steady-state economy, with patterns of production and consumption that didn’t keep yo-yoing up and down unpredictably and didn’t depend on thousands of fast-buck investors who at any moment might either blow it into a giant gas bubble or drain every last gasp out of it. Gambling in a casino might be fun, if you can afford to flutter. But it’s no way to run a planet.
PJS


A Century for Socialism (2004)

Editorial from the June 2004 issue of the Socialist Standard
Welcome to this special edition of the Socialist Standard, a commemorative issue marking one hundred years in the political life of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. When our Party was formed on 12th June 1904, in a hall in a little alley off Fetter Lane, Fleet Street, London, the founder members would rightly have viewed the possibility of our existence a century later in something of a negative light. The aim of the Socialist Party has always been ‘socialism and nothing but’ and the founder members conceived the Party as a mechanism through which socialist ideas could be rapidly spread and, potentially, through which the working class of wage and salary earners could come to political power. The subsequent creation of socialism would render the need for a socialist party redundant and so, one hundred years on, the very continued existence of the Socialist Party of Great Britain is indicative of the fact that the system of society the founder members were dedicated to overthrowing – capitalism – is still with us.
To this effect, today, ownership of the means of living (the factories, farms, offices, communication systems and so on) is still in the hands of a minority social class that can live a luxurious existence without having to work.Virtually all the useful work in society is being done by the majority, a class of people forced by economic compulsion to sell their working energies for a wage or a salary that is less in value than what they produce. It is a society characterised by extremes of wealth and poverty, by wars and chaos and by a meanness of spirit that undermines much that is decent about human beings. For the  last hundred years the Socialist Party has been waging a war of our own – against capitalism and for  socialism. We have waged a war too against all the political parties who have supported capitalism, including those that have done so while paying lip-service to socialism. The achievement of socialism has been our sole objective, because our understanding of capitalist society and its working has told us that it is a system capable of change over time but not change that can abolish its fundamental defects. Capitalism has altered over the last century, but not fundamentally so and all the problems associated with it in 1904 are still present today, with some new and unforeseen ones too.
Technological powers
In one sense, capitalism is the most successful social system that has ever existed in that the working class, through its collective efforts, has been able to develop the powers of production to previously undreamed-of heights, from putting a man on the moon to mapping the human genome. But these powers of production are wasted and distorted by a system that puts profit before needs as a matter of course and where collective effort is destabilised by competition and division. A society that can now send spaceships to Mars but which cannot adequately feed, clothe and house the world’s population despite the massive technological resources at its disposal is a society that is seriously and fundamentally flawed.

One hundred years ago the men and women who founded the Socialist Party came to a significant political conclusion, which is just as important now as it was then. This was that capitalism, through creating an interconnected world-wide division of labour and unparalleled leaps in productivity (whereby ten years in its lifespan is equal to one hundred years and more of previous  systems like feudalism), has created the conditions of potential abundance necessary for its own replacement and also a social class of wage and salary earners with the incentive to organise for this. What pioneers of the socialist movement like Marx, Engels and Morris envisaged as socialism or communism, had become a practical possibility and tinkering with an inherently defective system like capitalism a waste of time and energy in the light of it.
The founders of the Socialist Party recognised that the time was ripe for the working class to organise itself consciously and politically to democratically take control of the state machine in countries across the world, dispossessing the owning class of capitalists and socialising production on an international basis. In doing so the working class would consciously create a system where human activity would be carried out solely and directly to meet the needs and desires of the population, and where all the defining categories of capitalism had been abolished: production for profit, money, national frontiers, the class system and – as a result – the enforcer of class society itself, the state.
Reformism
At the time of our Party’s foundation other politicalactivists agreed that this type of society was possible and desirable, but disagreed about how it could be created. Due to what they took to be the backward intellectual development of the working class, they thought that  capitalism would need to be gradually transformed into socialism by a series of reform measures. They labelled the founder members of the Socialist Party and others who thought on similar lines ‘impossibilists’, people who were demanding the impossible when piecemeal and gradual reform was all that was realistic. This was the substance of our break in 1904 with our parent body, the Social Democratic Federation, and the basis for our criticism of other organisations of the time like the Independent Labour Party and the Fabian Society.
Organisations like the SDF that had a paper commitment to socialism were in practice swamped by people who were attracted by their reform programmes rather than their supposed commitment to abolishing capitalism. In these circumstances, those who viewed reforms as a stepping-stone to socialism were themselves swamped by people for whom reforms were simply an end in themselves, palliating the worst excesses of the system. The history of the Labour Party – formed out of the Labour Representation Committee in 1906 – is a case in point. More than any other organisation in Britain, the Labour Party developed as a body hoping to reform capitalism into something vaguely humane. Today, in 2004, the modern Labour Party stands as an organisation which has instead been turned by capitalism into something rather more than vaguely inhumane. From Keir Hardie and  Ramsay MacDonald onwards it has steadily drifted towards where it is today – a party which has abandoned any hope of seriously changing society for the better but which now markets itself as the most efficient managerial team for British Capitalism PLC instead.
Over decades, millions of workers the world over have invested their hopes in so-called ‘practical’, ‘possibilist’ organisations like the Labour Party, hoping against hope that they would be able to neuter the market economy when, in reality, the market economy has successfully neutered them. As such, the damage these organisations have done the socialist movement is colossal. That they turned out to be the real ‘impossibilists’ – demanding an unattainable humanised capitalism – is one of the greatest tragedies of the last century, made all the greater because it was so utterly predictable.
Vanguard politics
Unfortunately for the socialist movement, the reformist distraction has not been the only one, however. Another political tendency emerged, principally out of the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia in 1917, claiming that they had found another route to socialism. However sincere some of their number may have been at the outset – and whatever their laudable success at curtailing Russia’s part in the First World War – Lenin’s Bolsheviks proved to be a political tendency that set the clock back for socialism at least as much as reformism did. In claiming that socialism could be created by a political minority without the will and participation of the majority of the population, and through their wilful confusion of socialism with nationalisation and state-run capitalism generally (a type of opportunism also shared – over time – by the reformists), they shamelessly distorted the socialist political programme.
The Socialist Party was the first organisation in Britain (and possibly the world) to foresee the disastrous state capitalist outcome of the Bolshevik takeover but we gained no satisfaction in doing so. Even now, years after the collapse of the Kremlin’s empire, the association of socialist and communist ideas with state capitalism, minority action and political dictatorship is one of the greatest barriers to socialist understanding. Today, both reformism and Bolshevik-style vanguardism stand discredited. As ostensible attempts to create socialism they didn’t just fail, they were positively injurious to the one strategy that could have brought about a better society during the last century. The modern far left – by combining the two elements together in an unfortunate mix – have opted for the worst of both worlds and rightly are politically marginalized because of it.
Looking forwards
From our standpoint in 2004, the Socialist Party of Great Britain and our companion parties abroad in the World Socialist Movement regard our situation with both pride and sadness. Sadness because two political currents we warned against most vehemently – reformism and vanguardism – succeeded in derailing the socialist project so spectacularly, but pride because of the part we have played in keeping the alternative vision alive.
The political positions of the Socialist Party were not handed down on tablets of stone in 1904. With the Object and Declaration of Principles as our guide we have developed our own analysis and political viewpoints as the last hundred years have worn on. Occasionally we may have made mistakes, but we are confident that our record over the last century stands for itself – of propagating the case for real socialism, in exposing the promises and trickery of the reformists and the vanguardists, in opposing the senseless butchery of the working class in two world wars and countless others, and in presenting a clear analysis of capitalism in language readily understandable to those whose interest lies in socialism.
In the pages of this special issue you will read about the remarkable men and women who have been members of our Party over the last hundred years and about the political input they have had to make. Without doubt, their contribution has been an immense one and we pay public tribute to them for it, but there is a lot more work still to be done.
Capitalism today stands as a social system that bears with it little by way of a positive perspective for humanity. In the major industrial centres of the system, significant rises in productivity coupled with trade union action by workers to win a half-decent share of the gains, have led to rising purchasing power for many. But capitalism and insecurity continue to go hand in hand and in the so-called ‘Third World’ millions starve every year while literally billions now live in disgusting conditions with no hope in sight for them. Everywhere on the planet capitalism has spread its malignant influence: creating a society where everything (and everyone) can be bought and sold, where an ‘every man for himself’ culture leads to escalating brutality, crime and violence and where the social codes built up during the system’s formative years have been undermined by a rampant drive to commercialisation, fostered by a distorted and ruthless individualism. In 2004, nationalism, political gangsterism, religious fundamentalism and terrorist atrocities are the order of the day in a system that neither knows or cares where it is heading.
In the first edition of the Socialist Standard we called upon our readership to “help speed the time when we shall herald in for ourselves and for our children, a brighter, a happier, and a nobler society than any the world has yet witnessed”. One hundred years later we are still here, and make the same plea, with the same force and urgency. No matter how inconvenient it may be for our political opponents, we are not going away until our job is done.
That day will come when the working class has seen through the lies and false promises that have proved such a distraction this last one hundred years. And it will come when the supposedly incredible idea of creating a world without wars and worries, money and markets is accepted as not only necessary for the sake of humanity, but recognised for being just as realisable as other once ‘impossible’ projects are today . . . like a man on the moon,or a spaceship to Mars.

HELP THE AGED (1977)

From the April 1977 issue of the Socialist Standard

Well this here's the story of old Jake Twist
Who wrote him a letter to a Socialist.
He said I do declare I like what I hear
About free cigarettes an' a glass o' free beer.
I was also told there'll be no cash
An' I must confess it sounded pretty brash
But when I got to thinking an' usin' my brain
The whole of the Case became mighty plain.
Singin' Hey Ho — Watcha know! 
There'll be no more fightin' in these here hills
An' no more trouble 'bout old folks' wills
There'll be nobody to lay down the law
Cos there'll be no point in robbin' no more
Well all o' this sure does seem fine
But you see I've reached the end o' the line.
I'm gettin' mighty close on seventy two
An' it seems too old to be helpin' you.
Singin' Hey Ho — Watcha know! 
Well Old Jake's letter was put in the post
An' he settled him down to skunk on toast.
Three days later there came a reply
And what it said hit him in the eye.
It said: Well ole man I'm ashamed o' you
Thinkin' you're too old at seventy two
Y'oughta know it ain't never too late
Cos I'm still here an' I'm a-ninety eight.
So it's Hey Hey — Watcha say!
Paul Breeze

Economics (2012)

Book Review from the October 2012 issue of the Socialist Standard

Remaking Scarcity – From Capitalist Inefficiency to Economic Democracy. By Costas Panayotakis, Pluto Press.

The subject of economics is commonly understood as being the problem of unlimited wants in the face of finite resources. Likewise socialism, communism and common ownership are seen as arising out of conditions which bring about the elimination of scarcity. Panayotakis, who describes himself as a “recovering economist”, frames the issue a little differently. For him scarcity itself is not necessarily the problem but rather it is the “the undemocratic determination of the configuration of scarcity that people live under” that leads to the social-ills of today.

This book is in effect in two halves, the first is a well written critique of many of the underlying assumptions that make up neo-classical economics and the second explores what Panayotakis calls “economic democracy” and compares two models for the operation of such a society. Panayotakis uses economic democracy “the principle that all citizens should have an equal voice over the goals and the operation of the economic system” as a yardstick to measure how successful an social system is. According to this measure and as would be expected, capitalism fares badly.

David Schweickart's conception of economic democracy is also put up against this measuring stick. Schweickart sees his system as achieving a balance between democracy, planning, and markets. Workers have democratic control of the companies they work for, firms trade between themselves and the general public and should the smooth functioning of this worker ran market economy be disrupted the State will step in to ensure that all is returned to a happy state of bliss. How close this proposal is to the current economic system is striking. Schweickart does not seem to realise that the problem with the market economy is not so much that the workers do not have democratic control of the means of production but that market forces ultimately control any decisions that have to be made, “accumulate or die” will remain the mantra until the competitive struggle for profits is removed. Panayotakis seems aware of these criticisms but does not really drive the point home.

To contrast with this “market-socialist” blueprint Panayotakis offers up the schemes of Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel. Commonly known as “Parecon” this system of participatory economics sees productive decisions co-ordinated by a network of workplace, neighbourhood, and facilitation councils which communicate amongst each other until pricing and production levels are agreed upon. However, in this system competition between enterprises is not eliminated, the law of value still operates, enterprises that fail to compete would go under and so the tension between profit and wages remains. Albert and Hahnel are trying to find political solutions to what is essentially an economic problem.

What is missing from this book is the argument for the type of classless, stateless and non-market system of free access which we would call world socialism. Economic democracy is as much a problem of economics as it is of democracy. A truly democratic economy cannot be realised until the economy is governed directly by human need.
DJP

How I became a Socialist (1977)

From the December 1977 issue of the Socialist Standard

Looking back, I can see that I was nearly a middle-of-the-road floating voter, swayed by whichever tricky-slick talker promised me the most in the shortest possible time—be he Conservative, Liberal, Labour, Communist or whatever. How your head swims at election times when all the MPs and prospective MPs are in top gear! All they need, they say, is to get into Power and everyone's worries will be over. What bloody optimists!

I was born and live in Stoke-on-Trent, the grimy industrial city somewhere in the middle of England. And take it from me, the air isn't much less murky now that can be seen in those old photographs taken during the bottle-kiln days. It's just that when you live in a certain kind of atmosphere for most of your life you tend to take it for granted. It's only on a return to the Potteries after a day in the country or seaside that you notice what a depressing place it is.

Like most people, I grew up with ambitions of becoming someone famous—great footballer, pop star, TV personality, anything that would make me plenty of money, enable me to live a life of luxury. Then BUMP! I left school. Oh yes, marvellous at first, money in my pocket, high hopes of climbing from the lowly dogsbody of junior employee to the dizzy pinnacle of Chairman. "It can be done," they drill into you. But of course, the time comes when reality seeps in—no matter how hard you try to thwart its progress. At that point you take a stone-cold look around. And what do you see? Thousands and thousands of ordinary people just like you, dreaming exactly the same impossible dreams, people who you come to fear and regard as competitors—or putting it in its sober perspective, deadly enemies. You grow to hate them, despise every penny they make more than you, completely unaware that you are giving life-blood to the system that thrives on such emotions.

Then came the time when I gave up such hopes of becoming somebody and settled down to accept my lot. But when I'd reached this stage I became frightened: no overstatement, I can assure you. I saw myself in five years, ten, twenty, thirty, maybe even longer, working at the same place, doing the same job week in week out. It's enough to make anybody contemplate suicide if dwelt upon. So what was the answer? Change jobs. I trued that: clerk, factory worker, labourer, cleaner. Still I had that nagging sensation that something wasn't right. So what was the answer? I couldn't see one. I tried to tell myself that there are people a lot worse off than me, people dying of starvation, homeless, living in poverty. But that type of negative thinking gave no lasting satisfaction but led to questioning more deeply the whole set-up, adding even more questions to my tired mind. Questions like: Why are people starving? Why are people homeless? That's when I turned my hopes for a solution towards the field of politics.

Being a city of mines, pot-banks and other factories, it's not surprising that the Labour Party has held a monopoly in Stoke. The false, though understandable, theory is that as most people in the area "labour" for a living, it follows that the "Labour" Party have their interests at heart. I was no exception in arriving at this conclusion, helped by the older generation's barrage of remarks to the effect that Labour was on the side of the underdog. (When I think of the breath I've wasted in the past defending such notions myself, I honestly struggle not to blush, even in an empty room.)

Anyhow, I was then a Labour man, and with my vote helped the LP into Power. The slow realization crept over me that the Labour Party dealt in nothing more tangible than promises.

Facade
Sad and shattered I looked around, increasingly aware of the injustices in the world. I'm too sensitive, I tried to console myself, so started to listen to the Conservatives and Liberals, but for all their expressions of sincerity I could see through the facade. There's no difference between the lot of 'em, just various methods of giving nothing, So what's left? The Communists: I inquired of a couple of self-confessed reds but there seemed to be no clear aim. "Overthrow the Government! Put our Leaders in power like in Russia!" In fact they were merely another version of all other parties, wanted to dictate to the masses—namely me—what they wanted us to do. That wasn't freedom. 

Dejected I concluded that the world was as it was, that there was nowt anybody could do. There'd always be poverty and starvation. All we could so was to send a few bob when we could afford it to one of the hundreds of charities in the vain hope that we'd relieve the suffering of some poor soul whose belly was forever rumbling. But what satisfaction was there in that when you could see and hear of people spending hundreds of thousands on paintings, jewellery, driving round in chauffeured Rolls, going on cruises of the world three times a year, never having to lift a finger, yet never going short of a thing?

That's how I was feeling when I came across the Socialist Party of Great Britain in an advert in the Socialist Worker, the organ of the then International Socialists, a so-called left-wing group, whatever that might mean. It was the first time I'd heard of such organizations as IS, testifying to my ignorance of how the world revolved. I bought the paper in the hope that it would shed some light on how to get a better deal from life. It offered little hope at all, concerned itself mainly with slagging off the other political parties, not even sparing the Labour Party who it urged people to vote for. Very confusing! The little hope turned out to be the small advert asking the reader whether he would like to see One World, a classless, moneyless system of society based on the common ownership of land, buildings, means of production, ect., and democratically controlled by free individuals. Sounded like a set of cranks to me. Still, what had I got to lose? I'd tried everything else so I sent off for literature.

Suspicious 
Naturally, the proposition of a world without money and of co-operative human beings put to a person in a state of mind whereby he thinks things can never alter and is suspicious of all politics seems ludicrous. What about human nature? Who'd do the work? Surely there'd be leaders to influence and coerce people? All these questions and many more come to mind to batter these mad views. How else can you react when right from childhood you've been conditioned into thinking purely in terms of money, buying, selling, competition, winning, etc.

Gradually, after reading the straightforward articles which explained how nearly every problem on earth is caused primarily because of the system known as capitalism that we live under, it dawned on me that not only was such a new system desirable—indeed essential—it was so easily possible with majority understanding.

At last here was hope for the future, something positive to aim for, I'd broken free from the muddled thinking of my past, un-brainwashed myself from the conditioning we are all subject to. What a sense of enlightenment! And what's more gratifying is that I am now in the knowledgeable position of being able to urge you to do the same, to find out about the REAL Socialism of the SPGB and its companion parties abroad.

It's a fact that the world we live in is sickening but it need not be so. Don't just accept things as they are. Do a little enquiring, question all you see and hear, and you'll discover that Socialism is the ONLY way of making life a pleasure instead of a burden!
Paul Breeze