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Friday, 30 November 2012

Guest post : Nancy Taaffe why i'm against food banks

This post below is a republishing of a fantastic post written by my comrade Nancy Taaffe who lives in London, a really well put piece highlighting the hypocrisy of Labur Mp's and those who think they are doing good but are not tackling povety at al. “When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist” Helder Camara, Liberation Theologian Nancy Taaffe speaking out Every Saturday the Anti-Cuts Union has a stall in Walthamstow campaigning against cuts. The Labour Council passed a budget that has taken £65 million away from local services. I lost my job in a library, a job which I had for over 10 years. Children and young peoples’ services have been decimated by cuts, with some services, such as careers, being cut by almost a third. The three main political parties say it wasn’t their fault, that there isn’t any money but… …THAT’S A LIE. A report in The Guardian last year stated that there is currently £750 billion locked away in banks by the rich who see no immediate way to make a profit and so they just sit on the money and let it collect interest, £120 billion is squirrelled away through tax evasion and one thousand of the riches people in this country increased their wealth by £155 billion last year, enough to wipe out the nation’s deficit overnight. Meanwhile my local foodbank runs a stall in a market on a Saturday next to the Anti-Cuts Union stall where they ask the poor of Walthamstow to donate tins and toiletries to the destitute of Walthamstow. Food banks need to get political My annoyance at foodbanks is that we are not in debt, there is money to feed everyone, and we, the poor, shouldn’t pay for a crisis we didn’t create. I understand that foodbanks are often set up by well intentioned people who want to help, but I would question whether a foodbank without politics does actually help. Poverty is not like a hurricane or a flood, it’s man made and it can be man solved. I stood on the Town Hall steps for over a year asking Labour Councillors to set a needs budget and reject cuts but, to a man and woman they all voted for them. I stopped my local MP Stella Creasy (a big proponent of foodbanks) in the street (as I was losing my job) and asked her to make a public statement condemning cuts to libraries and children’s services but she just wouldn’t. Why? Because getting behind the consequence of cuts is far easier than fighting a preemptive battle….. if you are a career politician. When 3 million public sector workers took industrial action last November for decent pensions to prevent poverty in old age the same MP who stands behind the foodbank stall and campaigns against poverty wouldn’t support them. Strikes me, if your simpering and crushed by poverty then you get patronised and pitied but if you stand with a straight back and lean look and assert yourself through your trade union then you get condemned. I suppose it’s the hypocrisy I can’t stand, the Councillors who voted to sack me all support foodbanks. The smell of fresh tar My Liverpool Grandmother would tell me stories of the poverty her family endured in the 30′s, of picking up orange peel by the side of the road to gnaw on to alleviate hunger pains or sniffing the air when fresh tar was laid on the road because it smelt like food. But she also described the humiliation that many mothers had to endure at the hands of “charitable organisations”, how it was common to have to stand in a cold church hall with children clawing at your skirts and put your case to the parish fathers as to why you should have money to survive. Often these “parish fathers” were local businessmen and factory owners who paid poverty wages to their workers and were vicious if the workers went on strike for decent pay and decent working conditions. Rebellion against charity The rebellion that took place in the working class after the Second World War was not just a reaction to the horror of war but was a revolution against the humiliation of poor relief and welfare administration built on “charity”. I suppose if foodbanks get political and mobilised those they feed to get organised, then I could support them. If, like the unemployed movements of the 30s, they not only fed people but stirred them up to fight for revolutionary change, then I would get right behind them. If I could sum up my opposition to charity without politics I would have to do it with the help of the inimitable Oscar Wilde who said: “We are often told that the poor are grateful for charity. Some of them are, no doubt, but the best amongst the poor are never grateful. They are ungrateful, discontented, disobedient, and rebellious. They are quite right to be so. Charity they feel to be a ridiculously inadequate mode of partial restitution, or a sentimental dole, usually accompanied by some impertinent attempt on the part of the sentimentalist to tyrannise over their private lives. …Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue” …Long live disobedience! with thanks to http://thefoodbankers.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/guest-post-nancy-taaffe-explains-why-shes-against-foodbanks/

Today is the anniversary of N30…TUC name the date for a 24 hour general strike!

Yes…today, it will be 12 months ago to the day when over 2 million public sector workers went on strike to defend their pensions. It may have been just a year ago but how many have forgotten about that day? The biggest single day of strike action this country has seen for possibly 85 years, since the general strike of 1926. But we believe that when you close your eyes and remember how great a day that was or look at the photos you took or the videos on YouTube, you’ll realise that it really did happen and it IS possible for workers to take action in their millions. Because that’s what happened on N30 2011. It wasn’t just a strike, it was a mobilisation of working people. The streets were full in London, Glasgow, Belfast and Cardiff but also Taunton, Brighton, Newcastle and almost every town and city throughout the country. We’ve no doubt that it was the sights and sounds of workers and their unions on the march again that has led to the countless disputes this year, including victories like the Sparks, London buses and the Sova recycling workers in Sheffield. N30 should have been the beginning of a programme of co-ordinated action that could have defeated this government. But some of the union leaders settled and killed the momentum, despite the best efforts of those like PCS, POA, RMT, Unite, ISU, NIPSA and UCU who tried to salvage the dispute this May. But N30 showed that our demand that the TUC co-ordinate a 24-hour general strike against the billions of pounds of cuts we’ve had and the 80% to come isn’t a pipedream but necessary and possible. If a strike of the proportions of N30 was organised with the time for unions to prepare properly and co-ordinate ballots and live disputes, how many other workplaces would see it as the chance to raise their grievances against their employer – to strike together in maximum strength? N30 2012 will be like most days are this year – a day of strikes and protests. PCS members in the Department of Transport will be on strike and all other PCS branches will holding protests and to build for their national strike ballot in the New Year on pay and to fight attacks on terms and conditions and union facility time. Low-paid cleaners in RMT will be on the 2nd day of a 48 hour strike for a decent wage. We’ll be supporting these workers but imagine what we could achieve, if we went on strike together? The NSSN has called a lobby of the TUC General Council on Tuesday December 11th – now from 8.30am. It’s outside TUC HQ in Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS. We took up to a 1000 union activists to Brighton to lobby the TUC conference in September to successfully build support for the POA motion calling for the unions to “consider the practicalities of a general strike”. Come to the lobby on December 11th and let the union leaders know how “practical” and absolutely vital it is!

Battle to save the NHS continues

Even if the mainstream media will not cover the carving up of our NHS and feel that what the church do or don’t do is far more important reporting then I guesses we’ll just have to do it ourselves. Over the last year the NHS has changed and is constantly changing. Next year 2013 is set to see the introduction of the Health and Social care bill which will see the end of the NHS as we know it. 49% of beds will go to private patients with huge multi billion contracts being put out for tender to private companies such as Virgin care, Circle Bupa and more. This is worrying times indeed. Just in Lewisham the other weekend there was a big demonstration of around 10 thousand workers, campaigners and members of the public all very much aware what is going on and what could happen if we don’t fight now. On Saturday 24 November, defying cold driving rain, up to 10,000 residents and staff marched to defend their local hospital. A south London nurse reports. The atmosphere was electric as the demonstration brought Lewisham High Street to a standstill. Drivers tooted their horns enthusiastically. The Unison, NUT, and Unite union banners headed up the march. Also prominent was the National Shop Stewards Network banner. Unison's London region swung behind the demonstration, giving health staff confidence to march en masse. Feelings are strong over this planned closure. 250,000 Lewisham residents know that this situation is critical. People may die if they are conveyed longer distances to either Woolwich or Kings College A&E for emergency treatment. Maternity and other services are also at risk. The administrator, Matthew Kershaw and the new Woolwich and Lewisham chief executives must be held to account for this devastation. Staff and patients chanted "Save Lewisham a&E. Save the NHS". They see shutting their local casualty as just one in a string of planned assaults by this government. It's all one NHS. NHS managers, ministers and MPs use divide and rule tactics, talking about different areas of the NHS as if they were separate worlds. All NHS cuts must be vehemently opposed. This casualty department meets all its performance targets and has one of the lowest rates of hospital acquired infection in the NHS. Yet this state of the art department, that had just seen £12 million worth of investment, is closing. And while our NHS is being disassembled bit by bit, the wealthy controllers of Private Finance Initiative schemes (which are wrecking hospitals) are getting richer than ever! Platform speakers highlighted the unfairness of the planned closure. At an open staff meeting at Lewisham hospital following the march, health workers and supporters spoke on where to take this epic struggle. NUT national executive member Martin Powell-Davies assured Lewisham NHS staff that they would get great support if strike action followed this great show of community involvement. Health trade unionists should call for emergency branch meetings and put forward motions for NHS staff to be balloted for strike action. If we strike we can win. If we do not, we could lose a key casualty department forever! Many health workers may think they cannot strike but they can, with the unions planning for emergency cover in the event of a strike. If industrial action is coordinated across health union branches the fight to keep Lewisham A&E open will be victorious and strike a blow against all public sector cuts. Also Admin and clerical workers at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust have been fighting attempts to cut their pay and conditions through well-supported strike action. Trust bosses claim that these attacks on low-paid workers are necessary in order to make savings of £24 million by the new financial year and achieve Foundation Trust status in 2014. Payments to the consortium which built the £311 million PFI hospitals in Wakefield and Pontefract are costing the Trust over £40 million annually. But our Unison branch has long argued that the only real solution to the Trust's financial crisis is to re-nationalise its PFI hospitals, cancel all debts to the consortium which built them and open Trust accounts to full public scrutiny. We will oppose all cuts and privatisation demanded by the Health and Social Care Act. We are lending our full support to the 'Save Our Local Hospital Services' community-led campaign which aims to maintain full services at our three hospitals, and bring all privatised services back under full public ownership. Such local campaigns should be backed by all health unions and linked into a national campaign to save the NHS. With extracts from this weeks socialist

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Why minimum alcohol pricing is not the answer

I am firmly against the idea of a minimum pricing strategy for alcohol. This is for various reasons which I shall explain I do not think raising the price of drinks in pubs and in the super markets will bring down binge drinking one bit people who enjoy drinking and drink to get drunk will not be deterred by this in fact it will give them added incentive I feel as they will turn to shoplifting or worse to get alcohol. We may see the return of home brewing and some even stronger alcohol being imported from abroad which is even more dangerous than what we have currently. I think there is also the adanger of this turning into a nanny state question again. Where we are told what we can and cant do once more. I am a drinker of alcohol I’ll admit that but not excessively that often I am more a social drinker with friends and comrades at weekends and after meetings. This minimum price will hit me who am not a troublemaker in the pocket and guess where the extra tax will go? The government who already make huge amounts of cash in tax through alcohol and breweries will be hit as a result. The pub trade is an industry close to my heart and with the introduction of this plan this will put even more pubs out of business than there already is. Already there is roughly 1 pub closing every week in this country and this will only increase this further. It’s a barmy idea which will only benefit big business and capitalism this won’t solve peoples drinking habits or improve the pub trade. This is a cynical ploy by health charities who claim to want the best for us while not even stopping to think of the social reasons why people often young people end up drinking vast quantities of drink a lot. Do they stop to think could it be the lack of an education, lack of a good well paid job? Poor housing conditions or lack of housing at all that turn ordinary working class people to drink every day. I lay the blame squarely at the feet of capitalism who while drives people to drink literally through driving them into the ground through the wage slave system also makes millions of pounds out of peoples misery in the process. Nice this capitalism ay? The solution, a democratic planned socialist economy based on peoples needs, breweries which are run for peoples needs not for the profits of th boss’s a fair cheap affordable drink structure with good affordable housing with good well paid jobs. All possible when big business sits on 800 billion and refuses to invest, time to tax the rich!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Work? What work? Work programme failing as economy tanks

With the DWP’s own figures out today and a startling figure whatever you think of the pro’s and con’s to the work programme has seen only 3.53% of those who were enrolled on the work programme in finding employment. That is staggering what a huge fail by this government and the previous gov who brought in the programme to help get people back to work. It’s clear to me at the time and also now that you can’t get people into jobs that do not exist. The right scream benefit scroungers and work shy but its clear there simply isn’t the jobs out there for people to get into. • Work Programme was launched nationally on the 1 June 2011 and replaced Flexible New Deal. • Work Programme official statistics on outcomes were released for the first time at 9.30 on 27 November 2012 by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). • The latest Work Programme official statistics on referrals and attachments were released on 7th November 2012. Work Programme Official Statistics The latest official statistics on Work Programme include figures to the end of July 2012. Key points from the latest release are: • The total number of job outcomes paid to providers from 1st June 2011 to the end of July 2012 is 31 thousand; • The total number of referrals and attachments to the Work Programme from 1st June 2011 to the end of July 2012 are 878 thousand and 837 thousand respectively Just 3.7% of people referred to workfare found work and just 2.3% kept jobs. This backs up the socialist party and Youth fight for jobs views at the time that we still need real jobs that pay a living wage for young and old people to live on. 0 hours contracts which I know many people on are not sustainable and are unreliable and poorly paid. If this is the Tories idea of getting the economy moving again there is real trouble ahead. The poor figures are more indication of a government in denial about its strategy of cuts and austerity. The work programme was never designed to get people back to work it has been used as a stick to beat the unemployed with and to demonise them as scroungers if they fail to get work and remain on benefits. It’s an awful system and something which capitalism loves your unpaid labour for nothing this is pure gold to a capitalist not even having to pay for their workers subsistence. Quite clearly we need to demand real jobs with a living wage, socially useful jobs that can help meet people needs not dead end jobs which give you nothing at the end of it.

Monday, 26 November 2012

What can we expect from the Leveson report this week?

This week Lord Justice Leveson concludes his report and will announce his findings and recommendations this Thursday. After months of intense interviewing where we have all enjoyed watching the likes of Rupert Murdoch and our good friendly Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair squirm under the questioning from the committees appointed to question these media sorts. With the charging of Andy Coulson and Rebecca Brooks we look to be finally seeing some justice in terms of big names getting outed as criminals as they rightly are they may well protest their innocence till the time the door on their cell is slammed shut but there can be no doubt of what they knew. Andy Coulson who played a huge part in seeing well known socialist Tommy Sheridan jailed for perjury will hopefully see that sentence quashed and over turned in place of Andy coulson going to jail. But one of the big questions will be will the report by Leveson change the way the press report and behave. I don’t think it will in any major way we live under capitalism where the press is still owned despite all the bad headlines for our press it’s still a law to itself in many ways. The political establishment are especially keen to see the press remain unregulated and all the rumours are that David Cameron will give the press a ticking off but go easy on them and give them one last chance. This will be interesting given the backlash from the public after the phone hacking scandals and if Cameron is seen to ignore the findings or simply just pay lip service to the report this could play very badly for the prime minister. I don’t think full regulation is what people want but the public do want to see a fully accountable press in terms of privacy and invasions of this. I don’t think we will get this for as long as the press is not under democratic control of the masses. But Leveson has left his mark on the press and any eventualities that come out this week will be big news without a doubt. The press has had a big warning will it listen? I doubt it but people’s attitudes have changed slightly. The outrage when a dead young girl’s phone was hacked was huge people were rightly angry and wanted revenge will Levisohn take account of the public’s mood on this and make recommendations that fit 2012 and beyond. Whatever happens three will still be a unregulated press of some description who will still try and push the boundaries as much as they can apteral we’d still wish to know if our thieving MP’s are on the fiddle still and exposing their lies where they can. Only a publically funded democratic system of socialism where the media will be under the control of the workers deciding how much media coverage each story gets and ensuring its fairness and unbiased representing the views of the many not just the narrow interests of a few rich individuals can be called anything near a free press until then the idea we have a free press is a simple pipe dream.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Are UKIP any alternative for workers?

I’ve heard a lot of late of the UK independence party so I thought I’d tackle them head on in this blog post. I’d like to give a detailed analysis of whether the working class should see them as any sort of alternative at all to the major political parties. No doubt UKIP will gain in support in the short term due to the disaffection from the 3 major parties they have some very wealthy backers and have a well known representative in Nigel farage who gets a lot of television and radio air time despite his complaints far more than reel alternatives like TUSC and those genuinely opposed to the cuts. UKIP are trying to position themselves as anti establishment and we as socialists must be very clear this is a absolute lie given their funding base and the aims of its party UKIP are yet another establishment party playing on the fears of workers and middle class voters on the issue of Europe and given the Euro crisis its no wonder a reactionary anti EU stance is getting an echo with voters at the moment. But we must be wary of the dangers they pose. IN THE 2004 elections to the European Parliament one-third of the UK votes cast went to parties without representation at Westminster. The biggest of these was the UK Independence Party (UKIP) who won 16%, pushing the Lib Dems into fourth place. UKIP do not oppose the European Union because it benefits the bosses at the expense of workers. They have no problem with privatisation of public services and industries, restrictions on trade union rights, redundancies or forcing wages down. The leaders of UKIP, and many of their backers are mainly has been right-wing Tories who are trying to push the Tory party into opposing the EU. One of UKIP's biggest donors in the past was Stuart Wheeler. He is a rich businessman and Tory party member who have donated millions of pounds to the Tories. Now he has donated £100,000 to UKIP and called on other Tory party members to vote for them. These right-wing businessmen aren't giving millions of pounds to UKIP because they want more money spent on hospitals and education. They oppose the EU partly from a standpoint of wanting more "free trade" and "deregulation" of businesses. That is, more freedom for big business to gamble with our jobs and pensions, and to profit from the sell-off of more public services. In their first election TV broadcast on 7 May 2004, UKIP called the EU "a bloated organisation that is riddled with corruption where expenses and subsidies are abused". They should know - they are just as deep in corruption as all the other capitalist parties. Of the 12 UKIP members of the European parliament (MEPs) elected in 2004, UKIP have had to expel two for corruption. UKIP leader Nigel Farage has taken £2 million of taxpayers' money in expenses and allowances as a MEP, on top of his £64,000 a year salary. Tom Wise, elected as a UKIP MEP in 2004, has been kicked out of UKIP twice after allegations that he channelled tens of thousands of pounds meant for his researcher into his own bank account. He has now been charged with money-laundering and false accounting. Another, Ashley Mote, was jailed for benefit fraud in 2007. UKIP had selected him as their number two candidate in the South East despite knowing he was facing charges for fraud, but were forced to expel him a few months after his election in 2004. Incredibly, because Mote's prison sentence was less than one year, he was able to return as an MEP! A key UKIP slogan is "no too unlimited EU immigration" - a cynical attempt to tap into the real fear that exists about jobs and wages. This fear is not just as a result of the current economic crisis but also present and previous UK governments including new Labours attempts to use migrant labour, particularly from Eastern Europe, to drive down wages and increase the profits of big business. The only way workers can defend their rights is by taking collective action, like the recent N14 general strikes across mainland Europe showing the potential power of the European working class. Workers all around the EU need to stand together against job losses, the 'race to the bottom' in terms of wages and working conditions, and the attempts to push through privatisation and to break trade union agreements. UKIP do not care about workers' rights. John Whitaker, ex UKIP MEP for the North West sacked his constituency office manager after she had a stroke - an employment tribunal found him guilty of unlawful dismissal. UKIP's attempt to gain votes as an 'anti-establishment' party is contrived. Its policies and actions make it part of the right wing establishment. So UKIP who may gain in the short term by reactionary views towards the EU have no real practical solution for the working class of Europe or of Britain for that matter and must be treated with the contempt that they treat workers with. They are no alterative and we must be on our guard against them with their rich mates ploughing money into this right wing anti immigrant party. With UKIP nationally now regularly out polling the Lib Dems and attracting some rather unsavourily far right characters many of which are ex BNP we must always be wary of the far right racist possible fascist threat which if the labour movement fails to give a lead could easily gain in support as a reaction.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Could socialism really work in the 21st century?

I was having a good debate the other day with a member at a local debating society I go to we were discussing the economic crisis and the mess we are in and I put forward my ideas of another world is possible a world run by the many for the many we got on to all topics such as what does taxing the rich really mean, who indeed are the rich are they those on 100 grand a year or is there far fewer of them. We all agreed that the working class’s pay far too much tax that was music to my socialist ears. But we got on to human nature an my friends idea that socialism could never work as people are naturally greedy and human nature would mean we all want more. I countered this by saying under a democratic socialist system there would be no need for crime, povety or greed as there would be enough to go around for us all to live comfortably. My friend said this will never happen as we always want more than our neighbour. This is the entrenched ideology of capitalism bourgeois ideas to want us to want more and more this is unnatural in my eyes. No one, of course, can give a blueprint of how socialism is going to work. But we can as Marxists work out which direction we are travelling in and the likely outcomes of such movements. "It's a nice idea but it will never happen" is one of the most common responses to the suggestion that it is in our interests to work towards building a socialist society. The assumption is that socialism will rely upon everybody being altruistic, sacrificing their own interests for those of others. But socialism would actually involve the majority of people recognising their common interests. People are too greedy This is a common objection to socialism, and suggests that, in socialism, some people would take more than their share of goods. Images are conjured up of people walking out of supermarkets carrying stockpiles of food—after all, isn't that what everyone would do if all goods were freely available? It may be what people would do in today's capitalist society, where what we need appears to be scarce because it is rationed by the payment of the wage. But if food were given away free in socialism, there would be no need to take more than you need. Because food will have been produced to satisfy society's needs, not for profit, it will be available on that basis. The current world food supply (let alone the potential supply) is enough to feed the global population Indeed, there is the potential to meet the broader range of human needs, in an environmentally sustainable way, if socialism were established. Once the insecurity of our current society is left behind, it would simply become pointless to take more than you needed. Who would do the dirty work? This is a common objection to the proposal that all work be contributed on a voluntary basis. Some people point to certain kinds of work that people might seek to avoid—such as cleaning out sewers, or mining. A more extreme form of the argument suggests that everyone would spend the whole day in bed if they were not forced to work. Humans throughout history have sought fulfillment through their work. If they have not enjoyed their work, it has not been through dislike of work in general but due to the particular purpose and conditions of the work that they have been forced to undertake. Work under socialism has the potential to be entirely different to capitalist employment. The most important reason for this is that unpleasant work could be organised far more efficiently than under capitalism and that all work would be organised so as to be as pleasant as possible. The purpose of work would be entirely different. Under capitalism, much of the work done is the work required by capitalism in order to perpetuate its own existence. In socialism, the only work that would need to be done would be that for directly meeting human needs. Indeed, interesting and pleasant work is itself a human need. And work that isn't in itself interesting and pleasant must be minimised or abolished. If a household gets a washing machine, you never hear the family members who used to do the laundry by hand complain that this "puts them out of work". But strangely enough, if a similar development occurs on a broader social scale it is seen as a serious problem—"unemployment"—which can only be solved by inventing more jobs for people to do. The fact is that most jobs under capitalism are either completely or partially unnecessary. Many of those that are necessary are performed by stressed people working long hours while others suffer poverty. In a sane society, the elimination of all these absurd jobs (not only those that produce or market ridiculous and unnecessary commodities, but the far larger number directly or indirectly involved in promoting and protecting the whole capitalist system) would reduce necessary tasks to such a trivial level that they could easily be taken care of voluntarily and cooperatively, eliminating the need for the whole apparatus of economic incentives and state enforcement. That economists now believe that in 20 years time, total world demand for all commodities could be met by 2% of the global population—and this in capitalist society!—suggests necessary work in socialist society could be so organised as to enable individuals to contribute no more than a few hours a week to the good of society. Waste, destruction and exploitation are the ultimate outcomes of the market economy and production for profit. The market develops and ‘regulates’ the economy through booms and slumps, with an inevitable tendency towards overproduction and overcapacity. As society moves towards socialism goods and services become directly produced to meet needs, not indirectly for a market based on an exchange to realise profit. At the early stage of socialism there will, of course, still be elements of capitalism left. Money will have to be used for a time but, unlike before, the material and human resources are there for a rapid advance towards a society – or more correctly, a world – based on the socialist principle: ‘From each according to his or her ability, to each according to their needs’. Many reasons are given for the fall of the planned if highly bureaucratic economy of the Soviet Union but It was not central planning as such that brought Stalinism to its knees. It was the absence of democracy, elected bodies and accountability, the prerequisites for a planned economy. The more the economies developed, the more acute became the crisis. In response, the bureaucracies themselves started to introduce ‘market-reforms’ which, in turn, accelerated the process of crisis and disintegration. Leon Trotsky was the first to explain how the ulcer of bureaucratism and totalitarianism worsens "the more the economy runs into the problem of quality, which slips out of the hands of a bureaucracy like a shadow. The Soviet products are as though branded with the grey label of indifference. Under a nationalised economy, quality demands a democracy of producers and consumers, freedom of criticism and initiative – conditions incompatible with a totalitarian regime of fear, lies and flattery". "Behind the question of quality stands a more complicated and grandiose problem which may be comprised in the concept of independent, technical and cultural creation. No new values can be created where a free conflict of ideas is impossible... Soviet democracy is not the demand of an abstract policy, still less an abstract moral. It has become a life-and-death need". (Revolution Betrayed, p247) At the centre of the struggle conducted by Trotsky and the Left Opposition was the restoration of workers’ democracy based on elected representatives subject to the right of recall and with officials’ wages brought down to the level of an average worker. The aim was "the gradual involvement of the entire working population without exception in the work of state administration and the systematic struggle for equality". Workers’ or socialist democracy was a condition for the development towards socialism. A planned economy requires the active participation of the mass of the working class to implement, check, regulate and make changes to the plan. In the absence of this democratic involvement the bureaucracy inevitably becomes an absolute fetter on further progress. The process of stagnation and decline that started to set in during the 1970s reflected the unsolvable contradictions between the nationalised economy and bureaucratic dictatorship. A socialist economy would for the first time give people, as producers and users, the chance to control every step of production, take initiatives and experiment without being strangled by profit-driven competition. This, together with research and testing, would make possible an economy based on equality and in harmony with nature. Why would people produce poor quality goods when they are producing to meet their own (and others) needs? Is the revolution we are talking about at all likely? Appearances would suggest not. The odds seem to be stacked against it. Indeed, when we put forward the idea, most people can scarcely believe we are serious. But most revolutions have been preceded by periods when most people were scoffing at the idea that things could ever change. There was a time when the idea of a capitalist society would have been dismissed as a hopeless utopian dream. To a peasant living in feudal society, the idea of radical change would appear as hopeless as it may appear to you now. To them, feudalism would have appeared as eternal and unchanging and unchangeable as capitalism appears to us now. In Europe, when capitalism was relatively young, the idea of workers working an eight hour day with a weekend would have appeared hopelessly utopian. In the past in countries where everybody now has a vote, there was a time when the idea was scorned and violently opposed. So we're not too surprised that people find it difficult to take our ideas on board. of course. Yet, despite the many discouraging trends in the world, there are some encouraging signs, not least of which is the widespread disillusionment with previous false alternatives. Fewer and fewer people are bothering to vote in elections, for example, correctly realising that it will have little effect on their everyday lives at this stage even TUSC is facing difficulties due to this widespread apathy. We have the ability to change things if we act together. The power to transform society lies in the hands of those who create everything—the working class. This is the source of our power, should we eventually use it. The power not to make a few reforms, but to change the whole system, to make a social revolution.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The poor and the hungry turning to crime to eat

In a shocking thing I’ve just read it tells a story of old people turning to crime and stealing just to feed themselves. This in one of the poorest areas of Britain which is still the 7th richest nation on earth. It’s an absolute disgrace that people in this country have to feed themselves via food banks. Shockingly many labour councillors cry crocodiel tears at the opening up of new food banks and even campaign for them as Stellar creasy MP for Walthamstow does but this is liberal moralising she has the influence and ability to oppose all the cuts condemn her local labour councilmaking more cuts and fight for a better system, but she doesn’t and this shows one exampl of the bankrupcy of the labour party today. I heard the other day that even in my town of Ware, in Hertfordshire a food bank has opened in the Salvation Army building serving roughly 200 people a week. This in a so called affluent area of the country austerity really is starting to bite and bite hard as winter sets in. This was the piece I found. It’s set in Glasgow but this could be anywhere in our towns and cities now as the rich get richer the poor getting poorer under this rotten capitalist system. We must get organised and oppose all cuts now. Glasgow shoplifters are being referred to food banks after a police chief confirmed more people are stealing groceries because they are hungry. But police said some of the thieves – including a pensioner caught trying to take three tins of salmon – needed help from charities rather than trouble from the courts. The revelation came after the Evening Times revealed shoplifting figures had jumped 14% in the city in 2011-12 as the recession bites. Chief Inspector Ann Hughes, of Maryhill police, said the demographic of shoplifters had changed “significantly” in the past two years. She said: “The profile of shoplifters is not consistent with what you would expect. Part of the change is the austerity we are experiencing. “We had an old man who had taken three tins of salmon. He could not afford to feed himself. “People are finding it really, really difficult. “It’s about making sure they are linked to the right agencies, food banks, etc. It’s very, very sad.” Police refer such vulnerable and starving thieves to social services, which can put them in touch with food banks. Chief Inspector Hughes is responsible for one of the poorest places in Scotland; her patch has seen significant increases in shoplifting since the recession. Despite this, and the ‘tip-of-the-iceberg’ TICGate arrests last week, the PM insisted again during PMQs that crime is down, side-stepped a question about police morale and reminded everyone how special and important we are, except of course when it comes to pay & conditions.

Red Rob: Coventry Does Have A Choice Over Cuts

Red Rob: Coventry Does Have A Choice Over Cuts:  'No choice but to axe Coventry council jobs' was the headline from the Coventry Telegraph as the deputy leader of Coventry City Counci...

Monday, 19 November 2012

Students back on the streets this Wednesday, join the demo against fees and cuts

This Wednesday the 21st of November will see the return to struggle on a mass scale by thousands of students on the streets of London for the first time since 2010. The monstrous demonstration of 2010 still lives in the memories of many students and the government too. The NUS who have called this demonstration against their will are being forced to organise this due to mass pressure from below. Shamefully we suspect many NUS officers will be doing very little and have been doing really little in organising for this demonstration this week. So it will be left to groups such as socialist students who have had a big upsurge in recruitment and taking up of our ideas on campuses up and down the land this term already. Just like in 2010 much of the organising for the demonstration will be on the ground carried out by rank-and-file students many of which may be looking at socialist students and discussing with us our ideas. Unlike the NUS we are fully opposed to all cuts and all fees. We stand for a free fully funded education for students. An end to cuts in higher education and further education. In the winter of 2010, by the skin of their teeth, Cameron, Clegg and their rich mates managed to weather the storm of student protest, college walkouts and university occupations and forced through the most draconian raft of education 'reforms' ever enacted in Britain. These 'improvements' included the tripling of tuition fees from an already unaffordable £3,000 to a sky-high £9,000, the removal of vital EMA for college students, and the slashing of education budgets by up to 80% in some departments. The face of our education has visibly changed - university applications have already fallen by 15% in my native Sheffield. Entire groups of friends who were at Sheffield's colleges now languish on the dole, unable to afford to go to university and unable to get jobs. The neoliberal slash-and-burn of our education has had chilling effects. But though the student movement was set back by the passing of these vicious assaults on working class people's right to education, we're still here and we certainly haven't forgotten. The 50,000-strong demonstration in November 2010, the storming of Millbank Tower and the subsequent mass student uprising against the Tories still loom large in the minds of students. This year, the 'Class of 2010' comes of age - some of the students who walked out of their colleges, who took part in the biggest demonstration of college students ever, are now at university, forced to pay £9,000 a year. The need to kick out this shambolic government is becoming clear. The National Union of Students demonstration 'Educate, Employ, Empower', on 21 November, could open the floodgates to this simmering anger. This tide can be a storm surge, made unstoppable and irresistible by Socialist Students' ever-present slogan: 'students and workers - unite and fight!' Only the union between the dynamism and energy of the students with the industrial muscle of the organised working class can lead to success. The task is clear - taking forward the demands of Socialist Students beyond this demonstration and into the new year: free education, no budget cuts, fair pay for teaching and support staff, and to lend all support possible to workers in the coming struggles. We'll kick out this shower of posh boys and we'll fight for a socialist future.

NSSN to step up pressure on the TUC, name the day!

After the NSSN’s fantastic lobby of the TUC back in September almost 3 months on the TUC has still not called the day for a 24 hour general strike. We knew this wasn’t going to be easy or a demand it and it happens despite our calls in the past of 24 hour public sector strikes and a national demo. This time it’s different much bigger in what we are demanding. After N14 last week it is about time the British labour movement join our brothers and sisters on the continent on strike. We need the biggest pressure we can mount on the leaders of our movement only a movement from below like the NSSN which is becoming a force in the labour movement now not decisive but a significant force. We need to keep passing motions in our unions and trades council but this lobby too will be important. The NSSN which has now had 11 regional public meetings/conferences is really building a name for itself. Let’s make our voices heard on the 11th of December. The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) is organising a lobby of the TUC General Council when it meets on Tuesday 11th December. It will assemble from 9.30am at Congress House in Great Russell Street, London. NSSN national chair Rob Williams said: Up to a thousand union activists came to our lobby of the TUC conference in Brighton in September to encourage TUC delegates to vote for the POA motion which called on the TUC to consider the practicalities of organising a general strike against the brutal austerity offensive from this government of the rich. The motion was overwhelmingly passed and the idea of a 24-hour general strike dominated the magnificent demonstrations in London, Glasgow and Belfast on October 20th which saw over 150,000 marches against the cuts. On the London platform, Bob Crow of the RMT, Mark Serwotka - PCS and Len McCluskey - Unite, called for this coordinated action across the public and private sectors. The incredible November 14th European-wide day of action against austerity saw general strikes in Greece, Spain and Portugal and strikes, protests and demonstrations throughout the continent. Speakers on the NSSN stage at the London 20th October protest called on the TUC and the union leaders to name the day for a 24-hour general strike when they next meet together on 11th December. The NSSN understands that this would need proper preparation and organisation with workplace and town hall meetings throughout the country explaining why this action is necessary in order to build maximum support for it as the start of the action needed to defeat the attacks that are raining down on us. Therefore, a date in the New Year or the first couple of months in 2012 would allow this but the main thing is to name the date now. The NSSN calls on all its supporters and fellow trade unionists to come on the lobby to make our voice heard.

Miliband a safe pair of hands for the market?

Today Ed Miliband will address the CBI in a keynote speech in an attempt to prove to the markets that he if he was to become our next prime minister will be a safe pair of hands for capitalism. Milibands whose strategy that has ranged from responsible capitalism whatever that is surely it doesn’t exist to appearing at the Durham Miners Gala and getting booed at the TUC demonstration just gone. He is an odd character to say the least a person who hasn’t won over many so far as far as I can tell. He may end up becoming PM by default as the Tories look to be heading for a disaster at the next election if they don’t get defeated beforehand which we are all hoping. But Miliband who used his conference speech this year to The main theme of the speech - 'One Nation' - was the rehashing of an old idea, and an old Tory idea at that. In fact it was first raised by Tory leader Benjamin Disraeli 140 years ago. Miliband considers him a One Nation politician and he made sure we knew, using the phrase 46 times in his speech! He was forced to reflect the worries of ordinary people, the millions of us who can't find work or are struggling to make ends meet. He correctly said that the system doesn't work for them. But the idea of 'One Nation' cannot square the opposing interests of workers trying to improve their pay and bosses who are trying to cut it. We live under capitalism, a system where society is divided up in to classes. Rarely is this more obvious than now when the super-rich are continuing to rake it in while working class people are expected to pay for their crisis. With four out of five ministers in this government being millionaires it is clear who they represent. Bosses are getting cuts to their tax and to health and safety regulations, we're getting cuts to our pay, jobs and services. Unfortunately, what little concrete proposals there were in Miliband's speech made clear that fundamentally Labour will continue with the same agenda. In many local councils Labour councillors are already implementing huge cuts. They are another party of big business. The 'One Nation' rhetoric is simply a way of making their true intent, as the claim "we're all in it together" or the idea of the 'Big Society' were for Cameron. Ed Miliband was elected Labour leader two years ago, largely by the votes of trade unionists. Many hoped that he would lead a return to 'Old Labour'. This hasn't happened. Now members of Labour-affiliated unions should be asking why their money is still going to a party that doesn't represent them. We desperately need a party that will stand up for working-class and middle-class people. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), supported by the RMT transport union and a number of leading trade unionists in other unions is an important step towards such a party. Miliband has his work cut out to convince many he is a worthwhile leader of the country but if he does happen to we can be assured who’s interests he will serve. He may pay lip service to the plight of ordinary people any politician can do that but do they really understand? I don’t think they can do. It’s clear we need our own party. A party of the mass of working class people to counter the arguments of the market and to offer a true alternative to this rotten capitalist system

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Open letter from #Rotherham #TUSC to #Labour Party members angry over "parachuted" by-election candidate

Below i republish a letter, an open letter to the Rotherham Labour party but could apply to any labour party across the land over parachuting in non local candidates who are loyal to the labour party leadership THE LABOUR PARTY meeting on Tuesday 13 November to choose their candidate for the Rotherham by-election was thrown into confusion when at least half of those present walked out in protest at the exclusion of any local candidate from the shortlist. Rotherham supporters of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) have issued the following open letter to Rotherham Labour members: To Rotherham Labour Party members Dear comrades, We in TUSC, including many ex-Labour Party members, welcome your angry reaction to the New Labour apparatus imposing another external candidate and possible MP on the town. After the experience of Denis MacShane, who was also imposed on the local party from outside, you are justified in expressing your opposition to national party leadership diktat by walking out of the selection process. This experience only further confirms the complete lack of democracy now in New Labour, and the inability for ordinary local party members to hold any real say in decision making and accountability. In the view of TUSC, this lack of democracy is part of the process undertaken by Blair, Brown and now Miliband to shift the Labour Party away from its working-class roots and to make the party acceptable to the rich, big business and the millionaires. That is why TUSC is standing a candidate in the forthcoming by-election, Ralph Dyson, a local teacher and trade union representative who led the strike last year at Rawmarsh Community School against compulsory redundancies. We believe it is vital to counter the inevitable disillusionment and alienation of Rotherham working class people with a left wing and socialist alternative. Ralph is standing against corruption, against cuts and against racism and fascism, and to be a workers’ MP on a worker’s wage. We appeal to you to come a help us in our campaign, to support a local, working class, trade union fighter and socialist, the very things that the Labour Party was founded for and most of you will have joined because of. For more information about Ralph’s and TUSC’s campaign, look at: ralphdyson.blogspot.com Yours in solidarity, Alistair Tice Rotherham TUSC election agent alistairtice@yahoo.co.uk

Friday, 16 November 2012

A look at this weeks big elections, TUSC still finding its feet

I've heard many comments about TUSC's performance this week in various elections many writing TUSC off and many saying its never going to happen voters still prefer labour just to get rid of the tories. This may well be true at this time but Labour lost 10k votes in Manchester Central this time despite keeping hold of the seat. Its still early days for TUSC as a electoral force on the main stage. We are limited in resources and numbers on the ground. Our votes go up and down but at this stage as the post below posted on the TUSC website we dont feel at this stage we can draw any definitive conclusions for TUSC and the project for a new mass workers party. There is still the need for such a party given no political party is offering anything for working people just more of teh same all be it at a slightly slower pace. Just a note on the Police Crime commisioner elections some dreadful turnouts with many not voting some areas not even recording a vote shows the publics indifference to elected police commisioners and is a hugely humiliating record for this Con-dem gov. This can finally put the nail in the coffin when tories use low turnout figures which are partly to do with teh harshest anti trade union laws in the western world when these elections have been so poorly supported. No more attacks on the unions strike ballots given this bit of embarrassing news for the tories. WITH A £5,000 deposit required to get on to the ballot paper – but with no candidates’ freepost mailshot available – TUSC did not field any candidates in the Police Commissioner elections held on November 15, dubbed by the media as Britain’s ‘super Thursday’ with 40 million people eligible to vote. But TUSC did stand candidates in the Manchester Central parliamentary by-election, the Bristol mayoral election, and three council by-elections, held on the same day. In Bristol the TUSC candidate Tom Baldwin, the youngest contender in the field, polled 1,412 votes. For comparison the Liberal Democrats, who lead the city council, polled just over six thousand votes while the Greens, with two city councillors, managed 5,248 votes. In Manchester Central Labour held the seat while TUSC candidate Alex Davidson polled 220 votes. Showing how alienated working class people are from all ‘politics’ at this stage – not making it easy for a new force to make a breakthrough – the by-election saw the lowest ever turnout in a peacetime parliamentary by-election, at 18.1%. In the council by-elections, TUSC’s vote ranged from 3.9% in Rugby’s New Bilton ward to 2.2% in Manchester Ardwick ward – although in Liverpool’s Knotty Ash ward Charley Cosgrove outpolled both the Conservatives and the Greens. UKIP polled more votes than TUSC in four of the contests but not overwhelmingly so – despite Nigel Farage’s Question Time season ticket (while TUSC faces a media blackout). In reality not too much can be drawn from a handful of electoral contests, either ‘writing off’ TUSC or exaggerating the possibilities at this stage. The most important fact is still the absence of a vehicle for working class political representation, given Labour’s broad acceptance of the capitalists’ austerity agenda. Standing in elections is part of the struggle to build one. Bristol Mayoral election: Bristol First 31,321; Labour 25,896; Conservative 8,136; Lib Dems 6,202; Green 5,248; Independent 2,404; Independent 1,855; Respect 1,568; Independent 1,413; TUSC 1,412 (1.6%); Independent 1,037; Independent 994; Independent 761; Independent 494; Independent 411. Manchester Central parliamentary by-election: Labour 11,507; Lib Dems 1.571; Conservative 754; UKIP 749; Green 652; BNP 492; Pirate Party 308; TUSC 220 (1.3%); Respect 182; MRLP 78; People’s Democratic 71; Comm League 64. Rugby council, New Bilton ward by-election: Labour 496; Conservative 192; Green 100; UKIP 82; Indpendent 56; Lib Dems 41; TUSC 39 (3.9%). Liverpool council, Knotty Ash ward by-election: Labour 1,213; Lib Dems 149; Liberal 131; UKIP 101; English Democrats 50; TUSC 48 (2.7%); Conseravtive 40; Green 36. Manchester council, Ardwick ward by-election: Labour 1,904; Green 120; Lib Dems 94; Conservative 92; UKIP 61; TUSC 52 (2.2%); BNP 43. For a full breakdown of TUSC’s May results see http://www.tusc.org.uk/pdfs/2012/TUSC_Results_Report.pdf

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Stop the Israeli state terror, end the occupation of Gaza!

Today and yesterday I’ve read and seen some horrific reports of violence and death and destruction in the Gaza strip where new attacks have flared up. The Israeli government has declared that its shocking and brutal assault on the Gaza strip, ‘Operation Pillar of Defence’, will be a “widespread campaign” and threatens “protracted conflict”. Among its opening strikes was the assassination of the military leader of Islamist party Hamas, Ahmed Jabari, and more than ten other Palestinians, as a terrifying rain of missiles was fired from the air. The onslaught was clearly aimed at escalating the conflict, with the Israeli regime turning its back on a ceasefire agreement that had just been negotiated to stop military attacks from both sides. Assassinations of Palestinians by the Israeli armed forces in recent months have played a central part in escalating the conflicts in the south of Israel and Gaza. Already, some governments, including, for example, Britain, through its foreign secretary, William Hague, are blaming Hamas as bearing “principal responsibility” because of rocket fire from Gaza. Clearly, they are preparing to repeat the western powers’ silence during the Israeli regime’s previous assault on Gaza, ‘Operation Cast Lead’, in 2008-09. “I am responsible for us choosing the right time to exact the heaviest price and so be it,” was the chilling message of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Palestinians fear a repeat of Cast Lead’s bombardment and invasion of Gaza, when nearly 1,400 people were slaughtered, including 314 children, and are in a state of terror and panic. There are ominous signs that a ground invasion is being considered, with Israeli soldiers’ leave cancelled and some reservists called up. I was pleased to hear of a speedy protest in London at the Israeli embassy against state terror there was a fantastic turnout from all accounts. With this period we are entering a crucial time for the Israeli prime minister to try and sure up his support base and prove he can win another term this is Israel flexing its muscles. What is more horrifying is the response from western leaders they condemn the attacks and call for restraint but it’s all very gently gently to their friends in Israel. In a statement issued on 14 November, the Socialist Struggle Movement (the CWI section in Israel/Palestine) explained that a key factor in the timing of this assault is the Israeli government’s attempt to boost its support prior to the general election scheduled for January. It wishes to appear to be fortifying security in Israel. In recent weeks, opinion polls have shown that Liked Beytenu, the newly merged party formed by Netanyahu and Lieberman, was losing support. So, the Socialist Struggle Movement argued, “the capitalist government of Netanyahu is making desperate efforts to change the agenda of the election scheduled for January in order to marginalize the burning social problems, which Lieberman said he’s ‘sick of hearing all the cries about’. The assassinations by the government in recent months had a central part in the escalation of the conflicts in the south and Gaza. “The government’s decision to respond to straying shells from the Syrian civil war by returning fire, and maximising the threats of retaliatory military action alongside the threats of punitive action against the [West Bank] Palestinian Authority as well, are part of the election campaign of failing nationalist politicians. They fear losing their seats and are willing to gamble the lives of ordinary Israelis. “The government hopes to deepen even further the divide between the Israelis and the Palestinians in an attempt to win more votes. However, this is a particularly big gamble that could definitely get out of the control of Netanyahu, Lieberman and Barak. It is still not clear at this stage what will be the scale of the air strikes in Gaza on one hand (it is declared to last at least several days) and the response of the Palestinian militias in Gaza on the other. A number of children and teenagers in Gaza have already paid with their lives in the passing week for the cruel election campaign of Likud Beytenu and Security Minister Barak, and today, 14 November, another baby and a small girl innocent of any crime were killed.” Leaders of the main Israeli ‘opposition’ parties Yachimovich (Labour), Lapid (Yesh Atid) and Mofaz (Kadima) were quick to stand by the government and speak in one voice, without any hint of reservation, as they do not even pretend to offer any real alternative to the narrow, mad and dangerous agenda of the current government. In addition to their re-election aims, the Israeli leaders want to cut across the revival of a Palestinian bid for UN recognition later this month, pre-empt any pressure for peace talks from the re-elected President Obama in the US and try to counter any strengthening of Hamas as a result of the major changes and tensions in the region – in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, etc. The Socialist Struggle Movement argued that the Israeli government is gambling “that the offensive on Gaza would not produce sharp regional and international protests. The government hopes to exploit the Syrian civil war and the growing tension in Lebanon in order to strike a blow against Hamas in Gaza. But the developments in Syria and Lebanon will not be necessarily prevent the possible development of significant protests in Egypt with the call to defend the residents of the Strip against another bloodbath on the lines of 2008-09’s ‘Operation Cast Lead’.” But Netanyahu, Lieberman and Barak’s blood-filled strategy can spiral out of their control and rebound on them by massively inflaming relations between countries and the situations within them; already there are protests and demonstrations breaking out across the Arab countries and worldwide, as well as in the Palestinian territories. In Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza, a call to defend the residents of Gaza is being made on demonstrations. Inside Israel, the Socialist Struggle Movement immediately argued that “opposition to the war plans of Netanyahu, Barak and Lieberman could and should be organized, also inside Israel and in the Palestinian Territories, in order to prevent a sharper escalation in the military conflict. Initial protest steps have begun to be organized and they should be widened.” As well as calling for protest demonstrations, Socialist Struggle Movement is calling for the Israeli workers’ organisations, including the Histadrut trade union federation and the social movements, to publicly denounce the offensive and to initiate and take part in protests against it. • Stop the slaughter! End the missile strikes and other attacks on Gaza! • No to this war of the Israeli government of big business and settlements! • End the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Open the Gaza-Egypt border! • For the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Palestinian territories. • For a mass struggle of the Palestinians, under their own democratic control, to fight for genuine national liberation. • For working class support, throughout the Middle East and internationally, for the Palestinians’ struggle. • For independent workers’ organisations in Palestine and Israel. • For a struggle for governments of representatives of workers and the poor that will end oppression, defend democratic rights and break with capitalism and imperialism. • For democratic socialism in Palestine, Israel and throughout the Middle East, with guaranteed democratic rights for all national minorities. With extracts and thanks and solidarity to our Israeli section of the CWI socialist struggle. http://www.socialistworld.net/doc/6036?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The crisis at the BBC- toxic level of cuts

Over the weekend and the last few days there has been a huge campaign by the government and others in the media to smear the BBC and its record. The corporation which is apparently is in deep crisis with several high ranking resignations and several more stepping aside has lead to all sorts of speculation of its future as a journalistic establishment. Now I have my criticisms of the BBC like everyone but for the most part it is a solid organisation. It doesn’t cover workers movements or strikes very fairly but I don’t expect it too it represents the interests of big business and always supports the government of the day notably a capitalist agenda. But we are in danger of missing the bigger picture here which may well be the intention to deflect the attention from child sex abuse allegations in north Wales. All the frenzy of the BBC we have rather forgotten that there have been some serious allegations made here which must be looked into. The whole fury over the Newsnight report on Lord Mcalpine and was he or wasn’t he involved in child sex abuse is really not the point in my e yes. Someone or many people were involved and Phillip Schofield and his list on this morning along with Tom Watson in the commons have something which surely they wouldn’t risk their reputations on airing in public. The police cannot be trusted in all this either and have come off quite well so far but they to need to take some blame for covering up this awful incident/s and a reopening of the original investigation is a matter of urgency. The NUJ the journalist union have released a statement which I publish below setting out where they feel things have got to and the toxic mixture of big cuts, bad management and gross incompetency. The NUJ has called for an end to cuts at the BBC, saying the Newsnight crisis is a wake-up call to an assault on frontline journalism that has cost 9,000 jobs since 2004. General secretary Michelle Stanistreet says cuts are threatening the quality of journalism not only at flagship programmes such as Newsnight, which has had its budget slashed by 50% in real terms over the past five years, but in local radio and television as well as the World Service. She said: “With fewer journalists, many employed on a casual basis, it means there is no time for that extra telephone all, no time to double-check the facts, no time to reflect properly before a programme goes out. “The current re-grading proposals could see a situation where someone can be paid the minimum of £15,000 and end up in charge of a sensitive political report, or even output a whole programme and then get blamed when it goes wrong. “It’s testament to the great journalists working at the BBC that they manage, often through sheer goodwill and professional commitment, to get the job done despite staff shortages and dwindling resources. But the pressure this puts on journalists and journalism is undeniable.” Calling on BBC chair Lord Patten to take a long hard look at what has happened, Michelle Stanistreet urged him to take on a director general who would fight for quality journalism and stop the cuts. She said: “There must be a moratorium on these cuts. This should be a wake-up call to the BBC – they need to take the opportunity to halt the assault on frontline journalism and put in place measures to shore up news and current affairs before it is too late.” The NUJ believes the backdrop to the Newsnight crisis is the remorseless cost-cutting across the BBC that started in 2004. Since then 9,000 jobs have gone, including 140 in BBC news this year alone – the eighth consecutive year of cuts. Michelle Stanistreet said: “Mark Thompson’s decision, behind closed doors, to agree to a licence fee freeze until 2017 and to take on an extra £340 million in spending commitments, including the funding of the World Service, local TV and the rollout of fast broadband, was a disaster for the BBC. “This has been compounded by the way BBC senior executives have implemented the cuts. They have chosen to cut staffing and budgets in frontline journalism; news has been particularly badly hit. Rather than hack away at the fleshy layers of management, they have chosen to cut at the sharp end and inevitably that will make it harder for quality, thorough journalism to flourish.” * NUJ members at Newsnight have asked the NUJ to make clear they are appalled at what happened, and that the overwhelming majority of those who work there had no involvement with the story, and were not consulted about it before broadcast. They are determined to go on doing their jobs and to support the BBC management in its effort to go on delivering the Corporation’s world class journalism.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Will Africa be the saviour of global capitalism ?

With the global economy bubbling frantically to solve its own crisis we new eruptions of class struggle occurring around the world further dips in the world economy have left many capitalist leaders wondering where they can turn next. For some time now many have discussed Africa as the greatest untapped mass of resources and are a capitalist heaven whoever gets their hands on it. "It is my firm belief that Africa represents the next global economic frontier, and I am not alone in that assessment." So said Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, to the US House foreign sub-committee on African Affairs on 17 April 2012. Carson is not alone in expressing growing optimism about Africa. As he also noted, the World Bank's projection of economic growth rates for Africa during the next two years is between 5% and 6%. This exceeds the figures expected for Latin America, Central Asia or Europe. The IMF's forecast for five years, beginning in 2011, has seven African countries - Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Congo, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria - among the world's ten fastest growing economies. An analysis by the Economist last year reveals that six sub-Saharan African countries - Angola, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Chad, Mozambique and Rwanda - were among the world's ten fastest growing economies over the ten years to 2010. Indeed, Africa has begun to draw positive remarks from capitalist commentators especially since the dawn of the global economic crisis. The worst capitalist crisis since the 1930s Great Depression, triggered in the United States and Europe, has apparently forced capitalist strategists to search elsewhere for a success story, and they have invented one in Africa. Africa has always been the basket case of the world global economy with mass poverty and with many people starving and living on less than 2 dollars a day. Yet this vast continent is seen as the next place to exploit not only its land but its people too. Leading capitalist media have suspended their characteristic bad press about the continent and now trumpet what are seen as 'positives'. A striking example of this can be found in the Economist where Africa metamorphosed from being the "Hopeless Continent", as in a May 2000 edition, to the "Hopeful Continent", which was the cover story in a December 2011 edition. However, most of these countries' high growth rate figures reflected a pick-up in raw material exports and price increases tied to the growth in global demand, especially from China. For instance, the price of crude oil rose from less than $20 a barrel in 1999 to $147 in 2008. Generally these statistics do not reflect any generalized growth in the economy or in living standards. Besides, any sustained slowdown in the West and China will see a sharp decline in the demand for Africa's exports. We are already seeing a decline in China’s growth and whether or not China will have a soft landing or a heavy landing remains to be seen. This will have catastrophic results in Africa as Chinese imperialism is pumping billions of dollars into Africa improving infrastructure but all with the aim to extract the natural resources Africa holds. It’s not all plain sailing though there is still mass poverty in Africa and capitalism and its leaders have no interest in helping this situation at all. To most working people, who have only seen their living conditions getting worse year in year out, the impressive figures of economic growth being thrown around seem magical. In fact, the huge increases in food and fuel prices mean a continued assault on living standards. Africa today reveals a continent blighted with mass poverty and restricted access to the basic needs of life. For example, in Ethiopia, a country on the 'golden list', 90% of the population was classified as "multidimensional poor" by a United Nations Development Programmed (UNDP) report in 2010. The situation in Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer is also aptly described by the UNDP. Its representative in the country, Daouda Toured, correctly noted that "for almost a decade now, Nigeria has been recording consistently a high economic growth rate that has not produced commensurate employment opportunities and reduction in poverty among its citizens." He continued: "Available statistics suggest that the incidence of poverty in Nigeria had indeed worsened between 2004 and 2010" (The Nation, Lagos, 29 August 2012). South Africa, the continent's biggest economy, is the second most unequal country in the world. This is despite "black economic empowerment" driven by the ANC government in post-apartheid South Africa. In Angola, two-thirds of the population lives on less than €1 ($1.25) a day and only 25% of children are enrolled in primary schools (Guardian, London, 18 November 2011). This is the country which was the world's fastest growing economy, beating China into second position, in the decade to 2010. Presently, it acts as a safe haven for Portuguese capitalism, a poster boy of the eurozone crisis. In a classic case of reverse economic migration between Europe and Africa, Angola has not only attracted about 150,000 Portuguese escaping joblessness but has also heavily invested its petrol dollars in Portugal. All this is symptomatic of the situation in Africa where economic growth is reflected in the opulence of the thieving capitalist elite and not in infrastructural development or the living standards of ordinary people. But the capitalist strategists are not concerned about the fate of working people. In so far as there are natural resources to be exploited for super-profit, Africa is a bed of roses. This drive to super-exploit Africa explains why the continent, which is rich in natural resources and fertile lands for agriculture, is dominated by multinationals and run on the basis of capitalist neoliberal policies to benefit the imperialist west. The lack of, or primitive state of, necessary infrastructure has meant that Africa is still largely dependent on exports of primary commodities and only accounts for an abysmal 2% of world output. The so-called 'investors' are mainly interested in commodity and extractive industries which, although driving growth, create few jobs. This failure to develop manufacturing explains why Africa, a classic example of jobless growth, cannot emulate the role of China as an engine of global capitalism despite its huge population and growing urbanisation. On the contrary, capitalism will continue to leave the continent prostrate. With extracts taken from http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/15569?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+org%2FRpdZ+%28The+Socialist%29

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Vote for the no cuts alternative with TUSC this week in by elections

This week there are a few important by elections in England on the 15th of November. These elections are far more important than the police and crime commissioner elections being staged on the same day very few people are interested in another layer of bureaucracy and very few people will be voting I suspect. But an election people should vote in will be this Thursday in Manchester central, Corby and Bristol for the position of mayor. TUSC is standing in all of these elections and is backing the DPAC candidate for Corby on a no cuts platform. These elections will be interesting to see how TUSC is developing between elections. Many people say we still don’t know enough about TUSC well talk on the ground suggests we are getting a good response and are hopefully of a decent vote come Thursday. We do not expect to win but the fact we are standing and laying down a marker for future struggles raises the banner of TUSC and that no to all cuts alternative which no other candidate can offer. Our candidates are Tom Baldwin in Bristol running for mayor a young youth activist who has done a lot of work working with young people and has made some solid pledges already if elected to only take the average wage of a skilled worker of Bristol I think this could have a echo given the recent scandal of Dennis Mcshane who has had to resign from his seat in Rotherham for fiddling his expenses, TUSC incidentally will be standing in that by election too whenever it is called. Asked what he would do first if and when elected Tom was quoted as saying “Reverse the programme of care home closures in Bristol”. Our second candidate is Alex Davidson standing in Manchester Central Alex is a good solid trade unionist and is representative of PCS in the North West and fights every day for his members in the PCS and public sector workers. Alex has been very critical of the report released in the last few weeks by Michael Heseltine Alex said recently “Heseltine is infamous throughout the labour movement for his role in the 1980s Thatcher government. He oversaw an assault on social housing when environment minister, and was the man responsible for the final massacre of the coal industry as president of the Board of Trade in the early. Heseltine's recent report stated that the government "does not have a strategy for growth and wealth creation", reflecting a growing panic among the ruling class. The recent, heavily doctored 'growth' figures confirm that the government is desperately casting around for some 'good news'. Heseltine's report recommends that the government uses £49 billion to "stimulate growth in the regions". He also recommends that the government act as a stimulator for growth. This echoes much of what Chancellor George Osborne himself said about the "march of the makers" to replace lost jobs in the public sector. In reality, manufacturing has continued its long-term decline throughout the Con-Dems' two years in power. Areas like Manchester have never recovered from the deindustrialisation carried out by Thatcher and Heseltine's government. The current government has no commitment to saving skilled manufacturing jobs, as shown by their attitude to mass layoffs proposed by Ford in Southampton and Dagenham. Disgracefully, the Heseltine report was embraced by the Trades Union Congress and the New Labour front bench. If New Labour was serious about tackling the economic crisis, they would adopt the policy that has been embraced by unions like the Fire Brigades Union: nationalisation of the banks and the use of those resources to fund a meaningful programme of public works, such as the building of social housing and the upgrading of transport infrastructure. But Labour will not put forward anything like this. That is why I am standing in the Manchester Central by-election. As a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate, I am supported by trade union militants who recognise that the working class needs their own party with a socialist programme - not one that embraces an anti-working class Tory Lord. “ This blog wish’s all TUSC and anti cuts candidates luck and look forward to helping the building of a mass party of the working class with socialist principles and policies to match in the coming years. for more information on TUSC check out www.tusc.org.uk

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Greek parliament pass’s more cuts, how much more can the working class take?

With last nights vote by the Greek government passing another austerity package to receive their next round of bailout funds many are asking how much more can Greece take and more specifically how much more hardship can the working class take. This week the Greek working class turned out for their 21st general strike since the financial crisis hit back in 2008. There doesn’t look to be any end in sight. But things in Greece are happening very quickly and events are unfolding all the time. Things are changing on the ground as well as on the left. Below I republish an interview which was conducted recently with a member of the Greek section of the CWI Xekinima (Greek CWI An interview with Paris Makrides, Xekinima (Greek CWI) Yesterday was the first day of another 48 hours general strike. How big was the strike and protests of the Greek workers and youth? The strike paralysed Greece completely. Athens was like a deserted city as nothing moved except the demonstration of the striking workers. Not only workers were on strike but small shopkeepers as well, even taxi drivers, who together with the strike in public transport paralysed Athens entirely. The picture was similar in every other city of Greece. The numbers on the Athens strike demonstration however were not that big, due to the lack of transport; workers and youth had no means of getting to the centre of Athens other than by foot. Despite this, we estimate that 30,000 to 40,000 people were on the streets of Athens. Today’s rally at Syntagma Square, which is intended to encircle the parliament building, where MPs will be voting on the new (third) Memorandum [new austerity measures at the behest of the Troika] at 5.00pm, will probably be much bigger. But there is always an element of uncertainty, as the broad population, including workers and youth, know that most probably there will be violent clashes largely between anarchists and provocateurs (secret police agents), on the one hand, and the riot police, on the other hand. These clashes turn away the mass of the population from taking part in the demos. If this element did not exist, we can safely say that this afternoon one million people, if not more, would be on the streets of Athens surrounding Syntagma Square. What does the new, third ’Memorandum’ mean for the Greek people? The third Memorandum will be a disaster, added to an economy and society already devastated by the two previous Memorandums. According to estimations of the Troika [European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund], Greece’s GDP will be reduced for a sixth consecutive year. And public debt, notwithstanding the austerity measures that have been adopted these last years and “haircut”, for 2013 will reach 346 billion € (189% of GDP) increased by 66 billion since last February! Over the last years, Greek people have paid much higher taxes, have see their wages slashed, unemployment has reached 24% and youth unemployment 55% (these are the official figures). Public health and education have been destroyed and public services and companies privatized and sold off for peanuts. But European and Greek capitalists have no interest in the terrible social effects their policies are having. The third Memorandum contains new cruel austerity measures, such as increase on the retirement age to 67 years, massive dismissals of public employees, more taxes, greater so-called “flexibility” concerning labour relations and privatisations. And it is clear this will lead to more social misery and catastrophe, just like the earlier Memorandums. How do you explain the fact that despite all this huge mobilisations of the Greek people, the Troika is still able to apply its anti-working class policies? The Greek people’s struggles over the last two years have been massive. People understand that they have to do something to stop the Troika’s policies. So they participated in general strikes, refused to pay taxes and occupied squares. People want to resist and fight. On the other hand, the trade union leaderships don’t. These leaderships don’t want to overthrow the government because they are tied with the government parties. The parties of the Left support people’s demands but do not have a plan about how the capitalist’s policies will be stopped and how the government will fall. SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) recently called for new elections. But elections are not the Left’s primary field of battle at this moment. What is necessary is an indefinite general strike which, of course, will raise the question of power in society – who decides, who controls and who manages the economy and society. This is the only way to go forward, to overthrow the government, and to pave the way for a government of the Left which will be based on worker’s power, through democratic rank and file committees and assemblies, in every workplace, neighbourhood, university and school etc. Is the huge anger of the Greek working class reflected inside the trade unions? The role of the leaders of trade union is absolutely exasperating. But whatever they do they cannot stop the class struggle. People are outraged with the Troika’s policies. This anger has pushed several rank and file unions and union federations to call the GSEE and ADEDY (the private and public sector trade union centres) for an indefinite general strike, as the only reply that corresponds to the scale of government’s and the Troika’s vicious austerity attacks. However, the GSEE and ADEDY refused to call an all-out general strike (which was to be expected) and the unions calling for this action did not try to take the next necessary step, which is to co-ordinate actions between themselves; to prepare for and set a day of strike action and to call on the rest of the union movement to come out in coordinated, indefinite strike activity. We are convinced that such an initiative, given the explosive mood in Greek society, would trigger an avalanche of class action and would push aside the official union federation leaderships. Militant, mass industrial action, as described, could maximize workers’ mass pressure against the government and Troika and give society with a perspective to defeat the attacks. But what really infuriates working class people and drives them “mad” is that often breaks on the strikes movement are made by the parties of the Left. For example, a resolution for at least one week’s strike action was voted down on the Central Council of the ADEDY federation (civil servants’ union) because of the votes of the KKE (Communist Party) faction. The resolution for a week’s long strike had the support of 19 votes, with 17 votes against, but the KKE used its seven votes to defeat it. In the journalists’ union, two days ago, a similar role was played by the SYRIZA faction, which is the biggest faction in that union. The PASOK vote split, with half supporting the demand of the anti-capitalist Left for indefinite strike action. But SYRIZA voted, together with the conservative section of the union, to have only one 24 hour strike and some three hour stoppages. These examples show the extent to which the mass parties of the Greek Left are far behind the needs of the situation and the mood of the working masses. What impact do these developments have on the political landscape? Despite dissatisfaction with the Left, a big section of the population now regards a new government of the Left as the only hope on the horizon. There is thus a huge turn in favour of SYRIZA (although opinion polls reveal that Syriza’s support has not essentially grown, but it is the largest party because support for the New Democrats, the main party in government, has fallen). But this turn towards SYRIZA is not enthusiastic. This is not without reason. SYRIZA’s political platform is not clear. People do not know exactly what SYRIZA is going to do if it takes the power, and that makes them suspicious. On the other hand, the KKE (communist party) is continuously isolated from the bulk of the working class because of its sectarian tactics. The KKE speaks, in general, about the need for “revolution” and “socialism” but it refuses to link this call, in any way, to today’s reality and to mass consciousness. On the contrary, the KKE say that things are not ‘mature enough’ yet for system change. So, in practice, they have ‘maximum and minimum’ approach (i.e. make radical and general rhetoric for ‘socialism’ etc, while only putting forward minimum demands and without linking the two concretely), rather than a transitional approach (campaigning on the key class demands of the day, while linking this up with the need for a workers’ government and to change society). In reality, as we can see from the union votes mentioned above and other actions, the KKE leadership functions like a strike breaking force. Despite SYRIZA’s inadequacies, the struggle for a government of the Left is what the movement needs to campaign for and this is the approach of Xekinima. Of course, we link this struggle to the absolute need for a socialist programme and the need to base this on rank and file assemblies and committees of action. We emphasise that if a government of the Left, based around SYRIZA, fails to adopt a socialist platform this will represent a massive defeat for the Greek Left and the working class, particularly given the fact that the neo-fascist Golden Dawn received around 12% to 14% in recent polls. How is Golden Dawn being combated? The far right, anti-immigrant Golden Dawn is not invincible, however. Opposition to it is growing. There are many anti-fascist committees being set up. The mass parties of the Left do not really understand how to tackle the problem of rising fascism, which requires working class unity, combating the real danger and propaganda of the far right and also fighting for an end to cuts, and for jobs, decent homes, a living wage and for decent public services, health and education for all etc. But things are changing. In September, every proposal made inside SYRIZA to create anti-fascist committees (usually made by members of Xekinima who participate in local branches of SYRIZA) was voted down. In the course of the last week, however, the central secretariat of SYRIZA changed its stand and is now in favour of anti-fascist committees. The KKE, on the other hand, makes no such call but it has a sectarian, abstract approach towards resisting Golden Dawn and the need for a united front against the far right threat. The KKE continues to live on its own isolated planet, refusing to understand what is happening around it. How is the Left responding to the crisis? SYRIZA is not the only field where developments are taking place. In the rest of the Left important developments are taking place. It is correct to say that the Greek Left, in general, is in a state of crisis, which takes different forms for different parties of the Left. There are splits inside ANTARSYA (the anti-capitalist Left Alliance); there is a mass exodus from the KKE; there are major clashes inside SYRIZA as the leadership turns to the right; and the Left Current of SYNASPISMOS (the main constituent force making up SYRIZA) is reacting to this rightward turn but without clarity as regards what should be done; and, of course, the huge mass of Left voters remain outside the Left parties and formations. In this context, Xekinima (CWI in Greece), came together with other forces of the Left, from ANTYARSYA and the rest of the anti-capitalist Left and we have also linked up with forces inside SYRIZA, to create the ‘Initiative of the 1000’, as it has become known (1013 individuals signed the launching statement before it became public). This initiative bases itself on the need for a radical anti-capitalist programme, as the only way to come out of the devastating social and economic crisis. This includes calling for a repudiation of the debt, nationalisation of the banks and the commanding heights of the economy, and for a planning of the economy, on the basis of social needs, and under workers’ control and management. The programme also calls for a united front of the parties of the Left and for support for a Left government i.e. a government based around SYRIZA. At the same time, this means fighting against the reformist programme of the leadership of SYRIZA. The majority of the leadership think they can manage the crisis better than the ruling class and do not prioritise fighting to get rid of the capitalist system and for a socialist society. The Initiative of the 1000 has only been publically alive for a few days but it has already been noted by the whole of the Left. It is an entirely new innovation, uniting forces from all sections and parties of the Left, on the same programme and with similar aims for the mass movement in the immediate period ahead. Its development and potential are not yet clear. But it is certainly worth the attempt to build the Initiative of the 1000. We will be able to say more about its role and perspectives in the very near future.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Marxist view of individuals in history

All throughout history we learn of various kings and queens who played vital roles in the changing of history but the bourgeois view of history doesn’t take into consideration the role of class forces in society the moving of one class against another and the role of revolutions. At socialism 2012 this weekend I attended the session on historical materialism which was a fascinating discussion hosted by Ken Douglas of the socialist party. The discussion was very interesting too. A Few people raised the role of the individual and the role of Stalin for example. As Trotsky Stalin did not win a personal battle with Trotsky or was the stronger leader or anything like that he was propelled to power due to the fact of the material conditions at the time. The combined isolation of the workers state, the degeneration and the rising bureaucracy due to Russia being attacked from all angles lead Stalin to be put in that position due to the conditions. If not Stalin it would have been someone else. Trotsky answers this when he says if I had removed Stalin from his rise and taken the position myself then i’d have ended up like Stalin, The fact Trotsky could see this and with Lenin on his death bed Lenin urged the removal of Stalin but it was too late the material forces were working against the left opposition at the time and very little could stop this slide apart from the political over throw of the bureaucracy and resuming the movement which started in October. CAPITALISM THE system we live under today is unequal and undemocratic. This is because capitalism is a class society, based on the exploitation of the working-class (the majority of the population) by the capitalist class (a small minority of the population) who own and control industry and financial institutions, and dominate governments and the political establishment. We are told that capitalism is the best way of organizing society; that socialism is impossible. We are told that history is made by famous individuals like kings, queens and politicians, and that working-class people have no power to change society. We are even told by some people that there is no way of understanding how society develops: followers of post-modernism, a theory which gained popularity in the 1990s, believe that there are no general laws that govern the development of society. None of these things are true. The theory of historical materialism, developed by Marx and Engels, provides a framework for analyzing human society and the laws of its development. It explains that class societies have not always existed; that in fact the earliest human societies were classless ones based on co-operation not exploitation. MARX AND Engels worked out their theory of how human society develops in a struggle against 'idealist' philosophers. Many people think of socialism as being 'idealist' - that is that it is a nice idea, but unrealistic (what Marx and Engels called 'utopianism'). On the contrary, the ideas of socialism and Marxism are very practical and realistic because they are based on analyzing the real world and how it works. Unlike the way most people understand the word today, 'idealism' originally meant a trend within philosophy. The idealists believed that ideas come first, and that material reality comes into being as a result of these ideas. An idealist (in philosophy) would say that changes in material reality are caused by ideas, not by material forces; that ideas have an existence that is independent of an unrelated to material reality. While we recognize that ideas play an important part in social change, Marxists are materialists (again, in the philosophical sense). To a materialist, human society and history is shaped by material social and economic forces - real things and processes - and ideas are the reflection of this material reality in human consciousness. Change i.e political change comes about due to mass social forces from below every change in society even bourgeois society capitalism was born from below over throwing feudal systems aspects of feudal society still remain in parts today with institutions such as the Monarchy in some nations still today. Marxists believe that human society is based on material forces. In other words, in order for any human society to exist, humans must produce the necessities of life which enable us to survive: food, shelter, water, etc. These are material things without which we would die out. But the way we interact to produce these necessities, who controls the products of our labour and how they use them, determines the type of society we live in. At the beginning: evolution WITHOUT CERTAIN physical factors, human society as we know it could not have developed: the large human brain, the voice box and the opposable thumb. The development and growth of the brain and the voice box happened because of the way early humans evolved in interaction with their environment. They were less well adapted to their environment than many species and compensated for this by working together in large groups and developing tools. The growth of the physical size of the human brain, which is much larger than any other animals’ when compared to our body weight, was both a result of the growth of human intelligence (driven by the need to co-operate and make tools) and a cause of its further growth. With a larger amount of brain available for use, early humans had more potential to develop their intelligence further. The opposable thumb allows us to hold, make and use tools. Without the fine handling skills it made possible, early humans wouldn't have been able to develop and use the sophisticated tools that allowed them to survive and prosper in a changing environment. "THE MOST indubitable feature of a revolution is the direct interference of the masses in historic events. In ordinary times the state, be it monarchical or democratic, elevates itself above the nation, and history is made by specialists in that line of business - kings, ministers, bureaucrats, parliamentarians, journalists. But at those crucial moments when the old order becomes no longer endurable to the masses, they break over the barriers excluding them from the political arena, sweep aside their traditional representatives, and create by their own interference the initial groundwork for a new regime . . ." Preface, the History of the Russian revolution, Trotsky. Revolutionary change - how society develops OVER TIME the contradictions built into the economic, political and legal structures of each class society grow. Eventually they become a block on the productive forces (the productivity of human labour), holding back their development. The old ruling class try desperately to block change in order to cling on to their privileges and power. In this situation the only way that society can move forward is for the old ruling class to be removed from power and a new way of organizing society to be put in its place. This means a revolution. A socialist revolution to free the working class and humanity as a result. Excellent quotes and extracts taken from http://www.marxism.org.uk/pack/history.html

Monday, 5 November 2012

Socialism 2012 onwards to a 24 hour general strike

After a fantastic weekend of discussion and debate in London I feel absolutely shattered. Back in work trying to win the arguments for a 24 hour general strike. The theme of this year’s socialism rally was to kick out the con-dems with a 24 hour general strike. Many of the speakers made references to this. Bob crow on the rally on Saturday night was as good as ever putting the case against austerity and why we need a 24 hour general strike to bring all the disputes together and to start to build the attack on this go and with the aim to defeat it if not force it into major retreat. I thought the sessions this year at socialism were fantastic. The session I spoke in as the introducing speaker on disabilities and how to defend disabled people don’t think that was the title of the session but that’s how it came out anyhow went really really well. I was surprised when so many turned up to hear me speak and others share thoughts and ideas. It was decided we will hold a disabled caucus either in November or early in the New Year somewhere central to further discuss our programme going forward as the socialist party. There was a brilliant in depth wide ranging discussion on Remploy from Les Woodward, contributions from Katrine Williams and Tracey Edwards of the PCS who made excellent points of wanting to work with disabled people as they as PCS members are on the other side of things feeling the pinch and the abuse from working for the government implementing their policies. So I’m glad to hear PCS members are keen to work with disabled people in our caucus and to help further the voices of venerable people. The rally itself in the evening on the Saturday was excellent sadly the South African miner who has played a crucial role in the strikes which have swept the mining districts in that country could not obtain a visa in the end and could not make the event sadly. Neither could the labour or ex labour councillor I should say in Southampton who has voted against cuts down there and has for his efforts along with his friend been expelled from the labour party now for voting against cuts yep that’s right against cuts. Keith sent a message in his absence and made a significant donation to the fighting fund appeal collection on the Saturday night which was very much appreciated. In all we raised 17 K over the weekend with more donations still coming in. A part of this will be going to our international the CWI which includes our rapidly growing section in South Africa who are playing a very important role in the leadership of that militant movement. Peter Taaffe the general secretary of the party like every year was fantastic and great value with his own style of working class comedy always thrown in for good measure. Peter made the case that workers will not put up with a rotten leadership forever and just like in South Africa will move their rotten leaders aside if need be to get the fighting leadership they need and deserve to win. It is crucial in the next period the biggest pressure is put on the TUC to act to name the day for a 24 hour general strike as the first stage of a co-ordianted fight back. Peter also as he always does so well drew the political conclusions in terms of working class representation stating labour would cut more gently, nicely and all that and to workers this cannot do and we need our own party of the working class. We as the socialist party believe TUSC can be a flexible body for this idea it isn’t the finished product or anything near a mass workers party but has made key steps forward in the recent period. The coming on board of the RMT one of the most militant unions out there in Britain is key success to this can be shown in the recruitment of Steve Hedly assistant general secretary of the RMT who has stood for TUSC this year in the London GLA elections on the list has decided to join the socialist party after much careful consideration we welcome comrade hedly on board for the struggle ahead. On the Sunday there were further debates and discussions two sessions one morning one afternoon. I attended the morning session on Historical Materialism with Ken Douglas who really blew my mind in terms of Marxist dialectics, this is the part of Marxist theory I most struggle with. I am continuing to learn as I go on and will never stop learning. In the afternoon I attended the debate with Owen Jones the Labour Left celebrity journalist the question time style debate was very good Owen debate with Clive Heemskerk of the socialist party Clive won this debate I felt although Owen in his usual muddled way came up with some solid points sadly Owen seems to only deal in Accomplished facts and needs to take on board what Nancy Taaffe rightly said we live in exceptional times the old rules do no longer apply if the labour party can’t be reclaimed which at this stage we do not feel it can be Owen and his fan club of labour lefties must draw the conclusions a new party of the working class is needed. The closing rally was brilliant too with Matt Wrack the general secretary of the Fire Brigade Union speaking passionately about the need to democratically publically own the banks and run them for need not profit in the interests of working class people. Matt and his union are facing huge attacks including cuts to 17 London fire stations I have no doubt Matt will stand up for his members and bravely fight all of these cuts as the FBU has been know for in recent times. Hannah Sell the deputy general secretly of the socialist party was last up in c losing the rally and concluded what a fantastic weekend it has been. I’d agree and look forward to building the party and the movement against this government and fighting for a socialist society for the 99%.