Saturday, April 16, 2022

Climate on collision course (2021)

From the August 2021 issue of the Socialist Standard

Infinite growth on a finite planet? That’s a car crash! Problem is, capitalism can’t ditch infinite growth.

Why not? A capitalist business needs to make a profit in a competitive market. This means investing in the latest tech and machinery. If it doesn’t keep up with business rivals, it will go bust. So it needs to take that profit and turn it into more capital to reinvest in future production, future ‘needs’ and future markets. More and more capital, more and more tech, more and more stuff, on and on. Infinite growth is not just about bosses being greedy, it’s the iron logic that capitalism is built on.

Grow, or go under. But as we’re discovering, the price for this growth is environmental destruction.

CAPITALISM CAN’T DITCH INFINITE GROWTH, BUT WE CAN DITCH CAPITALISM.

Think about it. The buying and selling system is old and obsolete. We don’t need it. We have the global tech and know-how to create a cooperative, post-scarcity global system where there’s no buying and selling because everything is free.

Don’t destroy the planet, upgrade it, and solve most social problems at a stroke.


Blogger's Note:
I'm not sure but this looks like the text of a short leaflet.

See also from the same issue of the Socialist Standard, 'Countdown to COP26 - Part 1'.

Something for Nothing (2021)

The Cooking the Books column from the August 2021 issue of the Socialist Standard

‘Large private equity firms have been targeting UK supermarkets, which they view as undervalued and attractive due to their large property portfolios’ (BBC, 5 July). That’s why three different sets of these vulture capitalists were circling Morrisons. It was certainly not because they want to enter the grocery business. Like the BBC says, they wanted the land on which Morrisons’ supermarkets and warehouses are situated which they calculated could be put to a more money-spinning use.

It is not so much commercial profits that they are after as ground rent. Ground rent (not to be confused with house rent, which is a price) is a pure property income that accrues to the owner of land simply because they monopolise a portion of the Earth’s surface. It enables them to extract an income from the industrial or commercial capitalist they let use the land; the better the location and the higher the demand for its use the higher the rent they can extract.

In Volume III of Capital Marx pointed out that one feature of ground rent was ‘the palpable and complete passiveness of the owner, whose sole activity consists (especially in mines) in exploiting the progress of social development, toward which he contributes nothing and for which he risks nothing, unlike the industrial capitalist’ (Chapter 46). At the end of the previous chapter he had described it as ‘something for nothing’.

However, if they are clever, the ground landlord can increase their income from rent if they are prepared to invest some money to make their land more desirable by building houses or shops on it. In addition to bringing them a return on their capital this will increase their ground rent. This is what the aristocratic landowners who own large parts of central London have done. The Cadogan Estate, for instance, which reported recently:
‘Earl Cadogan and his family have controlled about 93 acres of Chelsea and Kensington for 300 years … Retail property accounts for about half of Cadogan’s rental income. A third comes from residential and remainder is offices’ (Times, 1 July).
Their rental income will be partly a return on their investment in the buildings but most will be ground rent (like with houses prices, where most of the price is not for the building but for the land on which it is built).

The vulture capitalists circling Morrisons wanted to get in on this act. They wanted to acquire the supermarket as it ‘owns the freehold of 85 percent of its 497 sites’ (Guardian, 5 July) and to use some of this land to erect different buildings that would bring them more income.

This kind of thing went on in Marx’s day too. Marx quotes the evidence of a London builder to a parliamentary committee in 1857:
‘The builder makes very little profit out of the buildings themselves; he makes the principal part of the profit out of the improved ground rents. Perhaps he takes a piece of ground, and agrees to give £300 a year for it; by laying it out with care, and putting certain descriptions of buildings upon it, he may succeed in making £400 or £450 a year out of it, and his profit would be the increased ground rent of £100 or £150 a year, rather than the profit of the buildings at which …in many instances, he scarcely looks at at all’.
Since the vulture capitalists would be the freeholder (rather than leaseholder as in this case) the whole £400-450 would go to them, as it does to the Earl of Cadogan, Duke of Westminster and Howard de Walden families and other parasites on parasites that ground landlords are.

What is Marxism? (2021)

From the August 2021 issue of the Socialist Standard

Marx himself did not call his theories of history, society and the capitalist economy ‘Marxism’. That would have been arrogant and, besides, to attribute the views he developed to the mind of some uniquely great individual would be contrary to his own theory that social conditions gave rise to ideas that were relevant to the social circumstances and problems of the time. If Marx had never lived, ‘Marxist’ ideas would still have arisen.

Nevertheless, after his death those who agreed with his theories began to call themselves ‘Marxists,’ despite this originally being a term of abuse coined by his opponents, and to call the body of his work ‘Marxism’: the materialist conception of history, with technology and class struggles as the driving forces; his analysis of the economic workings of capitalism as a mechanism of uncontrollable capital accumulation that proceeded in fits and starts; and his insistence on the need for the wage working class to win control of political power in order to establish a communist (or, the same thing, a socialist) society based on the common ownership of productive resources and production to directly meet people’s needs rather than for sale with a view to profit.

Marx himself would no doubt have favoured an impersonal description such as ‘communist theory’ or ‘the theory of revolutionary socialism’. But ‘Marxism’ is the term that, historically, revolutionary socialists have inherited even though it is also a term that others have appropriated or been wrongly identified with, in particular the ‘Leninism’ that evolved in primitively capitalist Russia as the theory of state-led capitalist development in countries with a weak private capitalist class .

Marx foremost a socialist
An important aspect of Marx’s view that academics, even those who claim to be Marxists, tend to overlook, in fact often deliberately play down so that they can treat his views as merely academic, is that he identified himself with an already existing movement to see a communist (or, in later usage, a socialist) society established. As he wrote in the conclusion of his main published work Capital, this society was to be based on ‘cooperation and the possession in the common of the land and of the means of production’ (chapter 32 on ‘The Historical Tendency of Capitalist Accumulation’). He further described it, in some 1875 notes on the programme then adopted by German Social Democrats, as a ‘cooperative society based on the common ownership of the means of production’ where ‘the material conditions of production are the co-operative property of the workers themselves’.

At the present stage in the evolution of human society and technology, a world society in which the Earth’s natural and industrial resources are the common heritage of all humanity is the only framework within which the problems currently facing humanity in general and the wage working class in particular can be rationally tackled and permanently overcome.

This is the next stage in human social evolution, the material basis for which has developed under capitalism, as indicated by such current terms as ‘world market’, ‘world trade’, ‘world wars’, ‘globalisation’ and ‘global warming’. A single worldwide network of productive units already exists, but the ownership and control of these is in the hands of only a small part of humanity, either directly as rich individuals or indirectly via corporations and states. Instead of this network being co-ordinated to produce what the world’s population needs, it is used to produce items of wealth for sale by private and state enterprises, competing to make profits.

Marx in his day
Today, and for the past hundred or so years, this has been an immediate possibility whereas this was not the case in Marx’s day, in the middle of the nineteenth century. Then, capitalism was still in its ascendancy and had yet to fully build up the material basis for a world socialist society. Marx himself recognised this and it led him to take the long view and support what he judged would speed up the development of capitalism, its political forms as well as its spread as an economic system. For instance, he supported the Franco-British-Turkish side in the Crimean War, the North in the American Civil War, independence for Poland as a buffer between Tsarist Russia and the rest of Europe, and independence for Ireland to strengthen the hand of Britain’s industrial capitalists against the ruling landed aristocracy.

This is one source of the distortion of Marx’s view into one that supports the development of capitalism even after this was no longer necessary. Not all went as far as the so-called ‘legal Marxists’ in Tsarist Russia who openly favoured capitalist development by private capitalists, but it was an aspect of Social Democracy and Bolshevism which, both in their ways, favoured – and in practice advanced – the development of capitalism, generally in the form of a state capitalism (state organised production for sale with a view to making a monetary surplus), which they imagined, and even defined, as ‘socialism’. However, state or government ownership is not the same as the common or cooperative ownership envisaged by the movement Marx was engaged in.

Marx supported the further development of capitalism in his day in order to hasten the creation of the material basis for world socialism. Once this had been achieved, towards the end of the nineteenth century, the logic of this position no longer applied. There was no longer a case for those who wanted socialism to support the further development of capitalism; they could now work directly for the immediate establishment of world socialism. The tragedy of the twentieth century was that so few took this position.

This underlines that Marxism is not what Marx did, but his general approach to economic and social development.

Materialist conception of society
Marx’s analysis of society, as set out in the well-known Preface to his A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, has, following Engels, traditionally been called ‘the materialist conception of history’ but it also applies to existing capitalist society and its transformation into world socialist society. It was called ‘materialist’ to distinguish it from the openly ‘idealist’ theories of history that were prevalent at the time, in particular that of Hegel who saw human history as the unfolding of some abstract Idea, though this was also the view of other Christians.

Marx was essentially making the point that the basis of any human society was the way in which its members were organised to satisfy their material needs, to produce the food, clothes and shelter that they needed to stay alive, together with the technology and infrastructure used to do this. As a particular system of production changed, so did all the other ways of social living.

Marx’s materialism was not a denial of the role of ideas. On the contrary, ‘Man makes his own history,’ with humans motivated to act by the ideas they held, even if these arose from the social circumstances in which they found themselves, including, in class-divided societies, the different social circumstances of different classes with regard to production. The driving force of history was struggle between classes, in which a newly arising class championing a new way of organising production challenged an entrenched ruling class that wanted to preserve an established way from which it benefitted.

This view is still valid as a general approach to the study of the past but, more importantly, is of practical relevance for the change from a world capitalist to a world socialist society since it implies that this change of society too will be the result of a class struggle. This will be the last class struggle in history in fact, between the minority class that monopolises the world’s productive resources and the excluded majority. World socialism is going to have to be the outcome of the excluded, majority class pursuing its material interest to establish a society in which the satisfaction of its material needs, indeed those of all humans, will be the direct aim.

Marxian economics
As to Marx’s analysis of the way the capitalist economy works – his ‘critique of political economy’ as he subtitled Capital—this has been confirmed time and again. Marxian economics has proved a better tool for explaining how capitalism works than any other economy theory.

Marx analysed capitalism as a system based on what his first English translator called ‘the self-expansion of value’, value being the basis of the economic exchange value that products of labour acquired through being produced for sale on a market, a concept Marx inherited and refined from the classical political economists Adam Smith and David Ricardo.

When the producers’ ability to work – translated as ‘labour power’ – also became an item for sale due to their being separated from the ownership of land or instruments of production, they produced a value greater than the value of their labour-power, a ‘surplus value’ or, in its monetary form, profits. It was through their work that pre-existing value ‘expanded’, with the production and accumulation of surplus value becoming the driving force of the economic system that Marx called ‘the capitalist mode of production.’

For Marx, this was not a choice by the owners of means and instruments of production but an imperative imposed on them by the competitive struggle for profits that they were engaged in with each other; they were not free agents but cogs in the mechanism of capital accumulation. This competitive struggle for surplus value gave rise to economic laws which acted on economic agents as if they were laws of nature that humans could not change. This has proved to be the case even for governments, which have also had to submit to these economic forces, despite the much-increased role in economic affairs that they have assumed since Marx’s day.

So, capitalism is an uncontrollable, impersonal system of capital accumulation out of surplus value. This, Marx analysed, is not a smooth process. The trend is upward but in fits and starts, with periods of expansion ending in a crisis and a period of reduced production during which the conditions are created for a resumption of the upward trend, which will eventually be stalled by another crisis and slump, and so on in an ever-repeating cycle of booms and slumps. No government, no type of political regime, has ever found a permanent solution to this. The capitalist economic system is simply not amenable to human control. For so long as capitalism lasts Marxian economics will have a future in demonstrating this.

The lesson here is that capitalism cannot be reformed to work for the benefit of all, and certainly not for that of the excluded majority, the exploitation of whose labour to produce surplus value is the basis of the whole system. However, capitalism will not collapse economically of its own accord. It will move uncontrollably from boom to slump and back until the excluded majority organise consciously to put an end to it and move on to the next stage of human social evolution of a united world society based on the common ownership of the planet’s productive resources.
Adam Buick

Material World: Stolen Children (2021)

The Material World column from the August 2021 issue of the Socialist Standard
Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention defines genocide to include: ‘…e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.’
As early as Australia’s Victorian Aboriginal Protection Act of 1869, legislation allowed the removal of Aboriginal people of mixed descent to force them to assimilate into white society. Up to the 1970s, in Australia, thousands of ‘mixed-race’ children were stolen from their mothers by welfare officials. The children were given to institutions as cheap or slave labour, and many were abused. Described as ‘breeding out the colour’, the policy was known as assimilation. In 1997 a landmark report, Bringing Them Home, disclosed that as many 50,000 children and their mothers had endured ‘the humiliation, the degradation and sheer brutality of the act of forced separation… the product of the deliberate, calculated policies of the state’. The report called this ‘genocide’.

The violence against indigenous peoples around the world is truly shocking. It has been a story of stolen lands and of stolen children.

From the nineteenth century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 indigenous children were forced to attend state-funded Christian boarding schools in an effort to assimilate them into Canadian society. And it was justified by the settler-colonialists as humanitarian and for the child’s own good. Far from being protected, indigenous children were regularly victims of abuse. Indigenous children were taken from their families, often by force. They were housed in crowded, state-funded, church-run facilities, where they were abused and forbidden from speaking their languages or participating in any form of cultural practice or activity, and forced to adopt new names and identities. Many of these children were informed that their families had either given them up or had died. To increase the success of removal policies, the authorities would often send the children vast distances from their families and friends.

The system’s purpose: ‘To kill the Indian in the child’. Children in native residential schools were wards of the federal government and consequently came under the responsibility of various religious communities. ‘The use of the word school is a misnomer,’ said Cindy Blackstock, a professor at Montreal’s McGill University and the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society. ‘They were prison camps.’ (tinyurl.com/ychmpdxs)

Intimidation and fear were the teaching tools used to ensure children could not practise their customs and traditions, cutting off any bond to their history.

Conditions were consistently horrendous and distressing, leaving emotional scars on most. Thousands of children taken to the ’schools’ died of disease and other causes. We are only now discovering that many were buried in unmarked graves, to be forgotten as easily as they were neglected.

The Canadian Federal government formally apologised for the policy and abuses in 2008 which its Truth and Reconciliation Commission called ‘cultural genocide.’

The churches also apologised for their roles in the abuse. Nearly three-quarters of the 130 residential schools were run by churches. One, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate which ran the Kamloops Indian Residential School from 1890 until 1969, apologised for what it called the cultural and religious ‘imperialism’ that motivated residential schools, the disruption of families and communities that resulted, and instances of physical and sexual abuse that occurred. At the time, it made no mention of the 215 unmarked graves found at the site, and now admit that they are unable to explain their official records of only 50 deceased children. So it appears to any reasonable observer that the true death rates were being covered up.

Indian Boarding Schools had also been established in the United States with the objective of ‘civilising’ Native American children. The current US Interior Secretary, Deb Haaland, has directed her department to ‘uncover the truth about the loss of human life and the lasting consequences’ of the ‘dark history’ of these institutions.

The Catholic Church, to hide its complicity in the abuse that took place in its institutions, approved of a state law in South Dakota designed to halt survivors from seeking legal retribution from the Catholic authorities, so shielding the Church from any responsibility or accountability (tinyurl.com/y3ccu5fw).

Today, similar policies very much reminiscent of the residential school systems persist but the language is couched in euphemisms. The children are still being ‘taken into care’ for their own ‘welfare’ and ‘protection’.

In 2016, 7 percent of children across Canada were aboriginal, but they accounted for nearly half of all the foster children in the country. In the province of Manitoba, 10,000 of the 11,000 children in care are indigenous and are taken from their homes for reasons such as poverty, bad housing or lack of wholesome food. Capitalist Christian ‘family values’ would rather break up families than fix the problem of deprivation and the underfunding of social services to the indigenous communities.

Even in the UK, we have witnessed the ‘abduction’ of kids due to the prejudice against those deemed different from ‘us’. From 2009 to 2018, the number of Roma children in care in England has risen by 933 percent, a figure disproportionate when compared with other ethnic groups.

Socialists have been accused of standing for uniformity but the advocate of assimilation, intent upon eradicating the lingering traces of pre-capitalist culture, has been and always will be the ruling class, striving for homogenous consumers with a few pockets of indigenous peoples retained as curiosities for the tourist trade. Socialism is not about one-size-fits-all. Communities and cultures will co-exist, in a global cooperative commonwealth that celebrates both diversity and unity
ALJO

Where is Labour going? (2021)

From the August 2021 issue of the Socialist Standard
 

Batley and Spen, a constituency in West Yorkshire, had a by-election on the first of July. There were a number of surprises – most notably, that the seat was held by Labour. The election was taken to be something of a judgment on the Labour Party as a whole, with polling suggesting that it would be a 6 percent lead for the Conservatives (Survation, 18 June). Losing Batley and Spen would have been a particularly painful blow for Labour, as it was the constituency of Jo Cox, the Labour MP who was murdered in 2016 by a neo-fascist, Thomas Mair. Her sister, Kim Leadbeater, won the seat this year by 323 votes (a lead of 0.85 percent of the vote, having won about 35 percent overall). The seat had been Tracy Brabin’s, a Labour and Co-op MP, since the by-election following Cox’s death. Her leads were 16.7 percent (55.5 percent overall) in the 2017 general election, and 8.7 percent (42.7 percent overall) in 2019. While Labour’s holding the seat was unexpected, considering how narrow the victory was, and how the seat has often historically been Labour’s more strongly, this is by no means a turning-of-the-tides.

Workerism
One of the other surprises was that almost 22 percent of the vote went to George Galloway’s ‘Workers Party’, which he describes as ‘the working-class patriotic alternative to fake woke anti-British ‘Labour’’ (Telegraph & Argus, 12 May). The party’s Deputy Leader, Joti Brar, is vice-chair of the CPGB-ML. Whoever they represent it is not the workers. Their website announces that they are a ‘socialist organisation’, but also that they ‘defend the achievements of the USSR, China, Cuba etc’, and that the party ‘believes in the importance of a planned economy, in the directing role of the state. Free-market fundamentalism has gutted Britain of its industries (…) castrating our society and adversely destabilising proud working-class traditions, culture and way of life.’

One would be hard-pressed to find a better example of what one-time leader of the Italian Communist Party Bordiga derided as ‘the typically opportunist conception of the labourist or workerist party to whom all those individuals who are proletarian in terms of their social condition are admitted by right’, to say nothing of the alarming fetishisation of oppressive state-capitalist regimes, past and present.

Socialism’s goal is not to preserve ‘working-class traditions, culture, and way of life’ – on the contrary, in an important sense, it is to abolish those things. We demand the elimination of class, not the extension of the proletarian way of life to the whole of society. Indeed, isn’t it dissatisfaction with the proletarian way of life that gives motivation to socialist sentiment in the first place?

Panic
At any rate, the result was astonishing. Galloway took himself to be ‘standing against Keir Starmer’, and that 22 percent backed the Workers Party, placing it third overall, can reasonably be read as an indictment of the Labour Party as it stands. Indeed, perhaps the only reason Labour didn’t lose is sheer luck. The week before the election, the news broke of then Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s affair and breach of the social-distancing rules he himself set out. This and the Conservative Party’s reaction (or lack thereof) did not reflect well on them, and presumably led to a drop in Tory turnout on the day of the vote. Keir Starmer’s declaration that ‘This by-election is a turning point (…) Labour’s back, and the promise of a better future is back too’ (Guardian, 2 June) is certainly too quick. Indeed, comparing leads over the years, it is not a turning point at all. It is a continuation of the dwindling of victory margins Labour has seen.

Indeed, some of the party’s campaigning tactics showed signs of panic and desperation. Leaflets were distributed showing PM Boris Johnson with the Indian PM Narendra Modi, of the radically Hindu nationalist BJP. This was to appeal to the Muslim vote, especially given continuing human rights abuses in Kashmir, a region disputed by India and Pakistan for generations. The frantic appeal to votes led to some internal division within the party, with Labour Friends of India requesting withdrawal of the leaflets. The vote still remained divided: Kim Leadbeater was heckled and intimidated after being questioned about her stance on LGBT rights, Palestine, and Kashmir (Guardian, 27 June). One man who chased her said he was acting on behalf of Muslim parents concerned about LGBT-inclusive education. Across given demographics, then, Labour has not won many hearts.

Lucky
The victory will, of course, still be welcomed by the Labour party. But it is not a victory that they can take much comfort in. Indeed, looking at it as anything but an immense stroke of luck is probably mistaken. The signs point to a need for change in the Labour Party, if they want to win again – and that change, contrary to what Starmer has suggested, has not already taken place. George Galloway’s Workers Party is an important surprise in the election – Labour would be remiss to not take some note. Handing over 22 percent of the vote to a rival left-leaning party is not a concession they are in any position to make.

Labour’s position is somewhat precarious now, with no signs of a forthcoming reversal in fortunes. The reason they won seems to have as much to do with the Conservatives’ blunders than their own successes. Starmer’s jubilation had better be a mere fa├žade if Labour is to return to serious positions of power in parliament. He writes that ‘Batley and Spen was an important win – in the most difficult of circumstances. But it is only the start.’ Even this might go too far. Perhaps it isn’t the start, but a mere confirmation that Labour is going nowhere fast.
M. P. Shah

George Galloway: would-be Populist Leader (2021)

From the August 2021 issue of the Socialist Standard

On the day the results of the recent Batley and Spen by-election were announced a Labour Party supporter responded to a comment about the meagre majority achieved. He was insistent that the 323-vote margin would have been 8,000+ higher had it not been for the appearance of George Galloway for the Workers Party of Britain.

From a purely psephological point of view the Galloway performance was remarkable for a representative of a small, leftish party. Nearly 22 percent of the vote secured a comfortable third place, a good 7,000 votes ahead of the Liberal Democrat, 5,000 or so behind the winner.

So perhaps the disgruntled Labour supporter had a point, except, of course, there is a large presumption involved. There is no way of determining whether an absence of Galloway and his new party would have resulted in in his 8,000 votes defaulting to Labour. Indeed, the experience of the previous by-election in Hartlepool suggests the Conservative candidate might have been a beneficiary too, especially given Galloway’s pro-Brexit stance.

There is a strong suggestion that Galloway profited from an alienated Muslim vote who may have perceived themselves as being tainted by Labour’s broad brush anti-Semitism accusations levelled at almost any anti-Zionist or pro-Palestinian. It must be galling for a community more often the target of racism to feel themselves viewed as racists by the party they traditionally supported.

There is surely little doubt that the impressive vote was for Galloway personally rather than being an ideological breakthrough by the Workers Party of Britain. He has a background of championing anti-Zionism and favouring Islamic causes. There have even been suggestions that he converted from Roman Catholicism to Islam, although he has denied this.

The Workers Party of Britain appears to be a left-wing manifestation of that recent political phenomenon, populism. On its website the Party states it is a response to a need following the defeat of Corbynism. It believes:
  • The importance of a planned economy directing the role of the state.
  • Free-market fundamentalism has gutted British industry, castrated society and destabilised the working class.
  • The state should guide economic life.
  • The working class needs to be united on shared class interests to struggle for socialism.
  • Countries that have tried to build the socialist new world include the USSR, China, Cuba et al.
  • Brexit is a positive move to secure Britain’s independence to pursue fiscal and monetary policies and take key utilities and transport into public ownership.
There is ‘A ten-point programme for workers’ promoted on the Party’s website that sits easily with left-Labour aspirations. It has garnered the support of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), which situates itself in the tradition of Stalinism and Maoism. Indeed, Galloway’s deputy leader Joti Brar is from a family closely associated with the CPGB (ML). For the Workers Party of Britain the problem is free-market capitalism, the solution… state capitalism.

Galloway has been here before of course. In 2005 he did even better, winning the Bethnal Green and Bow constituency for Respect, a political grouping backed on that occasion by the Socialist Workers Party. A parting of the ways quickly followed and it would seem he has moved from the neo-Trotskyist camp to the neo-Stalinist one. Either way, the prospects for democracy would be dim should such a grouping ever succeed.

Is it a party at all, or a Galloway supporters’ club? It seems highly unlikely that some John or Joan Smith standing for the Workers Party of Britain in Batley and Spen would have garnered anything close to 8,000 votes and their performances elsewhere have been derisory.

Personality politics blurs the line between those who’d style themselves left or right wing. Thus George Galloway was quite sanguine about sharing a platform at a Brexit rally with Nigel Farage. The public moment being far more crucial than principles.

The charismatic leader, or a leader who thinks himself charismatic, becomes all important. A previous attempt to displace Labour as the party of the working class in Yorkshire was the now less than marginal Socialist Labour Party led by Arthur Scargill who tried to politically exploit the prominence he gained from the 1984/85 miners’ strike. Indeed, the CPGB (M-L) was a split from it.

What these parties have in common is being political cul-de-sacs. Setting aside implications of serious democratic deficit in its politics, should the Workers Party actually succeed in displacing the Labour Party nothing much would change for the working class.

With Galloway as prime minister implementing his 10-point plan the workers would still be working for wages that represent only a portion of the value their labour power creates. After all, ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ has successfully created numerous billionaires while the working masses most definitely do not have control of the means of production and distribution.

In other words, the Workers Party in power would replace capitalism with capitalism, and a less successful version of capitalism if some the models quoted on the Party’s website are anything to go by.

The Batley and Spen by-election is a demonstration that there are no answers to the problems created by capitalism for the working class in any of the parties on offer, major or minor, left wing or right wing.

Kim Leadbeater MP made the usual platitudinous vague promises to serve all the community, bring people together and further local interests. Had the Tory won he would have spouted an almost identical speech. Similarly, the LibDem. Galloway would undoubtedly have been more vocally belligerent, but it would have amounted to the same.

This is because community divisions, Brexit, economic decline and the plethora of other problems are rooted in capitalism. The dreadful murder of Kim Leadbeater’s sister Jo Cox, the then sitting MP, was an extreme example of politics under capitalism. It is a system wasteful of human lives that is immune to political point scoring.

The Labour Party supporter decrying George Galloway for undermining the Leadbeater vote remains politically blind, as presently all too many are. There are no short cuts, no inspired leaders, no previous models to draw on. Only a majority recognition of the need for a system of common ownership of economic means, moneyless and cooperative – socialism – can address those problems people have in common, even as they seem to be divided.

Until popular delusions can be effectively dispersed the people of Batley and Spen and everywhere else in the world will continue to labour for the pecuniary benefit of the capitalist few.
Dave Alton