Monday, April 1, 2019

The Intellectuals and Marx. (1932)

From the September 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard

A correspondent asks why it is that accredited “intellectuals like Shaw, Wells and Laski are not Marxists.”

One reason, clearly demonstrated by the writings and speeches of the gentlemen in question, is that they have never got within miles of understanding Marx. We have shown in these columns how Laski misrepresents Marx’s writings (and declines to reply to criticisms). Shaw on occasion talks the most utter nonsense about Marx. A year or two ago he brazenly informed an ignorant crowd of business men connected with the building trade that Marx claimed to be able to tell from, say, a piece of pottery, what was the nature, the arts, sciences, politics, etc., of the social system under which it was produced. When Shaw was challenged to say where Marx was supposed to have made this extraordinary and absurd claim, Shaw remained silent.

Wells principal contribution to "intellectual" criticism of Marx was to inform the world that he did not like Marx’s beard.

However, even if the intellectuals did understand Marx’s views they would still be unlikely to avow themselves publicly as Marxists. Marx analysed the capitalist system and explained its growth and decay, and its relation to the series of social systems that have preceded it. He revealed the laws governing these historical changes and showed that the present system will pass into history as inevitably as those which preceded it, and will be followed by the only possible alternative— Socialism. All the conditions are present and ripe for the change, except one, the desire of the working class for it. The only remedy for this is knowledge, and it is this knowledge which it is the aim of the Socialist to spread. When this knowledge is spread sufficiently the end of capitalism is certain.

The position of the “intellectuals,” however, even assuming they accepted Marx, would be difficult. The institutions of learning are financed and controlled by the capitalist class for the purpose of providing technical and scientific knowledge useful in industry and administration, and of teaching ideas which suit their interest. A university professor, who applied to history, economics and politics, the Marxist theories of the materialist Conception of History and the Labour Theory of Value, would learn pretty quickly that he had no control over his job and reputation.

The dramatist or novelist who used his craft, to aim at the overthrow of capitalism would also learn that his popularity and success depended on something more than his genius. Many examples could be quoted of ostracism, calumny and persecution of many in the academic and literary world whose love of truth was stronger than their respect for capitalist interests. Whether the ”intellectual,” academic or literary, is “accredited" or "discredited" depends how far he avoids giving offence to the ruling class and to the majority of the population who so far accept the ideas and standards of the ruling class.

It is quite reasonable to suppose that, as greater numbers of workers become socialists, many of the intellectuals will be less inclined to support capitalism. Marx and Engels held this opinion. They say in the Communist Manifesto: —
  “Finally, when the class war is about to be fought to a finish, disintegration of the ruling class and the old order of society becomes so active, so acute, that a small portion of the ruling class breaks away to make common cause with the revolutionary class, the class which holds the future in its hands. Just as in former days part of the nobility went over to the bourgeoisie, so now part of the bourgeoisie goes over to the proletariat. Especially does this happen in the case of some of the bourgeois ideologues, who have achieved a theoretical understanding of the historical movement as a whole."
Don.

Voice From The Back: Billionaires And Poverty (2014)

The Voice From The Back Column from the November 2014 issue of the Socialist Standard

Billionaires And Poverty
Millions of workers throughout the world struggle to survive but it is not all doom and gloom in capitalism–some people are doing exceptionally well. ‘The population of dollar billionaires across the globe has increased by a net 155 to 2,325 in the past 12 months, according to the latest census….’ (Times, 18 September). The Singapore-based Wealth-X, a consultancy that tracks the number of the extremely rich has come up with the following figures for billionaires: US 571, China 190, UK 130, Germany 123 and Russia 114.


Spiritual Values?
One of the myths that religious leaders often like to support is that religious people are not concerned about material things and only spiritual values are of any worth. Despite this some of them do not too badly when it comes to money. ‘Topping the Forbes list is Bishop David Oyedepo with an estimated net worth of US$150m (about R1.6bn). He founded the Living Faith World Outreach Ministry in Nigeria which is Africa’s largest worship centre with a seating capacity of 50,000. Oyedepo owns four private jets, a publishing company, a university, and a high school’ (Sowetan, 18 September). To prove that Oyedepo is not unique – according to the United States entertainment conduit ‘MonteOz’, TB Joshua is only the tenth richest pastor in the world.


An Awful System
Everyone is aware of the poverty of many children in countries in Africa and Asia but what is not as well known is the plight of many children in the USA. ‘The persistent rise of child poverty in Massachusetts–confirmed by last week’s census figures for 2013–is the result of costly day care and housing, the proliferation of low-wage jobs, and a labor market that can be difficult for young parents to break into, according to specialists in the field. Nearly one in six children in Massachusetts was growing up in poverty as of last year, data from the US Census Bureau show; in households with single mothers, it was one in four’ (Boston Globe, 22 September). It speaks volumes for the awfulness of capitalism that such poverty exists in one of the most advanced countries in the world.


Foodbank Reality
A PC site specialising on food issues has come up with some alarming statistics. ‘Maidenhead town centre is a postcard-perfect vision of dreary British consumerism with its rows of coffee shops, Greggs bakeries, chain clothing stores and mobile phone shops. You’d be forgiven, then, for thinking a queue swelling at 9.20 AM on the high street was for some sort of flash sale. In fact, it was the queue for the local food bank. There’s been a staggering 163 percent rise in foodbank use compared to the previous financial year, and over 900,000 adults and children have received three days emergency food and support. Despite signs of economic recovery, the poor have seen their income becoming more and more squeezed. More people are relying on foodbanks than ever before (MUNCHIES, 22 September). So while politicians boast of an economic recovery this is the reality for many workers.


Fantasy And Reality
From time to time the world’s media turns its attention to such issues as climate change and the environment. We have such attention at present. ‘World leaders including US President Barack Obama are holding a summit on climate change at the United Nations. The aim at the New York meeting is to galvanise member states to sign up to a comprehensive new global climate agreement at talks in Paris next year. ‘Climate change is the defining issue of our time. Now is the time for action,’ UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said ahead of the summit’ (BBC News, 23 September). After millions of words are spoken and pious resolutions are passed we can confidently predict the outcome will be the same as in the past – nothing! As long as the profit motive is the driving force of capitalism the environment is of secondary concern.


Meanwhile, Back On Earth
With India successfully placing a satellite in orbit around Mars local politicians were not long in basking in the glory. Narendra Modi, the prime minister, visited the Space Research Organisation and declared that India had a great scientific future. ‘While Mr Modi is eager to use the success of the mission to trumpet India’s economic and scientific prowess as a rising global power, critics said that the mission was a waste of money in a nation where 43 percent of children under the age of 5 are chronically malnourished and 33 per cent of its 1.2 billion people lack access to electricity’ (Times, 25 September). Becoming a global power in a capitalist world where might is right is a higher priority.


The Bishop’s Special (2014)

From the November 2014 issue of the Socialist Standard
(A blast from the past, from the March 1916 Socialist Standard)
In the January issue of this journal were recorded the statements of the Rev. Father Vaughan anent the reason God did not intervene to stop the war. The unmarried father showed us very clearly that only his – pardon, His – great love prevented Him from doing so. God, like the munition manufacturer and the ship-owner, was drawing good out of the war, and in such circumstances it was not to be expected that the merry mill which the bulk of the world finds so amusing, and which some (not excluding even Bishops, who in this respect are luckier than beershops) find so profitable, would be interfered with by the Divine hand. No, God, who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son to be nailed up on a stick, as the only way in which he could prevail upon himself to refrain from strafing the world with fire and brimstone, was certainly not the bloke to prevent his children stirring up one another’s vitals with bayonets and other eminently suitable implements. The reverend father led us to that conclusion by ways so logically sound that to most of us he spoke absolutely the last word on the subject.

But after the Roman Catholic Church comes the Catholic Church of England. The Bishop of Chelmsford, speaking at Queen’s Hall on the 7th February, in the Day of United Intercession arranged by the World’s Evangelical Alliance, stoutly combated (without mentioning names) the claim of the rival show to know all about God and his whys and wherefores.

The Essex bishop, far from ascribing the non-interference of God in this game of butcher my neighbour to boundless love, declares that it is a question of politics. ‘God has his politics,’ the bishop assures us, ‘and would never be an ally of any nation that was not clean.’ So the fiat has gone forth. The reason England has not wiped the floor with Germany is that the English are so damned dirty – a bishop has said it.

As between the Romish father and the Anglican bishop, the present writer does not presume to judge. The theory that God so loves the world that he wouldn’t for anything save it from self-annihilation, has attractions for the reverent mind ; on the other hand, the idea of God as a politician, making known through his agents that cleanliness is one of the planks of his platform, and that, no matter what the demerits of the Germans, he will not ally himself with the itchy and the crumby – that idea is irresistible to those who dabble in the singularly clean and spotless game of politics.

But after all, these reflections do but touch the fringe of the question. Though Father Vaughan opines that it will take all eternity to thank God for the war, he will agree that it would be a mistake to carry the thing so far that there was no one left alive to thank God for having killed off all the others. He cannot, then, object to the All-loving being persuaded to temper his love with so much of Spartan sternness as will put a stopper on our murderous indulgences. So much for Father Vaughan.

Now the Bishop of Chelmsford tells us that ‘God is sitting on the fence,’ and plaintively asks, ‘how can we get Him to come down on our side and give us a mighty victory?‘

Much smaller bugs than bishops are may be permitted to offer suggestions on a subject of such universal interest as getting God to come down off his perch. An old bird-catcher whom I consulted on the off-chance declared ‘if yer can’t call him down yer must feed him down, and if yer can’t feed him down yer must call him down, and if yer can’t neither feed him down nor call him down ye’d better try a ‘en angel, and if that ain’t no good why yer won’t never take him up to Club Row.’

But we may reject that advice with scorn. Obviously the first step is to get ourselves clean. ‘We must cleanse England,’ says the bishop, and he is right. Let’s wash our shirts and our shifts; let’s scrape ourselves, pumice-atone ourselves, boil ourselves if necessary. Let’s co-operate for the job – my Lord Bishop, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours: I’m ready for any dirty job so long as we get the muck off. Then, when we have got through with that we might pursue the course which has proved so efficacious in the past. We might plaster the fence whereon God is sitting with such announcements as ‘Your King and Country Need You’;  ‘Isn’t This Worth Fighting For?’ ‘What Did You Do, Daddy?’ ‘Go ! Don’t be Pushed!” ‘I wasn’t among the first to go, but I went, thank God, I went.’ And if this was followed up by a visit from the recruiting sergeant, or, to stretch a point in view of the greatness of the occasion, from Lord Derby himself, murmuring the magic ‘What about it?’ we should surely ‘get God out of this dilemma,’ and ‘get him down on our side’ (as the bishop ‘reverently’ and gracefully put it) – unless the irreverent but far-sighted Germans have taken the precaution to lime His perch, in which case, perish me pink, there is a dilemma indeed.
Bill Bailey

Letter: The SPGB and War (2014)

Letter to the Editors from the November 2014 issue of the Socialist Standard

Dear Editors

I was very surprised indeed that the SPGB and the Socialist Standard did not use the opportunity of the centenary of the start of the First World War to re-publish, and in full, one of what must be one of the most powerful anti-war messages produced by revolutionary socialists, that of the SPGB, published in the September 1914 Socialist Standard.

You quite rightly re-published part of it in the October 1939 Socialist Standard in response to the start of the Second World War, and I understood the Party was extremely proud of the prose and the revolutionary socialist anti-war message it expressed.

As you have chosen for whatever reason not to re-publish your original anti First World War manifesto, may I have at least part of it re-published in your letters column?
  Placing on record our abhorrence of this latest manifestation of the callous, sordid and mercenary nature of the international capitalist class, and declaring that no interests are at stake justifying the shedding of a single drop of working class blood, we protest the brutal and bloody butchery of our brothers of this and other lands, who are being used as food for cannon abroad while suffering and starvation are the lot of their fellows at home. We have no quarrel with the working class of any country, we extend to the workers of all lands the expression of our goodwill and socialist fraternity, and pledge ourselves to work for the overthrow of capitalism and the triumph of socialism, The World for the Workers!
I note the one good thing the SPGB ever said about the Bolsheviks and the Russian Revolution was that they took Russia out of the war. The workers and peasants revolution in Russia in November 1917 was surely the single most powerful and most effective anti war action ever taken in modern history.

Does not the fact that the Bolshevik Revolution so clearly and unambiguously pulled Russia out of the First World Slaughter, and published and exposed all the secret treaties and pacts, showing all the dirty connections and inter relationships between apparently hostile imperialist powers, indicate that, perhaps, there was more of a proletarian content to that Revolution than the SPGB has ever felt able to acknowledge?
With very best wishes
Andrew Northall (by email)


Reply:
There’s no doubt the Bolshevik Revolution (in reality more of a coup d’état) was carried out by proletarians in the main and it did have the positive effect of taking Russia out of the First World War, as we indeed acknowledged at the time. Set against that though is the legacy of the decades of totalitarian dictatorship that followed, and the mistaken association of this brutal state capitalist regime with ‘socialism’ and ‘communism’. – Editors.

50 Years Ago: A Stretch of Hard Labour (2014)

The 50 Years Ago column from the November 2014 issue of the Socialist Standard

The noise and the ballyhoo are over for the time being, and another Labour government has scraped into power. The opinion pollsters can sit back with a sigh and claim vindication for their sampling methods, while Tory ex ministers can take the rest which, some of them have been unkindly hinting, their colleagues need so badly.

There is not much doubt that under Wilson’s leadership the Labour Party has managed to paper over some of the cracks between its various factions and fight generally as a well planned and disciplined force. By comparison, the Conservative morale sank lower as the campaign went on and the foolish remarks of such political clowns as Quintin Hogg must have been like so many plums dropping right into the Labour leader’s lap.

Just like their Tory and Liberal opponents, the Labour Party fought the election on a mass of promises; promises to solve the problems which they promised to solve when they last rose to power nearly twenty years ago. Housing and health, pensions and peace, education and unemployment, all those things which workers are so sensitive about, were given a merciless hammering by Labour spokesmen up and down the country. It was an astute campaign, and it just succeeded.

But now that the pendulum has swung a little, let us ask ourselves how much Wilson’s promises are really worth. Does he really stand much chance of remedying the countless ills which so many politicians before him have failed to remedy? The Guardian of October 12th called him “a man with a heart full of indignation and humanity” but what will they call him when we get the multitude of excuses when his government fails to deliver the goods? We have had excuses from the Labour Party before. We had them in 1924 and again in 1931, when they blamed their failures on to the lack of a working majority. Will they try the same line this time, when their majority is so small? Let us prick that particular balloon before it leaves the ground. The Labour Party have taken power in the full knowledge of their standing in Parliament. They say that they intend to give “strong” government and to carry out their full programme. They are confident now. Let them remember this when the time comes for apologies and excuses.

(from editorial, Socialist Standard, November 2014)

SPGB Meetings (1932)

Party News from the September 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard




Austrian reformist (2019)

Book Review from the April 2019 issue of the Socialist Standard

Otto Bauer (1881-1938). Thinker and Politician’. By Ewa Czerwinska-Schupp. (Haymarket Books paperback. 2018. 350 pages)

The inter-world-war European Social Democrats were a stage in the transformation of the pre-WW1 Social Democrat parties, which proclaimed Marxism, to the post-WW2 parties, which openly presented themselves as alternative managers of capitalism. They participated in governments of capitalism while still retaining some knowledge of Marxism.

Otto Bauer, who was the leader of the Austrian Social Democrats after WW1, was in this position. While involved in parliamentary politics and for a short while Austria’s Foreign Minister, he continued to write pamphlets and articles with a Marxist flavour. He is mainly known amongst English-speaking critics of capitalism for the polemics against his theory of nationalism in the writings of Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin and Pannekoek. He justified working-class nationalism (and so supported Austria in WW1, though he did practise what he preached and joined the army but ended up spending three years in a Russian prisoner-of-war camp, where he continued to write on Marxism). He was in fact a pan-German nationalist who advocated the incorporation of the German-speaking parts of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire into Germany.

The Austrian Social Democrats controlled Vienna city council and used this to improve the housing conditions of workers there but they never achieved a majority in parliament. The state remained under the control of conservative and reactionary parties and in 1934, egged on by Mussolini, the government sent in the army to suppress the Social Democratic party and its trade unions. Perhaps surprisingly for Social Democrats, some of its members, against the advice of the party’s leaders, tried to defend by force of arms working class districts from the assault. But their rifles and machine guns were no match for the big guns of the army, and they were crushed. Executions, jailings and repression followed.

According to the author, Bauer blamed himself for this tragedy, regretting not having sought a deal with the democratic wing of the Christian Democrats instead of relying on the eventual election of a Social Democrat parliamentary majority. Her book, originally a PhD thesis, provides a comprehensive account of Bauer’s life, activities and views.
Adam Buick

Rear View: Trumpland (2019)

The Rear View Column from the April 2019 issue of the Socialist Standard

Trumpland
Sebastian Gorka, former deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, told attendees at the right-wing CPAC convention on Thursday that nobody should be fooled about the term “democratic socialism,” because that’s just the politically-correct term for “communism” being used by people that “want to take away your hamburgers.” Also your house and your pick-up truck. “This is what Stalin dreamt about but never achieved,” Gorka blustered. “You are on the frontlines on the war against communism” ‘ (commondreams.org, 28 February). According to one of the attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference, ‘the favourite in the Democratic race is Bernie Sanders because the way he makes socialism sound’ (theguardian, 1 March). Brandon Morris added ‘most citizens don’t know how the system works; once I tell them, they see it will fall apart’ and that he is against socialism because he sees ‘. . .  it as a form of slavery. The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris talk about Medicare for All and that will kill doctors’ incentives to work hard. Look at Cuba.’


Oceania
Where did these two MAGA men learn such arrant nonsense? They probably, for starters, enjoy the same media outlets, and are likely familiar with – possibly edit – the mine of misinformation known as yourdictionary.com. Here socialism is defined ‘…as an economic theory, system or movement where the production and distribution of goods is done, owned and shared by the citizens of a society.’ This is pretty much par for the course as far as dictionaries are concerned and leaves one unprepared for the load of dingo’s kidneys that follows. Under the wholly bogus title ‘Facts About Socialism’ we are told: ‘In theory, citizens have equal access to the products and resources and are compensated based on the amount of work performed. Under the ideals of socialism, there is no motivation for workers to excel at their jobs because there is no benefit to the worker. Friedrich Engels, a French social theorist, developed modern socialistic theory in the late 18th century when he advocated the elimination of production methods based on capitalism. Karl Marx described socialism as a lower form of communism and held the opinion that socialism was an intermediary step in moving from capitalism to communism… The two largest “socialistic” systems are the former Soviet Union and Mainland China. Each of these began with the ideals of socialism, but ended in becoming totalitarian in nature. An example of socialism is the Mainland Chinese economic system.’


Nowhere
Poor Engels is probably spinning in his grave and not because of being called an 18th century French social theorist! Space does not permit more than a very brief clarification of some points. Verily, Gorka, Morris (oh, the irony!), the many MAGAs and other supporters of the status quo could all benefit from a free trial subscription to this journal. William Morris: ‘…what I mean by Socialism is a condition of society in which there should be neither rich nor poor, neither master nor master’s man, neither idle nor overworked, neither brain-slack brain workers, nor heart-sick hand workers, in a word, in which all men would be living in equality of condition, and would manage their affairs unwastefully, and with the full consciousness that harm to one would mean harm to all—the realisation at last of the meaning of the word commonwealth’ (Why I Am A Socialist, 1884).


Getting there
Less than a decade after the deaths of Engels and Morris, the Socialist Party started making a number of distinctive contributions to socialist theory. These include being an open democratic party standing for revolution rather than reform and recognising that political democracy can be used for revolutionary ends without the need for leaders. We opposed WWI and all other wars. In 1918 we recognised the Bolshevik seize of power as a coup which hastened the development of Russian state capitalism. We identified nationalisation as state capitalism and predicted the inevitable failure of electing Labour and Social-Democratic governments as a way to introduce socialism. We stated that capitalism will not collapse of its own accord and that the state, including the ‘welfare state’, is ultimately financed by taxation on profits. Further, that as capitalism is a global system its replacement, socialism, will be too, but without borders. There is no need for a ‘transition period’ between capitalism and socialism: we have long had the resources and technology to establish a world of production for use and free access without the need for money or central planning.


Local Elections (2019)

Party News from the April 2019 issue of the Socialist Standard

Voters in the Harbour ward of Folkestone, Kent will have their fourth opportunity in six years to vote for Socialism, when they go to the polls to re-elect the District Council on 2 May. Previously they have been able to vote for Socialist Party candidates for the UK and European parliaments, the last District poll in 2015 and most recently in 2017, when most of Folkestone was contested by the Party in the county council election. In fact, the 4000+ Harbour ward electors will be able to vote twice for Socialism , as we are also standing for the Town Council in the same ward. Andy Thomas is our candidate for both contests.

50 Years Ago: Russia versus China (2019)

The 50 Years Ago column from the April 2019 issue of the Socialist Standard

The powers of capitalism can never be frank about the reasons for their international conflicts. That is why the official propaganda machines always represent wars as clashes of ideology — clashes between cruelty and mercy, belligerence and amity, or simply between right and wrong.

This applies as much to those states which claim to be socialist as to the rest. The dispute between Russia and China, for example, is represented by both sides as an ideological clash; the Russians say the Chinese are warmongers, the Chinese accuse Russia of betraying a socialist revolution.

During the fighting last month at Damansky Island, in the Ussuri River, both Russia and China accused the other of ‘armed provocation’. The Russian protest complained of ‘adventuristic policy . . . reckless provocative actions . . .’ The Chinese loudspeakers blared out abuse about the ‘renegade, revisionist clique’ in Moscow.

In fact the fighting started for anything but ideological reasons. The Russian territory around Vladivostok was annexed under the Tsars in the 19th century. The Bolsheviks swore to return the land but that was one of those vows which were quietly forgotten in the rise of capitalism in Russia.

Since then Russia has poured an immense amount of capital into developing the area’s industries and communications. Vladivostok is an important naval base, and Russia’s only commercial outlet to the Pacific. And just like any other capitalist class, the rulers of Russia are anxious to protect their investments.

China, however, as a newly rising capitalist power is pressing to re-negotiate the treaties which lay down her frontiers (the reason, also, for the clashes with India in 1962), one of which is marked by the Ussuri. All of this combined to make a delicate and dangerous situation, which is not in any way lessened by the supposed ideological comradeship between the two states.

It is, in fact, a classical dispute between two capitalist powers. Very often these disputes start over something trivial, like a spit of sand in the Ussuri River. But the background is anything but trivial.

(Socialist Standard, April 1969)

Dear Theresa . . . (2019)

From the April 2019 issue of the Socialist Standard

How are things? How is Brexit going? Just teasing you! I daresay our inimitable BBC is still inflicting wall-to-wall coverage upon its hapless audience. I don’t get past the headlines myself, but they always seem to be proclaiming another lost vote in your pitiful attempt to cut a deal in Westminster – and you thought Barnier was a hard nut to crack! I wondered whether you were trying to get into The Guinness Book of Records as the prime minister who has suffered the most defeats in parliament. It might not be a bad idea. There won’t be much else of interest to your legacy. Have you packed yet? Remember to put enough food down for the cat.

What are your plans? Perhaps you could get a job with the BBC. It would be the least they could do for you given your generosity towards them in continuing to facilitate the expropriation of £4bn a year from the licence payer, under threat of fine and imprisonment. I don’t think you would be qualified as a political correspondent, even against the undemanding selection criteria of the BBC. I was thinking more of a TV licence enforcement person. If you were to dig out those iconic £1,000 leather trousers and signature black patent over-the-knee boots, and generally ham up your gothic look, you could do quite well. Whilst the terms of employment are a closely guarded commercial secret I would guess that there is a high element of commission in this door-stepping activity. I’m sure you would frighten a number of those miscreants into coughing up the licence fee. Others might respond favourably to the novelty of an ex-prime minister, in costume dress, banging on their door. There are worse jobs. You would be out in the fresh air, meeting new people and getting plenty of exercise. It would be much healthier for you than the putrid atmosphere of Westminster.

If you are doubtful about my suggestion then ponder this: of all the thousands of crimes by which your benign government contrives to bestow a criminal record upon its citizenry, the failure to hold a valid TV licence ranks as the sixth most prolific offence, with 163,000 convictions in 2017. Now that’s a wad-full of commission. Of course strictly speaking you wouldn’t be a BBC employee, but instead would be working for the private contractor, Capita, the provider of this essential public service, no doubt at an equally essential lucrative fee. I’m sure Capita owe you a favour or two. Don’t be coy about using the ‘revolving door.’ Everyone else does.

If socialism has come to pass by the time of your eviction then life will be altogether more straightforward for you. Our society will be based on the maxim: ‘from each according to ability, to each according to need’. You won’t have to fret over the consequences of your shortcomings, or to prostrate yourself before an employer under duress of starvation or homelessness. All your basic needs will be catered for without the need for money. It would seem unlikely that the BBC would constitute a ‘basic need,’ but in socialism this – and other similar matters – will be decided democratically; dare I say it, by referendum, or similar device.

Anyway, I look forward to hearing about the adventures you are planning for yourself.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Hart

The Brexit Distraction (2019)

Editorial from the April 2019 issue of the Socialist Standard

Brexit is continuing to tear the fabric of British capitalist politics apart. The Conservative Party is deeply divided with the European Research Group (ERG) faction acting like a separate party organising its own leaders and whips. Three pro-Remain Tory MPs have left to join the newly established Independent Group of MPs. Cabinet members openly defy the Prime Minister, whose authority is in a state of collapse. The Labour Party is similarly split between its Remain and Leave supporters preventing it from developing a coherent Brexit policy. Open warfare has broken out between the government and the MPs. The Speaker of the house invoked an old parliamentary ruling to prevent Theresa May from resubmitting her deal for a third vote in the current parliamentary session unless it has been substantially changed. May delivered an extraordinary statement where she presented herself as the people’s champion against a recalcitrant Parliament that is thwarting the people’s wishes.

This high drama reveals two things. The British capitalist class is deeply split as regards to their relationship with the EU. The larger capitalists with greater global connections tend to favour staying in the customs union and the single market, whereas smaller businesses that rely mainly on the UK market and resent EU red tape prefer to leave the EU. There are also some dodgy City wideboys who want to keep the EU from regulating their financial affairs.

The fallout from the 2008 financial crash and the austerity policies imposed by governments in its wake have created great social discontent. This has manifested itself in popular disaffection with mainstream capitalist politics and anger at what are seen as out of touch wealthy elites. This has provided opportunities for populist movements to flourish where they can pose as champions of the ordinary workers against the political establishments. To varying degrees of success they have been able to channel working class anger and frustration towards xenophobic and racist politics, blaming immigrant workers for the worsening conditions of ‘native’ workers. Populists have come to power in the USA, Poland, Hungary, Italy and Turkey. The Alternative für Deutschland are the main opposition party in Germany and Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National party has achieved a significant amount of support n France. In the UK, populism has manifested itself in the popularity of UKIP and the rise in the Eurosceptic tendency within the Tory party. Its crowning achievement was the vote to leave the EU in 2016. It was with the hope of seeing off these populist tendencies that David Cameron called the EU referendum

Workers are encouraged to take sides in what is essentially a dispute between capitalists as to how they manage their trading relationships. Unfortunately, this has reinforced divisions within the working class – between ‘native’ workers and immigrant workers; between Remain supporting workers who tend to be more affluent and Leave supporters, who, in large part, hail from poorer areas.

Brexit is a distraction for British workers. Whether the UK is in or out of the EU, workers will continue to experience the problems of wage or salary employment. They should unite for socialism, a global classless, moneyless society of common ownership.