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Several European countries have tightened border controls over the past year in response to security concerns related to the refugee crisis. A United Nations investigator has warned that moves to crackdown on migration may worsen the risk of more attacks in Europe while breaching refugees’ fundamental rights. Ben Emmerson, the Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, found “
53 min 47 sec ago
Living in the most polluted parts of a city appears to have a similar effect on your blood pressure as becoming overweight, according to the world’s largest ever study of the effects of fossil fuel emission on human health. Researchers found that those living in the most polluted parts of a city had a higher chance of developing it than people in less polluted urban areas. They said the risk
53 min 47 sec ago
YOU'VE READ THE LIE that socialism would result in the loss of individual liberty; that all power would be surrendered to the state or the government, and a harsh bureaucracy would regulate our lives and enforce blind obedience. THE FACT IS that socialism rejects the state! Socialists hold with Karl Marx that "The existence of the state is inseparable from the existence of slavery." How
53 min 47 sec ago
Wednesday, October 26, 7:30 PM to 9:00 PMVenue: ACE17 West Montgomery Place, Edinburgh EH7 5HA
Socialism would be too idealistic or utopian if it depended on people following an ideal that was contrary to their material interest. But that is not the case with socialism. Socialism is grounded in material realities. It is rooted in the reality that it is now objectively and physically possible for society to meet the basic human needs and wants of all the people. It is rooted in the reality that capitalism stands as an obstacle to society realising its full potential to meet the needs and wants of all. It is rooted in the reality that the working class, which are those who do productive work, mental or physical, are denied their material needs and wants under the present system. Thus the modern working class has both a motive and the potential power to replace the present system with socialism.
All that's missing is for workers to recognise their true interests as a class, understand the socialist goal, and begin organising as a class to establish it. Socialism is realistic and a pragmatic alternative. We, the workers, already collectively occupy the industries every day and operate them from top to bottom. The only thing we don't do is own them, control them, and determine the product distribution. Properly organised, we can rectify that, and build an economic system that will truly serve the social interest and it is essential for human survival and continued social progress. To build socialism, workers must organise politically and economically.
Socialism can only be established by a class-conscious, organised majority of the working class. It can only be built by workers who understand the need to prevent any individual or group from gaining the power to control production or distribution. Socialism would be governed by active organisations of workers, educated by the class struggle and determined to keep economic power in the only safe place for it to reside in the collective hands of all. Control of society's economic resources would be in the collective hands of the working class. All persons elected to serve in the factory committees, the workers' councils and the commune assemblies administering social life and the economy as a whole, would be responsible only for performing designated administrative tasks. They would have no bureaucratic power to dictate production or distribution goals toward their own individual enrichment. Voting would determine the general goals of social production, based on their own needs and wants. Socialism's elected and recallable administrators would carry out the task of determining which facilities are to produce how much in order to meet the socially determined production goals. They would have no opportunity to become bureaucratic rulers even if they wanted to. And once a society of security and abundance for all is established, the motivation to even want to be become a bureaucrat is eliminated.
People clearly have the capability of being cooperative as well as competitive, supportive and helpful as well as antagonistic, egalitarian as well as selfish. We can and do choose to employ one quality or the other, depending on how our material circumstances and interests affect us, and how we perceive our own self-interest. It is also part of our human nature to think, to evaluate our circumstances and change our behaviour when we conclude that doing so is in our self-interest. Accordingly, socialism is not contrary to human “nature”. For the vast majority of the people who belong to the working class today, it does no good to be greedy, competitive or power-hungry; capitalism rewards them with hardship. Sooner or later, a majority of workers can and will come to the understanding that their own self-interest demands the creation of a new social system based on social ownership of the industries and cooperative production for the common good. Once a socialist society is established, the material and other rewards of that system will continue to reinforce cooperative behaviour and nullify selfishness, greed and the desire for power over others.

6 hours 59 min ago

Working people must set their sights on the real goal, liberation from wage slavery. The genuine socialist movement must educate its fellow-workers to the need of reaching this goal if they are to achieve the economic security and well-being they seek. Capitalism has substituted the motive of private profit in place of public duty. Capitalism is a system of social advancement based on individual merit and ability is the message that an army of media and academic errand boys are constantly trying to drill into our heads. That message is everywhere. You can hardly escape from it. There is just one problem with this picture. An examination of how capitalism actually works - who does the work, who gains the wealth and how that wealth is accumulated - reveals a reverse reality. Capitalism as it actually exists functions more like an inverse meritocracy, a system of social advancement based on the exploitation of the members of society who actually perform the work, and who therefore create all value. As they say, if hard work creates millionaires then every African peasant woman would be worth a fortune. The idea that personal wealth is capitalism's reward for producing economic value for society is an imaginative fairy tale. In fact, great personal wealth is either the reward for being born to wealthy parents, or for being the most single-minded and ruthless acquirers of other people's money, diminishing rather than uplifting the social good in the process. By the same logic those with the smallest incomes must be making the least contribution to society. But even a casual look at the facts shows the opposite is true. Food production is one endeavor no society can do without. But the people who do the work of producing food for consumption - farm-workers, slaughterhouse workers, cannery and processing workers, restaurant workers - mostly receive below average wages.
But the real chasm of inequality isn't between food-industry workers and higher-paid workers of other industries. It's between the productive workers of each industry and the major owners of each industry, the big stockholders who contribute no useful labor to production or distribution. Nor is it a matter of lower-wage workers being more or less important than higher-paid workers. All the necessary jobs have to be done in order for the workplace, the industry, the economy to function. For example, if the doctors in a hospital don't have the combined support of nurses, nursing assistants, various specialized technicians, clerical staff and custodial workers, they can't practice their advanced skills in healing patients. Take any group out of the mix and the hospital couldn't function. On the other hand, remove the hospital managers and medical insurance CEOs from the mix and the healthcare system would function much better! Administered instead as a democratic workplace community, with decisions made in an associated manner by all the workers of the workplace, what should be the top priority of a healthcare institution - patient care - would be the top priority.
Under capitalism those who do all the work are only allowed access to the workplaces and the chance to earn a living on condition that they fork over most of the value they add during the production process to the people who own the workplace. Thus, a person who adds $30 each hour to the product or service he or she works on may only be paid $10 for each hour she works. The rest goes to capital: the owner of the workplace, his banker, insurance company, marketing consultant, etc. To maintain this state of affairs the capitalist class uses its great wealth to control the electoral process and screens out any political candidates who might interfere too much with the very undemocratic running of the nation's workplaces. Whatever the political government does, it is forbidden to really interfere in the economic relationship between workers and owners, or to do anything, however sorely needed by the vast majority of the population, against the basic interests of the owning capitalists.
Defenders of capitalism are left to their fallback position: "Any other system just wouldn't work because people are different and you can't make them equal."
First, this confuses two separate concepts: difference and equality.
Equality in its social sense does not mean sameness. Obviously, people are not the same. Whether by nature or nurture, or probably a combination of both, people have different potentials for different areas of physical and intellectual activity. Changing the economic system won't change that. What it will do is insure that every individual has the opportunity to develop whatever potential talents and capabilities they do have. As it is today, despite all the blather about "you can be whatever you choose to be," most people fall into a career out of economic necessity rather than choice, and then get stuck there out of continuing economic necessity. Capitalism in reality blunts individuality rather than promotes it. Workers have to mold themselves to the needs of the system, which are determined by what is profitable in the marketplace, rather than themselves determining what their own needs are and how best to satisfy them. Equality means having the equal opportunity to develop your own abilities, without having the "right" to advance at the expense of others. It means having the equal opportunity to influence the decisions and outcomes of the economy and society, the equality in government that can come about only in a democratically-controlled economic system.
But today, as a result of economic inequality, government is controlled by an elite of big wealth-holders. Their corruption of politics is now so blatant that hardly anyone else believes their voice counts anymore. And they're right - it doesn't. The liberals and reformers who think they can change this with campaign-finance reform or new voting systems are on a fool's errand. One way or the other big money always finds a way to control government.  Those who seek real democracy must attack the economic inequality that blocks its realisation. The idea of economic equality may seem unrealistic to many people today. The aspirations of the majority for security and well-being, a clean environment and a peaceful world are blocked by the profit interests of a small minority. The only way out of the impasse is to create a new system of production and social administration, one that can direct our resources to meeting human needs and solving human problems.

In socialism, the community collectively are the co-owners of all the workplaces in the economy. All the goods and services created by the people who work belong to those same working people. Socialism cannot be 'given' to the workers by a political or intellectual elite, however sincere it may be. Socialist self-administration can only be built by the informed and united action of the workers themselves.
13 hours 13 min ago