Socialist Review No. 04

Sunshine and shadow

In comparing the sunny climate of a West Indian Island with the grimy industrial areas of Britain; one would expect to find some powerful motive that compels large numbers of the citizens of Jamaica, for instance; to emigrate from that holiday oriented isle to the damp, overcrowded, chilling in winter, dismal concrete "scenery" of Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield Leeds or London.

Such a motive can be expressed in one word;-----Employment! Yes, Siree! Employment is the operative word that robs a man or woman of the sunshine and fresh air they left behind, along with some "Unemployment" possibly as well. Because members of a working that is world wide, must find a buyer for their mental and physical energy; — their labour power — which is the only commodity they possess.

Therefore, it is no mere coincidence that a demand for labour power existing in Britain from 1955 to 1961 were the years that saw the peak of West Indian immigration to the U.K. Plus the fact that a popular "door" for immigrants from the Caribbean to the U.S.A. had already been practically closed to them via the McCarran Walter Act of 1952

So Britain assumed the role of "Promised Land" to these purveyors of human energy. Sadly and ironically the "promise" was one of Wage Slavery! The immigrants certainly found employment in various occupations, easier than they found accommodation; which was a different "kettle of fish"; and in Manchester many of them are housed in the ramshackle dwellings of Moss Side where their curly headed "piccaninnies" acclimatize themselves into the grey industrial environment of diesel engine fumes, blitz sites and back alleys.

So having forsaken their West Indian sunshine for industrial grime, many of these men and women work as Bus conductors; some of the men as Drivers whilst others even commence trading on their own account as small shopkeepers etc. The betting shops and offices can also boast a large Caribbean clientele; "playing up" their "British Wages" as courageously as any of the native citizens of their class.

Apparently however the British Bookmakers do not get all the hard earned wages of these immigrants, as according to the British Central Office of information, quote— "Remittances sent home by migrants contribute considerably to the Jamaican economy; it is reported that, in 1961; £5.4 million was remitted from the U.K. alone". But if we compare this figure of roughly Five Million Pounds remitted; with the total West Indian population of Britain in 1961 of 172,379----(The figure given by Dr. Ceri Peach in his book "West Indian Migration to Britain", published in 1968) it only averages about £29 per head of the immigrant population for that year. Which confirms the Socialist analysis of Capitalism, that "we" cant all become capitalists! In fact, very few indeed, members of any working class family can manage to emancipate themselves from wage slavery, and the few who do, are generally physically exhausted and aged by the time they get a foot on the "first rung" of the capitalist ladder after a lifetime of wage, or salary slavery. In fact, the very popularity of Football Pools in Britain and elsewhere, prove that most workers are looking for a "short cut" up that elusive ladder, But---if those millions who feverishly study the "Pools" (immigrants included), would devote the same time to the study of the Socialist solution to their poverty, this would indeed be the REAL "short cut" they are looking for!

Meantime, there are members of the British capitalist class who skip gaily across the Atlantic in the opposite direction, to "lap up" that sunshine the Caribbean Emigrants left behind. These are the only people who are free to roam the earth, precisely because they do not have to seek employment! And so can indeed "follow the sun".

Whilst the Jamaican immigrants have been getting acclimatized to a hostile environment in Britain, Capitalism has been developing apace in their native land, and now apart from the traditional exports of Bananas, and sugar; Bauxite mining (Aluminium ore) and other industries, including the "Tourist" trade are firmly established. The working class of Jamaica are now organised within the Caribbean Congress of Labour and it remains for them to "Set their sights" on the class conscious target of World Socialism, They can make a start by supporting their local Socialist Group, whose official organ is "The Socialist Review" (published in Kingston) and the only socialist journal in Jamaica. Whilst their Brothers & Sisters in Britain will always find a comradely welcome at any socialist meeting in the area, all of which are regularly advertised in the "Socialist Standard". Over in U.S.A. and Canada, the old established "Western Socialist" caters for that immense land mass, with Socialist, thousands of miles apart, collaborating in the vital, urgent task of working for Socialism. The achievement of which will remove the Shadow of Wage slavery and allow the Socialist "Sun" to shine on All of us,
G.R. Russell. (SPGB.)

Ferment among workers

The gradual realisation that independence only mean the shifting of political power, to our own ruling class, first brought on a general feeling of frustration, now there are signs that this helplessness is giving way to action, especially among organised workers.

Our two political parties have for the most part controlled all the workers in major industries, and services, with its blanket type union ever since the constitution of 1944. Today however, the situation is changing, as workers in different sections of the economy are rejecting the leadership of the political unions and forming their own. The political Unions are not likely to take this lying down, and like in the past are expected to forget their "differences" and unite against the common enemy. Whether they can smash these new unions, rest entirely on how determined the workers are.

Capitalism is a class society where the means of production is owned by a few, and the rest have to work for them as factory and office workers. Socialist have said often enough that the development of Capitalism is essential for a class conscious working class. Workers have begun to realise that no matter what their party affiliation, a rise in the cost of living (and what a rise it has been) affects them all. As wages buy less they gradually grasp how dependent they are on it. How this counter attack to defend themselves through their own unions.

We welcome this new awareness among members of the working class, who see that their position in society is nothing more than a wage slave. But we hope that they do not think that by organising within their own unions, that will be it. Capitalism is a profit making system, there is a limit to what even the most militant union can accomplish. Remember that unions at best can only play a defensive role. Its not good enough to cry out against low wages, but remain silent on the wage system. Or condemn profiteering but not production for profit. After a time trade unions become a part of the status quo, accepting the premise that this is the only way to live, content with the occasional pay rise for their members. One should remember what Marx said "away with the conservative motto, a fair days work for a fair days pay, and inscribe on your banner the revolutionary watchword ABOLITION OF THE WAGES SYSTEM".

The present upsurge of activity among workers will achieve no lasting solution to their problems, unless they visualise as their goal an end to the wage system. Only then, will exploitation, war, disease, poverty, and all the other social maladies of capitalism cease to engulf or threaten us. The lesson of history is quite clear; Capitalism cannot be reformed to serve the interest of all, the labour movement throughout the world give many examples of people who had this as their goal. The things they worked to remedy are still in existence.

As Socialist we advocate Socialism, a system based on production for use. The basis of socialism is the ownership of all the means of production by the whole community. Wealth will be produced not for sale, but solely to satisfy human need. This is possible because of the high development of capitalism itself. We stand ready, to help our fellow workers understand the nature of capitalist society, and to convince them, by the overpowering evidence available that socialism should be their only goal. Lets not make this opportunity pass us by, capitalism only survive because too few people realise that it can be replaced with a social system more in harmony with our development. The growing consciousness among workers is indeed a good sign, but unless its energies are directed in the right direction nothing to their benefit can come from it.

The Russian myth

Russia is often referred to as a socialist country, although a lot more people within the technologically advanced countries, have began to see the lie in this. (Thanks to Russia's own development, and the regular analysis by the SPGB.) Out here however, the very mention of Russia is still equated with violent revolution, and something to do with socialism. So to say without reserve, that Russia is not a socialist country, and very definitely a developed capitalist society would come as quite a shock to many people within the West Indies.

"No social order" said Karl Marx "ever disappears before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have been developed". In 1917 Russia was a feudal society, a country made up chiefly of peasant farmers.(Something like our own farmer in the rural areas.) Socialism is made possible only by the development of capitalist industry. Socialism could not have been established in Russia after the revolution, the country was ready for capitalist development and nothing else. Capitalism follows feudalism, just as socialism will follow capitalism. This is an inevitable pattern of development. The problem of production must first be solved, before socialism is possible.

After the fighting had ceased in 1917, an educated elite found itself in power, in a country with an illiterate population. They soon found that they had to identify their plans to suit the ignorant majority, so as to maintain power. They also found that the only way of development possible were along capitalist lines. The conditions that existed demanded these actions, the people who administered it could not do otherwise. Socialism cannot be brought about by a minority group, people cannot be led into it. It demand the understanding and desire of the majority. Whatever happened in Russia in 1917, it certainly had nothing to do with establishing socialism. The conditions did not exist for this.

Today, Russia is a powerful state capitalist country, rivalled only by the United States. Here again we come across another misunderstanding because it is not a free enterprise system like the western world. It runs a system called STATE CAPITALISM, which means that the government becomes the sole capitalist, controlling industries and directing investment issuing bonds to investors without them having any control in running the industry. This matters little, as the economic laws of capitalism remain the same. Cost must be kept to a minimum, and profits realised for further expansion. It is wrong to believe that the working class of Russia own the industries there. They have to work for their wage like the working class of any other country. The problem of making ends meet, is as much their worry as it is ours. The social relation of people is the only basis for judging a society. How people live, not what the rulers call the system. Any examination of Russia, will expose its socialist pretentious, and reveal that capitalism is firmly rooted and flourishing.

Another deceptive argument popularised by Soviet apologist, is that socialism is the first step towards communism. Marx and Engels used these words without any different meaning attached. The choice of word was influenced by prevailing atmosphere, rather than any difference in meaning. SOCIALISM AND COMMUNISM REFER TO THE SAME OBJECTIVE.

America and Russia are the two main economic rivals in the world today. China is making strides along the Russian line of development to join the other two giants as the sole arbiters of our civilisation. Observe how even the pretension of ideological differences between the two, is no longer prominent in the speeches of their rulers. Also notice how the economic rivalry between them intensify. A good example is their present battle to control the rich oil fields of the Middle East.

Socialism does not exist in any country, be it Russia, China, or Cuba. When however this become a reality it shall embrace the world.

A letter from England

When one listens to the Radio, look at the television, read the national papers, one is confronted with the question of violence. Hi jacking of planes, kidnapping of prominent people, murder, & bombing. Why this deep concern of the mouth pieces of Capitalism! One would think that it is only recently that such things took place, when if fact the whole history of capitalism has been one of violence. Its burst from the womb of Feudalism was a very violent affair. It has been that way ever since.

Hijacking of planes, kidnapping of officials, whether to Cuba, Turkey, Egypt or elsewhere is done for political and nationalistic motives, not for the benefit of the vast majority living in any of the given countries. (as a socialist I don’t take sides.)

The mass of people living in those countries are just pawns in the political game, misguided ones at that. As I was asked for my views on violence by a Jamaican Comrade, it will be appropriate to say something about the violence that threaten that island in the sun, from time to time.

When the British colonised the island with slave labour, murder, and brutality in its ugliest form reigned, as every student of history knows. When slavery was abolished a period of hope and quietness for the freed slaves took place, but was very short lived, the free wage worker soon found the new conditions had a very mixed blessing. Their so called emancipation was non-existence, WAGE SLAVERY took over and in many cases the Uncle Toms yearned for the old days.

The gaining of independence for Jamaica Brought a new surge of hope, this too was very short lived. The workers soon found their new Bosses Just as ruthless, conditions were just as bad for the majority. Soon this lovely island with its ideal climate, became the playground few the wealthy few. Only relatively few natives shared in the wave of Capitalist expansion.

When the Jamaican working class found that under home rule, social conditions were no better, disappointed with unfulfilled promises of the reformers, many became easy prey for the professionals of violence. If any Black Power adherents of violence claim that all I have said is "whitey's" fault, let them reflect on what happened in Nigeria, may be that will teach them a lesson. Yes, say our critic, all this have been said before, the important thing is to stop it. We as socialist have the answer. Our solution is, abolish the cause of violence, which is World Capitalism and in its place have Socialism. Then for the first time in history a brotherhood of man in the true sense will take place. As this letter is just a view, and make no pretence of being a scientific exposition, I would suggest to any reader who wishes for further information to read the article in the Socialist Standard on violence in the May 1970 issue.

Yours for Socialism
George S.P.G.B.

A note on ganja

The continuous effort of the government to stamp out ganja (marijuana) smoking, although intense, seem unlikely to succeed. It is important to note that although the penalty is severe so many people risk being caught. As our society become more developed, our need for escape increases, normal existence become boring, and pressurised. Ganja smoking provide that illusion of happiness, and importance so many people find lacking in their daily lives.

Ganja is also big business, which means that no government action can easily frustrate people from making money by selling the drug. The pattern of our development is well set, alienation and frustration will seek various ways to find relief, ganja is one way of escape. The government approach to the ganja market only emphasise that capitalism does not even recognise the problems its very function create.

(Kingston, 1970)