Sunday, September 16, 2018

The War, and the Socialist Position. (1914)

From the September 1914 issue of the Socialist Standard

Whereas the capitalists of Europe have quarrelled over the question of the control of trade routes and the world's markets, and are endeavouring to exploit the political ignorance and blind passions of the working class of their respective countries in order to induce the said workers to take up arms in what is solely their masters' quarrel, and

Whereas further, the pseudo-socialists and labour 'leaders' of this country, in common with their fellows on the Continent, have again betrayed the working class position, either through their ignorance of it, their cowardice, or worse, and are assisting the master class in utilising this thieves' quarrel to confuse the minds of the workers and turn their attention from the class struggle.

THE SOCIALIST PARTY of Great Britain seizes the opportunity of reaffirming the socialist position which is as follows:
  That society as at present constituted is based upon the ownership of the means of living by the capitalist or master class and the consequent enslavement of the working class, by whose labour alone wealth is produced.
  That in society therefore there is an antagonism of interests, manifesting itself as a CLASS WAR, between those who possess but do not produce and those who produce but do not possess.
  That the machinery of government, including the armed forces of the nation, exists only to conserve the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers.
These armed forces therefore will only be set in motion to further the interests of the class who control them—the master class—and as the workers' interests are not bound up in the struggle for markets wherein their masters may dispose of the wealth they have stolen from them (the workers) but in the struggle to end the system under which they are robbed, they are not concerned with the present European struggle, which is already known as the “BUSINESS” war, for it is their masters' interests which are involved, and not their own.

THE SOCIALIST PARTY of Great Britain pledges itself to keep the issue clear by expounding the CLASS STRUGGLE, and whilst placing on record its 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, enters its emphatic protest against 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.

Having no quarrel with the working class of any country, we extend to our fellow 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.

August 25th 1914

WAGE WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE! You have nothing to lose but your chains, you have a world to win! – Marx

"What do you owe to capitalism?" (1915)

From the September 1915 issue of the Socialist Standard

What do you owe to capitalism? Your chains. The "Socialist Standard" makes an excellent file.

Editorial: Mortgages 
and the housing market (1989)

Editorial from the February 1989 issue of the Socialist Standard

The days of rocketing house prices in the south east of England appear to be over for the time being. Remember those stories about broom cupboards in South Kensington on offer at 38,000 and the joke people made about their house earning more in a month than they did? At the height of the boom house prices in Bedford Park in London rose from £250,000 to £350,000 in six months and flats in that bastion of Yuppiedom. London's Docklands, were being bought and resold at a big profit before they were even finished, let alone lived in.

All of this is history and the talk now is of prices stagnating and even falling in some places, including Docklands. The notorious practice of ' gazumping", where the seller reneges on a deal in order to get a higher price, is being replaced by “gazundering", with the buyer doing the reneging to get the price down.

Of course prices couldn't go on rising for ever, even in the booming economy of the south east. What has stopped them is the big increase in mortgage interest rates and the abolition of multiple tax relief which put an end to groups of people claiming on the same mortgage. Many workers are in trouble because while prices were rising they paid more for a house than they could afford on the assumption that resale would be at a profit. Now they may not even get their money back if the extra interest forces them to sell.

It is worth mentioning that, as usual, the “experts" are in complete disagreement about where the market is going. Building societies, banks, estate agents and academics in turn tell us that house prices in the south east will continue to rise at various rates, stay as they are, or fall. The Woolwich sticks its neck out further than all the rest by predicting the rate of price increases to the end of the century! All of them are simply guessing because the anarchic nature of any market guarantees that no one can tell which way it will go in six months never mind ten years.

Inflated house prices were bad news not only for those workers who had to pay over the odds or were priced out of the market altogether, but for some sections of the capitalist class too. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) reports that many of its member companies in the south east are unable to expand because high house prices prevent them from recruiting or even keeping staff. The CBI wants the planners to take the pressure off prices by making more land available for building in places like Surrey and Sussex.

They are not alone in this wish. The House Builders Federation (HBF) blames high house prices on local authorities who refuse to release more land, especially in the green belts around urban areas. The HBF points out that scarcity of land drives its price up and the cost of land already accounts for most of the price of a house.

While, however, there may be strong economic arguments from the standpoint of the CBI and the HBF for release of more green belt land, there are equally strong political arguments against them. For example, the environmentalists are bitterly opposed to any such move, but more importantly so are many of those people who already live in these areas. They don't want their village or cosy suburban estate swamped by yet more housing developments which will, in any case, reduce the value of their own homes. Nicholas Ridley, the Environment Secretary, has dubbed these people NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) but he and the rest of the government must take note of their feelings because a lot of votes are at stake.

Paying for housing by installments is an exclusively working class problem and one which most workers face at one time or another. If they are council tenants then the rent may be increased beyond their means. If they "own" (are paying up) their home then extra interest on the mortgage might be what finally breaks them. Repossessions by building societies climbed from 11.000 in 1984 to 23.000 in 1987. The total for 1988 is expected to be slightly down due to low interest rates in the first six months of the year but repossessions in 1989 should break all records. Incidentally, this 23.000 total doesn't include repossessions by banks as they do not publish figures.

But can people who live in houses which cost, say, £200,000 or more really be described as workers? They certainly can if they have to work for a wage or a salary, and those hundreds of “Yuppies" recently sacked in the City of London will of necessity have to find another job. Whether or not they hold on to those swank homes in Docklands will depend on it.

50 Years Ago: Socialists and Religion (1965)

The 50 Years Ago column from the October 1965 issue of the Socialist Standard

The spectacle of the warring nations of Europe supplicating the same good and almighty god for armed victory over each other is ludicrous enough. Small wonder that it is subject for derision.

Moreover, practically every religious sect has hastened to put its private brand of almighty power at the service of the capitalist interests which are responsible for the modern machine-made murder . . .

Nevertheless the power of religion to keep the workers servile is fast waning. Technical progress, the advance of knowledge, the march of events, drive it continually farther from real life. True it is that religion cannot entirely disappear until man's relations with his fellows and with nature become clear, ordered, rational and unambiguous. True it is that man’s emancipation from wage-slavery, from irrational poverty and ignorance will alone finally lay the ghost of superstition. Yet the present fading of religion is an unmixed good. The power of religion has ever been potent for evil. It has been throughout political history the abetter of oppression, the enemy of freedom, of science and of humanity. It is still used as far as practicable as the hand-maiden of class domination.

As Socialists, indeed, our main attack must be against the entrenched political power of capitalism, and to this all else must be subordinated; but the war on religion, which is the power of inertia of human development, is part of the work that must be done in that great struggle. 
From the Socialist Standard October 1915.

To Drone Or Not To Drone (2011)

From the December 2011 issue of the Socialist Standard

America’s War on “Terror”
Organised warfare has existed in virtually all property societies, including present-day capitalism. But the methods and numbers of combatants are rapidly changing. And the cost of modern warfare, it would seem, is becoming too expensive even for the United States. Hence the increasing use of what “US officials describe as a cheap, safe and precise tool to eliminate enemies” (International Herald Tribune, 3 October), such as the use of predator drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and elsewhere. Not that drones come on the cheap, or are as safe and accurate as US propagandists often claim.

Says Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations: “The lessons of the big wars is obvious. The cost in blood and treasure is immense, and the outcome is unforeseeable. Public support is declining towards rock bottom. And the people you’ve come to liberate come to resent your presence.” Quite.

The result is what the Tribune calls “shrinking budgets”, which no longer accommodate the deployment of large US forces overseas. Apparently, each soldier costs the American state about one million dollars per year.

There have been improvements over the last decade in the technical capabilities of remotely piloted aircraft. Although the article does not say so, such drones – first, as spy planes and then later as missile-carrying aircraft – have been developed in Nevada at Area 51, the supposedly secret base much beloved by UFOlogists. Again, although not generally publicised in the mass media, they are controlled from the US Air Force Base also in Nevada.

Since General Petraeus (he now likes to be called “Mister”!) has become director of the CIA, he has pioneered the use of drones, with the support of Defence Secretary, Leon E. Panetta, who has been an enthusiastic advocate of drones in Pakistan.

The operation of drones is however, not that simple. Each aircraft requires a team of more than 150 personnel, maintaining and repairing it, as well as the collection of radio signals, videos and “voluminous intelligence necessary to prompt a single strike”. And the so-called pilot (a murderer by remote control) sits in front of a computer thousands of miles away in America. The US Air Force spends at least $5 billion a year just on its remotely piloted drone systems.

Yet compared with a conventional war it is not particularly expensive – the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will by the end of this year have cost America at least $4 trillion!

The CIA consider that attacks by drones alienate, and kill, fewer people than conventional armies, but admit that they have angered many Pakistanis, who resent the inevitable civilian casualties when, as often happens, the drones go awry, or are directed not to “terrorists” (that is anti-American ones), but to villagers.

According to the Pentagon, the use of drones is just one of the many capabilities at America’s disposal “to go after terrorists and others”. It is tied to a policy; not just the use of them as weapons for weapon’s sake.

They are deployed where it is tough to go after an enemy by conventional means – such as in Pakistan’s mountainous tribal areas.

Zenko is concerned about the growing perception that the use of drones is the answer “to terrorism, just a few years after many officials believed that invading and remaking countries would prove the cure”.

It would seem, however, that they never learn.
Peter E. Newell

Visit from India (1996)

Party News from the September 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard

Binay Sarkar, from the World Socialist Party (India) in Calcutta, visited Britain in July mainly to speak at the Socialist Party Summer School in Birmingham.

Speaking before an audience of 60 or so, he traced the origins of Marxism in Europe and of the anti-reformist but pro-electoral stance of the parties of the World Socialist Movement. He explained that the "Marxism” which spread to Asia after the First World War had not been genuine Marxism but Leninism; which meant that those there who called themselves Marxists thought that Marx really had stood for the formation of a minority, vanguard party to lead the workers and take power in their name, and they regarded the Bolshevik coup in Russia in November 1917 as a model socialist revolution and accepted Lenin’s theory of imperialism according to which the struggle in the world is not between workers and capitalists but between imperialist and anti-imperialist states. This was beginning to change slowly, with the growing realisation that not only had Russia and China been state capitalist but also that the Russian and Chinese Revolutions had been state capitalist revolutions; one sign of this was the emergence of the WSP (India) from people who had previously been in the Communist Party and in Left Communist groupings.

Comrade Sarkar spoke at other meetings in London and Manchester, on the results of the recent elections in India (no real change, even though there were now some "Communist” ministers) and on the development of capitalism in India (not doing very well). He also met members and sympathisers in Bolton, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

When he returned to India on 18 July after his successful speaking tour, he took with him a collection of books and pamphlets, gifts from the Socialist Party and members for their party library.

We take this opportunity to thank those who responded to our appeal and donated a total of £454, which made this tour possible.

Straws: Drifting Whither? (1935)

The Straws Column from the September 1935 issue of the Socialist Standard

Drifting Whither?
Maxton’s deterioration goes on apace. For sheer sloppiness, the following (part of speech at recent I.L.P. Summer School, reported in New Leader, August 9th, 1935) would be hard to beat: “Those who best lead the people are those who most humbly watch the people, try to understand them, get . . .  into the real hearts of the people.”

Vote-Catchers’ Reward
He attributed the “tremendous success” of the I.L.P. to the fact that “it has never tried to set itself above the people.” ‘‘Tremendous success” in angling for votes from a politically inexperienced working class has not prevented the Party which claimed to ‘‘overwhelmingly” dominate the Labour Government of 1924 (see our "Questions of the Day,” page 36) from dwindling to an insignificant reformist rump of three M.P.s.

Socialism and Religion
Middleton Murry, high priest of the I.L.P. breakaway (“Independent Socialist Party”) shows his knowledge of Socialism by endorsing the opinion that ‘‘Long ago Socialists claimed that Socialism was a religion, a spiritual experience ” (Northern Voice, October, 1934). Readers are recommended to study our pamphlet “Socialism and Religion.”

Labour Party and Teachers
The London Teacher reminds its readers (July 12th, 1935) that Mr. Charles Latham, Labour chairman of the L.C.C. Finance Committee, and Mr. (Sir) Arthur Pugh, one time chairman of the Trade Union Congress, jointly signed a minority report “recommending an adjustment of teachers’ salaries in the neighbourhood of 12½ per cent.” This they did as members of the famous “May Committee,” which led to the formation of the “ National Government.”

Codlin and Short
The London Teacher's moral is: “Join the National Union of Teachers” (and to those in the know, “Let the rival men’s association, the National Association of Teachers, where members are pledged not to work under a woman 'head,’ alone ”). Codlin’s the friend, not Short.

Pedagogic Ice Cream
The Daily Herald, however (July 4th, 1935), reports: “Teacher turns ice cream vendor,” and quotes the vice-chairman of the “Supply Teachers’ Association” as stating that men, “some possessing honours degrees,” are “almost on the verge of starvation.” . . .  Said teachers urged to “bring pressure on the Board of Education” to introduce their “untrained” colleagues to the amenities of the ice cream barrow by incontinently firing them.

“Captains and Guides of the Democracy” (Rosebery)
Twenty-seven years ago, a young recruit to the S.P.G.B. wrote (Socialist Standard, June, 1906): “ The declared reason for the existence of the N.U.T. is the furtherance of the interests of the child. Is there not a danger that it may become the happy hunting ground of the eloquent Party-man in a hurry to round his own life into a success? ”

“Labour will not sanction war in any circumstances” (George Lansbury at meeting in Wales, June 12th, 1935).

Southport Conference
Now perpend: “There might be circumstances under which the Government of Great Britain might have to use its military and naval forces in support of the League in restraining an aggressor nation . . . etc.” (Southport Labour Conference, Report, page 244).

Head and Tail
“Four legs and two voices.” Take your choice, which is the brute Caliban, and which the foolish Trinculo. Evasiveness produced the “It is necessary to define what is meant by war,” which appears also on page 224.

Soviet Testimonial
Lord Passfield (reported Daily Herald, August 4th, 1932) says: "Russian working class families . . . are better off than the lowest grade of our population." The erstwhile Mr. Sidney Webb opines that "the country is relatively prosperous." Now we know something definite about "building Socialism." One is reminded of the famous testimonial in "Alice in Wonderland":
"She gave me a good character,
But said I could not swim."
Augustus Snellgrove

Brainless Barkings of Goons (1995)

CD Review from the June 1995 issue of the Socialist Standard

Great Parliamentary Speeches (EMI. 1995). CD £14.99. TC £9.99.

This is a collection of memorable speeches and witticisms from the first sixteen years of parliamentary broadcasting in Britain. Famous parliamentary occasions included range from the fall of the last Labour government, the debates on the Falklands war and the downfall of Mrs Thatcher, and examples of the caustic wit of Healey, Skinner. Heseltine et al are also provided.

As well as this, the usual ramblers make an appearance: Ron Brown, Ian Paisley, Nicholas Fairbairn, David Evans, making up the numbers with their glorious parades of idiocy. The producers of this CD/Cassette can be commended for including them on the grounds that no record of parliament and its proceedings would be anything like a true one if it omitted the brainless barkings of goons such as these.

Other performances from more substantial figures demonstrate how wasted their talents have been in the pursuit of ignoble causes. Michael Foot's majestic piss-take of a “bewildered" Sir Keith Joseph is worth the money on its own—but listen to his fawning support for Thatcher during the Falklands war and things soon come back into perspective.

Overall, it's an interesting enough record of the great and the good parliamentary shenanigans since 1978, but if you are going to buy it may be wise to get in on cassette—the nature of parliamentary broadcasting means that the sound quality doesn’t really justify spending an extra fiver buying it on CD. and ten pounds is pricey enough when you consider that they are only politicians, and as such, rarely have anything really sensible to say.
Dave Perrin

Socialism in India (1995)

Pamphlet Review from the June 1995 issue of the Socialist Standard

Manifesto of the World Socialist Party (India)

This is the 14,000-word manifesto adopted by our companion party in India at its founding Conference in Calcutta in March. It sets out in clear terms the socialist analysis of the artificial scarcity of the profit system, the rise and fall of state capitalism in Russia and elsewhere, and why nationalism, religion and leadership are incompatible with socialist principles.

The manifesto begins by explaining the political route which the authors took before coming to adopt the principles and analyses of the World Socialist Movement. After leaving the Communist Party of India (Marxist)— the governing party in the Indian state of West Bengal for some years now—in 1982 the group eventually became part of the so-called “Left Communist milieu" who trace their origin back to those early members of the Communist International criticised by Lenin in his pamphlet Left Communism, An Infantile Disorder.

From 1989 on the group began to reject two key assumptions of this milieu. First, that “in 1917 the working class in Russia made a political revolution led by the Bolshevik Party" but which soon went off the rails and ended up as state capitalism due to the mistaken economic policies adopted by the Bolshevik leaders. Second, the need for a transition period "administered by workers' councils with labour vouchers". The Manifesto clearly expresses this rejection: the Bolshevik coup was not a workers' revolution of any kind and had nothing to do with socialism: "Bolshevism or Leninism is state capitalism and by definition all questions of Leninism are state capitalist".

Labour-time vouchers are rejected as being "a form of economic rationing with exchange" since inevitably such vouchers would begin to circulate and so become money, whereas socialism is a society of abundance in which there is no need for any general unit of account: "Abundance does not have a measure of measures. For us its only measure is satisfaction of needs." In fact, a long section is devoted to producing the statistical evidence to show that once the artificial scarcity and organised waste of capitalism are eliminated, enough food, clothing, housing and other material goods can be produced to allow every single person on the planet to live decently and for the implementation of the principle of "from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs”.

The WSP (India) regards the Indian unions as not being genuine trade unions in that "unlike Europe and America, most of the big trade unions have been organised from above more as fundraising, vote-catching political subsidiaries of self-seeking 'leaders' than as spontaneous grass-root, independent and autonomous organisations of the working class to defend their economic interests". Because of this, and especially the fact that rival unions are linked to rival political parties and used to serve their ends, our Indian comrades say that Socialists in India cannot work within them but should instead seek to encourage workers to organise democratically outside them on the basis of regular general assemblies and recallable delegates. Since clearly they have a better knowledge of the situation in India then we do, we willingly defer to their judgment. In any event, the trade union question is one over which Socialists can, and do, have different views.

The Manifesto can be purchased from us at 52 Clapham High Street. London SW4 7UN (£1 post paid, cheques payable to "The Socialist Party of Great Britain"). It will also be available in Bengali, the world's sixth language. when supplies arrive from India.

Most Attractive Utopia in English (1995)

Book Review from the June 1995 issue of the Socialist Standard

William Morris: News from Nowhere Edited by
 Krishan Kumar.
 Cambridge Texts in the
 History of Political Thought. (ISBN 0521 42233 7 £12.95.)

This new edition of Morris’s classic socialist work is different in that it includes an index and footnotes. enabling it to be read as a text in the history of political thought.

For in addition to having, as Krishan Kumar puts it in his introduction, "good claims to be considered the best, certainly the most attractive utopia in English", News from Nowhere is a work of political theory about the nature of socialism and the socialist revolution.

Socialism for Morris (for which he uses the alternative term "communism”) is a classless society of common ownership in which people relate to each other in a co-operative, democratic and non-hierarchical way without money or government. As to the socialist revolution. in Chapter 17 on "How The Change Came", Morris describes a revolution in which the "Combined Workers" use their industrial strength to impose common ownership and workers' management of industry on the ruling class and to overcome their violent resistance. It is what ten to fifteen years later (Morris was writing in 1890) would have been called a "syndicalist" conception of the revolution.

We don't think this is entirely realistic in that it ignores the need, in order to minimise violence, to neutralise the State by winning political control (Morris later came to this conclusion too) but Morris's theory is still worth studying as an alternative theory of democratic revolution (the Combined Workers enjoy majority support and are organised on a democratic basis) and one that rightly rejects both parliamentary gradualism and the seizure and exercise of power by a vanguard elite. But judge for yourself. Read (or re-read) the book.
Adam Buick

Anti-semitism: What it is and What it isn't (2018)

From the September 2018 issue of the Socialist Standard

Anti-semitism: what is it?
Some Jewish organisations, echoed by the media, have been accusing the Labour Party of tolerating anti-semitism in its ranks. There are bigots who don't like Jews and deluded people who imagine that 'the Jews' control the world; and there are neo-Nazis. However, it is not these that the critics have in mind but Palestine Arab nationalist sympathisers who criticise Israel, its policies, history and the campaign to establish it.

Some of these have, apparently, occasionally crossed the line between criticising Israel and criticising 'the Jews'. On the other hand, some of Labour's critics also cross the line, in the opposite direction, and see such criticisms of Israel as anti-semitic.

So, what is anti-semitic and what is not?
Until the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 antisemitism had a clear meaning:  dislike, discrimination, persecution or conspiracy theories aimed at Jews. There was, however, the question of who were Jews. Originally they were seen as those who practised Judaism, the religion, and this was the basis of antisemitism in Mediaeval Christian Europe. In the nineteenth century, however, unsound theories of biological human nature designated the Jews as one of many 'races' , which meant that it was possible to be considered a Jew without practising Judaism, even in fact after converting to Christianity or becoming an atheist.

 The Socialist Party is opposed to all prejudice and discrimination against fellow workers. So, it goes without saying that we have always opposed antisemitism. It flourished in its 'racial' form as an ideological weapon used by reactionary landed interests to try to prevent their position being undermined by the development of capitalism. In so far as it found an echo amongst workers, we opposed it as a prejudice that misidentified the cause of working-class problems as being due to Jewish immigrants or to exploitation by Jewish finance capitalists rather than to the capitalist system of minority class ownership and production for profit.

 With the end of aristocratic rule and the granting of political rights to Jews, most integrated and assimilated into the country where they lived, and considered themselves to be British, French, German, Dutch, etc. Those who were still religious saw themselves as citizens of the state where they lived who happened to follow Judaism rather than Christianity or having no religion.

 Some, however, accepting the view that the Jews were a 'race' or a 'nation', advocated that the Jews, like other nations, should have their own country and their own state. These Jewish nationalists called themselves Zionists and the place they chose for their state was Palestine, at the time a province of the Ottoman Empire. In 1948 they achieved their goal when the state of Israel came into being in a part of Palestine. To this day the Zionists still urge Jewish workers in Europe and America to emigrate to Palestine.

 The existence of Israel has made the definition of anti-semitism more complicated, with Zionists claiming that anti-Zionism is anti-semitic and alleged anti-semites saying that they are really anti-Zionist rather than anti-semitic.

 In 2016 the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance adopted a ‘working definition’ of antisemitism that was not that different from what had been previously been accepted. They added a list of examples of its manifestation. These included:
  ' making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective – such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.'
The Socialist Party has always denounced these anti-semitic stereotypes, conspiracy theories and factual errors, and produced articles and pamphlets refuting them.

 Another of the examples, however, was more contentious as it extended the definition of antisemitism to include opposition to Jewish nationalism: 'denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.'

 Opposition to Jewish nationalism never used to be regarded as anti-semitic and was in fact common amongst Jews themselves.  This example begs two important questions by assuming, first, that humanity is divided into separate nations each of which has the 'right' of self-determination in the sense of the right to establish a state on a part of the globe's surface, and, second, that those making up such alleged nations form a community sharing a common interest.

 Socialists reject both contentions.

 Nations are not natural divisions of humanity; they are political constructs, 'imagined nations' as it has been put. The notion that there are collectivities called nations with rights is a product of the capitalist era of human history. States – coercive institutions ruling over a given territory – existed before capitalism, but, once control over them had passed to the capitalist class and its representatives, the new rulers sought to legitimise their rule as that of representatives of 'the nation'.

 Nearly everywhere those they ruled over were not homogeneous in terms either of language or religion. They had to be moulded into a 'nation' by having it drummed into them that they had a common history, interest and destiny. As most states are of relatively recent origin such 'nation-building' is still going on today in many parts of the world.

 All states are class-divided into a minority who own and control the means of living and those forced by economic necessity to sell their mental and physical energies to an employer for a wage or salary. The interests of these two classes are diametrically opposed as the profits and privileges of the one result from the economic exploitation of the other. There is no common 'national interest', only a class struggle between the two. That the members of both classes share a common interest is one of the ideological means by which the dominant minority class obtain the acquiescence and support of those they rule over and exploit.

 Nationalist movements demanding 'the right to self-determination' are movements in favour of local capitalists who want their own state so as to be better able to pursue and defend their economic interests. The so-called 'right to self-determination' is the right of a group of capitalists to have their own state. The Socialist Party has always opposed such movements as unworthy of working class support as they are movements in the interest of present or future exploiters. That this is so has been borne out by the experience of all parts of the world where nationalist movements have achieved their goal. The exercise of the so-called 'right to self-determination' has resulted everywhere, not in 'national liberation', but in a change of masters.

 The Socialist Party applied this analysis to the Jewish nationalist movement, or Zionism, when it made its appearance. We have opposed, from 1918 on, the view that the establishment of a Jewish state would be a solution to the problems that Jewish workers faced. A Jewish state would be a capitalist state in which the Jewish workers who emigrated there would be exploited by Jewish capitalists instead of by the capitalists of the state in which they resided. The interest of Jewish workers lay, rather, in uniting with the rest of the workers of the world to establish a global socialist society, in which there would be no discrimination against any group as the principle of ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs’ would apply.

 So socialist opposition to Zionism is certainly not anti-semitic; it is opposition not just to Zionism but is based on opposition to all nationalism and all nationalist movements wherever they are found.

(Introduction to forthcoming Socialist Party pamphlet on “Why Socialists Oppose Zionism and Anti-Semitism”)

The Money System (1988)

Editorial from the September 1988 issue of the Socialist Standard

Money dominates our lives. It is universal under capitalism. It speaks all languages and opens all doors. Virtually everything all over the world has a price. Practically every kind of activity we engage in, and every sphere of human endeavour, is measured against what it costs. There are money barriers erected between people and their attitudes towards each other. Respect and kudos are accorded to the money not the person.

In a thousand similar ways money falsifies human values. It perverts the judgment of people by raising phoney standards. And as the have-nots slavishly seek to imitate the possessions of the haves, trashy substitutes become a commonplace and the general culture pattern sinks to the level of the unreal. For those in poverty, social recognition is sought through the showy accumulation of inferior junk. While money expresses the values of property society, it has in itself nothing useful to contribute to human lives It is a social growth and its existence is secondary to the basic property division in society.

The rich are rich because they own the means of production and thereby accumulate money in the form of rent, interest or profit. It is the real wealth created by workers which constitutes their fortunes. The workers are relatively poor because they own no means of production, not because their wages are low but because they have to work for wages at all. The wages system represents the social dispossession of the working class and assures their continuing appearance in the factories, mines and offices to turn out wealth for the owning class.

Every facet of existence is affected by money. How we live, where we live, the kind of food, clothing and shelter consumed, all hinge on how much can be afforded. With our talents, we have mastered many natural forces and even bent them to our will, through our store-house of scientific knowledge we have transformed the face of the earth; we have produced wonders of communication and transportation and covered the world with technical achievements undreamed of a hundred years ago; with mechanisation applied to agriculture, our capacity to produce food is abundant. Yet none of this is readily available to us The social straitjacket of the money system stifles our every move.

There is obviously nothing that can be done to resolve this contradiction within the framework of a money based society. Money is so revered and sought after that a world without it is extremely difficult for most people to conceive. Yet there is nothing natural about it. All that we need to survive and flourish are our physical and mental energies and the resources of nature. Money developed out of the exchange of goods.

Where things are held in common and freely available, money is irrelevant and superfluous. Many things have been used as money in the history of its existence, including human slaves. The substance behind world currencies today is gold. Gold is ideal for the purpose because it does not perish and it concentrates a large amount of value into a convenient form. When buying and selling takes place, it is therefore values exchanging one with another and this only happens because there are exclusive property rights—owners and non-owners. It is people's attitudes that sanction the powers of money. It serves as a standard of price, as a measure of value and a means of exchange. That is to say its operation is confined to the buying and selling of commodities. This commercial process is part of the profit making system which exploits and devours the life force of productive labour.

All the contortive juggling of Chancellors of the Exchequer and world bankers and the voluminous writings of the so called economics experts and financial columnists are so many dreary acts in an over-long farce They are like the motions of a ritual to appease the wrath of some supernatural power, where people make obeisance to gods of their own creation.

Today we are confronted with hundreds of millions of people in chronic need of food, but unless they constitute a profitable market they will remain hungry. In the same way, a money barrier exists between the millions living in slums all over the world and the provision of adequate housing. These are simple aspects of poverty, and poverty is incurable as long as the means of wealth production are monopolised by a class.

The socialist analysis of capitalism and its money set-up points the way to a new society where people would use the earth's resources for their common good—without money.