Sunday, July 2, 2023

Life and Times: Stray Cats and Gundog Rescue (2023)

The Life and Times column from the June 2023 issue of the Socialist Standard

Every month at least half-a-dozen letters from animal charities come through my letter box. They’re asking for donations in one form or another. It’s my own fault. I’m tempted to throw them in the bin but usually end up sending a small amount of money or buying a book of their raffle tickets.

Save the animals
As an example, for a long time I’ve been paying a few pounds a year to ‘adopt’ a pony from the Bolenowe Animal Sanctuary in Cornwall. I receive a new ‘Certificate of Adoption’ from them every year. Then I make a small monthly direct debit payment to Cats’ Protection and to the Donkey Sanctuary and I usually spend £10 buying a book of the raffle tickets I receive from other organisations such as the Dogs’ Trust, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). In particular I give regularly to an organisation local to me called the Woodfield Animal Sanctuary. It was set up a number of years ago by a retired couple who put all their pension income into buying a piece of land on the Gower Peninsula to rescue and look after all types of stray animals – sheep, goats, cows, horses, dogs, cats and just about everything else. They’re supported in what they do by a dedicated team of volunteers and struggle against massive odds to cope with weather, building upkeep and the sheer volume of animals needing to be looked after. Some of their reports are heart-rending, but also heart-warming, and at the moment their Facebook page tells us they’re competing with dozens of other charities (Perthshire Gundog Rescue, Stray Cats Rescue Team West Midlands, Save Our Spaniels, Holly Edge Animal Sanctuary, Dogs4Rescue, etc) for a share in a £300,000 sum being dispensed by The money is available to those charities that get the most votes from people as being most worth supporting. So Woodfield are sending regular messages to their own supporters encouraging them to vote in their favour so that they’ll get funding they’re desperate for.

Can’t pay, can’t have
Of course, animal charities are just a tiny proportion of the countless others that try their best to raise money for their causes. A short time ago this column focused on homelessness and the work of Shelter, an organisation set up in the 1960s with the avowed aim of solving the UK’s homeless problem within 10 years. In the event it’s still going strong today and in fact exists now side by side with other similar concerns, and competing for funds with them. Homelessness has remained endemic and that will almost certainly continue for as long as we have a system (ie, capitalism) whose accepted norm is ‘if you can’t pay you can’t have’. As everyone knows, for accommodation, as for other vital things, money is necessary or you go without. That is what is fundamental to the system we live under today, wherever in the world we happen to be.

And what is also fundamental is the need it throws up for charities seeking to mitigate the consequences of ‘can’t pay can’t have’. While it’s true that these charities can never do more than paper over the cracks produced at all levels by the inequality inherent in the buying and selling system, it’s also true that they undoubtedly help a lot of people – and a lot of animals – to survive rather than just go under. In this sense we can say that charities are necessary in an uncharitable society, which, by its very nature, is what capitalism is. At the same time charities do not actually solve the problems they engage with – nor can they ever hope to.

The best cause
But this will not stop me from giving amounts of money I feel I can afford to particular ‘good causes’ or from supporting them in other ways. But I’ll be doing so under no illusion that the problem they exist for can be solved by them. And I’ll also be doing it in the knowledge that the very best ‘cause’, the most worthwhile one, is the socialist cause. What I mean by this is that, only when the cause of establishing a cooperative world society of voluntary work and free access, without buying and selling and without money and wages, becomes the first priority of workers everywhere, will we see the only lasting solution to the manifold and never-ending problems that the current system throws up.

So while the humanity, dedication and sheer well-meaningness of the volunteers of the Woodfield Animal Sanctuary, Shelter and many other charities is to be applauded and respected, their efforts can never achieve a remedy to the problems they exist to address. That’s because a social and economic system dedicated to producing profit for the tiny minority is simply not designed to cater for the needs of the majority, let alone for the most deprived members of that majority or for the welfare of animals. Think of the difference it would make if only a small part of all the time, energy and resources people throw into charitable work to try and make a small difference within this system were directed into achieving a society where charity was no longer necessary. How much closer that would bring us to establishing such a society.
Howard Moss

Pathfinders: They shoot grouse, don’t they? (2023)

The Pathfinders Column from the June 2023 issue of the Socialist Standard

Sometimes, when you’ve had all you can take of class war and capitalist bullshit, it’s great to escape to the great outdoors and walk around in the countryside. Although relatively small, the UK has a lot of large empty spaces, from rolling southern downs to immense glaciated northern landscapes, where there’s hardly a soul or a sign of habitation. You can almost imagine you’re in a different country, a different era, even a different social system. In places like that, the frantic pettifogging trivia of modern capitalist life look small indeed.

If you’re doing it properly, like a seasoned all-weather pro, you’ll get rigged out with the right boots, clothing, backpacks and accessories, and be willing to devote years to acquiring an impressive knowledge of local geography, geology, social history, botany and zoology.

But you can also cheat, using your smartphone to find your position and display a route, check the weather, find the nearest open pub, book a campsite, or phone for a helicopter rescue. Best of all, instead of saying ‘Oh look, some interesting flora and fauna, I wonder what that is?’, you can Shazam it.

Music fans will know Shazam, a free phone app that identifies that cool tune you’re listening to in the boozer. You point your phone at the sound source, the app records it, and then matches it against its billion-song database in order to tell you what the song is and who it’s by. Shazam has been around for years, but is still a living demonstration of that Arthur C Clarke remark about any sufficiently advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic.

Most people understand how to use search engines, but this is an example of a ‘reverse search’. Instead of entering a song title to get the song, you ‘enter’ the song to get the title. You can do this with images too. On a desktop, to identify a picture, painting or whatever, you would drag it into Google Images, which will compare it to its own databank of uploaded images, and hopefully give you the title and artist.

Now, with phone apps like Google Lens, CamFind or Veracity, you can simply point the phone at an unknown plant or crawling insect, take a snap, and let the AI figure out what it is, and then point you to a dozen botanical websites or a Wikipedia page about it. The accuracy is somewhat variable, because not all plants and species are photographed and uploaded equally by users, so there is a built-in AI bias. But it’s still pretty good, and of course there are Shazam-like recognition apps for bird calls too.

All this modern AI technology is great fun for us ignorant townies discovering the wilds and learning titbits and vocabulary terms for the first time, while perhaps reflecting philosophically on that vast and ancient lore known to generations of our forebears and now forgotten by most of us.

The trouble is, you almost can’t avoid diving a little too deep into the AI well of infinity, and discovering things you probably didn’t want to know, that cast something of a black cloud over your fine day out.

For instance, the fact that you are hiking ‘over mountains, moorland, heath, downland and common land, without having to stay on the paths’ is not some de-facto given, as it would be in socialism, it’s a legal concession that was only established in 2000, after extended legal battles dating from 1884 over the ‘right to roam’, which involved mass trespasses and mass arrests. Suddenly the world of private property rears its ugly head. Even when you can’t see a single road or farm building, you know that somebody owns all this land, and once fought like hell to keep the likes of you off it (more details here).

The fact that, in the UK, there is an unusual degree of freedom to roam is testament to generations of workers who simply refused to take no for an answer, facing off against landowners who gradually caved in under the pressure. It’s not socialism but it is the way socialism will be won.

Then there’s the vanishing bird problem. With capitalist profit as the goal, pesticide-rich intensive farming displaced traditional mixed farming, and in the process destroyed hedgerows and habitats, leading to a drop in bird populations of 38 million in the last 50 years. Meanwhile intensive battery farming has generated bird flu epidemics, most recently leading to 50,000 UK bird deaths since 2021 (

But accidents like these are part of the law of unintended capitalist consequences. It’s even harder to take when you know it’s deliberate.

Take grouse moors. Why do they shoot grouse? Because you can eat them, and because skylarks are small, fast and bloody hard to hit. Grouse are big, slow and lumbering birds which the idle fox-hunting rich love to massacre from every Glorious Twelfth of August. Know what else eats grouse? Raptors, like hen harriers and falcons. So, to protect the supply of fat grouse for the weekend Bertie Wooster set, the groundskeepers regularly shoot all the raptors out of the sky, even though all raptor species are ‘protected’. Because this is illegal, they typically hide the evidence from investigators (

Raptors have been persecuted for centuries, but capitalism adds its own extinction accelerator effect. The rarer the birds get, the more their eggs are worth to collectors, thus speeding them over the edge. 5 raptor species were wiped out this way, and all the rest are endangered or critically endangered.

All this just for the amusement of a few self-indulgent rich slobs on their weekends away from exploiting the rest of us. And to make matters worse, grouse moors are regularly burned of old growth, destroying ground-nesting fauna and degrading the underlying carbon-storing peat, to make way for new heather shoots which grouse prefer to eat. So, species depletion and carbon release in one glorious double whammy.

The upshot is, even in the wilds of nature, you can never really escape the class war and capitalist bullshit, because it’s everywhere, in the air and water and land and inside your head, cascading like an invisible neutrino storm through all time and space. And it always will be until we collectively abolish it, and extend the ‘right to roam’ to the more general principle of global common ownership and democratic control, with no idle rich calling the shots.
Paddy Shannon

Adam Smith on the origin of profits (2023)

From the June 2023 issue of the Socialist Standard

This year is the centenary of two of the pioneers in the study of what is now called the capitalist economy. Sir William Petty was born 400 years ago in May and Adam Smith 300 years ago this month. Smith is by far the better known but Petty deserves credit for succinctly expressing a key part of the Labour Theory of Value: ‘labour is the Father and active principle of Wealth, as Lands are the Mother’. In other words, wealth is produced by humans exercising their physical and mental energies to transform materials that originally came from nature into useful things.

This was so obvious that Smith took it for granted, as in the opening lines of The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776:
‘The annual labour of every nation is the fund which originally supplies it with all the necessaries and conveniences of life which it annually consumes…’
This is not yet a labour theory of ‘value’ (a theory of what lies behind the price of goods when they are produced for sale) but modern economics textbooks refuse to acknowledge that only ‘labour’ — humans working on materials from nature — creates new wealth. They want a role for ‘entrepreneurs’, as they call capitalists. What they are trying to do is to provide a justification for profits. They could do this, as in fact Smith does, without denying that wealth is only created by humans working on materials from nature, but they are not prepared to accept even this because of its possible anti-capitalist implications.

Smith does in fact go on to put forward a labour theory of value. But, even on the basis that only human work produces wealth, Smith can be shown as accepting that profits derive from what wage-workers produce.

He argues that, in an early stage of economic development, producers did receive the full product of their labour, but once a stock of wealth, in the form of instruments of production and means of subsistence, had come to be owned by individuals, the position changed. The producers had to cede a portion of what they produced to their employer:
‘As soon as stock has accumulated in the hands of particular persons, some of them will naturally employ it in setting to work industrious people, whom they will supply with materials and subsistence, in order to make a profit by the sale of their work, or by what their labour adds to the value of the materials. In exchanging the complete manufacture either for money, for labour, or for other goods, over and above what may be sufficient to pay the price of the materials, and the wages of the workmen, something must be given for the profits of the undertaker of the work who hazards his stock in this adventure. The value which the workmen add to the materials, therefore, resolves itself in this case into two parts, of which the one pays their wages, the other the profits of their employer upon the whole stock of materials and wages which he advanced. He could have no interest to employ them, unless he expected from the sale of their work something more than what was sufficient to replace his stock to him; and he could have no interest to employ a great stock rather than a small one, unless his profits were to bear some proportion to the extent of his stock’ (p. 37, chapter VI of Book I, italics added).
This is Smith explicitly saying that profits come from the value added to capital by the work of those employed, even if he considers this justified by the risk taken by the employer.

He repeats this later when discussing productive and unproductive labour (where he is using the word ‘manufacturer’ in its original and logical sense of someone who makes something with their hands, not its current distorted meaning of ’employer’):
‘There is one sort of labour which adds to the value of the subject upon which it is bestowed: there is another which has no such effect. The former, as it produces a value, may be called productive; the latter, unproductive labour. Thus the labour of a manufacturer adds, generally, to the value of the materials which he works upon, that of his own maintenance, and of his master’s profit. The labour of a menial servant, on the contrary, adds to the value of nothing. Though the manufacturer has his wages advanced to him by his master, he, in reality, costs him no expense, the value of those wages being generally restored, together with a profit, in the improved value of the subject upon which his labour is bestowed. But the maintenance of a menial servant never is restored. A man grows rich by employing a multitude of manufacturers: he grows poor, by maintaining a multitude of menial servants’ (p. 253-4, chapter III of Book II, italics added).
Smith was no socialist and he did advocate laissez-faire capitalism, but this doesn’t detract from the fact that he accepted a theory of wealth which showed that profits derive from what wage-workers produce.
Adam Buick

Adam Smith versus the Adam Smith Institute (2023)

From the June 2023 issue of the Socialist Standard

If Adam Smith has a bad reputation amongst socialists it is not his fault. Marx himself had a high regard for Smith and discussed his views in great detail. It’s the fault of people like those who set up the Adam Smith Institute in 1977 to campaign for governments to give capitalist corporations a free hand to pursue profits as they think fit.

Writing in the middle of the 18th century — he was born in 300 years ago in 1723, published The Wealth of Nations in 1776, and died in 1790 — Smith was a witness to the beginnings of industrial capitalism in Britain. His book was written as a criticism of the policy (known as ‘mercantilism’), pursued by governments in his day, of trying to encourage exports by subsidies and restrict imports by tariffs with a view to building up the amount of gold in the home country. He wanted such government intervention to be ended and advocated instead laissez-faire, with governments letting the market function freely, as the best way to increase a country’s wealth.

Smith believed that he was discovering the natural laws of ‘political economy’ and adopted an objective, scientific approach to the subject. This was what Marx admired in him. He realised that Smith was genuinely trying to understand how capitalism worked, unlike the ‘vulgar economists’ of his own day who were merely ideological apologists for capitalism. His criticism was that Smith thought he was discovering natural laws whereas he was studying those only of one particular, transitory economic system. This was in fact Marx ‘s criticism of the whole school of economic thought that Smith’s book gave rise to, his ‘critique of political economy’ (the sub-title of Capital).

The Wealth of Nations famously begins with Smith’s analysis of the division of labour and how this allows more wealth to be produced, using a pin-making factory as an example (incidentally, a sign of the low level of industrial development in his day). He goes on to examine the concept of ‘value’, distinguishing between ‘value-in-use’ and ‘value-in-exchange’. It is the latter that interests him as a student of economic phenomena. His conclusion as to what measures the exchange-value, or price, of a commodity will come as a shock to some of his modern-day admirers:
‘The value of any commodity, therefore, to the person who possesses it, and who means not to use or consume it himself, but to exchange it for other commodities, is equal to the quantity of labour which it enables him to purchase or command. Labour, therefore, is the real measure of the exchangeable value of all commodities’ (Book I, chapter V).
This was too much for the Adam Smith Institute and has led Eamonn Butler, the Institute’s Director, in his The Condensed Wealth of Nations on their website, to virtually repudiate it:
‘For many commentators, this looks uncomfortably like a crude labour theory of value, which focuses on production costs and overlooks demand. Some argue that it led Karl Marx into his appalling errors about labour. One could defend Smith as just trying to simplify things by talking about an age before land or capital ownership, where labour was the sole production cost, and temporarily ignoring other factors such as land and capital, and also ignoring demand, all of which he goes into later. At best his words are misleading, at worst they are mistaken: but then he was breaking new ground’ (
The ‘defence’ that Smith was writing of a time before there was ‘land and capital ownership’ does not stand up, as Smith explicitly stated that he was writing of a situation when ‘stock has accumulated in the hands of particular persons’. That the Adam Smith Institute should find Smith’s ideas here ‘uncomfortable’ is easy to understand.

Smith can certainly be called an advocate of capitalism, though not of the corporate capitalism we know today and for which the Adam Smith Institute stands. In Smith’s day, if you were a capitalist employer you risked everything should your business fail, as today’s generalised limited liability did not exist. You were personally responsible for all your business debts, so that if your business failed disastrously you could end up in a debtor’s prison. Capitalists take no such risk today; with limited liability, they are only liable for the amount they have invested.

Such companies did exist in Smith’s day but they had to be set up by Royal Charter or Act of Parliament, such as the East India Company. The irony is — at least for those who try to project Smith as a defender of capitalist corporations — that he didn’t like these, for the same reason that the Adam Smith Institute and other free-marketeers don’t like government-run industries: that the people in charge were managing other people’s money and not their own and so wouldn’t be so concerned about avoiding waste and inefficiency; the famous invisible hand would not necessarily move them to act in the general interest.

The only activities in which Smith accepted that ‘a joint stock company’ was justified were banking, insurance, canals and water supply. This is another sign of how undeveloped capitalism was in his day, as the limited liability company is now the predominant form of business enterprise and essential to modern capitalism. The amount of capital required to run a capitalist enterprise is now too large to be raised by a single person (just as canals were in Smith’s day). Which shows that the era of individual capitalist ownership (where most ideological defenders of capitalism seem to be stuck) is a thing of the past, making the individual capitalist owner economically and socially redundant.

It shows that while in Smith’s day individual, private enterprise was viable this has long since ceased to be the case. Today production is too big for that; it is already socialised from a technological point of view in the sense of involving a vast network of producers to produce something. The problem is that control of production is not. This contradiction between socialised production and non-social ownership and control is the cause of today’s economic and social problems. The corporate ownership that has evolved to replace individual ownership is not the answer; in many ways it makes things worse. Nor is state ownership the answer. Both are still forms of sectional ownership. The contradiction can only be resolved by socialism where the means for producing wealth becomes the common property of society as a whole, under democratic control.
Adam Buick

Turkey’s ambivalent elections (2023)

From the June 2023 issue of the Socialist Standard

Turkey’s modern political history is one of genocides, state-sponsored political assassinations, demonstrators machine-gunned by unknown actors or tear-gassed by police and army, and the Left arrested, executed, imprisoned en masse, or forced to flee: all under the ever-present threat of army intervention, with its military intelligence heavily exposed to the CIA.

And elections, such as this one.

Turkish political dynamics express themselves through a multiplicity of parties which then form coalitions to fight elections, which are essentially bipolar. The names of the parties shift as they fracture or are suppressed by the state: compared to European politics there is a bewildering turnover. Since 1982 Turkish courts have suppressed 19 political parties, violating the ECHR’s Convention on Human Rights in almost all cases it has reviewed, mainly for expressing Kurdish political interests. The two main reasons given are that the party is in conflict with ‘the indivisible integrity of the State with its territory and nation’, or ‘the principles of the democratic and secular republic’. This is a fair summary of the vague limits of Turkish political activity, though democracy gets shot on the court steps.

Deep state
Then there is the ‘Deep state’, a term which Turkey originated and Trump merely co-opted. This was exposed to the public in the Susurluk scandal, where a Turkish mafia assassin, his model girlfriend, the Istanbul chief of police, and a Turkish MP, were involved in a car crash (only the MP survived). But it was and presumably is a constant feature of Turkish political life: an unaccountable (except perhaps to the CIA) association of military intelligence, the criminal underworld, and enabling fascist political figures, originating as part of Operation Gladio but with its own autonomy. Its relative strength is demonstrated by its ability to slay those investigating them, including most probably a former prime minister, Turgut Özal, and avoid punishment. Its control of the Turkish heroin trade, worth more than the entire Turkish state budget at the time ($50 billion to $48 billion) accounted for much of their power, as well as their American allies in the shadows.

Closely linked with the military, and formed with its aid, are the ultra-right/fascist party, the MHP, and their youth/terror wing, the ‘Grey Wolves’. Opposing them is a strong ‘communist’ and ‘socialist’ tradition, often fragmented, often suppressed, often imprisoned. Their parties form new initials as quickly as the courts suppress the old ones. Not content to merely imprison them, in 2000-2001 the authorities forced them out of dormitory prison blocks, where they practised actually existing prison communism, into small three-person cells. There were mass protests, hunger strikes and deaths.

Always there is the issue of religion, though the matter is more complex than it appears: one is reminded of the fable of the Wind and the Sun. The state was aggressively secular, and aggressively against minorities, most of whose identity was in part religious. Politically speaking, expression of religious identity was and is thus in part a matter of cultural rather than religious fervour. Also, secularism is associated with wealth, the middle class, and the western cities of Turkey. As the poor agricultural workers of the Turkish heartland migrated to the cities, religion became a defining, comforting feature of their mutual character as they lived in the spaces left to them, in gecekondus (shacks built overnight) or other poor housing.

Then there are the Kurds, Alevi and Sunni. A genocide in the 1930s killed or displaced many Alevis from their home in Dersim, which was renamed, on maps at least, to Tunceli: the very name, ‘Bronze Fist’, of the genocide operation. And there is the ongoing war against Sunni Kurds in the South East. These remain politically relevant. There are many other nationalities in Turkey, but they were brutalised long ago.

Failed coup
Recent history, since the election of Erdoğan’s AKP (Justice and Progress Party) in 2002, has seen several changes within this continuity. Corruption has moved to private industry, where new corporate players have emerged: especially in the construction industry, largely responsible for the Eastern earthquake calamity where their cheap and profitable buildings fell down. The army has been suppressed, with mass show trials in the Ergenekon scandal and others, more so since the failed 2016 coup. From a situation where the Army had the standing power via the National Security Council to suppress civil politics, essentially a permanent coup option, now Erdoğan, their victim in the past and now rid of them, has adopted a similar bullying role as president in lieu of restoring civil society. Fethullah Gülen, master of a ‘parallel state’, a network of civil servants and army officers, once Erdoğan’s ally in the shadow war for the deep state, is now an enemy of the state exiled in the US.

In 2017 Erdoğan strengthened the presidency in a constitutional referendum, granting him powers to appoint and sack ministers and issue executive decrees. And in 2018 the last election was carried out still under the ‘state of emergency’ declared 5 days after the coup attempt. All in the context of war at home and abroad, mainly against Kurdish aspirations but also seeking to gain from Syria’s woes. Turkey has a seat at the table in NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine, and its restive place in NATO is a matter for constant Western scrutiny and cajoling, especially over the Syrian war, and purchasing Russian arms. All in the context of economically bizarre policies that have seen inflation wipe out savings and drive the population to penury. But the most important recent event is the catastrophic earthquakes of February this year, killing 50,000 and leaving 1.5 million homeless. This last was thought to set the context for the election, making Erdoğan’s general misrule an electoral focus in itself that might attract the disaffected/dispossessed right and harden support among the newly homeless in the South East.

Secular opposition
And so to 14 May 2023. There are three main electoral alliances, two standing for the presidency as well, the candidates being Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (AKP) and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (CHP). The ruling right-wing ‘People’s Alliance’ of the AKP and the MHP (Nationalist Movement Party), versus the ‘Nation Alliance’ of the CHP (Republican People’s Party) and five other parties, with support from most other parties from centre-right to ultra-left. There are tensions in both camps – the MHP for example is both virulently opposed to any compromise with the Kurds, such as the current peace process, and also its Turkic ultra-nationalism clashes with Erdoğan’s Islamic dreams. As always though the right is far more cohesive than the centre and left, strange bedfellows united only in opposition: the CHP is the original party of the Turkish state, of Ataturk, and still professes the secularism, nationalism and capitalism that most of its bedfellows in some way disagree with.

The second and only other substantial party in their alliance, the İYİ Parti (Good Party) is a splinter from the MHP, professing to be civic nationalists instead of Turkic nationalists, and good followers of Atatürk: their voter base consists largely of the right wing who are disillusioned with the existing right wing, in other words a classic populist party. This ability of a fragment of the MHP to thus realign leftwards gives some idea of the complexity of Turkish politics, even though most voters will have an imperative which eventually dictates their political choice. The third alliance is the Labour and Freedom Alliance, egalitarian progressives, but almost entirely composed of HDP (Democratic Party of the Peoples) candidates expecting the state closure of their party and so standing as Yeşil Sol (Green Left) candidates. (In the aftermath of the failed 2016 coup more than 10,000 HDP members were imprisoned, including their leaders, on vague accusations of being supporters of terrorism). They are backing Kılıçdaroğlu for president rather than splitting the vote. But while wishing to see the back of the AKP and MHP, they have no reason to love or trust the CHP who when in power suppressed them just as savagely, and so are merely advising their supporters to vote for cholera instead of typhoid in the presidential election.

And the result? In parliamentary terms, Erdoğan’s People’s Alliance has a clear majority, of 322 seats against the Nation Alliance’s 212 and the Labour and Freedom Alliance’s 64. Presidentially also, it would seem that Erdoğan has survived. Neither candidate having 50 percent, the presidency goes to a second round: but with 49.51 percent of the vote to Kilicdaroglu’s 44.88 percent in the first round, the presidency seems all but his to keep. (There was a third candidate, Oğan, with 5 percent, a former contender for the MHP leadership).

The last act will be bruising. Erdoğan used his post-election speech to label his opponents as terrorists, setting the tone. And the earthquake survivors? They have to vote from their registered homes. That means that in order to vote they will have to travel back once more to those ruins from wherever they are billeted in Turkey, at no mean expense of money or time. Exhaustion, as always, tends to work for the incumbent. Time and fate is on Erdoğan’s side.

Bird’s Eye View: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me (2023)

The Bird’s Eye View Column from the June 2023 issue of the Socialist Standard

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me

1865: ‘Instead of the conservative motto, A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work, we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, Abolition of the wage system’ (Value, Price, and Profit, Marx).

1928: ‘Earning a wage is a prison occupation’ (Wages, DH Lawrence).

1965: Workers still ‘…don’t realise that they can abolish the wages system’ (What are your wages?, Socialist Standard).

1 April 1999: Britain gets first legally binding minimum wage of £3 if 21 or under, £3.60 for those over.

1 April 2023: ‘Today’s minimum wage rise by the UK Government will still leave thousands of Scots in poverty, say opposition parties’ (Daily Record, ).

Rich stay rich poor stay poor
‘For more than a dozen years now, Wall Street and corporate lobbyists have blocked both financial executive pay restrictions and a federal minimum wage increase. This speaks volumes about who has influence in Washington — and who does not’ (Common Dreams, 1 April).
Sarah Anderson is being quoted here. She directs the Global Economy Project of the Institute for Policy Studies, is a co-editor of, and champions several measures including a ban on stock options at Wall Street banks. These measures can only be considered revolutionary in that they represent yet another spin on the reformist misery-go-round. As Eugene Debs said in 1913 ‘What the poor need is that the rich shall get off their backs’ (The Oppressed Need Justice, Not Charity).

None so blind

Helen Keller, one year earlier (1912) in an essay titled How I Became a Socialist, wrote of the hypocrisy of self-styled philanthropic elites who assailed working-class radicalism: ‘I like newspapermen. I have known many, and two or three editors have been among my most intimate friends. Moreover, the newspapers have been of great assistance in the work which we have been trying to do for the blind. It costs them nothing to give their aid to work for the blind and to other superficial charities. But socialism — ah, that is a different matter ! That goes to the root of all poverty and all charity. The money power behind the newspapers is against socialism, and the editors, obedient to the hand that feeds them, will go to any length to put down socialism and undermine the influence of socialists’.

‘Who was Karl Marx and What is Communism? . . .'
"Let’s start with where it came from, because ’the roots’ are always connected to ’the fruits’. Communism grew out of the haunted life of Karl Marx (1813-1881), a German philosopher whose life seemed to be shadowed by something dark. Several of his children died before reaching adulthood, he had extremely poor hygiene, he was often covered in painful boils and he could barely keep a job. Marx lived on the generosity of his friend Friedrich Engels. Ironically, Engels got his money from the same capitalist factories that Marx came to criticise. Marx was also known for his infatuation with the prince of darkness himself. In many of his writings he openly expressed admiration for Satan. People around him sensed he was troubled. Even his own father-in-law, worried that the “demon” that pestered Marx would kill his own daughter" (The Stream, 1 April). 
This bad biographical sketch would have Marx spinning in his grave – two years before he died in 1883. And what follows is even worse! Our A to Z of Marxism is concise, fact-based and provides suggestions for further reading.

Pie in the sky
‘Judiciary chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei earlier threatened to prosecute “without mercy” women who appear in public unveiled, Iranian media reported… Describing the veil as “one of the civilisational foundations of the Iranian nation” and “one of the practical principles of the Islamic Republic,” an Interior Ministry statement on Thursday said there would be no “retreat or tolerance” on the issue’ (Raisi says hijab is the law in Iran as unveiled women face ‘yoghurt attack,’ Yahoo. 1 April).
Religion is the badge of the mentally enslaved. It uses a cloak of mystification to reinforce its authority by promising a mythical afterlife as a reward for blind obedience and by making threats of eternal punishment, backed up by intimidation and persecution for those who do not submit. It has been a useful tool in the hands of the ruling classes to keep their subjects subservient.

Keller again:

‘This great republic is a mockery of freedom as long as you are doomed to dig and sweat to earn a miserable living while the masters enjoy the fruit of your toil. What have you to fight for? National independence? That means the masters’ independence. The laws that send you to jail when you demand better living conditions? The flag? Does it wave over a country where you are free and have a home, or does it rather symbolise a country that meets you with clenched fists when you strike for better wages and shorter hours? Will you fight for your masters’ religion which teaches you to obey them even when they tell you to kill one another? Why don’t you make a junk heap of your masters’ religion, his civilisation, his kings and his customs that tend to reduce a man to a brute and God to a monster? Let there go forth a clarion call for liberty. Let the workers form one great world-wide union, and let there be a globe-encircling revolt to gain for the workers true liberty and happiness’ (Menace of the Militarist Program).