Monday, February 22, 2016

Elephants' graveyard (1983)

From the June 1983 issue of the Socialist Standard

Between 1970 and 1982, according to the magazine Onyx (Vol. 16, p. 225), the number of African elephants declined sharply. Reliable counts in a large number of different regions showed a fall of between 80 and 95 per cent. The conclusion from this is that unless action is taken — for example to prevent the poaching of elephants — this attractive animal will soon be extinct. The African elephant’s plight is not, of course, unique; many forms of wild life are under threat and there are numerous organisations which campaign on behalf of the various endangered species.

There are similarities between the situation of the modern elephant and that of the pleistocene megafauna which were prominent in most parts of the world about two million years ago. Their disappearance came about largely as a result of their conflict with human beings, who were fairly efficient hunters. Consequently the megafauna became extinct in Eurasia over 10,000 years ago; in Australasia this happened within the last thousand years and in North America within the last 500 years (P. S. Martin, Prehistoric Overkill, Yale, 1967). The reason for this is fairly simply; the very size of the large mammals, which had once been an advantage for their self-defence, became a liability when hunting had advanced sufficiently to make size of no value against a well armed hunter. Furthermore, the vast amounts of food which an elephant needs to keep going (in Frankfurt Zoo elephants are fed nearly 185lb. of fodder each day) put the megafauna in competition with human beings for what were then scarce resources. The effects of hunting large mammals is accentuated by the fact that they take a comparatively long time to reproduce themselves.

The decline of the megafauna's modern counterpart, the African elephant, coincided with the rise of capitalism. It was competition among the rising capitalist nations for the raw materials and the markets of the continent which first brought the unfortunate elephant into contact with “civilisation” — which in the elephant’s case meant a group of well armed hunters. The first example of this was in South Africa, where hunters could make vast profits (between 1500 and 2000 per cent) on the sale of ivory to the Dutch East India Company. By the 1830s the huntsmen — mainly Boers — had virtually wiped out all the Cape Colony elephants and then they moved north with devastating effect, massacring great hordes of elephants. Had enforceable Game Laws not been passed in the 1890s, the African elephant would probably have become extinct by the first world war.

It was the system of production for profit which both nearly wiped out the African elephant and saved it. Tusks were produced — that is, elephants were shot — for the profits from the ivory but the elephant was relieved from the murderous pressure when it became useful not just as a source of ivory. In the Belgian Congo the elephant was domesticated and used in agriculture and forestry. The opening of the many game parks allowed elephants to become a tourist attraction; the liquidation of the elephant no longer made good economic sense. There were other ways of making a profit from the animal, than shooting it.

This process, in which capitalism has driven a species into near-extinction and then preserved it, has not been confined to the elephant. The white rhinoceros was nearly hunted out of existence for its horn (which was believed to be marketable as an aphrodisiac) but again has been saved through its popularity with the paying tourists. The ostrich was almost obliterated because of a demand for its skin but has been saved by the fact that it is more profitable to turn out ostrich products in ostrich farms. Consequently wild ostriches have no further attraction for the hunter and are largely left alone by them. There are many similar examples.

But this stay of extinction may only be temporary, conditional on the species remaining valuable when it is alive. And this has been the fate of the African elephant, which is now again under threat and whose numbers have declined sharply. There are two main reasons for this.

The first is the ivory trade; ivory is still in demand as a valuable commodity. One dealer estimates that it is usually worth over £40 a kilogramme. The exact number of elephants slaughtered for their ivory is uncertain; Dr. Douglas Hamilton has said that between 100,000 and 400,000 were killed for their ivory in 1976, an estimate disputed by Ian Parker who believes that fewer than 55,000 elephants in fact died for their tusks (Onyx. Vol 16, pp 235-8). Of these deaths Parker estimates that only 20 per cent were killed “legally” (by government-licensed hunters or in management culling programmes). The remainder were illegally poached and exported to their market quite openly as, according to Parker, export licenses for poached ivory are quite easy to obtain by bribery and other means. Illegal ivory is of course quite indistinguishable from that which is allowed to be shot. The world’s major ivory importers are Hong Kong, India and Japan, where the ivory is carved, polished and sold, bringing in huge profits to the hunters, dealers and the sellers of the finished products.

The second major reason for the recent decline of the African elephants is their size. Because of the need for large amounts of food, the creatures are constantly on the move. Each family group will range over a set area to feed itself and the size of these ranges varies between 25 and 1,200 square miles (I. Hamilton, Among the Elephants, 1975, pp 231-3 ). But these ranges have been put under great pressure through agricultural development; consequently the elephants have been virtually confined to the National Parks and any outside these boundaries are liable to be shot as a danger to the crops.

The shooting of elephants to protect crops must not be seen, however, as a conflict between the elephants and human beings for scarce resources; it is the result of a clash between the elephants’ need for food and the interests of the crop growers. The crops are not produced to satisfy human needs but to realise a profit for the people who have invested in their growth. It was the demands of the crop owners which led to more effective boundaries of the National Parks (which are themselves drawn in an attempt to maximise profitability) and the drastic reduction in the elephant ranges. This reduction has meant that there is insufficient spare land for the elephant population which, according to Ian Parker, is a more important factor in the recent decline of the elephant than the ivory trade (Onyx, Vol 16, p 238).

So the numbers of the African elephant have declined rapidly because a live elephant is generally regarded as less valuable than a dead one. In face of this over-riding consideration in a capitalist society, the various wildlife protection societies are impotent. The African elephant can only survive, in a social system in which a minority of people own the means of life, if that minority believe that its survival is in their interests. In the 3rd century BC, Ptolemy II tried to prevent elephant hunting tribes from pursuing their prey because their killings were detrimental to his military strategy, which involved the use of elephants. Since then, there have been several attempts by the ruling class to boost the elephant population, the latest of which is the National Parks.

Should we bother about the fate of any one species of wildlife? How vital is the demise of a million or so elephants compared to that of the 30 million people who die each year of starvation or the threat of an all-destructive nuclear war which will make the human race an extremely rare species? Well the decline of the African elephant illustrates important points about the nature of capitalism and of socialism.

The first of these is the essential callousness of a social system in which production is for profit. In this all things, including the elephant, exist through a calculation which puts a price on their life and on their death — an equation which currently operates against the elephant and so hastens its demise, in much the same way as human beings may be written off or maintained on very low levels of “benefit” when they are no longer productive.

Secondly, what of future society? Will socialism allow free development of all forms of wildlife, whatever the consequences for the human race? Would it encourage the locust and the tsetse fly to thrive? When the means of production are communally owned there will be a totally different mode of wealth production, with different motives; commodities will be replaced by free access to use values. Free of the distortions of property society, the people of socialism will be able to assess comprehensively the totality, and the true balance, of the relationship between wildlife and the human race. If there should be a situation — a natural disaster, perhaps — which forces one into competition with the other for scarce resources then socialist society may well take the decision, democratically, that there is no alternative to an humane cull. It may even decide to obliterate some species.

That would be a regrettable, but unavoidable, step to take but it would be taken in the interests of humanity, unlike the motivation under capitalism for the slaughter which clubs the seal pup bloodily on the ice, which has the elephant die in slow agony from gunshot wounds and all in the name of profit.
John Critichfield

Grass Roots (1968)

Book Review from the September 1968 issue of the Socialist Standard

Constituency Labour Parties in Britain by Edward G. Janosik (Pall Mall Press, 45s.)

Edward Janosik has produced here a study of the organisational and political nature of constituency Labour Parties. The blurb on the dust jacket claims that the book contains “a body of reliable data from which sound generalisations could be made". Unfortunately, the author, an American who spent a year in Britain, has little or no experience of his subject and his data has been acquired by interviewing what he calls  “key leaders" of thirty six CLPs.

Before joining the Socialist Party of Great Britain 1 was a CLP secretary—a “key leader”—for some years and my own impressions of the Labour Patty are very different from those gained second hand by Janosik. He must realty be naive if he thinks that the party machine (Transport House) isn't all that powerful in the selection of parliamentary candidates. True, there is a procedure laid down which appears to give the “grass roots" a great deal of independence in the matter, but the machine, through its local paid officials, can and often does see that the dice is loaded in favour of nominees acceptable to it by turning a blind eye to blatant irregularities in the delegations to selection conferences.

Also, Janosik's claim that there is little evidence of organised factionalism in the CLP's is. to anyone who has ever been active in the Labour Party, sheer nonsense. Before such events as the election of office-bearers, the choosing and instruction of delegates to national and local conferences, the selection of parliamentary and municipal candidates, each faction will normally meet in conclave to decide a course of action against the others.

Janosik does admit that his studies were carried out at a time when a general election was pending. Such an event is always a great unifier as CLP's are basically an electoral machine whose function is to secure the return of candidates representing a very broad viewpoint of how British capitalism should be run. Not that the "unity" ever lasts very long. After the votes have been counted the various factions, left and right, will cheer their heads off together if Labour wins but it is only a short while before the back-stabbing begins again. If Labour loses then, of course, it commences right away.

The book does reveal, in passing, some of the skeletons in the Labour cupboard. For instance, the fact that candidates are sometimes chosen with an eye to the religious prejudices of the electorate. Also dealt with is the degrading "pulling out” of the Labour vote on election day. This consists of the party activists plaguing everyone suspected of Labour sympathies to come out and vote. Fleets of cars are provided for this spectacle and no wonder, for if the average Labour voter were left to vote of his or her own accord then there would be a lot less Labour MPs in Parliament.

The myth that the CLP’s are bastions of militancy against the reactionary leadership also takes a knock. Actually, the vast majority of Labour Party are simply apolitical and are only concerned with humdrum fund-raising and social activities.

Janosik's book cannot fail to impress whoever is obsessed with discovering the facts relating to the average age and occupational, religious, educational background of CLP leaders and there are abundant tables dealing with all this and more. Doubtless, the Robert McKenzie, Abrams and Rose crowd will be fascinated, but really, the author has failed to get under the skin of his subject and to see it for the corrupt, undemocratic and anti-socialist organisation that it is.

Perhaps we shouldn't blame him too much for that After all, thousands who have spent a lifetime in its ranks still haven’t seen through it either
Vic Vanni

Tin pot madness (1985)

From the December 1985 issue of the Socialist Standard

Defenders of the market system claim that the cost/price factors, through which it operates. enable modern production to be organised in a rational manner, that without the market modern production would break down and could not carry on in a practical way. Experience shows that it is precisely the operation of the market which constrains and dislocates modern production. It is only by first abolishing the market system that the useful structure of modern production could become free to be run in a practical way, directly for human needs.

This fact has been demonstrated yet again by chaos in the world tin market leading to a suspension of trading on the London Metal Exchange on October 24 and dislocation in the world distribution of tin. This was certainly not because the social need for tin was over-supplied. Obviously this metal is an important component of equipment and a wide range of finished goods which are needed throughout the world. But needs are not a "rational" concern which determines the operation of the tin market. In fact, the trading crisis centred on a very different question. Far from the market being a practical mechanism allowing for the distribution of tin, trading on the London Metal Exchange broke down because profit-making was thrown into chaos.

Central to the crisis was the work of the International Tin Council, which is fraudulently described as a “producers' and consumers' group". None of the actual producers of tin the miners of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Brazil, Bolivia, Australia and, among others, 2,000 tin miners in Cornwall - have got anything to do with the Council. Nor have the consumers of tin the wider community, for whose consumer needs tin should be directly produced.

The International Tin Council represents a very different set of interests. These are the owners and traders of tin who buy and sell this commodity with the sole object of profiting from it. It is a world price pact agency whose aim has been to maintain the price of tin on the world market. It has been financed by various governments and from loans, with a view to intervening in world trading with the object of regulating the world price above the recent floor price of £8,500 a tonne.

In trading conditions of over-supply in relation to market capacity, with a corresponding tendency of the price to fall below the floor price, the International Tin Council intervenes as a buyer with a view to increasing the price. It then controls reserve stocks which, theoretically, it is able to market when the price is restored. In addition to this, and by agreement, the Council is able to set export quotas aimed at cutting back on production as an added means of relieving downward pressure on the world price. For example, against the needs of people, production from Indonesia declined from 33,322 tonnes in 1981 to 22.500 tonnes in 1984.

During the early period of the 29 years of the price pact, regulation of the world price was never easy, even when four national capitalist groups - Malaysia, Indonesia. Thailand and Bolivia between them controlled 80 per cent of the world's supply. Also during this early period, sales at a profit were buoyant. But since that time world capitalism has entered the current depression and together with this other large scale sellers of tin, such as Brazil, have entered the world market outside the price pact. As a result, control of world marketing by the International Tin Council has fallen to 60 per cent of current production. This has brought pressure on the members of the price pact to cheat. So there has been a growth of smuggled tin and the movement of illegal tin. Far from the operation of this market being "rational'' - or. as its defenders believe. “the most practical system" the convolutions of its insanities have now resulted in something known as "illegal tin".

Substantially, the dealings on the London Metal Exchange involve the buying and selling of exchange contracts which do not necessarily result in the transfer of the ownership of the metal itself. The absurdities of this marketing saga were highlighted early this year when the stock manager of the International Tin Council insisted that, instead of the mere buying and selling of exchange contracts, which involved selling forward one day and then buying back cheaper the next, the actual tin involved should be physically delivered in line with the sales. This caused even more chaos in the market and so had to be abandoned.

The temptations for the capitalist controlling the supply to go on marketing tin, with the International Tin Council buying to keep the world price above £8,500 a tonne, have proved impossible to resist. In October the stock manager of the Council controlled reserves of 62,000 tonnes, enough to supply current world capitalist use for 5 months. Against an accumulation of 62,000 tonnes which the Council did not know what to do with, bankruptcy of their own funds, debts estimated at £340 million on outside loans with bankers in panic, trading was suspended.

It is important to note that behind this marketing chaos there is in fact a useful structure of world tin production which could be operated directly for human needs. The raw material is mined in various world locations by workers who have all the necessary skills. This raw material is transported to regional centres of industry where it is processed and refined into tin. It might then be processed with other metals as various alloys. These materials are then transported to centres of manufacture where they are prepared as the component parts of machinery, equipment or finished items of consumption goods. With further assembly the finished goods are distributed to the various localities.

This connected network of productive activities through which tin ore becomes finished goods depends on the skills and energies of the workers involved. The network operates as a result of required quantities of the worked-on materials and component parts being communicated throughout the various stages of production and distribution. As this useful structure of production already exists, the future society of socialism would not require an entirely new or different one. What is required is the removal of the present capitalist features which are now imposed on this useful structure. so that its useful features would be free to operate through co-operation directly for human needs.

Thus in socialism, with a system of production solely for use, needs would arise expressed as definite quantities of required goods among the whole community. These would be registered and communicated to regional centres of manufacture. As a result, regional manufacturing units would know the amounts of required production. This would be passed on throughout the entire network of production eventually to the mining and processing of such raw materials as tin. This would be a direct and practical response of social productive activity based on co-operation in line with social needs. But it can only be free to take place once the market system is abolished, which requires that the entire means of production and distribution must be converted into common ownership by the whole community.

Under capitalism the structure of tin production, based on the world mining of the raw material, regional processing and manufacture and assembly of finished products then local distribution, is inevitably loaded with waste. Competing enterprises repeat means of production and the constraints of the market result in these not being used to full capacity. At present the Tin Council alone retains a stockpile of 62,000 tonnes which has no immediate profitable use. Goods manufactured in Japan are sent to America and Europe and vice versa. This anarchic system of distribution results in the same articles criss-crossing each other on the world's trade routes. Moreover, tin production has been reduced as a result of the present depression. Tin miners have become unemployed.

Without the market, this useful structure of production could be operated more productively in direct line with human needs. This could avoid all the present wasteful features. Whereas "oversupply" of the material in relation to the capacity of the market for sales at a profit involves a denial of human needs, in socialism the position of oversupply would not be reached until human needs had been met.

It might well be asked - could the work of the present International Tin Council be adapted for use in socialism? Obviously its present function in the world market would be immediately redundant. Nevertheless, some of its useful features could be taken up. For example, it provides useful information on world tin production, its many uses and the world distribution and availability of the raw material reserves. Perhaps such an organisation could have a useful monitoring role in socialism, providing information which might help with decisions about the use of this material against others for different purposes.

What is certain is that behind the madness of the market, there is a useful structure of production and administrative machinery, which could provide ready-made organisation for the operation of production solely for use.
Pieter Lawrence 

International Socialists . . . the Tripe Factory (1974)

From the April 1974 issue of the Socialist Standard

“The crisis which we have been predicting for the last 20 years is now upon us . . . Every single area of the organisation needs to be strengthened if we are to reply to Heath, Wilson and the union leaders with real Socialist answers” (Socialist Worker 5 January 1974).

Not at all a bad idea! If by “real” Socialist answers is meant sound, correct Socialist answers.

Unfortunately the International Socialists are not giving “real” Socialist answers; but very unreal mistaken ones.

Socialist Worker for 12 January includes a whole page of “replies to readers’ queries”, headlined by the statement that "the only answer” is not “Socialism” but “Workers' Control”.

Now the first point about so-called “Workers’ Control” is that there ain’t (and can’t be) any such animal. Workers’ control is a simple contradiction in terms. Those “in control” can never be the workers. Control of society comes from ownership backed by a Parliamentary majority. Even Chris Harman is forced to admit this. Lower down answering somebody else he writes: “What is needed is a mass movement of workers prepared to fight for control of every pit, dock, factory and office, replacing the present system by one run democratically by elected workers’ delegates.” But he adds (ruefully) “such a really massive movement does not yet exist. Most workers continue to take the existing system for granted and only want small gradual changes in it.” (Socialist Worker 12 January 1974).

Too true — only too true, Chris. But even supposing that friend Harman’s idea actually worked and a "massive movement” of workers fought for control of every factory — AND WON IT — WHAT THEN? Would it be Socialism? NO! On the same page we are told that the "problem of shortages” would be transformed by "dividing up the immense wealth in very few hands; enough to give the six million lower paid workers an extra ten pounds a week.”

Is this Socialism? NO! It’s the same old wages system. All it could do would be to perpetuate the same old class struggle. Even if every worker got ten pounds extra next Friday, nothing would be fundamentally changed. Capitalism would go its own sweet way and whittle away the "increases” by inflation, speed-up and all its other devices. As Tony Cliff rightly says (misquoting Lenin) "Capitalism always has a way out of the crisis if the workers are ready to pay the price” (Socialist Worker 5 January 1974).

The Socialist Worker actually writes that this "dividing up” would "pay the miners a decent wage so that they saw no reason to strike”. (What is a "decent” wage?)

This is definitely comical, seeing that the International Socialists spend most of their time fomenting strikes for political ends. Of course we are not quite so naive as not to know that the object of all the International Socialists’ hysteria about the present crisis is simply "the mixture as before”. It is a reprint of the old outmoded and discredited Communist Party tactics — calls for a Labour Government, new versions of the election of Soviets by the Trades Councils and establishment of "dual power” on the Petrograd model.

Its support of any and every strike, or potential riot, its absurd idea that any crowd breaking a few windows is preparation for the "revolutionary situation” and slavish idolatory of the Leninist “tactics” is the real reason for the formation of Rank and File (T.U.) movements, organization of fractions in the Trade Unions and factory branches. It’s all been tried before, ending with the virtual non-existence of the CPGB.

Behind the organization of strikes to overthrow Governments is the idea of seizure of power by “Workers’ Committees” backed by mutiny in favour of the workers by the armed forces! What a hope!

By their rejection of Parliamentary methods International Socialists show that they are confused on the method of establishing Socialism because they do not understand Socialism itself. Socialism is NOT control by the workers. Socialist society concerns every citizen in his capacity as a human being, not as a miner, bank clerk or whatever.

Cannot International Socialists see that if the massive movement they envisage was Socialist it would inevitably express itself politically at elections, capturing political power in the only way possible (which is not street fights or riots) by a majority vote?

By their hysterical and unthinking fomenting of disorder they discredit and besmirch Socialism, reducing it to the level of hooliganism and street brawling.

Will they never learn? It’s all been tried before and is foredoomed to disaster.

The Illusions of Anti-Militarists (1925)

From the September 1925 issue of the Socialist Standard

When the workers outside the Army, Navy, etc., are opposed to Socialist ideas, is it likely that those inside the armed forces will be more sympathetic to revolutionary influences? The answer is emphatically, no. The powerful influence of capitalist tuition on the civil population is plain. And the more powerful effect of capitalist tuition on those in the “forces" is plainer still.

In spite of this, Pacifists and “Communists,” who have never adopted a policy of educating the workers in Socialism, think it will be possible to permeate the armed forces with their ideas. Communists who talk about general strikes to seize power and direct action as the only way, suddenly decide that these policies are not sufficient. They now declare that the Army must be with the workers. If economic action to tie up industry and “starve the bosses" is the policy they believe in, why bother about the Army. They sometimes think that the armed forces will be starved by a general strike and that no Army can be moved because of a railway strike. But they drop all this moonshine suddenly and get the notion that the Army and Navy can be converted. The very same persons who loudly proclaim that the mass of the workers cannot be educated into Socialism tell us that the Army, being composed of workers, can be won for our ideas.

The dictatorship diehards who affirm that only a minority of the workers under capitalism can escape from mental slavery to the capitalist, these are the very same people who believe that those in armed camps can have their capitalistic education dispelled.

This “short cut" to Revolution is full of illusions. Take the position of a soldier. He is isolated in barracks and camps and there mentally drilled to obey orders. He is carefully segregated from the influences which might weaken the mental hold of capitalist tuition. He is given a security of food, clothing and shelter, which is denied in industrial life, and where unemployment is frequent. All the carefully arranged plans and codes of training mould the member of the armed forces so well, that of all the working class he is the least likely recruit to revolutionary ideas, especially in the leading capitalist countries.

Socialists, therefore, direct their attention chiefly to the civil population, regarding them as the most likely recruits to Socialism. Without the bulk of the working class being won for Socialism, its establishment is impossible.

When the masses are converted to Socialist ideas and organised, and in control of the political machine, the armed forces will be under their control. While Socialists welcome the acceptance of Socialism by any and every member of the working class, we do not delude ourselves with the notion that any rapid or widespread conversion of the Army and Navy is possible. Soldiers may tire of prolonged war or be driven to stop fighting by lack of food, But that is not a conversion to the revolutionary policy of Socialism.

Anti-militarism does not denote an acceptance of Socialism. Pacifists and Liberals, Anarchists and Quakers, may all be antimilitarists, opposed to all wars, sighing for perfect peace, yearning for brotherly love, but they are dreamers and ignore the nature of the system under which we live. Armed forces are required by ruling classes to keep the subject class in slavery and wars are inseparable from a system of private property.

Socialists, therefore, go to the roots of the matter. The system depends upon the ignorance of the masses of workers and therefore until the workers obtain real knowledge of the causes of their conditions and organise in agreement with that knowledge—there is no possibility of abolishing the effects of the system.

The lurid appeal of the Communist, Workers' Weekly, asking the Labour Party to stop the soldiers being used against workers is another sign of Communist Party stupidity. With all the experience of the Labour Party as a Government and their willingness to use armed forces and pass Coercion Acts and support wars, no Socialist would ever expect them to assist the workers.

The Materialist Conception of History (1955)

From the November 1955 issue of the Socialist Standard

When Karl Marx formulated the Materialist Conception of History he gave us a key to unlock the door to a chamber of horrors—the sordid basis of high-flown sentiments. He showed that, since the passing of tribal society, history had been a record of the struggles of different classes to control the social wealth; that the grouping into classes originated out of the way wealth was produced and distributed in each period; that the shape of the main ideas of a period can only be explained by the economic conditions of the time. Further, that class struggles will only disappear when clashing interests have been reduced to one interest; that is when all forms of private ownership in the means of production have been replaced by the common ownership of the means of production. Thus society was shown to be subject to the general law of evolution, though the artificial environment with which man has surrounded himself makes differences in the particular way the law operates in human society as compared with the animal world.

Before Marx’s time history appeared in a fortuitous light; as the operations of Gods or devils, heroes or scoundrels, clever men or fools or knaves. The Materialist Conception of History made clear that history was a natural development in accordance with certain definite laws; that it consisted of a chain of fundamental changes in which each new epoch sprang out of the previous one but with a different economic base, a different grouping of classes, and a corresponding difference in the general outlook of the time.

This does not mean that each epoch produces a completely new set of ideas. Old ideas are modified by the new mould and some fresh ideas are developed. For example sporting contests of all kinds have existed for as long as there are any records, but sham-amateurism is a product of modern commercialised sport.

Likewise similar economic circumstances produce similar ideas and similar solutions, even though thousands of years may intervene. This accounts for the fact that many things that appear to be the special product of modem times have, in fact, been thrown up at different times in the past; like the grain dealers of Athens who were prosecuted for black-marketeering or the nationalization schemes of Xenophon two thousand years ago for the purpose of increasing Athenian revenues, or the Government of Ferrara in the 15th century which bought and distributed com as well as monopolising fish, salt, fruit, meat and vegetables. Of course none of these operations were described at the time as Socialistic. That could only occur in a Capitalistic society where supporters of Capitalism wished to throw up a barrier against revolution, or bankrupt reformers needed to delude their followers into believing that they had found the road to comfort and security. 

In spite of “full employment,” gambling on the pools, and T.V. sets on the hire system, sooner or later the mass of the population, those who are compelled to work for a living, will be driven by their material interests to set about abolishing the private ownership of the means of production and replacing it by the common ownership of the means of production. In other words, converting all that is in and on the earth into the common possession of all mankind. And this will be in accordance with the Materialist Conception of History’s own decree and in spite of the delusionists’ conceptions.