Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Socialist Party Explained

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The world is crying out for change. Millions of children die each year of starvation while those with millions spare themselves no indulgence. People say that we in the Socialist Party are utopian because we hold to the view that a new society is the only lasting solution to the mess we're in and because we dare to suggest that we could run our lives in a much more rational and harmonious way. Some people on the "Left" decline to define socialism because they think that any account of a future society is a waste of time and that we should concern ourselves with present-day struggles. But unless you do talk about where you're going, how will you know when you've arrived?  More and more people today recognise that the present system of production for profit makes our lives needlessly painful and is ruining the planet.  Unless you do have a clear idea of socialism then anyone can claim it, defame it and say it doesn't work. And unless we keep the idea of working directly for a worldwide co-operative community on the agenda people will always be sidetracked. It is essential that the ideal of the new society should always be kept at the fore. It cannot be stressed enough, that without a widespread and clear idea among workers of what a socialist society entails, it will he unattainable. The reason is simple. The very nature of socialism—a money-free, wage-free world of unrestricted access to the goods and services provided by voluntary cooperative effort—necessitates understanding. There is absolutely no way in which such a sweeping fundamental transformation of social relationships could be thrust upon an unwilling, unknowing majority by some minority, however, enlightened or well-meaning. The Socialist Party is not prepared to associate with organisations which carry on propaganda for the amelioration of capitalism, recruit members on that basis and seek the votes of reformists. Our case is that work for socialism is the essential end and it cannot be combined with reformism. Socialism cannot be achieved without a social revolution, that is a change in the property basis of society, from private ownership to social ownership and democratic control.  Alone, we have stood for a social revolution to overturn capitalist society and replace it with socialism. There is no way that an anti-capitalist social order can be constructed without seizing state power, radically transforming it the constitutional and institutional framework that currently supports private property. To ignore the state is a ridiculous and dangerous idea for any anti-capitalist movement to accept.

The Socialist Party holds that the only way workers can end their conflict with our masters is to build on our economic and social power and organise collectively and politically to end the madness of the market system once and for all.  Class struggle is the motor that drives change. Built into capitalism is a class struggle between those who own the means of wealth production and those who don't and who are therefore forced by economic necessity to sell their ability to work to those who do. The class war, between the owners of the means of production (the capitalists) and those compelled by threat of poverty to sell their capacity to work (the workers), is an essential and continual feature of capitalist society.  This class struggle is not just over the price and conditions of sale of the commodity workers are selling, their labour power. Ultimately, it's about control over the means of production. The problem we have to face is that, in the class struggle, the odds are nearly always against us, and that to build a socialist future, we need a mass organisation of people who know what it is they want and are prepared to work to achieve it. 

Those pursuing the tactic of trying to reform capitalism by concentrating on humanising it are wasting their time since the entire system is based on a minority exploiting a majority. To expend all energy in demands for a more "friendly" capitalism is not what socialists should aim for, as, even in the event of success, the primary evils of capitalism would still remain i.e. production for profit and extraction of surplus value. The main effort of socialists should be aiming for socialism itself. The end of capitalism can only come as a result of a consciously socialist political movement winning control of political power with a view to abolishing all capitalist property rights and ushering in the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production. The preconditions for ending capitalism are a majority socialist consciousness and workers democratically self-organised in a large-scale socialist party. Neither of which, unfortunately, currently exist. 

During the election campaign, questioning the future of capitalism ought to be in the forefront of the debate. Socialist ideas have to be communicated to other workers, but not from outside the working class as a whole. They have to be communicated to other workers who, from their own experience and/or from absorbing the past experience of the working class, have come to a socialist understanding. It is not a question of enlightened outsiders bringing socialist ideas to the benighted workers but of socialist-minded workers spreading socialist ideas amongst their fellow workers.  The Socialist Party's mission is to show clearly both how we are robbed and exploited by the system ruled by capital and how we can tap the wealth of our collective productive power by taking control of the means of production directly.

The Socialist Party’s conception of revolution is often criticised for its lack of credibility since it is falsely assumed that people have to wait for the overwhelming majority necessary to “enact” socialism before doing something about their immediate problems. The Socialist Party recognises the necessity of workers' solidarity in the class struggle against the capitalist class, and rejoice in every victory for the workers to assert their economic power. Workers must engage with the issues of pay and work conditions and pensions, but the main issue is the overthrow of capitalism, not picking away at it and then having our gains eroded sooner or later. In thinking of the class war as an actual war, the drive for a socialist understanding in the working class and the creation of a socialist society should be the main front, demanding the most effort, while everyday issues of pay and conditions and defending the gains that have been made would be a secondary front. We should never lose track of the actual aim of the socialist movement, the overthrow of capitalism and its replacement by a democratic association of peoples.

Left-wingers reject the Party’s concept of revolutionary change as “impossible”. Their argument is that a working class government could set society on a course of change in the direction of socialism. In control of the state and all legal processes, such a government would grant the widest freedom of action to the trade unions and thus set up a partnership with the trade unions pursuing working class interests on the industrial field and a government doing the same on the political field. The unions would maximise the workers’ share of the social product at the point of production. The government would provide housing, health care and education, etc. At the same time, such a working class government would begin the process of establishing common ownership through the nationalisation of the means of production and through “taxing the rich out of existence”.

The Socialist Party rejected this gradualist policy at the beginning of the last century and it has been vindicated by experience. With a growing socialist majority, the class struggle will take new forms, not least because the ruling class will become ever more cunning and ruthless as its hegemony is more and more threatened. Critics have accused the Socialist Party with some foolish ideas such as Parliamentary “cretinism”, as they call it . The Socialist Party is aware that the use of parliament by a socialist majority is just one part of a much broader movement for change in which the revolutionised ideas and activities of millions of class-conscious workers will be rather more important than the actions of delegates in parliament. Nor does the Socialist Party rely simply upon the agency of ‘abstract propaganda’. Our propaganda is not abstract: we relate to the real experiences of workers today, constantly making clear at our meetings and in our literature that socialism is the immediately practical solution to workers’ so-called “short-term interests”. We present our objective as an immediate solution to the problems of the present and not as some far-off futuristic utopia. Our appeal to workers is on the basis of class interest and our appeal will be successful because the class struggle generates class consciousness in workers.   

These left-wing critics accuse the Socialist Party of being unconcerned with short-term interests within capitalism and offer the example of our failure to be directly involved in trade unions. The reason for this is that as socialists we are engaged in a necessarily contradictory struggle: on the one hand, we propose the abolition of the wages system as an immediately practical alternative, but on the other, we recognise the need for workers to fight the wages struggle within capitalism. But, as socialists, our main energies must be directed towards the former objective. We could, of course, remove this distinction between the trade union struggle within capitalism and the socialist struggle against capitalism by adopting the ideas of the De Leonists, who at one time advocated that socialists should form their own socialist unions. This would be an example of breaking down the false dichotomy between short and long term interests. But the result proved an utter failure when De Leonist trade unions which were set up in the USA and, to a lesser extent, in Scotland. Indeed, the failure of  “socialist industrial unionism”  is a very important case study of the danger of imagining those capitalist institutions such as trade unions can be easily converted into socialist bodies. They demonstrate that capitalism cannot be transcended from within.

The Socialist Party rejects the gradualist theory and policy because it does not accept the political premise that the economic operation of capitalism can be controlled in a manner which would allow for any gradual realisation of working class interests.  The force of the Party’s arguments has not diminished with the passing of time; on the contrary, as capitalism has continued to develop as a world system, it has become more compelling.

Criticism of the Socialist Party's “aloofness” has also been by those who promote a co-operative movement which they intend will supplant their capitalist competitor. Socialism is a non-property system, and systems which accept and reject property cannot co-exist. Regardless. These critics propose that “socialistic” relationships will spread within the capitalist economy and as socialist consciousness develops these co-ops will be gradually be gutted of their capitalist content. They will be run eventually upon the basis of “free production” and ultimately they will link together and evolve “towards a totally socialist society”.  Such a revolutionary change is incompatible with what capitalism can allow.  Where is the financing of these co-ops to come from? Presumably not from workers’ savings where impoverished workers can “buy out” the bosses. If capitalist banks are to provide loans to finance these co-ops is it not certain that they will make demands upon them which will undermine their “socialistic” nature?

 Existing within the cut-throat environment of the world market, is it not inevitable that the economic goodwill of the co-operators will be swamped by the iron laws of the profit system, with all of the exploitative demands which it places upon enterprises? Indeed, far from being able to demonstrate a better life to workers trapped in the remaining units of capitalism, the workers making an inevitable failure of running “free production” under capitalism would provide an ideal case study for the anti-socialist propagandists — even more so if such enterprises failed having had the backing and endorsement of the Socialist Party. How do these co-ops, locked into the capitalist economy, evolve towards a totally socialist society? It seems incredible to think that institutions which are tied into capitalism for existence are going to evolve out of it. If developing the new within the kernel of the old alternative scenario is an example of pragmatism, Socialist Party’s be justifiably accused of lacking credibility and naivity? The economic laws of capitalism will continue to operate, essentially unaltered until the very eve of socialism. The growth of socialist consciousness and organisation will allow workers to prosecute the class struggle more effectively and to this extent the limited freedom of maneuver which the economic laws of capitalism allow the employing class will be limited even more. But the suggestion that a “socialistic” co-operative sector of the economy would be able to defy the economic laws of capitalism to the extent of being able to disengage from the market and operate on the principle of free production goes way beyond this. It amounts to asserting that the economic laws of capitalism can be overcome by a mere act of will.

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

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£5.3 billion government pot to integrate health and social care has not achieved a single target and is ‘little more than a ruse’ to plug gaps in local authority budgets, MPs have warned.
In 2015, the Department of Health set up the Better Care Fund with the intention of cutting down emergency admissions and bed-blocking, where patients are medically fit to leave hospital but there are delays to arranging their social care in the community. However, in a damning report, the Public Affairs Committee found that the fund was ‘little more than a complicated ruse to transfer money from health to local government to paper over the funding pressures on adult social care.’
Liz McAnulty, Chair of the Patients Association, said: “The Better Care Fund was always pretty plainly a way of shifting funds from the NHS to social care. The crisis in social care funding had been brewing since at least the turn of the decade, and the BCF was always a sticking-plaster solution rather than the commitment to adequate funding of social care that was really needed. We believe that the current funding settlement for health and social care must be revisited, as it is plainly proving inadequate.”
Under original plans, bed-blocking should also have fallen by a total of 293,000 hospital days but it actually increased by 185,000 compared with 2014/15

Like Father, Like Daughter

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Workers at a factory in China that makes clothes for the Ivanka Trump clothing line and other labels made roughly $1 an hour.

 The workers toiled 60 hours a week to produce clothing they could never afford, such as the “brand’s $158 dresses [and] $79 blouses”—but low wages weren’t the only difficulty they endured. According to the Washington Post, “inspectors with the Fair Labor Association...found two dozen violations of international labor standards during a two-day tour of the factory in October, saying in a report that workers faced daunting hours, high turnover, and pay near or below China’s minimum wage.”

Laborers at the G-III factory, which is exclusively licensed to produce the Ivanka Trump line, also manufactured clothing for Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. The Post reports auditors found workers were mandated to work 57 hours a week, and many far exceeded the maximum legal overtime limit of 35 hours per month, reaching an astounding 82 hours on the job every month. For their work factory workers were paid half as much as “the average manufacturing employee in urban China.”

Fewer than a third of the factory’s workers were offered legally mandated coverage under China’s “social insurance” benefits, including a pension and medical, maternity, unemployment and work-related injury insurance, inspectors found. The factory also did not contribute, as legally required, to a fund designed to help workers afford housing, inspectors said. Inspectors also cited the factory for a number of workplace safety concerns. It did not train loading workers on safety techniques or provide employees with equipment that could reduce injury, including lifting belts or seats with backrests.


India's Insurrection Continues

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Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh's southern Sukma region, killed 25 paramilitary personnel in an ambush and it was the deadliest assault committed by the left-wing rebels since killing 76 security forces in a single incident in 2010.  it was in the same area a month ago that 13 troops were killed in a similar attack on a road-opening party in a construction party.

The Maoists also seem to be gaining influence among locals in a number of states, including Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Mahrashtra and Bihar. The support is critical in their being able to sustain their forest and guerilla warfare. India's Maoist insurgency, which started in the 1960s, has claimed around 10,000 lives and is considered India's most serious internal security threat. Observers say the affected states have failed to tackle tribal grievances that are propping up the Maoists.

"When you allow multinational companies and private corporations to carry out mining projects in the name of development in areas populated by indigenous communities this uprising is bound to happen," explained  E N Rammohan, a former police officer, who has chronicled the Maoist rebellion. He reckons that such actions by the state governments have created a fertile space in which Maoists have moved in and taken up the fight for the indigenous communities. 

 Naxalites have managed to draw support from disgruntled citizens, especially tribals, who believe they have been exploited and have not benefited from the fruits of economic growth. They claim they are fighting for the indigenous communities who, they stress, are routinely exploited by private corporations and the political class.

Se here for more background.

If you are interested in genuine social revolution rather than insurrection contact:
WORLD SOCIALIST PARTY (INDIA)
257 Baghajatin ‘E’ Block (East), Kolkata – 700086
Tel: 2425-0208 (ISD: 091, STD: 033)
E-mail: wspindia@hotmail.co
Website: www.worldsocialistpartyindia.org

Yemen - Hunger as a weapon

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The world promised Yemen only half the aid it needs. Yet at the same time, arms sales to the warring factions are thriving. 

 the worst famine in the world today has been man-made, for the most part. It's because of war that one-third of Yemenis are starving and two-thirds of the country's people depend on relief supplies. It is a war that sees hunger used as a weapon. One of the main causes of Yemen's famine is the continuing Saudi-led naval blockade of Yemeni ports.It is a war that, only after the Saudi-led coalition intervened two years ago, escalated ethnic conflicts that had simmered for decades into a disaster. it is a war which generates huge profits.
In 2015, when the wealthiest country in the Arabian peninsula started to bomb the poorest country in the region back to the stone age, arms worth in excess of 1.8 billion euros ($1.96 billion) were exported from the European Union to Saudi Arabia. In 2016, the German Ministry of Economy issued export licenses for weapons sold to Saudi Arabia worth more than 500 million euros ($544 million). Great Britain, France and especially the US are also among those who, acting resourcefully and displaying high levels of entrepreneurial flair, make sure that the Saudi arms, bombs and missile depots remain fully replenished, despite constant deployment on a massive scale. 
The situation could even become dramatically worse because the Saudi-led coalition plans to launch an offensive against Hodeida, a Red Sea port held by the Houthi-Saleh bloc. That port's capacity has been dramatically reduced already due to Saudi airstrikes. In spite of that, it is still the central hub when it comes to supplying Yemen with food and relief aid. If the port comes under attack, the current mass starvation would turn into a death trap. The coalition's argument that  Hodeida must be seized in order to halt arms supplies to the Houthi-Saleh bloc and force them to the negotiating table is not convincing: the UN special envoy's recent peace initiative was rejected by the Saudi-backed government of exiled president Hadi. And all ships approaching the port have been inspected by the coalition for quite some time already.
In this war, there can't be any military victory - this insight was even shared by US Defense Minister James Mattis when he visited Riyadh recently. Those who care about the people of Yemen must, therefore, bring the warring parties to the negotiating table. To this end, pressure must be put on Riyadh, which, thus far, has rejected everything that didn't amount to a capitulation of the Houthi-Saleh alliance. In this situation, an arms embargo targeting Saudi Arabia could be a start that's long overdue.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ageism in Ireland

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More than half of people over 50 years of age living in Ireland have experienced ageism. There is convincing evidence that when older people experience age-related discrimination they internalise these negative views, feel older and less capable and are less likely to look after themselves.

The Irish Republic's population aged over 65 has increased by 19 per cent, or 102,174 people, since 2011.  The numbers of those aged 0-14 only increased by 71,439. So the population is getting older.  The fact is that people living longer is a good thing.

 The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (Tilda), Health and Wellbeing: Active Ageing for Older Adults in Ireland 2017 report found that “older adults in Ireland far from being reliant on social supports are net contributors to their extended families and the communities in which they live”.

Almost half of older people help their adult children out financially, whereas only 3 per cent of adult children provide financial help to their parents. Half of adults aged 54 to 74 provide regular childcare for their grandchildren for an average of 36 hours each month. Two-thirds participate in a wide range of social activities including going to the pub and eating out in restaurants, thus contributing to the local economy. In addition, older people are the backbone of the volunteer structure.

Older people need the same quality and quantity of food as younger adults but they are not feeding themselves properly. Almost 80 per cent are overweight or obese and they assume it is natural to gain weight as they get older. Only a quarter eat the recommended five to seven portions of fruit and vegetables every day. Just 17 per cent eat enough dairy products. They eat about five times the recommended amount of treats and snacks. Significant numbers of older people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, incontinence, hearing loss, pain, osteopenia and arterial fibrillation. These conditions often remain untreated. Fewer than one in three older people with depressive symptoms had been prescribed treatment for their condition. The authors concluded that many of these chronic health problems are “mistaken as part of the normal ageing process” and are underdiagnosed and untreated. Contrary to popular belief older people are not greedy consumers of health services. The Tilda study found that there was little change in healthcare utilisation in the population aged 54 to 80. Increased hospital attendance was observed only in those aged over 80.

Military Waste

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U.S.

Not unexpectedly coming in top, the United 'World Police' States have spent an estimated $611 billion. That's a staggering 36 per cent share of the global total, and nearly three times the level of China. 

China

A big gap separates front-runner United States with second-place China, as grown in Chinese military spending slows. Nevertheless, a spending of $215 billion (13 per cent of the global share) by the world's most populous country is incredibly serious.

Russia

In a dramatic increase since 2015, Russia is now third in the world for military expenditure, with a worrying increase to $69.2 billion. That's 4.1 per cent of the global expenditure and a staggering 87 per cent increase since 2007.

Saudi Arabia 

The fall in oil prices in oil-exporting countries since 2014 has led to "substantial decreases in military spending". Saudi Arabia is, of course, one of the world's foremost oil providers and has made significant cuts to its military budget.

India 

India has spent $55.9 billion, or 3.3 per cent of the global total. This is likely related to ongoing separatist conflicts in Kashmir. 

France

Despite the vast difference in size and population, France has spent nearly as much as India - $55.7 billion. That's 3.3 per cent of global expenditure.

United Kingdom

For a small nation, Britain packs a punch on the global scale, with military expenditure at 48.3 billion. Nevertheless, it's fallen in the rankings since 2015, from 6th to 7th place, which is largely attributed to the devaluation of the pound after the referendum.This means that the UK failed to achieve planned increases in military spending announced in 2015.

Japan

Japan's military spending remains high, at $46.1 billion, or 2.7 per cent of the global share. This could be related to the ongoing tension between Japan and China ovr claims in the East China Sea.

Germany

Largely due to Chancellor Merkel's efforts, Germany raised its spending in 2016 by 2.9 per cent.This brings their expenditure up to $41.1 billion, or 2.4 per cent.

South Korea

Tensions in the Korean peninsula and threats from North Korea have led to a significant growth in military expenditure. South Korean's spending now stands at $36.8 billion, or 2.2 per cent.

Italy 

Italy increased its spending by 11 per cent, bringing it to $27.9 billion, or 1.7 per cent. The report attributes this to Italy's support for its local arms industry by funding domestic procurement.

Australia

Considering the relative population size of Australia, a share of 1.5 per cent in the global expenditure is significant.With military expenditure in Oceania having increased by 5.1 per cent since 2015, Australia's budget now stands at $24.6 billion.

Brazil

Brazil's worsening recession has led to cuts in military budget by more than 7 per cent, bringing it down to $23.7 billion. However, that is still 1.4 per cent of the total global expenditure.

UAE

The current figures are an estimate, as no data is available for 2015 and 2016.Nevertheless, in 2014 the UAE was the second largest military spender in the Middle East.

Israel

Israel's expenditure has increased by almost 10 per cent since 2007.The figure now stands at $18 billion, or 1.1 per cent of the global expenditure.

The Socialist Party - The Class Party

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The one thing most necessary in these times is to have a sound socialist party, pledged to the principles of socialism. It can not and will not fuse with any capitalist party, by whatever name it may be called. We are not after office, we want socialism. We care nothing about office except in so far as it represents the triumph of socialism. The Socialist Party is the party of the working class, the party of emancipation, made up of men and women who know their rights and scorn to compromise with their oppressors; who want no votes that can be bought and no support under any false pretence whatsoever. It is not begging for votes, nor asking votes, nor bargaining for votes. It is not in the vote market. It wants votes but only of those who recognise is as their party, and come to it of their own free will. To be sure we want all the votes we can get and all that are coming to us but only as a means of developing the political power of the working class in the struggle for industrial freedom, and not that we may indulge in the spoils of office. The Socialist Party stands squarely upon its Declaration of Principles and relies wholly upon the education of the working class. There is but one issue for the Socialist Party - the unconditional surrender of the capitalist class. The Socialist Party is the party of the workers, organised to express in political terms their determination to break their fetters and rise to the dignity of free men and women. In this party the workers must unite and develop their political power to conquer and abolish the capitalist political state and clear the way for industrial and social democracy. But the new order can never be established by mere votes alone. 

The workers themselves must take the initiative in uniting their forces for effective economic and political action; the leaders will never do it for them. They must no longer suffer themselves to be deceived by the specious arguments of their betrayers who blatantly boast of their working class origins so that they may traffic in it and sell out the dupes who blindly follow them. The workers have never yet developed or made use of their political power. They have played the game of their masters for the benefit of the master class - and how many of them, disgusted with their own blind and stupid performance are renouncing politics and refusing to see any difference between the capitalist parties financed by the ruling class to perpetuate class rule and the Socialist Party organised as a means of wresting the control of government and of industry from the capitalists and making the working class of the world free. 

The workers must learn to unite and vote together as a class in support of the Socialist Party, the party that represents them as a class, and when they do the State will pass into their hands and capitalism will fall to rise no more; private ownership will give way to common ownership, and production for profit to production for use; the wage system will disappear, and with it the ignorance and poverty, misery and crime that wage-slavery breeds; the working class will awake to a new dawn in human progress and in the civilisation of mankind. There is one fact, and a very important one, that we would impress upon fellow-workers, and that is the necessity for revolutionary working class political action. No one will attempt to dispute the fact that our interests as workers are identical. If our interests are identical, then we ought to unite. If our interests are identical, it follows that we ought to belong to the same party with a goal to stir the people, to appeal to their higher, better selves, to set them thinking for themselves, and to hold ever before them the ideal of mutual aid and good will, based upon shared interests, is to render real service to the cause of humanity.

Workers who vote for the parties of the capitalism do worse than throw away their vote. They are deserters of their class and their own worst enemy, though they may be in blissful ignorance of the fact that they are false to themselves and their fellow workers, and that sooner or later they must reap what they have sowed. The Socialist Party points out to them clearly why their situation is hopeless under capitalism, how they are robbed and exploited.

The Socialist Party respects the effort of our fellow-workers, no matter how misguided, to better social conditions, but we have no patience for the frauds and quacks who betray their trusting victims to the class that robs them without pity. There are “socialists” who advocate palliatives for no other purpose than to emasculate socialism and they dare not offend the capitalist exploiters, for their incomes and jobs depend upon their treason whom they shed crocodile tears.

For the first time in human history, the exploited class have the political power in their own hands to accomplish by peaceful means their own emancipation. No longer can the political harlots of capitalism betray the workers with election issues manufactured for that purpose. The Socialist Party offers the only remedy, which is socialism.

It is impossible to compromise a principle, and the Socialist Party is committed to a certain principle. To compromise principle is to court death and disaster. It is better to be true to a principle and to stand alone and be able to look yourself in the face without shame, far better to be in a hopeless minority than to be in a great popular and powerful majority of the unthinking.


We want Capexit

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The draft of the speech given by our candidate, Adam Buick, at the local election hustings

First, I'd like to thank Guildford in Europe for organising – daring to organise – a hustings on an international issue during a local election. We are doing the same in our election campaign in Guildford West and are getting some stick for not promising to fill in more potholes. So, well done.

Local issues such as the cruel scandal of cutting back on care for the elderly and vulnerable and turning off street lights (a front-line service if ever there was one) are linked to the state of the world economy. Following on from the Great Crash of 2008 came the Great Recession which required governments to cut their spending to reduce taxes on profits (which are what make the capitalist system go round). As most local council money comes from central government, these cuts have trickled down to the local level.

But, to turn to the specific subject of this evening's hustings, the EU is not much more than it was intended to be by the Treaty of Rome of sixty years ago – a “European Economic Community”, an intergovernmental agreement to establish a common trading bloc with a common external tariff, a single frictionless market, and a common currency, and institutions to bring this about. This arrangement has suited the big capitalist corporations in the Member States very well. It has opened up a vast internal market for their goods. And it has given them extra clout as a united bloc when it comes to bargaining over both bilateral and multilateral trading arrangements.

Now, due to a freak referendum result, Britain PLC is committed to withdrawing from the EU. If I was a capitalist (apart from the dodgy financiers who funded the No campaign to avoid their activities being regulated by the EU) I'd be very annoyed, since Brexit is bound to mean access to the single market on less favourable terms than before, and British capitalism on its own will have less bargaining power over trading arrangements than as part of a larger bloc.

But that's their problem. As far as most people – the vast majority who depend for a living on working for a wage or a salary – are concerned, the only markets they are involved in are the labour market on which they sell their working skills and the supermarket where they buy their weekly necessaries. Whether Britain is in or out of the EU this will continue to be the situation. In either case, capitalism will continue to exist and so, therefore, will the problems it causes and which politicians are always promising to solve but can't – because the very nature of the capitalist system requires profits to come people across the board in all fields.

This was why, during the referendum, we didn't take sides and why we produced this leaflet – “The EU Referendum: An Irrelevant Sideshow”. We regarded it as a false choice, between capitalism inside the EU and capitalism outside the EU and we are opposed to capitalism in all its forms.

We want to see world capitalism replaced by world socialism, where the natural and industrial resources of the Earth will have become the common heritage of all Humanity to be used, under democratic control, to turn out what people need, not to make a profit, and where distribution will be on the basis of “From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs”.

What we want to exit is capitalism. Capexit, if you like.


Press Unfreedom

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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has warned that press freedom is under attack. Press freedom deteriorated in two thirds of the world's countries.


 It investigated freedom of media and journalists in 180 countries and found democracies, as well as dictatorships, had increasingly clamped down on press freedom. Researchers found that high-level politicians had used their power to quash media reports.  
In New Zealand, legislation was introduced to dramatically expand the powers of intelligence services against the press. In the US journalists were repeatedly put on trial for reporting on protests. 
 North Korea took over last place from Eritrea, which had occupied the position for a decade. "Even listening to a foreign radio broadcast can lead to a spell in a concentration camp," the report said of North Korea.

Ignoring Yemen

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The SOYMB blog makes no apology for its number of posts that draws attention to the neglected suffering of Yemenis and the culpability and complicity of the British government and British weapon sellers in this tragic war. More than 10,000 dead. Approximately 19 million people in desperate need of humanitarian aid, including 7.3 million on the brink of famine. The figures in Yemen’s two-year-old civil war are staggering – but they don’t convey the daily suffering of civilians.
“The numbers do not show the human aspect. Unlike Syria, where news about the devastation and death makes it to the media very quickly, Yemenis suffer in silence,” said Sherine El Taraboulsi-McCarthy, a research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute.
With the country’s airports as well as land and sea borders controlled by neighbouring Saudi Arabia, no Yemeni refugees are fleeing to Europe in their thousands. Without any perceptible impact on the West or overspill of violence, the conflict has remained largely invisible.  
Saudi Arabia and its regional partners have used the spectre of Iran to justify an extensive bombing campaign over the country. 
 “Saudi Arabia is going to make certain that Yemen does not completely break down, it will keep the country in a situation of constant need,” Ms El Taraboulsi-McCarthy said. “Their interest in Yemen is solely asserting leadership and power in the Arab world. 
Much of the devastation has been caused by arms sold to the kingdom by Western states such as the UK and US – a move which officials within Barack Obama’s administration worried could amount to complicity in war crimes
The Saudi economic strangulation, blockades on Yemen’s air and seaports preventing the import of food and medicine and the targeting of vital infrastructures such as roads and bridges – and in some cases civilian buildings such as hospitals and funeral gatherings – have contributed to the dire situation Yemenis are now facing.
“It is painful to describe the things I have seen in recent months,” said Tawfeek Al-Ganad, a writer and historian, “Not only are people starving. Those who try to alleviate the situation are prevented from doing so.”
“We need the UN to commit to a timelined peace process in Yemen now. Aid is useless as long as the war remains. To help us is to end the war, not send shipments of guns, and hold a “sorry” conference every other year,” said Farea al-Muslimi, a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC.

Fact of the Day (Russian Inequality)

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With the richest 10% owning 87% of all the country’s wealth, (compared with 76% in the US and 66% in China.) Russia is rated the most unequal of the world’s major economies.

 According to another measure, by VTB Capital, 1% of the Russian population holds 46% of all the personal bank deposits in the country.

Remembering Anzac Day

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  25 April is Anzac Day for Australians (Kangaroos) and New Zealanders (Kiwis), commemorating the invasion of Turkey at Gallipoli in 1915. On Anzac Day, Australians utterly ignore Australia’s complicity in horrendous UK and US war crimes. Australia has a secret genocide history that is resolutely ignored by White Australians.

 Australia has invaded 85 out of 203 present-day countries as compared to the British 193, the French 80,  the US 72 (52 after WW2), Germany 39, Japan 30, Russia 25, Canada 25,  and Israel 12.

Full article click here

Poverty and Mental Health

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Being as wealthy as the royals doesn’t preclude you from experiencing mental health problems, but it does lower the likelihood, cushion you in certain aspects and allow you access to a better standard of care more quickly.

Removing the stigma around mental health is important but does little alone. Without services, treatment is still inadequate, and feeling less judged for your health issues means little if you’re faced with a lack of access to talking therapies and nonexistent community support. But the conversation on mental health also needs to examine how the structures of society cause and perpetuate poor mental health.

Poverty, poor housing and debt all have a detrimental impact on the mental health of children and adults. Money can’t buy happiness, but poverty can practically secure stress and misery. For children in particular, the impact of poverty early on increases the lifetime risk of long-term mental health problems. The National Child Development Study found children from the lowest-income families are four times more likely to display psychological problems than children from the richest familiesHomeless children are four times as likely to experience mental health problems as settled families.

Across the UK, both women and men in the poorest fifth of the population are twice as likely to be at risk of mental health problems as those on average incomes, according to the Mental Health Foundation. Poverty increases the likelihood of developing mental illness, and mental illness increases the risk of poverty: combating only one factor does nothing to end the poverty cycle – the two are inextricably linked. 

 Any campaign on mental health should champion combating poverty to stop more people experiencing entirely preventable problems.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Inequality Trend

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  • Over the last 37 years, America’s top 10 percent saw their incomes rise by 115 percent and the top 1 percent saw an incredible rise of 198 percent. Meanwhile, the bottom half of all American earners not only failed to see any gain at all, but their incomes actually declined by 1 percent from 1978 to 2015, according to research by Thomas Piketty. 

  • During the Obama years "the top 1 percent of families captured 52 percent of total real income growth per family from 2009 to 2015 while the bottom 99 percent of families got only 48 percent of total real income growth," reports inequality expert, Emanuel Saez

A team of researchers led by Raj Chetty and David Grusky of Stanford University used data from federal income tax returns and U.S. Census and Current Population Surveys to look at trends of this "absolute mobility," or earning more than one's parents. What they found was a dramatic decline over the past several decades. While nearly all—over 90 percent—of children born in 1940 were able to earn more than their parents, that figure drops to 50 percent for children born in the 1980s.


Yemen - Where is the urgency?

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 After two years of civil war, the World Food Programme says the country is on the brink of famine.
The sheer scale of the deprivation is staggering: of Yemen's 25.6 million people, almost 19 million are in urgent need of assistance, the UN says.
Almost seven million are "severely food insecure", meaning they need food aid immediately. Two million children are acutely malnourished.
"The situation is nothing short of catastrophic," says Robert Mardini, who is director of Middle East operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and has recently returned from Yemen.
Less than half Yemen's hospitals are functioning at all, and those that are face daily shortages of staff, medicines, and electricity.
 Despite repeated warnings about a potential disaster in Yemen, the UN's appeal for $2.1bn to bring relief is only 15% funded. 
The key port of Hudaydah, which aid agencies describe as "a lifeline" for Yemen, is now virtually closed, due to a partial blockade by coalition forces, and the destruction of cranes in air strikes. This means that about only 30% of the supplies Yemen needs are getting into the country at all.
Unicef has calculated that a child is dying every 10 minutes from a preventable illness.
"A malnourished child is nine times more likely to die from a preventable illness than one which is properly nourished," explains Christophe Boulierac of the UN children's agency Unicef. "We have got to raise awareness of the terrible impact this conflict is having."