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Socialist Standard December 2008 1

December 08 bdh.indd 1 21/11/08 11:51:57


december 2008
socialist standard
website: www.worldsocialism.org

15 22

18
contents
FEATURES REGULARS

10 Five reasons to get rid of Money 3 Editorial


How to lose friends
Socialist society will have no need for money. This will profoundly
affect all aspects of life.
4 Pathfinders
Future al Fresco
13 The return of Karl Marx 5 Letters
A German publisher has reported that sales of Das Kapital have
increased dramatically. 6 Material World
The new frontier

15 Robert Owen: paternalist utopian


This year marks the 150th anniversary of the death of Robert Owen.
8 Pieces Together
The Owenites introduced the word “socialism” but Owen himself always
opposed the class struggle. 8 Contact Details

9 Cooking the Books 1


18 “Electrickery” Keynes rides again
Non-polluting, electric cars could be mass produced, but aren’t. We
examine why.
17 Cooking the Books 2
The myth of magic money
19 Why we need a theory
Towards a better understanding of the world, in order to change it. 20 Reviews
Green Capitalism; From poverty
to power

21 Meetings

22 50 Years Ago
Borstal boy

Subscription Orders The Socialist Party of 23 Greasy Pole


should be sent to The Socialist Party, 52 Great Britain Lucky Gordon?
Clapham High Street, London SW4 7UN. The next meeting of the Executive Committee
Rates will be on Saturday 6 December at the address
One year subscription (normal rate) £15 below. Correspondence should be sent to 24 Voice from the Back
One year subscription (low/unwaged) £10 the General Secretary. All articles, letters Poverty recruits; War is mental;
Europe rate £20 (Air mail) and notices should be sent to the editorial Vatican bonuses, and more
Rest of world £25 (Air mail) committee at: The Socialist Party, 52 Clapham
Voluntary supporters subscription £20 or more. High street, London SW4 7UN.
Cheques payable to ‘The Socialist Party of tel: 020 7622 3811 24 Free Lunch
Great Britain’. e-mail: spgb@worldsocialism.org

2 Socialist Standard December 2008

December 08 bdh.indd 2 21/11/08 11:51:57


Introducing Editorial
The Socialist Party How to lose friends and alienate people
The Socialist Party is like no other It would be hard to devise a scenario more him of soliciting funds for the Tories,
political party in Britain. It is made up likely to set the UK media drooling than from the yacht owner. His name is Oleg
of people who have joined together the storyline that developed during late Deripaska and he actually comes over
because we want to get rid of the profit October. A couple of indiscreet politicians better than most in this episode, despite
system and establish real socialism. Our and an aristocrat enjoying the hospitality being alleged to be a thug who has
aim is to persuade others to become of a Russian oligarch’s superyacht moored effectively extorted billions of roubles out
socialist and act for themselves, off Corfu is not newsworthy in itself of of the state-owned industry through close
organising democratically and without course. involvement with the Russian mafia. This
leaders, to bring about the kind of What really attracted the attention is of course outrageous, but if we are
society that we are advocating in this of the media was the Tory shadow being consistent, it is pretty much how
journal. We are solely concerned with chancellor (George Osborne) and his most of today’s capitalist class got their
building a movement of socialists for indiscreet breach of the code of honour of wealth, whether a few centuries or a few
socialism. We are not a reformist party his old upper-class binge-drinking club, generations earlier.
with a programme of policies to patch and particularly his friend Nathaniel This story of thieves falling out in
up capitalism. Rothschild, - who’s guest he was - and the playgrounds of the rich sheds a
We use every possible opportunity who is also apparently worth a bob or little light on how our increasingly inter-
to make new socialists. We publish
two. connected economic and political upper-
pamphlets and books, as well as CDs,
Osborne made the mistake of gossiping class spend their money and time (what
DVDs and various other informative
about a conversation he had on board Peter Mandelson might term “serious
material. We also give talks and take part
with Peter Mandelson. At the time he was relaxing”). But all parties to this grubby
in debates; attend rallies, meetings and
messing around in boats this summer he exchange – the economic sugar-daddies
demos; run educational conferences;
was an EU Commissioner for Trade but and their political lapdogs – appear to
host internet discussion forums, make
films presenting our ideas, and contest has since returned as a peer to Labour have now conveniently agreed to call a
elections when practical. Socialist (previously known as New Labour), after truce rather than risk damaging their
literature is available in Arabic, Bengali, various spells as the “architect” of New collective reputation.
Dutch, Esperanto, French, German, Labour (previously known as Labour). Discretion in their discussions with
Italian, Polish, Spanish, Swedish and If you’re feeling confused, don’t worry each other obviously counts for more than
Turkish as well as English. - what is of interest to socialists is how transparency and accountability to the
The more of you who join the Socialist the whole episode has lifted a grubby rest of us who actually create the wealth
Party the more we will be able to get stone to uncover many examples of the they go to such lengths to consume.
our ideas across, the more experiences shenanigans of our ruling class. For Entering a period of rising unemployment
we will be able to draw on and greater example, one person in the vicinity was and re-possessions is probably not the
will be the new ideas for building the Rupert Murdoch’s daughter Elizabeth best time for the “have-yachts” to rub
movement which you will be able to who had her own boat nearby and was our noses in the details of the marvellous
bring us. spending a week in the Mediterranean just parties they always seem to be throwing
The Socialist Party is an organisation to plan her 40th birthday celebrations. ( If for each other.
of equals. There is no leader and there that’s how long the planning takes, what Any workers who share our anger
are no followers. So, if you are going were the actual celebrations like?). with, and analysis of the problems of,
to join we want you to be sure that you Anyway, upset that his mates were capitalism are encouraged to apply to join
agree fully with what we stand for and bitching about each other only a few via the address on page 2. Needless to
that we are satisfied that you understand weeks after the yacht-party, Rothschild say, this address can be used also for any
the case for socialism. dropped Osborne right in it by accusing billionaires wishing to make a donation.

Socialist Standard December 2008 3

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Future al Fresco, or the and cybernetic intelligence called ‘cybernation’. This column has
recently referred to self-adjusting production systems (Sept 08),
House of Cards that Jacque built but running an entire social system that way is surely a leap too
far. In answer to the question: Who makes the decisions in a
After the popular documentary film Zeitgeist (2007), with its resource-based economy? Fresco gives the bizarre response:
dodgy bank-credit economics and global conspiracy theories, No one does. Apparently the cybernation system will decide
socialists were not expecting much from the sequel, Zeitgeist what we want to produce, as well as how to produce it, because
Addendum, which came out in October of this year. we humans just aren’t up to the job.
Addendum however turns out to be a surprise. To be sure, What emerges sounds less like a socialist society of
it does reiterate the dodgy economics, overlooking the fact that responsible adults and more like a Tracey Island playground
when banks do try to create money out of nothing, they crash for hedonistic infants with no tough decisions to make and
and burn, as has been happening recently. But then the film no responsibilities to shoulder. Socialists place participatory
gets really interesting, because it proposes, as an alternative democracy at the very core of our social model, irrespective
to capitalism, a global resource-based society of common of the technology. For Fresco, it seems to be the other way
ownership, without governments, hierarchies, markets, trading round. In answer to the question, would there be a government?
or money. Were the makers explicitly to use the term ‘world Fresco answers that there would be a transitional administration
socialism’ most socialists would scarcely blink. of expert technicians, before the process of ‘cybernation’ is
Not that there’s any such reference, or indication of Marxian complete. He adds that “They will not dictate the policies or
antecedents. Clearly the intention is to avoid triggering any have any more advantage than other people.” But how does
knee-jerk reflexes from audiences schooled in the evils of he know that? What mechanisms would prevent a technocracy
soviet ‘socialism’. Instead, they’re offered the sci-fi version, maintaining power in perpetuity? Fresco is leaving the matter
with supersonic mag-lev trains, floating intelligent cities, to trust. Worse still, in avoiding the whole issue of democratic
nanotechnology and megamachines. The future is bigger, better organisation and class action, Fresco has no way to address
and brighter, even if it does look a bit like Thunderbirds Are Go. the even more pressing question, how to overcome the certain
The point being drummed in is that it’s steam-age capitalism opposition of the ruling class. So he dodges it by arguing that
that’s holding back technology, as well as creating a social and there will be no need to, since capitalism will collapse of its
environmental hell-hole. Without capitalism, we can reach for own accord. Leaving aside the extreme improbability of this, it
the stars. begs the question: what should we do then, while we’re waiting
This is the Venus Project, futuristic creation of Jacque for that to happen? Spread the ideas perhaps, as socialists
Fresco, engineer, architect and designer, a man on a laudable advocate? Apparently not! “True social change is not brought
mission to persuade the world to ditch capitalism and create a about by men and women of reason and good will on a personal
practical cooperative alternative. For socialists to come across level. The notion that one can sit and talk to individuals and
such a well-worked model which accords so closely with their alter their values is highly improbable” (www.venusproject.
own is a rare thing, so it seems almost churlish to suggest that com/intro_main /essay.htm). Ever the technophile, Fresco has
the technology may be a bit over-done. It’s not only that this his eye on something more worthy of an engineer, the building
kind of chrome-plated futurism looks paradoxically dated, like of an experimental city in South America, in order to show his
rocket ship stories of the 1950’s, or that it may be off-putting society in action. Thus, we have a future, non-market, non-
to those yearning for William Morris-like rural idylls. More money society with no human decision-making, existing as a
troublesome is the heavy emphasis placed on science and sealed bubble inside capitalism, and on a continent famous for
technology as the source of progress, for instance, as here: its CIA-backed counter-revolutionary guerrilla forces. Well, lots
“The application of scientific principles… accounts for every of luck, but this ain’t a horse we would back. Besides, the world
single advance that has improved people’s lives” (Designing has been here before - maybe he should read about Robert
the Future, at www.venusproject.com). Trust a techie to say Owen on Page 15 of this issue.
that. But what about the role of workers, in unions or campaign Socialists rarely have anything good to say about post-
groups, to raise wages and working conditions, or reduce modernism, but Fresco’s starry-eyed fixation with technology
the working day, or demand civil rights? Did technology have reminds us what was wrong with modernity in the first place.
anything to do with recognition of race or gender equality, or gay It was enlightenment thinking gone light-headed, before the
liberation, or legislation against slavery or child-labour? Instead hangover set in and we realised that, actually, science can’t
of recognising that workers won those rights by organised force, save us from ourselves, in fact science and technology have got
Fresco seems to think all improvements in civil rights were bugger all to do with it. Mass consciousness and democratic
‘privileges’ which have been ‘granted’ by the ruling elite (p.4). organisation are what it takes, not fantastical gadgets and
This gives a clue to Fresco’s attitude to ‘responsibility’ optimistic faith in the imminent and obliging demise
and ‘democracy’. Technology, he thinks, will obviate the of capitalism. If you’re wrong about that, you’ve got
need for these. Laws against drink-driving, for example, nothing. Without class action, there’s no foundation, no
can be abolished if cars drive themselves. True enough. plan, no clear road. It’s a house of cards floating in the
But can one find a technological fix for every situation air.
requiring humans to have an awareness of their own Fresco and his friends deserve huge credit for the
social responsibility, and even if we could, would we work they have done in setting out a vision of post-
want to? Responsibility is not a burden, after all, it is capitalist common ownership, and if nothing else,
empowerment, it is personal growth. Make humans the Venus Project should remind us that such ideas
responsible, and they become mature adults. Instead, are not unique to us. But visions born of conspiracy
Fresco would let this human quality atrophy. theories tend to preclude the idea of democratic mass
Similarly, Fresco seems wedded to the strange idea action, and that is a weakness. For socialists,
that humans don’t want to make decisions. Thus he not only is mass action possible, it is essential.
envisages a ‘global neural network’ that does Capitalism will not collapse. It has to be
our thinking for us, a marriage of automation pulled down. And machines won’t do
that for us.

4 Socialist Standard December 2008

December 08 bdh.indd 4 21/11/08 11:51:58


Letters
Money must go of the Earth, we can build new
communities with safe, efficient,
means of production the common
heritage of all, which will make
integrated transport, energy, money redundant. This done, the
Dear Editors
waste management, health and benefits you mention will become
The existence of money and property
entertainment systems, sited in the possible – Editors.
ownership has become a choke point
most geologically and climatically
in the further evolution of mankind.
stable environments on the planet,
We, in the United Kingdom, as one of
using fully recyclable materials. For
the wealthiest nations on this planet,
all of us.
can’t afford to keep our pensioners
We can detoxify areas of our
at a level much above abject poverty,
planet which have been previously
and over the next twenty years this
adulterated by industry. We can grow
will become more acute. We close
unadulterated food all year round,
down hospital wards because next
using the most fertile and suitable
year’s budget isn’t due yet, despite
areas of our planet for our crops.
being able to fill them many times
We can provide first class training
over with people who urgently
for everyone to carry out their job
require treatment. We allow people
efficiently and knowledgably. We
in the third world to die in the most
can make those jobs as safe and
degrading circumstances, because it
pleasant as possible, with hours and
is more profitable to cheat them out
holiday entitlements pre-calculated
of their national resources. We stand
by and watch helplessly, as the drug
barons infect out richest resource,
by statisticians, so that we do
enough to maintain and improve our NEW DVD
environment without it impinging too
our children. Big business rapes and
much on our new found social life.
pollutes the limited resources of our
planet and encourages us to keep
We can gather the finest minds Poles Apart? Capitalism
on the planet, equip them with all
buying, and wasting, to keep the
the materials and technology and or Socialism as the
cash flowing. It doesn’t make sense.
Fortunately, there is a solution which
help they require, and stand back planet heats up
in awe as they produce solutions to
can wipe out these ills and many
whatever befalls us. If it is humanly
more.
possible, and good for our planet and
The two root causes of most
our species then why not? We, the
human misery are money and
human species can have all of this,
violence, and the existence of money
and so much more.
is the catalyst for most violence. By
As soon as we realise that we are
removing money and the individual
all intimately related. We are one
ownership of any and all of Earth’s
family, estranged by time, distance,
resources from existence, we
environment and philosophy. And
instantly remove the barriers to the
as soon as we realise that here
further evolution of mankind. An
on Earth, we are living in a life
evolution away from war, crime,
support system which is, to our
and inequality. An evolution toward
certain knowledge, unique. Because
global prosperity, universal peace
it contains the only species in the
and understanding.
known universe with which we
So how could this be peacefully
can fully communicate, and it is
achieved, and what would be the
composed of all the raw materials we
net effect? All we have to do is to
will (hopefully) ever need.
decide, as a species, that at a pre-
We already have the world we
determined point in time, we will stop
dream about, we can award ourselves
using money. From that time on,
undreamt of fringe benefits. The only with contributions from Glenn
changes will begin to occur which will
questions you really need to ask Morris, Arctic Voice, and Brian
positively enhance our existence on
this planet. All we have to do is keep
yourself are – why not.....and when? Gardner, The Socialist Party.
Ken Scragg, Livingston, West
working, to produce all the goods
Lothian Recorded digitally at Conway Hall,
and services that we need and want.
But instead of producing poor quality London, 2008.
Reply: We of course agree that
goods, we can take the decision to
the production and distribution of
produce the best quality, most up £5.00 per copy + £1.25 P & P. Send to
wealth could, and should, take place
to date goods we can imagine, for the Audio-Visual Department, c/o Head
without money, but we don’t think it
everyone. Office and allow up to 21 days for
will as easy to get there as you seem
Constricted only by the dispatch.
to imply. We will need to organise to
paramount rules of ensuring the
struggle politically against those who
safe availability of the raw materials
we require, the safety of the people
currently own and control the means Socialist Standard
for producing wealth and benefit from Bound volumes (2005-2007) for
producing them and the overriding
the money-wages-profits system. £25 plus postage, each, order
factor of its minimal impact on our
There will have to be an (essentially
planet. from HO, cheques payable to
peaceful) democratic social revolution
With expert planning, and “The Socialist Party of Great Britain”
to end their monopoly and make the
the positive will of all the people

Socialist Standard December 2008 5

December 08 bdh.indd 5 21/11/08 11:51:58


The next capitalist frontier

O
ver recent centuries, one region of the planet Yes, but some locations on the lunar surface are much
after another has been “opened up” to capitalist better for mining than others. Identifying the best locations
plunder, with rival powers fighting over the spoils. is the aim of satellite exploration.
In the 19th century the “scramble” was for Africa. Now First, the nature of the terrain will obviously matter
it is for the resources of the Arctic, as technological when building bases and installations, whether operated by
advances and global warming make them accessible to humans or robots. It will be a great advantage to have water
exploitation (Socialist Standard, September 2007). (ice) nearby.
Once the Arctic and Antarctic are brought under the Second, it will be least expensive to work in areas where
sway of capital, what next? Is that the end of the story, deposits are richest, so that less dust has to be processed
the closing of the last frontier? True, there remains the for each unit of gas extracted.
cosmos. But surely the costs of extracting resources and Third, reliance on solar power for soil heating (and other
transporting them to earth will be prohibitive? purposes) puts a premium on parts of the surface that have
In fact, the strategists of the six space powers -- the US, almost continuous exposure to sunlight. These are also
Russia, the EU, China, India and Japan – already have their the warmest regions (by lunar standards). An example is
sights on the commercial and military potential of the moon. the Shackleton Crater at the South Pole. India is especially
interested in this area, and the US also wants to establish
Helium-3 its base there.
On October 22 India launched the Chandrayaan-1 satellite.
On November 11 it entered moon orbit. One of its main Militarisation of the moon?
tasks is to map deposits of Helium-3 (He-3). This isotope, Certain places on the moon are already seen as “strategic
mixed with deuterium (H-2), is the optimal fuel for nuclear locations.” Thus, the topography of Malapert Mountain
fusion. In particular, it minimises radioactive emissions. It makes it an ideal spot for a radio relay station. Near the
is very rare on earth (by one estimate just 30 kg) because Shackleton Crater, it enhances the strategic value of the
the solar wind that carries it is blocked by the earth’s crater area.
atmosphere and magnetic field. The moon’s surface layer Such considerations will become more important if
contains millions of tonnes of the stuff. the moon is militarised. This may happen as a result of
It has been calculated that a single shuttle flight bearing competition for land and resources on the moon, or as an
a load of 25 tonnes (currently valued at $100 billion) would extension of military preparations on earth – for instance,
meet energy demand in India for several years or in the US with lunar stations serving as reserve command centres.
for one year. Three flights would keep the world going for a Even if international agreements constrain militarisation
year. and divide the moon into zones belonging to the various
The main problem is extracting the He-3 as gas from powers, military threats may arise from “dual use”
the moon dust. This requires heating the dust to 800° C. technologies. Suppose that instead of mining He-3 some
in furnaces or towers powered by solar energy. (Silicon for country decides to generate electricity on the moon using
solar cells is also abundant on the moon.) 360,000 tonnes solar cells and transmit it on microwave beams to a
of dust would have to be processed to collect enough gas receiving station on earth. The problem under capitalism
for one load. Technologically this appears feasible; modern is that these same beams may equally well be used as
furnaces do actually process such huge quantities of powerful weapons against earth targets.
material. However, some experts question the economic There is also potential for conflict between the space
feasibility of strip mining the moon in this way. powers and countries that have not yet launched space
Despite uncertainties, Indian strategists hope that the programs. Like the nuclear weapons states, the space
Chandrayaan-1 satellite will enable India to “stake a priority powers may form an exclusive club and take aggressive
claim” on He-3 resources when lunar colonization begins. action to thwart “space power proliferation” – i.e., prevent
India’s main rivals in this field are the US, which has “re- other countries from acquiring space capabilities.
energised” its moon programme and
plans to establish a manned base Space programs and socialism
by 2020, and also China. It is absurd for our species to venture into the cosmos while
still divided into warring states and dominated by primitive
Enough for mechanisms like capital accumulation. Even the first people
everyone? in space, almost a half century ago, could see earth as a
Given the single fragile system.
abundant supply A world socialist community will have to decide which
of He-3 relative elements of existing space programs to retain and which
to foreseeable to freeze or abandon. National programs will be merged
demand, into global programs, eliminating the wasteful duplication
why should inherent in interstate competition. Programs of purely
India need scientific interest may be deferred pending the solution of
to compete more urgent problems.
with other Attitudes in a socialist world toward reliance on space
space activities may diverge quite widely. Some may seek the
powers for benefits of a complex high-consumption lifestyle made
preferential possible by nuclear fusion and off-earth technologies.
access? Others may prefer to avoid the irreducible risks of these
Surely there technologies and solve earth’s problems as far as possible
is enough for here on earth.
everyone? STEFAN

6 Socialist Standard December 2008

December 08 bdh.indd 6 21/11/08 11:51:58


New Pamphlet
An Inconvenient Question:
Socialism and the Environment

see order form on page 9 for details

Socialist Standard December 2008 7

December 08 bdh.indd 7 21/11/08 11:51:59


YOU SHOULD BE SO LUCKY AMERICAN NIGHTMARE
“If it was not evident already how much “Families are flooding homeless shelters across
developers in Dubai value the input of a the United States in numbers not seen for years,
celebrity name, the news that Kylie Minogue camping out in motels or staying with friends and
is to be paid about $4.4 million (£2.8 million) relatives, homeless advocates say. “There are
to officially open the $1.5 billion Atlantis Hotel lots of families hemorrhaging into homelessness
on November 20 should silence any doubters. and we need to figure out how to put a tourniquet
The Australian singer’s first performance in on the hemorrhaging,” Philip Mangano, the
the Middle East will be part of a $35 million homelessness czar appointed by President
extravaganza billed as the most expensive George W. Bush in 2002, told Reuters. There
HOW THE OTHER 5% party yet held - the fireworks alone are to is little time to waste. The U.S. unemployment
LIVE cost $6.8 million. But why bother with such rate is at a 14-year high and more job losses are
“Once it was the Greeks who expenditure? The Atlantis has already attracted forecast, while the Mortgage Bankers Association
commanded the best boats. Aristole huge publicity over its £13,000 a night suites.” says nearly 1.5 million homes are in the process
Onasis’s yacht, Christina O, hosted (Times, 31 October) of foreclosure.” (Reuters, 12 November)
Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Eva
Peron and Sir Winston Churchill who AIN’T RELIGION TURN THE OTHER CHEEK?
were all photographed on board. WONDERFUL? “Israeli police rushed into one of Christianity’s holiest
Then the Arabs became involved. “A 13-year-old girl who said she had churches Sunday and arrested two clergyman after an
Ten years ago, Diana, Princess been raped was stoned to death in argument between monks erupted into a brawl next to
of Wales, was photographed Somalia after being accused of adultery the site of Jesus’ tomb. The clash between Armenian
sunbathing on Mohamed Al Fayed’s by Islamic militants, a human rights and Greek Orthodox monks broke out in the Church
yacht the weekend before she group said. Dozens of men stoned Aisha of the Holy Sepulcher, revered as the site of Jesus’
died. But in the past five years Ibrahim Duhulow to death Oct. 27 in a crucifixion, burial and resurrection. The brawling
the Russians have turned it into a stadium packed with 1,000 spectators began during a procession of Armenian clergymen
different league. Your bog-standard in the southern port city of Kismayo, commemorating the 4th-century discovery of the
superyacht now costs between £40 Amnesty International and Somali cross believed to have been used to crucify Jesus.
and £70 million depending on the media reported, citing witnesses. The The Greeks objected to the march without one of their
interior specification. The running Islamic militia in charge of Kismayo monks present, fearing that otherwise, the procession
costs tend to be about £5 million a had accused her of adultery after she would subvert their own claim to the Edicule -- the
year for the bigger vessels.” (Times, reported that three men had raped her, ancient structure built on what is believed to be the
23 October) the rights group said.” (Yahoo News, 1 tomb of Jesus -- and give the Armenians a claim to the
November) site.” (Associated Press, 10 November)

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86 Edgmond Ct, Ryhope, Sunderland Livingston. Corres: Matt Culbert, 53 Socialiste du Canada. Box 4280,
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months on a Saturday afternoon (see E-mail: matt@wsmweb.fsnet.co.uk World Socialist Party (New Zealand)
Northwest meetings page for details).David Porter, P.O. Box 1929, Auckland, NI, New
Lancaster branch. P. Shannon, 10 Eastholme, Bush Drive, Eccles-on-Sea, Wales Zealand.
Green Street, Lancaster LA1 1DZ. Tel: NR12 0SF. Tel: 01692 582533. Swansea branch. 2nd Mon, 7.30pm, World Socialist Party of the United
01524 382380 Richard Headicar, 42 Woodcote, Firs Unitarian Church, High Street. Corres: States P.O. Box 440247, Boston, MA
Manchester branch. Paul Bennett, 6 Rd, Hethersett, NR9 3JD. Tel: 01603 Geoffrey Williams, 19 Baptist Well 02144 USA. E-mail: wspboston@
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Tel: 0161 860 7189 Richard Layton, 23 Nottingham Rd, Tel: 01792 643624
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8 Socialist Standard December 2008

December 08 bdh.indd 8 21/11/08 11:51:59


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Socialist Standard December 2008 9

December 08 bdh.indd 9 21/11/08 11:52:00


Five benefits
of not having money
Socialist society will have no need for money. This will profoundly affect all aspects of life.

R
emoving money from the and to enter into an adventure of It is well recognised by experts
current economic equation discovery that there is a place for in the health arena that work is
would strike most people as all at the table, that it doesn’t entail one of the most stressful areas of
impossible, unthinkable, absolutely regression to the Dark Ages and that life for reasons such as long hours,
imponderable. Everything we do, the welfare and progress of people extended travelling time to and from
every transaction we make, from doesn’t have to come at cost to the place of employment, risk of job loss,
a simple cup of tea to sending a environment. lack of security of tenure including
space probe to Mars, from birth to competition both within and without,
death and at every step in between, 1. Work inflexible working practices, difficulty
money has become a necessary part getting release for major personal
of getting what we require. It has events such as bereavement, long-
become an accepted, entrenched term illness of a spouse or partner, or
method of acquiring anything and even short-term care of a sick child.
everything but it wasn’t always so Loss of employment can put stress
and in a genuine socialist system on the whole family, sinking it into
money will be shown to have been an debt, causing day-to-day difficulties
unnecessary, wasteful and divisive with the budget and in many cases
way of ordering world communities. leading to loss of the home.
When initially presented with the When money is not required
notion of a world without money the in exchange for work and when,
first imperative is the willingness to instead, all contribute their skills,
contemplate a huge paradigm shift, expertise and/or manpower in return
to put aside all familiar long-held for open access to the requirements
views and preconceived notions of life then we can begin to see a

10 Socialist Standard December 2008

December 08 bdh.indd 10 21/11/08 11:52:00


different motivation enter the whole individual choice which leads to the we have today the workplace will
concept of the “work” scenario. A second topic for consideration, become a different place, one of
moneyless world will free up millions cooperation not competition, where
of workers now tied to some very 2. Increased Leisure Time we work for the benefit of all, not
stressful occupations dealing only for the profit of a few. The lines
in (other people’s) money – banking, between work and leisure may
mortgage brokering, insurance; those well be much more blurred than
occupied in the collection of rates, in today’s scenario. People will
taxes and utility payments; those in have time, time to be creative, to
security work such as guards and learn different and multiple skills
armoured truck staff engaged only and to enjoy the time they spend
in protecting and moving money working. Leisure activities seen as
and other “valuables” – millions hobbies now – vehicle maintenance,
of workers who, when considered gardening, DIY home improvements,
logically, currently fulfil no useful baking, the making of all kinds of
function and contribute nothing to hand-made items, giving or receiving
society that improves that society. educational and training courses –
Right now, worldwide, are With so many extra hands on could well form part of one’s service
millions of would-be workers who deck working hours will be able to be to the community, bringing a greater
are sidelined in one way or another, considerably reduced which, with the satisfaction and contributing to
without employment or scratching knowledge that one’s work is not tied individual development generally, one
on the edges of a black economy to the ability to feed and clothe the of the aims of socialism. With more
and in some of the more “developed” family, to house them and provide all leisure time available it is also highly
countries we find some termed the other requirements of life, is to likely that more ‘work’ would be
“scroungers” in current-day parlance. remove the stress at a stroke. created in the leisure area, whether
Within the capitalist system Decreased time, but working sports complexes, theatrical and
there has to be a pool of workers for the common good rather than music productions and educational
unable to find work in order to keep increased time working only for courses in the widest sense and with
the bargaining power in favour of personal remuneration. Less unlimited opportunities for the active
the employers who strive to keep working time was the oft-repeated participation of those who choose it.
wage levels down, whereas if there refrain in the early days of the
is a shortage of suitable labour technology era. Workers were to 3. Housing
the bargaining power switches to benefit from machine-operated
the employees who try to force production systems, computers
wage levels up. The fact that a few would be able to handle many of
“developed” countries have systems the mundane operations previously
which pay a percentage of workers done manually, the working week
to remain unemployed (receive would be much reduced, maybe even
benefits) is a price the capitalists leading to job-sharing and part-time
are prepared to pay to maintain the employment. In fact this state of
tensions in society. Encouraging the affairs never materialised and more
employed to think that they are the employees found longer working Adequate shelter, a “right” for
ones subsidising the benefits system hours became part of their conditions all enshrined in the United Nations
maintains one fissure within the of employment, earlier agreements Charter, is still unavailable to
working class. Also, allowing a large having been gradually eroded to the millions (billions, probably). There
number of unemployed to be without benefit of the employers. is absolutely no automatic right to
benefits would cause too many In socialism, with millions housing within the capitalist system.
problems for the capitalists with released from wage slavery in the All must pay. To pay, all must work.
possibilities of mass looting, rioting then redundant financial sector It is no matter that you work long
and damage to their property free to be a part of the production, and hard and that your children
When all work is seen as distribution and services sectors, work long and hard and don’t go to
legitimate and deserving of with the black economy and “illegals” school. All that matters is that you
recognition, from the humblest no longer threatening paid workers have enough to buy or rent or build.
occupations – collecting and sorting (pay being redundant) there will Maybe you did have enough before
waste, stacking shelves in our stores, be a huge reduction in individual the housing market bubble burst
keeping the utilities working even necessary work time. When there is and the “worth” of your house went
in the worst weather, repairing our no profit incentive the emphasis will down while the interest rates went
shoes – to those which are perceived be on the production of quality goods up. Well, tough! Look around you.
as more elite – heart surgeons, from quality materials and no one See the empty houses and FOR SALE
ground-breaking scientists or need choose an inferior item based and foreclosure signs. These people
cutting-edge technicians; when all on cost. Providers of utilities such must be living somewhere now. There
are respected for their contribution as electricity and gas, water and is always housing stock available – if
simply by having the same right of communications will be able to have you can pay the going rate.
access to the commonly produced sufficient workers to install, service, This is one very obvious benefit
goods, humankind will have truly repair and develop their installations of not having money. The recent
developed to a higher level. This more efficiently and effectively. If economic crisis has focussed many
change in emphasis regarding human there is work that no one is prepared home-owners’ minds. Why should
worth would, as a matter of course, to undertake then an alternative will anyone be secure one month and
give all the opportunity for further need to be found democratically. the next find themselves in queer
personal development in areas of Without the constraints that street? Can anybody justify one

Socialist Standard December 2008 11

December 08 bdh.indd 11 21/11/08 11:52:00


leisure time – all these various actually the choices being sought.
factors will surely result in improved For instance, notice the difficulty
relationships all round and, quite of buying a processed food which
soon, a healthier workforce. doesn’t contain soya. The soya has
At present there are huge probably been genetically modified
variations in standards of health and the labelling could be unhelpful.
care around the world and also The choice becomes buy in ignorance
massive discrepancies in availability or acceptance, or do without.
and monetary cost to the recipients, It’s well known that products
Universal health care simply dos are laced with added sugar, salt,
not exist. Again it is tied in to the monosodium glutamate etc. to create
ability to pay. Let’s remove this a certain dependency and craving
individual’s multiple home ownership barrier to good health and care of for more. Last year’s problems of
while others live in slums, in cars, the sick by removing the money melamine-laced pet foods which
in cardboard boxes on the streets? element and offer all services, caused animal deaths in the
Please! When the majority of us have treatments, drugs and medicines importing countries were followed
eventually decided that this scenario free of charge. Hospitals and clinics this year by melamine-laced milk
is unacceptably obscene we can at then will be free of top-heavy budget products causing infant deaths and
last begin to move to a humanitarian management and will be able to multiple illnesses in China, spreading
way of ordering our societies. access resources, whether manpower, fear to importing countries. There
Housing for all. Decent housing equipment or drugs, according to can be only one reason for food to
for all. Materials that are free and their requirements and not limited be contaminated deliberately (apart
belong to all of us. Our architects, by financial constraints. Medical from a mass assassination attempt or
builders, plumbers, plasterers, researchers, now mostly tied to global the desire to spread fear among the
electricians, etc. etc. will all work for corporations and limited by them in population) and that is in the pursuit
free – they also need homes to live the areas of their research, will be of greater profit.
in. New housing can be built to the able to concentrate on eradicating Africa, a net exporter of food until
best specifications using appropriate disease and providing the best the post-colonial days of the 1960s,
materials, incorporating adequate remedies for all comers, not just became a victim again, indebted to
insulation and services with regard those with insurance. World diseases the World Bank and IMF. Recipient
to environmental protection and best such as malaria, tuberculosis and of highly subsidised dumping of food
use of alternative energy. polio will soon be a thing of the past from rich countries (US and Europe)
Respect for people and respect when money, too, is history. the result has been that the countries
for the environment. Decisions made Work and training in one of the there have to grow cash crops for
democratically as to best use of many varied avenues of health care export in order to pay off some of the
urban space vacated by the money will be open to those from the pool of growing debt creating food shortages
businesses; by communities wanting post-money redundant sectors. With for the domestic population, many of
to refurbish or upgrade their older the shift from a market economy to whom had been forced off ancestral
stock. The balance between urban societies geared to fulfilling human lands (for the growing of cash crops)
and rural will no doubt change. In needs there will probably be more and who were then without the
some parts of the world there will be priority given to preventive medicine means of subsistence. There have
a mass exodus back to productive and appropriate information on been a number of studies which
farmland, reclaimed for local use and suitable diet and healthy living, reveal there is no problem feeding a
consumption rather than continuing which leads us to consider the topic world population considerably larger
to grow cash crops for export. of food. than today’s. There is an enormous
Decisions will be taken based on wastage of food in the rich world. The
the well-being of communities and 5. Food major problem for the hungry in the
determined by the requirements of poorest countries is lack of cash.
those communities and there will be Food, if regarded simply as fuel
no constraints or limitations linked for the body, should be clean – free
to profit for a third party. from contaminants, chemicals and
the like; fresh – the more local the
4. Health care better; and nutritious. Free food
for all would come with the bonus
of knowing there would no longer
be any incentive to adulterate
ingredients. The question of “FAIR
TRADE” wouldn’t arise as all along
the line farmers, producers, pickers,
packers and distributors would
have the same motivation to provide
Currently the growing, processing good clean food knowing they have
and distribution of food is largely the same access as the consumers.
dominated by transnational This has to be a win-win situation.
corporations solely in the pursuit Another winner in this scenario
As a result of huge stress of profit. The consumer appears to would be the environment.
reduction, no more worrying about have a huge choice of goods and JANET SURMAN
salary or wages from the job, no numerous decisions to make at
more worrying about keeping up the each aisle of the supermarket but Next month, five more benefits from
payments on the house, increased often the choices are superficial, not not having to have money.

12 Socialist Standard December 2008

December 08 bdh.indd 12 21/11/08 11:52:01


The return of
Karl
Marx
A German publisher has reported that sales of Das Kapital have increased
dramatically.

M
arx is again enjoying but-one chapter of Capital on “The an anti-capitalist Nostradamus
something of a revival. After Historical Tendency of Capitalist who supposedly predicted it all, a
his views on the globalising Accumulation”, capitalism would soothsayer rather than revolutionary
tendencies of capitalism, it is now come to an end by the working class social scientist. Marx always
his theory of crises that is attracting becoming more and more organised emphasised that the resolution of a
interest and being discussed in and eventually expropriating the crisis would ultimately depend on
the media. Unfortunately not expropriators and ushering in a political factors: that man makes
always accurately. For instance, society based on “co-operation and his own history, although not in
in an article headlined “BANKING the possession in common of the circumstances of his own choosing.”
CRISIS GIVES ADDED CAPITAL land and the means of production Hume has come a long way since,
TO MARX’S WRITINGS”, Roger produced by labour itself”. In the as the Trotskyist editor of what
Boyes, the Berlin correspondent meantime capitalism would continue we used to call Dead Leninism, he
of the Times wrote (20 October): being subjected to an ever-repeating advocated that workers should follow
“Marx’s new relevance relates cycle of boom and slump, with each a vanguard party.
mainly to his warning about the boom ending in a Krach which would One of the others asked to
creation of an exploitative capitalism eventually create the conditions for a comment was the Labour MP John
that ends up destroying itself: recovery of production and the next McDonnell who proposed that “Das
‘An over-expansion of credit can boom . . . and the next Krach. Kapital and Wages, Prices and Profit
enable the capitalist system to sell The following day the Times2 should be issued to all government
temporarily more goods than the sum section of the paper had a full-page ministers as the definitive guides to
of real incomes in created current photo of Marx on its front page the causes of capitalism in crisis”.
production, plus past savings, could saying “He’s back. Does the financial He also recommended a book by
buy,’ said Ernest Mandel, the Marxist crisis prove that Karl Marx was right Ernest Mandel and another by David
scholar, quoting his guru, ‘but in the all along?”. The main article, by a Miliband’s father who considered
long run, debts must be paid’. Since Philip Collins, was just silly, but himself a Marxist. If he re-reads
these debts cannot be automatically some of those asked to comment did Wages, Prices and Profit himself he
paid through expanded output and have something sensible to say, in will see that Marx urges workers to
income, capitalism is destined for a particular Mick Hume (introduced adopt the revolutionary watchword
‘Krach’ - Marx’s word for a crash.” as “The Times’s libertarian Marxist “Abolition of the Wages System”,
If the suggestion is here, as it columnist, launched and edited which is the last thing the party he
seems to be, that it was Marx’s view Living Marxism magazine 20 years represents in Parliament wants.
that capitalism will end up destroying ago”) who said on this issue: Mandel was in fact writing above
itself in one big Krach, then it is “Marx was right to identify and only about credit crises, not economic
wrong as Marx never argued that analyse the tendency towards crises crises. And he wasn’t quoting from
there was some flaw in the economic within capitalism, but he did not his “guru”. The passage Boyes
or financial mechanism of capitalism predict the system’s ‘inevitable’ quotes is not from Marx but from
that would lead to it collapsing collapse. Today too many people Mandel (see http://isg-fi.org.uk/spip.
for purely economic reasons. In who have never read or understood php?article140). Mandel, who died
his view, as expressed in the last- Marx are trying to turn him into in 1995 was another Trotskyist, the

Socialist Standard December 2008 13

December 08 bdh.indd 13 21/11/08 11:52:01


leader for many years of one of the night . . . it don’t stop. It just goes and
many “Fourth Internationals”, did, Studs Terkel, a prolific American writer goes. I bet there’s men who lived and
despite this, have a grasp of Marxian and broadcaster over several decades, died out there, never seen the end of that
economics (at least, as applied to the line.” Or again: “They give better care
West since he mistakenly thought to that machine than they will to you . .
Russia wasn’t capitalist). Even so, . If that machine breaks down, there’s
it is not clear that Marx would have somebody out there to fix it right away.
expressed himself in the same terms. If I break down, I’m just pushed over to
For instance, credit - if it is genuinely the other side till another man takes my
credit and not just the issue of more place. The only thing they have on their
paper currency by the central bank mind is to keep that line running.”
- can’t exceed “past savings” plus Terkel also captured people’s
savings from “real incomes created in memories of the Depression years and
current production” since these are the Second World War. Again and again
precisely the source of any credit, i.e. the themes of solidarity and sharing
of the money that is loaned. shine through amidst the destitution
Of course debts do have to be and suffering. A woman born in 1911
repaid and if for some reason (such recalls the ’20s in a mining town in
as overproduction in relation to Illinois: “we’d go out picnics, we’d go out
the market for some key product) fishing, all families. Everything for the
they can’t be, the banks and other picnic. And then when you went to the
financial institutions will be in picnic, there was no money exchanged,
trouble and a financial Krach or, as no commercial, everything like one big
we say nowadays, a credit crunch died at the end October at the age of 96. family. They’d cook a pot of mulligan stew
will result. Marx wrote quite a bit His style and approach is well illustrated and everybody’d share out of that. That
about these and, to give Boyes by the sub-title of his 1975 book Working: was a picnic. Today you go on a picnic,
his due, he recognises this even People talk about what they do all day what is it? It’s commercial. You buy your
mentioning the articles Marx wrote in and how they feel about what they do. ticket, you buy your popcorn, you buy
the New York Daily Tribune in 1857 Besides the subject of work, he dealt your beer. If you haven’t got a fistful of
on “The Financial Crisis in Europe” of with leisure, family and education, culture money, you haven’t got no picnic.”
that year. and sub-culture. An article partly based As Oliver Sacks once said, “There is
But then he goes on: on his writings appeared in the Socialist no one in the world who can listen like
“In the manifesto, published Standard for August 2003. Studs Terkel.” Reading his books provides
in 1848, he lists the ten essential Some of Terkel’s nine thousand an unforgettable picture of working-class
steps to communism. Step five was interviews — especially the broadcast American life and shows that, contrary to
‘Centralisation of credit in the hands ones — were with celebrities of various what may sometimes appear, American
of the state . . .” kinds. But his books were mainly about workers are dissatisfied with their lot and
It is true that one of the ten the life experiences of everyday men and more than prepared to fight for better
immediate measures, listed at the women. He quoted these graphic words times.
end of section two of the Communist of an assembly-line worker: “I stand in
Manifesto, that the Communist one spot, about two or three feet area all
League of Germany advocated
should be taken if political power in But there was no chance of the
working class gaining control of IMAGINE
political power at that time, as Marx The Fall 2008 issue of the journal
and Engels later came to realise. In of the Socialist Party of Canada has
their preface to the first reprint of the now arrived. A copy can be ordered
pamphlet in 1872 they wrote that “no for £1 (cheque made payable to “The
special stress should be laid” on the Socialist Party of Great Britain) from
ten proposed measures which had “in the Socialist Party, 52 Clapham High
some details become antiquated”. So
St, London SW4 7UN.
to describe them today, in 2008 over
a 150 years later, as “the essential”
“steps to communism” is absurd.
No doubt the working class,
when it does come to win control
of political power, will have to have
drawn up a programme of immediate
measures, but they won’t include
setting up a single State Bank as,
Ernest
Mandel given the development of the forces
of production, society can now move
Germany was to fall into the hands straight to socialism (or communism,
of the working class in the course the same thing) where there will be
of the anti-feudal and anti-dynastic no need for banks as there will be no
revolutions of 1848, did include need for money. What the manifesto
“Centralisation of credit in the elsewhere called “the Communistic
hands of the State, by means of a abolition of buying and selling” can
national bank with State capital and now be achieved immediately.
an exclusive monopoly”. ADAM BUICK

14 Socialist Standard December 2008

December 08 bdh.indd 14 21/11/08 11:52:01


Robert Owen:
paternalist utopian
sex). He raised the minimum
working age from six to ten years.
Entertainment for his workers
was a little harmless music, some
dancing and physical jerks. Military
drill was introduced to “give them
an erect and proper form, and
habits of attention, celerity, and
order”. In addition “firearms, of
proportionate weight and size for
the age and strength of the boys
shall be provided for them”. A key
element in the workplace was the
public display of a block showing
the behaviour of the individual
(shades of Maoist self-criticism).
This was said to be character
building but also produced
a disciplined and productive
workforce. (All quotes are from
A New View of Society Owen’s
account of New Lanark).
The aim at New Lanark was
made absolutely clear in a letter
from Owen to The Times in 1834:
“I believe it is known to your
lordship that in every point of
view no experiment was ever so
successful as the one I conducted
at New Lanark, although it was
commenced and continued
in opposition to all the oldest
and strongest prejudices of
mankind. For twenty-nine years
we did without the necessity for
magistrates or lawyers; without a
single legal punishment; without
any known poors’ (sic) rate;
without intemperance or religious
animosities. We reduced the
Robert Owen - original Daguerrotype hours of labour, well educated
all the children from infancy,
This year marks the 150th in the cotton spinning business. In greatly improved the condition of
1800, at the age of 29, he moved to the adults, diminishing their daily
anniversary of the death of New Lanark in Scotland. labour, paid interest on capital,
Robert Owen. The Owenites This was the real era of the dark and cleared upwards of £300,000
introduced the word “socialism” satanic mills. Sans unions and sans of profit.” (quoted in GJ Holyoake’s
factory legislation, the workers toiled History of Cooperation).
but Owen himself always Like Lord Leverhulme at Port
endlessly for a measly pittance,
opposed the class struggle. existing in a degraded condition in Sunlight, Owen found that treating

O
filthy slums. Owen took New Lanark your workers better makes better
wen’s key idea, indeed (which it must be said was even at workers which makes better profits.
perhaps his only one, was: the start one of the better mills) and The rest of Owen’s life was an
“Man’s character is made for made it a model factory estate. Nice attempt to recreate the Lanark Mills
and not by him”. He thought that Mr. Owen became well known as a experience on a large scale. True
it was therefore possible to give a genial entrepreneur and benevolent later on for different reasons. But
person any character you like. He philanthropist. At his factory at Owen never really understood that
was, in short, a ‘man moulder’. Lanark he improved hours and at New Lanark he was able to impose
Robert Owen was born in Wales. conditions, introduced schooling, ‘nice’ upon his workers by their very
He had little formal education and banned ‘morally harmful’ out status as workers.
but through hard work and nous of hours activities (outlawing pubs The end of the Napoleonic Wars
(including marrying the boss’s and books and fining extra-marital brought a period of crisis including
daughter) soon became a big cheese

Socialist Standard December 2008 15

December 08 bdh.indd 15 21/11/08 11:52:01


mass unemployment.
This resulted in a high
“Essentially Regent).
When Owen
than useful in themselves. Strikes
were certainly not on Owen’s agenda.
poor rate. Owen, being a society was to returned to Britain And when the true class war came to
businessman, sought to in 1829 after the a head in the summer of 1834, Owen
lower this with a plan for be transformed dismal failure of his bailed out, disassociating himself
solving unemployment.
Again this was the 5
by means of American experiment,
he found the situation
from the GNCTU. Extreme pressure
from employers led to the failure of
percent philanthropy at experimental somewhat altered. the union, which brought down in
work. Concern for the Throughout the its wake the cooperatives and labour
suffering was tempered communities” country the working exchanges. The latter were probably
by profit making – in the class was making fatally flawed in any case due to their
form of a lowered tax use of the repeal of limited ability to satisfy needs, most
burden. Some time around 1817 this the anti-combination laws to set up goods making their way there being
tax plan became a general scheme for trade unions. These were as yet little unsaleable on the open market.
the changing of society. more than local self-help clubs, often In 1835 Owen renewed the
Essentially society was to carrying out some form of cooperative attempt to found a community. This
be transformed by means of trading venture. Many of those time the attempt was made through
experimental communities. These involved looked to Owen as a source a distinctly working class body. This
self-contained and self-supporting of inspiration. Owen himself had lost was variously named the Association
complexes were to be built as grand virtually all his money and whatever of All Classes of All Nations (1835-
squares, the parallelograms. In the slight influence he may have had 39), the Universal Community
communities the precise form of amongst the wealthier classes. Society of Rational Religionists (1839-
ownership of property was left open, Bandwagonning a little, he began to 42) and the Rational Society (1842-
leaving the way open for ‘community associate himself with the various 46). At its peak in 1841 there were
of goods’. However Owen was averse self-help schemes – co-operatives, 70 or so branches spread throughout
to this. Economics, like the precise barter schemes and trade unions. Great Britain. In key centres, such
form of internal administration in the Although so far as he was concerned as Manchester and London, meeting
colony, was unimportant. Education these were only of use in ‘preparing halls were built (the Halls of Science)
was the key to Owen’s scheme the public’s mind for community’, and regular indoor and outdoor
and its purpose was to mould this short period (1829-34) was the propaganda meetings held under
the individual into an ideal social making of Owen as a figurehead of the auspices of ‘Social Missionaries’.
character. Finance was to come by the old Left. By late 1839 the efforts bore fruit
an appeal to the rich and influential. Within a short time Owen had set with the opening of a community
Such was not forthcoming. Owen up his own cooperative (Association at Queenwood in Hampshire. This
blamed his failure on his relatively for the Promotion of Cooperative became known as Harmony.
mild criticism of the established Knowledge), union (Grand National Harmony was however distinctly
church and the family. Doubtless Consolidated Trades Union) and unharmonious. Owen regarded the
this had some effect but the rich labour exchange (National Equitable whole enterprise as a means towards
really had no particular interest in Labour Exchange) organisations. The the perfection of humanity, a great
solving the problem of poverty. So latter functioned as an extension of experiment in making people nice.
far as they were concerned the poor the cooperative store, surplus coop The workers however saw Owenism
could rot. produce forming the basis of its in general and the community in
From 1824 Owen poured activities. Essentially goods brought particular, as a way of abolishing
his own money into setting up in were valued by a committee and a their own poverty. Conflict was
a community in America. New note issued indicating the amount of inevitably the result, with control
Harmony, in Indiana, failed within a labour required to produce the item. of the enterprise swinging back and
few years, essentially due to lack of This could then be exchanged for forth between the paternalist Owen
discrimination in choosing occupants other goods in the bazaar of the same and the self-organising proles. The
(the great problem of freeloaders). labour time value. true downfall of Harmony however
Without the power that goes with The various groups were viewed was really Owen’s responsibility.
being a factory owner, Owen was as fund raisers and mind openers – Having selected a hopeless
unable to make the communists fronts in modern parlance – rather site in the chalk uplands,
behave as he proceeded to build a
he wished,
particularly as,
despite his own New Lanark Mill
high opinion of
himself, he was not
a particularly good
organiser, often
leaving deputies to
deal with problems
while he swanned
off for parties with
the wealthy (Owen
was always fond
of the Great and
Good, dedicating
the New View to
the appallingly
corrupt Prince

16 Socialist Standard December 2008

December 08 bdh.indd 16 21/11/08 11:52:01


hopelessly ornate ‘super workhouse’, burdening the society
with unsustainable debts. In the summer of 1845 Harmony
was sold off. Further details of the Harmony scheme can
The myth of
be found in Edward Royle’s excellent Robert Owen and the magic money
Commencement of the Millennium (Manchester University
Press, 1998). Cooking One thing that the current banking crisis
has done is to explode the myth about
Historically the attitude to the Owenites of the 1830s
and ‘40s has been determined by the semi-religious
the banks being able to create credit, i.e.
millennial language that was used and group dismissed Books 2 money to lend out at interest, by a mere
stroke of the pen. Events have clearly
(e.g. by GDH Cole) as nothing more than a sect. Although
confirmed that banks are financial intermediaries which can only
there were elements of this, Owen as the secular saviour
lend out either what has been deposited with them or what they
leading his chosen people to the glorious paradise of have themselves borrowed or their own reserves. As the US
Community, the reduction is a rather unfair slur. Many Federal Reserve put it in one of its educational documents:
contemporary organisations, including the Chartists, used “Banks borrow funds from their depositors (those with savings)
flowery language. And the image of Owen as unquestioned and in turn lend those funds to the banks’ borrowers (those in need
leader was certainly far from the truth. of funds). Banks make money by charging borrowers more for a
Owen has further been criticised for paying no attention loan (a higher percentage interest rate) than is paid to depositors
to the main mass movement of the day – Chartism. for use of their money.” (http://www.federalreserveeducation.
Chartism was a movement for political democracy org/fed101/fedtoday/FedTodayAll.pdf. p. 57)
and as such was irrelevant to Owen’s aim – setting up Actually, banks don’t just borrow from individual depositors, or
experimental communities. It must also be said that so “retail”. They also borrow “wholesale” from the money market. It is
far as the starving worker of the day was concerned the in fact the difficulties they have experienced here that has revealed
issue of mere possession of the vote in itself would not that they cannot create credit out of nothing.
have brought them food. The demand for the ballot was Because some banks had burnt their fingers by buying
resisted by the upper class largely because it was believed securities based on sub-prime mortgages in America, other banks
were reluctant to lend on the money market for fear that the
anti-capitalist measures would follow in its wake. Owen
borrowing bank might turn out to be insolvent. Which meant that
recognised, unlike most Chartists, that political democracy
one source of money for the banks to re-lend to their customers
is not the solution in itself to capitalist misery. He did not
had shrunk. Or at least had become too expensive as interest rates
however recognise that it could be a means to this very had risen too high compared with the rate banks could charge
end. their borrowers to allow them to make a profit or enough profit. So,
After 1845 Owen went into a form of retired senility. deprived of this source of money, the banks had less to lend out
Seances, bumpreadings and other such garbage were the themselves. Which of course wouldn’t have been a problem if they
order of the day. Perhaps his greatest contribution of these really did have the power to create money to lend out of nothing.
years was his autobiography The Life of Robert Owen by But at least one person was unable to see what should have
Himself, published in 1857. Although obviously biased it is been obvious. On 15 October the Times printed a letter from a
a great from the horse’s mouth source. Malcolm Parkin, in which he wrote:
The principal practical result of Owen’s life was “Only 3 per cent of money exists as cash. Therefore the rest
the setting up of utopian communities. The Owenite is magic money conjured into existence, and issued as debt by
communities, both the official ones detailed above and the banks, at a ratio of about 33 magic pounds to 1 real pound, by the
numerous examples in which Owen had no hand, failed to quite legal means of fractional reserve banking. In a rising market,
demonstrate Owen’s theories of character formation, which it follows that anybody able to create such money, at such a ratio,
was of course their main aim, because they never became can soon get rich.”
The “fractional reserve” he mentions is the proportion of retail
properly established. What they do demonstrate however
deposits that a bank keeps as cash to handle likely withdrawals.
is how easy it is for such a community to fail. And since
Fifty years ago in Britain it was 8 percent. But, as banks resorted
such communities would primarily be a demonstration of
more and more to the wholesale money market to get money to
cooperation, providing a haven for a few from capitalism, relend, the percentage of cash to loans became almost irrelevant.
the amount of enthusiasm and resources invested was Parkin’s figure of 3 percent is the percentage of cash banks hold
surely wasteful. compared to total loans, including those based on money borrowed
Perhaps surprisingly, although Owenism was unfruitful from the money market (which even on his definition is not “magic
in achieving its specified aims its by-products were far money“).
from inconsiderable. The Rochdale Pioneers, founders of What a “fractional reserve”, or “cash ratio”, of say, 10 percent
the modern cooperative movement, were Owenites and the means, is that if £100 is deposited in a bank that bank has to keep
modern secularist movement can also trace its ancestry £10 as cash and can lend out £90. Parkin has misunderstood this
back to the Owenite movement of the 1840s. to mean that a bank can lend out £900 - and charge interest on it.
The importance of the Owenites is that they marked Easy money, as he says, if it were true. But it isn’t.
a watershed; for the first time a complete change in the The theory of “fractional reserve banking” is that an initial
nature of society was contemplated by a section of the deposit of £100 can lead to the whole banking system, but not a
working class. We also owe them our name. Although single bank, being able to make loans totalling £900. The argument
previously in use, the name ‘socialism’ was adopted by is that the initial £90 will eventually be re-deposited in some bank
(not necessarily the bank that made the loan), which can then lend
the Owenites in 1837 to describe their aims and within a
out 90 percent of this, i.e. £81, which in turn will be re-deposited,
few years Owenism and Socialism were synonymous. The
and so on, until in the end a total of £900 has been loaned out.
connection was so strong that Marx and Engels were forced
This is theoretically the case as one of the key features of
to have a Communist Manifesto rather than a socialist one. capitalism is that money circulates, but what the theorists never
The meaning of the phrase has altered much since then, emphasise is that this is based on the assumption that the same
primarily due to the influence of Marx and Engels, however money is used and re-used to create new deposits. If this does not
the underlying assumptions of Owen and the Owenites that happen then the process cannot work or continue. So, the banking
human nature is not eternally fixed and therefore a better system has not created any “magic money” out of nothing. It is still
world is possible remains the basis of socialism. dependent on individual banks only being able to lend out what has
KAZ been deposited with them or what they themselves have borrowed
– they cannot magically lend out vast multiples of this, as poor
Malcolm Parkin assumed.

Socialist Standard December 2008 17

December 08 bdh.indd 17 21/11/08 11:52:02


available 500,000 asthma attacks. Asthma is
for lease in a chronic disease, in which sufferers
Southern have repeated attacks and difficulty
California in breathing and coughing, which is
following the becoming common place amongst
1990 ZEV children. In Britain the cost of

C
atweazle was a television mandate treating illness associated with traffic
comedy series produced by of the California Air Resources pollution amounts to 1.7 percent
London Weekend Television Board. It also explores the role of the gross domestic product,
in the early 1970’s. The series was played in limiting the technology’s exceeding the costs arising from
conceived, and written by Richard development and adoption by the traffic accidents.
Carpenter and ran for two seasons US and Californian governments; California has almost perfect
starring Geoffrey Bayldon as the manufacturers of conventional conditions for photochemical smog
irrepressible Catweazle. If, like automobiles, hydrogen vehicles, with the necessary ingredients: the
me, you grew up in the constant and batteries; the oil industry; type of pollutants put out by cars,
presence of Doctor Who and the and of consumers, whilst also and abundant sunshine. So here
Goodies it is very likely you will considering the implications of at least you would have thought
also have fond memories of this these events for Middle East politics, the introduction and development
well written and charming series. environmentalism, air pollution and of General Motors EVI would
Catweazle was a magician, who global warming. have been rationally embraced..
lived in the eleventh century, but Electric car technology has been California already leads in electricity
however hard he tried, his spells around for a long time: the first generation from hydroelectric power,
hardly ever worked. One day was crude electric carriage was invented that accounts for close to one-
different. When Norman soldiers by Scotsman Robert Anderson in fifth of State electricity generation,
tried to capture him, in desperation about 1889 and the electric car and non hydroelectric renewable
he used magic to escape, and it subsequently caught on in the US, energy sources, such as wind,
worked! The only trouble was that enjoying success into the roaring geothermal, solar energy, fuel wood,
instead of flying through space to 1920s with production peaking in and municipal solid waste/landfill
flee his pursuers, he flew though 1912. gas resources. (Interestingly, due to
time. Catweazle finds himself Its decline was brought about by strict emission laws, only a few small
nine centuries into the future. several major developments. By the coal-fired power plants operate in
Being a magician, everything he 1920s America had a better system California, and the Mojave Desert is
experiences in the twentieth century of roads that now connected cities, said to be one of the best sites in the
such as motor cars, telephones bringing with it the need for longer- United States for solar power plants.
(“telling bone”), and electric light range vehicles. The discovery of A facility known as “The Geysers,”
(“electrickery”), he believes is the Texan crude oil reduced the price located in the Mayacamas Mountains
result of magic. This basic premise of gasoline making it cheap and north of San Francisco, is the largest
and Catweazle’s quest to return to affordable to the average consumer. group of geothermal power plants
his own time, drives much of the The initiation of mass production of in the world, with more than 750
humour in the series as Catweazle the internal combustion engine as megawatts of installed capacity.)
finds himself in situations that often developed by Henry Ford (Fordism) These resources could have been
become, well, hilarious. made these vehicles widely available. harnessed to support the EVI, an
Catweazle came to mind following And electric vehicles, by and large, emissions free vehicle. But we don’t
the Socialist Party’s recent showing were made with expensive materials live in a rational or even a remotely
of the film “Who Killed the Electric the cost of which continued to rise: reasonable world. Profit and greed of
Car”, as part of its season of free in 1912 an electric roadster sold for the market are both master and ruler
film evenings exploring issues $1.750 while a gasoline car sold for today.
and problems affecting our daily $650. Just ask yourself what sort of
lives. This documentary covers Human-induced air pollution a world is it where up to one billion
the history of the battery electric has been around at least since people worldwide consume less than
vehicle: its birth, limited commercial humans discovered fire; and the minimum critical daily caloric
development, and subsequent death, everyday five hundred million car intake needed to avoid hunger. In
focusing mainly on the General exhausts blow out some very nasty Africa in particular, hunger and
Motors EV1 which was made emissions as well as CO2, in fact disease are a vicious cycle. Hunger,
roadside emissions are if along with many other effects causes
anything on the increase. the immune system to weaken,
Traffic pollution has making the body more susceptible to
been blamed for tens other diseases. What kind of a world
of thousands of deaths denies millions the medication to
every year. The Lancet has fight off illness and disease? What
estimated that 6 percent kind of world is it? Rational and
of all deaths per year are Reasonable? Who killed the Electric
due to air pollution. Half Car?
these deaths, it says, were The killers of the electric car are
linked to traffic fumes. roaming the planet freely plundering
In Britain researchers it of its resources and all for profit –
estimate that traffic they will destroy a rain forest, pollute
fumes were responsible a river and poison the sea let alone
for more than 25,000 empty an oil well or kill a car if there
Thomas Edison with
new cases of chronic is a profit in it. It’s not “Electrickery.”
an electric car, 1913
bronchitis and more than NL

18 Socialist Standard December 2008

December 08 bdh.indd 18 21/11/08 11:52:02


Why we need a theory Towards a better
understanding of
the world, in order
need and use every day) and the proletariat (those with “nothing
to lose but their chains”), broadly speaking the “modern working
class” including the unemployed and unemployable. However
the proletariat is not to be understood as a sociological category
of people in such-and-such income group and such-and-such
to change it. occupations, but as a social relation of capitalism. It is all those
who have little or no means of support other than selling their
physical and mental labour-power. The proletariat is the only
class capable of ending class society, as it produces the material
conditions of its own enchainment. However, both classes are

T
he world we live in is a world of subject to the laws of the market economy – our concern is
contradictions. The environment is in a with the social relation capital not the individual capitalist – the
state of decline, yet industry continues functionaries of capitalism are more and more disposable as
to pump pollutants into the individuals. While the rag-wearing
atmosphere whilst non- classical proletariat of Marx’s time
polluting technologies are has all but disappeared, at least in the
neglected. Thousands starve, developed countries, the fundamental
while food stocks remain division remains; power and wealth
unused. We can communicate are becoming more rather than less
with strangers from all around concentrated under the control of a
the globe, yet no-one knows small minority. The modern proletariat is
their neighbour. Automation almost everyone; it is the working class
could free us from involuntary which must destroy both alienated work
labour, yet we are chained to and class.
the machine. We live amongst The “official” history of the working
vast material possibilities, class’s struggle against capitalism is
yet poverty is the universal an inversion, what is presented as its
experience – not just in the greatest triumphs are in reality its most
narrow economic sense but bitter defeats; Leninist “Communism”
also in terms of the quality of in the East and reformist “Socialism”
lived experience. “Never in in the West were both expressions of
history has there been such a a general movement towards state-
glaring contrast between what capitalism. The greatest tragedy of
could be and what actually exists” (Ken Knabb, these times is that in the minds of the vast majority of workers
The Joy of Revolution). the project for the dissolution of the commodity economy became
Central to all these contradictions and associated with its exact opposite. “So the light darkened that had
reshaping all previous antagonisms is the illuminated the world; the masses that had hailed it were left in
global commodity-capitalist system. A system blacker night… By usurping the name communism for its system
characterised by the production of commodities, of workers’ exploitation and its policy of often cruel persecution of
wage labour and the market economy. A adversaries, it made this name, till then expression of lofty ideals,
commodity is what is produced by the worker a byword, an object of aversion and hatred even among workers”
under capitalist conditions, its purpose to (Anton Pannekoek, Workers Councils).
reproduce and enlarge capital (stored surplus Though the call for a new society was never thoroughly
value). The pursuit of ever increasing profits is extinguished; small and often profoundly isolated groups and
the driving force behind the whole process – the individuals arguing the case for a social reorganization to bring
fulfilment of people’s needs is a secondary and free access and control of the means of production into the hands
not always occurring result. of the whole of humanity. “From each according to ability, to each
Commodities are only available in according too need!”
exchange for other commodities, money being The creation of such a society has two preconditions; firstly
the universal commodity and measure of all that technological production techniques have been sufficiently
others. Since all goods have been turned into developed to be able to fulfil the material needs of the whole of
commodities and access to non-commodified society and secondly, that the majority of the population have
materials restricted, those without the means of an understanding of what needs to be done and want to carry
producing anything to exchange must sell the it through. Revolutionaries are painfully aware that the first
only thing they have, their physical or mental requirement has long since been reached but that the second is
labour-power. The logic of the market economy still far from being realized.
treats this labour like any other commodity; to If we are to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past it will be
be bought, sold and discarded as the market necessary to develop a theory of revolutionary practice, a theory
dictates. In effect the worker becomes a which seeks to “get to the root of all things” and improve them. It
commodity. This transformation of living activity is not a matter of choosing from one of the pre-existing ideologies
into an object creates an alienated or estranged of the old workers movement and basing our world view around
world in which humankind does not recognize it, but a matter of finding the “moment of truth” in all the theories
or fulfil itself, but is overpowered by the dead of the past and synthesising this with our experience of the
things and social relations of its own making. present.
Capitalist society is therefore split into two “Theory itself becomes a material force when it has seized
camps, the bourgeois or capitalist class (those the masses” (Karl Marx, Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s
who own and control the means of production – Philosophy of Right).
the land, equipment, machinery, buildings and DARREN POYNTON
raw materials necessary to create the things we

Socialist Standard December 2008 19

December 08 bdh.indd 19 21/11/08 11:52:02


Book Reviews
Manufactured scarcity on a Friday night in the local pub,
Socialist Party either. Nevertheless, the material
gains we have made in the interim
Merchandise Green Capitalism. Manufacturing
Scarcity in an Age of Abundance. between the first factories and 21st
By James Heartfield. www. century capitalism are impressive.
Teeshirts: heartfield.org 2008. £7.50 In a summation of capitalist
Blue with polar bear and ‘If you economics Heartfield tackles the neo-
were a polar bear, you’d be a classical economists and suggests
socialist’ plus party website address. James they were in effect “Rationers by
Yellow, with blue and green globe Heartfield is Trade“ (my phrase not his) but you
‘The world is a treasury for all’ associated with get the point. Notwithstanding that,
plus party web site address on. the former the book opens with a great sense
Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, Extra Trotskyist of optimism and opines succinctly
Large. (British) upon the gains made by the working
  Revolutionary class under capitalism. The author
Mugs: Communist explains carefully the concomitant
One style: Party (RCP) progressive and destructive forces
‘Duet’ - Red which used to at play within the profit system and
and white publish Living hints at transcending towards a more
with ‘Only Marxism (LM) rational form of society founded upon
sheep need and has moved on considerably since technological progress.
leaders’ “the collapse of Communism” at the This work sets out to show
how modern Environmentalism
(pictured) end of the 1980’s and the dissolution
of the formal RCP organisation in came about as a consequence of
and
1997. These days the so-called “LM ruling elites ideas about scarcity.
website on,
network” produces the edgy www. Heartfield‘s argument is that,
with ‘’Famine?
spiked-online.com website and in Western society, the myth of
War? Pollution? Capitalism is the
organises debates and events under the “fragile” planet emerged as a
Problem.  World Socialism s the
the auspices of the Institute of consequence of the retreat from
Solution’’ and party tel. number on.
Ideas and a myriad of propaganda production in the original heartlands

campaigns expedited largely through of industrial capitalism.
Pens:
a robust, sometimes entertaining, Much of the Green
Blue and white, with blue ink ‘Only
and not ineffective style of media Capitalism provides an excellent
sheep need leaders’ and a sheep plus exposition of the fools’ errand
party website entryism.
One area this current has of “Environmentalism” and the
Red and white, with blue ink  ‘Workers levers of power behind that aspect
of the world unite’ plus party website been particularly interested in
over the last two decades is in of the moribund profit system.
Black with black ink.  ‘Only sheep Meanwhile, at times the prose is
need leaders!’ and a sheep plus party promoting a full-on critique of
the reactionary imperatives of the poor and plodding, and some of the
website referencing is both points-scoring
politics of “Environmentalism”. In
Green Capitalism James Heartfield and unnecessary to make the more
Baseball caps: essential issue clear. Do we really
reminds us that the profit system
navy blue, with embroidered ‘’World need to be lectured about Trotsky’s
is essentially a system of rationing,
Socialist Movement’’ on. ideas on production? Some of this
which is now, in certain circles
  stuff would leave the general reader
and in a variety of ways, being
Balloons: all at sea in very short order. Whilst
dressed up as “greenwashing” by Big
different colours, with ‘’World Socialist a final extraordinary point is clearly
Business and Governments – as the
Movement’’ on. made: the world population grew
contemporary ruling elites reinvent
  from 791 million in 1750 to 5.9
scarcity in an age of abundance.
Prices: billion in 1999, as a consequence of
Heartfield rightly presents the
Tee shirts £7.00 each (state size advances in agriculture, transport,
capitalist mode of production as an
when ordering). Mugs £5.00 sanitation, industry. Many of
epoch in which the force of human
each. Pens £0.50 each. Baseball ingenuity has sought to ameliorate that number exist at the level of
caps £5.00 each. Balloons the exigencies of life through subsistence – and it should not
15p each. technical breakthrough with the be that way! So, from an editorial
  result that happiness is the condition perspective the narrative simply
Postage and packaging for most of us in Western societies. peters out – a bang and a whimper!
£2.50 for the first £10 and then £1.50 I do, however, take issue with the Where is the alternative?
for subsequent £10 worths or part notion that one out of any of the 300 Notwithstanding that, this book
thereof. Please send cheque or workers at the Lombe silk works on has much to recommend it, not least
postal order (no cash) made payable the Derwent in 1721 or the 5000 for cocking a timely snook at both
to SPGB SW Regional Branch, wage slaves at Arkwright’s Mill in the modern-day misanthropes who
c/o Veronica Clanchy, FAO: South Cromford in 1771 woke up for work see mankind as a plague upon the
West Regional Branch, 42 Winifred every day with a sense of unmitigated planet and the long-dead ‘dismal
Road, Poole, Dorset.  BH15 3PU. Any joy. Whilst those long deceased scientists’ of neo-classical economics
queries, please phone 01202 569826. exploited workers are no longer who could not comprehend a theory
Please include own phone number or “variable Capital”, my modern-day of productive growth through
other contact details. neighbours don’t seem to enthuse collective endeavour. Heartfield puts
  much about the conditions of their a well aimed, populist boot into
means of living whilst having a sup the modern-day Green Capitalists

20 Socialist Standard December 2008

December 08 bdh.indd 20 21/11/08 11:52:03


Meetings
– Branson, Goldsmith, Charles
Windsor, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Lord
are “likely to be overlooked.” In
biotechnology the picture is the same
West London
(Peter) Melchett, and makes reasoned with GM crops being genetically
argument that Western Capitalism engineered to meet the needs of large Tuesday 16 December
has got to go Green for the sake of scale farms. There is no serious SEASONAL SOCIAL
exploiting new sources of profit. investment in the five most important All welcome
There is an argument that semi-arid and tropical crops. Barley Mow pub, Chiswick High Road
modern socialists need to take on the Half of the world’s population lives (opposite Boots)
Green catastrophists and promote in the countryside and the majority Nearest tubes: Chiswick Park, Turnham
technology and real democracy to of people in absolute poverty live in Green
face down the spectre of Austerity the rural areas. OECD (Organisation
Capitalism in the 21st Century - in
order to kill the pernicious profit
for Economic Co-operation and
Development) sources are given
London
system once and for all. for the claim that over the past 20
Public Meeting followed by Social.
ANDY P. DAVIES years aid donors and governments
have effectively withdrawn from the Saturday 10 January, 6pm
countryside. Mention is made of the DID YOU ENJOY YOUR CHRISTMAS?
well known ‘structural development Speaker: Jim Lawrie.
From poverty to power programmes’ which imposed a Socialist Party Head Office, 52 Clapham
‘radical free market’ on debtor High St, London SW4
How Active Citizens and Effective countries. (nearest tube: Clapham North)
States can Change the World Agricultural growth, Green
Duncan Green 2008 argues, reduces poverty but is most
effective when small farmers are
able to capture a fair share of the
Duncan benefits. Local farmers, he says,
Green defines should be helped to improve the
an effective quality of their produce so that for
state as one example retail giants like McDonalds
that “can and Pizza Hut use local produce
guarantee instead of importing produce from
security and the USA. Here his ‘active’ citizens
the rule of would be small farmers “organising
law,” and has their ability to negotiate a fair deal”.
an effective However when it comes to buying
strategy fertilizer or seeds, or selling produce
“to ensure or their labour, small producers are
inclusive dominated by the large corporations.
economic Small farmers are “de facto
growth”. Such a state should be employees”.
accountable to citizens and able In Green’s view efficient states
to guarantee their rights. Active should take the environment and the
citizens are linked to the state enhancement of the daily lives of the
by a “combination of rights and poor as prime considerations. Global
obligations”: making use of these governance (the “web of international
rights to improve their conditions. institutions, laws regulations, and
He argues that it is the agreements”) could help, and the 8
combination of poor men and women main ways he lists include managing
and their national governments the global economy, redistributing
that provide the main actors in the wealth through aid or international
fight against poverty and inequality. taxation, averting health threats
Case studies are given to illustrate and avoiding war. However global
how even the poorest people have governance fails to live up to its
by their organised and persistent ideals. “The WTO is frozen, regional
actions brought about beneficent trade agreements are proliferating
change in their circumstances. Like and introducing profoundly unfair
the Chiquitanos people of Bolivia who trade and investment rules, the G8 is
after 12 years of “unremitting and failing to keep its promises on aid...”,
often frustrating struggle” won legal then there is the threat of climate
title to the 1m-hectare indigenous change and “a looming financial
territory of Monteverde. crisis”. cannot be the welfare of citizens
He is aware that the scales are The book is well sourced with active or otherwise, but sale and
weighted against the poor in all a 24-page bibliography and three profit; this drives development (forget
areas. For example, research is further pages listing background sustainable) – and can also inhibit
dominated by the private sector: in papers. There is much useful it. And the state that in his view is
agriculture 5 large multinational information covering more areas supposed to facilitate change will
corporations spend $7.3bn per year than can be dealt with in a review. only do so to the extent that the
on agricultural research on high However Duncan Green takes interests of the owning class are
value, high profit products while the a moral stance whereas under served.
staple foods of poor communities capitalism the prime consideration PAT DEUTZ

Socialist Standard December 2008 21

December 08 bdh.indd 21 21/11/08 11:52:03


OBITUARY
ardent critic of capitalism, always together within an hour.
Carol Taylor keen to expose the insanity of the http://socialist-tv.blogspot.
It was with sadness that we learned profit system in whatever way she com/2008/02/introducing-spgb.
in mid-October of the death of Carol could. On the discussion forum she html.
Taylor, and at a relatively young age. attached to the initial Socialist TV I worked with her on a few films,
Carol will be best remembered for her website she created specifically to including one on the “G8” meeting
work on the now popular socialist promote Kids Stuff she spent hours filmed up in Scotland a few years
film Capitalism and Other Kids Stuff, a day articulately defending the ago, and we spent a lot of time
on which she worked as director and socialist case against our detractors together collecting stock footage we
editor. who left messages, and there was a felt we could use on future socialist
Though no longer formally fair few. films. I fondly remember the many
a member, she had no actual Carol can be heard introducing encounters we had with the police
disagreement with the Party case. the first ever film we did together who tried to stop us filming around
She was always a fervent defender here, a short film introducing the London, often under threat of arrest,
of the socialist cause and an Socialist Party and actually put particularly the day we tried to get
footage of HRH and entourage during
the State opening of Parliament and
Borstal Boy the angry argument Carol gave to
the police who came to escort us
BRENDAN BEHAN at the age would-be Martyr’s crown. He came away from the area and, indeed, the
of sixteen came from Dublin to out none the worse, perhaps even way she cleverly managed to blag
Liverpool with an I.R.A. “do it a little better for it. But what of the
us media passes to get on to the
yourself kit,” for the purpose of mal-adjusted, the misfits and the
blowing up Cammell Lairds. He unfortunates; what happened to
press wagon at Teeside Airport when
was arrested, and after a stay in them? That, perhaps, is the most George Bush came for his £1 million
Walton Detention Prison, Liverpool, disquieting thing of all, but Behan fish supper in Tony Blair’s north
was sent for three years to a Borstal never mentions it. eastern constituency.
Institution in East Anglia. The book He has nothing to say against I’m please to have known Carol
(published by Hutchinson) tells of patriotism or nationalism either closely and will remember her as
his experiences in these places. of the English, Irish or any other quite a magnanimous person, warm
(…) variety. He seems to regard many and affectionate, loathing injustice,
In spite of all the tumult and Englishmen as stiff-necked and deceit and fraud and ever ready to
violence of the book, it has a arrogant, but sees no reason why
speak out against it.
monastic quality in that nothing of they should not be either in their
any significance from the outside native country or to people who
JB
world ever seeps in. not even the come from other countries. But
war which was going on at the time in a world of conflicting national Picture Credits
is mentioned, in fact, the author interests, being pro Irish, English cover: ‘Money monster’ - © 2008 Neil Windle
never seems to have really noticed or American, means even at the Fresco house - Doug Drexler / Jacque Fresco
it. There is no serious discussion, best of times being negatively anti- Gordon Brown - © 2008 Flickr. Creative Commons
not even about Ireland. Behan Attribution ShareAlike 2.0
something else. In the worst times
p12: Homeless - © 2005, Eric Pouhier. Creative
indulges in rodomontade about such feelings take on an active and
Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5. Hospital ward
Irish politics, religion and history, hostile form. – © 2007 Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike
but never indicates that he has any 3.0 Unported.
grasp of the underlying economic (From book review by E.W., p14: Ernest Mandel - www.marxists.org
and factors of Irish history. (…) Socialist Standard, December p15: Robert Owen - original Daguerrotype, from
Behan at least went to Borstal 1958) www.history.stir.ac.uk
wearing a slightly glamorised

Declaration of Principles
This declaration is the basis of by the capitalist or master class, the emancipation of the working 7.That as all political parties
our organisation and, because and the consequent enslavement class wil involve the emancipation are but the expression of class
it is also an important historical of the working class, by whose of all mankind, without distinction interests, and as the interest of
document dating from the labour alone wealth is produced. of race or sex. the working class is diametrically
formation of the party in 1904, opposed to the interests of all
its original language has been 2.That in society, therefore, there 5. That this emancipation must sections of the master class,
retained. is an antagonism of interests, be the work of the working class the party seeking working class
manifesting itself as a class itself. emancipation must be hostile to
Object struggle between those who every other party.
The establishment of a system possess but do not produce and 6.That as the machinery of
of society based upon the those who produce but do not government, including the armed 8.The Socialist Party of Great
common ownership and possess. forces of the nation, exists only Britain, therefore, enters the field
democratic control of the to conserve the monopoly by the of political action determined
means and instruments for 3.That this antagonism can capitalist class of the wealth taken to wage war against all other
producing and distributing be abolished only by the from the workers, the working political parties, whether alleged
wealth by and in the interest of emancipation of the working class class must organize consciously labour or avowedly capitalist,
the whole community. from the domination of the master and politically for the conquest and calls upon the members of
class, by the conversion into the of the powers of government, the working class of this country
Declaration of Principles common property of society of national and local, in order that to muster under its banner to the
The Socialist Party of Great the means of production and this machinery, including these end that a speedy termination
Britain holds distribution, and their democratic forces, may be converted from an may be wrought to the system
control by the whole people. instrument of oppression into the which deprives them of the fruits
1.That society as at present agent of emancipation and the of their labour, and that poverty
constituted is based upon the 4.That as in the order of social overthrow of privilege, aristocratic may give place to comfort,
ownership of the means of living evolution the working class is the and plutocratic. privilege to equality, and slavery
(i.e., land, factories, railways, etc.) last class to achieve its freedom, to freedom.

22 Socialist Standard December 2008

December 08 bdh.indd 22 21/11/08 11:52:03


Lucky Gordon?
Gordon Brown’s new Golden Age

S
ome things are helpful, if not actually essential, to suitability to instruct others in such a matter. He is, after
top politicians or to those who are high enough up all, the man who made himself famous by informing
the greasy pole to feel threatened by a fall. There the City that New Labour are “intensely relaxed about
is, for example, what might loosely be termed luck – an people getting filthy rich”. Then there was his cosying up
unpredicted change of circumstances which so affects a to top Tory George Osborne on the yacht of the Russian
situation that it puts the politician in an unexpectedly billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who did not amass his fortune
favourable light. But as a son of the manse Gordon through considerate reticence towards his rivals.
Brown has to believe in something rather more ritualistic
than luck. He would not dream of gambling, especially Lord Mayor’s Banquet
where his political fortunes are at stake. All through the Mandelson’s boss in Number Ten has a consistent
nail-biting perils of the past year he has carried stolidly record of sucking up to the overfed parasites of the City,
on, diverting criticism and the prospects of a catastrophic when mellowed by a slap-up Lord Mayor’s banquet.
electoral defeat with ponderous recitations of what he There was a time when Brown would make some kind
insists are the historic, enduring achievements of New of obscure, ineffective point by refusing to wear the
Labour, particularly of himself at the Treasury. While traditional evening suit at this event, turning up in a
he did this his poll rating sank lower and lower, he was work-a-day lounge suit. Now that he is Prime Minister
humiliated at one by-election after another and terrified, he does sartorially as he is told – although he looks far
sullen rebellion simmered along the benches behind him. from comfortable in black tie and tails and in any case
says roughly the same as before. Here he is in 1998:
Credit Crunch “London is a city that is creative and responds to change.
And then came the credit crunch and Northern Rock and It has excelled because of the hard work and skills of the
Lehman and, across the Atlantic, in the financial fortress workforce and these are the essential British qualities
of 21st century capitalism, the fall of Fannie Mae and – creativity, adaptability, a belief in hard work, fair play
Freddie Mac. Suddenly all those precariously mortgaged and openness”. In recent times his sycophancy has been
homes and image-boosting loans ceased to be symbols more open: in 2005 he blathered “For three centuries …
of comfort; they disintegrated into menace. There was your enterprise as businesses, your unique innovative
talk of 21st Century South Seas Bubble. Gordon Brown skills, your courage and steadfastness and your outward
would not, in public at any rate, have called it luck, and looking internationalism have …helped Britain lead the
neither would anyone with so much as a glimmering rest of the world”. And last June, as the recession was
about the chaotic workings of the property based system, stirring, quite obviously, into life: “Britain needs more
but the timing of it for him was – well, lucky. Apparently of the vigour, ingenuity and aspiration that you already
transformed in personality, he coined the phrase, as the demonstrate. Thanks to your remarkable achievements
climax of his conference speech, which summed up his we have the huge privilege to live in an era that history
hope for survival: “Take it from me, this is no time for a will record as the beginning of a new Golden Age”. In fact
novice”. Brown’s Golden Age was ushering in what is expected
This was said in the knowledge that Brown would to be the widest deepest, most destructive slump since
have no problem, in finding and naming the villains who the 1930s. While Brown was bowing and
have fed off the groundless dreams of unsuspecting wage scraping to the City it was at the centre
earners until the whole diseased edifice of lies and fraud of a veritable culture of mis-selling,
came crashing down. There were enough of them – the over-mortgaging workers’ homes
bankers, the financiers, the traders in the City whose and tempting workers to take
ideas of a hard, constructive day’s work has been pushing on loans which they simply
other people’s money around on paper and betting on the could not afford to repay.
movement, up or down, of share prices. When the South Sea
Brown rubbed salt into their wounds when, as part Bubble burst in 1720 a
of the package of state investment in the ailing banks, number of the people
he ensured that certain City favourites were removed who were considered
from the boardrooms. This was accompanied by Brown responsible, including
calling for “responsible” behaviour by the banks and Chancellor of the
then Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling calling Exchequer John
in their top people to lean on them to pass on the 1.5 Aisable, were sent to
percent reduction in the Bank of England lending the Tower and part of
rate. More recently Brown has used that word again, their estate was taken
demanding “a new, responsible approach”: by the credit to help the company
card companies. “I think”, he said “we have got to bring back into business.
the credit card industry (yes, they call it an ‘industry’) There is no need to
in to talk (yes, the call it ‘talk’) to them to join with us go quite so far; there
in establishing clear principles to apply to the costs would be no point in
people face on their existing debts”. And in case any punishing Mandelson
bank should still not have understood Peter (sorry, Lord) and Brown and the rest
Mandelson will be meeting them to draw up a “guide on for capitalism’s brutal
behaviour” (yes, they call it ‘behaviour’). chaos.
There may be some questions about Mandelson’s IVAN

Socialist Standard December 2008 23

December 08 bdh.indd 23 21/11/08 11:52:03


Poverty Recruits their experiences in Iraq and conclusion -- it was written in the stars.
“The economic crisis could help the Afghanistan. Health charities As an astro-finance specialist, he has
military recruit and retain troops, claim that as many as one in 10 made a career on predicting whether the
Pentagon officials said Friday, potentially soldiers will develop a mental health Bombay Stock Exchange, Nasdaq,
ending years of extraordinary bonuses problem from the horrors of combat.” Dow Jones or FTSE-100 will go up
and waivers that have become necessary (Observer,19 October) or down by studying favourable
to keep enough troops or unfavourable planetary
to fight two wars. “We The Same Difference alignments. Where many
do benefit when things Amidst the misguided blame banks overstretching
look less positive in euphoria about the themselves or inadequate financial
civil society,” said election of a Democratic controls and policy, Sharma sees a
David S.C. Chu , Party president it is a clash between fiery Saturn and its
undersecretary of sobering thought that arch enemy Leo as a key factor
defense for personnel whether there is a in the recent financial turmoil. ‘Leo
and readiness.” Republican or Democratic is the sign of the sun and the sun is the
(Yahoo News, legislation capitalism father in Indian astrology,’ he told AFP.
10 October) In carries on as usual. ‘But the son (Saturn) and his father (the
other words, when “Although there is a sun) don’t get along, so whenever they
young workers are widespread belief that Wall are sitting in the same house together,
desperate enough Street prefers Republican they always fight and create ill-
they join the armed presidents, most studies will and danger in the market,’ he
services. The show that the market said.” (TIME.com, 16 October)
best recruiting has actually done better
agency for the under Democrats. Since Vatican Bonuses
armed forces is 1901, the Standard & “The Vatican has
poverty. You need Poor’s 500 index rose reintroduced a system of clocking
to eat? - go kill. That 7.2 percent a year on average under in, nearly 50 years after it was
is capitalism for you. Democratic presidents and 3.2 percent last phased out. Senior clerics
under Republicans, according to Ned will have to swipe plastic cards
War Is Mental Davis Research. Looking at a more when entering and leaving,
We are all familiar with the recent time period - 1944 through mid- all in a drive to improve time-
TV ads for the British Army 2008 - the S&P was up 10.7 percent a keeping and efficiency. ... Lay and
that portray an exciting, fulfilling year on average with a Democrat in the ecclesiastical staff working in the tiny city
career but what many of the White House versus 8 percent with a state, are now using the swipe cards.
impoverished youths at whom the Republican, according to International The cards have been issued to everyone
ads are aimed may not be aware of Strategy & Investment.” (San Francisco from the lowest office staff to the heads of
are the following facts. “The number of Chronicle, 4 November) Changing departments, even if they are priests and
British military personnel discharged from the ruling party doesn’t archbishops, though there has been no
the armed forces following a `nervous change the exploitation mention if Pope Benedict XVI carries
breakdown has risen by 30 per cent since system that is capitalism. one. ...It is all part of a drive to increase
the start of the Afghan war. More than efficiency and to make the Vatican more
1,300 have been medically discharged Another Market Guru meritocratic. Next year there are plans
since 2001 when operation first began Mr Brown blames the unregulated to introduce performance-related pay.”
against the Taliban, new figures revealed. stock dealers, Mr Cameron blames Mr (BBC News, 3 November) Capitalism
Of these, 770 belong to the army, Brown and socialists blame the slump/ is a social system that needs concepts
which has borne the brunt of overseas boom cycle of capitalism, but here is like “performance-related pay”, but we
operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. ...The someone with yet another explanation. wonder how it will operate in the Vatican.
rising numbers of service personnel “From his base in India’s financial capital One miracle equals how many euros?
leaving for psychological reasons Mumbai, Raj Kumar Sharma has been Two visions equal more or less than one
will fuel concerns that thousands of tracking the turbulence in the world miracle? We foresee some difficulties
soldiers face being traumatised by stock markets and has come to one firm when disputes go to arbitration.

ISSN 0037 8259


24 Socialist Standard December 2008
Produced and published by the Socialist Party of Great Britain, 52 Clapham High Street, London SW4 7UN

December 08 bdh.indd 24 21/11/08 11:52:06