Wednesday, May 04, 2016

The Socialist Party For Socialism

On Thursday, 5th May, The Socialist Party is contesting 3 of the 14 constituencies in the Greater London Assembly. To start to make that change, vote for the SOCIALIST PARTY candidate to let people know, and then come join us.  The more people who do that, the sooner we can change the world.
Our candidates are:
Lambeth & Southwark: Kevin PARKIN
North East (Islington, Hackney, Waltham Forest): Bill MARTIN

South West (Hounslow, Kingston, Richmond): Adam BUICK

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

It's tough at the bottom

Wealth inequality is even more of a problem than income inequality. That’s because you have to have enough savings from income to begin to accumulate wealth — buying a house or investing in stocks and bonds, or saving up to send a child to college. Many Americans have almost no savings, so they have barely any wealth. Two-thirds live paycheck to paycheck.

Once you have wealth, it generates its own income as the value of that wealth increases over time, generating dividends and interest, and then even more when those assets are sold. This is why wealth inequality is compounding faster than income inequality. The richest top 1% own 40% of the nation’s wealth. The bottom 80% own just 7%.

Wealth is also transferred from generation to generation, not only in direct transfers but also in access to the best schools and universities. Young people who get college degrees are overwhelmingly from wealthier families. Which is why kids from low-income families, without such wealth, start out at a huge disadvantage.

This is especially true for children of color from low-income families. Such families typically rent rather than own a house, and don’t earn enough to have any savings. Families of color are especially disadvantaged because they’re less likely to have savings or inherit wealth, and face significant barriers to building wealth, such as discriminatory policies and practices that thwart home ownership. The median net worth of white families is now more than 10 times greater than that of African-American or Latino families.

Steal if you are hungry

Stealing small amounts of food to stave off hunger is not a crime, Italy's highest court of appeal has ruled.
Judges overturned a theft conviction against Roman Ostriakov after he stole cheese and sausages worth €4.07 (£3; $4.50) from a supermarket.
Mr Ostriakov, a homeless man of Ukrainian background, had taken the food "in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment", the court of cassation decided. Therefore it was not a crime, it said. 
For the judges, the "right to survival prevails over property", said the La Stampa newspaperIn times of economic hardship, the court of cassation's judgement "reminds everyone that in a civilised country not even the worst of men should starve" The Corriere Della Sera says statistics suggest 615 people are added to the ranks of the poor in Italy every day - it was "unthinkable that the law should not take note of reality".

The poor die young

The gap between the lifespans of rich and poor people in England and Wales is rising for the first time since the 1870s.

Everyone may be living longer but rich people's lives are extending faster, the City University London study says. Better life expectancy narrowed the gap in the early 20th Century but this trend reversed for men in the 1990s.

Researchers measured the differences in age between the youngest 10% of adult deaths and the oldest 5%. From 1870 to 1939 the gap steadily closed, the report said.
"Everyone benefited from improvements in clean drinking water, better housing, higher incomes and better health," said Prof Mayhew.

After 1950 there were further rises in life expectancy - though inequalities in lifespan persisted rather than narrowing further. But in the 1990s lifespan inequalities actually worsened, particularly for men, for the first time since the late 1870s, say the researchers.

They found that for men who died in 2010 aged over 30:
the oldest 5% reached an average age of almost 96 but the youngest 10% died at an average age of just over 62 - more than 33 years younger
By 2009 this longevity gap was 1.7 years greater than it had been at its narrowest in 1993

For women who died aged over 30 in 2010:
the oldest 5% reached an average age of just over 98, the youngest 10% died at an average age of just over 67 - a longevity gap of 31 years
For women this gap was narrowest in 2005

HOW GREEN WAS MY TALLY? (weekly poem)


Sir Philip Green bought BHS in 2000 for £200m and sold it in 2015 for
£1. After dividends of £422m were mainly paid to him and his family,
the BHS pension fund deficit is now £571m and 11,000 jobs may go.*

Entrepreneurs, we love ‘em all,
Creating jobs and bucks; *
Not for themselves but solely for,
The lazy, undeserving poor,
Who’s attitude just sucks.

Despite such self-denial, they,
Are never short of dough;
Their total is what we’ve foregone,
Like millions of smackers on,
A yacht in Monaco; (1)

The public never seem to grasp,
They’re rich because we’re poor;
And we’ll get little more because,
The rich have their collective schnoz,
Inside the trough for more.

The wealth that all of us create,
They own through their ‘hard work’;
Whilst we get just the slops left in,
The universal rubbish-bin,
As workers simply shirk.
That’s why when we all go on strike,
And nothing is produced;
The propaganda changes and,
From spokesman of the robber-band,
The lies are then unloosed.

We unproductive proles then have,
The country by the throat;
The public swallow all that spin,
About the state the State is in,
And politicians gloat.

It’s time said public wised-up and,
Stopped being so damn keen;
On giving handouts to all those,
Who wear the emperor’s new clothes,
Like that spiv Philip Green.

(1) His yacht, Lionheart, costs £100m. He owns two other yachts, a speedboat,
a helicopter and a Gulfstream Jet. His personal fortune is estimated at £3.2bn.

© Richard Layton

Monday, May 02, 2016

A message to our Welsh fellow-workers

Y Bobl yn Union—y Byd yn Un! 
One World, One People!


Mewn byd sosialaeth fe fydd pawb a'u boced yn wag, fe fydd diweithdra drychynllyd a fydd phob masnach ar ben.

Dyna pam r'ym yn credu bydd yn syniad da, ondefallai bydd yn well i ni fanylu tipyn.
Ni fydd dim arian mewn byd sosialaeth. Yn wir fe fydd dim prynu a gwerthu ogwbwl. Bydd pobol yn rhydd i fyned i'r siopau a'r marchnadoeth a cymeryd beth y fynnent, heb dalu ac heb ddogni.

Gall byd gael ei gynal fel hyn oherwydd fod gennym yn barod y ffordd tegnegol i gynyrchu fwy nag sydd eisiau ar ddynion. Ar hyn o bryd arian sydd yn gweithredu fel math o ddogni. Os nad ydych yn gallu fforddio rhwybeth, mae rhaid mynd hebddo. Dyna pam mae pobol yn newynu a teuluoedd yn cael eu gorfodi i fyw mewn sylms a dyna paham mae dynion, bynywod a phlant drwy'r byd yn cael eu amddifadu au bywyd yn ddistryw. Nid effaith prynder yw'r system arianol ond y system arianol yw achos prynder. Mae yn eglur nad yw bwyd yn cael eu gynyrchu mewn digonedd i boblogaeth y byd, nid o achos fod gan ddyn dim ddigon o adnoddau i wneud hyn ond am y reswm nas gall dim elw i'w wneud allan o bobol newynog.

Mae sosialaeth yn golygu newid mawr yn ffordd y byd ac ei ddodi mewn arfeddiad pan fynn ffatrioedd, gweithiau glo, trafnidiaeth a siopau yn cael ei perchen au ddefnyddio er lies i boblogaeth yr holl fyd. Dyna pam yr ydym yn dweud fydd diweithdra dychrynllyd mewn byd sosialaeth. Mae dosbarth o ddynion yn y gorllwin ac yn y gwledydd comiwnydd, yn yr holl math o weithredoedd yn prnu ein cryfder gan arian ac yn ein gorfodi i weithio iddynt eu hunain, yn cael ei newid i gydweithio yn foddlonol i bob gradd o gymdeithasau. Un o'r pethau cyntaf iw gwneud mewn byd sosialaedd fydd cael darfod ar waeth diflas, sydd heddyw yn gwneud bywyd mor galed, a'u newid i waith mwy pleserus a deniadol.

Bydd rhaid cael byd sosialaeth heb derfyniadau. Nid oes modd ei sefydlu mown un gwlad nac mewn un man o'r byd. Mae hyn yn golygu dim prynu a gwerthu rhwng unigolion a dim marchnad gwhaniaeth wledydd. Bydd y byd eang mewn sosialaeth yn ymdrechu i gynyrchu beth fydd eisiau, a bydd pob math a bobol yn cael rhyddid i gymeryd beth bydd yn cael ei gynyrchu.

Dichon fod un neu ddau o'r cynnygion gwreiddiol i'r system wedi dyfod i'ch meddwl. Efalli eich bod yn meddwl fod dyn yn rhy ddioglyd ac ynrhy drachwantus i wneud sosialaeth i weithio, ac efallai eich bod yn meddwl fod popeth yr ydym yn awgrymu yn ddirhan i naturoliaeth. Mae sosalwyr yn wastad yn barod i resymu ac mae'n ymchwiliadau mor bell wedi ein arwain o'r diwedd i't tyb fod sosialaeth nid ddim ond yn beth da, ond y mae ei eisiau yn druenus, i esbonio y problemau sydd nawr yn ein poeni.

The Assembly is an irrelevance. It has not given the people of Wales more control over their own affairs. The only change that will do that is a change in the whole social system, replacing competitive production for profit and minority ownership by co-operative production. An independent Wales or the  United Kingdom cannot achieve this. It is only feasible in a money-free, frontier-free society which, for those with vision, is the next stage in human social evolution

The Socialist Party of Great Britain wants "real socialism" and claims mainstream parties break promises and accept an unfair society. What the Socialist Party stands for is a state-free class-free, world without money, free access to the means of living and production for use on a global scale. Such a system is not going to operate just purely at a national or European scale. We're looking far beyond Europe, we're looking at the globe in its fullest perspective. Whether Britain should stay in or get out of the EU is irrelevant as, in or out, capitalism will continue and so the problems it causes as a system in which profits have to come before people. The answer is not to retreat into an impossible “independent Britain” but to go forward to world society. It is only on a global scale that problems such as climate change, world hunger and war can be tackled.

The party’s main aim in this election is to use it as a platform from which to denounce the way the profit system works against the interest of the vast majority by imposing its logic of “no profit, no production” and “can’t pay, can’t have”. To argue instead for a world community without frontiers based on the planet’s resources being the common heritage of all humanity under democratic control and where the principle “from each according to their ability to each according to their needs” would apply.

The Socialist Party stands for the kind of change that in Wales, Europe and over the whole planet and calls upon people to vote for a free access society without money and wages, without borders, without leaders and led. It’s a society based on democratic co-operation in using the world’s resources rationally to feed, clothe, house and give a decent life to everyone. It’s not a utopia either, it’s a real tangible prospect and more and more people are seeing that. Social consciousness is the key to this common ownership society and that’s what we’re trying to achieve by asking people to vote for us on May 5th. Our message to the Welsh worker is the same as that to the world working class: "Study the case for socialism and, if convinced, join the struggle for socialism and the World Socialist Movement, the “Liberation Movement," which really counts.

On the 5th of May support Brian Johnson and the Socialist Party of Great Britain in Swansea West.

New Zealand needs socialism

The Salvation Army believes 300,000 New Zealand children are now living in income poverty

Around 25 per cent of New Zealanders experience fuel poverty, or are unable to afford adequate energy and electricity for their household, but the available evidence suggests that children are at increased risk.

P.O. Box 1929
Auckland 1140
New Zealand
Mobile:    021 183 3474

Sunday, May 01, 2016

May Day Message

The first of May is a worker’s festival, a pledge of fraternity and internationalism, an awakening to the social mission of the working class. It is not a day that should be wasted by the workers in begging crumbs from the table of those who have robbed them, but a day of education and organisation; a marshalling of forces for the conquest of the world by labour. One day the processions that pass will be different. The marchers will be bent on ending the system that exploits them and plunges them into wars, for they will understand the real cause of their troubles and the only way to end them.

The workers produce and distribute the wealth of to-day while the capitalists, the non-producing class, live like leeches on their backs. The workers run industry from top to bottom; we run society itself, and yet we all depend upon the will or the whim of the capitalist for a wage and a livelihood. The workers can just as easily run society for their own benefit as they now do for the benefit of the capitalists. The May Day message we deliver to the workers is the same message every year. Abolish the private ownership of the means of production and substitute for it the common ownership of those means of production. Not nationalisation but socialism is the solution to the workers' problems. By that, and that, only, will war, poverty and insecurity be abolished and the world made a place of peace, plenty and security for all.

RAF only kills the bad guys

Air strikes in Iraq and Syria by the RAF have killed nearly 1,000 enemy "combatants" but not a single civilian, the Ministry of Defence has claimed.

Chris Woods, director of international air strikes monitor Air Wars, cast doubt on the statistics, describing the claims there have been no civilian casualties as “ridiculous”. Air Wars said RAF air strikes in the ISIL-held cities of Mosul and Ramadi may have killed 32 civilians in December 2015 alone.
“Even with the widespread use of relatively precise weapons by the West, air strikes are the most lethal weapon against civilians. It would be unprecedented in the history of warfare for it not to have killed civilians," Mr Woods explained. “It is a matter of public record there have been a huge number of civilian casualties and yet the Ministry of Defence continue to deny any caused by the UK. I don’t understand why they are making a virtue of the failings of this project. We have no one on the ground to follow up. Our ignorance is being claimed as a sign of perfection.”

Chris Cole, founder of Drone Wars UK, told The Independent: “It is very unlikely and I find it difficult to believe. There is a real issue with the credibility of these statements, and it is perpetuating this idea that you can have a bloodless war. And that is simply not true. The UK government needs to be honest about the reality of the situation.”

Amnesty International’s Kristyan Benedict, the charity’s Syria campaign manager, told The Independent: “It's all very well the UK government saying there have been no civilian deaths resulting from its airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, but until there's a comprehensive, independent and impartial investigation it is impossible to know if this is true.”

We want to go home

Statistics from a recent programme by the Canadian government to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees surprised many: Out of the 7,000 Syrian refugees in Zaatari camp who qualified for the opportunity, one in four turned it down, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 

This contradicts the perception among some in the West that many refugees are moving abroad in order to find "a better life and to stay and settle there", UNHCR's Gavin White told Al Jazeera. "That's clearly not the case if you speak to Syrians themselves," he said, “If you were to ask refugees themselves, what is your top priority, [they would say]: 'We want to go home to Syria.' This is 100 percent the case."

Fear of being separated from family can be a strong enough deterrent for some not to consider resettlement abroad, especially in countries far from the Middle East, experts say.

"The regime bombed areas and innocent people without discrimination. In my village, everyone lost their houses and property," he said, noting he still fears being identified by the regime for his anti-government sentiments, as some of his children and relatives are still in the country. Despite this, he says he longs to go back home and rebuild his life. "I basically feel nostalgic," he admitted, noting he and his wife missed their children and relatives back home. "When the situation is quiet, I will go back barefoot," he said. "Not only me, but everybody. When the fighting ends, we will all go back home. We will build again."

"Arise ye prisoners of starvation, Arise ye wretched of the earth."

May Day inspires fear in the hearts of the capitalists and hope in the workers the world over. Why do they fear the worker's holiday? What are they afraid of? May Days have come and gone yet each and every year they are a sign of what rulers’ fear: the fear of general strikes, of political revolt, of workers’ uprisings, of the militancy of workers. 

 Eugene V. Debs wrote: "This is the first and only International Labor Day. It belongs to the working class and is dedicated to the Revolution."  

Our May Day is actually the only holiday celebrated internationally. It obliterates all differences of race, creed, colour, and nationality. It celebrates the brotherhood of all workers everywhere. It crosses all national boundaries, it transcends all language barriers, it ignores all religious differences. It makes clear the difference between all workers and all employers. It is the day when the class struggle is reaffirmed by every conscious worker. 

May Day is the portent of a new world, a classless world, a peaceful world, a world without poverty or misery. A world of abundance. It is the promise of socialism, the real brotherhood of mankind. May Day is a warning to the capitalist class, “Do your damnedest to us but your days are numbered!” May Day proclaims that there is but one race – the human race! 
May Day says the future is ours. More than any other group, the working class suffers from war; and only the working class, in all its strength, can win the struggle for peace. Workers march for freedom from deprivation on May Day. Workers march for equality on this May Day. 
On May Day, workers march shoulder to shoulder, in solidarity, black, brown and white — for democracy and social justice. Workers call for unity of all workers. 
May Day is a time for casting away illusions and preparing for the struggle. It is a time for the working class to heighten its vigilance against its enemies. It is a time to unite real friends to defeat our real enemies.

May Day is not simply a time of celebration of our class. World events serve to remind us that this is also a solemn occasion, a time when we bow our heads in respect for our fellow workers and brothers and sisters who have fallen. On May Day, we remember that the workers’ flag is red for a reason as our traditional labour song goes:
“The people's flag is deepest red,
It shrouded oft our martyred dead,
And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold,
Their hearts' blood dyed its ev'ry fold.”

Not all those who wave the red flag or claim to speak for the working class actually do. Rather than overthrowing the capitalists, they argued that labor should try to win friends among the capitalist politicians and support one faction against another. For sure, over the past decades the ruling class has made a considerable number of concessions. But what are these gains, really? If you consider the wealth that the working people have produced, when you consider the power and potential for an abundance of the productive forces that the workers themselves have created, then these reforms are shown up for what they really are. They are nothing but crumbs, scraps left over from the table after the capitalists have had their feast.

Our May Day is the day of solidarity.

“Arise, ye prisoners of starvation.” 
May Day is the day of the working class, the class that has borne untold sufferings and has nothing, nothing to lose but its chains.
“Arise, ye wretched of the earth.”
May Day is the day of the exploited, here and around the globe. You have been despised and spat upon by capital, but now the road to your liberation is clear.
“The earth shall rise on new foundations, we have been naught, we shall be all.” 
May Day, is when we pledge to break the power of capital and declare war against these bloodsucking leeches. Their time is over, their days are numbered.
“Tis the final conflict, let each stand in his place. The Internationale shall be the human race.”

The Socialist Party cannot be bribed or bought, nor can we be diverted from our struggle in the defence of workers and oppressed people of the world. The Socialist Party advocates a class war that will only end with the complete emancipation of the working class and the total defeat of the capitalist class. In the revolutionary class war to rid the world of the evils of capitalism you will find us ready to volunteer to fight with all our hearts and souls.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Socialism V Zionism

Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are in the news with accusations against members of the Labour Party for holding such views.  Ken Livingstone has been suspended for claiming links between Zionists and the Nazi’s during the 1930s. 

Socialists and Zionists have been opponents since the beginning. Inevitably, as they represented two incompatible views as to the solution workers of Jewish background should seek to the problem of anti-Semitism. Socialists never supported Zionism but opposed it as yet another nationalist delusion, as what we aspire to is a World without national frontiers in which free movement is possible and where all people live together as equals. To escape the vicious circle, we must respond to ethnic persecution not by promoting "our own" brand of nationalist or religious politics, but by asserting our identity as human beings and citizens of the future world cooperative commonwealth.

For a long time, the Jews have been one of capitalism's handier scapegoats vulnerable to the racist urgings to blame a scapegoat rather than consider how capitalism works and why it imposes such problems on them. They are liable to ignore the fact that the majority of Jews are also members of the working class, enduring the same poverty, poor housing and so on. They go through the same struggle for survival but Jews are no more aware of their class interests than are any other group of workers. In their ignorance they supported the establishment of the state of Israel and, if they live there, they serve the interests of the ruling class in the same way as workers everywhere - by acquiescing in their own exploitation, by participating in their rulers' wars, by voting for one capitalist party or another at election time. Israel is now a powerful, militaristic capitalist state nuclear power. It might have been hoped that the Jews' terrible history would have encouraged them to something more hopeful.

It's now nearly 120 years since Theodor Herzl wrote Der Judenstaat (The State of the Jews) and launched the Zionist movement having concluded that Jews would only be safe when they had a state of their own. Herzl realised that if his project was to succeed he had to seek support wherever it might be found. And who was more likely to back his movement than the anti-Semites? And so Herzl set off for Russia to sell his idea to the tsar's minister of police, Plehve, a notorious anti-Semite widely regarded as responsible for the Kishinev pogrom of 1903. An opportunistic alliance with another anti-semitic ruler of Russia – Stalin – was crucial to the establishment of the state of Israel. On Stalin's instructions, Czechoslovakia provided arms and training that enabled the fledgling Zionist armed forces in Palestine to win the war of independence in 1947-48. Stalin's motive was to undermine the position of Britain in the Middle East. For some years, the Israeli government continued to rely on Soviet military and diplomatic support, while keeping silent about the persecution of Soviet Jews, then at its height. Israel also entailed maintaining good relations with anti-semitic regimes, notably Argentina, where a disproportionate number of Jews were among those killed, imprisoned and tortured by the military junta that ruled the country from 1976 to 1983. Given the "anti-democratic, anti-semitic and Nazi tendencies" of the Argentine officer corps, we may assume that they were persecuted not merely as political opponents but also as Jews. Meanwhile, a stream of Israeli generals passed through Buenos Aires, selling the junta arms.

The assumption underlying the Zionist movement was that to establish a “national home for the Jewish people” was the only way to end their age-old persecution, especially under the yoke of the Tsars. This closely mirrored the aspirations of other thwarted nationalities such as the Poles, the Czechs, the Finns and the like. Marx argued that Jewish people should seek emancipation, not as Jews, but as human beings. To do this they should abandon their religion - just as Christians should abandon theirs - and become members of a secular human community in which money and the state should be abolished, i.e. Socialism. In the meantime, under capitalism, Jews should enjoy the same political rights, in a secular democratic state, as Christians and others.  In Tsarist Russia,the Jewish Labour League, the Bund, which was affiliated with the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, had as its purpose Jewish cultural autonomy within a Social-Democratic Russia. They saw that on the principle of divide and rule, the Tsars had actually fostered anti-Semitism. They were convinced that the Jewish problem was a by-product of the private property system and would end with the end of that system. They did not think in terms of a return, to “the promised land” as a solution to their problems. The Zionist movement propounded the view that the Jews were a separate nation and that as such they were entitled to their own state, in Palestine. People of Jewish background should not seek emancipation as human beings but as Jews. Neither should they seek integration within the political states in which they found themselves, but separation, in a state of their own.

Many organisations and movements have clamoured for the allegiance of the workers during the twentieth century, all claiming some panacea, some new device which would, at long last, make capitalism palatable. The Jewish workers have been exposed to all the usual propaganda, but for them the basic issue of twentieth-century society - capitalism or socialism - has been even further confused by the Zionist Movement. This claimed that the problems of Jewry could only be solved by the establishment of one single homeland for Jews, a Jewish state. Like many other reformist movements, the Zionists have now had a chance to work out their theories in practice; Israel has been established. What evidence is there as to whether Jewish workers are any happier in capitalist Israel than they are in capitalist Britain or America? Zionism hasn’t established a workers’ paradise. The sole fruit of the decades of struggle and strife which Zionism has known has been - the establishment of yet another capitalist state. Which is an achievement the workers of the world, Jewish and Gentile, white and black, could well have done without.

But it is not just a matter of Zionists and anti-Semites sometimes having strategic or business interests in common. There are ideological affinities. Zionists, like anti-Semites, are mostly racists and nationalists for whom it is abnormal that an ethnic group should live dispersed as a minority in various countries. What if the Jews in a given country are well integrated, face no significant anti-Semitism, and show no interest in being "normalised"? Originally Zionism was conceived as a means of solving the problem of anti-Semitism. From this point of view, where the problem does not exist there is no need for the solution. However, ends and means were inverted long ago, and Zionism became an end in itself, with anti-semitism a condition of its success. Anti-Semitism might still be regarded in principle as an evil, but as a necessary evil. Often it was also said to be a lesser evil compared to the threat of assimilation supposedly inherent in rising rates of intermarriage.

Israel's ruling √©lite ordered the construction of their wall in 1994, and duly baptised it the 'Separation Barrier'. You would have thought that the Israeli's might have recalled the wall that the Nazi's imprisoned 400,000 Jews behind in what became known as the ‘Warsaw Ghetto’ prior to their elimination, but evidently memories are short, and propaganda long. The justification for its construction is that it has been built to protect Israeli's from Palestinian suicide bomb attacks. Opponents regard the wall as a means to further annex Palestinian land, and that security is just a subterfuge. The wall also violates international law as laid down by the International Court of Justice. However, ‘justice’ under capitalism inevitably pans out as ‘might is right’, especially when the US is your Godfather.

The establishment of an Israeli state was the goal of Zionism and its founder Theodor Herzl’s entry in his 1895 diary, reveals the thoughts of a ‘righteous’ man:
“We must expropriate gently the private property on the state assigned to us. We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it employment in our country. The property owners will come over to our side. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discretely and circumspectly” (Righteous victims).

The Israeli 'settlers are also opposed to the barrier, but their opposition is because it appears to relinquish the Jewish claim to the 'Land of Israel'. This is the land that God promised to the descendants of Abraham. This is a biblical deal struck between God and the Jewish ‘people’ some 3500 years ago. It is also the ideological engine of Zionism, and the Likud party’s rationale for the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.

Socialists argue against the idea that the Jews were a nation or a race; most Jews were workers and should join with other workers to achieve socialism which would mean “the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex”. Even though many Zionists were not religious, all they had to go on to justify Palestine as the place for their Jewish State was an irrational belief, the religious myth set out in some holy book that the Jewish God had given Palestine to the Jews to be their homeland. Many Jewish workers were convinced by the Socialist argument and rejected Zionism, and played - and still play - a considerable part in the Socialist movement. Most Jews rejected Zionism in practice - and still do - by integrating into the countries where they lived. The terrible experience of the Second World war, however, convinced many (though by no means most) European Jews to embrace the idea of a Zionist State

Israelis may well have wondered whether there is any country in the world where Jews are less safe. Thoughtful Israelis may also wonder how much of the anti-semitism in the world today is generated by Israel itself through its mistreatment of Palestinians. The establishment of Israel did not end anti-semitism. In fact it caused it to spread to where it had never existed before - to the Arab-speaking parts of the world. For centuries Jews had lived in peace and security, integrated and speaking Arabic, in these parts of the world. Now, as a direct result of the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine,, they came to suffer the same persecution that the European Jews had. The result was that centuries of integration was undone in decades. Today there are virtually no Jews living in Arab countries: most Arab Jews are now in Israel where they form an underprivileged group. The dreams of Jewish workers of a life free from persecution and oppression finds its echo today in the dreams of Palestinian workers. Jewish dreams have not been answered by the setting up of the state of Israel and Palestinian dreams will not be answered by the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Zionists are always complaining about anti-semitism, real or imaginary. They use such complaints especially as a gambit to de-legitimise criticism of Zionism and Israel. From the start, however, Zionist opposition to anti-semitism has been superficial and selective, because Zionism is itself closely connected to anti-semitism. The Zionist needs anti-semitism like heroin addicts need their fix. It may seem a trifle naive to ask why Israel's ruling circles don't realise that by their own actions they are generating anti-semitism. They realise. But they make it a point not to give a damn what the world thinks of them.

Zionism has misled many Jewish workers with its promise of a "homeland for Jews". The Zionist myth is that the Jews had reclaimed an empty, barren land - 'a land without people for a people without land'- and made the desert bloom. The other side of Israeli Independence is the Nakba (the catastrophe) when the Palestinians lost their homeland to the Jewish state. Dispossession still continues in various ways. There are demands that Zionist organisations like the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency should be disbanded and the neo-apartheid system ended; there should be equality between all citizens.

Since that time the dream of a “homeland” free from oppression and insecurity that led so many Jews to rally round their leaders in the name of Zionism, has been bitterly disappointed. The state of Israel has been at war with its Arab neighbours almost for its entire existence. The expropriation of land from the Arabs and the occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have resulted in a legacy of frustration and bitterness among many of the 750,000 Arabs who stayed in Israel after the 1948 exodus and continue to endure discrimination in employment and welfare and among the one and a half million refugees in camps in the occupied territories.

 It is not surprising that settlement of the occupied territories by orthodox Jewish zealots who subscribe to racist religious nationalism which advocates the expulsion of all Arabs from “Greater Israel”, has resulted in an equally vicious hatred of Jews by many Palestinians. But to strive for the replacement of an oppressive Israeli state by a Palestinian one cannot be an answer. It can only result in continued oppression — class oppression — by a Palestinian ruling class that would replace the Israeli ruling class.

 Emma Goldman in her 1938 work On Zionism identified 'Zionism as the dream of capitalist Jewry the world over for a Jewish State with all its trimmings, such as Government, laws, police, militarism and the rest. In other words, a Jewish State machinery to protect the privileges of the few against the many.' The founders of Israel sought to expel as much of the Arab majority as they could and make their profits by creating an almost all-Jewish working class in the mistaken belief 'it is better to be exploited by one's fellow countrymen' (Marx 1848).

 Israel is the most economically and socially developed capitalist nation state in the Middle East with a large working class. It is a bourgeois democracy but also a sectarian/apartheid state. Israeli capitalism not only exploits the Jewish working class but also a Palestinian working class and increasingly migrant labour from Asia and Eastern Europe. Palestinians in the state of Israel comprise 20 percent of the population and face discrimination, and are considered to be second class citizens because the very definition of a Jewish state excludes them. Next there are the Bedouin Arabs who live in unrecognized villages unconnected to water and electricity systems. At the bottom of the economic pyramid are the African migrants from Eritrea and the Sudan who cannot legally work but are used as cheap labour in hotel, restaurant and cleaning companies, and when arrested are put in detention centres such as the one in the Negev desert.

Our opposition to Zionism does not mean that we support Hamas or Hezbollah. Unlike some, we don’t single out Jewish nationalism for special condemnation. We condemn all nationalisms equally. The “Palestinian nation” is just as much a myth as the “Jewish nation”, or any other nation. Nationalism is the ideology which seeks to justify the capitalist division of the world into separate “nation-states”, each competing to gain a place in the sun for its ruling class and each with killing machines at its disposal. We utterly reject this view of the way humanity should organise itself. Peace is always better than war. Because wars are never fought in the interests of ordinary people. And because in wars it is always ordinary people who suffer. So, irrespective of the issues involved or the terms agreed, Socialists can only welcome the ending of any war in any part of the world. Stop the killing is our permanent policy. Both Zionism and Palestinian nationalism hold back the growth of class consciousness among the working class in Israel and Palestine. Emma Goldman claimed the origin of the Arab-Israeli war stemmed from the fact that 'the Arab feudal lords had sold the land to the Jews without the knowledge of the Arab people.' Goldman concluded that 'the land should belong to those who till the soil', in other words, the Jewish and Palestinian working class regardless of religion and national identity in a socialist society of common ownership and democratic control.

Zionist nationalism had its share of leftist confusionists in its early days — people who imagined that the establishment of an independent Jewish state would provide not only a refuge from the threat of racist persecution but a territory in which a new socialist order would emerge. In his book, From Class To Nation, David Ben Gurion wrote optimistically:
 "Socialist Zionism means a full Zionism. . .This is a sort of Zionism which will not be content with redeeming only a part of the people, but aims at the complete redemption of all the people of Israel; this is a sort of Zionism which envisages the Land of Israel as a homeland not only for a few privileged and wealthy but wants it to be a homeland for every Jew who returns there - a homeland that equally provides for all her children, revives them, makes them into citizens and redeems all of them without discrimination."
Ben Gurion was later to become Prime Minister of the Israeli state.

 Things did not turn out as those who saw Zionism as a step forward to socialism had thought it would. It is very easy to say, before a nation has been established, that it will not only be a homeland for the "privileged and wealthy". But under capitalism, in which Israel exists, countries belong to the minority class who own their resources and for all the talk of equality Israel is a country of brutal contradictions between affluence for a few and poverty for many. The almost racist assumption in the above quotation explains much that has happened since.

 If Israel is to be a homeland for the Jews, then what is to happen to those not invited into the new land of supposed equality? The answer is to be found all too evidently in the recent brutalities committed by the Israeli state on the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Israel is not unique in its anti-social military savagery: all capitalist nations act that way — they usually call it "national defence". But those who advocated the creation of such a state in the name of socialism have much to answer for. There is no shortage of disillusioned left-wing Zionists in Israel today who will have to make up their minds whether to support nationalism or its ceaseless enemy - socialism.

The Socialist Party certainly doesn’t single out Zionism for special treatment. We are opposed to all nationalisms.  We accept that many other capitalist states and factions in the Middle East have pursued policies that are nationalist and anti-socialist.  Neither Israeli nor Palestinian capitalism can serve the interest of the vast majority of the population. The workings of world capitalism in the Middle East show that peace and prosperity there are only possible in a world-wide framework - socialism. The curse of nationalism is not new. Let it be clear that unlike certain anti-Zionists, socialists do not oppose the tunnel-vision mentality of nationalism only when it is Jewish. To us, the Star of David flag-waving, trigger-happy Zionists are no more ignorant and abhorrent than those who have swallowed the diversionary, nationalist message of Hamas. Socialists do not take sides in national conflicts because it is not our aim to support one or other of the competing capitalist or would-be capitalist factions, each of which seeks its own territories and exploitable populations. No socialist will ever fight to defend a border—we want to do away with the divisiveness of countries and states.

There is a bitter irony about Zionist nationalism. That the survivors of Nazi persecution sought refuge in a nation of their own—a country which would never persecute or exterminate anyone and would be free of the perverse anti-semitism on which Nazism was based—is not difficult to understand. In Israel, not a few Zionists are now beginning to ask themselves the question: "How can it be that the country created by the holocaust is now inflicting similar misery on people who are just as defenceless as the Jews in Europe had been?" The truth is that those who saw a solution in Zionist nationalism—in having their own laws, prisons, borders, army and weapons of destruction—were naive. Their form of nationalism is no less aggressive or bigoted than is ever the case under a system of society where the laws of the jungle are presented as being the rules of civilised conduct. Every nation's flag is dripping with the blood of its enemies; every ruling class pays for its power in other people's lives. Nationalism can never be a solution to the problems of oppression: it was not for the Jews; it would not be for the Palestinians.

 The problem is class, not national, racial, or religious origins. In the 1940s an aspirant Israeli ruling class, represented by such vicious thugs as the Stern gang used terrorist tactics to secure their goal. Having obtained power violently, who could have expected the Israeli ruling class to have maintained power except by the continued use of violence? Israeli workers identify with the aims of their rulers—they see their national identity as more important than their class identity with Arab and other workers. In this they are dangerously mistaken.

News from the GLA South Western Front

It's the case not the face that counts
Today's Richmond and Twickenham Times has a full page on the six candidates standing in the South West constituency. Unfortunately, it is about who I am rather than what the Party stands for. The information on our candidate was not supplied by us but was taken from Wikipedia. The nearest it gets to saying what we stand for is where says I am a "speaker and writer about a moneyless and wageless society". We have agreed, though, to supply a photo for the online version despite that for us it's "the case not the face" that counts, on the grounds that a "face" will attract more people to read what's underneath it than just plain text. But don't worry, the chosen photo shows a Party banner in the background saying "Abolish the Wages System".

The same paper's online edition also carried a report on the hustings in Twickenham on 12 April (here)

The Surrey Comet only has a page on 5 of the 12 candidates for mayor and nothing on who's standing for the GLA but we can't really complain as they had published two letters from us. The Liberal candidate will have more reason to as she's never been mentioned and the UKIP candidate might not have liked being reminded on the front page that he once denounced the "gaystapo" (on the other hand, maybe he accepts that any publicity is better than none).

We have now finished distributing our quota of one-third of the 30,000 election manifestos and only have 1000 or so, found at Head Office, left to do. By chance, they have been distributed more or less equally between the three boroughs of Kingston, Richmond, and Hounslow. This was not the plan as the intention was to concentrate on Hounslow where the branch meets. 11-12000 is slightly more than a token coverage as it's only about 4% of the total number of postal drops in the constituency.

A hundred were distributed in Oxford as on a visit there for a William Morris event (saw the room in University College where Morris gave his first talk as a socialist entitled "Art under Plutocracy", part of which we first republished in 1907 as Art, Labour and Socialism) I noticed that nearly all the streets near where I was saying had houses displaying "Vote Green" or "Vote Labour" posters in their windows. They all got the only leaflet I had with me (our GLA manifesto). Assuming that those displaying posters are among the 5% of the population said to follow politics this is a self-selected target and 100 delivered to them should be the equivalent of 2000 delivered to all doors. It will also serve here as a reminder that, after contesting both the Euroelections in 2014 and the General Election last year in Oxford, we are still around. More of the leaflets will be distributed at the Mayday trade union event in Oxford on Saturday.

Tomorrow [today the 30th] we will be having a street stall in Kingston but not in Brentford as announced.

Friday, April 29, 2016

London May Day Rally

Clerkenwell Green,

Sunday 1st of May, 11:00

The march will be forming up all morning on Clerkenwell Green and will leave the square around midday, marching to Trafalgar Square.

We'll be there.

Members and sympathisers meet outside Marx House where there'll be a comrade with a load of leaflets and some Socialist Standards.

The Sam Packer Story (1966) - short story


A Short Story from the December 1966 issue of theSocialist Standard

Sam Packer was in his teens when he got a job at the factory. He was a bright lad, energetic and jolly, and his workmates took an instant liking to him. Sam soon became one of the firm’s most popular employees; the foreman smiled at him; the manager acknowledged him with a nod.

After doing odd jobs for a few years Sam qualified for a place at a bench and promptly celebrated his promotion by getting married. Marriage set his life on a different tack. Pocket money, sufficient when he was single, dwindled when he had a wife to maintain. It almost disappeared when the children came.

The few pay increases the firm conceded had to go straight into Mrs. Sam Packer's purse because of rising living costs. Sam did his best to economise, rolling his cigarettes, mending the family’s shoes, wearing second-hand clothing and riding to work on a bicycle with sandwiches for lunch. In desperation, after a bout of nagging from his wife, Sam went to the factory office and asked for a raise. Very abruptly he was told that such matters were dealt with through trade union channels and that the firm, facing financial problems, could not afford to pay increases.

The “financial problem" story was true, the firm was soon absorbed into a large combine. Sam found the new management remote and impersonal. A notice was posted informing the staff that, following reorganisation, there would be certain redundancies. A demand for a pay increase was rejected.

Sam was furious. He talked of throwing up the job but his wife nagged the fear of unemployment into him. One evening, with several mates, Sam went to his trade union branch meeting where he got on his feet and bellowed out all the rude things about his employers that his mates were thinking. He was clapped and cheered and went home happily with the applause ringing in his ears.

Sam became a regular attender at the union meetings, speaking as often as the chairman would let him on every subject that came up for discussion. Always critical, always expressing the general discontent, always demanding fair play for the workers, he established a local reputation. “Sam’s the boy,” said his mates, “He’ll tell ’em.”

When a shop steward suddenly died Sam’s nomination for the job was unopposed. He was required to attend trade union conferences and, after an attack of butterflies-in-the-stomach, he made his first conference speech, following it with regular contributions to the debates. Consistently he proposed motions of censure against union officials, criticisms of employers and threats of strike action.

At the close of each conference Sam would go to a nearby pub and argue over a pint with other ale-supping delegates. He became as popular with them as he was with his local workmates.

One day, at the factory union meeting, the members took one of Sam’s fiery speeches seriously and decided to strike. Sam was thrust into the position of a strike leader. It was the first time he had been called upon to do more than talk and he was bewildered.

The employers, with ears to the ground and spies at the union meeting, learned of the strike decision. Business was brisk and they were not prepared to face a stoppage at that moment, so they sent a polite invitation to Sam to meet them at their headquarters. He entered the boardroom with knees knocking, but the assembled management greeted him so warmly, addressing him as Mr. Packer, passing round their cigarettes and making flattering remarks about his ability as a trade union leader, that he soon got over his nervousness.

The chairman candidly admitted that the company was making a moderate profit and was prepared to show appreciation to its staff by introducing a bonus system. He pointed out how, with increased production, the bonus could grow and make a substantial increase in the staff’s earnings. Sam was relieved. They sold him the idea with ease. He shook hands all round and left the building with a jaunty step.

Back at the factory Sam called a special union meeting and recommended to the members the acceptance of the firm's offer. Against feeble opposition the meeting agreed to accept, to withdraw the strike decision and to give Sam a vote of thanks.

With his reputation enhanced Sam was elected on to one committee after another. He served on district committees, area committees, finance committees and, eventually, national committees. He was sent to Trades-Union Congress and to Labour Party conferences. His name became known in trade union circles from Penzance to Penrith, from Lowestoft to Llandudno. He was photographed by the press and interviewed for television. He dressed smartly and gave up rolling his cigarettes.

He worked at the factory for only one or two days a week. His employers gave him leave to attend his union meetings and the union paid him an allowance for the days devoted to union business. He was continuously invited to attend social functions sometimes in the company of employers he had recently faced across a negotiating table. He lost his taste for beer and cigarettes and acquired one for spirits and cigars.

Being on christian-name intimacy with the top brass of his union, Sam was groomed for a full-time job as a union officer and when he got it he moved from his old address to a modem flat near to his union office. His workmates at the factory, who had been seeing him less and less, now saw him not at all. His salary enabled his family to treble its living standard. He had a sleek car and his cigars and his waistline gradually increased their girth.

There was a fly in Sam's ointment. He missed the exhilaration of the applause that used to accompany his old fiery oratory. If he gave vent to a speech in front of employers they smiled indulgently and his fellow union officers made cracks about soap-box oratory. He was expected to devise compromises and work out alternative propositions. He was not good at it. It fogged him, his mind rambled and he lapsed into silence.

As a trade union officer Sam was drawn into Labour Party activity. When a by-election occurred in his constituency he threw himself into the fray with zest. He was in top form addressing audiences in his old spirited manner, lambasting his party's opponents and drawing laughs and claps with his wisecracks, his slashing criticisms and his slangy oratory. Only question time made him uncomfortable. He did not know the answers so he skirted round questions with wit and sarcasm. After the by-election he decided to better equip himself with a study course on political economy through his union education scheme.

Promotion in his union further increased Sam's salary, the size of his car and the length of his holidays. He attended international conferences, flying to foreign cities and staying in the best hotels. To improve his image he took his wife around with him. The days of living in a two-roomed flat, riding a bicycle to work, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes and mending his own shoes were so far behind him that he could afford to boast about them in contrast to his new status.

Mr. Sam Packer no longer spoke of workers’ rights, fair wages, the unscrupulous boss class and working class solidarity. Instead he spoke of national economy, trade balances, export problems, productivity and international finance. Although he allowed himself to be called a Socialist he carefully avoided references to class interests.

One day the 'phone rang in Mr. Packer's office. It was his National Secretary calling to tell him that the workers at the factory where he used to work were on strike for more pay. The employers had 'phoned union headquarters to complain that, as they abided by national agreements, they expected the workers to do likewise and what was the union going to do about the strike? The National Secretary had assured them that the Union did not condone unofficial disputes and that a union officer would be sent to the effected area to get the men back to work. That was a job for Samuel Packer.

Press reporters were waiting outside the office to bombard Mr. Packer with questions. He gave them a statement. He said that the strike was unjustified, that it was probably the work of an handful of agitators, that the workers would see reason when matters were explained to them and that the public could be assured that there would soon be a resumption of work.

A meeting of the strikers was specially convened to hear union officer Packer tell them that their action was ill-timed and ill-advised and that, if they forced wages up at this time, the price of their products would increase and foreign competitors would undersell them. If goods could not be sold the workers who produced them, explained Mr. Packer, would soon be out of a job. The sensible thing was to increase production without increasing costs, to be competitive in the markets of the world, capture orders and have plenty of work. When that was done there would be good prospects of a big pay increase.

One questioner asked, if jobs depended on selling goods and selling goods depended on low wages, then wouldn't jobs and low wages always go together? Another worker said that when he worked in an overseas factory he had been told the same story; the workers were being played off against one another.

Mr. Packer replied that he could smell a red agitator a mile away. He, with other union officers, was in the best position to keep a finger on the pulse of the national situation and to advise workers when to seek wage increases and when to bide their time. If they were as reasonable as he thought they were they would go back to work and leave their claims in the hands of the union where, he swore on oath, their interests would be well looked after.

The chairman counted the votes amid uproar and announced a narrow majority for a return to work.

Months later, at a Labour Party meeting, Mr. Packer accepted a challenge from a member of the audience to debate the question “Is the Labour Party a Socialist Party?" This, he thought, would be fun. He was astounded when Transport House informed him that, if he engaged in this debate, he must do so as an individual, not as a Labour Party representative.

For Mr. Packer the debate was a fiasco. He defined Socialism as “The greatest good to the greatest number," “Christianity in practice" and “The brotherhood of man." He amplified these definitions by reference to the Labour Party’s schemes for building houses, hospitals and schools, for increasing production and old age pensions and decreasing armaments.

His opponent defined Socialism as a system of society wherein the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth were commonly owned and democratically controlled by, and in the interest of the whole community. This, said Mr. Packer, was idealism, a pipe dream and totally impracticable. Human nature would not allow it. He believed in a practical kind of Socialism. 

Mr. Packer's opponent explained how this so-called practical Socialism was really a continuation of the existing social set-up with its wars, poverty, unemployment and insecurity. He quoted from Mr. Packer’s own trade union speeches to show that the abolition on the wages system was the only solution to the problems of wage earners.

In his winding-up address Mr. Packer became confused, then annoyed and finally abusive. He left the hall with a red face amid grins and laughs.

When the office of national union secretary became vacant Mr. Packer was an unsuccessful candidate for the job, but compensation came when, in the New Year’s Honours List, he was cited for the O.B.E.

Subsequently he accepted nomination as a parliamentary candidate in a safe Labour constituency. As a Member of Parliament his infrequent speeches were as empty as the benches around him. The Honourable Member Mr. Packer, O.B.E., knew the right people and was appointed to the board of a nationalised industry at a salary of £12,000 a year. He hob-nobbed with his fellow board members, all of whom were either ex-bankers or ex-company directors. He objected to any reference to his humble origin.

He gradually faded from the public limelight till he was stricken by thrombosis in his London home and died, despite the attention of two hastily summoned Harley Street physicians.

A few grilled old workers at the factory read of his death in their morning papers. The announcement was wedged between news of a wage freeze, closing factories, short-time working, redeployment and unemployment. One old timer, as he spread his breakfast margarine, said, “Packer, he used to work at our place. Led us up the garden, proper, he did. Still, it was our own fault. We ought to do our own thinking instead of leaving it to blokes like him.”

W. Waters

Manchester May Day March and Rally

Saturday, April 30,
12:30 PM

Manchester Art Gallery
Mosley Street,
Manchester M3 3JL

A Manchester Trades Union Council arranged event.   Members plan to sell and distribute literature at the site in Sackville Gardens.

Meet at the gallery for 12.30

Burnley May Day Rally


A May Day Walk in the Country

Sunday, May 1, 11:00 AM

A walk from Nelson to Clarion House.

Start: Nelson Library, 11.00am.
Market Square,
Nelson BB9 7PU

The full walk has two 'stiffish' climbs, views of Pendle Hill, and wooded and riverside sections. We won’t be rushing. Packed lunch needed.  We’ll walk about 3 miles to Clarion House, arriving about 12.30. Clarion House provides a beautiful view, an open fire, snacks and big mugs of tea. (We can give a lift back to Nelson at this point, for anyone who wants it.)

Then, when we’re ready, it’s roughly another 3 miles from Clarion House to Barrowford, which has the Bankers’ Draft micro-pub and the White Bear pub. There are regular buses from Barrowford back to Nelson.

Manchester Event Organiser, Co-Organiser