Socialist Review No. 10

Ganja and the system

Ganja is big business, that we knew all along, what is perhaps new to most is the fact that plane load of the stuff was being collected here on an almost daily basis! Hardly a week goes by without the discovery of some plane, awaiting its load. This is now said to be the chief avenue where guns enter the country. Not so long ago, an air strip was discovered in the middle of thick forestry! The novelty of the situation makes it pregnant with all kind of meaning.

There is at the moment a loud whisper throughout the island, that fortunes have been made by "respectable" people involved in transporting ganja to America. In a way we can new say that by recent events, everything about ganja, be it smoking, or selling have been made respectable. Not so long ago it was the popular belief that ganja was the occupation of the ghetto people. Those who were caught received harsh sentences, some who became addictive lost their mind it was degrading and essentially a ghetto problem. Not so anymore!

People often express shock when otherwise well regarded people, are caught doing shady things. This to some extent is a natural human reaction, but it should not last if we understand our social system. What a person own in our world, is the basis on how he is judged, possession counts for everything. In a society like this people generally, will do anything to achieve these symbols of prestige. Its all a great show on the surface, while the pressure rises below. This pressure is more on these "respectable people", if a chance presents itself of easy gain dont think for a minute they wont take it. This is life under capitalism, anything goes!

Consider again ganja, (marijuana) medical reports have been coming out that it should not be regarded as harmless. It is said to reduce the body's ability to fight disease. It is also said to affect the reproductive organs. We all know here that people who cant afford to feed themselves go mad from a prolong use. Despite all these things the demand for it is constantly rising. Cigarette smoking is even more condemned by medical reports, but also, its consumption continue to rocket up. Ask yourself, why should people knowingly do harm to themselves? Could it be that the majority of us loath the way we live, cant see any way out, and develop what is called a death wish? The world is a stage as is said, but the players soon get tired of their part. It is our system of society and its values that people reflect, which drives us to self destruction.

The fact that ganja trafficking on this large scale have been discovered, wont put an end to it. The reward is too great to be resisted. It is not the people who engage in this that we should condemn, its this horrible system of life that give people the need for such a thing.

Where do you stand?

An election that in part, is meant to settle the issue of which party is strongest, seem to do no such thing these days, if we listen to the Prime Minister, and the leader of the opposition, about the council elections held some time ago. One can only conclude that politicans have the great ability to make defeat look like victory. This would be a marvellous quality if we were talking about salesmen, but perhaps the two are more alike than most people think. Both the Prime Minister, and the opposition leader, really have nothing to celebrate. Neither of them mention the very low poll, this is even more glaring when we remember that for the first time eighteen year olds could vote.

Yes, the cries of crisis continue, and the real crisis of peoples lives, the fantastic increase in the cost of daily necessities,(estimated at 30% since this year) the shortages of these things, which itself creates a black market, should all add up to make people pause for a moment. Added to this is the fact that we have a massive unemployment problem, and no government assistance for these people. It really dred jah.

The important thing about all this is for us not to forget the lessons of this experience, (people get used to anything, after a time, the bad times soon become good) It was just over two years ago that the present government, then campaigning for office was painting a rosy picture of "better must come", surely what is happening now is not what they meant? Granting that this was not their intention, it is obvious that there are powerful forces outside their control that influence our lives. We could say that these forces affect us more than anything the government can do. Yes, it is important to remember from the days of promise, in the last general elections, to the present crisis situation to fully understand the lesson.

What shall be your reaction to politicans, and their talk in a few years from now? And if you do reject their utterances for the meaningless trash, for what it is, what shall be your approach to the problems of society? Will you simply give up trying and resign yourself to anything capitalist society dishes out? This of course is the easy way, and consequently very popular. Some, having gone through the humiliation of capitalist society, become racist, and see the solution to the problems of life by the destruction of another race. Needless to say, both these reactions wont be a threat to structure of society, and in fact serve to hide the real enemy, the real cause of the bitter problems that faces the working class. To desire anything less than the abolition of the present system, from production for profit, to production for use is to desire nothing. Not higher wages, but away with the wage system. Not employment for all, but an end to employment as the means to participate in the fruits of production. This is the only change that can have any rewarding effect for the mass of people around the world today.

This crisis situation that we all face on the economic front, is also a crisis of decision. One makes the other all the more important. The pressure is on, and as things get hotter you must decide, either to accept anything this rotten system throws at you, or take up the challenge of the socialist alternative to change our way life to something better. Get involve, take a stand for a better world, today.
Law and the lawless

The fatal shooting of two prominent citizens have stunned the government into action to combat the indiscriminate use of the gun. A gun court law has been rushed through parliament, a site for the court, and those convicted, developed. All in almost two weeks. What haste? We are sad about these people, but we would also like to ask, how many small shop keeper, factory worker have been robbed, and gunned down, without even public outcry. People have had to flee their homes, impose their own rigid curfew, deny themselves many small pleasures, because of the level of fear reached in society. Yet as one looked on it was as if it was never happening here. No one paid any attention as long as the terror stayed in the ghetto. Society have been touched, and now they are out for revenge.

Although there are some protest, there is a general feeling of approval about the new measures. The impression is given that people almost feel that crime will almost vanish. This of course is what we all wish, but it just wont happen. To fully understand the cause of crime, you must first understand something about the society we live in. We must identify the values our society project. We live in a world where possession count for everything, Consider the position of the large army of unemployed young men (in our society the pressure is mostly on the male) and even those who work, they accept the values that society have preached to them. However, by their very low economic position, they have little or no chance of ever enjoying "the good things of life". This is the breeding ground for crime, violent or otherwise. THE CAUSE IS ROOTED IN OUR SOCIAL SYSTEM. It can be suppressed, the figures might even go down, but it cant be eliminated as long as we maintain our present social structure. Notice how in the countries often referred to as rich, crime is still a serious social problem. It is so because the values are the same.

Of late there have been rumours of crime in high places. The transporting of ganja, by plane to America, is said to be the work of top people. It wont help any to come out and start yelling why our betters wont set us good examples. They too are trapped by the system. It is also wrong to think that greed and selfishness are responsible for the evils of society. The dog eat dog jungle of today's chaotic world breeds greed and selfishness. This applies to every level of society. A man's behaviour is based on the environment he lives in, capitalist society creates the environment that breeds crime, what we need is a system that would make crime a useless, irrelevant act. This is just what socialism will do. You can go on supporting, or opposing different laws, but unless you come to accept the socialist alternative nothing will be achieved. The condition in the world is ideal for socialism, only for people to get turned on to the idea of a socialist society, it is they who have sentenced themselves to this corrupt system.




Editorial Note: The following article is taken from FULCRUM, the official publication of the Socialist Party of Canada. It deals with a subject that should be of great interest to us here in Jamaica. Everyone who has access to the medias, seem to think that we can reform our system to make it better for all. Is reform the answer? This article answers this question.

Socialist are often accused of being opposed to reforms, social legislation ostensibly designed to ameliorate some more or less intolerable situation - Medicare, Social Security, etc.

However, to the contrary, the World Socialist Parties are not opposed to reforms per se, any more than they ADVOCATE them. Socialist do not support or agitate for reforms precisely on the grounds upon which they are ostensibly presented, for they do NOT CURE the ills to which they are addressed. We contend further that the interest of the ruling powers lies in attracting votes for their various political programs. Witness the reforms, or promises, offered by the politicoes in an election year. They are a necessary policy of governments seeking a broader base of support in their efforts to maintain a sufficient degree of viability in the capitalist system: to keep order in a social system whose nature is to engender disorder: to maintain an unstable equilibrium in a system continually facing crisis. And in time of great stress the offering of reforms to a restless and dissatisfied populace, helps to provide a "breathing spell" to a badly harassed government.

The Roosevelt reforms of the New Deal, immediately following the "GREAT DEPRESSION" were instituted not only as a sop to the enraged dispossessed, but to rebuild and reinforce a sagging business economy and fractured financial structure. They succeeded only to a very limited degree. As a worried mother tries to appease a howling infant by placing a pacifier in the child's mouth and sometimes sweetens it by coating it with syrup - so these reforms were offered with promises to do away with "fear" that of the dispossessed and of those also who own and control.

But they did nothing whatever to help resolve the basic contradictions in the economic system. The gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" remained and even widened, and the economy was "saved" only by the outbreak of war. This war basis has continued throughout the ensuing "peace" years.

Consider also two outstanding reforms of the past few years. The "Alianza par Progreso" and the War on Poverty. The former is now dying of inanition, and the latter never succeeded in getting off the ground.

The Alliance for Progress was undertaken to underwrite the "Good neighbour policy", to fasten Latin America to the chariot of United States imperialism, so that the countries to be "helped" might become suppliers of raw materials, and sources of capital accumulation, The denizens of the slums of Peru, Guatemala, Brazil, etc., still wallow in their unrelieved poverty, and any great protest on their part is taken care of by dictatorial rulers, aided and abetted by the C.I.A. and the Green Berets. Meantime here at home the increasing poverty and hopelessness of the ghettos of all our large cities gives the lie to the "Great Society" and its "War on Poverty". And that great reform which one writer says "is daintily referred to as Urban Renewal" does not even begin to touch the fringe of the problem. Capitalism here produced the ghetto with its overcrowded and frustrated inhabitants, yet capitalism cannot reform it. It may however, destroy it, for the intro­duction of more sophisticated weaponry and a National Guard specially trained in "riot control" is now suggested as the answer, an increasingly voiced response to the chaos and disorders of the moment. This now seems to be the only response of the selfish egotism of a ruling clique.

A half a century of reforms, which do not reform, leaves this society more affluent in the upper levels and more poverty stricken in the lower. The fewer rich become richer and the increasing many poorer. Despite growth in the Gross National Product, despite an apparent rise in the general standard of living for some, the gap remains and widens.

While contending that Capitalism cannot be genuinely reformed in the interest of the whole of the society, Socialists contend also that it be superseded by a better, higher, social order. It is to this end that of changing the world that Socialists direct their efforts.

It once was asked of this writer at a public meeting: "How would you socialists suggest, right now, organising production"? The reply is simple enough - "Production is already organised" There is no problem in that area.There is no anarchy in production today: Anarchy appears when the products reach the market. So production, socialist insist will be carried on as it is now BUT WITH THE OTHER FELLOW, THE CAPITALIST OWNER OUT OF THE PICTURE. But there being no problem in production only in distribution these important

(l) Distribution of goods and services instead of exchange: thus "use" instead of "profit".
(2)Administration of THINGS instead of Government over people.
(3)A complete social body: not one divided into Rulers and Ruled.
(4)An entire economy administered democratically in the interest of the entire community.

In closing permit this observation: Any socialist with a correct reading of Marx and knowledge gained from his own reasearches into history knows that societies have passed through various periods, with different social formulations, but ever possessing rulers and ruled, until today man faces another "Eternal Order", capitalism. This present order, despite its cruelties and oppressions represented social advance and in its early stages compared to its antecedents, was "liberal" and "progressive". It is no more "Eternal" than Feudalism, Chattel Slavery. Capitalism's increasing and continual crises indicate its time of dissolution: as it was with previous social orders: "Where wealth accumulates and man decay".

Growing affluence above among the few, abysmal poverty below the lot of the many. Chaos abounds and confusion reigns. Crime in the streets and warfare abroad. These and one thousand and one other distressing items are featured daily in the news media and presently exercise more and more minds in the populace. The politicans cry "Reform, Law and Order", and the pity is that so many are thereby fooled.

The socialist contention that capitalism cannot be reformed in the interest of the majority, but it can be abolished is reinforced in the language of history. A study of history teaches that no society ever set itself the task of dealing with any situation or problem without that society having first developed the necessary and sufficient conditions in process of emergence. Nor can any society be dissolved and replaced by a higher one until it has developed all those forces requisite for its replacement. These forces are now abundantly evident.

A high technological perfection is seen in modern society - automation, which does not come about automatically (it is often restrained because of the influence of various vested interest.)

It also can be seen how the productive apparatus is capable of producing more than a sufficiency for all. The age long problem facing man -PRODUCTION - has been solved. Poverty, chaos, war, and social strife can de eliminated by doing away vith the root cause of these horrors. This is socialism's objective: To abolish capitalism, not vainly attempt to reform it. Think, think, and think again and THINKING ARIGHT join in this great, and only meaningful task.
Bill Pritchard.

Race or class?

The racial issue in our present time have been described as the most crucial in the world today. This view have been expressed by leaders in government, to the man in the street. To these people there will be some massive explosion sometime in the future, with the races lined up against each other.

As socialist we do not see the racial issue as the major problem in the world. We see the world divided into those who possess the means of production, the capitalist class, and those who seek work in order to live, the working class. It is because of this class division in society that give rise to racism in the first place. When capitalism goes through one of its frequent bad period, some of the workers of the dominant race usually blame their condition, on some other race. Observe how racial feeling run high in Britain during a period of high unemployment. It serve as an easy excuse for people who look around and can see nothing in their frustrating existance.

Let us take a look at the situation here in Jamaica. People are always saying that the white people come here and own everything. In just the same way that the black man stand out in Britain, so does the white man here, and so is the reaction to both. And it is important to say here that almost all the white people in Jamaica are in fact working class people, just like West Indians in Britain. What cause the confusion la that the whites here are in a position to demand higher wages, because of their skill. That engineer that flashes by in that big car is no capitalist, he is really a worker in a high income group. HE IS A MEMBER OF THE WORKING CLASS BECAUSE HE DEPEND ON HIS WAGE IN ORDER TO LIVE.

Nationalism, which serve as encouragement to racism, is preached from the highest level in society. They tell us that we should love our country. They also say that Jamaicanisation of industry is one of their main priority. It is strange how sometimes people talk about Jamaica as their country, when it fact they own so very little of it. And why should workers support the Jamaicanisation effort, when all it really means is that the Jamaican Capitalist class, can now own the investment ventures once owned by  "foreigners". It wont make any difference to a single workers life if this goal of Jamaicanisation is realised! Capitalism is a system of exploitation, humiliation, and degradation for the working class. These features wont go away because the people who administer the system are "your own kith and kin".

Look around the world and observe, how in some countries, racism is actively supported by governments. South Africa, and Rhodesia are the chief example, it is also done in parts of black Africa. Racism only serve to divide and confuse the working class and lead them away from the important question of how they produce the wealth of the world, and share so little of it. It is our position as working class people that we should consider, and throw away the idea of race. In the words of our declaration of principles "the emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex."

Early comment

Oscar Wilde is reputed to have once said, "when the gods wish to punish us they grant us our wish". Now that the government have acquired the J.O.S., a thing the "progressive" people have been clamering for ever so long, they must now be very happy. What we would like is in what way this "blessing" of state ownership will affect the workers. Will our transport system be more efficient, will they employ more workers, will the workers be more courteous, will they get an immediate pay rise, and most important will buses be put anywhere that people want, not considering its profitability? We are being very conceited in asking questions that we already know the answer. If you dont have the answers, we are sorry but we wont tell, but keep an eye on this state enterprise, you will soon find out for yourself.

(Kingston, 1974)