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Countless women and girls worldwide are denied a say in decisions about sex and childbirth, leaving them at risk of unwanted pregnancies and abortions.  At least 214 million women in developing nations cannot get access to contraceptives - resulting in 89 million unintended pregnancies and 48 million abortions each year, says UNFPA. A failure to give the world's poorest women control over their
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The 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) gets underway. The constitution of the Communist Party of China (CPC) lays emphasis on the principle of "collective leadership," whereby senior officials of the party take decisions collectively. In practice, this collective consists of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. The Standing Committee
6 hours 13 min ago
The Bangladesh Accord was signed in 2013 after the Rana Plaza disaster when more than 1,100 people were killed in the collapse of the building complex, as an independent, legally-binding agreement between global brands and trade unions to establish a fire and building safety programme for workers in the textile industry. Trade unions hailed a landmark ruling allowing complaints to proceed
6 hours 13 min ago
In creating a socialist society we have to always remember that we are not beginning from nothing. The Socialist Party has always acknowledged the progressive nature of capitalism's past in developing the means of production and distribution and its vast planning. These are in place just waiting to be re-focused and re-prioritised to serve the needs of people and not just for the accumulation of wealth for the few. There are also the non-state administrative organisations like WHO, FAO, and a host of well-structured and experienced NGOs such as Oxfam that can be adapted to a socialist world. One of the reasons we advocate capturing the state machine is to make use of the non-coercive parts of the state that could perform a constructive purpose inside socialist society once it is stripped of their profit-making ethos, such as the departments of environment, agriculture, health, education and so on.

Even private capitalism itself has developed methods that can be of use to ourselves. Multi-nationals employ a whole variety of statistic gathering and logistic supply and distribution systems to maintain a global inter-connected chain to provide raw materials for the factories and assembly centres and computerised stock-control networks to fill the supermarket shelves with stuff. We will make use of that capitalist knowledge when the workers in these industries and corporations, along with the communities,  gain control over the decision-making in them. One reason why socialism holds an advantage over capitalism is by eliminating the need to tie up vast quantities of resources and labour in its system of monetary/pricing accounting.

The Marxist theorist, Bertell Ollman, has written:
“...There is no overriding need to build an industry from scratch. Advice from a cooperative public, computers and other modern communication technology, and, of course, repeated trial and error and correction of error will permit quick adjustments whenever necessary. Hence, there is little likelihood of making major miscalculations or of suffering much material deprivation when errors are made. I would also expect socialist planning to occur at various levels—nation, region, city, and enterprise as well as world-wide—so that many of the decisions that were taken by central planners in the Soviet Union would be relegated to planners on levels more in keeping with the actions required for the plan to succeed.

 Equally important is the nature of socialist democracy as it affects the economy of this time. For the workers to function as the new ruling class, it is not enough that the government act in their interests. They must also participate in making crucial political decisions, and none are more crucial than choosing the economic planners and establishing the main priorities of the plan. I would expect debates on these matters to be an essential part of politics under socialism, as workers overcome their political alienation by realizing their powers as social and communal beings..."

One of the beneficial effects of free access is that it will thwart any potential bureaucracy (or as Parecon call them, the co-ordinator class) from arising.  Free access to goods and services denies to any group or individuals the political leverage with which to dominate others which have been a feature of all private-property or class based systems through the control of and restrictions to the means of life. This will ensure that a socialist society is run on the basis of democratic consensus.  It is the actual essence of free access to goods and services that it denies to any one particular group the political leverage with which to rule over others. So where will this power come from, if it cannot withhold the means of life or restrict access to society's wealth from those it wishes to subjugate or exploit or take advantage of.

Many socialists have also had a partiality to democracy by lottery (demarchy or sortition)as a means of administration and decision-making. A lottery is valid enough method of decision making for things as important as whether a man or woman should live or die, whether a man or woman should spend their lives locked up behind bars or go free. We entrust the decision to (in Scotland) 15 randomly picked members of the public, not quite picked off the street but close enough, to form a jury. It also helps to ensure no risk of a bureaucracy by committees.

The idea of opinion polls has turned into quite an accurate science in determining attitudes and predicting outcomes and those are based on not quite random selection by lottery but by adding parameters to create a representative sample. I am sure those involved in this profession will devise a whole variety of even more new practical applications for a socialist society that they have not yet begun studying because still having the capitalist society blinkers on. Epidemiological statistical research and returns is not a head count but are used by health workers and host of other statisticians. When workers in these fields have become socialists and they have built workers councils and neighbourhood communes or whatever,  there will be a surge in innovation and implementation.

Capitalism seems to have adopted the idea in the sense that they now all use focus groups to determine marketing and such like. There is also consumer research, mostly by telephone but also by visits has grown into an industry and if it didn't have some accuracy I doubt it would exist as much. I certainly can conceive of these being used in socialism as mechanisms for feedback on what we actually make and how much of it we should produce.
Democracy and allocation of resources in socialism need not be constant meetings and continual voting on every issue. Certainly, we will be involved more in civic affairs but these may be combined with festivals and celebrations like the medieval fairs which usually had some economic purpose such as alloting access in the commons or choosing work placements for farm labourers.

Certainly, there may be situations that genuine rationing will have to be imposed by communities, for instance,  a failed harvest which depletes the buffer reserve stocks and causes temporary shortage. These can be tackled by  prioritising indviduals (according to needs by vulnerability), and if there is no call for that criteria, by a simple lottery, or even simpler - first come, first served.  Referendums can easily and quickly be organised by various communities to decide such issues. One  purpose of socialism is to minimise administrative structures and make society self-regulating which involves people self-policing themselves for a want of a better word 

Ultimately critics of free access end up questioning it on the basis of present behaviour of people. Under capitalism, people tend to acquire and hoard goods because possession provides some security. People have a tendency to distrust others because the system is a dog-eat-dog one. In capitalist society there is a tendency for individuals to seek to validate their sense of worth through the accumulation of possessions. In socialism, status based upon the material wealth would be meaningless since everything would be freely available so why take more than you need when you can freely take what you need?  In socialism, the only way in which individuals can command the esteem of others is through their contribution to society, and the more the movement for socialism grows the more will it subvert the prevailing capitalist ethos, in general, and its anachronistic notion of status, in particular. How can the status of conspicuous consumption be used as a reward as it is now for a privileged elite when all have equal free access.

We should not project onto socialism the insatiable consumerism of capitalism. After all, there is a vast advertising industry. Regardless of how modest one's real needs may be or how easily they may be met capitalism has created a "consumer culture" that leads one to want more than one may materially need since - an insatiable desire to enhance his or her status within this hierarchal culture of consumerism.

Socialism does not require us all to become altruists, putting the interests of others above our own. In fact, socialism doesn't require people to be any more altruistic than they are today. We will still be concerned primarily with ourselves, with satisfying our needs, our need to be well considered by others as well as our material and sexual needs. No doubt too, we will want to “possess” personal belongings and to feel secure in our physical occupation of the house we live in, but this will be just that – our home and not a financial asset. Such “selfish” behaviour will still exist in socialism but the acquisitiveness encouraged by capitalism will no longer exist. The coming of socialism will not require great changes in the way we behave, essentially only the accentuation of some of the behaviours which people exhibit today (friendliness, helpfulness, co-operation) at the expense of other more negative ones which capitalism encourages.

The establishment of socialism presupposes the existence of a mass socialist movement and a change in social outlook. It is simply not reasonable to suppose that the desire for socialism on such a large scale, and the conscious understanding of what it entails on the part of all concerned, would not influence the way people behaved in socialism and towards each other. Why would they want to jeopardise the new society they had just helped create? If people cannot change then all speculation about socialism is rather pointless because there simply will not be a socialist revolution without people changing. If too many people once having achieved socialism then decide to not work, then socialism will fall apart. The socialist revolution entails workers acquiring a class consciousness, or participating in political and industrial organisations to expropriate the rich and re-structure production, not just who will do the work but how things are produced and distributed. This will require decision making and interactions with one another. We should be a little reticent to lay down expectations of what sort of procedures will evolve. We can only generalise with broad brush-strokes the picture of what may happen.

As already stated, we are not starting a new society from a blank sheet of paper. Suppose the revolution was tomorrow and we had socialism people will still carry on their duties, business as usual, for the immediate time being, while at the same time adapting and changing their work-places. All those in wasteful socially useless jobs will have to be re-deployed, slotted into other work. No doubt insurance actuaries with their flair for statistics and projections and demographics will orientate themselves to planning and administration. Ex-army will find that they can remain in uniform and be used in natural disaster relief work,  sent to build bridges or whatnot. Use your own imagination on how particular jobs in capitalism will disappear entirely or become transformed into more socially productive jobs in socialism. We are talking millions upon millions of new labour-force now released from retail and commerce to be made available to lessen the hours of work for others.
 Even in this callous heartless capitalist world, people will get together and help each other for mutual benefit. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 64.3 million Americans, or 26.8 percent of the adult population, gave 7.9 billion hours of volunteer service. 94% of the America’s Red Cross are volunteers.

In the UK almost 20 million had performed some sort of voluntary work in the last year. During 2010/11, 39% of adults in England said that they had volunteered formally at least once in the previous 12 months, with 25% volunteering formally at least once a month.

In Australia in 2010, 6.1 million people aged 18 years and more (36% of the Australian population aged 18 years and over) had undertaken some form of voluntary work in the previous 12 months.
That of course probably does not include good neighbours popping in and out of one another’s houses to do some DIY or running errands for others less able or whatever.

There are critics of socialism who declare that there will be a reluctance by people to do hard, dirty and dangerous work, and will avoid it if they can but who's to say what is dirty? Who's to say what is hard? Number crunching could be hard to one person and manual labour could be hard for another. These are both terms which are left to the interpretation of the individual. And some people even enjoy dangerous work. Why else would people climb mountains or sky-dive etc for leisure time if an element of danger is not enjoyable?   People are prepared to work "hard" if they consider what they are doing is enjoyable or necessary. What work is "dirty" is in the eye of the beholder. And some people consider it an honour to do "dangerous" work (eg lifeboat crews or mountain rescue teams, even soldiers). At the present, those who are employed in hazardous and unhealthy jobs do so because they have to, and are often on the job from 16 to 60, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, with a couple of weeks off a year. Socialists are not suggesting that this pattern will be the normal acceptable practice in socialism.  These type of jobs will not be done by the same people all the time. All able-bodied workers - of both sexes- will take turns at this work on a rotational basis that will be decided by those involved and not by you and i right now. We should not forget that this work will be carried out by socially conscious men and women who appreciate that society now belongs to them and therefore the less pleasant tasks must be performed by them. Don't you ever clean your own toilet in your own house? Or get sweaty and dirty gardening? In a situation where we all own and control the planet, and all that is in it and on it, it unlikely that people will refuse to tackle the dirty and unpleasant jobs. If health and safety is such an issue that people decide that it is too dangerous to expect people to engage in such work - so be it - we will have to do without,  or what is more probable, find an alternative second-best choice which doesn't carry as much risk in obtaining.  What we should not do is force or bribe or morally blackmail such workers.

Socialists do make assumptions but a phrase out of favour and unpopular these days is that our political ideas are based on "scientific socialism", we are scientific socialists. We use certain thinking processes such as inductive reasoning and the materialistic conception of history. We simply do not come up with our ideas independent or outside society. We assume things but it is from precedence. Workers already know how to co-operate and do in fact cooperate. What's lacking at the moment is not the capacity to cooperate but the will to do so to get socialism.

 Rosa Luxemburg wrote:
"...Socialism cannot be realized with lazy, careless, egotistic, thoughtless and shiftless men and women. A Socialist state of society needs people every one of whom is full of enthusiasm and fervor for the general welfare, full of a spirit of self-sacrifice and sympathy for his fellow men, full of courage and tenacity and the willingness to dare even against the greatest odds.

But we need not wait centuries or decades until such a race of human beings shall grow up. The struggle, the Revolution will teach the proletarian masses idealism, has given them mental ripeness, courage and perseverance, clearness of purpose and a self-sacrificing spirit, if it is to lead to victory. While we are enlisting fighters for the revolution, we are creating Socialist workers for the future, workers who can become the basis of a new social state..."

6 hours 13 min ago
SHARE THE WORLDSPARE THE PLANET Australia's government has rejected a clean energy plan that would have forced electricity companies to source a percentage of their power from renewables. The government also said it would scrap incentives and subsidies for wind and solar generators from 2020 to lower costs. Conservation groups say the decision is a huge mistake, warning it signals a damaging
9 hours 18 min ago