Monday, September 3, 2018

The Burwell Experiment. (1906)

Editorial from the September 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

In spite of the highly coloured reports of its advocates it is now plain that the “small holding” spells enduring toil and penury to its victim. Though he slave night and day the small cultivator is in general utterly unable to compete with the superior machinery and organisation on the large farms. We have statistics before us which show the decrease in the number of small farms of from one to five acres in this country to be 6½ per cent. during the past decade, whilst there is an increase in the number of farms comprising from 300 to 500 acres. The reason for this is surely not far to seek. On the large farm there is the economy that is born of associated labour as against the isolated efforts of the petty farmer. There is also the important saving of labour due to specialisation as opposed to the all-round and ever changing activities of the small cultivator, whilst the saving of freight charges by the expedition of produce in bulk, and the utilisation of by-products, greatly increases the economy of farming on a large scale. But it is in the greater capital of the large farm, the expensive machines which enable so much to be done with so little expenditure of labour, it is in this that is to be found the reason for the squeezing out of the small producer, who cannot afford to buy, or whose land is too small to profitably employ, these great labour-saving devices. In the purchase of stock and in command of the produce market, the larger man continually overreaches his smaller competitor; yet it is sought by many to stem the decline of agriculture by the creation of a class of peasant farmers. To do so is to condemn such men to a life of continued and arduous labour and of pinching poverty until the inevitable foreclosure of the equally inevitable mortgage.

The estate in the parish of Burwell, between Newmarket and Cambridge, for which the Crown was unable to find a tenant during the past two years, having been taken over by Mr. Rose, M.P. for the purpose, will be let out into small holdings in spite of local opposition, and once more the tragedy is to be renewed. Bounded in their vision by their own immediate interests, the middle class are unable to gauge the economic trend, and will, in spite of all evidence, endeavour to perpetuate a system of farming that is suited to conditions long past. Like the small manufacturer and shopkeeper among his middle-class confreres the small farmer is being crushed between the upper and nether millstones of the great capitalists and the proletariat. Well may we bear the bitter cry of the middle classes, for the expropriation of the middle class, whether small farmer or small manufacturer, keeps pace with the expropriation of the labourer by the machine. The middle class is economically doomed, and the future lies between the working class and the giants of capital. Thus is the class struggle made clearer.

Obituary: Bob Carlton (1984)

Obituary from the September 1984 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is with deep regret that we report the death of Comrade Bob Carlton of the Socialist Party of New Zealand.

Auckland branch members will remember Bob mainly for his work as Treasurer, both for the Auckland branch initially, and then General Treasurer for the SPNZ. He carried out this task with complete honesty and integrity. His books were always immaculate and no auditor could ever fault them.

Bob was a tireless worker for socialism. Any project the party undertook, Bob was always willing to take on more than his share of the work. He was a quiet man. but possessed ironclad principles which he would not compromise for anyone or anything. So much so that in World War II, Bob chose imprisonment rather than take part in the horror of slaughtering his fellow workers.

Bob's great love was fishing and the writer spent many a pleasurable hour on the harbour with him, catching fish and talking socialism. His comrades will miss his warm friendly smile. He had a generous sense of humour and a dry wit that made being in his company a real pleasure. Our sympathy goes to his family, who we know will feel a sadness that will remain always.
SPNZ

The Rank and File (1943)

From the December 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard
[The article below is reprinted from "Socialist Comment," May, 1943, published by the Sydney Branch of the Socialist Party of Australia.]
We remember the time when the "militants” used to claim that the rank and file could do no wrong. The rank and file were exhorted to make their voices heard, and not to be the dumb, driven cattle which they had been. They should assert themselves. We were told that trade union officials should be the servants and not the masters of the members.

Many officials were denounced as "social fascists," "defeatists,” "class collaborators,” and "bureaucrats.” To advise the use of the Arbitration Court was treachery and a betrayal of "the masses.” The workers were badly in need of a new "leadership.” (This latter, of course, the "militants” could supply.) The strike was the means whereby our demands were to be made known and enforced. Such were the arguments advanced.

Aspirants to Trade Union official positions waxed eloquent over the virtues of rank-and-file control, their fervour equalling the fanaticism of the founders of a new religion: their creed became Rank-and-File worship.

Time marches on; many of the apostles of rank-and-file control have been suitably rewarded and now the Grand Organ plays a different tune. "Trade Union Bureaucracy” has given place to "Leadership of the Masses”; what was previously condemned as ”Class Collaboration” is now hailed as "National Unity.” Actions once denounced as a "betrayal of the masses” are now proclaimed essential to “Proletarian Discipline.” Any worker who suggests strike action is likely to be denounced by the former "militants” as a "fifth columnist," a "wrecker,” a “saboteur,” or even a "Trotskyist .”

Erstwhile advocates of direct action and rank-and-file control now fawn before politicians and Arbitration Judges; the Arbitration Court has become the "holy of holies” of a new found industrial faith. A fashionable practice among "militants” and some Trade Union officials was the denunciation of the low wages which were held to be inadequate to ensure a decent living standard. The fashion among those people to-day seems to be to regard the workers as a newly rich class squandering their substance on riotous living instead of investing in War Loans. Further, the same "militants,” including the General Secretary of the Communist Party and certain Trade Union officials, unite with other supporters of capitalism in urging working people to support a "Labour” Government which attacks the wages of the workers; the attack upon the pay envelope is disguised as “taxation.”

Don't you think, fellow workers of the rank and file, that it is high time you ended this state of affairs? A study of SOCIALIST literature will help you recognise the folly of placing your trust in "leaders.” Replace blind faith in “leadership” by Working Class Understanding.

Gizza’ job (2018)

The Cooking the Books column from the September 2018 issue of the Socialist Standard

‘Corbyn woos the working class with state aid pledge’ was the headline in the Times (25 July) reporting his speech launching the Labour Party’s ‘Build It In Britain’ campaign.

 Over the years the working class has been wooed with all sorts of promises, and a promise to subsidise their jobs is as good a vote-catcher as any. It is of course understandable that workers should want to keep their job as it’s the source of their income. Under capitalism, those who are not owners of means of production, i.e., the vast majority of us, are forced to go out on to the labour market and try to sell our mental and physical energies to some employer to get money to buy the things we need to live. It’s a degrading position to be in, having to beg for a job and then plead not to lose it. But that’s the reality of capitalism.

 It also sets worker against worker in a competition for jobs. ‘Build It In Britain’ is the same as saying ‘Don’t Build It Abroad’, a less crude version of Gordon Brown and the BNP’s ‘British Jobs for British Workers’ (the only difference between Brown and the BNP was over the definition of a ‘British Worker’). In other words, give the job to workers in Britain, not to workers in France or Germany or Italy or wherever. Meanwhile across the Channel the French Communist Party continues its campaign of ‘Produisons français’.

 And workers can’t be too choosy about what their job is. Larry Elliot, the Economics Editor of the Guardian, opened his commentary on Corbyn’s speech:
‘Jeremy Corbyn wants new support ships for the Royal Navy to be built in British shipyards.’
 Is this the same Jeremy Corbyn as the long-time anti-war campaigner (CND, Stop the War)? Yes, it is, he really did say:
 ‘Take the example of the three new Fleet Solid Support Ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. Why is the Government sending a £1 billion contract and all the skilled jobs, tax revenues and work in the supply chain to build those three ships overseas when we have the shipyards to build them here?’
And, continuing to play the patriotic demagogue, he went on to complain that between 2014 and 2017 
  ‘the Ministry of Defence awarded contracts elsewhere worth over £1.5 billion pounds even though we are under no obligation under either European or international law to open up defence contracts to overseas bidders.’
He didn’t mention Trident but the unions representing shipyard workers want these nuclear submarines too to be Built in Britain.

 The speech was delivered at a site owned by the EEF. Until 2003, when it rebranded itself, the EEF was known as the Engineering Employers Federation, notorious over the years for opposing strikes and organising lockouts. This must tell us something about what to expect from any future Labour government. They won’t be opposing the employing class, but running the system in their interests. It’s not as if we haven’t seen this before.

Camping Out (1906)

Editorial from the September 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

It has been popular with a section of the unemployed this summer to try the simple life by camping out on vacant land, and, though the rôle of leaders of fashion goes oddly with the desperate efforts of the unemployed to avoid starvation, who knows but that their action may have some connection with the fact that (according to a contemporary) “Society”—another section of the unemployed—is going into camp next summer, and would this year were not the season so far advanced ? However that may be, it is certain that the unfortunate unemployed have had more serious business in hand, for, in addition to calling public attention to their existence and exciting the sympathy of the charitably disposed, they have been led to believe that it was only necessary to tickle the surface of the land to bring forth abundance. Unfortunately for them, eviction has followed eviction, and the sickly lettuce and despondent cabbage have been left to their fate as camp after camp has “fizzled out.”

It has been said that, although the camps have not been of long duration, nevertheless they have achieved their purpose of calling the attention of the public to the problem which awaits solution. We would point out that whatever truth or worth there may be in this is entirely discounted by the fact that these camps of unemployed call into notice at the same time a manner of dealing with unemployment that is utterly futile and indeed even harmful to the workers themselves. To seize upon land which has been left waste (precisely because it does not under present conditions pay for cultivation) and to endeavour with unskilled labour and without the machinery and stock which are essential to success, to inaugurate a “back to the land” crusade by precept and practice, is surely the height of folly. Even without the interference of the powers that be the camps could not possibly have lived.

It is, perhaps, a pity that the camps were not allowed to die a natural death, so that the “back to the land” pill for the disease of unemployment may have been used by the unemployed on such a scale that even its pseudo-Socialist advocates were forced to recognise that the only remedy for the unemployed evil is the abolition of capitalism.

The Trade Union Congress. (1906)

Editorial from the September 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

The so-called “Parliament of Labour” that will take place during the week following the publication of this number, will be larger than ever according to the statement of the Liberal M.P. who is its secretary. The usual resolutions which have been moved every year are to be moved yet again, amid the usual clamour of self-advertisement. In point of futile resolutions and wasted words the Congress compares unfavourably with even the tower of babble at Westminster.

A Congress that is supposed to represent and express the aspirations of over a million and a half of working men should (it would seem) enunciate a definite and logical working class policy; it should break down the barriers between union and union and bring about the economic unity of the workers, and should be itself to the fore energetically and unequivocally battling for the interests of the toilers against the class who prey upon them. But the Congress does none of these things. It is rather in the position of the poultry in William Morris’s fable, who spent their time discussing with what sauce they should be eaten, and who sent in resolutions and deputations to the farmer’s wife and the head poulterer regarding this vital question, but who were horrified at the revolutionary suggestion of a battered looking and middle aged barn-door cock that he did not want to be eaten at all.

The aimless resolutions that are passed by the Congress in the intervals of junketing, the deputations and petitions that are sent to the class in power regarding the weight and shape of the shackles that are worn by the workers, the praise and advertisement that are given to the assembled delegates by the enemies of the working class, all demonstrate the uselessness and impotence of the Trade Union Congress. The reason for this impotence is, however, not difficult to find, and it illustrates the supreme importance of the work that we are doing—the propagation of the principles of scientific Socialism to the workers who are within and without the trade unions. The Congress is impotent because the majority of the workers within the unions are as ignorant of their real interests and as blind to their historic mission as are those who are contemptuously dubbed “blacklegs". And the leaders of the blind—even those who see clearly—have in the main no desire to awaken their followers to their class position and rightful aim; they have little desire to break down sectional divisions and ignorant prejudice among the rank and file; for if the workers were brought together as a class upon the economic field, if the workers became aware of the meaning and importance of the class struggle, and consciously pursued their revolutionary aim of the conquest of political power and the democratic control of industry, why then many of the leaders would lose their soft jobs, and many would have to abandon once and for all their hope of attaining to the flesh pots in the gift of capitalism.

Political Notes: Insults (1981)

Illustration by George Meddemmen.
The Political Notes Column from the September 1981 issue of the Socialist Standard

Insults
“You’d better get up to the North East,” said the Prime Minister to Lord Hailsham. “The people up there are sound chaps really; their fathers stuck it out well at places like Passchendaele, but they’re getting restless. Something to do with bad housing, unemployment, sickness and poverty . . . Have a word with them—tell them we’re all in this together, you know the stuff. Oh yes, better get yourself a cloth cap; not the sort I wear on the grouse moors, your expenses won’t run to that. I believe there’s a shop called Montague Bolton or Marmaduke Burton or something who do them quite cheap. Good luck.”

"You’d better get up to the North West,” said the Prime Minister to Michael Heseltine. “The proles up there are misbehaving, rioting and helping themselves to property they don't own, even if they made it all. Perhaps they’re dissatisfied about slum housing, unemployment, poverty, heavy handed police . . .  Try not to say too much though—you’re inclined to make a fool of yourself sometimes, you know. Get a few businessmen up there who’ll pretend to be surprised that people live in such conditions. Wear your best clothes and get you hair cut. Good luck.”

Since Hailsham’s fatuous insults to the working class, twenty years ago, there has been little change in the problems he was supposed to be alleviating except that if anything they have got worse. And, as Heseltine has found out, the workers’ reaction has become more violent, desperate and futile.

Yet since Hailsham’s visit the working class have had six chances, at general elections, to attack the cause of their problems. They have used those chances to elect two Labour, and two Tory, governments. This persistent support for capitalism has meant that the problems continue and worsen, and that places like Toxteth and Brixton still fester.

Little wonder, then, that cynical politicians also persist in their security, to the extent that they can so freely offer insults to working class intelligence. With support like they get, who can blame them for feeling smug?


Wets
Margaret Thatcher is said to be angry at people like Lord Thorneycroft and Peter Walker and Francis Pym who have been publicly criticising her policies and she is said to be even angrier at the press reports that she was angry in the first place. At this rate, we must ask ourselves, how long will that hairdo survive?

As a result of all this, the idea is gaining ground, that these politicians called the Wets have lit on some secret about how to run capitalism which would make life a lot easier for the working class. Some Wets are harking back to the days when it was fashionable to think that the state could spend its way out of a recession, cutting unemployment at a stroke. Leaving aside the fact that workers who are in jobs still suffer poverty, even if less acute than when they are on the dole, and the historical fact that the policies of Keynes have themselves been discredited, it must be said that the idea of politicians like these standing for a more humane capitalism is positively laughable.

Thorneycroft resigned from the Macmillan government—with Enoch Powell—in 1961 on the argument that there was not a stern enough effort to cut working class living standards. Peter Walker grew rich out of the world of fringe banks, finance houses and investment trusts, in their heyday in the sixties. He personifies the capitalist ethic that what is good is profitable, from which all abundance and happiness must flow.

Nobody should be deceived that the Tory Wets have any more to offer, as solutions to capitalism's inability to satisfy the needs of its people, than the most arid Dry. Thatcher angry? It is the working class, who are exploited, degraded and deceived by capitalism and its spokesmen, who should be blowing their tops.


Police
We might have known it. While the smoke still rose from the riot-torn cities, a pall of parrot cries, slogans and “demands” also went up, from the left wing.

“Police accountability” was one of the these demands—on Merseyside and in Brixton where, it seems, the police are pretty good at rioting themselves—which is supposed to help prevent it all happening again.

As usual, the lefties were too frantic to stop and ask themselves some necessary questions. How far, for example, is this “accountability” to go? Is it to be taken to the extent of those American states where the top policemen are elected to their office? This theoretical safeguard has led, notoriously in the Deep South, to some notably corrupt police forces whose officers have murdered people but who did not arrest themselves because that was how the voters wanted it.

On what basis are the police supposed to be accountable to the working class? To the people they police, which means the people they repress, imprison and assault? They are employed by the other class in society—by the capitalists—to assert the privileged standing of that class and to separate the workers from the wealth they have produced.

The police are accountable to the minority who live in palaces, not to the majority who live in the slums and the semis. While the working class acquiesce in this system of deprivation, they will use any control they have over any agency in the interests of the minority, to keep that minority in their position of privilege.

All experience teaches us the folly of expecting the agencies of capitalist control to change their character, to deny their role in the class struggle, to become benign and non-repressive. The workers must aim for a basic change in society, which would make those agencies redundant.

But until that happens there are likely to be a lot more broken heads—and worse—in the cause of capitalist repression and in the left’s opportunism.

50 Years Ago: The Truth about the Co-operative Movement (1982)

The 50 Years Ago column from the September 1982 issue of the Socialist Standard

On the economic side they are merely capitalist concerns out for profits. As to purchasers' dividends, they are not alone in giving something back in order to retain customers. The practice of giving coupons entitling purchasers to free gifts is quite common and the article bought, plus the free gift, is generally the equivalent in value of the price paid. The fact that cooperators spend such a small proportion of their wages in the stores proves they are not deceived on the question of value for money. To the bulk of them the Co-op is just a convenient place to shop.

But so far as Co-op leaders hold out hopes to the workers that their support will help towards a new order of society, or will even provide an escalator to reach it, they are practising deceit. The only way out for the workers is to organise politically for that purpose. A special objective requires a special organisation for its achievement. However, the objective must not be obscured by lesser things of little or no importance.

Dividends and profits can have no place within a socialist system of society. They belong to the present lop-sided arrangement of starving workers and over-fed idlers. Dividends and profits belong to capitalism, and the practice of cooperatives helps to keep them alive in the minds of the workers, to the detriment of a true understanding of their real position.
(From an article "The Truth about the Co-operative Movement" by F. Foan, Socialist Standard, September 1932.)

Salute to Alice (1982)

Alice Jefferson
TV Review from the September 1982 issue of the Socialist Standard

Alice – A Fight For Life. ITV (July 20, 1982)

Alice was a heroine, but no flags were waved, no anthems were sung for her. A victim of mesothelioma, the asbestos-induced cancer of the lung, she died wretchedly after long anguish in body and mind; the courts had just decided that her life could be priced rather higher than the paltry amount her ex-employers had offered.

As the scandal was being exposed on television, the wage slaves who had faithfully done their masters’ dirty work in the Falklands were being rapturously welcomed back. There was no such fame or glamour for Alice. “You’ve got to fight while you’re alive”, she said with a poignant logic, “because you can’t fight while you're dead. Can you?”. That was Alice’s message, and the message of the other sufferers shown on the programme.

Alice was a member of the working class — the useful, productive majority. She contracted that terrible disease because of the way she sold her labour power. Her courage and patience were such as the Falklands jingoists would hardly acknowledge. She was bewildered, too; why did it happen to her? To anyone? Why was it allowed? While searching for answers to these questions, she fought.

There was no such courage in the besuited smoothies in the pay of the asbestos companies, who pretended that the danger of the fibre had been vastly overrated and that their employers had done everything possible to make the workplaces safe. These miserable twisters, in face of the facts of the horrifyingly high death toll, insisted that virtually nobody had died as a result of working with asbestos.

Compared to these people, and to the vacuous ballyhoo of the South Atlantic, Alice glowed as a triumphantly brave and honest human being. Salute her. She will stand as evidence that her class has the qualities needed to refashion society so that such tragedies as hers will not happen again.

CP war zigzag (1982)

Book Review from the September 1982 issue of the Socialist Standard

Engineers at War 1939-1945. Richard Croucher. Merlin Press 1982 (£4.80)

Although ostensibly a history of the effects of the Second World War on the engineering unions, this book inevitably becomes a record of the sordid conspiracy of the Communist Party to seize control of the Amalgamated Engineering Union. Their attempts turned to farce after the first volte-face, when Harry Pollitt was booted back to Manchester and the CPGB was instructed (from Moscow) that the war was nothing but an "imperialist power struggle".

The CP reverted to all its old tricks— instigating strikes, sabotaging the war effort and harassing Bevin, the Minister of Labour. Then came the Nazi invasion of Russia, and overnight the War was again a sacred crusade for democracy against Hitler. Pollitt, Wal Hannington, Jack Owen, Bob Lovell and other CP notables, notorious for their vehement denunciations of Bevin and the TUC in 1941 rushed up and down the country, wherever a strike broke out, to beg the naughty workers to go back to work. With Jack Tanner, President of the AEU, they supported Bevin's Joint Production Committees and the notorious Regulation IAA, under which young girls (in Coventry, for example) were jailed for absenteeism from the war factory.

Perhaps the whole thing is best summed up by an ex-CP member, Alf Doig, a tool-maker at the Acton Works of the Napier Engine Company:
  What is all this nonsense we get from Harry Shaw (CP) these days about the "workers backing up their leaders". We do not elect "leaders", we elect representatives; the former command, the latter carry out mandates. Sheep need leaders, and where you have sheep, you have shepherds, crooks, and fleecers.
   Here I would like to appeal to the Rank and File of the Communist Party to lake a holiday from the Party: study other peoples’ views and read the literature of the Party between October 1941 and May 1945. Then consider whether you are to be taken in any longer by the nonsense of "Changing Conditions". “New Situations’* and "leading the Working-Class etc." I know it is a hard job to break away, having done it myself, but DO IT before it breaks you.
Horatio

50 Years Ago: The True Ramsay MacDonald (1983)

The 50 Years Ago column from the September 1983 issue of the Socialist Standard

From these disgruntled people we have now learned the most surprising things. If they are to he believed they knew all along that MacDonald was childishly ignorant and credulous, extremely vain, a word-spinner to the point of incoherence, unduly fond of the company and flattery of the Peerage, a mere tool of big business and the bankers, obstinate yet easily turned from his path by hints from his political opponents, arrogant and unapproachable, always indifferent to the hardships of the workers, always dishonest in his political enthusiasms, a worshipper of applause and a seeker for limelight, and altogether a most unattractive, uninformed and useless person. If these things are true how comes it that the whole band, from Maxton to Henderson, and from Bevin to Clynes, went on year in and year out following MacDonald, re-electing him leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party, praising him extravagantly and vowing that never before was there a man so deserving of trust and confidence? How did the stupid and incompetent MacDonald so easily bamboozle all these clever fellows? They say that they always saw through him, yet he. apparently, twisted them round his little finger? What were they? Innocent victims or criminal fellow' conspirators? Did MacDonald take them in — in which case they are plainly unfitted for the hurly-burly of politics — or were they consciously helping MacDonald to take the workers in?
(From an editorial “Tales told by the Lady’s Maid", Socialist Standard, September 1933.)

A Letter from Turkey: Hard Times in Asia Minor (2018)

From the September 2018 issue of the Socialist Standard

 Turkey's Black Friday would be a good way to describe 10 August when the value of the Turkish lira plummeted by at least 14 percent in a single day to 6.428 TL to the US dollar. Since the beginning of 2018, the lira has shed 41 percent of its value, particularly since the beginning of May. Everyone here is in shock.

 Direct foreign investment, upon which the Turkish economy depends, is heading for the doors in this unstable environment. Friends who have loans in US dollars are looking at having to pay out a lot more of their Turkish lira earnings to pay off their debts. The price of agricultural products, with inputs like oil and fertilizer priced in dollars, had already seen steep hikes in our Friday market. A local restaurateur told us that Friday evening reservations suffered a sharp drop as people thought twice about eating out. 

 The local housing market, already stagnant except for purchases by wealthy Middle East investors, will no doubt go into the deep freeze as no one will want to purchase a home in conditions of such price instability. In short, anyone who gets paid in Turkish lira, which is the vast majority, will see a hike in their cost of living. In this environment, there is a justified fear of a wave of bankruptcies of companies unable to pay their dollar or euro-based loans and the resultant increase in unemployment, already in double digits. And perhaps worst of all is the uncertainty of not knowing how and when this crisis will end.

 In fact, the economic problems of less developed countries, including Turkey, have been growing ever since the US moved away from its loose money policy to its current tight money policy with its rising interest rates. Investors then began to move their money from more risky but more profitable (for them) economies back to the US. But today Turkey in particular seems to be in the centre of a perfect storm of developments, which has everyone here depressed, pessimistic and on edge. How did the lira crash, seemingly overnight?

 Is it the Pastor Brunson affair that lit the match? Or perhaps the guilty verdict of Halkbank Deputy CEO Mehmet Hakan Attilla for allegedly violating US sanctions against Iran? Or Turkey's expanding relations with Russia, Iran and China?

 American Pastor Andrew Brunson has been in prison for almost two years, under the now formulaic charge of aiding terrorist organizations, namely the Fethullah Gülen movement as well as the PKK, two diametrically opposed political forces, but without being convicted of anything. He is in the same boat as thousands of prisoners in Turkey today similarly charged (or not, in some cases) and rotting in prison with no resolution to their cases, a result of a massive purge following the 2016 failed coup attempt blamed on the Gülen movement. By any standard, basic justice calls for their immediate release, all of them. However, the US administration’s focus on the Brunson case to the exclusion of others makes it seem like a Christian crusade to bully Muslim Turkey, an image that plays well with our president's base and gets a sympathetic ear generally in Turkish society. But the Brunson affair could not possibly be the only factor behind the deteriorating state of US/Turkish relations and the lira's crash.

 Turkish State-owned Halkbank deputy CEO Mehmet Hakan Atilla was tried in New York and given a 32-month sentence for violating US sanctions against Iran and raising the possibility of a fine of billions of dollars against Halkbank itself for the same 'offense'. One might ask oneself, what right does the US have to control any other sovereign country's dealings with another? Turkey has already announced that it will not comply with a recent additional demand to not do business with Iran or face America's wrath, another stance that strikes a positive chord generally among Turkish citizens.

 A lot has been written in the international media pointing to Turkey's expanding relations with Russia, Iran and China with the suggestion that Turkey was moving out of the orbit of NATO and, in addition, out of the current capitalist, i.e., neo-liberal economic mainstream. But Turkey has been one of the biggest boosters of the neo-liberal model in terms of privatizing public assets and services, mostly to ruling party cronies. But while global neo-liberal 'reforms' have resulted in a massive transfer of wealth from the working class to parasitic ruling elites, in Turkey, the ruling AK Party has also felt compelled to implement populist programs to keep itself in power, for example, a virtually free national public health care system, badly needed public transportation projects and improved housing for poor and working people, all of which has ballooned Turkey's budget deficit, requiring massive infusions of foreign capital and thus tying it inextricably to the dollar and euro.

 At bottom, it would seem that the Trump administration's attempt to use trade warfare, with its weapons of tariffs and sanctions, to reverse the waning power of US capital in the world has caught its NATO ally Turkey in a situation of collateral damage. No defender of national sovereignty it seems, no matter how autocratic and loyal to the US-dominated capitalist system, can be permitted to get in the way of making America great again.

 There is speculation that Turkey will have to turn to the IMF for help out of its debt crisis. If so, that could be a poison pill that will undermine the kinds of public services that are depended upon by poor Turks. Everyone here is afraid of what Monday morning will bring. And the days and weeks after. As of now, the response of the president in the face of this growing crisis has been 'They may have their dollar, but we have our people and Allah.' Oh dear.
A. N.

A Challenge (1905)

Editorial from the September 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

The statement has been repeatedly made both in the Organ of the S.D.F. and by individual members of that body, that The Socialist Standard has not had regard for the truth in its criticisms of the actions of prominent S.D.F. men and of the work of their organization. The most recent pronouncement to this effect comes from Cllr. J. Jones, S.D.F. organizer, who affirms that this paper “has been pressed into the services of capitalist Liberalism (as though there were a Liberalism not capitalist) to malign the prominent members of the S.D.F. in particular and misrepresent the organization generally” ; but neither from Cllr. Jones nor from any other member of his party, nor from his party organ, “Justice” has any evidence for this accusation been forthcoming.

We are concerned that the rank and file of the S.D.F. and all others interested should quite clearly understand that The Socialist Standard is not in existence to malign or misrepresent anybody; neither is it prepared to lie in the interests of the organization it represents or in any other interest. It exists to speak the truth upon questions affecting the working class. Its views are the views of The Socialist Party of Great Britain, a party which consisted in the beginning, mainly of ex-members of the S.D.F. who, holding that that body had forfeited its claim to consideration as a Socialist organization by compromise with Capitalism and by refusal to abandon an attitude that could only retard the development of class consciousness among the workers, had felt compelled to resign their membership as the only way of escape from the grave responsibility that must attach to anti-Socialist — because confusionist — tactics.

Since its inception The Socialist Party of Great Britain has consistently propagated the principles of Socialism and consistently refused to retreat from its position of irreconcilable antagonism to every manifestation of Capitalism. In so doing it claims to be proceeding along the only lines that a party rightly expressing working-class interests — which are, and can never by any chance be other than, in diametrical opposition to capitalist interests — can pursue.

In entering the arena of political activity as a separate organization, The Socialist Party of Great Britain has, of necessity, to continually justify its position in the eyes of those —whether members of bodies claiming to be Socialist or not — who, through geographical or other causes are not in possession of all the facts—just as it has to justify its existence in opposition to the orthodox political parties. To do so effectively it must of course make references to the actions of persons and parties from whom and from which it has been obliged to sever itself.

Such references we assert most emphatically have never been in the nature of abuse of individuals or misrepresentation of organizations. If it can be shewn that we have been guilty either of the one or of the other, we are quite as ready now, as we always have been, to make honourable and straightforward amends. We invite Mr. Jones and the others to make good their allegations against us or to frankly withdraw them. In this connection the printed word is far easier of reference than the oral utterance, and as it is The Socialist Standard that has been accused of slander, vilification, malignity and misrepresentation the file of the paper is at the disposal of any of our objectors who desire to refer to it.

If Messrs. Jones, Quelch, Irving, or the other individuals concerned will not accept the offer we make, the value of their fulminations will, we think, be assessed at their proper worth by those who are at one with us in their desire for the truth to prevail. We throw out the challenge fearlessly. If there is cause for complaint against us as an exponent of Socialism we are anxious to hear of it. But we want the evidence of it also. Allegation without proof is not helpful. Let our accusers therefore state their whole case against us. We shall be obliged to them. But if it should happen, as we believe it will, that they cannot produce evidence for their charges, we ask the working-class to judge of the motives that will lead men to persist in false statements even while they are alleging misrepresentation against us.

We ask the workers whose class interests we champion and to whom we belong, to constitute themselves our judges in this and to carefully note the character of the responses our challenge receives.

Letter From Europe: "Produce French": who benefits? (1982)

The Letter From Europe column from the April 1982 issue of the Socialist Standard
   This month we translate a leaflet issued last year by a group of workers in Mayenne, a town in the West of France, attacking the slogan “Produce French”. This is a slogan which the French Communist Party and the trade union grouping it controls, the CGT, have made great play of. During the presidential election campaign last year it shouted from hoardings; it can still be seen daubed on walls. In fact the PCF Minister of Health, Jack Ralite, has been trying to put it into practice by ordering only “French-made” hospital equipment (not equipment made entirely from French products of course, but hypocritically only equipment whose final stage of manufacture took place on French territory).
   The slogan is of course quite anti-socialist. It is mistaken—even from a simple trade union point of view—for the reasons explained in the leaflet. We can endorse the views expressed in the leaflet as far as they go, but they don’t go far enough. The authors don’t explain that, while it is necessary to wage the defensive trade union struggle as long as capitalism lasts, the only solution to our problems is the abolition of the wages system. We reproduce the leaflet however as it is a good answer to those who in Britain stand for “Backing Britain” and “Buying British”—even though we know that comparatively few workers practise what is preached here.


“Produce French”?

“Produce French, Consume French, Repatriate French Factories from Abroad”, is a slogan taken up by the Left as well as the Right and put forward as a remedy for the crisis and unemployment.

“Produce French” would imply to begin with French raw materials. Take for instance a household electrical appliance: the whole framework is plastic, a material which comes from Germany, Holland, and is made from oil bought in the Middle East; for the motor, it’s copper coming from South Africa, South America, and which passes by way of England for processing; not to mention the machine-tools, some of which are made in Switzerland and elsewhere. The example of the manufacture of a car would have been even more blatant. And what about uranium, oil and certain food products? In fact there is no purely national economy, but an economy that is more and more international: no country can be self-sufficient.

“Produce French” would also mean producing with French capital and closing foreign factories in France. The workers for instance at Sobio (a firm recently taken over by the English trust Beecham) in Mayenne know what that would mean for their employment.

Defending the slogan “Produce French” means being in agreement with closing French factories abroad, choosing for instance that Moulinex should make thousands of Spanish or American workers unemployed, or that the textile and electronics industrialists should throw thousands of Hong Kong, Korean and Moroccan workers onto the streets. It means that we French workers should choose who should be made unemployed; it means that we would be prepared to let workers who already live in atrocious conditions die of starvation: in Brazil, Morocco, Vietnam and elsewhere, 6-year-old children work; a worker has to work 12 to 14 hours a day to be able to afford a kilo of rice; there is no social coverage.

They want to make us believe that the trouble comes from workers abroad, as if they were not victims—just as much if not more than us—of the exploitation of the employers. It is exactly the same when immigrant workers are accused of causing unemployment in France, and it is advocated that they should be sent back to their country of origin. Continuing this line of argument means telling Corsican workers to go back to their island, Breton workers to stay in Brittany, workers from Laval not to leave their town and so on. and why not say “Everyone at home and God for all” . . .  Thus the employers have a free hand, division reigns.

So defending the slogan “Produce French” is to divide workers by countries, by regions, by towns, by wards; it’s forcing them to defend the factory where they are and so “their” employer; in other words, the interests of the rich and powerful who exploit us.

Logically, if we workers were to defend French cars against Japanese, or Renault against Fiat, we should have to go further because that wouldn’t be enough: we should have to support Moulinex against Seb, Jouve against Floch, Leclerk against La Motte, and so on.

Further, they want to make us believe that if all Frenchmen, employers and workers, close ranks and make an effort then things will get better, we’ll get out of the crisis. As if the exploiters and the exploited suffer from the crisis in the same way.

If French employers exploit workers in the Third World to such an extent, this is to maximise their profits. In France it’s the same; in the name of the national economy, of defending the company and its competitiveness, the employers force workers to tighten their belts more and more: our situation here gets worse from year to year: restructuring, automation bringing redundancies, speed-up, increased recourse to the modern slavery that is temporary work, wages which don’t follow the rise in prices (many workers in Mayenne are forced to survive on the minimum wage).

What the employers want is to sell more commodities than competing firms from France and elsewhere. And for this they exploit us as much as possible. This is in fact the best proof that we have no common interest with these exploiters.

Poverty, accidents, exhaustion, that’s for us. Profits, that’s for them. That’s the situation, whether you are a worker in Mayenne or in Ireland, in Argentina or Japan. Everywhere our condition is the same: increased exploitation.

That’s why the workers’ movements in the various countries of the world put forward the same demands, whether it’s Polish workers, Brazilian engineering workers, or workers in Western Europe or Japan:

  • increases in wages 
  • reduction in hours of work 
  • organisations to defend their interests, independent of employers and the State.

The slogan “Produce French” plays to people’s nationalist and patriotic feelings. We mustn’t be taken in, the employers want to divide us in this way so as to weaken us. And tomorrow, for identical reasons, they will be able to push workers of all countries to kill each other in a new war.
We reject division by nationalities and categories:
The worker in Hong Kong like the worker in Mayenne,
The unemployed like the employed,
The old like the youngest.
All workers have the same needs.


Obituary: Howard Grew (1984)

Obituary from the September 1984 issue of the Socialist Standard

Members and friends will be extremely sorry to learn of the death of Howard Grew on 16 July. He and Helen his wife joined the Party in 1947 and 1949 and were very active members for many years.

Howard did long stints for Birmingham Branch as Secretary and Literature Secretary; and he was an active propagandist, particularly on the outdoor platform in the Bull Ring. His smart appearance, in a suit with a collar and tie and often a flower in his button hole, made nonsense of the idea that all workers wear overalls. As a local government officer and an energetic member of his local branch of NALGO he was well fitted to explain their class position to his fellow workers. His sense of humour and his powerful voice carried socialist ideas to them in a way that they could not ignore.

Eight years ago, just before he retired. Howard became critically ill. When he eventually did recover he had to adopt a much less active life. Instead of joining the re-formed Birmingham Branch, they both remained Central Branch members. We extend to Helen at this painful time our sympathy and our comradeship.
Ron Cook

Labour Triumphant? (1905)

Editorial from the September 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

Clap your hands for joy, ye people. Make merry in your hearts. For the hour of your deliverance from the insecurity of your position is nigh; the day when the heartbreaking search for work shall cease is at hand; the day when the misery and poverty always attendant upon unemployment shall be no more. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for the Unemployed Bill has passed the faithful Commons, has survived the ordeal of criticism imposed by the loyal Lords, and has found a place in the records of State Statutes.

Here is a triumph for Labour! Here a vindication of Parliamentary astuteness on the part of the champions of the workers! Here an example of what a few men may accomplish against overwhelming odds! The principle of the State’s responsibility in the matter of the provision of work for the workless has been established ; the State’s duty to its profit-producers—deprived of the opportunity to produce profit has been recognised; the State's sympathy with its honest and humble, hungry constituents has been made manifest.

A great day for Labour; a great day. And the men of Manchester who demonstrated, the men of Raunds and Leicester who peregrinated, the S.D.F. who agitated and deputated, the I.L.P. who I.L.P'd, not to say the Labour M.P's who so ardently laboured, may take their meed of gratification from the knowledge that their united efforts have found fruition in an Act that has at last established the, for evermore, inalienable right of the unemployed, so long as they are sober, honest, and industrious. ' to—remain unemployed!

That is the net result of all the bother as we, without claiming the mantle of prophecy, foretold it would be. How else, indeed, could it have been? What other result was possible? It were easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for capitalist politicians to touch an unemployed problem upon which capitalism itself depends. As well expect the earth to cease its revolutions as that a capitalist legislature should legislate itself out of existence by drying up the source of its power. The S.D.F. leaders knew this well enough. The I.L.P. leaders knew it; the Labour M.P's. knew it; and yet they persisted in their policy of piteous appeal ; persisted even when they knew the provisions of the Bill, born, as they claim, of their agitation, and knew that it was, on their own admission, absolutely useless; persisted even when those features of it which the eye of faith in the head of ignorance plus the most powerful of microscopes magnified into points of possible utility, had been carefully reduced to nothingness.

Was ever such an exhibition of purblind puerility? And we who tell the working-class flatly and plainly that appeals to capitalism to abolish itself are stupid and childish; we who point out that energy consumed in such endeavours is energy wasted that cannot be spared; we who insist that the only effectual thing the workers can do is to get a grip upon the causes of their condition and then organize themselves upon their class basis in the teeth of the inevitable opposition the capitalist-class will offer,— we, forsooth, are the “impossiblists” !

Very well, we are the “impossiblists.” If possiblism consists in determination to do the thing that cannot effect the result desired, we are the “impossiblists.” We accept the epithet and all the opprobrium that attaches to it. Workers of Great Britain, we who tell the whole truth are the “impossiblists.” They who squander your energies and divert your purpose and lead you into a ditch are the “possiblists.” Choose ye this day whom ye will have as champions of your interests.