Friday, February 19, 2021

Party Activities. (1928)

Party News from the February 1928 issue of the Socialist Standard

A large crowd filled Earlham Hall, Forest Gate, on Wednesday, January 25th, to listen to a debate between the Socialist Party and the Young Liberal League on Socialism versus Liberalism. The Young Liberal speaker was Mr. Edward Baker, Parliamentary candidate of the Old Liberals of Howdenshire, and for many years a prominent Christian Evidence Lecturer. The case for Socialism was well maintained by Com. Kohn, and the usual anti-Socialist “case” easily scotched.

The Liberal speaker resorted to all the debating tricks to avoid dealing with the cause of poverty, and tried to use Russia as an illustration of Socialist failure, but got himself so tangled up that in his last reply he dropped it altogether.

We Enter the Parliamentary Fray. (1928)

Party News from the February 1928 issue of the Socialist Standard


We consider that the time has now come to test the wishes of the working-class in this country by putting forward Socialist candidates at the next Parliamentary elections.

We have been in existence for nearly twenty-four years. During this time we have propagated our views as widely as our modest means would permit. All the tortuous twisting’s of capitalism and its upholders have been subjected to the searching light of Socialist knowledge. The false friends who have dazzled the workers with fair promises in order to climb to place and power, have been shown up for what they are—birds of prey and passage.

When the war cloud burst over Europe and the East, the self-styled parties of labour failed to live up to their pre-war promises; they “united,” they compromised, they squirmed and twisted, and finally developed into the thoroughly respectable “Party of the Opposition.” In the meantime other groups sprang up like mushrooms, to pass into obscurity within a few short years. The “heroes” of yesterday have left the stage, taking with them their drums and trumpets, leaving not even a track behind them.

The war hit us a smashing blow. We had gradually built up our organisation until we were on the verge of projects like those of to-day. We refused to compromise our principles and, from the beginning to the end, kept the promise we had made in August, 1914:
  "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.”
The struggle to keep up our opposition and, at the same time, get a living in those difficult times scattered many of our members over the world. When the end of the orgy of useless carnage came in 1918, we had to pick up the threads once more and laboriously build up again our battered organisation. But we were sound at the core. Our basis is solidly grounded on the rock of knowledge, so that we have been able to weather the storm and build up our party once more.

Lately our progress has been so good that it has been forced .upon us that we must now enlarge our activities and, by participating in elections, start upon the direct road for the conquest of the powers of government.

In spite of our progress, however, there is one direction in which we are relatively weak, and that is in finance. The money that keeps our organisation and our propaganda going is almost all subscribed by our own members—working-men who give up a portion of their hard-earned pence to finance the fight for Socialism. To meet the needs of the parliamentary contests this will not be enough, unless the workers join our ranks in masses and thereby become “one of us.” An election contest is expensive, as a nomination fee of £150 has to be paid down before a candidate can take the field. Apart from this, however, the expenses need not be great—just the cost of leaflets and other literature, and the hire of halls for meetings. Still, £150 per candidate is a big proposition to an organisation of our present size. In order to meet this expense we have decided to open a fund to be known as “The Parliamentary Fund.” To this fund we now heartily invite the generous subscriptions of all our sympathisers, and those who wish to see genuine Socialist candidates in the field. Our speeches, writings and actions over twenty-four years of strenuous activity are our credentials. All our meetings, propaganda, branch, and executive are, and have always been, freely open to the public, because we have nothing to hide and everything to gain by inspection.

Now is the opportunity for all those who have complained about the lack of a Socialist candidate to help to lay this first stone in what we may call the practical conquest of the powers of government.

The appearance at the polls of representatives of a genuine Socialist Party would be a strong weapon in the spreading of Socialist knowledge. So far we have been compelled to move with halting steps owing to our financial poverty. Those who consider our principles and policy sound, and who are fortunately enough situated to subscribe, can give practical evidence of their wishes, and help speed the present system of private ownership out of existence.

There is one warning we wish to give. We would ask all those who are in the habit of subscribing to our general funds not to divert their subscriptions to the new fund. To do so would not assist us at all, as impoverishing the general funds would hamper us at once. We simply ask those who can spare more money, and deem the object worthy, to do what they can to help us put candidates in the field in order that we may make a direct attack upon the central seat of power, and take out of the hands of our oppressors the power they wield and the wealth they have stolen.

The Founders of Modern Socialism. (1928)

Book Review from the February 1928 issue of the Socialist Standard

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels,” by Dr. Ryazanoff. (Martin Lawrence, Ltd. 7/6 net.)

This book of two hundred and twenty-one pages covers the lives and the collaboration of Marx and Engels, with an account of the historical background from which they emerged. The book is well done, without any appearance of bias, and the author criticises the work of others in the same field; for example, Franz Mehring, on certain details, though he sometimes makes assertions in opposition to accepted views without backing them with supporting quotations. This is particularly noticeable where he refers to the correspondence of Marx and Engels. Only fragments of this correspondence have so far been translated into English, so that the mere reference to the correspondence leaves English readers in the dark.

On page 138 there is a curious mistake. Paul Lafargue is stated to have been born in 1811 (seven years before Marx) and to have died in 1877. In fact Lafargue was born in 1842 and died in 1911.

The book is open to the objection one would expect in one of so few pages covering lives so rich in activity. On some points the information is meagre; on others it is substantial.


The opening pages give a fair account of the historical position in the early nineteenth century, and particularly the local conditions, different in detail, but similar in their general effect, that influenced first Engels and then Marx to take up a democratic standpoint. Both were born and spent their early days in the industrial provinces of the Rhine—Marx in Treves and Engels in Barmen. Marx came of a family of Jewish Rabbis, Engels of a family of German cloth manufacturers. Both had a University education. The Rhine province in the ‘thirties of last century was the centre of much agitation on the part of the rising industrialists in their efforts to free themselves from the hampering influences of feudalism. This agitation first attracted both Marx and Engels, and eventually drew them into the progressive movement. Ryazanoff’s summary of the period covers what is essential.

Here is an example of his method :—
  After 1831, as a result of the two events mentioned above [the July Revolution in France in 1830 and the Polish Rebellion of 1831], and despite the frustration of the July Revolution, we witness a series of revolutionary movements which we shall now cursorily review. We shall emphasise the events which in one way or another might have influenced the young Engels and Marx. In 1832 this movement was concentrated in Southern Germany—not in the Rhine province, but in the Palatinate. Just like the Rhine province, the Palatinate was for a long time in the hands of France, for it was returned to Germany only after 1815. The Rhine province was handed over to Prussia, the Pala­tinate to Bavaria, where reaction reigned not less than in Prussia. It can readily be understood why the inhabitants of the Rhine province and the Palatinate, who had been accustomed to the greater freedom of France, strongly resented German repression. Every revolutionary upheaval in France was bound to enhance opposition to the government. In 1831 this opposition assumed threatening proportions among the liberal intelligentsia, the lawyers Wirth and Liebenpfeifer arranged a grand festival in Hambach. Many orators appeared on the rostrum. Borne too was present. They proclaimed the necessity of a free, united Germany. (Page 30.)

Ryazanoff then gives a summary of the events and of the gradual development inside this movement of a movement of the German workers, the formation of the “League of the Just” and the “Workers’ Educational Association.”

On page 92 he says :—
  To Marx, who had carefully studied the evolu­tion of the Jacobin party, it seemed that in the next revolution, too, it would be possible to direct the forces which would develop spontaneously in the heat of prolonged political action.
  This premise explains his error. For long he held to this opinion, and a whole series of events were needed to make him renounce this premise ….
   The Neue Rhenische Zeitung, relying upon the experience of the French Revolution, advocated the following tactics: War with Russia, it seemed, was the only means of saving the Revolution in Western Europe. The defeat of the Paris proletariat was the first blow at the Revolution. The history of the Great French Revolution showed that it had been the attack of the Coalition upon France that supplied the impulse for the strengthening of the revolutionary movement. The moderate parties had been thrown aside. The leadership had been taken over by those parties which were able to repel most energetically the external attack. As a result of the attack by the Coalition, France had been declared a republic on August 10, 1792. Marx and Engels expected that a war of the reactionaries against the new Revolution would lead to similar results. That is why they kept on criti­cising Russia in the columns of their paper. 
Unfortunately for his readers, Ryazanoff nowhere gives quotations showing that Marx and Engels held the views alleged above nor that they later renounced those views. The “Communist Manifesto,” the “Address to the Communist League” in 1848, the article on the defeat of the Paris proletariat, written in 1848, the article on the German Revolution and oppressed nationalities of the same year, and the article in the “Neue Rhenish Gazette” of 1850 on Taxation Reform and the Social Revolution, certainly do not support the assertions. However, assuming that Marx and Engels were banking on a war with Russia to bring about a similar situation as obtained in France in 1792, the idea was not tested, since the Crimean War broke out long afterwards when circumstances, from a revolutionary point of view, had fundamentally changed. The alleged position was—war with Russia to save the revolution. As the war did not come the revolution was defeated, and the revolutionists imprisoned or scattered, a few finally gathering together in London to begin all over again. So that, assuming Marx and Engels held the view alleged, it looks as if they had correctly forecast the result and there would therefore have been no need for any renouncing.


On page 105, writing of “Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Germany”, the author states :—
  Marx was credited with this book, but from their correspondence we now know that Engels was the author. However, ideologically it was the common work of Marx and Engels. The latter wrote it on the basis of facts that were supplied by Marx, and chiefly on the basis of the article’s which they had both been writing for the “Neue Rhenische Zeitung.”
Here, again, it is unfortunate that no quotation is supplied from the Marx and Engels correspondence to support the statement. Failing this information, I am bound to state that Ryazanoff appears to me to have overstated the position, and for three principal reasons. Firstly, Eleanor Marx, in her introduction to the collected edition of these articles, definitely gives the impression that they were the works of Marx, as the following quotations will show :—
   The following articles are now, after forty-five years, for the first time collected and printed in book form. They are an invaluable pendant to Marx’s work on the coup d’etat of Napoleon III …. Both works belong to the same period, and both are what Engels calls excellent specimens of that marvelous gift … of Marx …. of apprehending clearly the character, the significance, and the necessary consequences of great historical events at a time when these events are actually in course of taking place, or are only just completed.
  These articles were written in 1851-1852, when Marx had been about eighteen months in England. 

#    #    #    # 

  That readers of these articles may have some idea of the conditions under which Marx was working, under which he wrote them and the “18th Brumaire,” and was preparing his first great economical work, “The Critique of Political Economy,” I again quote from my mother’s notes. 

#    #    #    # 

  Finally, I would remind English readers that these articles were written when Marx had only been some eighteen months in England, and that he never had an opportunity of reading the proofs. 
The above is definite enough, and was written by Marx’s daughter within a year of Engels’ death.

In the second place, these articles are in style essentially Marx’s, and thirdly, I have read somewhere, but unfortunately I cannot lay my hand on the quotation at the moment, that the first group of articles Marx wrote for the “New York Tribune” were sent to Engels for him to correct the English, as Marx had not yet acquired sufficient mastery of the written language. In view of the Marxian style of the articles, and not having had an opportunity of consulting the Marx and Engels correspondence, the latter appears to me the more likely explanation of what happened.


From page 113 onward there is an excellent explanation of the differences between Lassalle and Marx and Engels. The former took up the attitude of a Prussian democrat, which compelled him to abuse Austria, take up a gentle attitude towards Russia, and shower compliments on Napoleon the Third. Marx and Engels, on the other hand, in the interests of the international working class, attacked with equal relentlessness, all four contending parties. The curious part is that Lassalle, as well as Marx and Engels, claimed to be carrying out the fundamental principles of the “Communist Manifesto.”


From page 138 onwards there is a discussion of the foundation of the 1st International. Ryazanoff disputes the common view that the foundation of the International Workingmen’s Association originated in the world exposition that took place in London in 1862 to which continental workers came and mixed with English workers at a reception held in honour of seventy French delegates. He points out that the whole business was arranged by the employers and that nothing was said at the reception that could in any way offend the employers, and that the English trade unionists refused to have anything to do with the affair. That the American Civil War of 1860-1865 and the Polish insurrectionary movement of 1862-1863 were the real instigators of movements that led to the foundation of the International. Here are some extracts which will better explain his attitude :—
  But now two very important events happened, the first of which was the American Civil War (1860-1865). We have already seen that the abolition of slavery was the most important problem of the day. It became so acute and it had led to such an acrid conflict between the Southern and the Northern States, that the South, in order to preserve slavery, determined to secede and to organise an independent republic, The result was a war which brought in its train unexpected and unpleasant consequences to the whole of the capitalistic world. The Southern States were then the sole growers of the cotton which was used in all the cotton industries of the world. Egyptian cotton was still of very little importance. East India and Turkistan were not producing any cotton at all. Europe thus found itself without any cotton supply. The textile industries of the world were experiencing a crisis. The shortage of cotton caused a rise in the prices of all the other materials in the textile industry. Of course, the big capitalists suffered, least of all, the petty capitalists hastened to shut down their factories. Tens, nay hundreds of thousands of workers were doomed to perish of hunger.
  The Governments confined themselves to handing out pitiful pittances. The English workers who had not long before, during the strike in the building trades, shown an example of solidarity, now, too. took up the cause of organising help. The initiative belonged to the London Trades Council, which appointed a Special Committee. In France also, there was organised a Special Committee for this purpose. The two Committees were in frequent communication with one another. It was this that suggested to the French and English workers how closely allied were the interests of labour of different countries….
  Another event then occurred which was also of equal interest to the workers of the different countries. Serfdom was abolished in Russia (1861). Reforms in other branches of the political and economic life of Russia were imminent. The revolutionary movement became more animated, it advocated more radical changes. Russia’s outlying possessions, and chiefly Poland, were in a state of commotion. The Czar’s government grasped at this as the best pretext of getting rid of external as well as internal sedition. It provoked the Polish revolt, while at the same time, aided by Katov and other venal scribes, it incited Russian Chauvinism at home. The notorious hangman, Nfuraviev, and other brutes like him, were commandeered to stifle the Polish revolt.
  In Western Europe, where hatred for Russian Czarism was prevalent, the rebellious Poles evoked the warmest sympathy. The English and French governments allowed the sympathisers of the Polish insurgents complete freedom of action, regarding this as a convenient outlet for the stored-up feelings of resentment. In France a number of meetings were held, and a committee, headed by Henri Toulain (1828-1897), and Perruchon, was organised. In England the pro-Polish movement was headed by the workers, Odger and Cremer, and by the radical intellectual, Professor Beesly.
  In April, 1863, a monster mass meeting was called in London. Professor E. S. Beesly (1831-1915), presided; Cremer delivered a speech in defence of the Poles. The meeting passed a resolution which urged the English and the French workers to bring simultaneous pressure to bear upon their respective governments and to force their intervention in favour of the Poles. It was decided to provide for an International meeting. This meeting took place in London on July 22nd, 1863, The chairman was again Beesly, Odger and Cremer spoke in the name of the English workers, Toulain in the name of the French. Nothing but the Polish affair was discussed, and they all insisted on the necessity of restoring independence to Poland. On the next day another meeting took place, to which the historians of the International have not paid much attention. It was arranged on the initiative of the London Trades Council, this time without the participation of the bourgeoisie. Odger had been advocating closer ties between English and Continental labour. The problem presented itself on a practical basis English labour had to take note of the serious competition of the French, the Belgian and particularly the German workers. At the beginning of the ‘sixties, the bread-baking industry which was already concentrated into great enterprises was wholly operated by German workers. In the building, furniture and decorative industries there was an influx of Frenchmen. That was why the English trade unionists valued so much any possible chance of influencing foreign labourers who were pouring into England. This could best be accomplished through an organisation which would unite the workers of various nations.
  It was decided that the English workers send an appropriate address to the French workers. Almost three months elapsed, while the draft of this address was being offered to the London trade unionists, for approval. It was written largely by Odger. (Pp. 140-143.)

On September 28th, 1864, the meeting was held that founded the International, Ryazanoff points out that Marx took no part in the initial stages and was only an invited guest to this meeting. Ryazanoff’s attitude agrees in the main with statements of Frederick Lessner in “Recollections of an Old Communist” (page 33), and a letter, addressed by Marx to Engels, translated by Max Beer and published in the “Labour Monthly” in the latter half of 1923. Liebknecht, in his “Memoir” of Marx, bears out a portion of it, but the inference from his remarks is that Marx indirectly inspired the movement. At the same time it is curious and suggestive that Marx should have been invited to the meeting of September 28th. I would quote extensively from each of the above, but I have already overloaded this article with quotations. However, I cannot refrain from some quotations on this point as they illustrate how frail is human testimony where reliance is placed on memory alone. In his letter to Engels Marx says :—
  A certain Le Lubez, a Frenchman, who speaks an excellent English, was sent to me to inquire whether I would take part on behalf of the German workmen, and send a German workman to speak in that meeting. I sent Eccarius, who acquitted himself exceedingly well, while I assisted as a dumb figure on the platform.
Now for Lessner :
  The English committee invited also the Communistische Arbeiter-bildungsverein to this meeting, and at the same time expressed a wish that Marx should attend this international fraternisation of the working men. The Communistische Arbeiter-bildungsverein sent me to Marx. I informed him of the wish of the English workmen, and after some inquiries as to the conveners and the object of the meeting, Marx consented to come.
Now hear Liebknecht:
  This idea [an international association] assumed a more definite form, when in the spring of 1864—and again in April—a delegation of workers came from Paris, which resolved in a conference with German, Polish, English and American delegates to call an international delegates’ meeting for the purpose of founding the ”International Workingmen’s Association,” and to entrust Marx with the preliminary work.
  Five months later, on the 28th of September, 1864, in the memorable meeting at St. James’s Hall, London, the ”International Workingmen’s Association” was founded.
Marx’s letter, of course, was written about the time of the events, whilst both Lessner and Liebknecht were writing over thirty years later.

Beginning on page 183, there is a good account of the struggle within the Inter­national between the Marxians and Bakunin and his followers. I would particularly re­commend this part to the English ultra-Bolshevists. On the same point I cannot refrain from quoting from a letter written by Engels to Marx in March, 1852, in which Engels says : —
  Bakunin has only become of some importance because no one knows Russian. And the old pan-Slav trickery that the old Slav communal ownership can be transformed into communism, and that the Russian peasants are to be regarded as born Communists, will again be widely canvassed. (The Life and Work of Frederick Engels by Zelda Kaban-Coates, published by the Communist Party of Great Britain, 1920.)

On page 155 Ryazanoff quotes certain paragraphs from the Inaugural Address of the International as follows : —
  Considering that the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves ; that the struggle for the emancipation of the working classes means not a struggle for class privileges and monopolies, but for equal rights and duties, and the abolition of all class rule ;
  That the economical subjection of the man of labour to the monopoliser of the means of labour, that is, the sources of life, lies at the bottom of servitude in all its forms, of all social misery, mental degradation, and political dependence ;
  That the economical emancipation of the working classes is therefore the great end to which every political movement ought to be subordinate as a means ;
   That all efforts aiming at that great end have hitherto failed from want of solidarity between the manifold divisions of labour in each country, and from the absence of a fraternal bond of union between the working classes of different countries ;
    That the emancipation of labour is neither a local nor a national, but a social problem, embracing all countries in which modern societies exist and depending for its solution on the concurrence, practical and theoretical, of the most advanced countries ;
    That the present revival of the working classes in the most industrious countries of Europe, while it raises a new hope, gives solemn warning against a relapse in the old errors, and calls for the immediate combination of the still disconnected movements.

Immediately following these quotations, Ryazanoff makes the following remark : —
  A careful perusal of these points reveals how closely the Communist Party of Russia had, in some planks of its programme, followed the theses formulated by Marx.
Now I do not know to which particular programme the author refers, but the pro­grammes I have read have not shown any marked likeness to the above theses. For instance, if one compares the first paragraph in the above theses with the following quotation, taken from the “Resolutions and Regulations of the 9th Congress of the Russian Communist Party” (29th March-4th April) 1920) a remarkable unlikeness will be noticed :—
  The Congress makes it obligatory to all the members of the Party mercilessly to fight that particularly obnoxious form of ignorant conceit which deems the working class capable of solving all problems without the assistance in the most responsible cases of specialists of the bourgeois school. The demagogic elements who speculate on this kind of prejudice of the more backward section of our working classes can have no place in the ranks of the Party of Scientific Socialism.
  Registration of individual output or productivity of labour and the granting of individual premiums, must also be carried out in a way suitable to administrative technical staff. Better conditions must be secured for our best administrators and engineers to enable them to make full use of their capacities in the interests of social economy.
  A special system of premiums is to be established for those specialists under whose guidance the workers can attain the necessary qualifications to make them capable to accept further independent posts.
Or again, take the programme drawn up at the beginning of 1919 on the occasion of the first call for the 3rd International, which invited as participants the ”Syndicalist ele­ments of the workers” and the various national groups of the industrial workers of the world. Paragraph 7 states :—
  The most important method is the mass action of the proletariat, including armed struggle against the government power of capitalists.
This paragraph is made clearer by the first President of the Executive Committee of the International, Zinovief, in a document dated September 1st, 1919, which includes the following paragraph :—
  What we would particularly emphasise is the following : The real solution of the question is to be found, under all circumstances, outside Parliament, in the street. That strikes and insurrections are the only methods of resolute war between Capital and Labour is now clear.“ (The Socialist Review, p. 272, July, 1920.)
Now if there was one thing against which the 1st International set its face determinedly from the very beginning it was the policy of street fighting and the barricade. It was out of matters like this that the struggle with the Bakuninites arose, and moved Marx to state, after the Congress at The Hague in September, 1872 (the last Congress of the 1st International) :—
  A group had arisen in our midst which proclaimed working-class abstinence from political work.
  We deemed it our duty to declare how danger­ous and how threatening such opinions may become for our cause.
  The worker must, sometime, get the political power into his own hands in order to lay the foundation of a new organisation of labour. He must overthrow the old political system that upholds the old institutions unless he is ready like the old Christians—to sacrifice the “kingdom of this world.” (Taken from “The Class Struggle,” Vol. 2, May-June, 1918, No. 3.)
In conclusion, however, in spite of the criticism I have offered of the book, it is well worth reading, and contains much valu­able information in a handy form.

Blogger's Note:
On the matter of the true authorship of Revolution and Counter-Revolution, please see the following article from the May 1936 issue of the Socialist Standard.

Voice From The Back: Green shoots of recovery? (2010)

The Voice From The Back Column from the February 2010 issue of the Socialist Standard

Green shoots of recovery?                           

Financial “experts” keep claiming that world capitalism has recovered from economic crisis and point to the increase in some stocks and increases in bankers bonuses as evidence of that recovery. They completely ignore the mounting unemployment and the repossession of workers houses. Here is a recent example of homelessness in the USA. “That insecurity is becoming more common in the suburbs these days. Officials say that homeless shelters are suddenly filled to capacity, with some suburban communities resorting to housing families in motels, for the first time in years. On Long Island, Nassau County officials have seen the number of people seeking shelter rise by 40 percent compared with this time last year, while in Suffolk, the number of families seeking shelter for the first time rose by 20 percent. In Connecticut, in an annual one-day survey taken in January, the number of people in emergency shelters was 33 percent higher than the year before” (New York Times, 11 December). So while financial “experts” talk of economic recovery thousands of workers in the most advanced capitalist nation in the world huddle into homeless shelters. A typical example of capitalism in action.

Capitalism is obscene

Every day we are confronted by appeals to help the starving, the undernourished and the children dying from lack of clean water or simple medical attention. We are beseeched by well-meaning workers to give a few pounds to this or that charity appeal. It is an every day experience for workers but how do we relate to this piece of information? “Four directors at Paulson Europe, the London-based arm of one of the world’s most successful hedge funds, took home more than £50m last year after successfully betting on the near-collapse of the UK banking sector. The four directors – which include Paulson & Co, the US hedge fund run by billionaire investor John Paulson – saw profits at the partnership rise 37pc to £50.8m in the year to March 2009, according to documents filed at Companies House. The highest paid director, likely to have been Paulson & Co, received £28.6m. The three London-based directors – Nikolai Petchenikov, Harry St John Cooper and Mina Gerowin – split the remaining £22.2m between them” (Daily Telegraph, 7 January). In a society of extreme poverty such wealth is truly obscene.

This Sporting Life

There was a time when sport was supposed to be a pleasant physical exercise. The popularity of association football inside capitalism made it an activity much adored by workers too unfit to play it themselves, but keen to follow the efforts of their local sporting heroes. With the development of capitalism football has just become another business opportunity. Its development more likely to be followed by financial journalists rather than football ones. “Manchester United is exploring a bond issue as part of efforts to refinance its £700m debt, with the English Premier League champions in talks with two banks about how to reorganise its borrowings. JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank are advising the football club on its options. It is one of a number of clubs whose debts have alarmed football authorities. People familiar with the situation said the options under consideration included the issue of high-yield bonds. These would be used to refinance bank debt or payment-in-kind notes – an instrument that allows borrowers to roll over cash interest payments – which helped Malcolm Glazer, the US sports franchise owner, and his family take over Man United in 2005 in a £790m leveraged buy-out. The club would be the latest company to take advantage of the recovery in bond markets to refinance debt” (Financial Times, 2 January). Every activity that capitalism touches it turns into commodities.

Behind the glamour

Capitalism is a society based on deceit. It purports to be based on freedom yet it is a ruthlessly class-divided society that enslaves millions in its quest for greater and greater profits for its owning class. A good example of the facade that is capitalism is the recent completion of the tallest building in the world the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. This 2,717 foot edifice has 600 apartments, 300,000 square feet of office accommodation, the world’s highest swimming pool and mosque. Behind this facade of opulence lies another story. “Many of Dubai’s construction workers live on starvation wages: £120 a month on average for a six-day week, with shifts of up to 12 hours…Construction workers on the Burj Khalifa have rioted on several occasions, including in March 2006, when 2,500 protested at the site, and again in November 2007. A Human Rights Watch survey found a cover-up of deaths from heat, overwork and suicide in the emirate. The Indian consulate recorded 971 deaths of their nationals in 2005, after which they were asked to stop counting” (Observer, 10 January). Death, destruction and exploitation, that is what lies behind this monument to capitalism’s avarice.