Socialist Review No. 06

The psychology of crime

Crime, in particular robbery with violence is now so rampart in our society that everyone, from the politican to the parson has expressed their views as to its cause and possible cure. Some claim that young people are lazy, and are not interested in work. Others advocate stiffer penalties for those found guilty. No one seem to see any connection between crime and the private property relation­ship of society. About 95 per cent of all crime is against property, this is no accident.

It is foolish in the extreme to expect paragon of virtue to arise in conditions of a competitive society, where everything has its price. What effect do we expect an environment of poverty to have on children? They grow up seeing others display wealth, and the apparent pleasure that it brings. The conclusion that their only hope of "living any life" is by taking from society by brute force is really the next logical step.

A criminal is a product of society. This is a fact that we must recognise, and accept. There is no such person as a “born criminal". Look at the values of our society, the things we hold as important. The emphasis that is made on acquiring material things. Observe how the advertising media continually drill into our minds the importance of getting such a thing in order to "be a swinger" or "be a part of the today's scene". Then ask yourself, what effect can all this have on young minds, who see others enjoying these things while the condition of their own lives make it seem impossible to them that they too might possess any­thing. Again, it is no accident that the majority of criminals come from areas of poverty, where the physical squalor reaches to contaminate the mind.

Socialists do not agree with criminals, they are only trying to upset the balance of wealth in their favour. They are not bothered about the system, or concern about its change. We do understand however, that they are an inevitable part of capitalist society, and will remain so as long as capitalism last. We have a solution to crime, the only solution, make the instrument of wealth production the common property of all. Put an end to the private property relation of society, end the source of all crime against property.

The recent wave of violent robberies, where even banks are no longer exception, is really another sign of the breaking up of society under capitalist development. Notice how suddenly, as politicans begin to tell us how developed we have become, violence and its companion, fear, have also stepped in with "development". Capitalism make savages of us all, one way or another. The gun man is only an exaggeration of what the majority of people are. Its time we had a look at our lives, and try to realise where we are heading. Its time too you make the effort to understand our position, fully, and help us with this programme of socialist education. We have a world to save.

Changes in Africa

Capitalism have its own way of dealing with the various reformist movement its conflicting nature make inevitable. It make them obsolete in the most shameful fashion. The Black Power movement have taken quite a battering with recent development in Africa. The most damaging being the visit of Doctor Banda of Malawi to South Africa. Doctor Banda is not the only one showing this new interest in South Africa. Most of the other African countries are expressing their willingness to deal with "white" Africa. President Bokassa of the Central African Republic, have said he is willing to go to South Africa and meet Prime Minister Voster. President Houphouet-Boigny of the Ivory Coast have called on other African leaders to join in a new diplomatic approach to South Africa.

Why this change you might ask, is not South Africa still practising Apartheid? The answer to that is what socialists have been saying all along, there are neither stable alliances nor lasting enmities among capitalist nations. Observe the getting together of China and America, and the way of world capitalism is partly revealed.

South Africa is the most developed country in Africa. The other countries are all moving along the same line of capitalist development. They could not ignore for long her purchasing power, and her money for investment. South Africa have agreed to buy the whole of Malawi's rice, and other farm product. She have also invested over J$28 million in the important railway linking Mozambique with the new Capital at Lilongwe. This is what modern capitalism is, it goes on despite the speeches of politicals, or the protest of the mob.

Humans can only be united by their belief in a s«t of principles. The colour «f
a man's skin can never be the basis of unity. The Black Power movement although it take different form in each country is set on the premise of the unity of the Black man against White. Black Power followers often express the false assumption, that all White people are united against Black. The truth is that any Black and White capitalist, have more in common between them than all the White workers with the White capitalist, or the Black workers with the Black capitalist. Race have now become a very damaging factor towards workingclass unity. IT IS THE SOCIAL SYSTEM THAT WE LIVE UNDER AND NOT OUR RACE THAT MAKE POSSIBLE THE PROBLEMS WE FACE. Racism only serve to obscure the real enemy, World Capitalism, and in fact help to keep it going that much longer. A man's economic interest determine his action. The capitalist as an individual is not our target, it is the system that we hate and want to change.

The countries in Africa are no different from any other developing capitalist society, anywhere else. They are caught in the web of capitalism, and there is no escape. The civil war in Nigeria illustrate well the meaning of brotherhood in our capitalist world. The choice facing us today, is not Black, against White. but weather we want to continue with this strife ridden system capitalism, or replace it with a system of Common ownership Socialism.

Revolution and violence

There is at the moment a great deal of confusion in defining terms in the area of the social sciences. To most people "revolution" is only another word for violence. Because of this it is often very frustrating for Socialists when we speak of a "Socialist Revolution", We are then accused of threatening violence, when nothing of the kind is meant.

There have been revolutions in Europe, in Africa, and in Asia in this century. The Russian Revolution of 19I7, the Chinese Revolution of 1949, the Revolutions in much of the so called Third World. What made them revolutions however, was not the mere act of "overthrow" of one government, or ruler, and the substitution of another. THE REVOLUTION WAS TO BE FOUND IN THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS FROM FEUDAL, OR TRIBAL INTO CAPITALISM. On the other hand where such political acts merely resulted in a change of rulers, with no change in existing social relationships, e.g. Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, Chile under Allende, these were not social revolutions.

The so called Communist countries, like Russia and China, are so in name only.
People ignore the fact that these countries have all the problems that beset capitalist nations. These revolutions served to establish capitalism, State Capitalism in particular. Because of the social development within these countries at the time, no other course was possible, despite what the leaders said. The ruling class and their elite, often impress upon us, on television and in the press, that the pioneers of Scientific Socialism Marx, and Engels saw violence as the only course for the working class. This is what Engels had to say on the subject in 1888. Writing a preface to a new edition of the Communist Manifesto he said "However much the state of things may have altered during the last 25 years, the general principles laid down in this manifesto are on the whole as correct today as ever. Here and there some detail might be improved. The practical application of the principles will depend as the manifesto itself states everywhere and at all times, on the historical conditions for the tine being existing and for that reason, NO SPECIAL STRESS IS LAID ON THE REVOLUTIONARY MEASURES PROPOSED AT THE END OF SECTION 2. That passage would, in many respects be very differently worded today. In view of the gigantic strides of modern industry since 1848 and the accompanying improved and extended organisation of the working class, in view of the practical experience gained, first in the February revolution and then still more in the Paris Commune, where the Proletariat for the first time held political power for two whole months this programme has in some detail become antiquated".

If violence was regarded as antiquated in 1888, how should we regard it today in our technological age? Those who preach violence are only looking a quick way to change the rulers, not the system, they are not revolutionaries. Violence in many ways play into the hands of the ruling class, they can then suspend all RIGHTS, and carry out their own terror campaign with popular support.

A socialist revolution then will come about peacefully, when the majority of people in the world realise there is an alternative to capitalism. It will be a system in which there will be neither private, or government ownership of the means of producing and distributing wealth, a system in which all these things will be owned in common by all the people. Wealth will be produced for no other purpose than to satisfy human need, a system in which peace, happiness and freedom for the first time in history, will have a real meaning for all. We mean a system of society in which poverty, wars, insecurity and all the evils existing and arising from the economic nature of capitalism will be ended. This is our meaning of revolution, this is the transformation of social relationships between man, and man that is now possible, this is the higher social order to embrace all mankind that we work to achieve.
You and the election

We in Jamaica still suffer the effect of our underdevelopment, (in more ways than one) the most revealing being violence at election times. It started out with stone throwing in the earlier days, and have now graduated to gang war with guns. The two parties have their respective armed gang to provide more than enough terror for the rest of us. We do not know for sure weather this was a direct of politicans, or it developed by their misdirected actions, all we know is that it is a very bad state of affair. Let no one fool himself, if violence help politicans they will continue to use it, regardless what they might say in public. It is of small importance to that some might die in a cause that is not their own. As long as people are willing to throw away their lives to make politicans maintain, or achieve power, our politicans will continue to regard such action as a worthy sacrifice.

Whichever party win, we the workingclass lose. This is so because a politicans job is to make capitalism work to the benefit of the capitalist class. Despite any good intention he might have the system controls his action, he is the servant not the master. NO POLITICAN CAN BRING DOWN THE COST OF LIVING OR STOP IT FROM GOING HIGHER.NO FOLITICAN CAN CREATE JOBS FOR THE UNEMPLOYED OR MAKE HOUSE FOR THE HOMELESS. Why? you might well ask, after all is not politics the centre of power. The fact is, the system he operates, capitalism, wont let him. One of capitalism's law is that nothing is produced unless it can be sold profitable. That means that a man cant be employed unless someone can find it profitable to do so. He must be able to do something that is more valuable to his employer than the wage he is paid. The majority of the workingclass have no money for houses, hence the constant housing shortage among that class. Observe how there is never a housing problem among the rich. HOUSES ARE NOT BUILT FOR PEOPLE TO LIVE IN, THEY ARE BUILT TO BE SOLD TO MAKE A PROFIT. The problem is not one of scarcity, but one of poverty. The poor have never provided a market for houses, (and other things) it is the nature of the system, not the individuals who administer it.

The more we understand about capitalism, the less we are likely to endanger anyone's life, or our own for the benefit of any politican. In fact it is not possible. We would then be aware that this is a social system that operate to the benefit of a minority. That the problems of hunger, unemployment, war, are a direct result of the inadequacy of the system. That we the majority, the working class can now change the system to one more in harmony with the problems of the world. This is how you should engage your energies, not that this change will be violent but there is plenty of work to be done to make it the conscious will of the majority.

The majority of people have no benefit to derive from whichever party wins the election. Those who take on themselves to involve in any activity on behalf of any party, not only reveal their ignorance of our political system, but delay the day of their own liberation.

Too much food again

EDITORIAL NOTE: The following article is taken from the Socialist Standard, and illustrate further proof that capitalism is a hindrance between mankind and the problems that confront us.

Under capitalism we are faced with a seemingly insoluble contradiction. Poverty and hunger exist in the midst of potential plenty. Within the private property relationships of capitalism the existence of means for ending this problem can itself appear to be a problem. Take for example three reports in just one edition of "The Guardian", that of July 12. In it we are informed on page 3 that: The world's population will double by the year 2004 at the present growth rate, yet food production has already declined on a per capita basis, the UN repor­ted today....agricultural production in 1969, the latest year for which compreh­ensive figures were compiled by UN statisticians, was 2 per cent lower than the previous year.

A serious problem by any standard when one considers that the majority of the world's people are inadequately fed at present. But here comes the contradiction. Turning over to page 4 we see an article by John Cunningham entitled quaintly "Scientists look into eggs". He tells us that; Scientists are going to work on an egg - actually thousands of eggs to try to find new uses for a surplus which is worrying the Eggs Authority so much that it is prepared to spend £40,000 on research and development this year. "We are not simply for food uses" Mr. Bernard Mallett, the authority's chief executive said yesterday. "Frankly, anything could hold the key. It could be an industrial use, the manufacture of plastics, decorating materials, cosmetics who knows? We hope research will find some profitable outlet for eggs surplus to even the food products market". However the troubles of the Egg Marketing Board are nothing compared with the problems reported on page 12, in the Business Section, to be afflicting the Common Market Commission in Brussels.

The record grain now ripening in the fields of Europe is causing grave concern. The crop is currently estimated at 174 million tons - four million tons more than the highest previous total. If such a crop is harvested, it could revive the nightmare of big surpluses in Europe. And their solution? "The Commission" said "The Guardian" "can only pray for rain".

These contradictions are an inevitable outcome of the commodity system. Under capitalism food, together with other things we need in order to live, is private property. Wealth takes the form of commodities, that is it is produced not primarily that people might eat, but to be sold to make a profit. If too much food is produced for the market system to deal with profitably then the owners and those who run capitalism are faced with a "problem”. In a Socialist Society, where the means of life will be owned in common by the world community, food all be produced
not for profit but to satisfy human need. Yet today while people go hungry eggs are "fed to minks to improve the quality of the fur". What a sad reflection on the values of a society where profit is paramount.

Who is the working class?

The upsurge of violence by Black Power advocates in Trinidad, the general feeling of tension that exist here in Jamaica have all been linked to what is termed "our search for identity". It is said that we in the West Indies are for the first time asking ourselves "who am I”. As socialist we like the question, what we dont admire is the answer most people demonstrate.

The only identity any man need realise is which of the two class he belong, Capitalist Class, or Working Class. This is the only two classes of people in the world today. The frequent reference to a middle class, really refer to people in the higher income group. This does not change their class position, as regardless of their high salary they are just as dependent on their pay packet as anyone else. Anyone who has to work for a living is a member of the working class. People who own small businesses, and therefore work for themselves are also workingclass. In many ways they are worst off than some who work for an employer. Their hours of work is very long, for one thing Owners of Bars, and Shops, are nothing more than salesmen for the capitalist class.

Sometime in last year (197l) doctors at the Kingston Public Hospital went on strike. This was indeed an eloquent example of the class position of all men who work for a living. It made plain and clear, that the doctor is as much a member of the working class, as the Street Cleaner, or Bus Driver.

A great many people go through life without any realisation of their position in society. Many more entertain a false idea of their positional is usually left to the system itself, in one of its cycle of depression to make people realise their dependence on an employer. Others learn as the purchasing power of their salary decrease, and their position in society gradually declines. Then the talk that their job is no job, but a vocation begins to ring really hallow. Observe the constant struggle between the Nurses, and Teachers, with the Government over their pay.

Since all men who engage in work for pay, are members of the working class, it follows that the whole world is kept going by the labour of this class. It is therefore easy to understand the socialist position, that, SINCE THE WORKING CLASS IS THE ONLY USEFUL CLASS THEY SHOULD OWN THE WEALTH OF THE WORLD THAT THEY PRODUCE. They should not be called on to fight in wars they have not made. They should not starve while the warehouses are filled with goods, they have produced. By what standard is this asking too much?

When a man identify himself with his class interest, he ceases to need any other identity. He immediately become aware of the injustice of the capitalist system, and make the change of this system his purpose. He has no need to make, or encourage violence, as this does not help his goal. He does not feel empty and lost in the world, but rather the opposite, like an actor who is playing a leading role. The fact that the change might not come about in his lifetime, only make his effort more necessary.

The whole job of changing capitalism is the responsibility of the working class. Unless we know ourselves we cant even begin. The survival of capitalism rest entirely on the division of the working class. Capitalism have made us its victims, socialism will make us all inheritors.

(Kingston, 1972)