Friday, July 14, 2023

Voice From The Back: Not too blessed (2001)

The Voice From The Back Column from the July 2001 issue of the Socialist Standard

Not too blessed

From the pulpits at the Church of England, the passionate clergyman thunders on about the Sermon on the Mount. The hushed congregation hear the famous words “Blessed are the poor…" ; but not too blessed, apparently. “More than half of the Church of England clergy feel that they are not being paid enough, with one in ten demanding an increase in their stipend of up to 50 per cent according to an independent survey…" A spokesman for the Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union, which represents 1,500 clergy said: “We have never said that the majority of vicars are on the breadline or are having to sell the Big Issue. But they are not being remunerated according to their professional status…”, Times, 16 May. How far from selling the Big Issue can be gathered when the same report informs us that the Archbishop of Canterbury has a salary of £57,000 per annum.

Hit for six

In our youth we used to thrill to boys stories of “sizzling sixes over the tuck shop roof”. The game of cricket, we were led to believe, was the embodiment of sportsmanship and decency. Alas, like everything capitalism touches, cricket is prey to corruption and deceit “Lord Condon’s findings on corruption in cricket, published yesterday may come as a nasty shock to lovers of the game, but hardly a surprise. Ever since Hansie Cronje, the former South African captain, admitted taking money to fix matches, there has been a cloud over the game. Australia, Pakistan and India have had to deal with allegations touching some of their leading players. In asking a former Metropolitan Police Commissioner to look into this, the International Cricket Council took an unprecedented step, but it plainly had no choice. The findings, bluntly, are worse than most people expected. According to Lord Condon, allegations already in the public domain represent only “the tip of the iceberg”. He declares that some players are still acting dishonestly and to the orders of the bookmakers. He links a murder and a kidnapping to cricket corruption, and reports that some witnesses were evidently afraid to speak out. Daily Telegraph 24 May.

Filthy lucre

Socialists are always arguing that capitalism with its wars, poverty and insecurity has outlived its usefulness; but we’ve just found another reason to get rid of it. “US dollar bills are home to dozens of potentially dangerous pathogens. Most US dollar bills are bacteria farms, cultivating dozens of potentially dangerous pathogens, a study in Ohio has revealed. The findings raises the possibility that paper money could be transporting antibiotic resistant bacteria from one area to another, say the researchers.” New Scientist, 24 May.

What is socialism?

We thought our readers might be interested in our socialist email discussion forum, so here we give you a little taster It is from a comrade in New Zealand referring to a comrade’s ideas in the USA in reply to an enquirer in the UK. The American Harry Morrison, writing for the Western Socialist, explained some years ago what socialism is not. “If workers work for wages, it is not socialism. If goods are bought and sold in a market, it is not socialism. If the world is divided into countries, it’s not socialism. Unless every man, women and child has free access to the means of living, it is not socialism.” The comrade in New Zealand, Bob Malone, makes a good point, when he says, “Socialism will only be realised when the majority of people realise that our quality of life is not improved by just how much wealth can he consumed, and that collectively we can build a much better society based on co-operation within and between communities.” (See page two of this issue to get involved).

Soliciting solicitors

The heartfelt cry of the butcher in Shakespeare’s Henry VI — “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” — would seem somewhat severe, but maybe Old Will had a point when we read about the goings-on in modern Israel. “Israel brothel keepers have the right to buy and sell prostitutes in the same way that football clubs transfer players, a lawyer claimed last week. ‘There is no difference between trading football players, hi-tech programmers, or surgeons, and selling women for purposes of prostitution’, Yaacov Shklar, who specialises in defending pimps, told a Knesset committee.” Observer 10 June.

Intensive mortality

“Thousands of people are dying because they are being moved out of intensive care too quickly, according to a study by two London hospitals. Just two more days in intensive care would be enough to save many seriously ill patients, researchers from St. Thomas’s and St. George’s found after analysing the cases of almost 14,000 patients from across Britain". Times 25 May. So, next time that you hear that a friend or a relative is being moved from intensive care into the general ward, don’t heave a sigh of relief, be worried — very, very worried Unless of course your friend or relative happens to be a millionaire receiving the best medical care that money can buy; in that case the move has been dictated by best medical practice and not, as the report says, for purely economic reasons. “One in four of the patients identified as being at greatest risk died on the ward after being released from intensive care. Using a computer, the research team concluded that 39 per cent of these would have survived had they been given two more days special care. But that would require a 16 per cent increase in intensive care beds, which would cost more than £100 million a year.

Editorial: Apathy rules the waves (2001)

Editorial from the July 2001 issue of the Socialist Standard

So the weeks and weeks of posing, posturing and politicking are over. The endless hours of TV reporting and radio coverage and the thousands of miles of newspaper column inches have resulted in just one notable thing: not the return of another Labour government, but the lowest voter turnout since universal suffrage.

What a triumph for the assembled ranks of politicians and pundits! The biggest turn-off in political history and yet no one can say they are truly surprised. After the politicians had spent the previous month stomping up and down the country stirring up apathy wherever they went, the voters turned away in their droves. And then sighed a huge collective yawn as the moment of irrelevance passed.

Out of the barrage of opinion polls to hit the headlines during the election the most interesting was the BBC exit poll conducted on the day itself. Not because of its (fairly accurate) prediction of a Labour landslide, but because it dared to ask a cross-section of non-voters, excluded from the headline figures of voting intent, why they hadn’t bothered. The results were fascinating.

The poll showed that a significant proportion of voters hadn’t bothered to trouble the tellers because they thought the result to be a foregone conclusion. This is obvious enough, as turnout fell most in safe Labour seats and least in Labour-held marginals where there was a real chance of the Tory Party making a gain. Nevertheless, this is enough to account for only a fraction of the mammoth drop in turnout from the fairly dismal 71.4 percent in 1997 down to the record low 59 percent this time around.

The main reason for the drop in turnout is evidenced in the fact that 77 percent of respondents in the BBC survey said that they wouldn’t be voting because they viewed the parties to be essentially “the same”. Allied with this was the supporting view that politicians of all persuasions “couldn’t be trusted”.

Herein lies the reality of the situation, something that socialists have been arguing for many years and which now appears to be the established perspective held by a very sizeable sector of the working class of wage and salary earners. The fact that it appears to be held particularly strongly by former Labour voters too is significant. A 34 percent turnout in a Labour heartland constituency like Liverpool Riverside is evidence enough that Labour can no longer rely on a solid working-class vote, for in areas of previously bedrock support it is viewed as being essentially no different to the Tories.

There are still many who argue that Labour is “the lesser evil” but their numbers are dwindling – literally, in fact, as there were nearly three million fewer Labour voters this time round compared with when Blair first got in. Ten and a half million votes, in fact, would have been a humiliation for Labour years ago – as was the case when Neil Kinnock got just short of this for Labour in the Thatcher landslide of 1987. In 2001 it is enough to be heralded a landslide.

In reality, of course, it was a landslide in name only and Blair knew that only too well. It was etched on his face at his count in Sedgefield as he heard his personal vote drop by several thousand. There is clearly now a large chink in the armour of New Labour and it is only the ineptness of the opposition provided by the other mainstream parties that has stopped Labour from becoming a true laughing stock, most of all among the Party’s most “natural” supporters.

In the months to come we promise that we shall be monitoring the continued progress of New Labour – if progress is the right term – and subjecting them to the closest scrutiny from a socialist perspective. For the Labour Party has tricked and bamboozled the working class for too long. Now that the trick is wearing thin, we will do all we can to expose what Labour is really about and the interests Labour is keen to defend. We do this in the hope that next time the refusal by millions of voters to back the bamboozlers of the working class will turn into something more positive and pro-active than mere abstention.

In the News: No breakthrough for Trotskyism (2001)

From the July 2001 issue of the Socialist Standard

“One of the few exciting stories of this election, largely untold, is the emergence of the Socialist Alliance/Scottish Socialist Party as a credible alternative to Labour,” wrote Mark Steel, expressing the hopes of a section of the London leftwing intelligentsia, in an election day article in the Independent. If he really believed this, when the results came in he must have been as gutted as the Tories.

The SA put up 92 candidates. They got in total around 57,500 votes (i.e. about 625 per candidate). Rather than becoming the fourth party in England, as they intended, they ended up 8th, after the Greens, the UKIP and the BNP. Their only consolation was to have done better than Arthur Scargill’s SLP which put up 114 candidates and only got around 55,000 votes (or about 480 per candidate). It is true that in Scotland the SSP did rather better, with its 72 candidates totalling some 73,000 votes, or 3 percent of the total vote in Scotland.

We are not rejoicing over this failure since we know that it is also a reflection of the popular reception to the word “socialism” which rubs off on us. Of course neither the SA/SSP nor the SLP stood for socialism. Indeed, it was their traditions – respectively, Trotskyism and Stalinism – that have done so much to discredit the idea of socialism by associating it with a state-run economy run by a vanguard party.

The other tradition responsible for discrediting the word “socialism” is Old Labour, but it was precisely as a revival of this that the SA set out to pass itself off as. The SA was an electoral coalition of normally warring (and still mutually suspicious) Trotskyist sects which had come together to create a front organisation which, if it got off the ground, would become a new Labour party which they could then all infiltrate as they did Labour in the good old days. The SA programme was thus consciously constructed to be openly reformist so as to appeal to Old Labourites. In this it succeeded remarkably.

The title of its manifesto People Before Profit encapsulated the reformist illusion perfectly. Just as their other slogan of “Tax the Rich” assumes the continued existence of the rich, so “People before Profit” assumes the continued existence of the profit system but where the government would intervene to try to make it work in the interest of wage and salary workers. As we know from the experience of Labour governments, this can never work.

The profit system can only ever operate in the interest of the class of profit-takers, and any party which takes on the responsibility for managing its political side will inevitably end up doing this on its terms, finding itself obliged by economic circumstances precisely to put profits before people. In the end such a party, far from transforming capitalism into a new society, itself becomes transformed into an ordinary pro-capitalist party. That’s the explanation of the repeated failure of the Labour Party in government and of its eventual transformation into New Labour.

The Trotskyists who drew up the SA’s detailed programme of promised reforms of capitalism showed no imagination. They weren’t even promising anything new, but largely the restoration of reforms that had once existed but had been whittled away by the workings of capitalism since the 1970s. Thus their manifesto of “pledges” (they played the promise game just like any party of conventional politicians) consisted of “say no” to this and “bring back” that. But perhaps, when you’re pretending to be something you’re not, the tendency will always be to overdo it.

There is another possible explanation. That the SA’s reformist programme wasn’t a cynical ploy, but that they genuinely believed in it. In that case they would be genuinely Old Labour reformists. This could be the case but the arguments socialists had with them on the streets and at meetings suggest that they did indeed have a hidden Leninist agenda of violent insurrection led by a vanguard party (but that they couldn’t agree which one of them it should be). So perhaps after all it is reassuring that they did not emerge as a credible, reformist alternative to New Labour.
Adam Buick

In the News: Oldham (2001)

From the July 2001 issue of the Socialist Standard

The workers of Oldham were battling in the streets, against each other and against the police, for three days from the 25 to 28 May this year. The poisonous despair, powerless and poverty of the area, caused in large part by the decline of the town’s traditional textile manufacturing industry, lead to workers turning upon one another. Differences in skin colour and culture became the focus for the pent-up energies and frustrations engendered by these social conditions.

The spark was, apparently, the provocative actions of followers of the British National Party and their ilk, who damaged property and harassed and attacked brown skinned workers, seemingly without reprisal from the police or authorities. Their targets eventually responded to the provocation, coming out onto the streets to fight them. As a part of the conflict, the unfortunately named Live and Let Live pub was attacked, and windows in the area were bricked. The police turned out in force, and a series of running battles ensued, leaving some 25 workers (including police officers) injured.

The centre of the trouble was the Glodwick area, with groups of up to 500 workers throwing petrol bombs and firecrackers at the police lines. Over the three nights of clashes a post-office was looted and the offices of the local newspaper became the target for firebomb attacks.

It has been suggested that the trouble was stirred up by the British National Party, as a part of their election campaign in the area. The BNP advocates divisive confusionist policies, based upon the scientifically absurd idea of racial differences. Its leader Nick Griffin, their candidate in Oldham West & Royton, advocates communal separation, along the lines of the so-called “Peace Wall” in Londonderry/Derry. This is supposed to be the only way of ending the allegedly irreconcilable differences between people of different “races”.

Their campaign turned out to be highly successful, with workers continually let down by the promises of reformism and the lack of any prospect for change from any other parties, being attracted to the radical posturings of Griffin’s band of would-be leaders. Their promises, geared toward insularism, putting a mysterious group called “The British” first, by protecting their “homeland” and ending their unemployment by prohibiting “foreign” products, attracted a high number of votes for such a small party. In Oldham West and Royton the BNP recorded 6,552 votes (16.4 percent) and in Oldham East and Saddleworth they scored 5,091 votes (11.21 percent). Each total is almost twice the entire number of anti-capitalists who turned up to the London Mayday event.

Naturally, the left is outraged. One commentator in Socialist Worker expressed shock that police refused to prevent the BNP members canvassing for their candidates, stating it was “perfectly legitimate election activity”. Presumably, the SWP must believe that the state should be allowed to vet and permit candidates’ campaigns.

They and other groups blame the failure of leaders, Socialist Worker observed that Oldham workers couldn’t identify with Many-Homes Meacher (their MP), and no-one in power listens to them but instead neglects them; while Militant noted that “the community leaders should be fired” for being out of touch. The problem, apparently, lies with the leaders and not the social system. Michael Meacher himself blamed William Hague and his “foreign land” speech for stoking up xenophobia.

Of course, the leftists see the fascists as rivals for leadership, and are thus happy to join with liberals in relying on emotive tactics and censorship to impede them. Such tactics back-fired badly at the announcement of the vote, because the local council forbade any candidates from speaking. This allowed the fascists to pose before the television cameras, wearing t-shirts proclaiming “Gagged for telling the truth”, and sporting large and visible gags in their mouths. This played into their victim posture, along with their attempts to claim they were trying to defend “whites from racism”. It also effectively prevented anyone from being able to hear how ridiculous their policies really are.

Liberals and leftists alike will not debate fascists, because they have no real answers to their arguments. They both support nationalism and its logic, albeit qualifiedly. Their differences with the fascists are those of degree not of quality. After all, the SWP has unfurled openly reactionary banners by merging with the Scottish Socialist Party whose slogan is “for a Scottish Socialist Republic”, the capitalist politics of national self-determination. What is the differences between “moderate nationalism” and “moderate racism”? Both are absurd creeds used to mystify and divide the workers.

The SWP calls upon workers to “turn anger on the real enemy”, by which they mean not the capitalist system, but the fascists. It means a futile programme of continually trying to suppress the manifestations of fascism, without destroying its root cause: the fallacy that workers share in some national interest. Without that understanding then the privations of capitalism will always lead to workers misidentifying the cause of their problems as not the capitalist system, but other workers.

Dividing the workers against the fascists will not ultimately bring the resolution of these problems, nor will simply appointing a different set of leaders to save us. Only the clear understanding that workers of all types share a common interest against the capitalist system, and that its replacement with socialism will end the social conditions that breed such violence will be of any use to us. That understanding will only come about through trusting the workers to think for themselves, instead of trying to crush the fascists with state power or street politics.
Pik Smeet

In the News: Nobody cares about you! (2001)

From the July 2001 issue of the Socialist Standard

So, has anything positive come out of another instalment of British capital’s election farce? Well, 41 percent of those eligible to vote on 7 June turned their backs on it altogether. The representatives of capitalism and the media have done no end of moaning about our “apathy”, but then, of course, they are never going to give workers the credit that we might actually have seen through capitalist political “democracy”. So, maybe we can talk of rejection rather than apathy. But are there any positive challenges or alternatives coming from the working class?

Any readers from the Bristol area will have seen the posters and stickers stating “Nobody Cares” and “Vote Nobody”. Well, on 3 May (the date council elections were originally meant to take place) people in the Easton area of the city did indeed really have the chance to “Vote Nobody”. Thousands of forms were delivered ahead of an “election” held at Easton community centre, where those voting had a choice on the question “who do you want to run Easton?” between Bristol City Council and “Nobody”. 150 local people participated, with the result being Council – 5, “Nobody”– 145. The Nobody campaign then “derecognised” the council and invited people to meet on Thursdays at the community centre, at an assembly where they could discuss local issues. There are now a few “You are now entering free Easton” signs to be seen around the area.

As reported in the Big Issue South West (April 30–May 6 edition): “We’re telling people to ‘Vote Nobody’ for two reasons,” said campaign spokesman ‘Nobby O’body’.
“Firstly, we want to ridicule the idea that democracy is working. Democracy isn’t about ticking a box every four years to choose between a few cloned candidates whose manifestos say almost exactly the same thing. Secondly, on a more serious level, if the council is failing local people, we believe that the community has a right to say that it doesn’t recognise the council’s authority any more”. (The Vote Nobody campaign can be accessed at:
The “Nobody” team then went on to encourage people pissed off with the political con-game to express themselves by writing “Nobody” across ballot papers in the general election on 7 June. Spoilt ballot papers? Sound familiar?

Yes, in this respect there is more than a little common ground between the Socialist Party and the Nobody team in the elections just gone. We were both saying, if you are opposed to all the political con-merchants and the capitalist interests for which they stand – why vote for any of them? Why not vote for yourself, for a change, rather than just saying “voting changes nothing”? Why not vote “Nobody”? Or, better still, as we support the use of the vote as a potential revolutionary form of political expression, write “world socialism” across your ballot paper?

Both the world socialist campaign and “Nobody” rejected all the parties of capital. And, in the case of the 3 May Easton “referendum”, the Nobody campaign was perhaps tentatively exploring the sort of community/workers’ councils embodying direct working class democracy that would be vital in any future social and political movement for socialism. In our case though we are slightly more specific that this must be accompanied by electoral action to win control of parliament for the revolutionary working class. This in order to neutralise the capitalist state and its forces of repression, express the revolutionary desire of the working class majority and formally dismantle capitalism and its state apparatus. These, of course, are questions and situations for the future. But at least we have seen in Bristol, for any criticisms that could be made, a positive reaction to the evident failure of capitalist politics of all shades to work in the interest of the working class and their communities.

Local Socialist Party comrades delivered our own “anti-capitalist guide to the general election” leaflets to homes in Easton, putting our case for the rejection of capitalism’s election charade and for the rejection of the capitalist system entire – and for self-organisation to build a free society based on the principle of from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs. So let’s put self-emancipation and the abolition of capitalism on the agenda. Let’s vote for ourselves for a change, and act for ourselves for a change – turning “apathy” into positive action.
Ben Malcolm

“Money na hand before the chop” (2001)

From the July 2001 issue of the Socialist Standard

For many years we have read about hunger in Africa. Newspaper headlines and television news have been saturated with gruesome scenes of corpses; and pictures of emaciated women and children standing helplessly before NGO officials waiting for food to be doled out to them. Sudan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia have all experienced famine unparalleled in the history of the continent for the past forty years. Again we have seen statistics that show more than 800 million of our fellow humans suffering from chronic malnutrition; that on any day 1.3 million will go without food.

While these statistics are extremely shocking we can still find governments that pursue policies that are nothing less than obscene – ordering the destruction of food and paying farmers to take land out of production in order that prices can be kept high. The June 1999 issue of the European Voice, for instance, reported that the EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler was expected to propose a doubling of the proportion of arable land to be left uncultivated. Experts predicted that he was going to put forward a proposal to set aside 10 percent of land in the 1999 season, because the 5 percent level in previous years had failed to prevent soaring cereal production, causing a sharp drop in European Union market prices. This, according to the experts, forced the institution to buy in large amounts of surplus wheat and barley at guaranteed prices. Surplus stocks stood at about 15 million tonnes. “We estimate that if this rate of 5 percent is carried over into the next year, they will rise to 25 million tonnes,” Franz Fischler said. If this is not abominable what else can it be?

The Roman Catholic Church, charity organisations and NGOs may do their bit to soothe the pangs of hunger, by distributing milk powder, yellow corn and beans here and there. This would not be bad. But their work would not be addressing the fundamental cause of hunger. They would only be treating the symptoms of a malignant tumour which has deeper roots. The problem is the capitalist system of production whose article of faith is “money na hand before chop” (pay before you eat). It is a system many governments believe can be made to run in the interest of all, i.e. of both rich and poor alike. Thus the New Patriotic Party in Ghana refers to building a prosperous nation by creating wealth and sharing on the basis of private capital. The question is, is it possible to abolish hunger when a tiny minority own the means of production? In other words, is it possible to abolish hunger under the global profit system? The answer for me is no.

Need to make a profit
The fundamental reason for capitalist production is to produce for the market with a view to making profit. This overriding interest in profit does not change, no matter in which economic sector production is carried out. In agriculture, production is not carried out because people need food. Of course needs are not completely ruled out in the process of capitalist production. They are met albeit inadequately for the producers and more than sufficiently for the owning class, otherwise human society would perish. The point, however, is that this is marginal to the main focus of the market economic system, which is the accumulation of capital. But capitalist enterprises can only accumulate capital if they stay competitive by adding value to their products. So the market is also important in the capitalist system of production because profits can only be realised from a commodity if it is sold in a market and converted to money. It is also the reason why enterprises would go full hog to hoodwink people through deceptive adverts in order to sell their products even if they are shoddy and injurious to the health of the consumer. Most of these profits are then reinvested in production so increasing the size of the capital the enterprise controls. This is an imperative that is imposed on all capitalist enterprises by their competitive struggle for profits. In this competition capitalists are not reluctant to use the most base methods of survival – forgery, swindles, bribery, lies and extortion. Capitalists become like a pack of wolves wrangling over the prey – anytime ready to tear each other by the throat. Emile Zola, a French writer, put this dog-eat-dog scenario in perspective when he said:
“In these battles for money, secret and vile, where the weak are disembowelled, there are no longer bonds, kinship or friendship. It is the cruel principle of the strong, who eat others or else they will be eaten themselves” (L’argent, Francois Bernaud, Paris 1928, pp.339-40).
An irrational and cruel system such as capitalism is not a productive and distributive system concerned to ensure that bellies are full. Food is not produced because people need it to survive, but because the owners of land other means of production need to make profit. Also, no account would also be taken of whatever method is used to produce such food, i.e. whether it is ruinous to the environment or not. Chemical fertilisers and pesticides are used in agriculture, animals injected with hormones, and fertile lands used to grow coffee and tobacco instead of millet or maize. One’s ability to access food is through ownership and money. Amartya Sen underscored this point in a study he undertook for the ILO when he pointed out that starvation is a function of entitlements and not of food availability.

In the developed capitalist countries of Western Europe people get money to pay for their food in two ways. They either milk other people or allow themselves to be milked, depending on the position they occupy in relation to the means of production. So one’s ability to eat and make a choice of what one wants to eat depends on money. This is a property claim in that the exchange of money for food is a property transaction involving the exchange of equivalent values.

In underdeveloped countries like Ghana, Ethiopia and Bangladesh, the situation is not exactly the same. There is a category of people that can have access to food without necessarily selling their labour output to others. Such people can have access to food without money because they directly own and work the land. But, here again, one realises some concurrence between what pertains in the sense that it is either ownership or non-ownership of the means of production that determines the ability of a person to have access to food. There are others according to Amartya Sen whose ownership arise from money obtained from petty trading. The loud noises made about the scarcity of food is not entirely justified. There is a lot of food in Ghana and most other developing countries; but the fundamental problem is whether the propertyless masses can afford to pay for it.

No solution within market system
With the opening of the Ghanaian economy to unbridled market forces, the market stalls are stocked with a variety of food items – burgers, cheese, honey, ham, frogs’ legs, etc; but the poor can only cast desirous looks at them and pass by. In spite of the glaring inequalities and obvious contradictions in the market system, the New Patriotic Party government and other governments in Africa, together with imperialists frontal organisations like the IMF and World Bank believe that it can work in the interest of all – poor and rich alike.

Whether this type of thinking is born out of a genuine lack of understanding of how the capitalist system works is not the main thrust of this article. What is of concern is whether the market system can solve the perennial food shortages that continue to affect hundreds of millions of people in Africa and other parts of the world, including those in the capitalist metropolis. The myth surrounding the capability of the capitalist system to feed the hungry and abolish hunger was demythologised many years ago when Henry Kissinger made a promise to the world food summit that this was indeed possible. At the time there were 400 million chronically malnourished, a 75-million increase over the previous ten years. Yet Kissinger had an almost sanguine expectation that this would happen. He swore world hunger would be eradicated without considering the eradication of the most fundamental cause of the problem – capitalism. Twenty years after Kissinger’s promise the situation has more than worsened. The number of poor and hungry people has since doubled; and experts believe that not even the best of efforts could improve the situation in the next thirty or so years.

Many more years to come we will continue to witness many more of such summits and conferences all purporting to examine the phenomenon of global hunger and find lasting solutions to it. A lot of bilge will be thrown up as solutions to the problems, but you can bet the last coin in your pocket that no remedy will be found. This would not be because there is no solution. It would be because there is one solution which is distasteful and horrifying to governments whose role is to facilitate the running of the capitalist state machine. It is socialism.
Adongo Aidan Avugma

Socialist election result (2001)

Party News from the July 2001 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Socialist Party contested one seat in the General Election, Jarrow. The result was:

Hepburn (Lab) 22, 777; Selby (LD) 5,182; Wood (Con) 5,056; Badger (UKiP) 716; Le Blond (Ind) 391; Bissett (Soc) 357.

The turnout at 54.6% was 14.2% down on 1997.

So in fact the abstentions — 28,000 — outnumbered the votes of the winning candidate.

Capital study group (2001)

Party News from the July 2001 issue of the Socialist Standard

We will soon be restarting our studies of Karl Marx's seminal work, Das Kapital. And we'll be starting from the beginning of Volume 1, so you've not missed anything.

Please note that these study groups are very popular and are often booked up weeks in advance. To avoid disappointment, ring to save your place NOW.

Tel Stuart on 07785 106*** or email: