Monday, April 24, 2017

French presidential elections: capitalism wins

There were eleven candidates standing in the first round of this French Presidential Elections on 23 April, a mishmash of left and right-wing populists and establishment parties, ranging from the Trotskyist Lutte Ouvrière (Workers' Struggle), the nationalist and anti-US Union Populaire Républicaine (Popular Republic Union), the Gaullist Debout La France (Stand Up France) which is anti-EU, the New Anti-Capitalist Party headed by a Ford factory worker, and Jacques Cheminade, a follower of the American conspiracy theorist, Lyndon LaRouche. As no candidate secured more than 50 percent of the votes (in fact no candidate obtained more than 25 percent) the contest is going to a second round on 7 May.
What marked this election out from the others is that the main front runners were outsiders – Marine Le Pen of the Front National, Emmanuel Macron with his new movement En Marche (On the Go) and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the so-called hard Left candidate. What is also unprecedented is that, due to the deep unpopularity of his government, Fraçnois Hollande, decided not to stand again. Working class people are angry that their living standards are stagnating and what they see as an indifferent and out of touch political elite. Unemployment is running at 10 percent (about 25 percent among 18 to 25 year-olds) of the workforce amidst a slow recovery from the 2008/2009 recession. Moreover, many are dissatisfied with the government's response to the recent terrorist incidents and there are concerns about immigration. This is not unique to France. We have seen how working class discontent has played a part in the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency and in the vote for Brexit in the UK.
Because of the Hollande's failure to resolve the social and economic problems of French capitalism, 'Socialist' Party members opted for Benoît Hamon, the more radical left winger, to be their party's candidate. His platform included a basic universal income, a tax on robots to pay for the retraining of workers that they replace, a tax on banks' 'super profits', raising the minimum wage. However, he only got a humiliating 7 percent of the vote.
Marine Le Pen worked tirelessly to rebrand the Front National as being more of a patriotic party than a fascistic one, with having the same appeal as UKIP has in the United Kingdom, and even went as far as kicking her father out of the organisation. However, this has not precluded her from putting forward xenophobic proposals, such as giving priority to French nationals over non-nationals over jobs, houses, and welfare and placing new restrictions on immigration. She is attempting to court the working class vote by promising to reduce the retirement age from 62 to 60 and reduce income tax for the lowest earners. She is anti-EU and pledges to renegotiate the terms of EU membership and hold a referendum on whether to leave the EU. A win for her could jeopardise the future of the EU and thus create instability within world markets.
François Fillon of the Les Républicains party was the favourite until he became embroiled in a financial scandal involving alleged payments to his wife for fake jobs. He was standing on a platform of austerity, pledging to reduce public spending and cut a half million public sector jobs. He wanted to increase the working week for some public sector employees, scrap the wealth tax, reduce corporation tax, raise the retirement age to 65, put a cap on unemployment benefits.
Now the favorite, Emmanuel Macron, who finished top in the first round, is a former investment banker and economy minister in François Hollande's government. He claims that to be revolutionising French politics, but what he is proposing is pretty standard capitalist fare – lower corporation tax, extending the working week for younger workers, reduce public spending by cutting 120,000 public sector jobs by 2022. He is pro-EU and says he is in favour of a more open France which accommodates cultural and ethnic diversity.
Chavez-admirer Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who was backed by the 'Communis' Party, did surprisingly well with nearly a fifth of the votes. His programme included reducing the working week to 32 hours, increasing the minimum wage and social security, raising taxes on the highest earners, re-negotiate the EU treaties. Like Le Pen, he pledged to reduce the retirement age to 60. That some of his policies were similar to those of the Front National is no accident. Both he and Le Pen were trying to woo the so-called 'left behinds', workers who have seen the demand for their skills eroded and their livelihoods disappear with the economic and technological changes of world capitalism.
We predict with confidence that, whatever the outcome in the second round, the losers will be the working class. For all their differences and grand promises, none of the candidates, including the two who went through to the second round, challenged the capitalist system, that is the private and state ownership of the means of production and production for profit, they seek only to modify it. Whoever is elected, their priority would have to be to ensure that French capitalism is competitive and profitable, and if, under certain conditions, this requires that social provisions are cut and workers are laid off, then so be it. 
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

The war Britain supports and supplies.

According to the UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF), a child dies every 10 minutes from preventable causes in Yemen.

In the report, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, in collaboration with Save the Children, found a series of systematic attacks on medical facilities and personnel.
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), warring parties carried out at least 160 attacks against medical facilities and personnel between March 2015 and March 2017 through intimidation, air strikes, and impeded access to medical supplies.
In one incident, anti-Houthi forces raided and shutdown Al Thawra hospital for reportedly treating several injured Houthi-fighers. The hospital had also previously been shelled on numerous occasions.
In Saada, a missile struck the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)-supported Shiara Hospital which killed six and wounded ten. The hospital served an area of approximately 120,000 people and was established as a de facto emergency room to provide access to health care for patients that would otherwise need to travel four to five hours along insecure roads to receive. A few days later, the same hospital sustained another rocket attack by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition. Following the Shiara Hospital attack, an MSF doctor reported that maternity room deliveries have ceased. “Pregnant women are giving birth in caves rather than risk coming to the hospital,”
Watchlist’s Research Officer Christine Monaghan, explained: “There is a real sense of fear in the country about not being able to access healthcare when needed, about what might happen to them if they are in a clinic or a hospital and it’s bombed at a time when they visit” 
According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than half of Yemen’s population including 8.1 million children lack access to basic health care—an increase of more than 70 percent since the conflict began in March 2015.
One woman revealed the challenges of caring for her family in an interview with Save the Children, stating: “We cannot afford health care. If any of our children gets sick, we cannot do anything for them. We do not know where to go…two of my daughters, 5 and 3 years old, have persistent coughs, and I cant help them apart from giving them hugs.”
The ongoing blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition has further inhibited access to necessary supplies to run medical facilities such as fuel. In one case, a child in an incubator died after a hospital lost power and lacked fuel to use its generators.
Due to the collapse of immunization programs, there is also an increased risk of vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio and rubella. 
UN Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien called the humanitarian crisis in Yemen as “one of the worst in the world.” The country is on the brink of a famine with over 14 million food-insecure people. Over 70 percent of Yemenis are in need of some form of humanitarian aid.

Annual Conference (April 29/30)


Saturday, April 29th

10:30 to 5:00

Sunday April 30th

10.30 to 4:00         

Head Office, 52 Clapham High Street,

London SW4 7UN

  • Democracy in action

    How do you organise a political party without leaders or followers? Come and find out. We've been doing just that since the very beginning in 1904.

    Our party's policies are decided by a ballot of all our members following full debate at our Annual Conference.  Every autumn there is also a delegate meeting which considers items of discussion placed on the agenda by branches.
    Similarly, the members of the Executive Committee and party officers are elected directly by the membership as a whole. Members of party committees are nominated by branches with subsequent appointment by the EC.
    In between conferences, it is the work of the Executive Committee to coordinate the party's activities in line with decisions made at past conferences and party polls.
    We have no secrets
    All of our meetings, without exception, are open to anyone.
    Come and see how we are organising for a world of common ownership and democratic control. A world free from the tyranny of classes, nations, the state, leaders, money, and war.
    You'll be most welcome. Free refreshments

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bangladesh Workers Need Support

Some 3.5 million people are estimated to be working in Bangladesh's textile industry. Less than five percent of them are in organized unions. Every eighth Bangladeshi is directly or indirectly dependent upon the textile industry. 

Ashik and Rahinur were garment factory workers in Ashulia, a suburb of Dhaka in Bangladesh.  Clothing that would later be sold to European clothing chains like H&M and Zara. If they worked overtime, meaning they were in the factory for 14 hours a day, they earned about 180 euros ($193) between the two of them. National minimum wage in Bangladesh is 35 euros per month.

"It was very hard work," says Ashik. "When we got home we were very, very tired and exhausted." The money was just enough to cover food and rent, but they could not afford health insurance. Aslik and Rahinur hoped that if they saved a little they would one day be able to buy a television.

In December 2016, Ashik and Rahinur took to the street to protest for better wages. The strike shut down 55 factories for a week. That was when the police stepped in and ended it. A short time later there was a knock at Ashik and Rahinur's door. Three police officers arrested Ashik, a union member, and threw him in jail for two months. Another 1,500 workers lost their jobs as a result of the strike, and 35 union members were jailed. Now their names are on a blacklist and they cannot find work.

The unions are weak and employers are strong and influential. Factory owners say that if workers want more money foreign customers will simply move production to countries where labor is cheaper, such as Ethiopia.

After the strike, the President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Siddiqur Rahman, said that the government had already raised wages in 2013. Now about 61 euros per month, Rahman said that another increase would not be possible for at least five years, if ever.

To support and show solidarity with fellow-workers contact:
The World Socialist Party (India): 257 Baghajatin ‘E’ Block (East), Kolkata – 700086,
Tel: 2425-0208,

Irelands new houses fantasy

The Irish Republic's Department of Housing’s official housing completion figure for 2016 was to be 14,932.

The number of new homes built in the State last year was just 2,076.

When one-off homes are excluded, just 848 estate houses and apartments were completed in 2016 compared to an official Department of Housing estimate of 8,729.

In Dublin city, the most populous part in the State, just 68 scheme homes and apartments were completed last year.
The figures for other local authorities were also well below official estimates; Fingal (121), Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown (78), South Dublin (69) and Cork City (21). In three local authorities, Longford, Leitrim and Roscommon, there were no housing completions recorded at all in 2016, while a further eight counties recorded fewer than 10 completions.
Dublin architect Mel Reynolds said the Government’s housing targets, contained in its Rebuilding Ireland strategy, are based on new-build levels that were “fictional”. He said the remarkably low output figure for scheme homes and apartments also raised questions about the Government’s new Help-to-Buy scheme, which has been blamed for fuelling further inflation in the market.

It's hard being a mum

A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research this month found that the cost of childcare had risen to the point where some parents in low-income families effectively “pay to work”. The thinktank blamed a lack of support under the current system of tax credits as much as it did spiralling nursery charges.
The report said a woman with a partner and two children who works fewer than 16 hours a week and earns the government’s “national living wage” of £7.50 an hour would see her childcare costs overwhelm her earnings, leading to a net loss.
This situation is also common for women on higher hourly rates when they live in high-cost areas like London. The IPPR said the capital had the lowest maternal employment rate in the country.
 A TUC report last year found there was an overall gender pay gap of 34% for full-time working mothers who were born in 1970 and had their children before the age of 33. The time out from work on maternity leave before they had established themselves in skilled or senior roles effectively killed their chances of advancement, or at best restricted them, the report said.

Vote For Real Socialism - The Socialist Party


An End To Pessimism

The employing class want to keep the working class divided because they know that way we are more easily ruled over. They want us to blame our fellow workers for the problems which capitalism causes. They try to turn us against ourselves - blaming migrants or Muslims, or refugees instead of understanding that it's the profit system itself which is the problem. The capitalist parties have long used the tactic of 'divide and rule' to keep us - the majority - in our place. Instead of realising what we have in common as a class, we are taught to regard our fellow workers as being the enemy, or the cause of our misery.  Rabid nationalists talk of putting 'Britons first', but behind that simplistic slogan it merely means putting the interests of the ruling class first! You can't just wish away the reality of class division, and the interests of the elite are most certainly not the same as the interests of the working class in Britain. We have far more in common with our fellow workers elsewhere than we have with those who rule over us. Many victims of capitalist austerity hit out at symptoms but fail to understand causes. Take immigration for instance. Migrants are, quite simply, our fellow workers. They are NOT the cause of unemployment or hospital waiting lists, they are NOT the cause of overcrowding in schools or the housing shortage. These things are caused by the system of production for profit; in fact, capitalism itself. It is the profit system which forces employers to drive wages down by importing cheaper labour, but MPs have no wish to tackle this system - in effect, they think it's okay for the ruling class to exploit the rest of us. We observe that the parties in the political field are as numerous as their different labels, but the essential question for us as workers is: Whose interests do they stand for? Whom do they in reality represent? They stand no matter how they may describe themselves as, for the essentials of the present system, for the maintenance and perpetuation of capitalist domination.

The truth of the class struggle has been driven home more than ever over the last few years since the recession began. The glaring growing income inequality, the wide-spread job-losses , the numerous strikes, the cruelty of the state toward their “rebellious slaves” all across the capitalist world, has induced even capitalist authorities to “lament” the growth of class strife. Why do you think our ruling class spends so much time and money to bring their influence to bear upon Parliament ? Because that is where the decision making resides in our governmental system. It is where the capitalist class get their tax breaks, subsidies, bailouts contracts, and the loopholes in the enforcement of the laws against them. It is where the masses get nothing other than roll-backs of the previous protections of our economic well-being, our health and safety, our unions and our jobs, pay and pensions. The capitalist class rule because they have possession of the means of life, the land and the factories. It is true as Shakespeare's Shylock says: “He owns my life who owns the means whereby I live.” But this doesn’t complete the picture. Capitalist rule would be an empty phrase without them having some power to enforce their ownership and it is by controlling Parliament. Those who control the forces of "law and order", the police and the courts, and who control the military forces, actually and in reality control society itself, because having those powers at their command, they can and do use them for any desired purpose. The control and manipulation of these forces are carried on by the various political officers, and it is through these departments that instructions come with regard to their direction. Parliament make laws and alter them as in their wisdom they determine; they appoint the officers controlling the executive departments and they have at their disposal the means of ensuring that these laws are carried out. Those holding this power are in possession of the means whereby they can dominate society. The control, therefore, of political power means the control of society.

But once more the picture is still not fully complete. The workers to-day possess an overwhelming majority of the votes and it is these working-class votes that return the capitalists and their representatives into control of Parliament and thereby the continuance of the capitalists' domination. To-day the working class are largely unconscious of what constitutes their own interests and so they are misled by the paid politicians and media of the capitalist class to use the political power they possess against their real interests. The working class class have already within their reach the first step toward their emancipation when they understand how to use the vote they possess. But to use this vote effectively they must understand that, not only do they already possess political power, but that they must use this power for the purpose of getting rid of the class which dominates them. They must use their power to obtain control the political machinery, so as to enter into possession of the wealth they, and they alone create, and so rid themselves of the problems of misery, poverty, degradation, insecurity, and hopeless toil which press so heavily upon them to-day.

The anti-parliamentarians tell us that the workers should avoid and oppose political action. Why should the working class support any political party at all, they argue. Why should workers bother with political action in any shape or form? It means, so far as they are concerned, so much time and energy wasted. Universal suffrage has not failed. What has failed is the reformist use of it. To reject universal suffrage because reformist electoral action has failed is to throw out the baby with the bath water.  The Socialist Party, on the other hand, draws attention to past history and present circumstances to show how the ruling classes maintained their position of dominance. The salvation of the working class lies through organisation for control of the political power. It is only after and by the political expropriation of the capitalist class that its economic expropriation can be achieved. But will it be the only means? Far from competing with one other, electoral action and revolutionary extra-parliamentary action complete each other. The vote is revolutionary when it is cast by a class-conscious electorate for class-conscious candidates. Workers, once they had come to want and understand socialism will most likely organise in workplace committees or councils; but they will at the same time be organising politically. Not doing so would invite a violent head-on clash with a state machine still controlled by the supporters of capitalism. Why take this risk when the existence of universal suffrage and albeit limited political democracy make it unnecessary? Why not organise, democratically and without leaders, with a view to using the potential weapon that is the vote to win control of the state, so neutralising it? This is the Socialist Party position - based on an analysis of today's political circumstances and not on any dogma. And once the masses get moving they are hard to stop.

We understand why people are sceptical and cynical, and particularly critical of political parties calling themselves "socialist" having as their aim a mixed-economy or state-capitalism and those parties have essentially only sought to exploit working class discontent with a view to coming to power and installing themselves as a new ruling class in place of the private capitalists. Theseleft-wing cadres have always seen the working class as having a subordinate role as followers and as passive electors. But that cannot be held against our own position of working class democratic self-organisation into a political party based on socialist understanding, with a view to taking political, including electoral, action to abolish capitalism. That the Earth's resources should become a common storehouse for the benefit of all must emerge as a real political demand. The idea of political action and the visionary power of utopians must be combined to powerful effect. We, in the Socialist Party, reject the view that things will always stay the same. We CAN change the world. Nothing could stop a majority of socialists building a new society run for the benefit of everyone. We all have the ability to work together in each other's interests. All it takes is the right ideas and a willingness to make it happen. 

Guildford Hustings (25 April)

The Socialist Party has been invited to participate in a hustings in Guildford
 Tuesday, 25 April
 The Guildford Institute
Ward Street, 
Guildford GU1 4LH (about ten minutes walk from Guildford rail station)
between 7.15 and 8.30pm.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

New Zealand's Inequality

 The legacies in New Zealand of tax cuts for the rich, benefit cuts for the poor and jobs lost to technology and globalisation are having an impact.

The most recent figures, from the Ministry of Social Development's 2016 Household Income Report, show the highest-earning 10 per cent of Kiwis used to make five to six times more than the lowest 10 percent. Now, their income is 9 times higher.

Federation of Family Budgeting Services chief executive Raewyn Fox says the twin factors of low incomes and housing unaffordability mean more Kiwis are struggling. "We are finding more families that we can't find a solution for, it's hard to balance their budget when there's just not enough money," she says. "Incomes haven't risen significantly, and housing costs are becoming impossible. Sometimes we're seeing housing costs that are 50-60 percent of the family income, and that doesn't leave enough to live on." Basically: "We are finding more families in the lower to middle-income bracket who are finding it impossible to cope."

New Zealand inequality expert and the author of Wealth in New Zealand, Max Rashbrooke, says  "There are more people struggling, and that at least in part means that WINZ is taking an unnecessarily punitive approach towards dealing with beneficiaries." He goes on to point out that "People begin to live very different lives. They lose that sense of other people's lives, they lose that sense of empathy for each other so trust declines. Society is less cohesive." It also creates an uneven playing field; the children of less privileged parents are not as likely to succeed.

If you wish to end inequality contact:

World Socialist Party (New Zealand)

The Migrants' Misery

 Like most people, Latin Americans are naturally disinclined to leave their homes; oftentimes, they leave because they must. It is poverty, fear, and distrust that drive Latin Americans to flee their homes. Many Americans conjure up images of Mexicans crossing the border, stealing jobs, and bringing drugs. They are outraged at supposed weak borders and the charity given to those deemed un-American. Most immigrants who cross  the southern border do not come from Mexico—in fact, more Mexicans are currently leaving the United States than are entering. Rather, it is Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—that supplies 85 percent of Latin American immigrants entering the United States. This emigration is driven in part by deteriorating conditions in the region. Honduras is known for its extraordinarily high number of homicides. Indeed, the murder rate of its second-largest city, San Pedro Sula, is among the highest in the world, peaking at 187 homicides per 100,000 people in 2013.

Children born in such a land face not only the murder of parents and other family members at the hands of local gangs, but also the problems accompanying extreme poverty, such as lack of education, health resources, and a tenable future. Child labor is commonplace, along with sexual exploitation, trafficking, and child marriage. To live in such a place is to live in constant fear for one’s life. Escape means either joining one of the local mara gangs or emigrating to another land. Therefore, despite the dangers involved, unaccompanied minors and families make the trek to the United States, because they see it as a land of opportunity, or at the very least, as a place with more opportunity than their homeland.

 In Honduras, 97 percent of murders go unsolved. These murders are often committed by local and international criminal organizations, including the infamous Mara Salvatrucha 13 (MS-13). Their crimes extend far past murder—child prostitution, extortion, and human trafficking, to name a few. This is an everyday reality for the poorest Latin Americans living in these regions, who cannot afford  private security or homes in safer areas. While LGBTQ activists fought for marriage equality in the United States, their counterparts south  of the border struggle simply to not be murdered. According to journalists, the police often blame the murders of LGBTQ individuals on the victim’s own carelessness. 

Even children are considered targets by local gangs and MS-13. In 2014, 200 children died from beatings, suffocation, or gun violence in the MS-13 stronghold of San Pedro Sula. Often, children and adolescents are forced into the organization, either by the coercive power of poverty or by threats from the gang itself. Entrance into the gang is violent, with initiations often including a 13-second “beat down,” which at times leads to the death of the initiate. With governments establishing anti-gang death squads, the careers of these new gang members are often short-lived. To escape this false choice between gang life and crippling poverty, children and adolescents are forced to flee north, often without parents.

 The governments are generally unable to provide the resources necessary to protect endangered children and adolescents. Local police forces are often rife with corruption and act with impunity. Legal professionals and advocates placed under police protection are often killed anyways; 95 percent of all these murders go unsolved. With such abysmal prospects, immigration is often the only choice for many of the poorest sections of the population.

To legally apply for asylum is a difficult process. There are many people who are refugees, who do have right to asylum, and yet who are not perceived by politicians and customs and border patrol officials as people seeking refuge. Because of this diminished access, these asylum applicants continue to face poverty and crime. Even for those who are recognized as refugees seeking asylum, difficulties remain. The slow-moving, overworked United States immigration system, with its limited visas and strict stipulations, often forces people seeking to move to the United States to escape death and poverty to wait years—sometimes more than a decadeto legally immigrate. Surviving that long in such harsh conditions is far from guaranteed. To seek asylum in Mexico is incredibly difficult. The Mexican asylum system is very small and is not providing asylum to cases that would merit it. Under the Obama Administration, Mexico has been pressured to deport any immigrants at its southern border. It remains uncertain if the Mexican government will continue the mass deportation of immigrants. If it were to turn a blind eye to the problem, it is possible that border crossing attempts, along with human trafficking crimes, will surge. If the U.S. border becomes more difficult to cross, more and more refugees and migrants may choose to stay in Mexico and other nations in the region, particularly Costa Rica and Panama. The government of Mexico would be faced with problems of job creation, education, and integration for these refugees. For a country facing numerous problems of its own, a renewed refugee crises would be a substantial burden for Mexico.

Migrating to the United States without approval is no small task. Immigrants face a hazardous trek, one that conservative estimates say has led to the deaths of over 6,000 people. Getting to the United States from the Central America requires first traversing Mexico. Such a journey is often hazardous; reports of violence are commonplace, as gangs hold migrants hostage for money. Mass executions are not uncommon. Nor are sexual assault and rape; 80 percent of women crossing Mexico are raped attempting to cross into the United States. The perils of crossing Mexico also stem from the terrain; thousands of miles of desert mean dehydration and exhaustion are met with little medical care. To cross Mexico is essentially to risk death. Many immigrants employ the services of human smugglers, or coyotes. With the United States investing billions of dollars into border security—the Department of Homeland Security requested an additional $42 Billion for the overall budget in 2016—smugglers have begun to take even more dangerous voyages in order to circumvent tightened security. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, because of “more stringent law enforcement, smugglers may use routes or transportation methods that expose immigrants to greater physical and psychological dangers.” This often results in the death of more vulnerable immigrants, typically children and older women, by dehydration and heat stroke. Moreover, as smaller human smuggling operations are slowly taken over by larger drug cartels, immigrants are increasingly subject to rape, murder, and even mass execution. In one instance, 72 people who refused to work for the Los Zetas cartel were lined up and shot in mass. The deaths of people trying to cross the border is a frequent enough occurrence that in Pima County, Arizona, industrial freezers are used to hold the bodies of people who die trying to cross the border.

The greater involvement of criminal organizations, along with their willingness to use violence, has turned the problem of human smuggling into one of human trafficking. With the costs of a border crossing increasing to as much as $1,500 in some places, immigrants are often forced into sweat shops and prostitution in order to repay their debts. Fearing deportation and punishment under law, many of these immigrants are unable to turn to the police for help, both in Mexico and in the United States.
There is a clear link to the rise and strengthening of these smuggling and human trafficking operations and border security; according to the UNODC, a nonfunctioning immigration system coupled with a tighter border increases the demand for high-risk smuggling. With no clear sign of illegal immigration to the United States stopping, prices are sure to rise, and the power of these human smugglers and traffickers is sure to rise along with it.

Lisa Haugaard of the Latin American Working Group explained, This problem is not dealt with by walls, it’s not dealt with by harsh immigration policy.It’s dealt with by allowing people to live in their homes” peacefully in Central America, without fear for their lives. In the meantime, however, the lives of millions of unrecognized refugees depend on immigration policies elsewhere.

Taken from here

Chinese poverty problems

China's President Xi Jinping has pledged to wipe out poverty, or annual incomes lower than 2,300 yuan, by 2020. 

Researchers have warned about a growing wealth gap in rural areas.

An annual report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) found that although the wealth gap between different regions is narrowing, inequality between different income groups is expanding.
The annual disposable income for rural residents averaged 12,363 yuan (US$1,797) last year, a 6.2 per cent increase over the previous year, but not every group of rural residents fared equally well. The annual disposable income for high-income groups increased by 9.8 per cent last year, and by 8.4 per cent for the middle-low group. However, the amount decreased by 2.6 per cent for low-income groups, the report said.
The income distribution among rural residents has become increasingly complicated. It is more and more difficult to keep the momentum of income growth,” the report concluded. This might pose an issue, when the incomes of all the other income groups are growing but the low-income group, especially when the central Communist Party leadership takes poverty ­alleviation as one of the top priorities,” CASS researcher Du Xiaoshan warned. “We can’t be too optimistic about this,” Du said. “We must pay special attention to the comparison of different groups, including between and among urban and rural residents.”
Du said the report clearly showed the wealth gap among rural residents was expanding, which cast doubt on whether the wealth gap between urban and rural residents was narrowing. The income ratio between rural and urban residents dropped from 1: 3.33 in 2015 to 1:2.72 last year. Du said having such a wide gap in incomes among rural residents made comparing average rural and urban incomes less meaningful.

Why Support the Socialist Party?

Once again the various political parties are seeking your support at June the 8th General Election. Are you planning to vote for a politician that you don't trust? Are you planning to abstain from voting altogether? The politicians do what they must get elected, and when elected they do what they must to appease the capitalist class. You are a human being. But today you are a second class citizen. With the accelerating degradation of the environment, with real and expected job losses from automation, with global out-sourcing of jobs, how secure is your life? How long will you continue to vote for capitalism? Capitalist "truths" are losing credibility by experience on the ground and people are educating themselves to the reality of today's world.

Your masters are seeking your vote in this election because upon their control of the political machine their supremacy depends.   Labour and Tory alike are out for the maintenance of this system, which means for you a continuation of your wage-slavery.  They are united as one against you when you try to better your lot. You cannot take sides with any section of the capitalist class because it is to their interest to maintain this system which means luxury for them. Your emancipation can only be achieved by converting the instruments of production from the property of the few into the common property of society so that they can be used to produce the requirements of life in abundance for all; in a word, socialism must be established.

The Socialist Party is the only political organisation in this country that consistently works for this end: and as the realisation of socialism depends upon the conversion of the workers, your place is within our party, striving to hasten the day when the fratricidal warfare of capitalism is supplanted by the fraternal co-operation that socialism alone can ensure. The Socialist Party does not present policies for capitalism's salvation or offer a better capitalism. It isn't just this form of capitalism or that version we oppose, but the capitalist system as such itself. It isn't just who profits and by how much that we oppose, but it is the entire concept of profit, which is always generated from the appropriation of surplus labour extracted from the working class by wage slavery.  The Socialist Party does not want you to follow anything, or anyone, blindly. The Socialist Party wants you to open your eyes, and your mind, to something that has been the subject of vilification and distortion for over a hundred years — socialism.
The Socialist Party cannot predict the future, nor does it wish to lay out some "set-in-stone" blueprint for future society, but the following are features of what socialists envision:
Common (not state) ownership of the resources of society, such as mineral wealth, land, factories.
Democratic control of society by everyone, without leaders, instead of by the dictates of the profit system and a privileged minority.
Free access to all the goods and services of society — no money and no market.
Voluntary labour according to ability.

All of this is completely practical and attainable. All of it is unlikely as long as you continue to support the current system that creates all the problems that the government cannot solve.
The immense productive powers of capitalism have long since reached a stage where the establishment of socialism has been possible but because of the fetters of the financial market and the profit system, it is unable to deliver what socialism can.
The Socialist Party
does not advocate reformism, i.e. a platform of palliatives with the aim of gradually reforming capitalism into a system that works for all. While we are happy to see the workers’ lot improved, reforms can never lead to the establishment of socialism and tends to drain away energy, ideas, and resources from that goal. Reforms fought for can, and frequently are, taken away or watered down, as we are seeing with current austerity policies, with more cuts on the horizon. Rather than attempting the gradual transformation of the capitalist system, something we hold is impossible, we hold that only socialism can end forever the problems of our present society such as war, poverty, starvation, inadequate health care and housing, insecurity, and environmental degradation. The working class by brain and brawn will usher in the socialist commonwealth, a society wherein poverty, privilege, and oppression will find no place, and wherein all may lead a full, free and joyous existence. Yet, so far, only a tiny fraction of people understand the need for the alternative – socialism - a society with no private property, no classes, and no state. The real opposition to capitalism is still struggling to be born.

The Masters of War

An arms company that sold missiles to the Gaddafi regime in Libya is a “role model” for the sort of business Britain will be engaged in after Brexit, the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said. MBDA is “strengthening the reputation of this country” with its work and that it is “a role model for the kind of partnerships we’ll be seeking” once the UK has left the EU. 

Anti-arms trade activists slammed the Defence Secretary for courting the arms company, accusing him of glorying a firm that “profits from war and arms tyrants”.

In 2007 MBDA signed a contract to provide £200 million worth of missiles and military communications equipment to Colonel Gaddafi’s regime in Libya. The firm also makes the Brimstone and Storm Shadow missiles and sells them to the Saudi Arabian air force, which is bombing civilians in Yemen. Fallon also backed BAE to sell more arms to the Saudi Arabian government. The firm is seeking a significant new contract with the autocratic petro-state.  “Are we supporting them? Absolutely. It’s something ministers have been pressing with the Saudi government for a number of years now,” he said.

Britain is the second biggest arms exporter in the world, according to UK Trade and Investment. Last year Britain sold weapons to 22 of the 30 countries on its own human rights watch-list since 2010.

Capitalism is Insane

Prince Harry recently spoke movingly about the negative consequences for himself of repressing his grief over the death of his mother when he was twelve years old. Celebrities reveal their anxieties and breakdowns. Such openness is important because it reduces personal isolation and makes people feel that they will not be treated as pariahs if they speak up.  Openness and discussion are important, but they skirt the heart of the problem, which is that a proportion of people who are mentally ill cannot look after themselves. The severity and incurability of a mental illnesses are often underestimated and there may be exaggerated expectations of preventing their onset by early intervention. The precise causes and nature of mental illness remains very much a mystery so a large number of people are always going to become desperately ill. Schizophrenia, for instance, is to mental illness what cancer is to physical illness. When Prince Harry talked about psychological troubles, debilitating though these may be, they are still not the same as full-blown psychosis or, in other words, “madness”.

The criminalisation of the mentally ill is one of the cruellest and most easily avoidable tragedies of our era. The prison systems have replaced psychiatric hospitals as the place where people suffering from severe mental illness are most likely to find themselves. It is a process that has been going on since the 1960s, fuelled by a desire to save money, a belief that medication would replace hospitalisation, and a liberal reaction against what was seen as unnecessary incarceration.  One of the justifications for closing down the old asylum system was that they were too much like prisons, but the paradoxical result has been that psychiatric patients are now ending up in real prisons.

Between 1955 and 2016, the number of state hospital beds in the US available to psychiatric patients fell by over 97 per cent from 559,000 to just 38,000. An expert noted despairingly that the biggest de facto psychiatric institutions in the US today are Los Angeles County jail, Chicago’s Cook County jail and New York’s Riker’s Island. Those who are not in prison or hospital “become violent or, more often, the victims of violence. They grow sicker and die. The personal and public costs are incalculable,” says a report by the Treatment Advocacy Centre in Virginia. Mentally ill people, usually poor and unemployable because of their condition, are sometimes advised that the only way they will get even the crudest treatment is by being sent to prison.

The same process is happening in Britain. The number of beds available for mental health patients in the UK has dropped by three-quarters since 1986-87 to about 17,000, while the Centre for Mental Health says that 21,000 mentally ill people are imprisoned, making up a quarter of the prison population.

For many mentally ill people, the prospect of incarceration is becoming probable in an unexpected reversion to 18th-century practice. Some are left to wander the streets but most are looked after by their families who may not have the resources to do so. Deceptively progressive sounding words, like “deinstitutionalisation” in the US and “care in the community” in the UK, are used to describe the ending of the vast system that once catered for psychiatric patients.

Some of these institutions were hellholes, and others became unnecessary because medication was available from the 1950s that controlled some of the worst symptoms of mental illness. But the old system did at least provide an asylum in the sense of a place of safety where people who could not look after themselves were cared for. Supposing “care in the community” had been more than an attractive slogan, it might have provided something of a replacement for the old asylums, but the care it provided was always inadequate. The reality of the new system was best described by the writer PD James, an administrator in the NHS in London whose husband was a long-term patient in a mental hospital. She wrote that since the 1970s community care “could be described more accurately as the absence of care in a community still largely resentful or frightened of mental illness”.

Thomas Winsor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, who complained that the police are increasingly being used as the “first resort” for people with mental health problems. He said that sometimes they ended up spending the night in police cells even though they had committed no crime because no hospital beds were available. He added that the “inadequacy” of mental health provision should “disturb everyone”.

Marjorie Wallace, the founder and chief executive of Sane, a mental health charity, explains that governments have every incentive to keep mental patients out of hospital, since “providing a single bed costs the same as ‘treating’ 44 people in the community”. She welcomed Theresa May’s intention expressed in a speech earlier this year to do something about “the burning injustice of mental health and inadequate treatment”, but says that this will remain a utopian vision unless there is more ring-fenced money for psychiatric services which are already close to breakdown. The present system has failed and the result is the creeping criminalisation of mental illness.