Saturday, February 1, 2020

Obituary: Jim Ryder (2020)

Obituary from the February 2020 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Passing of a Comrade
It is with sadness that we inform you that one of our New Zealand comrades, Jim Ryder, has passed away. 

James Alan Ryder (known as Jim) was born in Liverpool July 18 1931, and died October 25 2019.

He spent a good part of his life as a merchant seaman, and having visited New Zealand many times, decided to settle here in the 1970’s.

Jim, who became involved with and joined the World Socialist Party NZ, looked forward to attending the Party meetings and participating in spreading the Socialist message at every opportunity – a comrade who lived his life as a true Socialist.

As a seaman, based in New Zealand, he was on ships which frequented the Port of Tauranga (in the Bay of Plenty) and sailed to Australia and I believe Japan, until his retirement.

His home/work for those trips was on the Tasman Venture or Tasman Enterprise – two ships owned by Tasman Pulp and Paper NZ, and operated by the Union Steamship Co of NZ.

He was a good friend who would give you the shirt off his back – always happy, always singing, a typical Scouser. Jim loved his dogs and loved having a beer with his friends.

In retirement he lived in Auckland and then the seaside town of Whangamata, where he passed away.

He instructed his friends in Whangamata to have his ashes put into two urns, one to join his son in Liverpool, and the other to be taken out to sea.
Maurice Gribble, on behalf of the World Socialist Party (New Zealand)

50 Years Ago: Slaughter in Vietnam (2020)

The 50 Years Ago column from the February 2020 issue of the Socialist Standard

Socialists look at war in a fundamentally different way from people with other political persuasions. We contend that war in the modern world is caused by the workings of capitalism with its struggles over trade, investments, oil and other resources.

The workers of the world have an identity of interests and have nothing at stake in the thieves’ quarrels of their masters. The working class owns no country. None of the resources are theirs; they have nothing to fight for and everything to gain by uniting to end the system that enslaves them and produces wars and other terrible problems.

Supporters of Trotskyism and the so-called Communist Party support war and take one side or the other, thus lending themselves to the shedding of working class blood for the profits of the capitalist class East or West.

In the case of Vietnam these people seek Victory for the Vietcong and line up behind the nationalist aspirations of developing Vietnamese capitalism.

If it could be shown that Vietnam was an exceptional incident to an otherwise peaceful and humane capitalism and if all that needed to be done was to end this war and all would be well in the world, all the talk and press comments about “this senseless war” might have some point. The fact is that no argument can be advanced condemning the war in Vietnam which would not be equally valid for the first and second world wars, for Korea and all other 73 conflicts that have taken place in the last twenty years. War is a normal condition of capitalism. An article in US. News and World Report (August 28, 1968) shows there have been no less than 128 wars since 1898 and that 57 per cent of these have taken place since the last world war. It must be clear from this that a particular war is an effect which cannot be dealt with in isolation. What we are confronting is a society that produces wars.
(Socialist Standard, February 1970)

Editorial: Green Capitalism – A Contradiction In Terms (2020)

Editorial from the February 2020 issue of the Socialist Standard

The failure of the UN climate change conference in Madrid in December was predictable. It is now well established, and accepted by most, that the incremental increase in average global temperature that’s been going on for decades – and its long-term consequences of rising sea levels and more extreme weather – is mainly due to the past and present burning of fossil fuels releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. As long as this continues, so will the slow but steady increase in global temperature.

This rise can only be countered, let alone stopped, by using other sources for generating energy that don’t release carbon dioxide and, to a lesser extent, by finding ways to reabsorb it and certainly not by destroying natural ways that do this like the Amazon and other rainforests.

If there is a known solution, why is it not being applied? Basically, it’s because we are living in a capitalist world, divided into rival states, where production is in the hands of competing, profit-seeking enterprises. Each state, claiming to represent a ‘nation’ but actually representing its ruling class, asserts ‘sovereignty’, ie exclusive political control, over a part of the globe and the natural resources it contains.

This was crudely, but honestly, stated by President Bolsonaro of Brazil who told the UN General Assembly in New York in September that the Amazon rainforest was not ‘the heritage of mankind’ but belonged to Brazil, implying that Brazil could to do what it wanted with it, including burning and chopping it down to make way for profitable mining and ranching, even if this would eventually harm other states, let alone humanity.

Brazil is not alone. All states claim that the resources within their frontiers are theirs to do what they judge best with. This is why the states which have coal, oil and gas reserves on their territory are holding up anything that would reduce their profits from exploiting their fossil fuel resources, whether for export or as the cheapest source of energy for their internal needs.

They are only defending their sectional interest as all states do. Whereas within a country there is a body – the state – that can if need be force recalcitrant profit-seeking enterprises to respect the general interest of the capitalist class there, on the world scene there is no such body. The UN is just a talking shop. There is no means of forcing fossil fuel rich states to toe the line. And they are not going to voluntarily undermine their competitiveness by using more expensive ways of generating energy when a cheaper source is to hand.

This was underlined by a report from the International Energy Agency the same month as the talking shop in Madrid that ‘coal will remain by far the biggest source of power supply worldwide in 2024 … because of demand for cheap energy in Asia’ (Times, 17 December). Being relatively cheap there, coal use in India is expected to grow by almost 5 percent a year for the next five years while Bangladesh is building five large new coal-fired power stations.

The threat of global warming is a global problem that can only be dealt with by planned action on a global scale, but capitalism’s vested interests and profit considerations are preventing this. The only framework allowing planned action is a world without borders based on the common ownership of its natural and industrial resources. That’s what those rightly concerned about the dangers of global overwarming should also be working for.