Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mayday 2008

We’re celebrating the 122nd anniversary of a General Strike held to win the 8 hour work day. That General Strike of May 1, 1886 was called by the forerunner of the American Federation of Labor and organized throughout the Canada and the US.

On that day 300,000 to half a million workers set down their tools and marched in the largest industrial cities in North America. 80,000 in Chicago, 10,000 in Detroit, New York, St. Louis, etc. In an action of this size happened today, 4 to 6 million would be on strike and 100s of thousands in the streets.

In Milwaukee 7 strikers and witnesses were killed by State Militia and 4 more by Police in Chicago.

On May 4th a rally was held to protest the shootings itself turned violent when police waded into a peaceful crowd and someone threw a bomb into the police line. Shooting broke out and 7 police and at least 4 workers were dead. According to contemporary newspaper reports, most of the police dead were caused by other police fire.

In the aftermath, 7 labor leaders who organized the rally, were arrested for murder of the police. Because of the men’s anarchist politics 6 were sentenced to hang and 4 were executed, including one who had been at home with his children at the time of the rally. This Haymarket Affair and subsequent trial was followed throughout the world. It is widely held as one of the worst cases of judicial injustice in American history.

In 1890, Sam Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) requested that the Socialist International call an international day of action agitating for an 8 hour work day. The International agreed and call for international rallies to be held on May First to commemorate the strike of 1886. This is the origin of Mayday as International Labor Day.

Which Labor Day?

Many incorrectly claim that Mayday is the original Labor Day as opposed to the one held on the first Monday of September in Canada and the US. The September Labor Day had been celebrated for at least 4 years previous to the General Strike of 1886. It was developed by US rank and file unionists from the inspiration from a strike for the 8 hour day held in Toronto in the 1870s (see section on Canada).

So both have much in common and both should be considered as legitimate since both were motivated by a desire to have “8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest and 8 hours for what we will” (from a labor song “Eight Hours“).

The beasts that graze the hillside,
And the birds that wander free,
In the life that God has meted,
Have a better life than we.
Oh, hands and hearts are weary,
And homes are heavy with dole;
If our life’s to be filled with drudg’ry,
What need of a human soul.
Shout, shout the lusty rally,
From shipyard, shop, and mill.

Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest
Eight hours for what we will;
Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest
Eight hours for what we will.

In other words, both Mayday and Labor Day should be reminders of the need of working people to try and capture the good things in life.

What happened?

The strike of 1886 was a flop. While hours dropped to 40 hours a week in some skilled trades where unions could control job conditions easily, the increase in unskilled factory work kept working hours at 50-60 per week until the 1930s. It took the desire for post-World War 2 industrial peace to establish the 40 hour week for some years in the 1950-60s.

Today the average workweek in the US is 46 hours and there is an increase in poorer workers working multiple jobs just to get by. This explains which nearly a third of Americans work more than 50 hours a week. Compare this to the legal maximum of 45 hours the British Empire established for Plantation slaves.

Read it and weep

  • On average, modern Americans work longer than plantation slaves in the 1800s.
  • Families need close to 2 wage workers to survive vs. 1.3 in the 1880s. So the total amount of work needed to maintain a household has risen.
  • It’s taken us 128 years to lower the working week from 60 hours to 46. That means it will take us another 54 years to reach the 8 hour day.
  • Using the “Unskilled Wage Index” the $175 a year factory workers earned in 1886 Chicago would be equivalent of $22,180 today or slightly more than what American Axle Company is offering it’s workers currently on strike.


Why is it, that despite all the struggles, the marches, the organizing, we are more or less in the similar place as in 1886?

The WSP argues it is because we haven’t learned the lessons of the first Mayday and Labor Day. We cannot get the ‘life’ our class wanted in the 1880s by confronting the bosses with petition, pickets, pistols or pipe bombs. Each of those strategies assumes we need bosses and they can be intimidated into lessening our poverty.

As Marx first showed, and we have argued since our inception as a political movement, in capitalism, the rich grow richer and all workers can do within capitalism is slow that process down. It is capitalism as a whole system - wages, profits, markets - which needs abolishing. The murder or intimidation of one ruthless boss won’t help. Nor will the formal change of the social structure at a particular workplace into a collective, etc. We need to see the enemy as entirety, only then can we make decisions to free ourselves and the world.

Mayday 2008

In 1886 striker strikers carried banners which stated a simple truth:

“Labor creates all wealth, All wealth belongs to labor”

Working people need to learn and understand that truth. The capitalists need us, capitalism needs us, we do not need it.

The rich will continue to get richer and we will continue to march on Mayday until a majority of us decide that enough is enough. Sure, let’s support those who try and defend or increase their wages, but let’s face facts, in the long term they aren’t going to be any more than what it takes for us to merely survive.

Capitalism is killing us and it is killing the world.

There is enough for all and a decent life can be had only when socialism is established.

Abolish the Wage System!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Paul Mattick's review of Kropotkin's 'Mutual Aid'

From the World Socialist Party of the United States website

MUTUAL AID. By Peter Kropotkin, with Foreword by Ashley Montague, and including “The Struggle for Existence” by T. H. Huxley. Extending Horizons Press, Boston, 1955, pp. 362, $3.00
Originally published in the January-February 1956 issue of the Western Socialist, Boston, USA
This new issue of Kropotkin’s work on Mutual Aid, first published at the turn of the century, not only satisfies the need for its continued availability but — in some measure — also helps to combat the current neo-Malthusianism and the renewed, though futile, attempts to present capitalist competition as a “law of nature.” Provoked by Huxley’s belief that in nature and society the struggle for existence is one of all against all, Kropotkin demonstrated that both in the animal world and human society it is rather mutual aid which secures existence and makes for progress.

What Huxley proclaimed passes under the name of Social Darwinism — “the survival of the fittest.” The successful in society are such by way of “natural selection.” Nothing can be done about it, and no apology is needed, as nature is neither “moral” nor “immoral,” but “non-moral.” Of course, attempts are made to defy “natural law” through the establishment of social order designed to mitigate the struggle of all against all. Yet this promises little for the future because population tends to outrun the means of subsistence, and thus the struggle for survival continues to destroy the weak.

Kropotkin did not answer Huxley’s Malthusian argument, even though it is the only one Huxley advanced in support of his views. Instead, he described forms of mutual aid observed in the animal world and various types of social collaboration throughout man’s history. This he did excellently, so that the book — quite apart from its special intent — is an important study of animal behavior and of the evolution of human sociality. Himself under the spell of Darwinism, Kropotkin wished to correct its capitalistically-determined one-sided interpretation, which saw only competition and not the far more important factor of mutual aid as the instrument of survival. He did not take up the Malthusian argument because he thought that existing “natural checks to over-multiplication” made it irrelevant.

This plays into the hands of the “social Darwinists,” who do not distinguish between society and nature, and see in all social misery manifestations of “natural laws.” They would insist that, even though the struggle for existence may not be characterized by the ever-present bitter struggle for the means of subsistence, nevertheless pauperism and starvation, as also famine and pestilence, must be regarded as “natural checks to over-population.” In their views, the alleviation of human suffering, caused by whatever reason, opposes the necessary “natural checks to over-population.”

Kropotkin did not answer the Malthusian argument because he, too, did not clearly enough distinguish between society and nature. Just as to the social Darwinists competition is instinctive to both men and beast, so to Kropotkin mutual aid is a “moral instinct” of “prehuman origin” and a “law of nature.” This did not hinder him, however, from making the “watchword, mutual aid,” which comes to us “from the bush, the forest, the river, the ocean,” into the foundation of our “ethical conceptions” so as to secure “a still loftier evolution of our race.” It seems, then, that “natural laws” to be really effective require the support or neglect of men.

Observation reveals that there is both competition and mutual aid within and between the different species. Mutual aid is, of course, the best way for survival for those species whose survival depends on mutual aid, as competition. For a long time, however, survival in the animal world has not depended upon the practice of either mutual aid or competition but has been determined by the decision of men as to which species should live and thrive and which should be exterminated. Whatever “natural law” may mean with regard to animal behavior, it is overruled by man-made “laws” that shape “nature” to their own needs or whims. “Nature in the raw,” so to speak, where “natural laws” could rule is now in need of preservation and protection by national and international law. Wherever man rules, the “laws of nature” with respect to animal life cease to exist.

If this is true for the animal world, how much more must this be true for man himself. Although also a great admirer of Darwin, Marx drew attention to the fact that “nature” is continuously changed by the activities of men, and (against Malthusianism specifically) that no “natural law” governs the growth of population. The changing social structure, not “natural law,” determines whether there is “over-population” or not, and whether in consequence thereof, or independently of it, mutual aid or competition characterizes social relationships. “Over-population” and the hunger and misery associated with it, are not products of nature but products of men, or rather of social relationships which preclude such a social organization of production and of life generally as would abolish with the problem of hunger that of “over-population.” The “over-population” of which Huxley spoke was not one relative to the means of subsistence, but relative to the needs of capital accumulation; it was a product of the capitalist mode of production not of “natural law.”

To be sure, “over-population” seems to exist in large parts of the world where people are subjected to famines, floods and backward methods o production. While this condition may not be man-made, it is at any rate maintained by men, so as to secure privileged positions within existing social relations, or international power relations, or both simultaneously. “Over-population” is not the cause but the result of these attempts to arrest social development, as may be seen by the fact that wherever hunger is eliminated population tends to decline. But even if it would not do so, there exist for a very long time ample opportunities for an increased production able to feed a world population many times its present size.

It is not really “over-population” which worries the ruling classes. Rather the opposite is true; as is made clear by frantic efforts to increase population at the first sign of its tendential decline, by the fact that birth-control is made a crime, and by the maintenance of conditions that foster a vast increase of the impoverished masses. Conditions of misery for the masses are a prerequisite to the wealth and special social position of the ruling classes.

Although it is good to know that there is just as much, or more, mutual aid as competition in nature and society, this is not enough to make men change their ways and to alter social relationships. For those who profit by conditions it does not matter whether it is “natural” or “unnatural,” the “best” or the “worst” method for survival of the species. Mankind s none of their concern. For those who create the profits it may be nice to know that the mutual aid practised in their own circles attests to their high ethical concepts and natural behavior, but it does not stop their exploitation. The whole controversy between Huxley and Kropotkin is somewhat beside the point — it does not touch upon the relevant issues of society, namely that “mutual aid” in human society presupposes the abolition of class relations.

Paul Mattick

Further Reading:
More Paul Mattick on the WSPUS website
Paul Mattick's page at the Marxist Internet Archive
SPGB talk: 'What Marx should have said to Kropotkin'

Monday, April 28, 2008

Old, old story

On this day in 1965 the United States sent more than 22,000 troops to the Dominican Republic in order to prevent the establishment of what President Lyndon Johnson described as a ‘communist dictatorship’. Utter nonsense of course. The Socialist Standard of June that year explains why:

“In yet another flare-up in the endless round of minor conflicts, the focus of attention swung last month to the Western Hemisphere.

Once again the United States Marines landed in that trouble spot of the centuries; the island of Hispaniola. This time it was the Eastern half of the Dominican Republic; not very long ago the marines were hovering of the coast of Haiti.

President Johnson’s statement that: “All we are in the Dominican Republic for is to preserve freedom and save those people from conquest.” was rich, even from such a poker-faced operator as the President. As any brief glance at the blood-stained history of Dominica will show, the people there have never had any freedom to lose.

In fact, for most of the time they have been ruled by corrupt and vicious dictatorships with occasional periods of civil war. And if the occupation of a State by the armed forces of a foreign power is not conquest, the the word has changed its meaning.

However, almost in the same breath the Americans came out with the real reason - fear of another Cuba. Dominica was in fact Viet-Nam in reverse. The United States has always been extremely touchy about Non-American states having a foot in the American Continent.

The Monroe doctrine of 1823 was proclaimed to prevent this, and the conditions of the modern world, with its nuclear weapons and its long range missiles, makes the idea of a possible Russian base so near home particularly unattractive.

Whether or not there were actually any so-called Communists in Dominica, is unimportant the possibility was enough. Russia and China made all the expected noises, and the usual moves in the United Nations, but obviously did not intend to risk a major war over a possible minor gain.

There was however a further complication for the USA, - namely the Latin American States with their fears and suspicions of their gigantic neighbor. In the 19th Century the United States could afford to treat South and Central America with contempt, but today they prefer to have amicable relations with them.

They have, over the last 30 years, devoted much energy to their “good neighbour” policies and to the Organisation of American States (OAS).

If the situation really demands it, and American Capitalism is threatened, Washington is quite prepared to go ahead and damn the consequences. Dominica, luckily, was not that serious, which saved all that good

Saturday, April 26, 2008

How can socialism become reality?

From our website

P.M. writes: “I like the bulk of your ideals. By what means can they become reality?

FNB Replies: It’s our position that socialism can become reality when a majority of the population (primarily the working class) desires socialism and rejects capitalism.

I understand that sounds a rather simplistic answer. But the capitalist class cannot continue it’s rule - even through violence or bribery - when enough workers decide to break with the capitalists’ legitimacy and their system.

Our effort is to get enough workers to understand that socialism is a rejection of the fundamental structures of capitalism - the market, ownership, wages, production, etc. Not only understand but accept socialism as a positive change.

Workers are forced by their living conditions to question capitalism daily. Working people wish they didn’t have to work as hard and want more time with their families. They worry about the earth and the world their children will be inheriting.These days, they worry about keeping warm, keeping fed and keeping their house. They may even resent the pettiness of the ’stuff’ that capitalism offers for our life’s efforts at work.

Because of these contradictions, socialists are given opportunities everyday to build a new consensus. The more socialists there are, the more ability we will have to take new and different actions to build the new system

But we also need to confront and destroy the capitalist class’ social legitimacy. The WSP believes that the capitalist’s legitimacy comes from their ‘democratic’ rule, thus we believe that the capitalist’s legitimacy can be totally be broken by taking a majority in Congress.

But “capturing” Congress is only a measure of acceptance of socialism and a coup de grace to capitalist rule. The real revolution in social relations will be made in our lives and by ourselves, not congress.

But right now, the movement is quite small and dispersed. So we focus on providing socialist analysis of the issues of the day. We hold meetings and work to break capitalist ideas when we’re involved in social movements (example).

As the movement grows, we’ll be able to be more inventive with our activity and in ways we cannot conceive of today. The WSP does not believe we - the WSP - can create blueprints or maps to the new society, that effort is one that must be left to all the people

Thanks for writing.

You can now ask the WSP questions about our ideas and the case for socialism. We will attempt to answer all sincere questions. Send your questions to:

ask [at}

Click on ASK! in the subject cloud 'previous posts' on our site.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Can the media be made democratic?

From the March 2008 issue of the Socialist Standard

That there was once a press free from commercial or governmental influence is a myth.

Since the early twentieth century American journalists have been fascinated by the uneasy relationship between democracy and a media industry that has grown immensely powerful and profitable. The opinion that the democratic process has been undermined – epitomised by declining electoral turnout – by an industry more concerned with increasing corporate profits than the meaningful dissemination of information has repeatedly led to demands for media reform.

In the first part of the twentieth century the American writer and journalist Upton Sinclair drew attention to the corrosive influence of advertising that led newspapers to adapt content to suit powerful sponsors and encourage editorial self-censorship. Sinclair's book The Brass Check (1919) was a scathing attack on a monopolistic press, in which he said that commercial journalism had become "a class institution serving the rich and spurning the poor," with the task of "hoodwinking of the public and the plunder of labour". Brought in some years after the publication of Sinclair's book, the Federal Communication Act of 1934 was widely seen as the first real attempt to curb media monopoly and reinvigorate the supposedly democratic values embodied in the American Constitution through "public interest, convenience and necessity." But these and later reforms failed to consider one possibility: What would happen if the government ever saw public information as secondary to free market economics? What would happen if the government actually joined forces with the media to communicate a common ideology that devalued "democracy"?

Media deregulation

According to Bill Moyers, one of America's best known and respected post-war journalists, this is exactly what happened under the banner of media deregulation. Beginning with Ronald Reagan, deregulation sowed the seeds for a consolidation that eliminated much of the independent media and prompted editorial policy to downgrade the importance of news. But the crowning achievement in the demotion of meaningful news came later with the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which was passed with the support of both political parties. This legislation allowed communications conglomerates and advertisers to join forces to dismantle competition safeguards and devise "new ways of selling things to more people" across the full array of digital and conventional media. Within the media corporations the strategy eliminated remaining divisions between editorial and marketing functions to "create a hybrid known to the new-media hucksters as 'branded entertainment.'" (Bill Moyers, Journalism and Democracy, Alternative Radio, 8 November 2003).

Moyers' assessment of the American newspaper industry is equally gloomy. Here, according to a study by the Consumers Federation of America, two-thirds of today's newspaper markets are monopolies. Not satisfied with this stranglehold, the major newspaper chains have combined with the trade group representing almost all of the broadcasting stations to lobby for further autonomy to extend cross-ownership of media, claiming that this will strengthen local journalism. Moyers notes that in typical fashion none of the organisations involved felt it necessary to report this news, remarking, "they rarely report on how they themselves are using their power to further their own interests and power as big business, including their influence over the political process". He draws further evidence from the book, Leaving Readers Behind: The Age of Corporate Newspapering, which concludes that the "newspaper industry is in the middle of the most momentous change in its three hundred year history – a change that is diminishing the amount of real news available to the consumer".

Looking back over American history, Moyers says that during the War of Independence freedom and freedom of communication were the "birth twins in the future United States", but that today freedom of communication has become an obstacle to corporate profits and has been abandoned. He says that the media that once championed democracy now works hand in glove with government to intentionally undermine democratic values. He identifies certain developments that have ambushed democracy. These include censorship by omission, government refusal to disclose or debate in public, and the overarching power of media giants that "exalt commercial values at the expense of democratic values" to produce "a major shrinkage of the crucial information that thinking people can act upon".

But according to Moyers perhaps the most repugnant development is the rise of a "quasi-official partisan press ideologically linked to an authoritarian administration that in turn is the ally and agent of the most powerful interests in the world". This convergence, he says, "dominates the marketplace of political ideas" promoting the "religious, partisan and corporate right" to engage "sectarian, economic and political forces that aim to transform the egalitarian and democratic ideals embodied in our founding documents". He goes on to provide examples where investigative newsgathering and scrutiny over government, police and the courts has been abandoned to cut costs, avoid institutional embarrassment and maintain this coalition of vested interests. In the absence of a strong opposition party to challenge this hegemony, the task of defending democracy, he says, falls to a reformed media.

The recurrent theme that runs throughout Moyers' account of the American media is a yearning back to a romanticised "Golden Age", when a free and independent press kept its subscribers fully informed with important news that enabled them to act. He points to the newspapers at the time of the American War of Independence and in particular to Tom Paine's pamphlet Common Sense that helped mobilise opposition to the British. Moyers says that as a journalist Paine practised a principle in need of restoration: "an unwavering concentration to reach ordinary people with the message that they mattered and could stand up for themselves." But was this really a "Golden Age" of democracy or was it, as Sinclair believed, just another instance of the press propagating a class interest under the guise of democracy? Put a different way, has a press free from political or commercial influence ever existed?

Romanticised past

For many, a belief in the abstract democratic ideal is closely linked to the myths surrounding the origin of the Constitution and the founding of America as a separate country. But far from being a revolutionary event that encouraged a genuine development of democratic values, the War of Independence was a strictly conservative affair. The colonial rebellion was not the work of enraged peasants but of landed gentlemen, who argued their case on the principles of the British constitution by demanding free assembly, trial by jury, and no taxation without representation. Despite pretensions of being "enlightened" – sweeping aside monarchy, aristocracy and the established church – the new republic was never designed to be anything other than an oligarchic state. The political institutions and Constitution mirrored instincts of conservatism and constructed an array of checks and balances motivated by paranoia, suspicion of central government power, and religion that laid the foundation for laissez faire economics.

The expulsion of the British eliminated the constraints of the feudal social order substituting in its place the abstract principles that "all men are created equal" and that power is derived from "the will of the people". The desire to protect and then extend private property rights sanctified by religious superstition led to a type of liberty intended to allow the pursuit of individual aims and wealth unconstrained by government interference. To those who took up the reins of power, government was to be judged not by its ability to promote prosperity but by its capacity to leave people alone to pursue private ends. The principle that personal opportunity should be maximised also struck a chord with Puritanism that saw the acquisition of money as the just result of hard work and "the Lord's blessing".

This moderate civic liberty was deemed more important than any tendency towards democracy, and the architects of the Declaration of Independence – the land and property owners – were quick to construct a system of government based on the division of power that would guard against the "excesses of democracy". They adopted a definition of "the people" which excluded women, non-landowners and slaves.

While it is undoubtedly true that writers like Tom Paine were influential in pushing the colonial revolt further than originally intended, it is also clear that the real beneficiaries of the break with Britain were the landowners and wealthy traders who were able to expand their own wealth without interference. Although Paine's call to arms, based on abstractions and ideals, appealed to the ordinary person, the benefits accrued were material and went to the wealthy.

The "democracy" practised today in America is usually held up as the ultimate symbol of "liberty". But from its outset this system was not envisaged as a condition in which individuals would be kept informed and use the knowledge acquired in the decision making process. On the contrary, this type of "democracy" was constructed as the institutional means to exclude the people from this arena by limiting involvement to the periodic election of someone, normally submissive to a political party, who would make decisions for them.

In capitalist society the media has always had a role to play in the promotion in this kind of vision. The production of a successful newspaper, for example, has always meant that journalistic integrity and editorial objectiveness have been subordinate to the institutional requirement of production for profit. From the moment that newspaper became a commodity and subject to advertising patronage and market forces, the genuine dissemination of information was always going to be the first casualty.

Prevailing ideas

So the media, in America as elsewhere, has a vested interest in driving out all but the most benign opinions and instilling a set of values and a code of behaviour that integrate people into class society. But this does not mean that the media are necessarily part of some conspiracy. While the media's role is to circulate information presented in the context of society's prevailing ideas, which have a strong influence over the way people think, this does not mean that the media originate these ideas. In general, the ideas presented by the media are rooted in the social milieu and are traceable, in the main, to the material conditions and the economic relations of society. The class that controls society's economic structure shapes the institutions that arise in order to manage the economic conditions in its own interests and perpetuate its ascendancy over society. As well as its control over society's coercive powers and the means by which the wage and salary earners live, this class also exercises persuasive powers, based on legal rights, traditions, customs and, as in America, historical myth that works its way into the consciousness of the working class. In a society divided by class, based on economic interests, the prevailing ideas are therefore a reflection of the needs and aspirations of the dominant class, which explains why many members of the working class often think and act in ways that are in contradiction to their real interests. The media therefore speaks not just for itself but for the whole of the capitalist class.

There are two reasons why Moyers' belief that a reformed media can resurrect an abstract vision of "democracy" conjured up from a romanticised image of America's past does not stand up to scrutiny. Firstly, the type of democracy he seems to want has never really existed, and secondly he fails to appreciate that capitalism and genuine democracy can never co-exist. Moyers does not criticise the economic system that compels the media to act in the way it does and does not see that in this system the media cannot operate in any other way – as if in a vacuum, uninfluenced by market forces. Media reform, which tinkers with the detail but leaves the underlying causes firmly entrenched, is, it could even be argued, actually dangerous because it reinforces the belief that capitalism can be made to work in the interests of the working class, when the opposite is patently the case.

Steve Trott

Nonprofit Production: Wave of the Future?

Each year half a million people in India and other tropical countries catch visceral leishmaniasis, also known as black fever (kala-azar). Infected by the bite of a sand fly, they rapidly weaken and lose weight before dying with painfully swollen livers and spleens.

A safe and effective treatment for black fever was found long ago: the antibiotic paromomycin (cure rate 95 percent). But the firm that developed it — Pharmacia, a precursor of Pfizer — shelved it in the 1960s for lack of a "viable market." What that means is that the people who need it cannot afford to pay for it. It is simply not profitable for pharmaceutical companies to fight diseases that afflict the poor. Less than 1 percent of the new drugs developed in 1975–99 were for tropical diseases (Joel Bakan, The Corporation, p. 49).

Lack of effective demand is not the only thing that makes many useful drugs unprofitable. In general, a capitalist can only make big profits by selling drugs on which he has a patent — that is, an exclusive right to make, use, and sell a new product for a certain period (in Britain and the US it is 20 or even 25 years). Firms are not interested in making drugs that cannot be patented, and indeed will go to great lengths to suppress them.

Cancer provides a striking example. The established treatments for cancer — surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy — are destructive, usually ineffective, and weaken the body's natural resistance. Many alternative therapies that are demonstrably safer and more effective are denounced as "quackery" and often banned under pressure from those with a vested interest in the established treatments. One is amygdalin (laetrile), a carbohydrate that occurs in some 1,200 plants throughout the world. Another is the simple off-the-shelf chemical hydrazine sulfate (Ralph W. Moss, The Cancer Industry, Ch. 8, 10). It is precisely the wide availability of such substances that makes them unpatentable and therefore unprofitable.

An interesting recent development is the emergence of a new kind of charity that raises money not just to distribute but to produce things that people need but can't afford. One such organization is the Institute for OneWorld Health (IOWH), founded in San Francisco in 2000 by Dr. Victoria Hale. A pharmaceutical chemist, Dr. Hale had felt frustrated watching the industry abandon badly needed and promising but unprofitable drugs. At about the same time, James Fruchterman, an electrical engineer, set up Benetech, another "nonprofit company," in Palo Alto, California, to produce new types of equipment for the disabled.

The first program of IOWH aims to make paromomycin available to black fever sufferers in the north Indian state of Bihar. The program is being funded (to the tune of $4,700,000) mainly by Bill and Melinda Gates. The Indian government has given its approval and an Indian firm (Gland Pharma of Hyderabad) has agreed to manufacture the drug at cost. Other programs are planned to tackle Chagas disease, malaria, and diarrhea.
It is hard not to sympathize with well-meaning projects of this kind. But we also have to consider the problems faced by nonprofit organizations as they operate under the constraints of a profit-driven economy.

The first problem is how to raise enough money. IOWH is asking the Gates for another $30 million. They can't take out loans or raise funds on the capital market because that would force them to operate on a profit-oriented basis. But unfortunately only a few of the very wealthy are willing to give to charity on a really major scale and the demands made on those few are legion. And doesn't it seem perverse first to accumulate profit and then use it to ameliorate the ills constantly generated by that same profit-making process? Does the left hand know what the right hand is up to?

It also bears noting that the paromomycin is not going to be provided free of charge. The aim is only to make it as affordable as possible. Dr. Hale hopes to keep the cost down to $10 for a 21-day course of treatment, but the website of the World Health Organization merely says "below $50." We shall see. The point is that in the context of India — and especially in that of Bihar, India's poorest state — these are by no means paltry sums. The average per capita income in Bihar is $120 (5,500 rupees) a year. As the distribution of income is highly unequal, even $10 will be well beyond the means of many sufferers.

In his enthusiastic report in The Guardian Weekly (October 20-26, 2006, p. 29), Ken Burnett asks why nonprofit pharmaceutical companies should not be followed by nonprofit seed companies, water companies, travel companies, and so on. Why not, indeed? But if this is supposed to be a process that develops under capitalism, we can't avoid asking: "Where is the money coming from?" So far all we have is one small nonprofit pharmaceutical company and one small nonprofit engineering firm.

Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see people trying to move in this direction, people who crave meaningful work for the benefit of the community. The very existence of nonprofit companies is a protest against and challenge to the system of production for profit. We would only take the argument to the next logical step. Why not extend the principle of production for need to the world economy as a whole?


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Marxian Theories Of Economic Crises

This education document will principally look at some of the theories that have been put forward to explain why periods of relative economic prosperity are regularly and sometimes violently interrupted by periods of economic downturn. -SPGB

Keynes and government intervention

In his 1935 Genera Theory of Employment, Interest and Money Keynes argued that slumps are caused by a lack of effective demand in the economy. Like Karl Marx, Keynes rejected Say's law that "every seller brings a buyer to market". Keynes saw that profits did not automatically have to be spent and could be hoarded or saved, thereby causing a dislocation in production. Keynes argued that in a slump there is generalised overproduction, that is, that existing production and output has outstripped effective market demand. He argued that this arose because investors find that it is not in their interests to invest further, and decide to hoard their money instead. Keynes also held that the higher someone's income, the lower their "propensity to consume" would be: they would spend proportionately less of their income as it increased, and save proportionately more. Indeed, he came to believe that a too unequal distribution of income alone could lead to a permanent slump if nothing was done about it.

The solution Keynes put forward to this apparent problem is important as it came to be taken up, at least in theory, by all the major political parties in this country and many others elsewhere, during and after the Second World War. Keynes's solution was not a simple one, but comprised three basic parts.

The first step demanded by Keynes of governments when faced with a slump was that they should increase their expenditure and run budget deficits. The state's spending more than it collected in revenue from taxation, Keynes thought, would serve to inject additional demand into the economy - demand, in a slump, that is lacking. This was interpreted by the Labour, Tory and Liberal parties in their 1944 White Paper on Employment Policy to mean that when unemployment and recession threatened:

"We should at once increase expenditure, both on consumption and on development i.e. both on consumer goods and capital goods. We should give people more money and not less to spend. If need be we should borrow to cover government expenditure. We need no aim at balancing the budget year by year".

The second aspect of Keynes's plan for capitalism without slumps was that the system of taxation should also be changed. Those with higher incomes and a lower propensity to consume and a tendency to hoard and save a significant part of their income, would be taxed more and those on low incomes would be taxed less. This re-distribution was again intended to increase consumption and market demand.

The third major idea put forward by Keynes was that it was no longer necessary for governments to "watch and control" the creation of currency. The resulting printing of an excess of paper currency has been the real cause of the persistent rise in the price level in this country since 1940 or thereabouts.

These Keynesian theories on how to avoid a slump held almost unchallenged sway until the 1970s. The idea that governments can intervene in the economy to provide employment and offset a slump stems largely from Keynes. However, since the mid 1970s governments in Britain have tended to distance themselves from Keynes.

Keynes abandoned

Neither the Conservative Party nor the Labour Party now believe in the whole Keynesian package. Why is this? The answer lies in the practical failure of Keynesian policies to offset economic recessions wherever they have been applied. The most notable attempt to put Keynes's ideas into practice in this country occurred in 1974 when the newly-elected Labour government under Harold Wilson ran huge budget deficits, increased government expenditure and greatly expanded the note issue to literally give people more money to spend. When the policy was embarked upon, unemployment was rising towards the now relatively low level of about 750,000. Three years later, after this policy had been applied, unemployment was at 1.6 million. It had more than doubled. This type of experience has been repeated many times in other countries such as France, where Mitterand in 1981-82 did the same thing and eventually had to abandon his attempt at using Keynesian policy to avert a slump because it proved ineffective in the face of rising unemployment.

What happened during the 1970s and early 1980s was that Keynesian policy clearly failed when put to a practical test. In addition, its adherents had no real theoretical answer to the appearance across much of the world of what the economists call "stagflation" - rising unemployment and industrial stagnation coupled with persistently-rising prices. In Keynesian theory unemployment and stagnation were a product of deficient demand, while rising prices were the product of an excess of demand in the economy. So a situation where prices are sharply rising at the same time as the economy is in a recession cannot be explained in terms of Keynesian theory.

Although only political mavericks and those on the wilder reaches of Labour's left-wing now still unashamedly use the language of Keynes, his influence has remained to the extent that many still hold the view that governments can, by their manipulation of the economy, avert a depression.

Back to Marx

The fact of the matter is that if you are looking for reasons why there are recessions, and how that situation can be ended, you will look in vain to the capitalist political parties whose aim it is to see that the profit system works efficiently and who promise that they can make it work smoothly without periods of economic downturn.

To get a proper understanding of the phenomenon of recessions you have to look back to someone the press and TV tell us has been discredited and whose influence in the world is supposed to have been wholly bad - Karl Marx. It was Marx who developed a real understanding of how the capitalist system operates and why it constantly fails to live up to the hopes of the politicians who preside over it.

Marx argued that "capitalist production moves through certain periodical cycles. It moves through a state of quiescence, growing animation, prosperity, over trade, crisis and stagnation" (Value, Price and Profit, chapter XIII). He showed that capitalism's drive towards expansion is not a straight upward line but proceeded through cycles. Though there is a general upward trend in terms of total production, this is necessarily punctuated by periods in which production falls and unemployment grows. This analysis is, of course, in line with capitalist reality. Throughout its history capitalism has developed in this way. No-one has prevented slumps from happening or been able to ensure permanent boom conditions. That much is self-evident.

Marx himself did not leave a fully worked-out theory of why crises and depressions happen; a subject he proposed to deal with at length in the projected 6th volume of Capital. However, in part of his published analysis of the laws of motion of the capitalist system, Marx did leave behind some clear ideas and pointers as to why crises and recessions inevitably occur under capitalism.

Most writers and political organisations, claiming to stand in the Marxist tradition, have tended to put one of two basic types of view about crises and recessions. The first is that it is the falling rate of profit due to technical progress that is the cause of crises and slumps. The second sees slumps being the product of the restricted consumption of the working class. Both views are inadequate.

Falling rate of profit

The rate of profit is the rate of return on invested capital. It is expressed by the formula: S/(C + V), or surplus value (the unpaid labour of the working class), divided by constant capital (investment in machines, buildings, raw materials etc) plus variable capital (wages and salaries).

Surplus value arises solely from the variable part of the total capital, but as capitalism progresses technically so the amount of capital invested in machines and materials and the like will tend to rise. This means that the source of surplus value, variable capital, declines relative to constant capital and, other things being equal, so will the rate of surplus value to total capital.

Marx's wrote about the tendency of the average rate of profit to fall in response to the views of classical economists such as Ricardo and John Stuart Mill, who had contemplated the eventual stagnation of the capitalist mode of production because the rate of profit would fall so low. Marx showed why this would be a very distant prospect since the tendency of the average rate of profit to fall in capitalism would be a very slow process indeed.

For Marx, the falling rate of profit was not an inexorable law of capitalism, but simply a tendency that could be slowed, and even reversed, by countervailing factors. These counter-tendencies generally involve cheapening the elements of constant capital or increasing the amount of surplus value extracted from the workers either by increasing productivity and the intensity of work or by lengthening of the working day through the introduction of shift work and so on (see Capital Vol III, chapter 14).

Despite this, a number of organisations insist that the long-term tendency for the average rate of profit to fall is central to Marx's explanation of economic crises. This is, by and large, the view taken by the SWP (see, for instance, Explaining the Crisis by Chris Harman, Bookmarks, 1986), by the RCG (see The Revolutionary Road to Communism in Britain, Larkin Publications, 1984) and others, and it comes as no surprise that, whenever capitalism is in crisis, they argue that the final state of stagnation has been reached, or is just around the corner.

In reality, of course, capitalism has not had a final crisis or breakdown. Nor is it true that a long-term fall in the average rate of profit is the causal explanation of crises and depressions. For this to be so, technical progress in capitalism, and the increase in constant capital relative to variable capital, would have to be extraordinarily rapid, and in practice it rarely, if ever, is. The tendency of the rate of profit to fall due to technical progress has therefore to be dismissed as a cause of crises.

Not enough surplus value?

A more interesting variant on "the tendency of the falling rate of profit as a cause of crises" view is the one which focuses on the falling rate of profit in conjunction with the idea that the onset of a crisis corresponds to a period of insufficient production of surplus value. This is the view associated with writers like Paul Mattick (see his Marx and Keynes, Merlin Press, 1980 and Economic Crisis and Crisis Theory, Merlin Press, 1981) and from a general theoretical point of view it does have a limited validity.

This theory is valid in the sense that, in theory, after a prolonged period of capitalist prosperity the reserve army of labour could all but disappear, forcing wages up which would cut into profits and lower the rate of profit itself. Whether this has actually been the cause of any crisis in recent years in a country like Britain is rather more open to question. The international mobility of labour ensures that the reserve army of labour is not entirely depleted in a period of boom. There is also the fact that there are millions of women workers, housewives and others who ebb and flow on the fringes of the labour market.

There are other difficulties associated with the view that crises are a product of rising wages cutting into profits. After all, if this is the cause of a crisis then the solution would appear to lie in increasing the production of surplus value by increasing the exploitation of the working class. This would most likely involve cuts in real pay for the workers, leading to increased profits. It should be obvious that, if taken far enough, this argument can degenerate into pure Tory Party-style propaganda along the lines of "wages are the real cause of the crisis; if the workers and trades unions would forgo wage increases then the problem would be solved".

What this view overlooks is that when a crisis occurs, simply increasing the production of surplus value is not the major precondition for a return to a boom situation. In a capitalist crisis there is an overproduction of commodities for market sale, so there will already be large stock-piles of commodities that no-one can buy. There can, therefore, be little to gain by reducing the effective demand of the working class through pay cuts so that investment can be increased even further and more commodities can be produced when there is no-one willing or able to buy them.

Nor is there any empirical evidence to suggest that when a crisis has begun and unemployment starts to rise wage restraint can provide a solution. Far from it. When the last Labour government imposed wage restraint after an economic crisis unemployment continued to rise steadily, and that has been an experience repeated on innumerable occasions across the globe.


The second type of view on the cause of crises and depressions put by some of those in the Marxist tradition is that crises are caused by underconsumption. It has been put in a variety of forms by a variety of people, but perhaps most notably of all by Rosa Luxemburg in her book The Accumulation of Capital. Today it is held by organisations like the International Communist Current who say that capitalism is in a state of imminent collapse (see ICC publication The Decadence of Capitalism).

Rosa Luxemburg's particular theory, which is probably the underconsumption theory of crises most frequently put today, was that capitalism would collapse because of an inability to sell all that was produced. She argued that demand was simply a reflection of consumption (as the amount consumed by the working class and capitalists added together) so that if part of the profits of the capitalist class are re-invested rather than consumed, then consumption and overall demand are reduced. The result of this is that there is nobody who can buy the products in which the re-invested profits are embodied. Luxemburg's argument was therefore that accumulation and expansion are impossible under "pure" capitalism, and that capitalism relies on non-capitalist areas of the world to buy the surplus product. As she wrote: "as capital approaches the point where humanity only consists of capitalists and proletarians, further accumulation will become impossible".

Those who have accepted Luxemburg's reasoning have put the view that capitalism became a world system around the start of the First World War and that ever since it has struggled to find markets in which the surplus product can be realised in the ever-diminishing non-capitalist periphery of the world. On this theory, the crisis of capitalism is a permanent one and is reflected in a global saturation of markets that can only be temporarily broken through world war and the reconstruction that would follow such a war.

This explanation of capitalist crises is far from adequate. The main reason for this is that demand in capitalism is not, as Luxemburg intended, simply determined by the combined consumption of the workers and capitalists. Overall demand is not determined by the consumption of the workers and capitalists but by this plus the investment of the capitalists (what they spend on new means of production rather than on consumer goods for themselves). There is therefore no permanent surplus production in Luxemburg's sense and no global saturation of markets. In any case, the reason for recurring crises and depressions cannot be found simply in the sale of commodities on the market any more than it can be solely found in the sphere of production.

Marx's explanation

The actual explanation of crises and depressions put forward by Marx, particularly in Vol II of Capital recognizes that capitalist crises are simultaneously problems of production and of the realisation of surplus value on the market. The explanation of slumps suggested by Marx does not simply rely on a long-term tendency which may or may not be operating at any given time nor on the entirely mistaken view that capitalist production will always tend to outstrip total market demand.

The explanation suggested by Marx goes to the root nature of the capitalist mode of production itself. Capitalism differs from other modes of production such as feudalism or chattel slavery in that under these previous forms of class society, most production was carried on for use. Capitalism, having separated the producers from the means of production and only allowing them access to them via the exploitative wages system, promotes productive activity only when goods can be sold on a market with the expectation of profit.

Decisions about production - from what is to be produced, to how much of it should be produced and where - are not taken with the satisfaction of human needs in mind. Decisions about production are decisions to produce those goods that appear the most likely to procure a profit when sold on the market, at any given moment.

This drive to procure a monetary profit is not essentially a product of the desire of the capitalists to have a luxurious lifestyle. If a capitalist or group of capitalists are to stay in business they must accumulate capital to expand and survive against their competitors. It is this process of re-investment that uses up much of the profits made by the capitalist class.

It is in this way - through the exploitation of workers, the profitable sale of commodities, and the accumulation of capital - that capitalism is able to expand and develop the means of production. But this expansion is not planned expansion. The operation of capitalism is not planned at the level of the whole economy. Decisions about investment and production are made by thousands of competing enterprises operating independently of social control or regulation.

The unplanned nature of production, or the anarchy of production as Marx called it, is at the heart of Marx's explanation of why capitalism is periodically beset by crises and depressions. Because production is not socially regulated, some enterprises will eventually invest and expand production to such an extent that not all of the commodities produced can be sold on the market at a profit. In the drive to accumulate capital as rapidly as possible they over-anticipate market demand and expand their productive capacity beyond that which the market can absorb. Unsold goods begin to pile up. Expected profits are not realised, and production has to be curtailed. This, of course, will have a knock-on effect. The enterprises' suppliers will be faced with reduced demand and will no longer be able to sell all their products either, and this in turn will affect their suppliers' suppliers and so on.

The size and nature of the enterprises or industries which over-invest and over-expand their productive capacity in this manner will, of course, affect the nature of the crisis. A small number of peripheral enterprises over-expanding and perhaps going bankrupt will not have nearly the impact of one or more key industries over-expanding. Indeed it is one or more key industries over-expanding for the market that is the usual cause of a capitalist crisis and subsequent slump.

In his own elaboration of this view, Marx divided capitalist production into two main sectors (see Capital Vol II, chapters 20 and 21):

DEPT I, producing means of production or what are sometimes called "capital goods", and

DEPT II, producing means of consumption, or "consumer goods".

Marx's explanation of crisis was complicated enough, but the actual division of capitalist industry is, of course, much more complicated than this simple two-sector model. Marx's aim, though, was to show that for capitalist accumulation and growth to be achieved steadily, then there would have to be a balanced growth between these two departments of production. Put simply, if say the consumer goods sector expands disproportionately more than the capital goods sector, then at some point the enterprises in that sector will not be able to sell all their products and will have to cut back on production and orders of capital goods causing general crisis to break out.

Where this two-sector model is rather a simplification is that, if capitalist growth is to be smooth, all sectors or sub-sectors of the economy must expand in a balanced and proportionate manner. But because of the general anarchy of production in the capitalist system there will inevitably be a disproportionate investment and a disproportionate growth between the various sectors of the economy. When capitalists invest to expand production, they do not objectively consider the needs of the other sectors of the economy; they are interested in the rate of return they can get on their own investments and it is not therefore surprising that over-investment and over-expansion takes place in key sectors of the economy. It occurred in key industries in the consumer goods sector before the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and it has recently occurred in a number of those enterprises and industries that expanded at a fast pace in the 1980s, particularly micro-electronics, computing, information technology and so on.

How slumps end

Let us now look now at what happens once the crisis has occurred and the slump phase of the economic cycle has been entered. One of the most important factors to consider when capitalism is moving from one stage of its trade cycle to another is the rate of profit - or, to be more precise, short to medium term fluctuations in the rate of profit (as opposed to the long-term tendency discussed in a previous section for the average rate of profit to fall due to the replacement of variable capital with constant capital).

During a crisis and at the onset of a slump the rate of profit on investments will fall dramatically as firms are unable to sell all that has been produced and so are unable to realise surplus value embodied in them. But this decline in the rate of profit is not permanent; it is part of the economic cycle, and during a slump conditions eventually begin to emerge which point towards an increase in the rate of profit and renewed investment. No slump is ever permanent. This is because during a slump three basic things happen.

The first is that a number of enterprises will go bankrupt and their assets will be bought cheaply by their rivals. The result of this is a depreciation of the capital invested in them leading to a halt, and eventual reversal, in the decline of the rate of profit. An important factor in this is the decline in the value of the stocks that have built up towards the end of the boom, during the crisis and in the early stages of the slump.

The second thing to happen in a slump is that there is the re-appearance of a large reserve army of labour which makes an increase in the rate of exploitation possible. There will probably be a halt in the growth of real wages and perhaps even a cut, which will serve to increase the rate of profit without, at this stage of the economic cycle, damaging the prospects for realisation of surplus value on the markets, because capital depreciation and destruction of stocks will have been taking place and the supply of commodities will have been curtailed.

The third factor is interest rates. As the slump develops, interest rates will tend to fall naturally as the demand for money capital falls away. This will have a beneficial impact on the rate of industrial profit and, in conjunction with the other two factors, will improve the prospects for investment and expansion.

Because of these three factors - capital depreciation, an increase in the rate of exploitation, and naturally falling interest rates in a slump - enterprises will start expanding production again as investment picks up and as demand for products grows, with more workers being employed again. This will lift the economy out of the slump phase of the cycle, and industry will be in the state of growing animation referred to by Marx that occurs before a boom. The cycle will then have come full circle.

The important thing about all this is that the crisis and depression phases of the economic cycle do not occur because something has "gone wrong" with the operation of the capitalist economy. On the contrary; they are in fact an entirely necessary feature of the development of capitalism, serving to rid the system of its more inefficient enterprises where returns on investments are low, and thereby promoting investment and expansion in those enterprises fit enough to survive. Far from being an instance of capitalism "going wrong" in some way, slumps show that capitalism is working normally and in accordance with its own economic laws and mechanisms of development.

State planning no solution

Crises and depressions are inevitable features of the capitalist system of production. However, there is one objection that has been put to this. If slumps are caused by disproportions of production leading to short-term falls in the rate of profit and overproduction of commodities for the available market, then surely the answer to capitalism's trade cycle lies in trying to plan production so that disproportionalities and periodic over-expansion do not occur. In other words, if the root cause of economic crises is the anarchy of production, why not institute a bit of planning? Why can't capitalism be planned through cartels or monopolies and through the widespread nationalisation of industry?

There are two basic answers to this objection. The first is that planning capitalism down to every investment decision, every price, every wage and so on is impossible. Planning every aspect of economic activity under some sort of totalitarian state capitalism as has existed in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, simply can't be done. Admittedly, Russia, China, Albania and other countries had a good try, but it is now generally agreed that this did not stop unbalanced growth and overproduction for market demand occurring.

In fact, now that most of the Stalinists have given up the ghost, the last defenders of planned capitalism are to be found, perhaps not surprisingly, in the Trotskyist movement. Here's the Belgian Trotskyist Ernest Mandel writing about the Soviet Union:

"From1928 onwards growth really was regular and uninterrupted . . . unlike the capitalist economy, the USSR has experienced no recession, no crisis of overproduction leading to an absolute fall in production for more than half a century" ("A Theory Which Has No Withstood the Test of Facts" in International Socialism 49, December 1990).

Mandel is looking at Russia through rather rose-tinted spectacles. If we take the period 1966-74, for instance, when a slump was beginning to break out in the West, the difference between growth rates in minimum growth years and maximum growth years averaged 50 per cent in East Germany, 100 per cent in Bulgaria, 130 per cent in Russia and 228 per cent in Poland! So much for steady balanced growth and being able to entirely plan away the capitalist trade cycle.

Apart from the practical difficulties of trying to plan capitalism in the fashion of the former state-capitalist countries, there is another reason why state-capitalist planning can represent no long-term solution to the problems of capitalist development.

Although the former state-capitalist economies were unable to escape the capitalist trade cycle, the operation of these economies was different in some respects from the Western-style private enterprise-based capitalism. This was because they were not subject to the direct operation of Marx's law of value. Prices often did not at all reflect the labour value of commodities and inefficient enterprises were not penalised and purged from the system as they are in the West. The process by which a slump serves as a means to future development by eliminating the weakest productive units did not apply.

What tends to happen where there is widespread state capitalism is that inefficient enterprises and productive methods are supported, wastage is tolerated, and new technology in most sectors only gets introduced at a slow pace. In short, the "purging" benefits of a full-blown capitalist slump are lost.

The state intervenes to offset the development of mass unemployment, and does this by directing capital towards inefficient units of production and through planned over-staffing and so on, at the expense of the more efficient sectors of the economy that have to support the inefficient sectors. Thus, there is an attempt to "cheat" the law of value. In the long run, this can only have disastrous consequences for the development and growth of the economy as a whole. Stagnation sets in and, as events have shown, eventually threatens the stability of the political structure and the position of the privileged ruling class. Attempts at planning capitalism's anarchy of production have always ended in disaster, often bloody disaster, and state-run capitalism does not represent a solution to the problems of the capitalist economy - by offsetting some of the worst effects of slumps, it can only make such problems worse in the long run.

Production solely for use

As Karl Marx himself realised, the only lasting solution to crises and depressions, and for that matter the other problems that beset the capitalist system, is socialism. Government tinkering and state planning are no answer. A social transformation needs to take place so that production will no longer be carried out for profit and so that articles of wealth will be produced for use and not for sale on the market. We all know through experience that capitalism can't be planned and cannot ensure the well-being of all members of society. Only socialism can do that by removing the capitalists' ownership and control of the means of living and by ensuring that the anarchy of production is removed by the abolition of profits and wages, prices and money.

Production for use without the operation of the market mechanism and the perennial search for profits is the way to solve the problems of economic instability and crises of overproduction. In socialism production can be regulated without any of the destructive effects of capitalist crises and depressions. Any overproduction that occurs will be in relation to real needs and not to the market where needs only count if they are backed up by money. In fact, production for use could make a permanent stockpile of useful materials available, to be topped up as and when necessary.

Overproduction, should it occur, would not present the same problem for socialism as it does for capitalism. Only a truly perverse society could find periodic over-expansion and overproduction of goods a problem at the same time as millions and millions throughout the world are going without. That is why socialists urge workers to put an end to the anarchic capitalist system of production which has outlived its usefulness for humankind and now stands as a barrier and a fetter on future human progress.


Socialist Party publications
Marxian Economics pamphlet, 1978.
"The Economic Crisis - The Marxian Explanation" , World Socialist No 1, April 1984. Socialist Standard:
"Crises, Catastrophe and Mr Strachey", March 1957. "Further Reflections on Crises", April 1957. "The Keynesian Myth", February 1966.
"Why They Want More Unemployed", November 1966. "Inquest ..nes", April 1968.
"Rosa Luxemburg and the Collapse of Capitalism", January 1969. "Marx and Engels and the Collapse of Capitalism", February 1969. "Marx and Keynes on Unemployment", June 1971. "The End of Full Employment", November 1971. "Unemployment - Fact and Myth", February 1973. "How Capitalism Works", January-May 1979. "The Great Crash of 1929", October 1979. "The Economics of Unemployment", September 1980. "Capitalism's Crisis Cycle", October 1982. "Marx's Financial Articles", December 1983. "Crises, Booms and Slumps", March l991.

Other Publications
Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, especially Part VII. Karl Marx, Capital, Volume II, especially Part III. Karl Marx, Capital, Volume III, especially Part III and Part V. Karl Marx, Theories of Surplus Value, especially Part Two, chapter XVII. Ernest Mandel, Marxist Economic Theory, Volume 1. Thomas Sowell, Marxism: Philosophy and Economics, chapter 6, 1985. Sydney Coontz, Productive Labour and Effective Demand, 1965. Anton Pannekoek, "The Theory of the Collapse of Capitalism", Capital and Class, Spring 1977.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Who Cares?

From the April 2008 issue of the Socialist Standard

As the US presidential election circus passes, people continue to suffer even in the US

It's the US presidential election year. Populations of the world take notice. The media circus is in full flow and the season is a long one. The mainstream media love a good fight and will pounce on any juicy morsel, wringing it to death in the cause of democracy – Clinton's moment with tears in her eyes or the decision or non-decision to show some cleavage; Obama's plagiarizing or agreed borrowing of phrases from a third party's speech – grist to the mill of information for the masses, essential in the common voter's decision making process. Who do we think will make the toughest Commander in Chief and be able to make the 'hard' decisions? It appears the aim is to keep the public's eyes as far away from reality and the real issues as possible. Deflect their attention whilst hypnotising them into believing their vote will actually make a difference in any significant area of their lives.

Even the more serious 'liberal' or 'progressive' US media are spending an inordinate amount of time and space debating and dissecting which sections of the population will vote for (1) a black, or (2) a woman. The fact that they are from the same party and broadly back the same agenda – and may ultimately stand on the same ticket – is less important than speculating about in which direction the various sections of the electorate are likely to be swayed either by popular appeal and endorsement of celebrities or by muck-raking and negative campaign advertisements.

Seemingly disconnected from the multi-million dollar, multi-media frenzy of the race for the presidency can be found other articles given over to topics not covered in the mainstream media but which ought to be in the forefront for the presidential candidates, the whole electorate and the rest of the world. Writers of several articles recently have investigated the care of physically injured or mentally scarred US troops returning from Iraq, and have revealed some chilling truths. Last year conditions at the Walter Reed Medical Centre, a military hospital, became so bad that it entered the realm of international coverage for a short time. Equipment was in short supply, specialists were leaving, the unit was seriously underfunded leading to lack of appropriate care for seriously wounded patients and a Pentagon Mental Health Task Force deemed its staffing level "woefully inadequate". Bush made promises that it would be sorted and the hue and cry died away. Fairly early on in the conflict in Iraq some doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors recognised that significant numbers of military personnel were suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially if they had had to undergo a second or third term of duty. Many were simply given a course of drug therapy, a pep-talk and sent back to their unit or, whilst in the US between tours, some of them, with impeccable records and commendations for heroic action, developed problems with drugs, alcohol, gambling, writing bad cheques and ended up in military jail, some losing rank and others being discharged dishonourably.

In the early days counsellors and psychiatrists were pressed not to accept PTSD, certainly not to register it on record, rather to rebrand the affliction as 'Personality Disorder' and to suggest that those so afflicted were obviously unstable before they entered the military and were consequently kicked out of the service. Eventually after pressure from certain quarters thousands, rather than the original few dozen, were accepted as bona fide sufferers of PTSD and were put on a list to await treatment. But still denial of PTSD persists, especially in the Marine Corps which has "a deeply macho culture". It is 93% male, 66% of whom are 25 or younger and 13% are teenagers. One civilian psychiatrist who treats Iraq and Afghanistan veterans tells of young veterans being ridiculed by their chain of command if they asked for help.

The Pentagon's Mental Health Task Force reported last June that 31% of marines serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from traumatic stress and that marine suicide rates have been above average since the invasion of Afghanistan. (32 active duty suicides in the Marine Corps in 2004, no mention of the number among veterans). There are severe shortcomings in providing care for those who do qualify. A year after the Marine Corps' review of less-than-honourable discharges recommended screening all marines and sailors who commit 'particularly uncharacteristic misconduct' following deployment the programme has not yet started because they lack the manpower.

Before the severely wounded or traumatised arrive back in the US they are transported to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre in Germany. The Air Force colonel who was chief of medical operations in the Europe headquarters for 2 years, 2004-6 said "politics infused every aspect of care" and that the funding was the worst she had seen in 20 years in the military. They weren't allowed to increase staffing because it would give the wrong message, that it would look like they were expecting more casualties. They weren't allowed to send the visibly wounded home on commercial planes because it might upset US citizens to see them and the military planes were so cold that charity appeals were made in order to provide hats, scarves and mittens for the wounded. Mittens, because they fit wounded hands better than gloves.

Here's the rub – this huge military set-up with an annual budget of billions, desperately recruiting from all quarters, promising college educations for free and later reneging, promising full US citizenship to non-citizens and then reneging and promising full support to veterans and reneging wherever possible. The reason PTSD is a contentious diagnosis is because it means that sufferers are entitled to full support, free drugs and veterans' benefits for life (i.e. expensive). If it can be reduced to 'personality disorder' they can be thrown out and denied entitlement. If they can be recommended for an 'other-than-honourable' discharge (for drug use whilst recovering or other misdemeanours) notwithstanding an exemplary service record, veterans' benefits would be denied, including healthcare, for life.

The bottom line, soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, don't kid yourselves about patriotism or fighting terrorists or protecting your country. When was war any different? It's just the workers protecting the interests of their masters. It's the same for you as it is for the rest of us. You're simply there to be used, abused and paid as little as they can get away with. These are the issues that should be engaging the media circus, placing them squarely in front of the electorate and the presidential candidates. But they aren't and they won't be because the mass media supports the status quo. Will the workers ever learn?

Janet Surman

Saturday, April 19, 2008

SEIU/Labor Notes - Update

The WSP has just received a copy of a letter sent to Marchel Smiley, the President of the African-American Caucus (AFRAM) of the Service Employees Industrial Union (SEIU). The letter, signed by 4 SEIU-AFRAM officers accuses the SEIU staff of inviting only African-American SEIU members and their families to a “rally”. The rally was actually the Labor Notes conference. The letter goes on to accuses SEIU staff of being dishonest as to reason for the trip and putting members and their families in harms’ way.

The SEIU is in the middle on conflict between it and the California Nurses Association as well as internal faction fight between the California based United Healthcare Workers - West (UHW-W) and the National Board of the SEIU. The signatories of this letter are all members of UHW-W. We have no reason to disbelieve their serious claims but acknowledge that they are likely using the information in that internal fight.

Another piece of information not yet circulating in the discussion was the sudden heart attack death of SEIU member, Richard Price, on the bus coming home from the Labor Notes confrontation.

This letter is circulating in Detroit Labor e-mail lists and can be downloaded as a .pdf below:

Letter to SEIU-AFRAM President

Nepal Elections: Waskowy Maowists Win! [updated]

Ah, Maoists.. They always claim they are more clever than us and call us “arm-chair” types. They are always swimming with the people, or against the current, but never pissing in the pool or skipping down the capitalist road.

And after years of political defeats and military victories, Maoists have taken control of Nepal.

Glorious Nepal, the workers’ homeland.

After 10 years of “people’s war” the Nepali Communist Party (Maoist) has marched upon Kathmandu - wearing bourgeois clothing. They won a majority in the Constituent Assembly.

No wonder that the primary international Maoist news outlet hasn’t been updated in 2 months.

Capitalist Roaders here we come!

Yes, here are some quotes:

The Maoists central leadership has said that the party which has swung the country’s politics during the freshly concluded CA poll will not deviate from the “globalization and liberalization” process that was on in the world today.

Outlining the would be economic policy of the Maoists party when in power, Comrade Prachanda said that “we will not confiscate the properties of the owners contrary to what has been disseminated in order to malign the Maoist party”.

According to him, after the political revolution that has just finished, the Maoists will henceforth concentrate its entire efforts aimed at bringing about what he called “economic revolution in the country”.

Rest assured, we are in favor of the capitalist economy”, Prachanda said.

Talking on the Maoists militias, Prachanda said that they could be used as “industrial security force” time permitting…

And this from the Nepali Times 16 Apr 200

We want to fully assure international investors already in Nepal that we welcome them here, and we will work to make the investment climate even better than it is now. Just watch, the labour-management climate will improve in our time in office. What happened in the past two years with the unions happened during a transition phase….


Glorious Criticism of the NCP-M must now be conducted by the WSP(US)!

Maoism’s final collapse into out-and-out capitalism doesn’t surprise us at all. Nor their becoming an “industrial security force.”

We called it back in 1955 on the original Maoists in China.

Socialists think that promoting the understanding of the meaning of socialism in the majority of working class heads is of more importance in achieving socialism than the bludgeoning of working class heads (by the maoists - fnb) to achieve economic progress…The Chinese state, unhindered by any organized opposition of the workers will attempt to secure this labor-power bat a rate lower than it’s value…Socialism is far from being established in China, (it) is merely following the industrialization pattern of countries like Japan and Russia.

While someday Chinese will produce automobiles (and) will produce all the various consumer and capital goods that the west produces… the status of Chinese workers will still be that of workers the world over - wage slaves… (Western Socialist, Jan-Feb 1955)


On the Petit-Bourgeois Personality Cult…

Our only other comment is to ask if it was it is just a coincidence that Chairman Bob of the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party (USA) appeared on the earth at the same time as Elmer Fudd and became poltically active just as Elmer Fudd retired.

We think not…


But wait - there’s more!

From the Elmer Fudds of the World People’s Resistance Movement in the EU a mere 2 years ago …

“The World People’s Resistance Movement (WPRM) sees the revolution in Nepal as the most advanced struggle against imperialism in the world today . The existence of genuine People’s power there has profound implications for the people’s struggle against imperialism around the world. International solidarity will become a meaningless phrase if people around the world do not unite to oppose foreign intervention in Nepal and support the gains the people’s struggle there was won at the cost of great sacrifice . The battle shapping up around Nepal will undoubtedly be one of the historic struggles of the first half of 21st century – and it is one we must dare to wage and seek to win !”


The cartoons used in this article are from Jay Kinney’s work “Red Guard Romance”. Except for Chairman Bob of the RCP, he’s just cartoonish. We recommend Kinney’s work for a good laugh.

Friday, April 18, 2008

South African unionists refuse to move Chinese arms bound for Zimbabwe [updated]

A boat carrying an arms shipment destined for Zimbabwe is anchored at the South African port of Durban. However the South African Transport Workers’ Union has already announced that their members will not offload any of the cargo, nor will any of their truckers transport it. The shipment containing “3 million rounds of ammunition for AK47 rifles (the standard assault weapon for the country’s defence forces), 1,500 rocket propelled grenades, a support weapon for the infantry, and 3,500 mortar bombs is one of two coming from Chinese para-statal Ocean State Shipping company, the other of which is reported as being en route to Beira, Mozambique.

Amidst reports that AK47 wielding supporters of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF roam the country attempting to intimidate opposition supporters, and President Mugabe remaining adament he will remain in power, the South African trade unionists have announced they disagree with South Africa remaining neutral in the conflict, and have refused to move the arms that they believe could be used against opponents of Mugabe.

The South African Government is refusing to intervene in the transportation of arms, saying that any interference would jeopardise their role in facilitating talks with Mugabe. After several private logistics firms backed out of transporting the shipment, citing the inability of the Zimbabwean Government to pay, South African state-owned Armscor’s transport wing, AB Logistics has been approached with the job. South African Defence secretary January Masilela confirmed that the scrutiny committee of the national conventional arms-control committee, which he chairs, had approved the conveyance permit already, and that the cargo would need to be inspected and have a permit endorsed by the committee when it meets next month.It has also been reported that 10 Chinese soldiers armed with pistols have been seen in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital.


Scottish Sunday Herald (Apr. 20)

Dock workers and police send China arms ship packing from South African port

Unions successfully defy President Mbeki's wishesFrom Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg

A CHINESE ship carrying arms for President Robert Mugabe's government in Zimbabwe was today steaming northwards through the Indian Ocean after dockers and police in the South African port of Durban refused to unload the cargo vessel.

The ship's departure came as Zimbabwe yesterday began a partial recount of votes from the March 29 elections, despite opposition efforts to block the move and widespread fears that political stalemate could erupt into violence.

The recount in 23 of 210 constituencies could overturn the results of the parliamentary election, which have not so far been officially announced. It is generally believed that they show Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF clearly losing its majority to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change for the first time.

"The vote recounting process has started, and it's going to be a thorough exercise. We expect it to take about three days," said an official from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

The commission says some foreign observers will be allowed to monitor the recount, but concerns continue in the West and among the opposition that Mugabe's government is planning to rig the outcome.

A delegation from the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) will be present, with South Africa's foreign affairs deputy director-general for Africa, Kingsley Mamabolo, leading the mission. It is unclear, however, when the results of the recount, which includes votes cast in the presidential election, will be announced.

Meanwhile, the humiliating retreat of the Chinese vessel the An Yue Jiang may yet come to be seen as a turning point in the struggle to bring an end to the 29-year Mugabe regime.

The dockers and police defied South African president Thabo Mbeki and his African National Congress (ANC) government, who said the 77 tonnes of weapons for the Mugabe government aboard the An Yue Jiang were legal cargo and would be transported 1000 miles overland northwards to Zimbabwe.

The South African government gave customs clearance for the weapons, which include more than three million rounds of AK-47 rifle ammunition, 1500 rocket-propelled grenades and more than 3000 mortar rounds and launchers.

But Randall Howard, general secretary of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), to which the Durban dockers belong, warned: "As far as we are concerned, the containers will not be offloaded. The ship must return to China. If they the Mbeki government bring replacement labour to do the work, our members will not stand and look at them and smile."

South Africa's police trade union warned Mbeki, widely seen as sympathetic to Mugabe, against using policemen as "scab" labour.

"The dockers have good reasons for not offloading the ship," said Benzi Soko, spokesman for the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru). "We understand their objection."

South Africa is seen as the one country that could bring the Mugabe government to its knees and force it to hold truly free and fair elections that could see opposition movements take power. They would be faced with reconstructing a country with 1650% inflation, 82% unemployment and the world's lowest life expectancy among women - 34 years, against nearly 60 at independence in 1980.

It was the former white apartheid government in South Africa that forced the white colonial regime led by Ian Smith in Zimbabwe, then called Rhodesia, to negotiate a transfer of power to black nationalists after Pretoria's decision to stop supplying weapons to Smith and cut off other essential supplies.

Analysts argue that South Africa, the continent's economic superpower, could bring the same pressure to bear on Mugabe if Mbeki so chose.

But Mbeki has opted for a policy of "quiet diplomacy" towards Zimbabwe, which is widely seen as a tilt towards Mugabe for reasons that no analyst has yet fully fathomed.

Many South Africans are disillusioned with this approach. They accuse Mbeki of emphasising loyalty to Mugabe, a former black liberation struggle icon, over the rights of ordinary Zimbabweans.

And last weekend, when Mbeki flew north to meet Mugabe prior to a summit of 14 southern African leaders in Zambia, he emerged from their talks holding Mugabe's hand and said that there was "no crisis" in Zimbabwe.

Mbeki's utterance drew strong international condemnation, but it particularly angered South Africans, who daily see the obvious proof of a crisis in the three million Zimbabwean refugees - a quarter of Zimbabwe's population - in their country, begging at almost every crossroads.

Many senior figures in the ANC, from the leadership of which Mbeki was ousted last December over issues that included Zimbabwe, have contradicted his position.

ANC leader Jacob Zuma, who hopes to succeed Mbeki as state president when the latter's term of office expires in a year's time, last week spoke of a "deepening crisis" in Zimbabwe, a blunt rebuttal of Mbeki's "no crisis" declaration.

Zuma recognises the groundswell of public opinion in South Africa for strong action to be taken against Mugabe. Many of the Zimbabwean refugees, whose numbers swell by more than 4000 each day, are blamed by South Africans for increasing crime and draining social services.

Mbeki, chairing a session of the UN General Assembly in New York last week, sat stony-faced when the British prime minister Gordon Brown, just two places away from Mbeki, said it was obvious that Mugabe was trying to overturn an election that had gone against him.

"No-one thinks, having seen the results at polling stations, that President Mugabe has won this election," Brown said. "A stolen election would not be a democratic election at all."

Mbeki subsequently cancelled a scheduled meeting with Brown and, using South Africa's rotating membership of the Security Council, he blocked the council from addressing the Zimbabwe issue.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Assumption and Ignorance Versus Reason and Reality

From the WSM Homepage.

The following letter came from a contact who apparently chose not to read the literature sent to him, or assumed that the literature did not represent the actual ideas of the World Socialist Movement (WSM).

It is reproduced here, with the response from the Socialist Party of Canada, in the hope that others, somewhat more willing to reason, are willing to at least hear the socialist case of the World Socialist Movement and perhaps consider it on its merits rather than assuming that they have the ability to understand what we are about, without reading what we have to say.

You cannot possibly understand the contradiction inherent in your sending me, with the hopes of influencing my thinking, your fascist tripe.

I have been studying Liberty and Individual Freedom for 35 years, and there is nothing new about socialism you could possibly teach me. Therein lies a curiosity: if one studies Liberty, one learns about the vile nature of socialism, but apparently if one studies socialism one learns nothing about Freedom. This of course is because in the first place the necessity is innate; in the second it is willful blindness. The purpose of Liberty is Individual Freedom; the purpose of socialism is slavery. The two philosophies are diametrically opposed. Yet they are the only choices available to humanity. Freedom or Slavery. And if one studies slavery, e.g. U.S.S.R., China, Rumania, Albania, Cuba, Attila the Hun, you will inexorably discover the core evil of socialism. I can well understand your not considering the possibilities of Good & Evil. How could you live? You should, however, because that way you could label your shit good, and my good evil.

You can sit there in Victoria, B.C. and watch what has happened to the economic and social stability of Canada, where by virtue of the Welfare State (socialism), the State has taken control of the means of production of wealth, by the simple expedient of sucking the privately produced wealth out of the nation in the name of socialist morality to the point where this nation is technically bankrupt; fiscally, morally and intellectually, and still expound your stillborn ethics?

Ayn Rand, (remember her?) wrote the good is that which is good for Life: Evil is that which is detrimental to Life. In you philosophy, of course, it is YOU who would manage our society, because essential socialism demands management, which means regulation, which means control, which means slavery. It specifically denies the Nature of the Beast, which is naturally Freedom.

In Liberty men act freely and benefit personally from the proceeds of their effort, their skill, their knowledge, their time; in short, their lives. Socialism holds that to be (I won't say evil) immoral. By whose code of morality?

By the way, shouldn't morality be inherent in nature? Why does man have to invent and impose morality? And wouldn't morality, if it were inherent in nature simply be "the entity living precisely according to its nature?" The wolf, in killing and eating the doe-eyed Bambi deer, is being absolutely moral in the most profound sense of that word: he is doing exactly what he must do according to his nature.

By that measure, perhaps you are doing what you must do according to your nature, and if that is true, then perhaps you should simply hang yourself. That would be the most moral act you would ever perform in your entire misbegotten life.

Socialism has robbed every single individual Canadian, (and that is all we are, individuals) past, present and generations to come, of over 50% of their Life values. They have worked, which is their nature, and have had over 50% of their produce extorted, expropriated, and confiscated out of their lives. Your solution is to give us more of the same, but under YOUR direction.

Take a good look in the mirror Mister, and tell me you like what you see. If you do, I will show you a moral abomination devoid of even a shred of conscience.

Yours truly,

At the outset it is important to note that the World Socialist Movement (WSM) offers no apologies for other groups claiming to be socialist, or for definitions of "socialism" which differ from ours. The WSM is responsible only for its own actions and principles, and can be rationally judged only on the basis of those actions and principles.

It is impossible for anyone or any group to defend itself against accusations that it is lying, except to show a consistent historical record of its claims and statements, and to be completely open to investigation. The WSM has this record for anyone to review. There are over a thousand issues of the Socialist Standard dating back to 1904. There are hundreds of issues of our other journals. Every WSM meeting is open to the public (including the boring business meetings).

Point-by-point responses to FT's letter.

…your fascist tripe…

dictionary: FASCISM: Any authoritarian system of government characterized by state economic control, militaristic nationalism, propaganda, and the crushing of opposition.

dictionary: PROPAGANDA: scheme or effort to spread or promote an idea or opinion.

The World Socialist Movement (WSM) in its 90+ years of existence has always opposed the state, militarism, nationalism, nations, and the crushing of opposition.

Propaganda is a major activity for the WSM, although the size of the WSM currently prevents significant spread of our propaganda.

…there is nothing new about socialism you could possibly teach me…

If FT does not wish to learn, the WSM can teach him nothing. There was a time when the vast majority believed that the earth was flat. Some decided to review the facts. Many people now do not believe that the earth is flat.

Knowing about what others (or FT) say is socialism does not, in any way, mean that one knows about what the WSM has to say about socialism. FT evidences absolutely no understanding of what the WSM has to say.

The purpose of Liberty is Individual Freedom; the purpose of socialism is slavery…

It is irrational to claim that socialist society, without government, with only voluntary labour, where every individual has an equal say in how society works, is slavery. Socialism means far more individual liberty than workers can possibly have under capitalism.

…they are the only choices available to humanity. Freedom or Slavery. And if one studies slavery, e.g. U.S.S.R., China, Rumania, Albania, Cuba, Attila the Hun, you will inexorably discover the core evil of socialism.

Because the WSM has stated its reasons (from day one) for claiming that none of the above mentioned are or were socialist, and because our literature (and understanding of socialism) opposes the underlying structures of FT's examples, we cannot understand how any of them display any supposed "core evil of socialism".

It is perhaps interesting to note that FT does not mention any of the avowedly capitalist states which display many (or perhaps all) of his supposed "evils".

…what has happened to the economic and social stability of Canada…

This has nothing to do with socialism, which is not in existence anywhere.

…the Welfare State (socialism)…

FT is free to define anything he wants as socialism, even though it is not useful to the rational exchange of ideas. The WSM has never considered the Welfare State to be anything but a capitalist measure to prevent socialism. Nor has the WSM at any time promoted any of the concepts of the Welfare State, such as state sponsored education, state welfare payments, old age security schemes, unemployment insurance, state paid medical coverage.

…the State has taken control of the means of production of wealth, by the simple expedient of sucking the privately produced wealth out of the nation…

The Canadian state has done no such thing. In the few cases where the state does control production, it is simply to benefit the other private owners of the means of production. As the power of the different sectors of the capitalist class changes, so do those industries controlled directly, and or regulated by the state. It is difficult to lend much credence to FT's claim when it is clear that the extremely rich are still extremely rich.

…socialist morality…

The WSM makes no claims to "morality". The WSM has always claimed that morality (as understood by most) is not a driving social factor (more on this later), but instead that economic conditions drive most everything and that economic and individual self-interest, not morality, is the motivator for socialism.

…it is YOU who would manage our society…

The WSM has always held that socialism can only be established by a vast majority of society and that a 51% majority (for example) was far from adequate to enable the establishment of socialism.

The WSM has always promoted its own demise because in socialism political parties will no longer be necessary or useful. Also, in a society where each individual has equal decision making power, how would a minority have any special power other than perhaps that given to it, by the majority, on a temporary basis?

FT also suggests that today (or somehow under capitalism) society belongs to us—the working class—when he says "our society". Society has, as long as it has been class divided, been the society of the class(es) at the top, the other class(es) had no real ownership or control of society, no matter what the prevailing myths claimed. Society today belongs to the capitalist class.

In Liberty men act freely and benefit personally from the proceeds of their effort, their skill, their knowledge, their time; in short, their lives.

Sounds like socialism to us. We are aware of no place on the planet today where working people can find that "the proceeds of their effort, their skill, their knowledge, their time" are rewarded anywhere close to proportionally to the benefits received by the capitalist class.

For example, is FT claiming that the capitalist who has wealth of $10 billion dollars, has worked 50,000 times harder than the person who has worked all their life to (maybe) own a home and little else? Is FT claiming that the wealthy person's effort, skill, knowledge and time, all combined are worth 50,000 times more than most other people's?

Socialists suggest that there is something considerably more significant than effort, skill, knowledge and time, involved in accumulating wealth. That something is exploitation—the employment relation itself.

The wolf, in killing and eating the doe-eyed Bambi deer, is being absolutely moral…

Finally something the WSM can agree with.

The morality of a society is what that society—in reality—allows and promotes. It is not some eternal "right" or "wrong". In society today the capitalist mode of production, including employment and poverty amidst vast wealth, is moral. War is moral. Environmental destruction is moral.

As different groups gain sway in society, morality changes (at least the perception thereof). Remember that the perception can change, and that what is implemented as a moral imperative today, can be extinguished as immoral (unnecessary) tomorrow. That is why so called social security programs (the welfare state) come and go.

At no time in the existence of capitalism, has morality opposed capitalism. In fact, until the working class puts aside the myths of current society, including its morality, capitalism will not be in any danger, and socialism cannot come into existence.

Socialism has robbed every single individual Canadian…

Socialism has not been established, it is capitalism which has robbed people, by the very nature of the employment relation. Employment only works when a worker is producing more value than the worker is paid.

…that is all we are, individuals…

More agreement.

However, current society does not promote real individuality. It is much more profitable to convince people that the beer they drink or the car they drive (exactly the same as tens of thousands of others) is a person's mark of individuality. It isn't in current society's interest to have individual workers who openly disagree with what the boss wants. In socialism there won't be any bosses.

They have worked, which is their nature…

Another point of agreement. People work because it is natural for them to do so. It is the nature of work under capitalism that many dislike.

Your solution is to give us more of the same, but under YOUR direction.

Socialism will be a very different society than capitalism.

The people in the current WSM expect to have one vote in socialist society. Considering that if socialism is established tomorrow there would be about five and a half billion voters, that does not bode well for our non-existent desire for control.

The WSM has no leaders today, or ever in its 90+ years, because socialists oppose leadership.

Take a good look in the mirror Mister, and tell me you like what you see…

The socialist looks in the mirror and sees a person who is working to create a society in which they will be an individual, similar to several billion other individuals, with the same social privileges and social responsibilities. The socialist sees a person with individual abilities to volunteer to society and individual needs to be satisfied by society. The socialist sees a person who prizes their own individuality, and understands that they can best exploit it in a society which revels in real individuality and responsibility.

The socialist likes that.

The socialist also sees a reasonable individual who is disturbed that some people prefer to assume they know what the socialist is thinking,—based upon what non-socialists claim is socialism—rather than to actually find out what the socialist is talking about.

The socialist hopes that reason will prevail, because there is so much to gain, individually and collectively.