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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Against David Blunketts right wing youth volunteer scheme

This piece below is a example of what labour and tories have in store for our youth and their way of dealing with the riots as they put it. They see it as a break down in responsibility and a lazyness of the youth to do anything with their lives. Their disgraceful vile and smears of young people in this piece below i totally condemn but wanted to highlight it as it is not just tories proposing these ridiculous hard line right wing ideas. It is labour too. David Blunkett represents labour and as so we can assume they would be in support of such a proposal. For a labour polititian to be writing in the Daily Mail says much for how far to the right they have shifted over the years and how far they cannot be trusted by working class communities.



David Blunkett today launches an ambitious plan for a national volunteering scheme to help restore the values of duty and respect among teenagers.
The former home and education secretary said a major programme was needed to tackle the growing ‘culture of irresponsibility’ among young people which was exposed after the riots that rocked the country this month.
Speaking to the Mail last night, the senior backbench Labour MP said the riots showed many young people had a ‘severe disregard for property and community’ and lack the ‘ethics of personal responsibility’. He added: ‘I was horrified that people could get involved in the wanton destruction of their communities.
‘The culture of irresponsibility is growing. The neighbourliness, the extended family, the reinforcement of positive values have been eroded very badly over the last 50 years.
‘We have an opportunity to do something now that will make a difference in the long term.’
His blueprint for a National Volunteer Programme proposes giving hundreds of thousands of youngsters nine-month community service-style placements costing £7,000 each.
people who won't sign up should be denied benefits)
A deeply divided kingdom: Scots each get £1,600 more state cash a year spent on them
Individuals who signed up would help elderly people, clean up their local areas and do other good works.
In return they would be given money off university tuition fees or job training. Anyone who refused could have their benefits taken away.
Writing for the Mail, Mr Blunkett said the Government shouldn’t ‘bankroll’ those who refuse to face up their responsibilities.
The scheme would help tackle the problem of workless households and give young people out of work and not in education a ‘reason to get up in the morning and a pattern of daily life,’ Mr Blunkett said.
The scheme would help the young people involved in the riots. Some are seen here looting a Carhartt store during the disturbances
In the long term, it could be paid for by selling off the Government’s stake in the RBS and Lloyds TSB banks, which were bailed out during the financial crisis, he suggests, although recent falls in the stock market mean the value of these shares has fallen.
Mr Blunkett said the scheme would, like national service in the Fifties, become a rite of passage for young people growing up in Britain.
It is needed because the institutions that traditionally helped instil values, such as the Church and the traditional two-parent household, were ‘in decline as instruments of moral guidance’, he said.


This article is a disgrace in so many ways it is like forced labour and it isnt even paid. It is much like slave labour i'd suggest. Forcing the youth into work that is unpaid and threatening them if they do not take this they could have their b enifits removed is a absolute disgrace. Makes my skin crawl to hear things like this and hear polititians suggesting schemes like this. But i am not surprised at the same time. Blunkett and is labour mates have been on a rightward course for years now and this is as close to a tory idea as ever i saw one.

This scheme if it or anything similar comes to reality must be rigoursly opposed and fought with the upmost urgency. The trade union labour movement should take a lead now and start the ball rolling in representing young people. Offering them a alternative for young people to get behind. They have let our youth down too by offering no such alternative to cuts, unemployment, homlessness and a life on benifits.

It is now time the labour movement stood up for what is right and condemns labour and plans like this and stands with these young people who have been marginilised from society.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Time to Defend abortion rights again

Shona McCulloch, Brighton Socialist Party
The 1967 Abortion Act legalised abortion in Britain and went a long way in freeing working class women from dangerous and often deadly 'backstreet' abortion techniques - but not in Northern Ireland where the act has never been implemented.

The 1967 Act, combined with other advances such as the introduction of the contraceptive pill, was a huge step forward for women, giving them some control over their own fertility for the first time. Unfortunately, just like all other victories won under capitalism, we have to fight to maintain them.

Recent weeks have seen an escalation of reactionary attacks on the gains won by women during the last century. The most visible of these has been the avalanche of deeply offensive rape-victim-blaming, with some politicians and police falling over each other to suggest that women (and even children) who have experienced sexual abuse were somehow 'asking for it'.

These same politicians, most notably reactionary Tory MP Nadine Dorries, have also been plotting policies to roll back the clock on women's rights. For example, Dorries is pushing for abstinence education for girls in schools and abortion rights are again under attack.

The Con-Dems' new Sex and Relationship Advisory council includes groups, some religious, which advocate abstinence-only sex education, are explicitly anti-choice, and discriminate against Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) people and single parents.

The new council includes the anti-choice group Life, which opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest. Notable in its exclusion from the council is the highly reputable British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPas), an independent organisation which provides both counselling (after which, 20% of women decide against termination) and abortion services.

In an attempt to destroy women's access to services like BPAS, Dorries has teamed up with Labour MP Frank Field and proposed an amendment to the government's now infamous Health and Social Care Bill (itself intended to tear up and privatise the NHS).

The proposals will make counselling compulsory rather than elective for any woman seeking a termination and also ensure that no provider of abortion services can provide counselling services.

This is an attempt to subject women to forced counselling from anti-choice organisations like Life before being granted access to abortion services. Right wing politicians have tried to justify the move as supposedly ensuring that no "conflict of interest" arose - this from a government who invited McDonalds and PepsiCo to advise on nutrition!

The Department of Health has recently issued an ambiguous statement implying that the Con-Dems may try to implement these anti-choice measures without a vote, stating "we do not believe it is necessary to set out this requirement in primary legislation". We must not stand for these attacks, even if a majority of MPs vote for them.

Unhindered access to abortion, free at the point of delivery, is a basic freedom for women which must be defended. However, freedom of choice depends in all cases on the material conditions an individual finds themselves in.

Even if we defeat Dorries and Field and secure free access to abortion, a woman in Britain today may not feel free to carry a pregnancy to term as she sees the NHS, pregnancy and child benefit, EMA, welfare, schools, jobs, housing and access to higher education being cut back viciously.

The choice over when and whether to have children will only be truly free when everyone can be confident that they and their children have secure access to a good standard of living and when high quality, evidence-based sex and relationships education is given from a young age.

To enable women to have a real choice in when and whether to have children we demand:
No cuts; scrap the Health and Social Care bill
Free abortion on request; end the need for two doctors' agreement
For a fully funded, democratically controlled National Health Service, no privatisation
Access to free fertility treatment on the NHS for all those who need it
Public ownership of the pharmaceutical industry
Access to free, safe contraception including emergency contraception; a reversal of the cuts in family planning services and a massive investment into sympathetic youth advisory centres
Improved sex education in all schools
Information campaigns on contraception
A decent living minimum wage and investment in job creation
A network of publicly funded, good quality, flexible childcare facilities
Maternity and child benefit to reflect the real cost of pregnancy, childbirth and bringing up a child
The right to adequate parental leave
A massive increase in spending on housing, education and other public services
A democratically run socialist society, planned to meet social needs rather than the profits of a few

Monday, 29 August 2011

The desperation of unemployment

For a growing number of people today unemployment is a way of life. Finding a job is harder than most people think.

The ruling class announce it is easy to get a job just get on a bus or a bike and find one in the next town. Not so easy for all of us unfortunatly. For many working class people just finding a job that you are qualified for is something with more jobs wanting more and more from us. Also with most jobs now wanting experience and if your young and never having had full time employment this is really hard to get as where would you have gaiend your expereince from ?

There may have been part time work you did while at school or university but no doubt it wasnt what you eventually wanted to do for a job.

The sheer desperation of many to get a job these days at any cost has lead many to take a job in a industry they are not familiar with or ever had any intention of taking. This is another reality of the labour market in 2011. The fact that as workers we are forced to take a job we are not happy in just to pay our bills or mortgage is another sign of how brutal and rough the capitalist society we live under today can be.

Even once in a job of low paid poor conditions work we may not have the chance to join a trade union and be forced to work very long hours for very poor pay. But yet these are the choices many are taking just to get a job and feel apart of society.

This is no way for workers to live and as the working class we all deserve better.

This is why as socialists we must portray whenever and wherever we can that there is a alternative for workers and unemployed people all who we look to win over to our ideas that there is a better way. A better way of running society. To benifit the many not just the few.

The system and society we wish to see is a socialist society where peoples needs were met before anything else. There would be enough jobs to go around and would all be well paid for the jobs people do. All this can be achieved despite what the ruling class and the right tell us. It cannot happen in this current society by reforming the system as capitalism is flawed totally and cannot provide for everyone. Which is why we must continue the day to day struggles fighting for workers and working peoples rights and concessions off the ruling class untill the working class become full contious to take on the ruling class and over throw this rotten capitalist system.

We must raise socialist ideas and theories wherever we can winning workers to our ideas. Pushing for workers to have the rights to a trade union and to push back and defeat the extreme anti trade union laws in this country. Which are some of the harshest in Europe not helped at all by a capitalist supporting labour government over the last 13 years.

Workers need to know their rights and fight for more. We as socialists always try to raise working class struggles and stand up for workers as we believe in the collective power of the organised working class. The time for morning is not now the time for organising and fighting back is now.

Workers need to realise that there is power in a unite working class and a better future is possible.

The brilliant work and thoughts of Ken Loach

Ken Loach is a well known left wing film director and has produced many great well made films on some very tough subjects. Ken dares to go where no one else does. Ken highlights working class struggles in his films and really gets his audience thinking. There is a recent article in the Guardian with a interview from him. I thought i'd share parts of it here. Ken talks on the recent riots in the UK and the political situation in this country too. He speaks so much sense and raises some excellent points that we can all take on board i feel.

The leftwing film director talks about the riots, his early work on television and the documentary he made for Save the Children 40 years that is about to be screened for the first time


About halfway through our interview, I call Ken Loach a sadist. The mild-mannered, faintly mole-like film director blinks hard, chuckles, and carries on. We are discussing a key aspect of his film-making: the element of surprise. Loach has spent his career depicting ordinary people, telling working-class stories as truthfully as possible, and he works distinctively – filming each scene in order, often using non-professional actors, encouraging improvisation.

Save The Children Fund Film
Production year: 1969Country: UKRuntime: 50 minsDirectors: Ken Loach.

Actors don't tend to see a full script in advance, and move through his films as confused as the audience about what lurks around the next corner. I ask Loach which surprise was most memorable, and he laughs incongruously through a few examples. He talks about an incident when an actor walked through a door, on-set, to discover his co-star in a bath, her wrists apparently slashed. "Surprise is the hardest thing to act," says Loach, "and his response was just very true." On another occasion an actor only found out during the filming of a battle scene that her character was to be shot and killed. She was not especially pleased.

Most surprisingly of all, Crissy Rock, the lead in Ladybird, Ladybird (1994) – a brilliant, devastating gut-wrencher of a film – was convinced she was starring in a happy, upbeat, redemptive story. "She thought it would turn out to be about a couple successfully raising children together," says Loach, smiling. It is actually about a woman's kids being taken, one by one, by the social services. In the scene where they come for the final child, Rock "couldn't believe it," says Loach. "She was just wrecked."

It's at this point I laugh and call Loach a sadist. But it's probably more accurate to call him uncompromising, with both his actors and his leftwing politics. Loach turned 75 in June, and next month the BFI is showing a retrospective that will take viewers from his early television work – including the harsh, effective, 1966 exposé of homelessness Cathy Come Home – to his most recent film, Route Irish, about the experiences of private security contractors in Iraq. I ask which of his films he's most proud of, and he can't choose. "There's quite a few I cocked up, but that's another matter."

His documentary The Save the Children Film, part-funded by the charity, is being shown for the first time; made in 1969 for TV, it was never broadcast. The film was commissioned for the charity's 50th anniversary, and it's easy to imagine what they might have been expecting: a gauzy portrait, light on analysis, strong on praise.

Loach took a different tack. The documentary looks at the potential problems of aid, the ways those in a position to be charitable are often patronising and paternalistic. He took his cameras to a school run by Save the Children in Kenya, for homeless boys from Nairobi, for instance, that was set up along the lines of a British public school; the children are shown blowing bugles, marching, reading books including The Inimitable Jeeves and Tom Brown's Schooldays. A group of young Kenyan activists appear in the film, one of whom notes he can't think of another school in the world where the mother tongue isn't allowed.

The documentary moves beyond the charity's work to show British expatriates in Kenya; one stompingly posh woman remarks they have "a wildly gay time" there, and she feels that "even in their poverty, [the Kenyan people] are basically happy". Raising their living standards might just upset things, she adds. The film is full of issues that remain pressing: the limits of philanthropy, the patronage relationships fostered by aid, the subtle and not-so-subtle problems of colonialism. It ends with the comment that we "must change the property relationships of society, and then we change man. That's the only real solution, and all the rest is propaganda."

The documentary was made for LWT and only one-third funded by the charity, so Loach thought he and his crew could "take an independent view, and the TV company would support us. But they didn't." There are moments when he seems to have the naivety that derives from an inflexible moral backbone. "When the people that ran the Save the Children Fund said they would sue us, the television company wrote off their investment, and didn't back us at all."

It isn't the only one of his documentaries to have been pulled; Questions of Leadership, a TV series critiquing the response of the trade union top brass to Thatcherism, made in the early 1980s, was never shown – apparently for political reasons. I ask whether it upsets him when his films are censored or withdrawn, and he says: "It makes you angry, not on your own behalf, but on behalf of the people whose voices weren't allowed to be heard. When you had trade unions, ordinary people, rank and file, never been on television, never been interviewed, and they're not allowed to be heard, that's scandalous. And you see it over and over again. I mean, we heard very little from the kids in the riots. You hear some people being inarticulate in a hood, but very few people were actually allowed to speak."

Loach's films are often either a call to arms (a reminder of the rotten, vicious circumstances many people face) or portraits of specific political movements. The Wind That Shakes the Barley was about the Irish war of independence, Bread and Roses was about a group of office cleaners in Los Angeles campaigning for just wages, Land and Freedom was about a young, unemployed Liverpudlian man, a member of the Communist party, who heads to Spain to fight in a militia against Franco.

Land and Freedom has all the obvious elements of a great film: a passionate protagonist, beautiful heroine, a romantic relationship, battle scenes. And yet its most gripping moments involve an extensive conversation between a communist militia and the people of a Spanish town about the merits of collectivism. Should the town's land be carved up and shared among the people? Should some remain private? All of it? When I ask whether Loach would describe his politics as socialist, he says it's a difficult word, because it's much devalued, and you can't "make sense of it without Marx – but if you say you're a Marxist, then the rightwing press just uses it as a brick to hang around your neck." He is the rare film-maker who brings questions of political structure flamingly alive.

Loach is a quiet, gentle man – that streak of sadism aside – who seems entirely without vanity; he comes across like the most caring teacher in school. We talk more about the riots, and the subsequent heavy-handedness of the courts. "They'll shoot people for stealing sheep next, won't they?" he says. "But, in a way, whenever something dramatic happens, you know that everybody retreats to their comfort zone – so the Tories retreat to cutting benefits, pulling people out of their houses, savage prison sentences. They want that anyway. So whatever happens is an excuse for them to do what they want to do."

I mention the two young men put away for four years each, after trying to provoke rioting through their Facebook pages. Loach notes, with a shrug, that their cases will probably go to appeal, then adds: "It's the ruling class cracking the whip, isn't it? It's disgusting. We've got to organise. In the words of the old American trade unionist Joe Hill: don't mourn, organise."

He continues, apologising occasionally for "lecturing" me. "I think the underlying factors regarding the riots are plain for anyone with eyes to see … It seems to me any economic structure that could give young people a future has been destroyed. Traditionally young people would be drawn into the world of work, and into groups of adults who would send the boys for a lefthanded screwdriver, or a pot of elbow grease, and so they'd be sent up in that way, but they would also learn about responsibilities, and learn a trade, and be defined by their skills. Well, they destroyed that. Thatcher destroyed that. She consciously destroyed the workforces in places like the railways, for example, and the mines, and the steelworks … so that transition from adolescence to adulthood was destroyed, consciously, and knowingly.

"I don't recall the nihilism among kids now, 40 or 50 years ago," he says. "Now there is no place for kids, period. So I think despite the material advances, we're worse off." We also don't seem to have a political class that understands, on any level, what it's like to face unemployment. "No, the Bullingdon boys have never had to confront that," says Loach. "The Bullingdon boys will wreck restaurants and …" he pauses. "Just throw some money at it?" I say. "Yes, or their parents will throw money at it."

I ask whether he aims to provoke political change with his films, and he says he hopes they make people "see things in a different way. That they see there were possibilities for change in Spain, for instance, and one of the things that destroyed it was sectarianism on the left. That you can organise trade unions, we do have strength, things can be different, and here are stories from the past that show it."

It's difficult to imagine young people risking their lives for leftwing ideals now as they once did in Spain though, isn't it? Loach disagrees. "You get the international volunteers who go and put themselves in Gaza … Those are the sort of people who would have gone to Spain. People will resist, and they will fight back, and they do feel solidarity."

Does he think there's a chance of a revolutionary moment in the UK, after the financial crisis, the MPs' expenses scandal, the phone hacking revelations, and the exposure of the cosiness between the police and the Murdoch empire? "It just needs leadership," he says. "It's like a head of steam. The steam won't drive anything unless there's an engine, and somebody to stoke it, and to drive the wheels around." The moment in recent history, he thinks, when a proper movement could have been launched, was at the march against the Iraq war in 2003.

"At the end there should have been a hundred tables, here's a pen, give us your name, we're anti-privatisation, anti-war you know – it's Lenin's bread, land and peace. If you sign up to that, you'll be organised and it'll be democratic and there will be no vain personalities trying to take it over, and we can articulate a programme and a movement that might become a party on that basis. There was a huge feeling across the country. None of the politicians spoke for us. That was the moment, but it was missed."


As a child growing up in the industrial town of Nuneaton, his paternal grandfather a miner, his father a foreman in a machine tool factory, Loach had little interest in politics. His father read the Daily Express, and was a working-class Tory, and Loach, an only child ("not because they didn't want more children, but because it wasn't possible for some reason"), fell in love with the theatre. They lived 30 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon, "so once I got the bug, aged about 12 or 13, I used to go there and see plays". He fainted once, standing at the back watching Titus Andronicus, starring Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. "She has her tongue cut out, and she came on with streams of red, and I'd had this long cycle ride, so I fell over."

Loach went to the local grammar school, which took in "60 boys each year, out of a town population of about 70,000. It was very lucky to go, because it was good, but it was at the expense of hundreds of boys the same age who, from the age of 11, would have no way into higher education." If you didn't get into the grammar school, your academic career would almost certainly fade fast. Loach wanted to be a lawyer; I ask if this was out of a striving for justice, and he laughs. "By no means. I just fancied the frocks really. I was really stage-struck, but I thought that going into the theatre would be unrealistic."

After a couple of years of national service with the RAF, he studied law at Oxford, and spent all his time performing. "I didn't go to a lecture for over a year. It was an absolute disgrace. I got an actor's degree – I swotted for six weeks at the end." He and a friend came close to starting a theatre afterwards, but when their funding fell through, he ended up understudying a comedian who was playing opposite Kenneth Williams. "I was totally incompetent, so thank God I never had to go on." Williams "was quite friendly", says Loach, "but if he was not in a good frame of mind, he could destroy you, and I was a young innocent abroad."

He emphasises that he was a poor actor ("I wouldn't have employed me") and so became an assistant director at Northampton Rep for a year, then in 1963 landed a job as a trainee director at the BBC. "It was a huge stroke of luck to be there, because the BBC was in quite a liberal mood, with Hugh Carleton Greene as the director general." Loach was soon influenced by the political passion of those around him, and began reading widely about leftwing ideas.

He started off directing Z Cars, and was then asked to join the Wednesday Play; in his first year he directed about six films, "original scripts, going out at peak viewing, straight after the news, when there were only two and a half channels. So everybody watched it. It was an incredible opportunity." He worked with strong writers, including Nell Dunn, Jeremy Sandford and David Mercer; Jimmy O'Connor wrote a film about capital punishment, Three Clear Sundays. "He himself had been arrested and convicted of murder and sentenced to hang, and was reprieved with days to go. He was a very good writer."

Over four or five years, he made such classics as Up the Junction, Cathy Come Home, and his first feature film, Poor Cow, all stories of working-class life. He and his peers gravitated to these stories for a number of reasons. "One is that the drama is most intense among people who have got little to lose," he says. "They live life very vividly, and the stakes are very high if you don't have a lot of money to cushion your life. Also, because they're the front line of what we came to call the class war. Either through being workers without work, or through being exploited where they were working. And I guess for a political reason, because we felt, and I still think, that if there is to be change, it will come from below. It won't come from people who have a lot to lose, it will come from people who will have everything to gain." He pauses, and smiles. "They also have the best jokes."

Loach says that period at the BBC was "hugely intoxicating" not just because of the enormous audiences, but because the directors had to defend their work, and politics. "Not only did you get reviews, but if you had a play on, you'd go on a programme called Late Night Line-Up, and there would be a critic, and a discussion, and you'd be torn to shreds, so you had to know your stuff. We always felt we were in politics, even though we were doing drama. A lot of directors now, I notice, when people take issue with them, they say: 'Oh no, it's not political, we didn't mean that, and they back off.' Well, we never backed off, you know, and why would you?"

The BFI's Ken Loach retrospective launches at BFI Southbank on 1 September with the premiere of The Save the Children film and continues until 12 October. Ken Loach at the BBC is available on DVD from 5 September.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

20 years on from the fall of the soviet union, Claire Doyle of the CWI takes a look back at events

Clare Doyle, International Secretariat of the CWI

This week-end marks the 20th anniversary of the attempted military coup in the Soviet Union. It took place at a time of economic, social and political turmoil within, and outside the USSR. Aimed at preventing the break-up of the Soviet Union, its failure actually led to a dramatic speeding up of that very process. This attempted political counter-revolution by old-time Stalinists led on directly to the victory of the capitalist counter-revolution, the disintegration of the USSR and the rapid rise of a new class of super-rich capitalist oligarchs.

Clare Doyle looks at the dramatic events of 19 to 21 August 1991 and what followed.



Barricades next to the "Supreme Soviet" during the coup

In the early hours of 19 August, 1991, tanks and armoured cars began to move from the outskirts of Moscow towards the Kremlin. An announcement was made by the news agency TASS that Michail Gorbachev, secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and president of the state, was no longer able to carry out his duties "for health reasons". He had been replaced by his deputy, Gennady Yanayev, a representative of the ’Old Guard’ within the ruling ’communist’ party.

A statement was broadcast that banned all gatherings of three or more people as well as all social and sporting events. A ’State Committee for an Emergency Situation’ (GKChP) was supposedly in charge with a general, a police chief and a minister of defence amongst them. Their stated aim was to "save the Soviet Union from fratricide and civil war".

All normal radio and TV programmes were suspended. No news was given. The only thing shown on television, repeated throughout the day, was the ballet, Swan Lake – a familiar tactic of the Stalin era for blotting out awkward news.

At five o’clock, the coup ’leaders’ held a press conference with Yanayev in the centre repeating rehearsed phrases and with hands shaking! Already the putschists were aware of the mounting opposition to their plans. The control over the army and special forces that they thought they could rely on was not guaranteed.

Mass defiance
Far from cowering in their homes, however, hundreds, then thousands of people made their way to the buildings that housed the elected authorities - in Moscow the White House, home of the Russian Federation’s parliament, and in Leningrad, the Marinsky Palace where the local council was based. Barricades were erected from whatever was available - overturned buses in Moscow, cement-mixers from building sites in Leningrad. Weapons were stock-piled inside the buildings in case armed confrontation was necessary. The people who turned out to defy the putschists were determined not to see the clock of history turned back, the old Stalinist regime re-imposed and all promise of democratic change erased.

Boris Yeltsin, elected president of the Russian Federation, had been pushing for ‘reforms’ which would clear the path for the re-introduction of capitalism. They would mean misery for workers but in true Bonapartist fashion, he would lean on workers at this time of crisis. Hypocritically he borrowed from the workers’ movement the idea of a general strike to use as a battering ram with which to defeat the ’putsch’. Workers anyway, across the Soviet Union, were already walking out of their workplaces in readiness for a fight.



In Moscow, soldiers were already defecting. Later whole divisions would come over. Yeltsin famously stood on a tank amidst the crowds that had assembled at the White House to voice total defiance of the GKChP and rally the forces. Hundreds of thousands made their way to the Russian parliament building (– the same building that just two years later, Yeltsin himself was to bombard with tanks! (See Yeltsin obituary on this site).

Anatoly Sobchak, Mayor of Leningrad, called for a mass demonstration in Winter Palace Square for the next morning, 20th August. Up to half a million people made their way to this historic site to learn how the coup leaders could be defeated. One day later the GKChP was falling out and falling apart.

Some saw the attempt at a coup by this layer as a necessary and ’progressive’ step to prevent the break-up of the Soviet Union and to halt the process of privatisation and a return to capitalism. Some still do. The Russian Communist Party under the long-time Stalinist, Gennady Zyuganov, is holding a commemoration of the event. They say none of the problems of today in Russia would exist if the coup had succeeded!

It was very rapidly becoming clear at the time that Yanayev and Co. did not have a chance of succeeding. They would not prove capable of holding on by force to a centrally planned state-owned economy already in crisis. The bloated, 20 million strong bureaucracy sat like a gigantic parasite on the back of the workers’ state. When stagnation beset the economy, those they had held in submission for generations began to move against them.



Workers in the USSR, at the end of the 1980s had seen their economy slowing down to a snail’s pace compared with the past. Many had welcomed the ’perestroika’ and ’glasnost’ introduced by Gorbachev in an attempt to breathe new life into the bureaucratically overburdened planned economy. They had begun to taste at least some elements of change. There were new consultative committees in the workplaces where grievances could be aired. Management could be challenged. There had been elections of new leaderships in the republics and a campaign vigorously promoted by Yeltsin, for parties other than the ruling ’communist’ party to be able to organise and stand in elections.

The position of the CWI members in the USSR in August 1991 was to actively oppose the coup but to give no truck to the policies of Yeltsin and co. who clearly wanted to push ahead with wholesale privatisation and wipe out all elements of a state-owned planned economy. Independent action by the working class – strikes and a struggle for a workers’ government - would have been the best way to defeat both the coup and the pro-capitalists and to take society forward. But there was no force or party with any weight in society advocating this.

As the CWI document ’Revolution and Counter-revolution in the Soviet Union’ put it (para 53):

„During the coup therefore, the Marxists in the USSR called for support for the general strike, not on the programme of Yeltsin (for the return of Gorbachev and the continuation of the market reforms), but to defeat the coup with a revolutionary programme for workers’ democracy. We explained that the limited democratic rights of the last period could only be safeguarded by the working class taking power. We called for the building of democratic workers’ committees, arming of the workers and an appeal to the rank and file soldiers.”



Doomed to defeat
The ’emergency council’ had the idea of protecting the planned economy from the onslaught of the privatisers but, without democracy from below, it had become unviable to maintain it. Their statement spoke of the need to ’protect all forms of property’. But they clearly did not want to see the end of state ownership of industry and finance for fear of the consequences for themselves and the system that had sustained them until now. They saw Yeltsin, Gaidar and Co, even Gorbachev, as a threat to the old way of doing things. The putschists thought they could defeat this layer simply by using the only instruments at their disposal - the forces of the state. And these crumbled in their hands! Their ’take-over’ did not even last three days.

They had not learned from the experience of Jaruzelski in Poland who in 1981 had moved against Solidarnosc and imposed military rule but had failed in his attempt to re-establish the old Stalinist regime. He had found it impossible to save the planned economy by force and abandoned the attempt.

The coup leaders had put Gorbachev under house arrest at his Summer retreat on the Black Sea. Within three days he was in Moscow. The president of the Soviet Union arrived in the capital, beholden to the president of the Russian Federation. Nominally he remained head of state. In fact, he never recovered his full power and status. By the end of 1991 (25 December) he was making a televised speech resigning as president of an almost non-existent entity. This would then be seen as the final ratification of the end of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.



19 August

What was the background?
The disintegration of the Soviet Union was already in process before the attempted coup. It ran parallel with the growth of major economic problems. An agreement known as the Byelavezha Accords or ’New Union Treaty’, establishing a looser federation of states, was to be signed on 20 August. The coup leaders could see their power base disappearing. The ‘shock therapy’ wing of the bureaucracy who wanted to take the fast-track route to the restoration of capitalism, was gaining the upper hand. Gorbachev was floundering – not sure how to proceed. His popularity had plummeted to 14% in the polls.

He had promoted reforms to try to prevent an explosion from below and to retain the state-owned planned economy intact. This was the structure that had for decades provided his own caste in society with its income and privilege. Already during the miners’ strikes of 1989 he had reinstated the use of anti-strike laws. He was putting the lid back on reforms. What was the alternative?

Boris Yeltsin had already been elected president of the Russian Federation, against the wishes of the hardliners, and was eroding the powers of Gorbachev and the Union. Yeltsin most forcefully represented the growing layer within the state bureaucracy who wanted to proceed more and more rapidly with the ’transition to the market ’ - to the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union. He was popular amongst workers, including miners in Vorkuta, in the Kuzbas and in the Donbas. They had been engaged in major strike struggles to get a better return on the heavy expenditure of their Labour and had demonstrated their anger against the privileges of the bureaucracy. Yeltsin, who like to be seen as a man of the people, had supported them for his own reasons as they pushed local representatives out of office and attacked their perks and privileges sometimes literally – blocking the path of their limousines, opening up their boots full of luxury items!

The stranglehold of the Stalinist bureaucracy on society had by this time been loosened; it was split and divided on how to proceed. There was a ferment amongst the intellectuals and the middle layers in society who looked towards capitalism in Europe and elsewhere. Unlike today, world capitalism was still going ahead and apparently offering opportunities for personal and cultural advancement – an escape from the nightmare under Stalinism.

The 100 million or so working class of the vast USSR - stretching across eleven time zones – was wracked with shortages of all the basic necessities of life - bread, meat, eggs, soap, toilet paper! There was no sugar, in the shops to preserve what fruit and berries could be foraged from the countryside. Mushroom-picking became a frantic exercise in survival rather than the traditional leisurely late Summer pastime.

The conditions were developing for the working class of the Soviet Union to move to throw off the vast, parasitic bureaucracy from its back and take control, through elected committees, of the state-owned, centrally planned economy and society as a whole. This had long ago, at the time of the rise of Stalin and his gang, been the programme of Trotsky, the co-leader with Lenin of the Russian revolution of October 1917. This is what led Stalin, who had crushed all those who had argued for the spread of the revolution and workers’ democracy, to send his agents to physically annihilate him.

In the long dark decades up to the 1980s, the economy of the Soviet Union had advanced dramatically, on the basis of state ownership and a plan. This was even without the ’oxygen’, as Trotsky called it, of workers’ democracy that could keep the vast state-owned system functioning healthily. Now that it was stagnating, only workers’ control and management, through totally democratic elected committees making all the planning decisions could enable it the planned economy to survive. This would have meant also fighting to establish a genuine workers’ government to clear out all that was rotten under Stalinism.



19 August 1991

No political force
What was needed was a political force that had the clear aim of carrying through a political revolution, of the working class taking over the reins of power and spreading the idea of genuine socialism internationally.

There was no such force. All opposition had been brutally suppressed, from the annihilation of the heroic Left Opposition in the ’20s, the purge trials and mass executions of the ’30s through decades of police state dictatorship; it had not been possible for such a force to develop. Now it was too late.

If, as today, capitalism was in a major crisis and held no attraction in terms of an alternative way forward, things could have been different. In the crisis in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, brought on by stagnation and political paralysis, some may have found their way towards the ideas of Trotsky - of a way out on the basis of a struggle for workers’ democracy. But this was not what happened.



22 August 1991: the end of the putsch

USSR
If the trigger for the Yanayev gang’s attempt to take power was the imminent dissolution of the USSR, the very words ‘Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ had long been a misnomer. Set up in 1922, following the victorious workers’ and peasants’ revolution in Russia, it was originally a voluntary federation of states in which Tsarism, landlordism and capitalism had been overthrown. These states were on their way to establishing socialism. The soviets, at the very beginning, were the seats of real, totally democratic, power.

With Stalin’s rise to power and the crushing of all workers’ and democratic rights, the move towards genuine socialism, with an internationalist approach, was halted. Stalin and his vast state machine then held the nationalities of the Soviet Union together with a rod of iron. Whole nations were punished for representing a threat to his rule, most dramatically in the case of the Crimean Tatars and Chechens, killed in vast numbers and removed en bloc from their homelands.

In the 1980s, as the economic situation across the USSR began to deteriorate and the bureaucracy lost its raison d’etre of presiding over a growing economy, the desire to break free from Moscow domination developed in a number of republics. Neither decentralisation nor centralisation under bureaucratic centralist control could ‘deliver the goods’, satisfy the needs of the workers and poor. In the Baltics and elsewhere nationalist movements grew in strength and came out in open revolt against the centre.

Gorbachev, who now lays great stress on peace and non-intervention, had ordered troops in to hold the line, in fact to crush the movements for independence. This had failed. Lithuania, after the bloody events in Vilnius in January 1991, had simply broken away from Moscow domination.



23 August 1991

In August, as soon as it was clear that the putschists were defeated and Yeltsin had the upper hand, a whole series of Republics declared themselves independent – Estonia on the second day of the attempted coup and Latvia on the third, as the Emergency Committee itself was already collapsing. In September, Moldova, Tajikistan, Armenia and Turkmenistan declared independence. By November only four remained nominally in the Soviet Union.

Independence was being declared in the name of democracy but was being decided by a tiny handful of gangsters at the top of society - in their own interests and without the slightest reference to the wishes of the majority. In fact, it was the same cliques in power in the republics under the old regime – as heads of the Communist Parties - who transformed themselves into national, generally pro-capitalist, powers in the newly reborn states. Their aim was to get their hands on the loot that was to be had through the privatisation process. Witness Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan and Shevardnaze in Georgia.

In the opinion of a Swedish economist who advised the Russian and Ukrainian governments in the early ‘90s on how to make the transition to capitalism most of the newly formed states, “are corrupt states that have as their purpose to allow the elites to enrich themselves through corruption”. He says this now; the CWI said it then!

Lukashenko in Byelorussia, has retained far more of the old state ownership but also tightened the old Stalinist methods of repression, including brutal beatings and imprisonment of journalists and oppositionists.

Back in 1991, on 8 December, the heads of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus created the Commonwealth of Independent States which broadened out to include most ex-republics of the USSR. At the same meeting the 1922 union treaty, established under Lenin and the Bolsheviks, was annulled.

On 24 December, the Russian Federation announced it would take the place of the USSR at the United Nations, including a seat on the Security Council. On 25th of that month, after Gorbachev’s formal resignation, the red hammer and sickle was lowered from the Kremlin and replaced by the Russian tricolour.

Parties and prospects
In Russia, the present day leaders and the people who preceded them in power, including Yeltsin, were all part of the CPSU apparatus. Suddenly, after the collapse of the coup, they became god-fearing anti-communists but used all their connections in the party and state apparatus to enrich themselves in the orgy of privatisation that swept the country.

The Communist Party itself was banned by the victors of the coup around Yeltsin. Later it reappeared with a new name - the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. It still had the same Stalinist leadership with no word of criticism of the old dictatorship, yet accepting capitalism as an established fact.

In today’s conditions, a new party needs to be built to give a real voice and representation to workers and young people and linking up with the task of building democratically controlled trade unions independent of the state and the bosses.



Putin and Medvedyev’s ruling party – United Russia – is the political face of Russian oligarch-ridden capitalism today. It looks set to win again at the next elections through rigging and fraudulent practices as usual. It has been described by Gorbachev recently as “authoritarian” and a “worse version of the Communist Party”. He has made it known that he favours Medvedyev for president rather than see Putin standing for a third term, but he has still praised Putin for “bringing Russia out of the chaos of the Boris Yeltsin years”.

At a press conference on 18 August this year, the last man to preside over the USSR said he regretted not resigning in April 1991 and setting up a “democratic party of reform” to rival the Communist Party which was blocking the transition to capitalism. He imagines that the catastrophic collapse in the economy that followed the failed coup and the avalanche of privatisation coup could have been avoided. (It is this that the Chinese Communist Party also is desperate to avoid. It is torn between reform and repression as it tries to ride the tiger of a transition to full-blooded capitalism.)

The English Guardian of 17 August this year carries a graphic representation of what happened to the ex-soviet republics in the years immediately after the break-up of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the planned economies. Moldova’s GDP and that of Tajikistan shrank by more than 60%. That of Georgia, Ukraine, Kirgizstan, Azerbaijan and Russia itself fell by 50% and more. The second largest of the ‘new states’ – Ukraine – has never recovered a positive growth rate. In the past 20 years its average has been minus 1.4%.

Only five of the 15 newly formed states saw a growth in their population; most declined - Russia by 7 million people. Life expectancy plummeted due to poverty, insecurity and the concomitant drug and alcohol abuse. None of the five new states in Central Asia has held a genuinely free and fair election and only one in the Caucasus - Georgia. Even in that country, only two of the eleven elections it has held in the past 20 years, were deemed came into the free and fair category!

So much for capitalist democracy and progress! Many amongst the older generation of the USSR have come to regret the transition to the market; few see what the alternative could have been and can be now. With the world economy spiraling into the depths of depression, Russia will be dragged down again, in spite of its oil riches. (The price of oil is anyway falling.)

Effects and lessons

The collapse of Stalinism and the Soviet Union allowed the capitalists and their defenders to conduct a sustained ideological campaign against socialism which still has a baleful effect on the outlook of workers and young people, even those who enter struggle against the bosses and their system. For twenty years they have been told that there is no alternative to capitalism - not only by capitalist politicians but by leaders of organisations which they and their forbears painfully constructed – the trade unions and most of what once were workers’ parties. Now the task of building new powerful workers’ organisations to combat capitalism in its death throes is urgent.

All the lessons of history have to be learned and re-learned. That includes the inspirational histories of revolutionary movements but also the educational history of counter-revolutions.


Only by understanding processes, the clash of economic and social forces, can a new generation prepare for the disturbed period that lies ahead. The creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was a magnificent feat, not possible without the insights and leadership of Lenin and Trotsky. Its degeneration under Stalin and his successors and its final destruction twenty years ago are deserving of study, if only to confirm the validity of Trotsky’s ideas. He foresaw in horrible detail how the capitalist counter-revolution would develop in the Soviet Union if workers were unable to carry through a successful political revolution.

A new era opens up in which the nightmares of Stalinism and its aftermath can become a thing of the past and in which successful revolutions are back on the agenda!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

The "thought police"

I have been reading George Orwells excellent book 1984 which was banned in America for a time as it was thought to be so contravertial and explain too much the ruling class decided. Well as well as a fine book it got me thinking as many booksl ike this do.

In 1984 which was George Orwells vision of the future of when he wrote his book in 1948 cleverily turning the two last numbers around 1984 was meant to be the nightmare vision of the future that Goerge Orwell had invisidged . In the book there are such people known as the "thought police" who are there to read your mind and stop the workers falling out of line. They are thre to make sure they do not start thinking of revolutionary thoughts or wanting to change things.

This reminds me very much of today in many ways. George Orwells book has often be credited with how true his predictions of the future were quite often and this idea of a "thought police" seems quite relevant today. Where we see young and disenfranchised youths of today roaming the streets rioting and talking of causing riots. Of course investigations are still on going but the "thought police" would not be out of place today where people are arrested before they have committed a crime just because they have thought of committing a riot or a public disturbance.

All this is apparently in the name of public safety. To me and other socialists this seems like state oppression going too far where the government are stepping beyond their role of protecting us by enforcing the law before it has even needed to be.

Take the guy who was given a 4 year sentance for talking of going to a riot on facebook. Huge sentances and totally disproportional . But this is all seen as fair game by the ruling class in the on going class war they are currntly carrying out on the working class.

Of course we do not condone riots as a legitimate form of protest but i believe it is a fundemental human right the right to protest. Civil disobedience and peaceful protests should be allowed. Of course we do not condone violence but we can on the other hand fully understand the anger and frustration of these young disconnected youths who feel they ahve nothing to loose by rioting and gets them attention to their issues.

But the role of a police in all this has been utterly contemptable the way they have pre arrested people in the name of inciting a riot and arresting people even when a riot hasnt even happened is just goign too far in my book.

So we should always be careful of the ruling class and the tactics they will use to protect their system and their way of life. At any cost sometimes using the police and agent provocutuers to infiltrate a movement to divide and rule us.

George Orwell was a excellent writer and i fully recomend people to read his materials if they can get hold of some. The man is famous for his fine work and should be well respected and preserved.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Why social mobility is a myth

Social mobility is a myth, those who are born in the bottom 20% have a 97% chance of remaining right there in the bottom 20%..

We hear all the time from various parties and governments that the harder you work you can get yourself up the ladder out of the situation you are in. This is not the case at all as the statistic aabove suggests you can work dam hard all your life and still remain working class. It is a common myth that you can work hard and reach the fruits of your labour.

It is a difficult thing to explain to people but it is a fact that we live in a class based society where the working class are oppressed by the ruling class, the capitalists. The working class must sell their labour to get by.

Several recent studies have punctured the conception, assiduously fostered by the media and political defenders of the profit system, that capitalism makes possible the rapid acquisition of wealth for anyone motivated to work for it.

The truth is very different. A study by economist Tom Hertz of American University, “Understanding Mobility in America”, finds that a child born into a poor family, defined as the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution, has an infinitesimal one-in-a-hundred chance of making it into the top five percent income level.

Hertz’s report, issued by the liberal think tank the Center for American Progress (CAP), studied both “intergenerational mobility” and “short-term mobility.” Intergenerational mobility, comparing an individual’s economic status with that of his or her parents, is taken as a measure of equality of opportunity, since economic success independent of the status of one’s family would seem to indicate that merit and work are the principal sources of material rewards.

As far as intergenerational mobility is concerned, it is not only the children of the poor in the US who have little chance of becoming wealthy. Children born in the middle quintile (the 40-60th percentile of incomes in the country, $42,000 to $54,300) also have only a 1.8 percent chance of reaching the top five percent, a likelihood not much higher than in poor families. These findings were based on a study of over 4,000 children whose parents’ income was determined in 1968 and whose own income was then reviewed as adults in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1999.

Breaking the data down by race showed that, within the framework of increasing pressure on the working class as a whole, black families continue to face higher burdens. While 47 percent of poor families remain poor in subsequent generations, this figure is 32 percent for whites and 63 percent for blacks. Only 3 percent of African-Americans jump from the bottom quarter of the income distribution to the top 25 percent, while for whites this number, still small, is 14 percent.

The second feature of the study focuses on short-term mobility, which is a measure of annual income volatility. Large changes in annual income correlate with economic instability and insecurity.

On the subject of income volatility, the report’s findings also contradict the claim of equal opportunity and rewards for hard work. Those in the middle income levels—the majority of whom consist of both industrial and service sector workers who are commonly lumped together and labeled “middle class” based on their income level—experienced increased “insecurity of income” between 1997 and 2004, compared to 1990. Downward short-term mobility—an annual income decline of $20,000 or more—rose from 13.0 percent of the population in 1990 to 14.8 percent in 1997-98 and 16.6 percent in 2003-04.

This downward mobility was concentrated among those earning between $34,500 and $89,300 a year, while those in the top 10 percent of income earners ($122,880 or more) saw less negative shocks during this same period. Moreover, the middle income household was no more upwardly mobile in 2003-04 than it was in 1990-91, although the early nineties was a period of recession and the more recent years were ones of officially strong economic growth.
Untill the banking crash in 2008.


Hertz’s findings parallel those contained in a number of similar recent studies. A report prepared by Ian Dew-Becker and Robert Gordon for the National Bureau of Economic Research in December 2005 shows that those in the top 10 percent income bracket received 49 percent of the growth in wages and salaries in the period between 1997 and 2001, while the bottom 50 percent received less than 13 percent.




SO there is clearly mass inequality in society and around the world. In every capitalist society and system there is always teh myth be it the "american dream" or hard work gets you far. Of course working hard can get you so far but to the top very rarely. We as socialists must be at the front pointing these class inequalities out and preparing alternatives to all of these situations.

Of course our alternative is radical and would result in a class less society where there is no upper or lower class a equal fair society where you would be paid a fair wage for a fair days work.

So when you hear a polititian peddling the line that social mobility has increased or decreased its a myth. It simply does not exist and on the odd few ocasions people do move class's and i stress very rarely there are often exceptional circumstances to explain this. So lets not buy the political class's myths and rubbish and start fighting the class war to end the class system for good and bring equality and prosperity to all not just the few.

As Gadaffi nears the end, democracy must come first for Libya's future

SO last night and all of this weekend rumours and advances by rebel forces in Libya have progressed further reaching the capital Tripoli and almost but not quite taking the capital and toppling Gadaffi. This has been helped along the way with NATO forces who have carried on their imperialist intervention supporting the rebels in a clear regime change mentality .

I from the start opposed any intervention by NATO and western forces but now hopefully Gadaffi is gone we cannot forget NATO's role in all this and how their precense has lead to many civilian deaths all which could have been avoided i am sure.

NATO has poured lots of arms in to Libya with the help of American and French forces too. Does this toppling of Gadaffi prove the interventionists were right ?

No it certainly doesnt. For months it looked like a complete stalemate with NATO running close to being pushed back in total retreat. This backthrough has come a little by surprise but no doubt the bombings of towns and cities along the route to Tripoli has taken its toll on many innocent Libyans .

Still many things are unsure in Libya the situation is very fluid and very dangerous. Britain and several other western countries have backed the rebels and recognised them but do we really know who they are and if they are not Gadaffi sympathisers in amongst them wanting their own chance of power and fame.

This is a very dangerous situation in a way this could just be the start of the trouble as we all know what happened in Iraq after Saddams over throw again by illegal intervention from the west then consequently lead to years of internal insurgance and civil fighting between various factions who just could not get on.

We as socialists do not support armed uprisings and revolution via bombings and killing of innocent lives. We support a organised working class uprising and the working class taking control of their lives and their country. From top to bottom the workers should be in control. Controlling the commanding heights of the economy this must be the case in Libya once Gadaffi is gone.

There must be democracy and the highest form of it. We do not want the west finding a leader among the rebels who will become another puppet who is a figure head to befriend the west and assist the west in remaining powerful and in control of the region.

This must be averted and a workers democracy must come to the front now with workers councils and rules put in place for a democracy to florish i.e no elected representitive shall recieve than a average skilled workers wage, all are subject to immediate recall at any first sign of veering off course and using their positions for personal and financial gain, full involving democratic elections involving all corners of the population .

This must just be the start of a new democracy in Libya where workers have their destiny in their own hands. Not in the hands of the west, NATO or any other rogue interventionists .

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Socialism in RCT: Who are the CWI?

Socialism in RCT: Who are the CWI?: The CWI stands for the Committee for a Workers' International and is an international socialist organisation to which the Socialist Party is...

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

World economy, capitalists unable to stop the turmoil

this is a excellent article on the growing turmoil in the world of capitalism from this week's socialist. The newspaper from the Socialist party where you can find more excellent articles each week at
www.socialistparty.org.uk

As their system continues to slide further into its worst crisis since the 1930s, the frantic efforts of world capitalist leaders to reverse the process are farcical, contradictory and ineffective. "Financial markets at their wits' end", was the headline in the Financial Times.

In a matter of weeks, trillions of dollars have been wiped from equity market values worldwide. The rush out of equities (shares in companies, banks etc) to alleged 'safe havens' of gold is now greater than at the time of the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. This indicates the depth of the present crisis which threatens to become a prolonged slump.

The credit-worthiness of the USA, the most powerful economy in the world, has been questioned. Eurozone leaders are stumbling from one summit to another without being able to solve the crisis.

On Friday 5 August, the credit rating agency Standard and Poor (S&P), downgraded US government bonds from AAA to AA+. This, they said, was due to the debacle between Democrats and Republicans over the debt ceiling for the US - now standing at $14 trillion, the highest in the world. These are the very same 'experts' who gave an AAA rating to the sub-prime lending spree in the first place which helped to lay the basis for the present crisis.

Big investors in US 'treasuries', including the Chinese government, are still not likely to move out significantly, but China's official People's Daily newspaper took the opportunity of the S&P assessment to chide the US government with its own interests in mind. It should not "become blind to the great risks that a weak greenback could pose to the world's fragile economic recovery by lifting dollar-denominated commodities prices", it wrote.

Double-dip recession
The S&P found the sums on which it based its assessment were wrong - by $2 trillion - but, pessimistic as they are about growth prospects, they still believed that lenders would have doubts about buying US government bonds. The latest figures for January to July show the US economy already crawling along at a rate of just 0.8%.

The US economy is now almost certainly facing a 'double dip' recession. There are legitimate fears, now widespread, that the austerity measures being imposed in the US and many other countries to tackle high levels of debt, will actually stifle their already weak economic recoveries and plunge them further into crisis.

This is behind the renewed expectations that the US Federal Reserve will announce a new round of 'quantitative easing' (QE - printing money) in response to forecasts of the US having a 50-50 chance of entering recession before the end of the year. But QE1 and QE2 have not solved the problems and it remains to be seen whether a new 'stimulus package' will be sufficient to stem the crisis.

Fears about the future of the world economy have been reflected in the price of gold and oil. Gold - not 'paper value' but a store of real value - is always a favourite 'investment' in uncertain times. Its price has jumped to new nominal records well over $1,720 an ounce and could, in some estimates, go as high as $2,500 by the end of the year.

Another 'safe haven' for investors - the Swiss Franc - has reached in the last month record highs against the euro and the dollar. The 'Swissie' has now moved into negative interest rate territory, which means investors paying the banks to hold their assets safe!

On the other hand, the price of oil has considerably declined. This is because of the grave concerns about downturns in growth leading to a fall in demand.

As the CWI has explained on many occasions, the very feeble recovery in most countries has not been accompanied by any sizeable growth in total output. Apart from some notable exceptions, it did not bring jobs for the tens of millions of unemployed, nor stem what seems like a war on the poor - massive cuts in public spending.

Further cutbacks and downturns in the prospects for young people lie behind the outbursts of anger recently seen on the streets of England. Seriously prepared strikes and general strikes are urgently needed in a series of countries now to stem the attacks on pension rights.

Without the trade union leaders giving a clear lead in the struggle against cuts across Europe and in other countries, clashes with police and attacks on property could erupt in the most deprived urban areas.

A programme of jobs and homes for all has to be accompanied by a struggle for the nationalisation, under democratic workers' control and management, of the banks and big monopolies. This can channel all the anger and frustration of youth and workers against the system.

Crisis measures
On 21 July a special meeting of Eurozone finance ministers agreed another bailout for the Greek government. But within days it was clear this would not solve Greece's underlying problems or prevent a default of its national debt. Before the 21 July agreement can even come into force, it has to be ratified by all of the Eurozone governments, mostly through their parliaments which are not in session during August.

Only two weeks after this, under pressure from the Eurozone leaders, especially Merkel and Sarkozy, the European Central Bank (ECB) was forced to announce new measures to try and prevent the stock markets going into a tail-spin after Friday's news from America! Its previous policy of not buying Italian and Spanish bonds on the open market was reversed.

This reduced, at least temporarily, the rates on these countries' borrowings. However, stock markets remain volatile, reflecting investors' doubts over effective EU measures to solve the eurozone sovereign debt crisis.

Other discussions have taken place about expanding the powers to intervene by using the €440 billion in the European Financial Stability Fund but they are hampered by the need for unanimity across the zone.

Italy and Spain's governments alone need to find an extra €840 billion over the coming 18 months - more than the total of bailouts already found for Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

The ECB measure will ease the situation in relation to the debts of Italy and Spain but the strings attached will bring them into head-on confrontation with their populations.

Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has tried to give the impression there is no major problem in Italy. But his country has one of the biggest debts as a percentage of GDP (nearly 120%) and an economy which has failed to grow more than a fraction of 1% for the past two decades.

He has now agreed, with his government, to bring forward the deadline by which budget cuts will balance the state books - from the original 2014 (well after the next general election) to 2013 (still after the next election is due!).

Extra austerity measures, nearly double those already announced, have been put through the cabinet by decree. Already, even in a summer period, opposition is mounting. Berlusconi has said he will not stand next time round, but he desperately needs a government in power that will not allow three major court cases against him to proceed.

Spain's prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has also declared he will not stand in November's election, sensing the widespread dissatisfaction with his inability to get Spain's economy back into healthy growth.

He has nevertheless agreed to increase austerity measures as a condition of the new loans. The massive level of youth unemployment in Spain and a feeling of utter neglect by politicians have been behind the mass movement of the 'indignados' - young people disillusioned with political parties and looking for radical, even revolutionary solutions.

Richard Hunter, a broker from Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "The markets are looking for a concrete plan out of Europe and the US in terms of how they are going to deal with their deficits." But because of private ownership and the states' role in defending the national interests of their own capitalists, a clear plan is something that capitalism, by its very nature, can never provide.

Capitalist anarchy
Trying to control an anarchic and blind system, none of the measures they take seems to stem the downward spiral into the worst crisis since the 1930s.

The measures they take to try and rescue their system will mean yet more cuts and austerity, yet more suffering and anguish for the vast majority of the world's population. The accumulating crises - economic and political - of the last few weeks, have only served to underline the chaotic and wasteful way in which capitalism works or fails to work.

Only 58.1% of Americans of working age now have a real job. Tens of millions of people worldwide are on the scrapheap when they could be producing goods and providing services.

On the basis of public ownership and democratic planning, all the human and physical resources of society could be harnessed for the benefit of the vast majority instead of the increasingly rich minority.

The stranglehold of the banks and capitalist politicians over the lives of millions, in fact, billions, has to be broken. Mass movements, including general strikes, will show the power that the working class can wield in society.

Linked with the energy and anger of the youth, new mass workers' parties can be rapidly built. Confidence in the idea of a socialist alternative to capitalism can and must be renewed without delay.

Unemployed Britain, figures show unemployment on the rise

• Nearly 2.5m people unemployed
• Benefit claimants rise to 1.56m
• Number of women out of work highest since 1988
• Record number are self-employed or working part time
• Youth unemployment pushes back towards 1m

Are just a few of the figures out today from the office of national statistics. All this makes grim news for us all. The governments plans are clearly not working and there is no recovery no matter what they say. It is clear now that the job market in this country is static very few jobs are being created and where they are they are often low paid and poor conditions often part time too.

It is time to tell this government that there is a job crisis in this country and something needs to be done. The bill for people on job seekers allowance will rise as more people loose their job over the next 4 years of this present government then who knows what after that. It is worrying for many young people in particular growing up today facing fewer and fewer opputunities in society for them. A lack of jobs is just one of them.

Youth Fight for Jobs will be marching from Jarrow to London this october to highlight the need for more jobs for young people and the lack of opputunities young people have today.

We also expect and hope the NUS, The national Union of Students to call a national Demonstration for later this eyar too to highlight the lack of jobs and again to put pressure on this government to reverse its decision to treble tuitian fees to 9 grand a year .

The figures out today are worrying also for people set to loose their jobs over the next year or so too. The more unemployed people there are out there the harder it will be for people made redundant to find work again. Further increasing the problem.

But the tories do not worry about mass unemployment they will just blame it on lazy benifit scroungign culture and claim people are not looking hard enough for jobs. Absolute nonsense when there are few jobs it is ridiculously hard to get a job. Even if you have come out of university and have been lucky enough to come out with reasonably small debt you are not even garunteed a job then. So what good will going to university be when at the end you still cant find a job and are told you have no experience so we dont want you.

It is very demoralising for young people and its these people who we face loosing for good if we do not act now and start standing up for young people and their lack of opputunities.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Interview with Dave Nellist of the socialist party on MP's on a workers wage from Red Pepper

This excellent interview from Dave Nellist superbly sums up everything that is wrong with our MP's and polititians and how his sacrifice not as he sees it mind you was so out of the ordinary and would be alien to any MP today. The fact that Dave only took the average skilled workers wage Dave was able to remain situated amoungst the working class and understand their day to day troubles as he was on the same wage as his supporters and residents in his area he represented. If any socialist party or TUSC candidate becomes a elected representitive this is what we would stand by nothing more than a average skilled workers wage.

The interview below with Dave Nellist appeared in Red Pepper in August 2009 - focusing on the MPs' expenses scandal.
It’s no sacrifice
The recent scandal over MPs’ expenses and second jobs only seems to have confirmed the suspicion that ‘they’re all at it’. But when Dave Nellist was elected as Labour MP for Coventry South East he made a point of only taking the wage of an average worker. Now a Coventry city councillor and leading member of the Socialist Party, he spoke to Red Pepper about his experience in Westminster

You took the average worker’s wage as an MP – how much would that have been, roughly, in today’s terms?

It was an average skilled worker’s wage, which was always less than half an MP’s salary. For example, in 1989 MPs received £24,107 and the average skilled worker’s wage that year, calculated from figures from the engineering union’s Coventry district office, was £11,180 – so that was 46 per cent. An MP today is on £64,766 – 46 per cent of that would be £29,792. But the amount I would take today if re-elected would depend not on a percentage, but the actual average wages received by the people I represented.

What were your personal circumstances at the time? Were you married? Did you have kids? Were you conscious of making sacrifices?

My wife Jane and I were married in August 1984, during the miners’ strike. We held a social as part of the wedding celebration and charged an entry fee, which raised quite a bit for the local miners’ support fund!

For the first year we were married Jane still had her job in a department store in Sutton Coldfield. But a year later the first of our three children arrived and for the rest of my time as an MP we only had the one worker’s wage for myself, Jane and our family to live on.

I’d been unemployed before being elected in 1983, so living on a skilled worker’s wage was not a ‘sacrifice’. We had a holiday every year in Scotland or Wales, and we could manage a night out for a meal or to the theatre or the cinema in exactly the same way as any other couple with young children could. But we felt the same pressures with bills and other living expenses as the people I represented.

So I would say taking the ‘worker’s wage’ wasn’t so much making a sacrifice. If I had taken the full MP’s wage we would have been insulated against those day-to-day problems and the pressures that most people in Coventry felt. How did you divide your time between your constituency and Westminster?

Did you need to keep up two houses? Did you take much in the way of expenses above and beyond your ‘worker’s wage’?

I usually dealt with constituency business on Monday morning, went to London Monday lunchtime, tried to come back Tuesday evening (late), more constituency business/meetings on Wednesday morning, then back to London at lunchtime, coming back to Coventry late Thursday night – unless there was any pressing business on Friday. Friday and the weekend would be spent on casework/meetings in the constituency or addressing public meetings elsewhere.

Although I managed to have a voting record usually in the top ten of Labour MPs, I addressed about 1,500 meetings over the nine years I was an MP. In the 1980s parliament often sat late into the night (or even through the night), so I rented a furnished flat in London. No moat or oak beams! Nor any claims for food!

I claimed the full ‘office costs’ allowance to employ research and secretarial assistance in the Commons and in the constituency. I also rented an office in Coventry to work from. I was receiving on average 200 letters a week. We had wards with 50 per cent male unemployment, and a huge amount of constituency casework. None of the office costs money came to me personally – it was used to pay wages, and for rent and equipment.

What did you think of your fellow MPs? Were they clearly ‘on the take’ in your day? Did having a comfortable salary make them out of touch?

A number of MPs had outside jobs – mainly, in those days, Tory MPs with directorships. One I remember, Geoffrey Rippon, who had been a minister in previous Tory governments, was the King of Company Directors. When I was there he was an MP, a QC, and the chairman or director of four dozen different companies. He had 50 jobs!

It always seemed to me to be the real reason why parliament sat in the afternoon and evening, so Tory MPs could make their real money in the mornings – or as Geoffrey Rippon apparently put it, ‘to earn a crust and go on drinking decent claret’. These days, of course, it’s ex-Labour ministers who are earning tens of thousands of pounds a year moonlighting. In my book it’s an even bigger crime than playing the expenses system to be an ex-‘Labour’ minister advising private companies on how to win contracts taking public services away, and getting paid perhaps two or three times an MP’s salary – on top of an MP’s salary!

How did other MPs react to the example set by yourself (and fellow left MPs Pat Wall and Terry Fields), proving that the job could (and perhaps should) be done on the average worker’s wage?

Although there were a number of honourable exceptions (Dennis Skinner’s and other Campaign Group MPs’ generous donations during the miners’ strike, for example), for many Labour MPs it wasn’t the socialist ideas we tried to champion in parliament that upset them the most, but the threat to them receiving their ‘due reward’.

Perhaps the most vivid example was the debate on MPs’ salaries and allowances shortly after the 1987 general election (MPs’ wage increases were never announced before elections, when they might upset voters). The debate started at 9pm and went on until past midnight, and yet every seat in the House was taken! The motion was for a 21.9 per cent rise in MPs’ salaries from £356 a week to £434 a week. That £80 a week rise was £3 more than the then take-home pay for a whole week for civil servants, upon whom the government had just imposed a 4.25 per cent pay award.

I organised the vote against. I prepared a speech, which I reckoned would take me 10-15 minutes to deliver. Because of interruptions, it actually took 38 minutes. I asked MPs to vote against the rise; but that if it were passed I asked Labour MPs to give at least 5 per cent of their new salaries to the Labour Party to prevent the proposed 40 redundancies that were due to take place at Labour headquarters.

Immediately after me, David Blunkett spoke and complained about me ‘lecturing colleagues on how much to give of their pay’. He said he tried ‘to do a good job, to learn how to do it better and to try to earn the rewards that I am paid’. The motion to increase MPs’ wages by 22 per cent went through by an 11 to one majority.

David Blunkett now apparently gets three times his MP’s salary (on top of his MP’s salary) in outside earnings from firms including A4e, which describes itself as ‘a leader in global public service reform’.

I rest my case.

Dave Nellist was MP for Coventry South East from 1983 until 1992

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Monday, 15 August 2011

London Rioting: The Tabloid Right and the Trendy Left Join Hands to Misrepresent Working People

This excellent article recently published on the Portsmouth socialist party's blog is a good read and assesment of the riots and the subsequent response to the rioters from the press and some otehrs on the left. It is not meant to come across as sectarian at all and should not be read in that way.

“Only a blinkered left-winger fuelled by Marxist dogma could pretend that looting from a carpet store represents heroic blows against a racist establishment” declared Daily Express columnist Leo McKinstry to the ever dwindling number of readers his newspaper manages to either appeal or be given away to. Paltry as his readership may be he’s not entirely wrong. Even the most ardent supporter of the ultra-left would struggle to paint the pinching of some carpet as a classic revolutionary moment of proletarian struggle, without resorting to phrases such as ‘revolutionary moment of proletarian struggle.’ Yet both the ultra-left and the tabloid-right clamour to offer us the polar extremes with their interpretation of the rioting which has brought further misery to some of London’s most deprived boroughs.

Inevitably The Express and the Mail stand up for the largely mythical ‘hang ‘em, flog em’, deport ‘em – but not before cutting their benefits brigade’ while the ultras plumb the depths of the rhetoric they wheeled out for the student protests. Its ‘criminal irresponsibility’ and ‘opportunistic thievery’ here and ‘smash the police’, ‘London’s burning’ there. So familiar, so tired and so irrelevant.

Clearly the rioting was neither A nor B. There were no armed gangs waiting outside Carpet World in the off chance that a riot would grant them the opportunity to fit out their hallway, but neither was the violence a calculated or conscious rejection of capitalism in favour of a socialist alternative. Indeed it is the very lack of socialist consciousness and the very lack of that alternative as a viable option which leads to such scenes of urban violence.

Through the damnation of the feckless represented by the tabloids and the lionisation of the mob by the ultra-left you can see the two frames through which the middle class view the working class when the mask slips. On one hand you see the prejudice against working people which spawned the phrase ‘chav’ and the stomach churning impressions of teenage mums by millionaire ‘comedians’. The disorder and poverty in these communities are a result of feckless irresponsibility we are told. At worst it leads to criminality and at best it leads to a life of sponging from the welfare state.

This is the interpretation which keeps a straight face when blaming rioting on individual criminals or even on Twitter. Brace yourselves, we are warned, the lower orders have the internet and they can now communicate instantly – it’s anarchy in 140 characters! No doubt, the skinny latte sipping blackberry owners feel as their ancestors once felt when the plebs got their hands on the printing press or the vote. Democracy and communication: brilliant tools for the well heeled and responsible, but a dangerous weapon in the hands of angry prols.

The worst offenders for peddling this overt prejudice against the working class are, as always, the professional bile spewers of the Daily Mail and the Daily Express, who are of course paid to flout artificial levels of conceit and malice to the least fortunate in society. We shouldn’t be surprised when they lead the way in calling for water cannon, rubber bullets, martial law or capital punishment. It doesn’t even come as that much of a shock when these commentators start comparing rioters to animals, thereby du-humanising the disenfranchised with the sort of rhetoric reminiscent of the Victorian era.

What does come as a surprise is how quickly variations of these views are repeated by otherwise sane and rational people when events such as the riots unfold. Let’s take two examples from the world of twitter:

» Hi, i’m British & you see those people rioting out in the streets? Yeah? Well they’re chavs, the most hated people in the UK.
» Good idea burning down your country to steal an Adidas tracksuit you stupid brainless chavs.
Both have been re-tweeted multiple times, but now replace ‘chav’ with Nigger, Paki, Queer, Chink or any one of a hundred deliberately insulting words for a section of society and suddenly most of us would not only refuse to say it, we’d berate someone who would.

The demonization of the working class is truly one of the last acceptable faces of open hatred and prejudice. While such casual hatred has been elevated to the mainstream over the past few years, this lazy stereotyping has now been coupled to a very visible threat through the rioting. Suddenly it is acceptable to say you’re afraid that ‘they’ may come down from the estates and loot your house or that ‘they’ are feral or animalistic. Fall into that mindset and you fall in alongside Max Hasting and Leo McKinstry.

For the ultra and trendy left, a stereotype which also predominantly harks from the middle classes, the riots appear to be a glorious moment of theory made flesh. Smash Vodaphone! Nick from Nike! Punish the Police! To the trendy left the riots are considered some sort of conscious uprising, a raw anger of the masses kicking out against the oppression of the police. This understanding could not be more wrong.

The rioting is not a rough and raw version of the working class self-organisation that we saw in Egypt when people spontaneously defended their neighbourhoods from the police or linked arms to protect Cairo’s antiquates museum from looters. It’s the very inverse. Far from a glorious insurrection, rioting demonstrates the very depths that capitalism can push people to. It’s the violent, selfish and angry side of the very system we’re looking to overthrow. Rioting is the worst face of capitalism, something socialists want to abolish, not encourage.

Another justification from this section of the left is that the violence of the riots is tiny in comparison to the greater crimes of the system. “What’s the crime of looting a discount sportswear store compared to the crime of founding one?” the Facebook friends of one sect member were asked. The other example being wheeled out is that of the bankers. The looting of Debenhams is nothing compared to the looting by the banks! Indeed that’s true, but it’s not the same. Capitalism encourages one but makes the other illegal and therein lies the point. A truly just system, which is what we are looking to build lest we forget, would deem both illegal.

This misunderstanding appears to be a world away from Leo McKinstry’s hatred, but is ignoring the reality of the violence to make it fit a delusional and glorified narrative purely for your own excitement really any better than condemning it with hateful rhetoric in order to flog a few more papers?

The underling social causes behind the violence have already been clearly presented here: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/12498/08-08-2011/tottenham-riots-fatal-police-shooting-sparks-eruption-of-protest-amp-anger

While the only way forward is spelled out here: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/12510/09-08-2011/as-inner-cities-erupt-a-mass-workers-movement-is-needed-to-defeat-the-government

It is clear that just as political and social alienation can lead the politically conscious youth of Madrid and Athens to the camps of the Indignados, that same alienation, coupled with the dire social and material conditions of places like Tottenham make these communities a tinderbox. This time it’s a police shooting which started the fires, but as austerity measures kick in this will not be the last time that we see the depths people can be pushed to by capitalism.


Broken Britain ? only thing broken in Britain is capitalism

After the UK riots last week we will now be entertained bhy polititian after polititian telling us what we need to do and what we shouldnt do to solve the crisis as they put it.

But if we have learnt anything it is that we havent learnt from our mistakes of the 80's. When there was mass riots in Brixton and Broad water farm in Tottenham. Although on a much bigger scale the same old rhetoric is being churned out by out of touch polititians who have not got the first idea why the people have started rioting. They think to solve this we need better, stronger and more policing to solve this and prevent it happening again.

This is completely missing the point. Looking at the causes and the reasons for the riots is not by any means condoning them at all it is taking time to understand the rioters motives and reasons behind what they did. This is not simply down to criminality although their actions were we must look deeper.

When David Cameron famously said Britain is Broken refering to the country being fragmented and families being disjointed he was not thinking this would come to the fore so quickly into his tenure.

But we did . There has been mass inequality for years in this country gone largely unnoticed by many and the media too. But areas like Tottenham which have not really progressed much at all since the 80's are feeling the force of brutal savage austerity cuts which are making a difficult situation worse still.

It is no coincidence all the areas where rioting took place there is deprevation and povety and a lack of jobs and services for the youth.

So i would say it is not Britain that is broken it is this rotten capitalist system which requires a surplus of workers at any one time when it cant make a profit with something it is not viable to a capitalist despite its social need.

We must highlight to others that Britain is not broken at all but the greed and the nature of the system we live under has failed and failed the people as a whole. Many people in these areas cannot find work and even when they can the pay is poor and not enough for them to live a decent life on.

We must highlight that the root cause of all this is capitalism not a benifit scrounging culture of the lazy and unemployed as many would work if they could find a decent job.

But this goes back years back through previous governments including Labour i'm afraid to say who have let communities such as Tottenham down by providing poor housing, jobs and education in affect ghettoising areas and failing to bring areas up to a good standard for all not just the few.

It is the nature of capitalism that a class based society comes about and one class oppress's another by using the state. We have seen this again with the role and the use of the police by the government.

David Cameron in his wisdom has been talking of bringing in a police chief who has helped solve gang culture in New York and Los Angeles in America. Having not lived there i cant say for sure but i imagine even in those areas there is not a total end to povety and deprevation it is just hidden better no doubt. Just like with next years Olympics in London the poorer run down areas will be kept well away from the tourists and visitors to the games to portray a clean safe image of our capital but yet we all know the issues still remain. Sweeping a problem under the carpet does not make it go away Mr Cameron and you will do well to remember this.

Britain itself is not broken the people are alive and well and starting to wake up to the nightmares of austerity and cuts to their living standards. Be they backdoor inflation or a rise in VAT or a cut to your local youth service we will all before long feel the cuts and austerity bite. It is not time to get depressed and turn to riots but to organise and fightback as a organised collective power of the working class.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

The loosers uprising

We never thought we would hear a defence of The "Losers' Uprising" as German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung termed it from the Daily Telegraph but we now have.

"Richard Branson was thinking of moving his headquarters to Switzerland. This move was represented as a potential blow to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, because it meant less tax revenue... People would note that a prominent and wealthy businessman was avoiding British tax and think less of him. Instead, he has a knighthood and is widely feted. The same is true of the brilliant retailer Sir Philip Green. Sir Philip’s businesses could never survive but for Britain’s famous social and political stability, our transport system to shift his goods and our schools to educate his workers. Yet Sir Philip, who a few years ago sent an extraordinary £1 billion dividend offshore, seems to have little intention of paying for much of this. Why does nobody get angry or hold him culpable? I know that he employs expensive tax lawyers and that everything he does is legal, but he surely faces ethical and moral questions just as much as does a young thug who breaks into one of Sir Philip’s shops and steals from it? Rotherham MP Denis MacShane who accurately remarked, “What the looters wanted was for a few minutes to enter the world of Sloane Street consumption.” This from a man who notoriously claimed £5,900 for eight laptops. Of course, as an MP he obtained these laptops legally through his expenses. Labour MP Gerald Kaufman asked the Prime Minister to consider how these rioters can be “reclaimed” by society. Yes, this is indeed the same Gerald Kaufman who submitted a claim for three months’ expenses totalling £14,301.60, which included £8,865 for a Bang & Olufsen television. Salford MP Hazel Blears, who has been loudly calling for draconian action against the looters. I find it very hard to make any kind of ethical distinction between Blears’s expense cheating and tax avoidance, and the straight robbery carried out by the looters. Take the example of Francis Maude, who is charged with tackling public sector waste – which trade unions say is a euphemism for waging war on low‑paid workers. Yet Mr Maude made tens of thousands of pounds by breaching the spirit, though not the law, surrounding MPs’ allowances. The Prime Minister spoke of morality, but only as something which applies to the very poor:..He appeared not to grasp that this should apply to the rich and powerful as well. Cameron is himself guilty of failing this test. It is scarcely six weeks since he jauntily turned up at the News International summer party, even though the media group was at the time subject to not one but two police investigations. Even more notoriously, he awarded a senior Downing Street job to the former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, even though he knew at the time that Coulson had resigned after criminal acts were committed under his editorship. The Prime Minister excused his wretched judgment by proclaiming that “everybody deserves a second chance”. It was very telling yesterday that he did not talk of second chances as he pledged exemplary punishment for the rioters and looters. These double standards from Downing Street are symptomatic of widespread double standards at the very top of our society. Certainly, the so-called feral youth seem oblivious to decency and morality. But so are the venal rich and powerful – too many of our bankers, footballers, wealthy businessmen and politicians. Of course, most of them are smart and wealthy enough to make sure that they obey the law. That cannot be said of the sad young men and women, without hope or aspiration, who have caused such mayhem and chaos over the past few days. But the rioters have this defence: they are just following the example set by senior and respected figures in society..."
As socialists, we hate vandalism, we believe in peaceful social and political dialogue. But, when people take the law into their hands, that means that they have been oppressed beyond bounds and they are prone to explode. And their explosion can result to rioting, rebellion, terrorism and sometimes total anarchy. Capitalism needs a reserve army of unemployed, to exert a downward pressure on wages as well as a source of readily-available extra labour-power that can be called upon during the expansion phase of the capitalist economic cycle. In addition, there is always a surplus population who, for various reasons, are never going to be employed. The level of state "benefits" paid to these non-working sections of the working class is fixed more by political than economic considerations, basically by what the state can get away with without provoking riots. The state has evidently pushed a section of these workers too far. The result has been a revolt against the state as represented by the police, the fire brigade and public buildings. The state has replied in kind. Sending in more police, declaring almost state of emergency, imposing and handing down severe sentences. in the end, the state will win and the riots will be put down.

Rioting, though is not the answer. What is required is not blind rage but that the quite legitimate rage of these victims of capitalism should be accompanied by an understanding of the situation capitalism has put them in. Capitalism causes - in fact, requires - some workers to be surplus to requirements and suffer above average social exclusion. Once this is understood, then it will be realised that the constructive thing to do is to work for a new society in which having to obtain money, by hook or by crook, to acquire what you need to live will be a thing of the past. Capitalism should be eradicated without further delay to enable us to enjoy the beautiful things of the world without the need to loot or steal them .