Socialist Review No. 07

The word game

The double standard of capitalism is well exemplified by the function advertising play in society. The efforts of people like teachers, who continually tell us the virtue of being satisfied with our lot, and the professionals of advertising who reply that we should not be, that such a thing is vital for us to have. To encourage us to be thoroughly dissatisfied, they appeal to vanity, encourage greed, play up fears (the break in television programmes make many people more uneasy than any programme could) incite envy, and even descend to downright vulgarity, and bad taste as the reference to a popular drink as putting it back, with a man and woman talking, the meaning is made quite clear.

The Prime Minister speaking at a luncheon given by the advertising people, asked his hosts to bear in mind their "social responsibility" in doing their job. This request most certainly was not intended to be a joke, and indeed no one laughed, but all those people who heard it must surely secretly smile, and regard that as the best joke of the entire speech, despite their uproar at his more obvious jokes. One of the most important principles of our private property society is "He who pays the piper calls the tune". Members of the owning class pay large sums of money in attempts to capture the market from their rivals, and are not greatly concerned about social responsibility or the methods employed. To them the end justifies the means: a philosophy which must inevitably lead to deception, trickery, and cynicism.

Those who support the private property system, would perhaps argue that advertising are examples of "freedom" "democracy" and "incentive", alleged hallmarks of capitalism. Socialist would counter, by pointing out that capitalism with its drive for markets and more profits, is forced to foster cheating, false values, artificial desires and inequality, in its blind drive to its goal the sale of the commodity. In a society where we are continually pressured to get things, where men are made to feel inferior because they cant buy certain things, should we wonder why crime is so rampant? Should we also wonder why, the accumulation of "things" become the only object of people's lives?

The deceits and trickery of the advertising business, are only reflections of a much larger deception. That of creating the impression that our own lives is our only concern, and the system that we live under, and the general quality of life that it generates for everyone is not for those who are all right, to worry about. The upsurge of indiscriminate killing all over the world is a reminder of how much we should be concerned with the structure of society. Those who can guarantee their own actions, can do no such thing to anyone else. The degradation of capitalist society is not only the problem of its victims, but all mankind in particular the working class, who keep it in existence. Come to think of it, things like advertising show that all of us are victims.

HOW TO FEED THE HUNGRY. Queensland (Australia) egg marketing board has suggested the Queensland poultry farmers dump more than 79,000,000 eggs into the sea because there was no profitable market for their huge surplus. (Socialist Standard April 1972)

A Change for what?

The so called democratic procedure that we live under, call on the people from time to time, to make a choice of government. The people of Jamaica made their clear choice on February 29 1972. Since a new government was voted in, changes seem not only expected but desired. What kind of changes then can we expect?. An indication of this came, when it was reported that the stock market was doing more business since the election than usual. This is a pointer because the ruling class are showing that they have every confidence in the government, to protect capital. Ministers have since given their assurance of this.

The new administration have made it clear, that they are going to try to run capitalism better than their predecessors. The big problem about this is, CAPITALISM CANT FUNCTION IN THE INTEREST OF THE MAJORITY. Regardless what a political party calls itself Communist, Socialist, or Democratic, and seek power on a platform of reform, once in office finds itself the inheritor of many vast, and dynamic forces which it soon discovers are too ponderous to change.

This new government has come to power with a landslide victory, great enthusiasm have been expressed throughout the country, (although some of this joy took the form of violent attacks on supporters of the opposing party). Since the government is the important thing in a country, it is quite natural for people who are destitute to feel hopeful of the future when there is a change. Made possible of course by their support, because the politicals promise to remedy their condition. This expectation is in fact based on ignorance. You will soon see the inevitability of events creating frustrations in the general public. THIS IS NOT WHAT WE WISH IT IS A FACT.

Let us look for a moment at the cost of living. We are all aware of the skyrocketing trend of the cost of daily necessities. The government used this situation in the campaign to their advantage, promising to control the climb. Despite this promise condensed milk have gone up, and electricity rates have been hiked thirty per cent.

To fully understand why the price of things increase, you must first appreciate that the system that exist throughout the world, capitalism, is fundamentally a profit making system. Once this is accepted it is easy to see that as a company start to run at a loss, it must seek ways to reverse this trend. One such way is to increase the price of its product. The government can do nothing, despite their so called "control on prices".It is their job to make the system work: and that mean PROFIT FOR THE CAPITALIST CLASS. They had no choice but to grant these increases, it was the system dictating the path to follow, disregarding what they might wish. It would make no difference if the government took over (nationalise) these companies, as some people to think. The government would then be the capitalist, and therefore subject to the laws of capitalism.(For a more detailed appraisal of this, we refer the reader to the booklet Nationalisation or Socialism, write for a copy.)

The chance that have occurred in government, wont make any difference to our lives. The best that any government can hope to achieve in this part of the world, is to upgrade the level of poverty. As socialist, we do not share the general feeling of hope. We know in fact that nothing have changed. We would like a change, a fundamental change in the way we live. A change not of government but in the structure of society throughout the world. A change from the conflict of capitalism to the cooperation of socialism.

This and that

The new administration have been giving its assurances to the small farmers, just like others have done before them. The new pledges sound very much like the old ones, in fact they are, as they have always been given but never kept, so the problems remain. Small farmers are so numerous, that it would amount to political suicide for any government to tell them the truth about their prospect. In every sector of capitalism the trend is for small businesses to either go out of business, completely, or be taken over by big companies. The agriculture sector is no exception. The small farmers will soon realise that the task of making a living out of  two acres of land (or there about) is as hazardous as ever. If the government was really conscious of its capitalist mission, which it dont seem to be, (it is surprising how few governments are aware of this) it would welcome a drastic reduction in small holdings. Not only would it be more economical, but there would be a real chance of increased production. The small farmers however, must endure the slow death of capitalism, despite the medicines of government. As he changes support from one party to another; he will only wonder why none ever did the right thing for him.

The Prime Minister have said, that in future elections people from eighteen years will be able to vote. This of course will bring the mainstream of youth into active political life. It could be a great opportunity for them, and then it could amount to nothing. The opportunity will exist for them to make the choice of whether to continue the process of voting for the same unfulfilled promises, as their parents have done. Or really come to grips with understanding the social system that bring defeat to the best intentions of politicans. They should look, not only at the problems of Jamaica, but the world, and ask, why is mankind almost constantly on the brink of chaos? On the other hand, they can ignore the lessons of the past, plunge into voting, and reap the same reward of the past generation: disillusionment. Capitalism itself, will be doing everything to make its defects obvious. Will the young people recognise what they see, and realise that an alternative social system exist?

Nationalisation is again in the news. An economist, and a playwriter have been relating its virtues, in separate television interviews. Our writer in fact spent some time in Cuba, and seem to be very impressed with things there. He has no regard for the so called communist countries of Eastern Europe, although these and Russia are the model on which the Cuban economy is fashioned .WHAT EASTERN EUROPE IS TODAY, CUBA WILL BE IN TWENTY YEARS TIME .Castro have found it necessary already to speak out about corruption in public life. In a country where they are supposed to have established Socialism, how come problems like this exist? CUBA IS NOT A SOCIALIST COUWTRY, SOCIALISM CANNOT BE ESTABLISHED IN ONE COUNTRY, THEY HAVE WHAT IS CALLED STATE CAPITALISM. The state playing the part of the original capitalist. The workers position is not changed, they are still exploited. Our economist who boldly calls himself a socialist (it still take courage to do so in Jamaica) advocate the nationalisation of industry. This he say would be putting the wealth of the country in the people's hand. If every important industry were immediately nationalised, they would still have to operate with the object of making profit. The capitalist class would still be able to invest in these companies, with their interest guaranteed by the government. All the pressures to maintain exploitation would remain. The British Labour Party have proved that nationalisation provide no benefit for the working class. Even in the circles of British politics, nationalisation is no longer regarded as socialism. The Conservative Party, not so long ago nationalised Rolls Royce, this is how a renowned capitalist party fear nationalisation.

What is Marxism?

The impact of Marxism throughout the years, can perhaps best be judged by the reaction of the pundits of capitalism, who unceasingly try to discredit it. It takes its name from Karl Marx, who together with Frederick Engels worked out a general theory of the world in which we live. Marx was the first to fully appreciate, that the action of men were not purely personal as so often stated in history. They did not conquer lands because of ambition. Marxism goes deeper than the individual, and deeper than the watchwords under which a struggle is carried on. The individual is important in so far as they represent something much wider than themselves, some movement of the people. Marxism sees the struggle between contending classes as the principal driving force in the development of human society. It is a scientific theory of society, based on the facts of history and the world around us. It is not a Utopia.

Marxism approaches the study of history in order to trace the natural laws which run through all human history, and formulate a scientific account of social change. For this purpose it looks at the way people live. In doing so, it finds that there are different sections of the people, some pulling one way and some another, not as individuals, but as classes. For example, Oliver Cromwell is seen not for his own outlook and individual actions, but because he, and his movement played an important part in breaking down the barriers of feudalism, and opened the way for the development of capitalism in Britain.

Capitalism was a necessary stage of human development. In the "Materialist Conception of History" Marx wrote: "They (the capitalist) have prepared the emancipation of humanity even though their immediate effect may have been to accentuate the dehumanising of man". You need only look at the productive capacity of the world, to realise the importance of capitalism to human advancement. Look again at its waste of production, like the regular dumping of food that cant be sold. Its misuse of production the necessity for nations to be armed for war. Its restriction on production unless profit can be made. All this is clear indication that it is now a social hindrance to mankind. Observe also the international nature of capitalism, it has carried its banner to every corner of the world. This is why it is not possible to establish socialism in any one country. MARXISM RECOGNISE THAT JUST AS CAPITALISM IS WORLD WIDE, SOCIALISM MUST BE ALSO. A change from private property, to common ownership. A change from our uncertain existence to be masters of our own fate. A change from production for profit to production for use. To upgrade our system of distribution to match our productive ability. To change the social relationship of man, by creating a moneyless, classless world. That basically is the challenge of Marxism. How is this to come about, Marx had this to say: "As history continues, and as the struggle of the proletariat take shape more clearly, they have no further need to look for a science in their own minds: they hare only to observe what is happening before their eyes".

A lot have been written, and said about the relevance of Marxism to our present time. Those whose job it is to create the impression that capitalism is the best system for man to live under, claim it is obsolete. They are partly successful in that so many people neglect to read Marx themselves. Also the confusion caused by Russia calling itself a Marxist state. All combined to create the idea that Marxism is nothing more than some kind of dictatorship. This is of course false, it is a whole new way of life. Anyone who have read Marx's writing on sociology for instance, must surely feel that what is said is more in tune with our age than any other. The fact is that Marxism is really an undiscovered doctrine. Its final expression completely misrepresented, and therefore misunderstood. How else can we explain why men continue to preserve a degrading social system like capitalism?

Why socialism?

A new social system can only be born in the womb of the old one. It carry on where the old one cant. Releasing men to engage in new activities. Feudalism released the slave from the rigidity of his master. Capitalism freed the Merchant Class, of the
restrictions placed on them by the Feudal lords. Socialism will release the working class from the need to find employment in order to live.

There is nothing permanent about present day capitalist society, it is in fact ripe for change. Capitalism found the workers an ignorant peasant horde, they are today an intelligent organised industrial army. It found them working individually, it has made them work collectively, and scientifically. It found the means, and methods of production crude, and scattered. They are today, one gigantic machine of wealth production. It found the earth with great communications difficulty. It has brought the ends of the earth within speaking distance of one another. It has made itself international, the capitalist class having interest in all lands, on the one hand. On the other, an international working class with a common interest the world over.

The need can now be seen for a party, international in outlook, and completely dedicated to replacing capitalism with socialism. The companion parties listed in this magazine have undertaken that task. Other parties have started out with the same objective, but have got caught up in an effort to reform capitalism. The sacrifice of sound principles for immediate success soon follow, before long they are no different from any capitalist party.

Capitalism has solved the important, and complex problem of wealth production .It is incapable of handling the equally important problem of distribution, People die of starvation all over the world, not because there is no food, but because they have no money to make the purchase. Its conflicts over markets, trade routes and sources of raw materials, breed wars that are today more terrible than ever. We here need not think that war does not concern us, we are not involved because we are not that important. The consequence however would still affect us. Life in general under capitalism, be it an highly paid worker, or an unemployed labourer, tell its own terrible tale. The high strike rate in the developed countries, observe the high figure among the young. The massive increase in mental illness, we in Jamaica have seen evidence of this. The creeping violence that every now and then explodes. All these things have their message. They testify to the hopelessness of people's lives, they are cries for help, in this twisted jungle of modern capitalism.

The working class of the world must ultimately see that only socialism can solve the problems created by capitalism. They should now see clearly that those who administer capitalism (governments) are limited in their endeavours by the requirements of the system. Even though they would do everything to lighten the burden of the workers the system itself inevitably reduces the results to disheartening proportions.

Socialism will solve the problem of distribution. Its introduction will mean the conversion of all the means of production from private, or state property into the common property of all. Goods will no longer be produced for sale, they will be produced for use. The principle behind the operation of industry will be the requirements of mankind, not the prospect of profit. Nothing short of this can cause any fundamental change. Social reform, or government ownership are not socialism. The world today have everything ready for socialism, the big drawback is the lack of appreciation by the people in the world, that there is a way out of the problems of capitalism. There is a better way of life for us all, under socialism.


Late news

Another of capitalism's regular financial crisis has hit the world. The British Pound must now find its own value, this is what the floating of it means. It also is another way of devaluation. Observe the concern shown by every country. We are also affected, our export to Britain for example will bring in less. Our government have immediately done the same thing to our Dollar as Britain. This probably will bring another round of price increases. Thats capitalism for you, upsetting the applecart again, bringing to ruin the best laid plans. Politicans will be telling us it is not their fault, and that is true. That is why we say, create a new system where such things wont be possible. The world operate to accommodate the needs of capitalism, it can do nothing else, as long as the system last.

If anyone needed any indication of the future, the budget should surely set them straight. Nothing special about it, is there? Have you noticed how politicans talk differently when in office, than when they are seeking power? The problems of the poor are suddenly forgotten, in their effort to run the system. Even the occasional rum session, so necessary for the poor, to forget their misery will now cost more. Thats the way it will remain until people realise no better can cone under capitalism.

(Kingston, 1972)