Sunday, June 28, 2009

Remembering Alexander Berkman

To-day is the anniversary of the death of the anarcho-communist Alexander Berkman , who died this day in 1936 from suicide .

A review of his book ABC of Anarchism can be found here
As a communist-anarchist, Berkman advocates a system without commodity-production or any “price system”, wages or payment of money. “This”, he says, “logically leads to ownership in common and to joint use. Which is a sensible, just, and equitable system, and is known as communism”. And “work will become a pleasure instead of the deadening drudgery it is today”. His views are similar to those of William Morris in as far as, in communism, people will no longer be employed in useless toil, but will be appreciated according to their willingness to be socially useful. People will live in freedom and equality.

Anarcho-communists, as their name suggests, are anarchists who are communists in the sense of standing for a society based on common ownership where people would produce goods and services to be taken and used without buying and selling and in accordance with the principle “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs”. In other words, they stood more or less for what we call Socialism.

According to Berkman, “the social revolution can take place only by means of the general strike ...It is most important that we realize that the General Strike is the only possibility of social revolution. In the past the General Strike has been propagated in various countries without sufficient emphasis that its real meaning is revolution, that it is the only practical way to it. It is time for us to learn this, and when we do so the social revolution will cease to be a vague, unknown quantity. It will become an actuality, a definite method and aim, a program whose first step is the taking over of the industries by organized labour.” - The general strike is the revolution.

Unlike Berkman and the anarchist-communists , the SPGB claim that such actions as a general strike by workers would not, and could not, bring about a socialist society. In our view the working class must organise consciously and politically first, for the conquest of the powers of government, before it can convert private property in the means of production into common property. Our reasoning goes like this. We want the useful majority in society (workers of all kinds) to take over and run the means of production in the interest of all. However, at the moment these are in the hands of a minority of the population whose ownership and control of them is backed up and enforced by the State . The State stands as an obstacle between the useful majority and the means of production because it is at present controlled by the minority owning class. They control the state, not by some conspiracy, but with the consent or acquiescence of the majority of the population, a consent which expresses itself in everyday attitudes towards rich people, leaders, nationalism, money and, at election times, in voting for parties which support class ownership. In fact it is such majority support expressed through elections that gives their control of the state legitimacy. In other words, the minority rule with the assent of the majority, which gives them political control. The first step towards taking over the means of production, therefore, must be to take over control of the state, and the easiest way to do this is via elections. But elections are merely a technique, a method. The most important precondition to taking political control out of the hands of the owning class is that the useful majority are no longer prepared to be ruled and exploited by a minority; they must withdraw their consent to capitalism and class rule - they must want and understand a socialist society of common ownership and democratic control. We simply argue that it is quite possible, and highly desirable, for a large majority to establish socialism without bloodshed. The more violence is involved, the more likely the revolution is to fail outright, or be blown sideways into a new minority dictatorship. Far better, if only to minimise the risk of violence, to organise to win a majority in parliament , not to form a government , of course , but to end capitalism and dismantle the State.

This not a dispute between supporters and opponents of socialism but a discussion amongst people who are agreed that the way forward for humanity lies in the establishment of a world of common ownership, democratic participation and production to meet needs and the question is what is the better way to achieve that .

Alan Johnstone

Anarchist communism (2003)

Book Review from the March 2003 issue of the Socialist Standard

ABC of Anarchism. By Alexander Berkman. Freedom Press (Anarchist Classics) 2002 edition, 112 pages

First published in the United States, in 1929, under the title What is Communist Anarchism?, this slightly shortened version has been reprinted 12 times by Freedom Press. The present edition also reprints an introductory biography of Berkman, originally written by this writer in 1970 for the fifth edition.

Many of the words and phrases in the ABC of Anarchism were dated thirty years ago, and are even more so now. Nevertheless, it is still one of the best introductions to the ideas of anarchism, written from the communist-anarchist viewpoint. Berkman's knowledge of economics in general, and Marxist economics in particular, is somewhat shaky, although he has no time for capitalism and the profit system, unlike some anarchists such as individualists and mutualists. Like Marxists, Berkman argues that “there is a continuous warfare between capital and labour”. Again, as with other anarchists, he claims that communist-anarchists “are at one on the basic principle of abolishing government”. He sees government, rather than private-property society that needs and perpetuates government and the coercive state, as the main cause of humanity's problems. Like his companion, Emma Goldman, Berkman was not always consistent regarding governments. On their return to Russia in 1919, they were quite sympathetic towards the Bolsheviks and the Soviet government, but soon criticised Lenin and Trotsky for jailing and executing anarchists, Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries.

Berkman admits that some anarchists have thrown bombs, and have advocated violence, but argues that anarchism is not about bombs, disorder or chaos. He says that anarchists “have no monopoly on violence”, and that governments have committed far more acts of violence than anarchists. For Berkman, anarchism is the very opposite of violence.

As a communist-anarchist, Berkman advocates a system without commodity-production or any “price system”, wages or payment of money. “This, he says, “logically leads to ownership in common and to joint use. Which is a sensible, just, and equitable system, and is known as communism”. And “work will become a pleasure instead of the deadening drudgery it is today”. His views are similar to those of William Morris in as far as, in communism, people will no longer be employed in useless toil, but will be appreciated according to their willingness to be socially useful. People will live in freedom and equality.

How will such a society come about?, asks Berkman.

To him, the idea is the thing. People must want fundamental change. They must want a revolutionary change before they can achieve a social revolution. And they must prepare for a social revolution. Unlike some anarchists, Berkman does not put much faith in spontaneous uprisings, although he does not reject them on principle. Indeed, he says “we know that revolution begins with street disturbances and outbreaks; it is the initial phase which involves force and violence”. Such a phase is of short duration. According to Berkman, “the social revolution can take place only by means of the general strike”. The general strike is the revolution. (All emphasis in the original). And such a strike can only be carried out by workers organised in labour, or industrial, unions. In his last chapter Berkman assumes that such a revolution would have to be defended by “armed force” if necessary .

This, very briefly, is Alexander Berkman's case for anarchist-communism and revolution. Is it desirable, and would it work? The answer is “yes” and “no”. The Socialist Party advocates and is organised for the establishment of a world-wide system of production solely for use and the abolition of the wages system; such a society would, of necessity, replace government over people by democratic administration of things. Unlike Berkman and the anarchist-communists, however, socialists claim that such actions as insurrection and a general strike by workers would not, and could not, bring about a socialist society. In our view (but not held by this writer 30 years ago!), the working class must organise consciously and politically first, for the conquest of the powers of government, before it can convert private property in the means of production into common property.
Nevertheless, the ABC of Anarchism by Alexander Berkman should be read by all those interested in what anarchists in general, and anarchist-communists in particular, stand for.
Peter E. Newell

Here Come The Robots

SPGB Public Meeting:

The meeting is being held at:

Socialist Party Head Office

52 Clapham High Street

London SW4 7UN

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (102)

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the 102nd of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

We now have 1514 friends!

Recent blogs:

  • Coming up for Orwell
  • Problems and Solutions
  • Not So Honourable Members
  • The Socialist Party of Great Britain holds its annual Summer School 26 - 28 June 2009 at Harbourne Hall, Birmingham. Members and friends from across Britain and beyond will gather to exchange ideas and experiences in all aspects of socialist activity and thought. The theme this year is "Revolution: The Theories, The Past, The Future".

    Quote for the week:

    "Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all." Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Volume II. 1785.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Guns and protection (2009)

    Book Review from the June 2009 issue of the Socialist Standard

    David Lane: Into the Heart of the Mafia. Profile

    I didn’t expect a book on the Mafia to be all that interesting or relevant, but in fact Lane’s investigation can be interpreted as shedding some light on the operations of capitalism.

    Italy became a unified state fairly late on, in 1861, and the south of the country was for a long time isolated and barely under the control of the central government in Rome. As a result, a sort of private police force filled the vacuum and administered its own kind of ‘justice’. Basically, a set of thugs and gangsters, they evolved into the Mafia, a term which covers at least the Cosa Nostra in Sicily, the Camorra in Campania and the ’Ndrangheta in Calabria.

    Their activities now include robbery and murder, loan sharking, extortion and protection money. Anything that involves money-making attracts them, such as the university in Messina on Sicily, which is the town’s biggest business. The construction industry, and public works in general, is another area where the Mafia can extract money. It’s estimated that about half of the £24 billion paid for reconstruction after an earthquake near Naples in 1980 ended up in the hands of the Camorra. Burying toxic waste with no regard for the environmental consequences also brings in big profits. All this goes on with the connivance of many in business, government and the Catholic church.

    The south of Italy still represents a relatively unattractive place for companies to invest in, since a return on investment requires a level of security that is mostly lacking. Capitalism, then, needs its version of law and order, and the Mafia-controlled regions are a clear demonstration of what can happen when this does not exist.

    For the working class, the consequence of Mafia rule are dire, with very high levels of unemployment and high drop-out rates from school. With legal jobs hard to come by, many are attracted to work for the Mafia. Someone who then wishes to break free may be killed as a warning to others. At the same time, though, members of agricultural cooperatives farming ex-Mafia land show a great deal of courage in resisting sabotage and intimidation.

    As one of Woody Guthrie’s songs says, ‘Some will rob you with a six gun and some with a fountain pen’. There is more than one way for workers to be exploited and oppressed, and the Mafia are the way of the six gun.
    Paul Bennett

    Not so honourable members (2009)

    From the June 2009 issue of the Socialist Standard

    Amid the uproar over the MPs' expense claims, we should not lose sight of an important fact. Unlike applying to be reimbursed for the cost of dog food or a swimming pool, much of what our representatives in Parliament do is a waste of time. Claiming to make us all more secure by controlling the economy they endlessly debate their Budgets, financial statements and regulations but when there bursts onto the scene something like a credit crunch – a recession, a slump – they are revealed as powerless to do more than mouth baseless analyses or predictions while capitalism grinds on its barbarous way.

    It is much the same about crime as one government after another, on a promise to reduce the problem almost to elimination, churns out a legislative flood providing for more stringent penalties and to re-define some behaviour from legal to criminal. For example the Fraud Act of 2006 was designed to make it easier for the prosecution to get convictions for offences of fraud and increased the maximum sentence from seven to ten years. There is a certain irony about this reform, as it would have an effect on those Honourable Members who passed it into law but may find themselves in court for so profitably exploiting the loopholes in Parliament's system of allowances to claim for a non-existent mortgage or for making false declarations to the Customs and Revenue. Meanwhile crime continues to be a disfiguring problem, of an intensity which shows no significant evidence of being influenced by Parliament's professed attempts to control it; its origins lie outside the scope of such delusions.

    But of course the MPs have to believe that what they do is vitally important; otherwise their self-esteem would suffer such serious damage as to make it very difficult for them to discuss their own wages, extra allowances and working conditions – or rather their improvement. When, during the recent storm of protests over their finances they were being questioned by nosey journalists, a common response was to blame the whole problem onto something they called “the system” which everyone knows to be sadly defective and in need of immediate re-ordering. This breathtakingly implausible argument ignored the fact that “the system” was itself the creation of MPs who, while often denouncing workers as irresponsible wreckers when they try to improve, or even defend, their living standards are allowed to better their own wages and the like. It also took no account that the discredited claims for the extra allowances breached the requirement – which was intended to give the impression of adequate safeguards – to be for “additional costs wholly, exclusively and necessarily “ incurred in their work – which did not mean cleaning a moat or installing a home cinema.

    In July 2001 Chris Mullin, the Labour MP for Sunderland, made himself unpopular by opposing a Commons motion to increase MP's wages by £4000, tabling an amendment to align rises with those for nurses, teachers and the like. Mullin thought the opposition to his amendment was meant to approve the original motion on the nod, avoiding any debate and implicating all the MPs. Unsurprisingly he lost his amendment, the MPs awarded themselves the rise and an increase in the accrual rate of their pension from 50ths to 40ths – which Mullin furiously described as “shameless”. It is not known whether he felt some grisly justification when, in the following year, the Tory MP for Windsor, Michael Trend, was suspended for two weeks after the Mail On Sunday revealed that he had claimed almost £90,000 in accommodation allowances although he lived in his constituency. Trend did not stand in the 2005 election and his successor in the seat, Adam Afriyie, is reported in the Daily Telegraph as not making any claim.

    Another example of what might be moderately called double standards is Tony McNulty, Labour MP for Harrow. McNulty is known as a bruiser, someone to be relied on in the TV studios to dismiss any critic of the New Labour method of running capitalism as mad or malicious or both, hardly worth any attention from a Minister in the Department of Work and Pensions, with responsibility to crack down on anyone caught making false claims for state benefit. He recently declared that such people are “benefit thieves” who will be ruthlessly hunted down by use of developed technology and “face imprisonment, fines and other penalties. We will also make sure they pay back the money they have stolen...and seek to ensure any proceeds from their crime are confiscated too”. However McNulty has also been caught out – not through any technological device but by simple journalistic trawling through Parliamentary records – in behaviour which some of his constituents might regard as a kind of theft, claiming almost £60,000 allowance for a house in Harrow which he owns but which he should not claim on because it is where his parents live. His home, which he shares with his wife, is in Hammersmith. All of this was in spite of the rule that all claims for the Additional Costs Allowances must be “above reproach” and not encourage any speculation that the object is “...benefiting from public funds”.

    McNulty conceded that his claim may be “a bit odd” but justified it on the grounds that “everyone does it” – by which he presumably meant every MP, but not every benefit claimant. He was at first resistant to even paying back the money – although if he ever comes into court in the matter, as many people outside his constituency as well as inside it hope – to try to buy his way out of trouble in that way is unlikely to significantly affect the outcome. In any case he would surely be the last to suggest that he should be treated any more leniently than the benefit fraudsters he so zealously persecutes. That the scandal of parliamentary allowances has revealed so many MPs as devoted, persistent practitioners of the art of double standards should surprise nobody. For the reality is that the capitalist system which governments profess to be able to control is itself a massive, universal fraud on the majority of its people.

    Sunday, June 14, 2009

    Mystery of the Pig/ Bird / Human Flu Virus (2009)

    The Material World column from the June 2009 issue of the Socialist Standard

    “Swine flu” is really a misleading term for the current pandemic, inasmuch as no single species serves as host of preference for the new virus. It does not need to mutate as it jumps from pig to human and back again. This is a fully trans-species disease.

    According to the findings of Canada’s National Microbiology Lab, the genome of the new virus is a strange composite of eight segments from four old viruses, associated with two distinct varieties of swine flu (North American and Eurasian), a North American avian flu and a human flu (the H3N2 strain last seen in 1993). New Scientist calls it “an unusually mongrelised mix of genetic sequences.”

    Possible sources of the virus
    It is widely assumed that the virus evolved in a pig. Suspicion has come to rest on a huge fly-infested lake of pig shit on the site of a pig factory – calling these places “farms” creates quite the wrong impression – in the central Mexican province of Veracruz. The pig factory (one of 16 in the province) is owned by Granjas Carroll, which is itself half-owned by the US pork and beef conglomerate, Smithfield Farms. The idea that this particular factory is the source of the outbreak is based on the fact that a young boy living nearby is the earliest known case of infection with the virus.

    This explanation is certainly plausible. Pigs are susceptible to most if not all of the main virus families, so different kinds of virus can easily accumulate inside the cells of their tissues and exchange genetic material. Pigs are therefore ideal incubators for the evolution and spead of viruses, especially when their immune systems are weakened by being crammed together in the filthy pens provided by profit-seeking agribusiness. Over the years, many experts have predicted that the outcome would be pandemics of new diseases.

    Nevertheless, the evidence for this version seems far from conclusive. There may well be earlier cases elsewhere that have not been traced. Smithfield systematically obstructs all investigation into its operations, but that proves nothing: no doubt there are many things that they want to hide.

    So other possibilities cannot be ruled out. It is unwarranted to assume that the virus must have originated in Mexico because conditions there are more unhygienic than in the US. The pig factories in Veracruz and those in North Carolina are owned by the same firms and run in the same way.

    According to Online Journal, a “top UN scientist” believes that the virus was released, accidentally or deliberately, from a biological weapons lab, inasmuch as certain features of its highly unusual structure are suggestive of genetic engineering. A possible source is the US Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland. It was from here, for instance, that someone spread anthrax germs in 2001.

    When the pandemic first hit the headlines, scientists did not yet even understand the nature of the new virus and it was impossible to assess the severity of the danger. That did not deter some politicians and officials from reassuring the public and others from voicing the most alarming predictions.

    To a large extent, the mixed responses can be explained in terms of divergent commercial and other interests. The reassurance is designed to avert panic and unrest, safeguard sales and exports of US and Mexican pork, protect the tourist industry and maintain business confidence. The alarmism serves the interests, above all, of the big pharmaceutical companies that produce anti-flu drugs and vaccines.
    Mass vaccination is not always an effective measure against pathogens susceptible to rapid mutation. Moreover, the vaccine itself may be contaminated with viruses. Thus, last December a lab of Baxter International in Austria distributed vaccines contaminated with live avian flu virus to 18 countries. The same company has now been commissioned by the World Health Organization to develop an experimental vaccine for the new flu.

    Whatever the outcome of the current pandemic, it is safe to say that it will not be the last. On the one hand, meat factories and biological weapons labs continue to generate new pathogens. On the other hand, these pathogens are increasingly drug-resistant due to the indiscriminate use of antibiotics and other malpractices. It is only a matter of time before we find ourselves helpless in face of some new and much more fatal trans-species virus or bacterium.

    Preventing pandemics in socialism
    Eliminating the profit motive will remove the major obstacle to the prevention of trans-species pandemics. Those responsible for food production will be able to give proper weight to environmental and public health considerations.

    However, this may not suffice if socialist society were to commit itself to providing a meat-rich diet for most of the population. (Some people, of course, will not want such a diet.) Disease control may well require the abandonment of animal factories and a return to a more traditional type of farming. This is likely to reduce the supply of meat, although it will also enhance its taste and nutritional value.

    Besides change in patterns of production and consumption, a shift away from reliance on air travel would help slow down the spread of new diseases and allow more time for research and countermeasures. (It would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.) Work schedules might be coordinated in such a way as to give people the time they need to use and enjoy slower means of travel, interspersed as desired with participation in the life of local communities, including farming.

    Friday, June 12, 2009

    Problems and Solutions (2009)

    From the June 2009 issue of the Socialist Standard
    Socialism won’t be a problem-free society but it will allow problems to be dealt with rationally.
    Capitalism is a society beset by problems, from poverty, unemployment and homelessness to war, violence and insecurity. As the current recession shows, even those who consider themselves to be comfortably off and with a relatively ‘good’ job may still be thrown out of work with little notice. The housing market is in such a state that many people cannot sell their homes and estate agents are closing almost as quickly as pubs. The fact is that capitalism throws up problem after problem, and this is an in-built aspect of the system’s operation.

    Now, socialism will not be a society without problems. There will doubtless still be personal disagreements and dislikes, and natural disasters to disrupt the straightforward functioning of everyday life. But we can say with some assurance that the problems of socialism will be very different from those of capitalism.

    We may distinguish two situations. The first consists of problems of capitalism which will simply not arise in socialism; the second of problems that socialism will be far better equipped to address and to solve than capitalism is.

    All the economic difficulties of capitalism will automatically be things of the past in a socialist society. The idea that there could be people who want to work but are forced to sit around idle, while at the same time there are others who badly need the goods or services that the first group could provide, would be totally alien. There would be no unemployed building workers alongside homeless people or inhabitants of slums. No unemployed agricultural workers alongside the starving. Anyone who wishes to contribute to production will be able to do so, without considerations of profit and the market being of any relevance. Poverty will vanish in a society based on free access and production for use, and people will not starve while food is exported. So all the problems of destitution, insecurity and worry will be gone, since these are created by capitalism’s rationing of goods and its exploitation of the working class. Concepts like booms and slumps and recession and unemployment will have been confined to the history books.

    Equally, war will no longer exist. With no contending countries and no ruling classes, there will be no need for vast armies making use of the latest weapons technology. Issues such as ensuring the availability of raw materials like oil will not arise, since they will be the common property of all the earth’s people. Resources, both natural and human, will no longer be wasted on killing and inventing new ways of killing other humans.

    At the same time, there will be other problems which will exist in socialism, and for which the establishment of a co-operative commonwealth will not automatically provide a solution. Environmental issues would be a prominent example of this. Under capitalism, the profit motive and the short-term nature of planning combine to cause pollution and destruction of the environment. Socialism would be unable to simply stop interfering with the world we live in, since production of any kind assumes some sort of interaction with our environment. Nor can we say now how much mess capitalism will leave behind for socialism to grapple with. To what degree, for instance, will global warming have gone beyond the point of no return? How much oil will still be available, and how will energy be produced?

    There are no easy answers to such ecological questions, and we cannot just dismiss them by saying that socialism will evince a concern for the environment that capitalism never can. Rather we can point out that satisfying human need and caring for the environment will be at the forefront of socialism’s priorities. If they come into conflict, decisions will have to be taken about whether to emphasise one or the other in a particular case. The answers cannot be given yet, since we do not even know just what the questions will be. But from anything other than a capitalist perspective, caring for the world is part of satisfying human need, since we are part of the planet and must always live within it.
    Paul Bennett

    Tuesday, June 9, 2009

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (101)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 101st of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1511 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • A simpler way of doing things
  • Positively socialism
  • Euroelections: the case for the SPGB
  • Quote for the week:

    "It was the first time that I had ever been in a town where the working class was in the saddle ... There was much in it that I did not understand, in some ways I did not even like it, but I recognized it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for . . . " George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia (1938).

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Sunday, June 7, 2009

    È ancora tempo di elezioni

    Ogni quattro o cinque anni gruppi di politici di professione competono per il tuo voto con lo scopo di ottenere per se stessi una posizione privilegiata, questa volta nel Parlamento Europeo. Tutti i partiti e i candidati (ad eccezione dei rarissimi candidati del Movimento Socialista Mondiale) offrono solo cambiamenti minori all’attuale sistema. Ecco perché qualunque candidato o partito vinca non vi è nessun significante cambiamento del presente stato delle cose. Continuamente vengono fatte promesse che poi vengono ritirate, vengono fissati obiettivi che poi non vengono raggiunti, vengono selezionate e create ad arte delle statistiche.

    Tutti i politici partono dal presupposto che il capitalismo sia l’unico modo di vivere possibile, anche se alcuni di loro criticano delle caratteristiche della sua faccia inaccettabile, come per esempio i banchieri avidi, o il peggio dei suoi eccessi, come per esempio le guerre. Difendono una società in cui noi, la maggioranza della popolazione, dobbiamo vendere le nostre capacità lavorative a una minuscola minoranza che possiede la maggior parte delle ricchezze. Difendono una società in cui i posti di lavoro sono offerti solo se c’è un profitto da realizzare.

    Il vero socialismo

    Il Movimento Socialista Mondiale propone con insistenza una società veramente democratica in cui le persone prendono tutte le decisioni che le riguardano. Questo significa una società senza ricchi e senza poveri, senza padroni e senza lavoratori, senza governi e senza governati, una società senza leader e senza seguaci.

    In una società del genere le persone coopererebbero per usare tutte le risorse naturali e industriali del mondo nel loro proprio interesse. Libererebbero la produzione dalle restrizioni artificiali del profitto e realizzerebbero un sistema sociale in cui ogni persona avrebbe libero accesso ai benefici della civiltà. La società socialista comporterà di conseguenza la fine della compravendita e dello scambio, la fine dei confini e delle frontiere, la fine della violenza organizzata e della coercizione, dello spreco, del bisogno e della guerra.

    Cosa puoi fare

    Puoi votare per candidati che opereranno all’interno del sistema capitalista e aiutare la continuazione di questo sistema. Oppure puoi usare il tuo voto per mostrare che desideri abbatterlo e porre fine una volta per tutte ai problemi che esso causa.

    Quando un numero sufficiente di noi si unirà insieme, determinati a porre fine all’ineguaglianza e alla privazione, potremo trasformare le elezioni in un mezzo per sbarazzarci di una società di dominio minoritario in favore di una società veramente democratica e di uguaglianza sociale.

    Se sei d’accordo con l’idea di una società di proprietà comune e democratica dove nessuno è lasciato indietro e le cose sono prodotte perché sono necessarie, e non per fare un profitto per qualche grande impresa capitalista, e sei pronto ad unirti a noi per ottenere ciò, allora vota per essa, dal momento che in Italia non abbiamo nostri candidati, scrivendo “SOCIALISMO MONDIALE” sulla tua scheda elettorale.

    İnsanlar….. ya da Kâr?

    Yine seçim zamanı

    Her birkaç yılda bir politikacılar kendilerine rahat bir pozisyon sağlayacak oylarınızı kazanmak için birbirleriyle yarışırlar; bu yıl da Avrupa Parlementosu seçimlerinde bu oylar için yarışacaklar. Varolan bütün partiler ve adaylar şu an için varolan sistemde çok düşük düzeyde değişiklikler öne sürüyorlar. Bu nedenle hangi aday ya da parti seçimleri kazanırsa kazansın şu anda varolan durumda belirgin bir değişiklik ne yazık ki gerçekleşemiyor. Sözler veriliyor ve yerine getirilmiyor, hedefler belirleniyor ancak ulaşilamıyor istatistik sonuçlar belirleniyor ve sonuçlar üzerine oynanıyor.

    Aç gözlü bankerler ya da kazanılamayan savaşlar gibi kabul edilemeyen bazı özelliklerini eleştirseler de bütün politikacılar kapitalizimin varolan tek alternatif olduğunu düşünüyorlar. Toplumun çogunlugunu oluşturan bizlerin kapasitemizi refahın büyük bir kısmını ellerinde bulunduran küçük bir azınlığa satmamızın gerektiği bir sistemi savunuyorlar. Bizlere sadece kâr getirebilecek işlerin sunulduğu bir sistemi savunuyorlar.

    Gerçek Sosyalizm

    Sosyalist Parti kişilerin kendilerini etkileyen bütün kararları bizzat kendilerinin aldığı demokratik bir sistemin gerekliliğini vurgular. Demokratik sistemle söylenmek istenen zengin ve yoksulların, refah sahibi olanlar ile işçilerin, yönetenlerle yönetilenlerin, liderlerle idare edilenlerin olmadığı bir sistemdir.

    Böyle bir toplumda kişiler üretimi kâr elde etme güdüsünün baskısından kurtaracak ve herkesin uygarlaşmanın faydalarından serbestçe yararlanabileceği bir toplum oluşturacaklardır. Sosyalist toplum sonuç olarak alım, satım, değiş-tokuş gibi işlemlerin bittiği, sınırların olmadığı, örgütlü suçlar, baskı rejimleri, savaşlar, sarfiyat ve yokluğun sonlandırıldığı bir toplum olacaktır.

    Ne yapabilirsiniz

    Kapitalist sistemde çalisacak ve sistemin devam etmesine yardımcı olacak adaylara oy verebilirsiniz. Alternatif olarak oyunuzu, bu sistemi değiştirmeyi ve sistemle birlikte gelen problemleri bir defada ve tümüyle sonlandırmayı istediğinizi göstermek için kullanabilirsiniz.

    Toplumun büyük bir çogunlugunu oluşturan bizler yoksulluk ve eşitsizliğe son vermeye kararlı bir şekilde yeterli sayıda bir araya geldiğimizde seçimleri kullanarak refah sahibi azınlıkların yönettiği bir toplumdan kurtulup yerine sosyal eşitlik ve gerçek demokrasi temelli bir toplum inşa edebiliriz.

    Her birkaç yılda bir politikacılar kendilerine rahat bir pozisyon sağlayacak oylarınızı kazanmak için birbirleriyle yarışırlar; bu yıl da Avrupa Parlementosu seçimlerinde bu oylar için yarışacaklar. Varolan bütün partiler ve adaylar şu an için varolan sistemde çok düşük düzeyde değişiklikler öne sürüyorlar. Bu nedenle hangi aday ya da parti seçimleri kazanırsa kazansın şu anda varolan durumda belirgin bir değişiklik ne yazık ki gerçekleşemiyor. Sözler veriliyor ve yerine getirilmiyor, hedefler belirleniyor ancak ulaşilamıyor istatistik sonuçlar belirleniyor ve sonuçlar üzerine oynanıyor.

    Aç gözlü bankerler ya da kazanılamayan savaşlar gibi kabul edilemeyen bazı özelliklerini eleştirseler de bütün politikacılar kapitalizimin varolan tek alternatif olduğunu düşünüyorlar. Toplumun çogunlugunu oluşturan bizlerin kapasitemizi refahın büyük bir kısmını ellerinde bulunduran küçük bir azınlığa satmamızın gerektiği bir sistemi savunuyorlar. Bizlere sadece kâr getirebilecek işlerin sunulduğu bir sistemi savunuyorlar.

    Gerçek Sosyalizm

    Sosyalist Parti kişilerin kendilerini etkileyen bütün kararları bizzat kendilerinin aldığı demokratik bir sistemin gerekliliğini vurgular. Demokratik sistemle söylenmek istenen zengin ve yoksulların, refah sahibi olanlar ile işçilerin, yönetenlerle yönetilenlerin, liderlerle idare edilenlerin olmadığı bir sistemdir.

    Böyle bir sistemde kişiler dünyanın bütün doğal ve endüstriyel.

    Kimsenin geride bırakılmadığı, herşeyin kapitalist bir şirkete kâr getirmek amacıyla değil insanların gereksinimi doğrultusunda üretildigi, ortak ve demokratik mülkiyet temelli bir toplum düşüncesini kabul ediyorsanız ve bu amaca ulşmak için bizlere katılmaya hazırsanız oylarınızı SOCIALIST PARTY listesi için kullanınız.

    Znowu wybory

    Co parę lat grupy profesjonalnych polityków konkurują o Twój głos, żeby zdobyć sobie wygodny stołek, tym razem w Parlamencie Europejskim. Wszstkie z tych partii i wszyscy kandydaci oferują tylko niewielkie zmiany do obecnego systemu społeczno-gospodarczego. Dlatego właśnie, którykolwiek kandydat czy partie zwyciężą, nic się wokół nas nie zmienia.

    Obiecanki cacanki

    Wszyscy politycy zakładają, że kapitalizm jest jedyną drogą, nawet jeśli krytykują jego nieakceptowalne przejawy, np. zachłannych bankierów czy wojny nie do wygrania. Bronią oni społeczeństwa, w którym my, wiekszość ludzkości, musimy sprzedawać naszą zdolność do pracy dla niewielkiej garstki posiadających środki produkcji. Bronią oni społeczeństwa, w którym praca jest oferowana tylko wtedy, jeśli uda się zrobić zysk.

    Prawdziwy socjalizm

    Partia Socjalistyczna proponuje prawdziwie demokratyczne społeczeństwo, w którym wszyscy ludzie podejmują decyzje ich dotyczące. Oznacza to społeczeństwo bez biednych i bogatych, bez właścicieli środków produkcji i robotników, bez rządzących i rządzonych, społeczeństwo bez przywódców i podporządkowanej im masy.

    W takim społeczeństwie ludzie bedą współpracować ze sobą, by używać zasobów naturalnych i przemysłowych w swym własnym interesie. Uwolnią oni produkcje dóbr ze sztucznych ograniczeń zysku i ustanowią system społeczny, w którym każda osoba ma bezpłatny dostęp do dóbr cywilizacyjnych.

    Społeczeństwo socjalistyczne w konsekwencji będzie oznaczać koniec sprzedawania, kupowania i wymiany, zniesienie granic, koniec zorganizowanej przemocy i przymusu, marnotrawstwa i wojen.

    Co możesz zrobić?

    Możesz głosować na kandydatów, którzy będą pracować wewnątrz systemu kapitalistycznego i pomagać mu przetrwać. Lub też możesz użyc swego głosu, żeby pokazać, że chcesz jego zniesienia i skończenia z problemami, jakie ze sobą niesie, raz i na zawsze.

    Gdy wystarczająco wielu z nas razem połączy się, zdecydowanych skończyć z nierównościa i ubóstwem, to możemy zmienić wybory parlamentarne w narzędzie odrzucenia społeczeństwa rządów mniejszosci.

    Jeśli zgadzasz sie z ideą społeczeństwa wspólnej demokratycznej własności, gdzie nikt nie jest pozostawiony sam sobie na marginesie społecznym i rzeczy są wytwarzane, poniewaz są społecznie potrzebne, a nie tylko by tworzyć zysk dla jakiejś kapitalistycznej korporacji, i jeśli jesteś gotowy połaczyć się z naszym celem, to głosuj na listę Partii Socjalistycznej.

    Anmerkungen der Sozialistischen Partei zur Europawahl 2009

    Wahrscheinlich wirst du schon etwas über die Wahlen zum Europäischen Parlament gehört haben, der größten Wahl in Europa, die es bislang gegeben hat. Denn in den 27 Staaten der Europäischen Union leben 500 Millionen Menschen. Du bist aufgerufen, zwischen dem 4. und 7. Juni diejenigen aus dem Kreis der „politischen Elite“ deines Wahlbezirks zu wählen, die ihre Ferien in Brüssel und Strassburg werden verbringen können. Auf deine Kosten, versteht sich.

    Die Machthaber sind aber derzeit ein wenig in Sorge, ob du überhaupt von ihren Argumenten und ihrem Wahlspektakel genügend angetan sein wirst, um zur Wahl zu gehen. Sie befürchten, dass du zu Hause bleibst. Schande über Dich!

    Um dir deutlich zu machen, warum das alles so wichtig, oder eher unwichtig ist, könnten wir dir ein paar Hinweise darauf geben, in welchen Bereichen in der letzten Zeit das Europäische Parlament dein Leben veränderte (in der englischsprachigen Version tun wir es auch): Aber das Ergebnis ist, dass es dabei nichts Wichtiges aufzuzählen gibt, daher lassen wir es hier bei dieser Feststellung bewenden.

    Insbesondere wenn du auf die so genannten “Sozialleistungen” angewiesen oder „arbeitslos“, also mittellos, bist, oder wenn dich die vielen Problemen plagen, mit denen Lohnabhängige, auch und gerade wenn sie „Arbeit haben“, ständig konfrontiert sind, dann hast du wirklich keinen Grund, zur Wahl zu gehen und einen dieser üblichen Kandidaten der Linken, der Rechten oder der Mitte zu wählen.

    Tatsache ist, dass das Spektakel der Eurowahl nicht aufgeführt wird, um irgendetwas Gutes für DICH zu tun. Es dient dazu, die herrschenden Eliten des Kapitals davon abzuhalten, übereinander herzufallen, also gegeneinander in Europa Krieg zu führen, wie sie das in der Geschichte, mehr als einmal, taten. Wir erinnern nur an den Ersten und den Zweiten Weltkrieg.

    Obwohl es natürlich eine gute Idee ist, Kriege zu vermeiden - denn es sind Arbeiterinnen und Arbeiter, die an dessen Folgen am Meisten zu leiden haben - ist es mitnichten dieser „Wohlfahrtsaspekt“, der eine Rolle spielen würde. Die eigentliche Motivation ist hingegen die Angst des Kapitals, zu viel Geld für die Kriegsführung ausgeben zu müssen. Die kapitalistischen Eliten wollen zwar alle (mehr als) satt werden, aber ohne unnötigerweise Gefahr zu laufen, im Maul und zwischen den Zähnen ihrer Konkurrenten zu enden. Es geht - wer hätte das gedacht – um Profit und Geld. Und daran wird sich auch nichts ändern, solange der Kapitalismus und das Geld bestehen bleiben. Abgesehen davon ist der kapitalistische Friede – global betrachtet – immer nur ein Zwischenzustand, denn kapitalistische Konkurrenz und Kriege gehören zusammen.

    Vielleicht denkst du ja wirklich angesichts der Wirtschafts- und Finanzkrise, dass der Kapitalismus für dich nichts tut, außer dass er dich zu seinem Lohnsklaven macht, dessen einzige anerkannte Existenzberechtigung darin besteht, die Reichen noch reicher zu machen. Wenn aber die Kandidaten in deinem Wahlkreis dies nicht so klar und deutlich sehen und es aussprechen, warum solltest du einen von ihnen wählen?

    Es ist besser, wenigstens im Stillen etwas zu sagen oder zu schreiben, als vollkommen schweigend und untätig zu verharren. Insofern solltest du zur Wahl gehen, dann aber „ungültig“ stimmen, zum Beispiel dadurch, dass du auf den Wahlzettel „Abschaffung des Geldes und des Kapitalismus“ oder „Weltsozialismus – gemeinschaftliches Eigentum und gleichberechtigte Kontrolle“ schreibst. Danach besuche unsere Webseite, auf der du Leute treffen wirst, die ähnlich denken, wie du.

    Wir meinen, dass es durchaus sinnvoll ist, eine Wahl zu treffen, auch wenn es bei der Europawahl niemanden gibt, der es Wert wäre, gewählt zu werden.

    De nuevo es tiempo de elecciones

    Cada cierto número de años los políticos profesionales compiten por ganar el voto de usted y a la par ganar para sí mismos una posición acomodada, esta vez en Parlamento Europeo. Todos los partidos y candidatos ofrecen sólo cambios secundarios al sistema presente. Tal es la razón de gane el candidato o partido que gane no haya cambios importantes en la forma en son las cosas. Hacen promesas que no cumplen, se definen metas a las que nunca se llega, se seleccionan y tuercen las estadísticas.

    Todos los políticos suponen que al capitalismo es a lo único que se puede jugar, aunque quizá critiquen los rasgos de cara su inaceptable, como los banqueros codiciosos, o el peor de sus excesos, como las guerras imposibles de ganar. Defienden la sociedad en que nosotros, la mayoría de la población, debemos vender nuestra capacidad de trabajar a la ínfima mayoría de quienes detentan la mayor parte de la riqueza. Defienden una sociedad en que se ofrecen los trabajos sólo si van a reportar una ganancia.

    El socialismo real

    El Movimiento Socialista Mundial lucha con vehemencia por una sociedad de verdad democrática, en que la gente tome todas las decisiones que la afectan. Esto significa una sociedad sin ricos ni pobres, sin propietarios ni trabajadores, sin gobernantes ni gobernados, una sociedad sin líderes ni liderados.

    En una sociedad así la gente cooperaría para utilizar todos los recursos naturales e industriales en su propio interés. La gente liberaría la producción de las restricciones artificiales del lucro y establecería un sistema social en que cada persona tuviera acceso gratuito a los beneficios de la civilización. En consecuencia, con la sociedad socialista terminaría el comprar, el vender y el intercambiar, y con ella también dejarían de existir las fronteras, y la violencia y la coerción organizadas, el desperdicio, las carencias y las guerras.

    Qué puede usted hacer

    Puede usted votar por candidatos que trabajarán dentro del sistema capitalista y procurarán que siga funcionando. O puede usted emplear su voto para demostrar que quiere derrumbarlo y ponerle fin a los problemas que causa de una vez por todas.

    Cuando un número suficientemente grande de nosotros nos unamos, resueltos a terminar con la desigualdad y las privaciones, podremos transformar las elecciones en medio de acabar con una sociedad gobernada por una minoría y de declararnos a favor de una sociedad de democracia real e igualdad social.

    Si está usted de acuerdo con una sociedad de propiedad común y democrática en la cual nadie se quede atrás y las cosas se produzcan porque son necesarias, y no para que la empresa capitalista las venda con ganancia, y esté usted dispuesto a unirse a nosotros para lograrlo, entonces vote por eso, ya que no estamos en este distrito electoral, escribiendo “SOCIALISMO MUNDIAL” en su papeleta de voto.

    Mensen…. of winst ?

    Het is weer verkiezingstijd

    Elke paar jaar strijden groepen professionele politic om uw stem, om voor zichzelf een comfortabele positie te verkrijgen, dit keer in het Europese Parlement. Al de andere partijen en kandidaten bieden slechts kleine veranderingen aan van het huidige systeem. Daarom is er vrijwel geen verandering in de status quo, welke kandidaat of partij er ook wint. Beloftes worden gemaakt en gebroken, doelen gezet en niet gehaald, statistieken geselecteerd en gemasseerd.

    Alle politici beweren dat kapitalisme het enige mogelijke model is, hoewel ze onderdelen van kapitalisme’s onacceptabele gezicht bekritiseren, zoals graaiende bankiers, of de ergste excessen er van, zoals onwinbare oorlogen. Ze verdedigen een maatschappij waarin wij, de meerderheid van de bevoling, onze capaciteit om te werken moeten verkopen aan het kleine handjevol dat de meeste rijkdom bezit. Ze verdedigen een maatschappij waarin banen alleen worden aangeboden als er winst mee te maken valt.

    Echt socialisme

    De Socialistische Partij dringt aan op een waarachtig democratische samenleving waarin mensen alle beslissingen die hen betreffen, zelf nemen. Dit betekent een samenleving zonder rijk en arm, zonder eigenaars en werkers, zonder regeringen en geregeerden, een samenleving zonder leiders en geleiden.

    In zo’n samenleving zouden mensen samenwerken om alle natuurlijke en industriële hulpbronnen in hun eigen belang te gebruiken. Dit zou productie bevrijden van het kunstmatige keurslijf van winst en een systeem van samenleving tot stand brengen waar elke persoon vrije toegang heeft tot de baten van de beschaving. Een socialistische samenleving zou dus het einde betekenen van kopen, verkopen en uitwisselen, een einde aan grenzen, een einde aan georganiseerd geweld en dwang, verspilling, armoede en oorlog.

    Wat u kan doen

    U kunt stemmen voor kandidaten die in het kapitalistische systeem werken en helpen om het gaande te houden. Of u kunt uw stem gebruiken om te laten zien dat u dit systeem omver wil werpen en de problemen die het veroorzaakt voor eens en voor altijd wil beëindigen.

    Als genoeg van ons samenkomen, vastbesloten om ongelijkheid en ontbering te beëindigen, kunnen we verkiezingen veranderen in een manier om van een samenleving gebaseerd op minderheidsheerschappij af te komen, ten gunste van een samenleving gebaseerd op echte democratie en sociale gelijkheid.

    Als u het eens bent met het idee van een samenleving met gemeenschappelijk en democratisch eigendom waar niemand achtergelaten wordt en dingen geproduceerd worden omdat ze nodig zijn en niet om winst te maken voor één of ander kapitalistisch bedrijf, en u bereid bent om met ons samen te werken om dit te bereiken, schrijf dan WERELDSOCIALISME op uw stembiljet.

    Nu är det val igen

    Av och till tävlar grupper av yrkespolitiker om din röst för att själva kunna skaffa sig en bekväm position, den här gången i EU-parlamentet. Alla partier och kandidater erbjuder bara mindre förändringar av det nuvarande systemet. Oavsett vilken kandidat eller vilket parti som vinner kommer ingen förändring av vikt att inträffa. Givna löften bryts, uppställda mål uppnås inte och statistik väljs ut och manipuleras.

    Politiker kan visserligen kritisera sådana företeelser som giriga bankirer eller vidriga krig, men alla utgår de från att kapitalismen är det enda möjliga systemet. De försvarar ett system i vilket vi, majoriteten av befolkningen, måste sälja vår arbetskraft till en liten förmögen minoritet. De försvarar ett system i vilket det finns jobb bara när det går att göra vinst.

    Verklig socialism

    Den världssocialistiska rörelsen eftersträvar ett verkligt demokratiskt samhälle i vilket människorna själva fattar alla beslut som påverkar dem. Det innebär ett samhälle utan fattiga och rika, utan ägare och arbetare, utan regeringar och styrda, ett samhälle utan ledare och ledda.

    I ett sådant samhälle skulle människor samarbeta för att använda jordens naturtillgångar och industrianläggningar i sitt eget intresse. De skulle befria produktionen från det konstgjorda hinder som kravet på vinst ställer upp och upprätta ett samhällssystem i vilket alla människor har fri tillgång till det som samhället producerar. Det socialistiska samhället skulle innebära slutet för köp, försäljning och utbyte, ett slut på gränser och nationer, och ett slut på organiserat våld och förtryck, slöseri, nöd och krig.

    Vad du kan göra

    Du kan rösta på kandidater som kommer att arbeta inom det kapitalistiska systemet och hjälpa till att hålla det igång. Eller så kan du använda din röst för att visa att du vill avskaffa det och en gång för alla göra slut på problemen som kapitalismen orsakar.

    När tillräckligt många av oss förenar sig kan vi förändra valen till att bli ett medel för att göra slut på ett samhälle med minoritetsstyre till förmån för ett samhälle med verklig demokrati och social jämlikhet.

    Om du håller med om detta och är beredd att förena dig med oss för att uppnå detta samhälle kan du rösta för det genom att skriva VÄRLDSSOCIALISM, WORLD SOCIALISM, på din valsedel.

    MÅL: Att upprätta ett samhällssystem baserat på hela samhällets gemensamma ägande och demokratiska kontroll av produktions- och distributionsmedlen.gemensamt.

    Encore des élections

    À intervalles de quelques années, des groupes de politiciens professionnels entrent en compétition pour gagner votre vote et ainsi accéder à une position confortable, cette fois-ci au Parlement Européen. Tous les partis et candidats n'offrent que des changements mineurs au système actuel. C'est pourquoi il n'y a jamais de véritable changement à l'état des choses, peu importe le candidat élu. Des promesses sont faites et brisées, des buts sont fixés mais jamais atteints et on joue au ventriloque avec des statistiques.

    Tous les politiciens assument que la seule option est le capitalisme, même s'ils critiquent ses côtés inacceptables, comme des banquiers cupides, et ses pires excès, comme des guerres sans victoire. Ils défendent un système social dans lequel nous, la majorité de la population, devons vendre notre force de travail à une poignée de personnes qui possèdent la plupart des richesses. Ils défendent un système social dans lequel des emplois sont offerts seulement si un profit peut être fait.

    Le véritable socialisme

    Le Mouvement pour le socialisme mondial désire une société véritablement démocratique dans laquelle les gens pourront prendre les décisions qui les affectent. C'est une société sans riches et pauvres, sans propriétaires et travailleurs, sans gouvernants et gouvernés, une société sans chefs et moutons.

    Dans une telle société, les gens coopéreraient pour que les ressources naturelles et industrielles du monde servent leurs intérêts. Ils libéreraient la production des chaînes du profit et établiraient un monde dans lequel chacun pourra accéder librement aux bienfaits de la civilisation. Une société socialiste implique la fin de l'achat, de la vente et de l'échange, la fin des frontières, la fin de la violence et de l'oppression organisées, la fin du gaspillage, de la pauvreté et de la guerre.

    Ce que vous pouvez faire

    Vous pouvez voter pour des candidats qui travailleront à l'intérieur du système capitaliste et feront en sorte qu'il subsiste. Vous pouvez aussi utiliser votre vote pour montrer que vous voulez vous débarrasser de lui et des problèmes qu'il cause une fois pour toutes.

    Quand nous serons assez nombreux à vouloir la fin de l'inégalité et de la privation, nous pourrons faire des élections un moyen de laisser derrière nous une société de pouvoir de la minorité pour passer à une société de véritable démocratie et égalité.

    Si vous êtes d'accord avec l'idée d'une société de propriété commune et démocratique dans laquelle personne n'est mis à l'écart et la production servira à combler les besoins, plutôt que pour faire faire un profit à une entreprise, et êtes prêt à vous joindre à nous pour atteindre cet objectif, alors votez pour. Puisque nous ne nous présentons pas à ces élections, mettez un bulletin marqué « SOCIALISME MONDIAL » dans l’urne.

    Thursday, June 4, 2009

    Massacre in Peking (1989)

    From the July 1989 issue of the Socialist Standard

    In the early hours of 4 June, soldiers of the Chinese army moved against the demonstrators who had been encamped since the end of April in Tiananmen Square in the centre of Peking. It had been widely expected that there would be a final confrontation between government forces and the students and others who had repulsed previous army attempts to uproot them. But few had anticipated that the army's action would be so brutal, with tanks and flamethrowers being used on unarmed civilians. Onlookers were cut down indiscriminately with those who attempted to resist. Thousands perished; nobody will ever know how many, as charred and disfigured corpses were hurriedly disposed of and hospitals were overwhelmed by the injured and dying. In the annals of capitalist bloodletting, this day in Peking will hold a place of its own.

    The events had begun peaceably enough with marches in commemoration of the former Party Secretary Hu Yaobang. a supposed "liberal". They gradually grew, with more and more students boycotting classes, till there were demonstrations in many cities on 4 May, 'the anniversary of the day in 1919 when students demonstrated against the dispositions of the Versailles Peace Conference, a date usually seen as the beginning of Chinese nationalism. Hu's successor Zhao Ziyang expressed sympathy with the student's demands for an end to corruption and for greater democracy (an aim never given much clearer formulation). "Hard-liners" in the government, such as Prime Minister Li Peng, insisted that just a handful of disruptive elements were stirring things up. This was exposed as nonsense when on 17 May over a million people marched through Peking. Li's faction declared martial law (which had never been done in Peking before), but the first army units sent on to the streets of the capital were unwilling or unable to enforce it fully, as workers set up roadblocks and dissuaded soldiers from attacking them. Public transport virtually ceased, and many shops were closed. The power struggle within the ruling echelons of party and state seemed at first to favour Zhao, but he was apparently placed under house arrest as the hard-liners, led by Li and the power behind the throne Deng Xiaoping, seized the upper hand. Troops from outside Peking were drafted in, as the preparations for the final putsch were made. And the fateful day of 4 June arrived.

    Government leaders kept studiously quiet just before and after the massacre; there were rumours that Deng was seriously ill. It looked as if a group of geriatric rulers had determined to preserve their own power at all costs, with little thought to the slaughter that would ensue, the prospect of a country in chaos, the watching TV cameras and the effect of China's "open door" policy towards overseas investment. This was somehow different even from Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, for it involved Chinese troops killing Chinese workers. Even when Peking was captured by "Communist" armies in 1949, there was no shooting on the streets of the capital. Now the "People's Liberation Army" was slaughtering those it was ostensibly supposed to protect.

    State Capitalist Ruling Class
    Not that such armed repression is anything new even in the recent history of China. The savage military attacks in Tibet are only the most blatant example of the government's willingness to use violence to maintain its position. Many participants in earlier movements for "greater democracy" from the late seventies and early eighties are in prison or labour camp. The death penalty exists for a wide range of acts and is frequently applied. Nevertheless, the scale of the Tiananmen carnage has ensured that it will have an unprecedented impact on Chinese workers.

    These workers have seen so many of the rulers getting rich quick as market oriented reforms open the way to corruption and black-market dealing. Only the bureaucrats have the opportunity to buy large quantities of goods at subsidised prices and sell them at massive profits on the open market. At the same time, the new economic arrangements have increased the sense of insecurity felt by so many. Yet, apart from the pervasive opposition to official corruption, there is no sign that the protestors were making economic demands. The call for a free press and other "rights" provided for in the constitution were the central issues for which workers fought with such dignity and heroism.

    What crimes are committed in the name of liberty, exclaimed Madame Roland when on the way to be guillotined in the French Revolution. Even more horrendous are the crimes committed in the name of Socialism. The butchery in Peking is only the latest in a long series of acts of violence and brute force by state capitalist ruling classes against workers who dare to take the first tentative steps of resistance. Capitalism usually does not need to use such naked brutality to keep workers in their place, though is of course prepared to do so when necessary. But it is the courageous victims who will be remembered, not their vicious and barbaric murderers.
    Paul Bennett

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (100)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 100th(!!) of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1508 friends!

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    "In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic." Marx, German Ideology (1845).

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    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    No jam tomorrow either (2009)

    The Cooking the Books column from the June 2009 issue of the Socialist Standard

    There’s a story told about a barber who displayed a sign outside his shop that stated “Free haircuts tomorrow”. When someone came in the next day asking for a free haircut, the barber pointed to the sign indicating that the free haircuts were for tomorrow not today.

    In the past politicians in power worked the same con. Work harder, pull together, make sacrifices today, they used to say, and in a few years you’ll reap the rewards. Of course tomorrow never came. They are no longer saying this now. At least the Tory Leader, David Cameron, isn’t. Addressing a conference of his party, he spoke of “the Age of Austerity” that we are entering (London Times, 27 April) and the effects this was going to have on our standard of living.

    He is of course in a difficult position. This time next year he expects to be Prime Minister, but one presiding over an economy that will still be in a depression and which will require severe cutbacks in government spending. He knows it just wouldn’t be credible if he promised jam tomorrow.

    Actually, despite Gordon Brown’s claim to be spending the way out of the crisis – actually, trying to print his way out of it – there’s already austerity today. As the Guardian reported on 27 April:
    “More than half of British firms plan to freeze pay this year while one in eight are planning to cut workers' pay, the British Chambers of Commerce says today. The BCC says its survey of 400 companies across the country shows that 58% of businesses are planning wage freezes this year while 12% are planning actually to cut pay in response to big falls in inflation and falling profits. The survey hints at the danger of deflation in Britain, with prices falling on the retail prices index measure, which could tip into a downward spiral if firms cut their pay. Official data last week showed pay growth had plummeted to just above zero – the lowest on record.” (See here.)
    Meanwhile, unemployment is continuing to rise:
    “The UK unemployment total is now 2,215,000 – the worst figure since 1996. The Office for National Statistics also showed a fall in earnings by 0.4 per cent in the year to March, the first time this has ever gone negative” (Morning Star, 13 May. See also here).
    The two are of course connected. Wages are a price, the price of the working skills that workers sell to employers, which like all prices is subject to the law of supply and demand. With growing unemployment and a stagnating economy demand falls while supply increases, so exerting a powerful downward pressure on wages. If the economic commentators were honest, they would hail this fall in wages as one of the “green shoots of recovery” they are desperately looking for, since one of the conditions for recovery is that wages should fall. That’s the way capitalism works and always has worked.

    Monday, June 1, 2009

    Crisis of legitimacy (2009)

    Editorial from the June 2009 issue of the Socialist Standard

    The European elections this month could not have come at a better time for a disgruntled UK electorate. While clearly fuelled by a media fresh from savaging merchant bankers and seeking new victims, the anger felt amongst the public regarding the "creativity" shown by MPs in relation to their expenses claims is undoubtedly genuine enough. Having had it confirmed recently in a government report that deprivation and inequality had risen for the third year running, the UK working class might find the maintenance costs of an MPs moat – to take just one example – a little difficult to understand.

    Of course in the scheme of things, while the expenses claims make interesting reading, the whole issue is a bit of a storm in a teacup, and should be kept in some perspective. A few grand nicked here or there is crumbs compared to the wholesale legalised theft of value that occurs on payday when workers receive less than the value they have produced for their employer during that month

    Socialists have little concern for the apparent moral consistency (or otherwise) of individuals, be they MPs or not. It’s the system we live under that we are interested in. As defenders of capitalism the right honourable gentlemen and ladies at Westminster have rarely been "right", and are certainly unlikely "honourable" role models. As exemplars of capitalism's principles, however they would appear to embody all the necessary tight-fisted, money-grabbing, elements.

    If we didn't know it already, the last year should have taught us that capitalism is just not a "fair" system. There are many more important criticisms that can be levelled against capitalism, but the idea of "fairness" – the assumption that the society we live in should basically be a fair one, giving everyone an equal shout and an equal chance – is a political sentiment that seems to strike a very deep chord with people. On that score, capitalism is clearly found wanting.

    More importantly, workers' confidence in the money system has clearly taken a significant bashing in recent months as pensions evaporate, redundancies are announced and house repossessions increase. The legitimacy of our leaders – whether business or political – is under increasing attack. Bankers have been an easy scapegoat for the fundamental failings of the economic system, capitalism. It is likely that some of that anger focussed on bankers has been generalised against those in power in the form of the political class represented at Westminster. And seldom before can the political choice provided for us have seemed so narrow. Threatened by ridicule from the public, the main political parties – between queuing up to show their contrition and denouncing their own excesses in terms reminiscent of some Maoist show trial – have spoken with one voice, the pro-capitalist voice. For brevity and clarity we can call them the Capitalist Party, the real political opponent of the Socialist Party.