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About 2.5 million Australians are living below the poverty line, according to a Salvation Army report. It found on average, people had just under $18 a day to live on after paying for accommodation. The Salvation Army said the results painted an alarming picture of what was happening to many marginalised Australians. The survey found 75 per cent of respondents had cut down on basic
15 hours 21 min ago
One doesn’t have to be a professional historian or archivist to appreciate just how virulently skewed the U.S. judicial system has been in its dealings with working people. One doesn’t have to be a legal scholar to acknowledge that moneyed interests have always been provided with their own form of “justice.” All one has to do is pay attention. From Day One, the federal courts and Supreme
18 hours 22 min ago

On Monday many African Government offices, businesses and banks grind to a halt in order to commemorate Africa Day. In schools up and down the continent, little children are taught that heroic Africans liberated the continent from racist white colonial regimes and various events and parades are held to celebrate the occasion.
Colonialism in Africa is remembered as one of the worst crimes against humanity of the modern era. The exploitative economic system that underpinned colonialism remains alive and well today.
Africa’s liberation was from racist, colonial government. If this was to be the first stage of liberation, than the second stage must involve freeing Africa from the current white minority, who controls the majority of African land and resources.

Africa is not under-developed; she is over-exploited. From slavery to colonialism to present day neo-colonialism, Western policies have always been that of aggression and exploitation towards Africa. The African continent needs a second liberation to economically empower its indigenous majority who have been marginalized by Western capitals and corporations for centuries.

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18 hours 22 min ago
Nompumelelo Tshabalala, 41, emerges from her dwarf ‘shack’ made up of rusty metal sheets and falls short of bumping into this reporter as she bends down to avoid knocking her head against the top part of her makeshift door frame.
“This has been my home for the past 16 years and I have lived here with my husband until his death in 2008 and now with my four children still in this two-roomed shack,” she told IPS.
Tshabalala lives in Diepkloof township in Johannesburg, South Africa, in a densely populated informal settlement – a euphemism for slums, where an estimated 15 million of the country’s approximately 52 million people live, according to UN-Habitat, the U.N. agency for human settlements.
Neighbouring Zimbabwe has an estimated 835,000 people living in informal settlements, according to Homeless International, a British non-governmental organisation focusing on urban poverty issues. 

"Slum-dwelling here in Africa has become normal, a trend to live with, which is difficult to combat owing to numerous factors ranging from political corruption to economic inequalities necessitated by the growing gap between the rich and the poor,” Gilbert Nyaningwe, an independent development expert from Zimbabwe, told IPS.

Overall, out of an estimated population of 1.1 billion people, Africa has more than 570 million slum-dwellers, reports UN-Habitat, with over half of the urban population (61.7 percent) living in slums. Worldwide, notes the U.N. agency, the number of slum-dwellers now stands at 863 million and is set to shoot up to 889 million by 2020.
Development agencies in Africa say slum-dwelling remains a continental trend despite the U.N. Millennium Development Goals targets compelling all countries globally to achieve a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.
According to the United Nations, that 100 million target “was met well in advance of the 2020 deadline”, and in African countries such as Egypt, Libya and Morocco the total number of urban slum dwellers has almost been halved, Tunisia has eradicated them completely, and Ghana, Senegal and Uganda have made steady progress, reducing their slum populations by up to 20 percent.
 
However, sub-Saharan Africa continues to have the highest rate of “slum incidence” of any major world region, with millions of people living in settlements characterised by some combination of overcrowding, tenuous dwelling structures, and poor or no access to adequate water and sanitation facilities.
Hector Mutharika, a retired economist in late Malawian President Kamuzu Banda’s government, blamed poor service delivery for the increase in slums in Africa. “The increasing numbers of slum dwellers in Africa is due to poor service delivery here by local authorities which more often than not worry most about filling their pockets from local authorities’ coffers instead of channelling proper housing facilities to poor people, which then pushes homeless individuals into building slum settlements anywhere,” Mutharika told IPS.

For Rwandan civil society activist Otapiya Gundurama, the roots of the problem go far back in time. “Shanty homes in Africa are a result of the continent’s urban infrastructure set up during colonial rule at which time housing and economic diversification were limited, with everything related to urban governance centralised, while towns and cities were established to enhance the lifestyles and interests of a minority,” Gundurama told IPS.
 
Some opposition politicians in Africa, like Gilbert Dzikiti, president of Zimbabwe’s opposition Democratic Assembly for Restoration and Empowerment (DARE), see the trend of growing slums here as a result of government failure. “The perpetual rise of slum settlements in Africa testifies to persistent failure by governments here to invest in both rural and urban development,” Dzikiti told IPS.
African civil society leaders blame rising unemployment on the continent for the continuing rise in the number of slums. “Be it in cities or remote areas, slums in Africa are a result of huge numbers of jobless people who hardly have the means to upgrade their own dwellings,” Precious Shumba, director of the Harare Residents Trust in Zimbabwe, told IPS.
In order to reverse the trend of growing slums across the continent, Shumba said, “local authorities in African countries should strike a balance in developing both rural and urban areas, creating employment so that people stop flocking to cities in huge numbers in search of jobs.”

African slum-dwellers like South Africa’s Tshabalala accuse city authorities of ignoring the mushrooming of informal settlements for selfish reasons.
“Slums here are sources of cheap labour that keeps the wheels of industry turning, which is why local authorities are not concerned about our living standards because they [local authorities] are getting more and more revenue from firms thriving on our sweat,” Tshabalala told IPS.

Meanwhile, rising slum settlements in Africa are also having a knock-on effect for other development goals in the education and health sectors for example.
“The United Nations Millennium Development Goal of universal attainment of primary education for all by the end of this year is certainly set to be missed by a number of countries here in Africa, especially as many of these sprouting slum settlements have no schools to help the children growing in the communities get any education,” a senior official in Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education told IPS on the condition of anonymity for professional reasons.
At the same time, “there are often no toilets, no water and no clinics in most slum-dwelling areas here, exposing people to diseases, consequently derailing the MDG of halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases in informal settlements,” Owen Dliwayo of the Youth Dialogue Action Network, a lobby group in Zimbabwe, told IPS.

from here


18 hours 22 min ago

Without a proclaimed socialist vision, radical change becomes too many different things for too many different individuals and groups. The Socialist Party raises the banner of revolution and demands the unconditional surrender of the capitalist class. Having outlived its social usefulness, capitalism must give way to a new social order. We, therefore, call upon the workers to organise to form a class conscious body and to place themselves squarely upon the ground of working-class interests, joining in the work of human emancipation so that we may put an end to the most onerous threat to human existence, the barbaric class conflict. The land and all the means of production, transportation, communication and distribution must be placed in the collective hands of the producers, replacing the present state of unplanned production, industrial rivalry and international wars and social disorder and instead build  a commonwealth in which all workers shall have the free exercise and full benefit of their faculties, multiplied by all the benefits of modern civilisation under a democratically controlled economy that is commonly owned by all. Few can deny that the world today is in a constant state of chaos. That is reflected in the widespread upheaval and conflict not only in the developed industrial nations but also in developing nations throughout the world. Yet the beneficiaries and defenders of this economic dictatorship never tire of declaring it the “best of all possible systems.”
The capitalist system does not and cannot work in the interests of the majority. It is a social system in which society is divided into two classes—a capitalist class and a working class. The capitalist class consists of a tiny minority—the wealthy few who own and control the instruments of production and distribution. The working class consists of the vast majority who own no productive property and must, therefore, seek to work for the class that owns and controls the means of life in order to survive. The relationship between the two classes forms the basis for an economic tyranny under which the workers as a class are robbed of the major portion of the social wealth that they produce. After decades of reform efforts, capitalism presents an obscene social picture. Thanks to capitalism’s exploitation of workers poverty continues to grow. Millions who need and want jobs are unemployed, including many of whose jobs have been outsourced. Others are underemployed, working only part-time or temporary jobs though they need and want full-time work. Millions aren’t earning enough to maintain a decent standard of living for themselves and their families despite the fact that they are working. Racism and xenophobia is pervasive. The health care system, despite heated debate for years, is deteriorating. The educational system continues to crumble. Even the foregoing fails to give a full picture of the wide-ranging plague of social and economic problems modern-day capitalism is imposing on society. Many suffer from alcohol and drug problems. Homelessness is on the increase. The wasteful energy demands of a bloated capitalist society have added to the environmental destruction enveloping the world. These long-standing problems and the failure of seemingly unending reform efforts to solve or even alleviate them to any meaningful degree have imposed decades of misery and suffering on millions of workers and their families.
Against this insane capitalist system the Socialist Party raises its voice in emphatic protest and unqualified condemnation. It declares that if our society is to be rid of the host of economic, political and social ills that for so long have plagued it, the outmoded capitalist system of private/state ownership of the socially operated means of life and production for the profit of a few must be replaced by a new social order. That new social order must be organised on the same basis of social ownership and democratic management of all the instruments of social production, all means of distribution and all of the social services. It must be one in which production is carried on to satisfy human needs and wants. In short, it must be genuine socialism. This is precisely the mission of the Socialist Party. The Socialist Party calls upon all who realise the critical nature of our times, and who are increasingly aware that a basic change in our society is needed, to join us to put an end to the existing class conflict and all its malevolent results.
Capitalism is increasingly incompatible with freedom and democracy. The oligarchy’s need for a new level of repression and restriction of democratic rights can no longer be doubted. To save capitalism, the ruling class must destroy freedom and democracy. Capitalism today may pretend otherwise, but it relies on terror, or the threat of it, to uphold the economic order. To enforce “order” as it sees it, the ruling class hires mercenaries to do its dirty work of enfocing “law and order” and they call it the police. For decades, governments and the courts have steadily put more power and discretion in the hands of the police forces. There can be no mistaking the danger implicit in this many-sided attack on democratic rights and civil liberties. To save freedom and democracy, the capitalist system, the system of economic despotism, must be destroyed. Socialist economic democracy alone can fully guarantee lasting freedom and democracy. Any movement aspiring to bring about substantive social change must be prepared to deal with a state quite willing and capable of turning its arsenal against its own citizens. That means a movement who understand the need for education first, then political and industrial organisation to enforce the will of the majority.
The issue now, literally, is survival. Among the most serious problems facing society today is that of pollution and environmental destruction. The harm and damage already done to all of us and to our environment by capitalism is beyond calculation. If it is not abolished and replaced with a viable socialist cooperative commonwealth by the politically and industrially organised working class, it will destroy itself. And there is the distinct possibility that it may destroy humanity and the world in the process. That can happen, but it need not happen. And it won’t happen if all who realise the need for a socialist reconstruction of society join with us to organise politically and industrially to accomplish the revolutionary change to socialism and thus guarantee the future safety and well-being of the humanity. To capitalism falls the task of justifying its technological horrors on the basis of picking the lesser evil. To socialism falls the task of turning technology from the horror it currently is to the benefactor of an emancipated working class. As the manifold social problems of capitalism increasingly threaten the lives and well-being of workers, it becomes more and more imperative that they recognise the need to organize politically and economically to take control of the economy, abolish class-divided capitalism and administer production through their own democratic bodies. There is no time to delay. Capitalism requires profit and economic growth to survive. Capitalists want their profits now. The future has little meaning in a profit-driven society. Environmental reforms are not the answer. Capitalism has eroded even those feeble efforts of the past. International agreements are not the answer. If the future is not to be plagued with the floods, droughts and other catastrophes predicted related to global warming, the political and economic system of capitalism must end.
The Socialist Party urges workers to organise to abolish capitalism and institute socialist production for use. Workers must realise their political power and integrate into one movement with the goal of building a new society with completely different motives for production—human needs and wants instead of profit— to organise their own political party to challenge the political power of the capitalists, express their mandate for change at the ballot box and dismantle the state altogether. The new society must aim for is a society where not a wealthy few would own the industries and services but the people themselves would control them democratically through their own organisations and make the decisions.
Every politician who has run for office has promised to do something to alleviate or eliminate all these social evils. On the contrary, hasn't it grown worse? Despite the promises these problems have defied solution. It is up to the working class, the majority of people who actually produce society’s goods and services and daily operate its industries, to end all these crises. Workers, whatever their race or ethnic origin, are being subjected to more discomfort, more crowding, more inconvenience, more exploitation, greater insecurity and physical danger than ever before. Reform after reform has been enacted in efforts to alleviate them. But conditions have gone right on getting worse and worse. All of which demonstrates that even with the best of intentions no politician or set of politicians could prevent conditions for workers from worsening. The basic cause of our problems is the capitalist system under which we live. Capitalism today is an outmoded decadent social system. It has been so for a long time.
By establishing a new society we can prevent worsening crises and ultimate catastrophe toward which our present society is taking us. What we are saying is that we can and must establish a socialist society. Let us again explain briefly what socialism is and the kind of life we can have under it. First, in a socialist society there will be no private ownership of the land and the industries. When we say this, we are not talking about your personal belongings. We are talking about the factories, the mills, the mines, the railroads—in short, the socially operated instruments used in the production and distribution of the necessities of life. We say that these must belong to society as a whole. Secondly, in socialist society there will be no wage system in which the workers receive in wages only a fraction of the value of the goods they produce. Instead, under socialism we shall receive the full social value of our labour. We shall produce for use rather than for sale with a view to profit for private capitalists. We shall produce the things we want and need rather than the things for which a market exists in which the goods produced are sold for the profit of private owners. When private and state ownership have been eliminated, there will be no way for social parasites, capitalistic or bureaucratic, to exist. In the nature of things, it will be impossible for any individual or group to acquire economic power and use it to exploit or suppress another human being. There will be no material basis on which a bureaucracy could establish and perpetuate itself. No one will be able to hand out offices or appoint lackeys. In short, we, the people, shall be in complete control of the source of all power.
We have all the material requirements for producing an abundance. It is common knowledge that we have developed the most productive machine in the world. Once this machine is socially owned, controlled and administered, there will not be, there cannot be, conflicting material interests. We shall all be useful producers, each contributing his or her fair share to the total product. In return, each of us will receive directly and indirectly all that we produce. We say “indirectly” because we shall get part of our product back through social services—public health, education, recreation, etc. In socialist society there can be no poverty or involuntary unemployment. The more producers, the better for all. Technological improvements will be a further blessing. The greater the number of workers, the better the tools, the more modern the methods, the greater and more varied will be the wealth we can produce, and the shorter the hours each of us will have to work. So great is our capacity to produce abundance that we can easily insure that our youth will be educated, the aged provided for, and the sick given the finest care possible. All this will be done without depriving anyone of a fair and more than adequate share. It will not be charity but the rightful share of every human being in the affluent socialist society. In the socialist climate of abundance and cooperation, we shall achieve the highest standards of mental health and physical well-being. We shall enjoy great material well-being individually and collectively, but it will not be at anyone else’s expense. We shall be secure, healthy, happy human beings living in peace, harmony and freedom, in marked contrast to the capitalist jungle of strife, misery and insecurity in which we live today.

How can we get such a society? The answer is easy. It is within the power of the workers to establish such a society as soon as they recognise the need for it and organise to establish it. The program of the Socialist Party points the way. The struggle for freedom requires building a political party to contest the power of the capitalist class on the political field, and to educate the majority of workers about the need for socialism.
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18 hours 22 min ago