Socialist Review No. 08

Economic crisis

The government have recently outlined a programme to prevent what they call an "economic crisis". They tell us that we have been spending too much abroad, and at the same time not producing enough here, to pay for these things. They have imposed a ban on various things from food stuff, to radio sets. Loans from banks have been tightened up, and we are made to feel that we are all in serious economic trouble.(As if working class people dont live with this condition throughout their lives).

How can we understand this position in a country with almost twenty per cent of the work force unemployed, and so many thousands living in degrading poverty. Take the restriction on bank credit, this will almost certainly have the effect of keeping unemployment high, a direct reversal of the government's pledge to create the condition for more work for the people. It is said that we have been living too high for too long, and we must now pay for this prodigal existence! Remember that all this is said in a country with a staggering poverty problem for many people. What can people make of a situation like this? How can they reconcile with what is being said now, with what was said before the elections? Who is guilty of high living? How can the presents of so many poor people in a country produce the effect of high living? The whole thing is so confusing, no wonder there is hardly any reaction at all.

To solve this puzzle, and understand why such contradictory things can happen, we must try to know something about how the social system that we live under works. First we must realise that as long as this social system remain (the capitalist system) any government, whatever it calls itself is subject to its laws. This is important to remember, only then can we understand why governments sometimes act as they do, approve price increase, create unemployment, and make statements that we are living too high, when so many people can hardly find the necessities to stay alive.

Why do the people of the world continue with such an inadequate social system? Well why do you continue to accept it? This is our point, we want to change the system therefore changing the laws that now control our lives. We want a society that when we speak of wealth consumption we reflect the action of every person. We want a society where people will produce what they want, and partake freely of that production. You probably think the idea is too far fetch, well, how far fetch can you get when we are told that in a country where there is so many poor, the economy reflect that we are living g too well. JUST THINK OF THESE TWO THINGS FOR A MINUTE, PRODUCTION FOR USE,AND THE GOVERNMENT'S LATEST STATEMENT ON THE ECONOMY, WHICH SEEM MORE IMPOSSIBLE?

To talk of a period of austerity, beg the question, austerity for who? It is the workers who are called upon to work harder, it is they who will feel the effect of increase prices, as things like T.V. sets become scarce. A government ban to the rich only mean he must now bribe some official to get what he wants. We need a society where people can at last have classless mutual interest within the social system, expressed by participating in its democratic development and by enjoying free access to its wealth and opportunities. This is socialism, the only way to put sanity into man's relationship on earth. Don’t you think it worth every effort to achieve this?
George.

This and that

People become disillusioned by a political party, because they dont understand the system that party set out to govern in. Many P.N.P. supporters have been expressing their disappointment with the government for not doing something to put a stop to the gallop of the cost of living. They also seem surprise that things have gone back to what we accept as normal. The changes that they were led to believe would come have not yet appeared. What is worse, we dont even hear about them anymore. A government's ultimate task is to make the system, capitalism, function as best it can. To achieve this they must do what the system demand, and not what is actually necessary. For example if the cost of goods that we import goes up, and the merchants profit dwindle, the cost to us will also climb to make it profitable for the merchants. The government cant change the system, they were not elected for that, they must comply with the needs of capitalism. If people took the time to understand capitalist society they would find no reason to get excited about any government getting elected. They would in fact be helping us to change the system to one man can fully control to his benefit.

The minister of housing have been calling on developers (a new word for a capitalist) to show their altruism by building houses for the poor. He ask them not to always think in terms of profit. Either the minister is not aware of the nature of capitalist society, or he has already began to make excuses for himself. No capitalist will invest in any venture where he knows beforehand there is no chance of making profit. This is a law of capitalist society. Houses are not built primarily to accommodate people, but to make profit. That is why the higher the income group the easier it is to find a house. Speaking of altruism, this is only necessary in a capitalist society, under a system of real freedom, men would be given the opportunity to act for themselves in a united effort to satisfy their needs.

It is said that by having more companies offering shares for sale to the public, that this is one way of making all Jamaicans share in the wealth of the country. It sound logical, but is it true? Would you say that a man with ten shares in a company that might earn him roughly one dollar every three months is sharing in the wealth of the country? The truth is that only the rich can afford to buy shares in the necessary quantity to earn themselves fat cheques regularly. The whole thing is one big deception, to divert attention from the inevitable class, conflict, inherent in capitalist society. People wont fall for it however, as the nature of their lives will make the lie obvious. Another popular myth is to say that Jamaicans should own more of the industries, the chief target being the bauxite industry, as if this would solve any of our problems. The working class should not concern itself with which master, it must slave for, it wont make any difference to their lives, whether Americans, or Jamaicans own the bauxite. Black capitalist or White capitalist they are both united in their objective: exploitation. How ridiculous it is for workers to be taking sides in something that wont benefit them! To realise ones interest in society is the beginning of class consciousness for the working class, its time more people show they are at least conscious!

Who need leaders?

A socialist party differ from other parties in various ways, one of the most striking difference being the views socialist hold towards the question of leadership. A socialist organisation does not recognise the need for any one person to be regarded as leader. This is based on the fact that within a socialist organisation everyone is conscious of the objective, and therefore there is no need for any special person to lead.

Most political parties start from the premise that the majority of people cant understand the complex nature of society. They therefore encourage members that this analysis of society be left to an "educated" elite. No doubt conscious of the fact that if members do examine our social structure they would soon no longer be members. Observe how we hear quite often people expressing their disappointment in a particular leadership. This is partly due to the fact that the leader, and the members dont share the same philosophy, and are in the organisation for different reasons. Few organisations on the political level, ask people to endorse a set of principles before becoming members. They would in fact regard this as suicidal, their chief objective being, to gain as much popular support as possible, and not to put obstacles in the way to this end. This in one reason why they need a leader, someone with the personality to unite so many people with different views. The ability to keep alive hopes that can never be fulfilled, is regarded as an essential quality for a modern leader. Despite this however it is impossible for any political leader to escape conflict within hia organisation, with members so confused as to goal, and their natural ignorance of the motive of capitalist society.

Every socialist organisation throughout the world demand that each prospective member endorse a set of principles. This eliminate conflict of goal, and the method of achieving it. Members already conscious of the wrong in capitalist society soon grasp the full consequence of its continued existence. This is done through our literature, and lecture programme, their educational value very rewarding, extending to a change of ones life style. Socialist have often expressed confidence in any person of average intelligence, to understand the socialist case. It is really the intelligence of the average worker they attack, those people who accuse us of inaction. Taken in this sense, our activities rightly reflect the amount who join us, in the different countries around the world. Remembering that we dont engage in marches, and demonstrations, as we regard such methods as useless. While other organisations do everything to create the impression of false strength, to gain recognition, socialist continue to reflect their true influence in society. We regard polities as serious business, and proceed to educate people to realise that capitalist society can be changed to socialism, to others it really is a game, with the leader as the chief player.

The world cannot change to something better, until the majority of people in it visualise a new social system, and then set out to make it a reality. This is everyone's responsibility, not for a few to decide. When people have this vision they wont need leaders, as they will be certain of where they are going. It is in the structure of society that we live under that create the problems of the world, leaders cant change the system, all of us can. The record «f the staggering failure of leadership is proof enough hew useless it is. We only help to make capitalism survive by supporting leaders. We need a social system to establish harmonious, relationship for men on earth. When men are moving consciously to this end they will nave no need for leaders.



Human nature and human behaviour

"What about human nature?" is a common reaction among those hearing the case for Socialism for the first time. To a certain extent, no doubt, this re­flects a healthy scepticism amongst ordinary people towards so revolutionary a new idea. But there is more to the human nature argument than this. Behind it is a clever but false theory touching on the subjects of biology, anthropology, and sociology.

Because man is lazy and greedy and aggressive, runs the human nature ob­jection, he could not live in a society where work was voluntary or where there was free access to wealth. If work were voluntary, nobody would do it; if goods were freely available, there would be a free-for-all as people fought each other to grab as much as they could.

Let us be clear about what this says: that certain patterns of behaviour are innate and are inherited from genera­tion to generation by all human beings.

Highly adaptable

What evidence has been brought for­ward in favour of this view? Only the way men actually behave in present-day and in many previous societies. It is true that men sometimes are lazy or aggres­sive, but this is not in itself strong enough evidence for concluding that this is be­cause they are born that way. Because, if this were so, all men would exhibit these characteristics at all times in all societies.

Since this is what the human nature argument asserts, it is sufficient to dis­prove it to produce examples of men behaving in a hard-working or a friend­ly way. This is easy. At times most human beings will feel lazy; at others they will undertake extremely hard work because they enjoy it. At times they will be ag­gressive, but at others friendly and help­ful to their fellow human beings. The fact is that everyday experience of life today disproves the human nature argument.

So does the evidence of the past. There are traveller's tales going back to ancient times of human communities based on common property wrth equal or fair sharing of what little there was to go round. Wknesses have testified to the consistently friendly and co-operative behaviour of the members of these communities. Anthropologists studying present-day survivals of primitive social systems — like the Eskimos, the Bush­men of South West Africa, or the aborig­ines of Australia — confirm this. In fact all the evidence amassed on human society and human behaviour suggests no rigid or consistent pattern. Quite the reverse. It points to man being a highly adaptable animal who can survive in and adjust to an immense variety of different circumstances.
So we can list the evidence against the human nature objection to Socialism:

 That there have been societies based on voluntary work and free co-operation.

 That some work today, for example the dangerous work of manning lifeboats,is done voluntarily.

 That there have been societies where there has been free access to some ofthe necessities of life.

 That those things, such as water from a public drinking tap, that are more or less freely available today are not grabbed or hoarded.

What is more, there is no evidence from genetics, the branch of bioligy con­cerned with heredity, that complicated behaviour patterns like being greedy can be inherited. The mechanism by which certain characteristics are inherited is now fairly well known. The sort of characteristics that are inherited are those governing the physical make-up of man. Since the brain is part of the human body this too is inherited, but ideas and complicated patterns of behaviour are not transmitted along with the brain. Each normal human being will inherit a brain that can be trained to think abstractly just as he inherits hands that can be trained to use tools and make things or a voice that can be trained to speak and sing.

A picture of man's real nature is now emerging. What man inherits are cer­tain physical features and certain cap­acities. The physical make-up of man merely defines the limits of what he can do, but within those limits man can learn to do anything. We have now come again to the conclusion that man is an im­mensely versatile animal who can learn to live in many different circumstances.

So, from the points of view of both sociology and biology, man is an adapt able animal. Behaviour patterns like ag­gression are not inherited but learned as are behaviour patterns like friendlinness. Man can be and is both aggresssive and friendly; it depends on social circumstances, not on his biolgicical make-up.

The anthropologist Ashley Montagu’st book The Bio-Social Nature of Man well sums up that man is part of nature (biology) but that he develops only it and through society. That man is by nature a social animal, in the sense af developing his capacities only through society, is an important point.

Self-alteration

What distinguishes human beings from other animals are such features as the ability to think abstractly and the ability to use and make tools. All these thought, speech, and tool-making — are linked. All of them could have developed only through society. It was probably through working to satisfy his basic needs that pre man developed his brain and his hands and so became man or homo sapiens. Indeed, the basis of al human activity and thought is the way men organise themselves to satisfy such needs as food, clothing and shelter. Human society develops, and huaaai behaviour changes, as the methods men employ to produce wealth develop. Since it is men themselves who change andf improve the technical methods and the social organisation of production, we can say, as in the title of another book by the archaeologist V. Gordon Childe, that Man Makes Himself. Man changes himself by changing the environment in which he lives. Such too will be the change from capitalism to Socialism This will be the product of conscious human activity; in changing their en­vironment from class to common property men will at the same time be changing the way they behave or, if you like, changing themselves.

There is nothing in the make-up of men that would prevent their freely working together and then freely taking from the common store what they need.

The human nature argument thus out to be, frankly, nonsense. But it is not only false. It is also part of the ideology by which class society and its coercive state machine are justified. Re­call what the argument says — that man is lazy, that he is greedy and aggressive — and think what it would mean if it were true.

If men are lazy and will produce wealth only when they are forced to, then if human society is to continue, some men must be in a position to force the rest to work. Thus it is natural that human society be divided into rulers and ruled.

If men are greedy then they must be denied free access to the fruits of their labour and allowed only so much as will keep them working. Again, it is natural that society be based on private property and divided into exploiters and exploited.

If men are aggressive then they must be restrained, if human society is not to break up amid chaos. There must be a public power of coercion in the hands of a ruling minority. Thus the state machine and government over people also are natural.

What a convenient theory! Class soc­iety, exploitation, and oppression just­ified as natural! Of course this is no accident. The human nature argument is a ruling-class idea. As long as people believe that Socialism is impossible and that only class and property society is practical the ruling class is safe. Marx pointed out that in a non-revolutionary period the ruling ideas in society are the ideas of the ruling class. The human nature argument is so widespread today because it is a ruling class idea in a pre-revolutionary period.



THIS ARTICLE WAS TAKEN FROM THE SOCIALIST STANDARD, SEPTEMBER - 1969.


Ganja and sanity

The use of ganja in society continue to be widespread, despite reports of increased activity against the users, by the police. We have heard often enough of the punishment inflicted upon offenders caught smoking, or in posession of the weed, we never hear anyone asking why people find it necessary to smoke it. What is it that makes a man prefer to face reality with a sensation of feeling high? Could it be that things as they are, are too ugly, and hopeless, and smoking ganja is really a way of creating some meaning to ones existance. It is said that ganja is the cause of many people going mad, perhaps it also save many more from cracking up.

Charlie.

Contents


Like it or not. Jamaica 1982. A dialogue


THE SCENE. On the evening following a general election three friends, Barry, Louis, and George members of The Socialist Party of Jamaica, met to discuss the dramatic event of the previous day. The voting into power of the Jamaica Communist Front Party!

LOUIS: Its difficult to believe even now, although it was really evident to us throughout the campiagn.
GEORGE: Yes, the sort of thing you see happening, but since it has never happened before, you think somehow it wont.
BARRY: The margin of victory and the absolute peace of the campaign is still a little surprising to me.
GEORGE: Yes, the peace of the campaign was really the best indication of the result. For once the people were not fighting, and killing amoung themselves for the two old parties.
LOUIS: One thing that is amusing is the way all the pundits have been telling us for so long that the two party system is entrenched in Jamaican life, and there is little chance of any other party ever becoming prominent.
BARRY: That is because political pundits never understand the people they talk about. It also has to do with their wish being exposed to us as reason. The fact is Jamaica have been ready made for what happened yesterday for a long time now. What caused the delay was that none of the other parties that tried to break the stronghold had anything resembling a philosophy. You might have two capitalist parties functioning without any apparent philosophy for decades, it takes one with a philosophy, or at least a different approach to running capitalism, to stand a chance against them.
LOUIS: How what have happened affect our position is what I think we should discuss.
GEORGE: Before we get into that let us examine for a moment the conditions that made yesterday possible. Like the number of capitalist who supported the communist party.
BARRY: They could hardly have made it without the financial support of the capitalist, what, with meetings being covered by television, and newspaper supplements of party political propaganda.
LOUIS: The Capitalist Class always show more insight into things than most people think. The more civilised among them saw the trend. The worsening relationship of law and order,the rocketing cost of crime to them. The proposal to abolish the whole legal apparatus and institute a peoples court must have gone down well with them.
GEORGE:Another of the communist proposal that must have been favourable to the capitalist class is their idea of having elections over ten years, instead of five.
BARRY:This was one of the most interesting part of the whole campaign. The other two parties could not fully believe that some capitalist would actually support, financially a conmunist party. They could not grasp that a capitalist by his function will any party that can provide the proper climate for him to exploit in.
LOUIS: Notice the desparate kind of propaganda the older parties engaged in during the latter part of the campaign. They split the church in half, seeking allegience, forgetting that the church no longer have any influence over the people. They try to frighten the people that their things will be taken away, forgetting that the people have nothing worth keeping. In many ways during this half of the campaign they were united in their confusion.
GEORGE: Just to think back for a moment, you remember about two years ago a group of capitalist issued a statement stating their concern about the worsening state of discipline among workers, particularly those in essential services. Despite the many laws passed, and the many promises to put them in effect the situation they claim have become worse. The then current bus strike they claim waa caused by an inspector not telling a conductor good morning.
BARRY: We certainly have established that members of the capitalist class gave active support to the new government. They obviously became fed up with governments that could not govern, because they were always conscious about losing votes. What we might devote some time to however is how the Jamaican worker, not so long ago so strongly influenced by the church, so afraid of even the word communism, could within a few years actually vote in a communist government to power.
LOUIS: Yes it is a turnabout, especially so for people who can remember Jamaica fifteen twenty years ago. However there were signs of what could develop. About ten, twelve years ago a sub culture based on rastafarism began to emerge, you may remember. The first real sign of widespread rejection of Christian teaching. Even the common people lost interest in the church, as the clergy became more absorved in government. The almost final act of the last parliament that a preacher will travel with the security forces in their drive against criminal strongholds, must have been the final blow. We have what really amount to a police state, what with regular curfews, and searching of homes, on the one hand, and a governmnet to be fair to them keeping some form of democracy on the political level. They forget however that the expression of freedom is a relationship between men.
BARRY:I dont think they really could have done anything else without almost civil war, considering the impact the communist leader made on a wide section of the people. His promise to take over all industries, create new towns for the youths to build and administer themselves, caught the imagination of both the ordinary man, and the intellectuals. Observe how a high proportion of these intellectuals became active campaigners.
GEORGE:Another important factor in bringing the people to their present decision was the almost continual war by gangs of the two opposing parties. It ia estimated that over the past five years murder due to these clashes averaged about one per day. Remember about a year ago citizens in the Trench Town area set up barracades and stoned gangs of both parties out of their area. A large number of young men too, caught on to the idea that it was useless to be living with hate for men in similar position like themselves. They became educated to life doing political dirty work. A lot of these men I understand were in that march some months back, demanding land to set up what they called communal farms.
BARRY: Yes, the entire population through their life of fear, and poverty, became more civilised than their political leaders. It was noticable throughout the campaign for the first time in this country's history no sign of hero worship was shown to any of the old political figures. Their meetings were solemn spectacles, without the usual singing and merriment, some of the people at these meetings even interrupted speakers to ask questions. They were completely bankrupt of ideas to deal with this kind of sophisticated behaviour.
LOUIS: Of course we must remember the entire international mood. Our companion parties throughout the world, have what they call an escalation of membership, enquires, and for speakers. In America, and Britain, almost the entire young population are showing their rejection of capitalist values. Not only are they rejecting, the hippies did this before them, but a large portion of them are in fact calling for production for use, on a world wide basis. They are doing this without really being socialist.
BARRY: In these developed areas of the world, it does not take much to realise that world wide protection for use is the only answer for today's problems. If anything we might ask, why the cry for it is not more widespread. What should be especially pleasing to us is the growing number of people, right here who have arrived at this point of view. Between us we got over six hundred votes yesterday, and by the nature of our campaign all these people voted with the desire to have a new social order.This I think is very good indeed.
GEORGE: Of course the almost chaotic situation of world capitalism is not evident to us here in the same degree. The communication media however do bring all the problems to us as news. This have helped to make people realise that even if some of these problems dont exist here, they soon will. Like the situation in America where they cant find places to put the mentally ill. People so affected have trebled in the last decade.
LOUIS: That is really interesting, but there is another good thing coming out of this election, that is the ending of this confusion between us and the communist. With so many so called communist gnvernment gaining power throughout the world, through the ballot, and now the same thing happening here, nothing could be better to clear the air. What is rather ironic is how the communist party have become the last bastion af world capitalism.
BARRY: Yes, that is really something, people have began to fully see the alternative we have to offer. The eommunist who have been such a stumbling block in our way for so long, their success over the world could be the best thing that could happen to us. The only issue before the world today is production for use, against the chaos that exist today under production for profit.There is no other diversion.
GEORGE: The President will be on television in a few minutes and we might as well look in, Louis, how would you sum up what we have been saying, and what to expect from our point ef view for the future.
LOUIS: I think the popularity of the communist should make us happy. When they were a minority group they were far more dangerous to us. People can now observe that life under any such government changes very little from others, in respeet to their lives. The way is now completely cleared for socialism to really arrest the minds of people throughout the world. In terms of the world today, you could say that socialism is around the corner, to be discovered any day now.
BARRY: Yes, men have suffered for too long under this evil social system. The knowledge that a way out is possible should spread like an epidemic. The communist as rulers can only help make this possible. Lets now watch this comedy scene in the final act of this drama.

(Kingston, 1972)