Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Robots Cometh

Robots have a real impact on jobs and wages, new research shows. Robots have long been maligned for job-snatching. Now you can add depressing wages and promoting inequality to your list of automation-related grievances.  Industrial robots cut into employment and pay for workers, based on an new analysis of local data stretching from 1990 and 2007. The change had the biggest impact on the lower half of the wage distribution, so it probably worsened America's wage gap. 

Industrial robots have had a "large" and negative effect on U.S. employment and wages in local labor markets, according to new research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Daron Acemoglu and Boston University's Pascual Restrepo.
One additional robot per thousand workers reduces the employment-to-population ratio by 0.18 percentage points to 0.34 percentage points and slashes wages by 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent, based on their analysis. To put that in context, the U.S. saw an increase of about one new industrial robot for every thousand workers between 1993 and 2007, based on the study. 
"The employment effects of robots are most pronounced in manufacturing, and in particular, in industries most exposed to robots; in routine manual, blue collar, assembly and related occupations; and for workers with less than college education," the authors write. "Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly, we do not find positive and offsetting employment gains in any occupation or education groups."  Researchers, specifically Daron Acemoglu, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Pascual Restrepo, from Boston University, said they were surprised that there was no positive effect on workers with more than a college degree.
Worth noting: the authors estimate that robots may have increased the wage gap between the top 90th and bottom 10 percent by as much as 1 percentage point between 1990 and 2007. There's also room for much broader robot adoption, which would make all of these effects much bigger. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

‘Regime change refugees’

Prejudices are the chains forged by ignorance to keep men apart. ~ Countess of Blessington

Tens of thousands of asylum seekers are cruelly languishing at sea with one nation after another turning them back. The ‘regular pathways’ to resettlement are a myth with annually on average less than 80,000 refugees resettled worldwide. According to the UNHCR, in the five years to 2013, 358,781 refugees from 111 countries were resettled, but more than fifteen million refugees languish. With this sort of global resettlement rate there is no orderly regular migration pathway, just the deserting of millions of people. 

The migrants coming to Europe are mostly fleeing conflicts. The data on origins make that clear. The migrants are coming primarily from Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Pakistan in the Middle East, and to a lesser extent from Eritrea, Somalia and Nigeria in Africa. These are all countries with vicious conflicts — conflicts that (with the exception of Nigeria) began with Western military intervention, direct or indirect and continued to be fueled by intervention. In Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia the intervention was very direct. In Syria, Pakistan and Eritrea, it has been less direct but very clear nonetheless.”The term ‘regime change refugees’ helps focus on where the primary responsibility lies. Official discourse in Europe and the United States frames the civil wars and economic turmoil in terms of fanaticism, corruption, dictatorship, economic failures and other causes for which Western governments and publics believe they have no responsibility. The Western leaders and media stay silent about the military intervention and regime change, interventions that have torn the refugees’ homelands apart and resulted in civil war, state collapse and extremely violent conditions lasting for long periods. Some European leaders  are arguing in favour of further military intervention in these war-torn lands on their periphery as a way to ‘do something’ and (ironically) ‘end the violence.’

Some politicians will scapegoat immigrants (or other vulnerable people) for people suffering. When this happens, hold on tight to your purse or wallet. They’re trying to distract you from the rich and powerful elites who are rigging the rules to get more wealth and power. They want to deflect your attention away from the reality that your economic pain. 

The so-called refugee crisis in Europe is only the tip of the iceberg. The 10 countries hosting the highest number of refugees are actually not in Europe, but in developing countries. Developing countries hosted 86% of the world’s refugees in 2014. In fact, just 10 counties host nearly 60% of the world’s refugees: Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Uganda, DR Congo and Chad (UNHCR data). Furthermore, among the 65.3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, about 1/3 are refugees or asylum-seekers, while 2/3 are internally displaced people (IDPs). Between 1975 and 2009, 80% of the refugees relocated to a country in proximity to their home state.

Europe’s population is ageing. The EU’s working-age population will decline by 3.5 million people by 2020 according to Eurostat estimates. Europe needs workers, and migrants can mitigate the effects of an ageing and shrinking population, in a wide variety of fields of employment. 

 “After years of neglect, this administration has taken a strong stand to stiffen the protection of our borders. We are increasing border controls by 50 percent. We are increasing inspections to prevent the hiring of illegal immigrants. And tonight, I announce I will sign an executive order to deny federal contracts to businesses that hire illegal immigrants.” 

No, not Trumps latest pronouncement on the Wall and stopping immigrants but Bill Clinton in Jan. 23, 1996.  It isn’t factually accurate to brand Trump's anti-immigration policies as unprecedented or an aberration.

Clinton went on to sign the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), enacted in April 1996; and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), which passed in September of the same year. Together, the two acts had the net effect of the changes was to vastly expand the number of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, subject to removal from the country. In 1990, a 14-mile, triple-deep fence was constructed in San Diego. In 1996, the IIRIRA authorized the federal government to build additional barriers. And in 2006, the Secure Fence Act was passed, authorizing completion of still more. Today, there are 700 miles of fencing along the southern border. Among those voting in favor of the Secure Fence Act was Hillary Clinton, then the junior Democratic Senator from New York. Nor should we forget that under Obama  more people were deported from the U.S. during the administration of President Barack Obama than during that of any other president and the Border Patrol’s budget expanded from $5.9 billion 2003 to $11.9 billion in 2013, while ICE’s grew from $3.3 billion to $5.9 billion. As of 2013, the two agencies had a total budget of nearly $18 billion, and that number increased to nearly $20 billion in 2016. 

Fact of the Day

From 2000 through 2014, according to the widely cited Global Terrorism Index, “more than 61,000 incidents of terrorism claiming over 140,000 lives have been recorded.” Including September 11th, countries in the West experienced less than 5% of these incidents and 3% of the deaths. 

The “140,000 lives” estimate carries an almost eerie resonance, since this is the rough figure usually accepted for the death toll from a single act of terror bombing, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

The tally is also low compared to contemporary deaths from other causes. Globally, for example, more than 400,000 people are murdered annually. In the United States, the danger of being killed by falling objects or lightning is at least as great as the threat from Islamist militants.

Time to vote socialist

News from Kent and Sussex Branch:
The SPGB today became the first party to have a candidate nomination accepted in the Shepway District for the Kent County Council election on 4th May.   Both divisions of Folkestone town, with a combined electorate of just over 26,000 on newly re-drawn boundaries, are being contested with Max Hess and Andy Thomas being the candidates.
We are also standing for East Sussex County Council, in the Lewes electoral division which is close to Brighton and has almost 9,000 voters, where Howard Pilott will be the candidate.
 Both areas were contested by the Party in the 2014 European Parliament elections, and Folkestone was also contested in the 2015 general election, when a candidate was also stood in the District council election.
West London branch, in conjunction with comrades living there and elsewhere in Surrey, is standing a candidate in Guildford in the county council elections in Surrey where in the 1980s there was a very active Party branch. Although Surrey was part of the South East Region for the 2014 Euroelections, it was the only country where we didn't arrange for Royal Mail to distribute our election manifesto, which is one reason why we will be using the wording of that manifesto. But we'll have to distribute it ourselves since there is no free postal distribution in local elections.
Letter published in the Hounslow Chronicle (17 March )in response to one from someone in the ex-Militant Tendency signing himself "Staines and Surrey Socialist Party":
Socialists will have candidate
Paul Couchman (Your Say, March 3) says he wants to build "the Social­ist Party in Staines and Surrey" and hopes that there will be Socialist candidates in May's County Council elections.
The good news is that there will be. The bad news, for him, is that it will not be his party, ie the old Mili­tant Tendency under the usurped name of our party which has existed since 1904. We shall be standing on a straight socialist programme of the common ownership and demo­cratic control of the means of pro­duction, with production for use not profit, not for mere reforms to capi­talism as he wants."

HEAVEN’S ABOVE! (weekly poem)


The ramblings of an old fart in Heaven.

I’m speaking to all you young folk,
From way beyond the grave;
To let you know that heaven is,
A right, real, royal, rave.
We spend all of eternity,
Just listening to harps;
That all play in the Key of C,
So there’s no Flats or Sharps!

On every Sunday (for a change!)
We lustily sing Hymns;
But lack of choirboys means their parts, (1)
Are sung by Cherubims!
So here’s a warning to you all,
It’s really not too late;
Don’t let the Devil drag you down,
Don’t lust or fornicate!

Remember too much sex can cause,
One feebleness of mind;
And all our priests will too, confirm,
That it can make you blind.
So if you must commit a sin,
By having filthy sex;
Do it in moderation and,
Wear a strong pair of specs!

The best thing that young men can do,
Is to become a Scout;
Cold showers and the Bible will,
Keep vile temptation out!
Call older people like me “Sir”,
Because you’re still a youth;
Salute the Union Jack each day,
And do not be uncouth.

But as I speak I must admit,
This death is oh so slow;
And I am tempted just to think,
What’s going down below!
In Hell their playing their guitars,
No rotten harps or lyres;
Oh how I wish I’d sinned much more,
And joined them in Hell’s Fires!

(1) Assuming people are not in the same mental and physical condition
they were at death, at what arbitrary age is one on reaching heaven
to enjoy an eternity of pleasure with 72 virgins (or white Raisins?!!!)

© Richard Layton 

Many whites dying younger than ever before

Mortality rates for people in the middle of their life in rich countries all over the world are falling – except for under-educated whites in the United States. In sharp contrast, mortality rates for whites with a college degree continue to decline. The decline and rise in mortality rates for working-class whites began in the 1970s as the nature of the American economy began to change, and accelerated during the 2008 economic crisis.

Death rates among under-educated whites (those with a high school education or less) have now surpassed blacks overall in America. In fact, mortality rates are 30 percent higher for whites between the ages of 50-54 than for blacks overall of the same age, the Princeton economists – Anne Case and Angus Deaton – said in a study released by the Brookings Institution.

While midlife mortality rates continue to fall among all education classes in most of the rich world, middle-aged non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. with a high school diploma or less have experienced increasing midlife mortality since the late 1990s. This is due to both rises in the number of ‘deaths of despair’—death by drugs, alcohol and suicide—and to a slowdown in progress against mortality from heart disease and cancer, the two largest killers in middle age,” Brookings said. The combined effect of all of this is that mortality rates for whites in this demographic now surpass the death rates of blacks. According to the study, it grew to be 30 percent higher than blacks two years ago.

Rich countries, many of them with universal health coverage, are making progress against deadly diseases such as heart disease and cancer. That clearly isn’t true for poor, under-educated whites in America.

The “deaths of despair” are rising for both white women and men without a high school degree, are increasing among this cohort in all parts of America and every level of urbanization. The reason for the increase in death rates is sobering. Basically, the authors said, the economic and social rug has been pulled out from beneath them. The authors suggest that the increases in deaths of despair are accompanied by a measurable deterioration in economic and social well-being, which has become more pronounced for each successive birth cohort. Marriage rates and labor-force participation rates fall between successive birth cohorts, while reports of physical pain, and poor health and mental health rise. It is only among working class whites with less education that death rates are getting worse. 

The disparities in death rates among whites and blacks in the same economic demographic can’t be explained by income alone, they said. Blacks and Hispanics face similar economic hardships as working class whites – but haven’t suffered as much.
This doesn’t seem to be about current income, it seems to be about accumulating despair,” Case said in a press call. Working class whites, by and large, seemed to have given up the belief that their children would be better off than them in the future, they said.
The rise in mortality rates for working class whites appears to be rooted equally in poor job opportunities and social dysfunction – which explains the anger that under-educated white voters carried with them into the 2016 presidential election. And this anger is what propelled Trump into the White House.

Death and Disappearance in the Desert

Reluctantly, the world acknowledges the suffering and the many deaths of the migrants from the Middle East crossing the Mediterranean Sea crossing to Europe. Less discussed is the deaths of those who are crossing the deserts of the US-Mexican border states. Prior to the 1990’s, deaths in the desert were rare and usually attributable to vehicle breakdowns. Today the Sonora Desert, 100,000 square miles of Arizona, California and Northern Mexico, particularly its remotest areas, is a death trap.

Since 1999, the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office has handled more than 2,800 human remains, those who died attempting to migrate through the southern Arizona deserts. Border Patrol reports 6,029 human remains recovered in the same region since the 1990s. Fifty-one bodies have been recorded already this year, with deaths trending between 100 and 250 annually over 10 years. The actual number of death and “disappearance” is surely much greater.  

The 1999 “Prevention through Deterrence” enforcement directive, a tactic called, “Chase and Scatter.” has fuelled this catastrophe. A few individuals are usually apprehended. The rest flee, often unable to regroup, making off alone into the wilderness without supplies. This tactic has contributed to untold numbers of the disappeared.  The "disappeared" in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, are “a direct consequence of U.S. border enforcement policies and practices.” In other words, it is state violence—perpetrated by the U.S. government and its apparatus of exclusion. The continuing deaths are one of humanitarian crises in the world, with untold thousands of immigrants lost or found dead because of a 20-year enforcement tactic that has closed off most of the easy land crossings between the United States and Mexico. The United States, and the U.S. Border Patrol in particular, is entirely responsible for the deaths and missing people because of the policy that is "pushing traffic" into inhospitable landscapes.

Spurred on by economic necessity and gang violence in their home countries, many immigrants and refugees — guided by ruthless smugglers — make a perilous journey through rugged, hostile desert terrain in Arizona and other states.
"Extreme heat and bitter cold, scarce and polluted water sources, treacherous topography, and near-total isolation from possible rescue are used as weapons of border enforcement," states a report by Two Arizona immigrant-advocacy groups, No More Deaths and La CoaliciĆ³n de Derechos Humanos , "The rugged environment along the border routinely injures those crossing with sprains, blisters, and heat-related illness; many become lost and disoriented in these vast and remote expanses of wilderness, resulting in disappearance and death."

Monday, March 27, 2017

Modern Slavery

The legacy of slavery resounds down the ages, and the world has yet to overcome racism. The consequences of slavery had not ended with emancipation, but continued to this day. While some forms of slavery may have been abolished, others have emerged to blight the world, including human trafficking and forced and bonded labour. For over 400 years, more than 15 million men, women and children were the victims of the transatlantic slave trade, one of the darkest chapters in human history. Slavery is, nevertheless, far from being just a chapter of the past—it still there, with estimated 21 million victims of forced labour and extreme exploitation around the world–nearly the equivalent to of the combined population of Scandinavian countries. Trafficking can have numerous other forms including: victims compelled to act as beggars, forced into sham marriages, benefit fraud, pornography production, organ removal, among others. According to the UN, victims of trafficking are found in 106 of 193 countries. Many of these are in conflict areas, where the crimes are not prosecuted. Women and children are among the main victims. 79 per cent of all detected trafficking victims are women and children. In fact, millions of women and girls are sold for sexual exploitation and slavery.
Human Rights First informs that human trafficking earns profits of roughly 150 billion dollars a year for traffickers. The following is a breakdown of profits, by sector:
– 99 billion dollars from commercial sexual exploitation
– 34 billion dollars in construction, manufacturing, mining and utilities
– 9 billion dollars in agriculture, including forestry and fishing
– 8 billion dollars is saved annually by private households that employ domestic workers under conditions of forced labour
While only 22 per cent of victims are trafficked for sex, sexual exploitation earns 66 per cent of the global profits of human trafficking, reminds Human Rights First. The average annual profits generated by each woman in forced sexual servitude ($100,000) is estimated to be six times more than the average profits generated by each trafficking victim worldwide ($21,800). Sexual exploitation can yield a return on investment ranging from 100 per cent to 1,000 per cent, while an enslaved labourer can produce more than 50 per cent profit even in less profitable markets (e.g., agricultural labour in India).
However, the Socialist Party highlights another form of slavery and strives for the emancipation of wage-slaves. Under chattel-slavery the slave was bought and sold and became the property of the buyer. Under the system of wage-slavery, to which workers of all races in all capitalist countries are subjected at present, the labour-power of the individual worker is bought, a wage is paid to the worker by the employer, and the employer only takes an interest in the welfare of his workers in so far as it helps him to make profits out of them. Under chattel-slavery the slave was oppressed and exploited by the slave master and slave rebellions took place time and again led by the instinctive surge to freedom. The wage-slaves — workers of today — are exploited and oppressed by the capitalist employers. Under the system of wage-slavery workers are constantly struggling for better conditions and for the abolishment of capitalist slavery in all countries.  Under the old chattel slavery system, overseers lashed the slaves to their tasks. When wage slavery came into existence the slave master was still there, in the shape of the management's boss, but the lash had become an invisible one, the threat of the sack and the prospect of unemployment. We’re a new kind of slave. The bosses don’t own our bodies any more, they just own our jobs. The master class live off our sweat and toil.

Out soon April's Socialist Standard

Out soon April's Socialist Standard

The Socialist Standard is a monthly socialist newspaper published without interruption since 1904 by the Socialist Party of Great Britain. The newspaper is written in a simple, direct style and focuses mainly on socialist advocacy and Marxian analysis of current events, particularly those affecting the United Kingdom.

 It was placed on a secret list of papers and magazines banned for export during World War I, for its call for workers to refuse to fight for their countries and instead join the class war. In 1915 it published an article written by a member of the Bolshevik party calling for a socialist solution to the war.

 In 1918, however, the paper voiced the first doubts of the SPGB regarding the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.

In the 1930s it drew on the reports from Spain to produce articles on the looming menace of aerial warfare.

 During World War II the magazine evaded the censor largely by producing a series of articles on the Peloponnesian and similar ancient wars as a cover for the Party's opposition to the current one.

 The SPGB maintains that it is not a left-wing organisation nor its journal, The Socialist Standard a left-wing journal. 'Left-wing', it contends, has simply become an umbrella designation for protest groups and organisations demanding amendments and reforms to capitalism. The SPGB and the World Socialist Movement (with which the SPGB is associated) contrary to the views and aspirations of these myriad groups and organisations that would claim to be left-wing, affirms that capitalism is incapable of meaningful reform;that quintessentially the basis of the exploitation of the working class is the wages/money system.


Same old story

The environmental global warming climate change crisis appears to have eclipsed the nuclear war apocalypse as the greatest threat to the human race. Nevertheless, the dangers of nuclear war has never disappeared and has, in fact, returned to its old Cold War sabre-rattling. Nuclear weapons remain the most destructive, inhumane and indiscriminate weapons ever created. A single nuclear bomb detonated over a large city could kill millions of people and cause catastrophic and long-term damage to the environment. The use of tens or hundreds of nuclear bombs would be cataclysmic, severely disrupting the global climate and causing widespread famine.

Today, Monday 27 March, UN talks will begin on a global nuclear ban treaty in the forlorn hope to prohibit nuclear weapons. and it will most likely fair no better than all the previous nuclear disarmament conferences. Well-intentioned reformers believe that it is time to negotiate a treaty, in line with other treaties that prohibit chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster munitions that would prohibit the use, possession, production and transfer of nuclear weapons, given their indiscriminate nature. No state, including permanent members of the UN Security Council, should possess nuclear weapons.

Nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons are estimated to exist in the world with the U.S. and Russia owning approximately 93% of those. The remaining 7% is owned by six other countries: France, China, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, and Israel.

Both America, Russia and China are engaged in modernisation programmes to upgrade their existing nuclear weapons, risking a new arms race. The Americans have budgeted for one trillion dollars over the next thirty years. A recent report from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists details how the US massively upgraded the lethality of its submarine-based nuclear missiles resulting in their destructive potential being tripled, according to the report. This is important because US military planners previously only relied on submarine-launched missiles to strike soft targets like military bases. Now these missiles could be used to wipe out Russia's nukes buried deep underground.  Also Russian defence officials would have less than 15 minutes to decide if an incoming object was legitimate, where it was coming from, and how they should respond. This places a whole lot of responsibility on the shoulders of Russian military officials.  This alarming short warning time will create a deeply dangerous situation.

Escalation is the process by which relatively minor conflicts develop into major conflicts, because of the ever-increasing force which each side finds it necessary to bring into the field to equal and overcome the other. It is a pity people can’t take their realisation of escalation a stage further and see that it is present at the very genesis of war. Military conflict is an escalation from economic conflict. War, it has been said, is fought for vital interests. The trouble is that the same thing is likely to be a vital interest to more than one nation at a time. It is rather naive in these circumstances to discover which nation actually possesses the particular interest (i.e. which nation managed to steal it first) and label the other nation the “aggressor.”

War is not in the interest of the working class anywhere, but the remedy is not the unreality of asking capitalism to behave differently but the socialist policy of getting rid of capitalism which causes war.  What peace advocates have failed to grasp is that wars do not occur as a result of having weapons but because of the conflicting economic interests of capitalist states. What is needed is to go beyond a moral outcry and to attack the system which creates war. Good intentions will not solve the problem of war but there is a revolutionary alternative.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The price of water

In the US there are no federal regulations either guaranteeing a citizen’s right to water or water affordability. Water is already unaffordable for one of 10 U.S. households, a share that’s forecast to triple to more than 30 percent of within five years, according to recent research from Michigan State University. Meanwhile, water and sewer prices more than doubled between 2000 to 2016, outpacing price increases for other basics such as electricity and gasoline.

 Residents in Cannon Beach, Oregon, were warned this month that their water bills could jump 40 percent in 2017 as the city invests in repairs and maintenance to its water systems. Sacramento residents are bracing for bills that could jump 41 percent over five years. And cities including Austin, Texas, and Tucson, Arizona, have seen their water rates jump by 50 percent in the past five years

For lower-income households, it could mean having your water turned off,” said Elizabeth Mack, a researcher at Michigan State University and co-author of the water affordability study. “When we reach one-third of households, you are getting people who make below the median but above poverty, or the working class. We shouldn’t be surprised that people in poverty can’t afford anything, and that’s a conversation that goes beyond water. But now you have people already in the national conversation squeezed on health care and job issues,” Mack said. “These people are getting squeezed from a variety of cost perspectives.” 

The nation’s highest water costs are in Atlanta and Seattle, where residents pay an average monthly bill of about $325 and $310, respectively, Mack found. The average U.S. annual water bill is $1,686, or about $140 per month. 

Almost 37 percent of people in Mississippi are in danger of not being able to afford water, based on income data from Census population tracts. Louisiana and Alabama are the second and third most at-risk states.  Mack said that working-class Americans may end up cutting back on eating out or going to the movies to afford water. She added, “You think access to water is a problem only in developing countries, but it’s becoming an issue in some parts of the U.S.”

Quote of the Day

“No one should arrive in the UK having fled conflict or persecution only to be left destitute and reliant on charity to survive.” - Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross

Hindutva on the rise?

 Yogi Adityanath of the Bharatiya Janata Party  is the new Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India and the equivalent of the sixth largest nation on earth where about a fifth of those 200 million people are Muslim.  Does it represent a shift towards a theocratic state?

 Milan Vaishnav, at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a foreign policy thinktank. “He is an extremist in terms of his speeches, a very proud rabble-rouser, and somebody who doesn’t have a claim to fame other than a dedication to a strident form of Hindu nationalism.”

It is an important and disturbing moment,” agrees Ramachandran Guha, an author and historian. “It is the fringe moving to the mainstream.”

Hinduism is the world’s third most-practised religion. It has no pope, no mandatory scripture, no compulsion to convert new believers. The caste system is embedded deeply into many of its followers beliefs. 

Yogi Adityanath is a firm believer in Hindutva ideology which essentially wants to establish India as a Hindu nation. This would mean that the State would no longer remain separate from religion. Any practice sanctioned by the Hindu religion would have to be accepted and respected by each and every citizen of the nation. As an example, cow slaughter could be banned in the nation for the sole reason that the Hindu religion did-not permit it, and each and every citizen would have to abide to by the ban.

All the citizens of India, Hindus and non-Hindus, would have to accept that Hinduism was the national religion, that laws and rules that were made to encourage, protect or promote any religious practice of the Hindus would have to be equally obeyed by all as the law of the land and that the State was free to mete out any treatment that it saw fit to other religious denominations. In a Hindu State, if the State made a law that it would henceforth be necessary for all the citizens to practice the Hindu religion, it would have to be followed by one and all, or else they could choose to leave the State. Alternatively, the State could choose to allow everyone the freedom to practice their religion with the caveat that they would respect all the practices of Hindu religion and not come in the way of any such practice or ritual of the religion. In other words, all the non-Hindu religious communities would be at the mercy of the Hindu nation, to be treated as deemed fit by the incumbent powers. Thus, the success of Hindutva ideology may not necessarily lie in mass exodus of non-Hindu religious communities from the nation. The only condition necessary to be fulfilled may be ensuring that the claim of India being a Hindu nation is accepted by all those residing in India, and consequently, any thought or action that is, in the eyes of the State, detrimental to the Hindu religious beliefs, is not performed by any citizen of the nation. In such a situation, the State could, for example, impose beef ban, make Yoga compulsory for all, uplift Bhagvata Gita to the status of the National Scripture etc., and impose fines and punishment in law for not adhering to these strictures.

There would be umpteen difficulties though, if India became a Hindu nation. These would arise out of the complexities associated with the Hindu religion itself. To begin with, how would one define who is a Hindu and who isn’t? Which scriptures would one choose to follow and adhere to, given the existence of multitudes of them, all with different messages and interpretations of being a Hindu? Which practices would be defined as being the core practices of the religion, and which would be defined to be peripheral and non-mandatory? There would arise many such questions and in all practicality, the interpretation of the ruling power will have to be accepted as the legitimate interpretation and be followed as the law of the land.

Pro-Hindutva hardliners know for a fact that the numbers of non-Hindu population is so high in India that they cannot be wished away. The problem arises when one starts to question, when one dissents, when one puts forward his or her views, and in such cases. Hindutva ideology It treats all such cases of dissents with one lens, and brands them all as anti-nationals, irrespective of their caste, creed, colour or religion. This ideology refuses to see the human being behind the cloaks of caste, creed, religion, gender and all such man-made differences. Socialism is the ideology of HUMANITY. Socialism is the holistic monist thinking encompassing rational dialogue, discussion and debate.


The World Socialist Party (India): 257 Baghajatin ‘E’ Block (East), Kolkata – 700086,
Tel: 2425-0208,

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Martin McGuinness is playing his harp

“If you remove the English army to-morrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs. England would still rule you to your ruin, even while your lips offered hypocritical homage at the shrine of that Freedom whose cause you had betrayed. Nationalism without Socialism – without a reorganisation of society on the basis of a broader and more developed form of that common property which underlay the social structure of Ancient Erin – is only national recreancy.[a disloyality to a belief] - James Connolly

"Yes, friends, governments in capitalist society are but committees of the rich to manage the affairs of the capitalist class." - James Connolly

“Ireland as distinct from her people is nothing to me; and the man who is bubbling over with love and enthusiasm for ‘Ireland’ and yet can pass unmoved through our streets and witness all the wrong and suffering and the shame and the degradation wrought upon the people of Ireland: aye, wrought by Irishmen upon Irishmen and women ithout burning to end it, is a fraud and a liar in his heart, no matter how he loves that combination of chemical elements he is pleased to call ‘Ireland’” - James Connolly

James Connolly before he subordinated working class independence to Irish independence asked what would be the difference in practice if the unemployed were rounded up for the "to the tune of 'St. Patrick's Day'" and the bailiffs wore wear "green uniforms and the Harp without the Crown, and the warrant turning you out on the road will be stamped with the arms of the Irish Republic...Whoop it up for liberty! "? 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Time to re-think capitalism

Reformists seek to soften the effects of capitalism by calling for such oxymorons as “ethical” capitalism or “responsible” capitalism.

Today's co-operative movement is so unlike the dreams of its founders as to be almost unrecognisable. Socialists have not the slightest interest in the efforts of the co-operative movement to extend its business organisation. Some workers may find a co-operative permits a bit more say in the work-place but, as a movement, it never will or could bring emancipation any nearer. It can thrive only by accepting and imitating capitalism. It can never bring the workers more than a few crumbs from the capitalist table. The Socialist Party points out to those people trying to maintain a precarious and often illusory independence against large-scale industry and commerce, that there is no salvation for them under capitalism. As individuals, their place is within our ranks, when they recognise that the prime need of our age is the abolition of the private ownership of the means of production and distribution, and the establishment of socialism, and when they are prepared to work with us to that end. As socialists, we do not gloat over the personal tragedies of the failure of the small cooperative enterprise any more than we do over other tragic effects of ruthless capitalism.

Likewise our criticism of credit unions as a more convenient method of saving or borrowing than a conventional bank. Or the proclaimed panacea for poverty – micro-finance.

 Much has been said about the supposed empowerment easy access to credit for the poor, and in particular, poor women. This “grass-roots” capitalism has been advocated by charities and NGOs as a means of transforming lives for decades now and enough time and study has now been given to determine the results on the much trumpeted “success” stories. Undeniably, in a few personal situations, these loans have helped the slightly better off among the poor to build up their livelihoods but those entrepreneurial individuals are few who use a small amount of money to catapult themselves out of destitution. Those successful enterprises are the exceptions. However, the idea that micro-credit has potential to spark sustained economic benefit has been misplaced. Micro-finance is a Band-Aid solution to poverty and fails to address the root causes of poverty. No one should be lulled into believing that micro-finance is a cure-all for global poverty. 

Originally developed as a non-profit effort to lift society’s most downtrodden, microfinance has increasingly become a for-profit enterprise that serves investors as well as the poor. It can also lead to indebtedness. We must not forget the flip-side: Microcredit is microdebt. When a person and especially a woman fails to make installments on time, she experiences humiliation from fellow members and loan recovery officials. The default by a lone woman can result in friction among group members who are collectively held responsible for individual loans. Women who cannot pay due to unforeseen circumstances, (poor investment decisions, unexpected illness or even theft) are subjected to dishonour.

Six randomised evaluations from four continents conducted by researchers affiliated with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), show that microcredit does not have a transformative impact on poverty. The results of studies, which were carried out in India, Mongolia and Philippines in Asia, Bosnia-Herzegovina in Europe, Morocco and Ethiopia in Africa, and Mexico in North America, were presented in the January 2015 issue of the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. They conclude that micro-loans generally do not lead to increased income, investments in children’s schooling, or substantial gains in women’s empowerment for poor borrowers.