Latest News and Comment

On Thursday, the number of people fleeing across the border from South Sudan to Uganda passed a million, the UN’s refugee agency said. Another million have fled into Ethiopia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Most were women and children escaping “barbaric violence”, according to the UNHCR. Over the past year, an average of 1,800 South Sudanese have arrived in Uganda every day. 
1 hour 49 min ago

The World to Win, A Planet to Save
  • Wednesday, August 23, 7:30 PM
  • Autonomous Centre Edinburgh (ACE)17 West Montgomery Place, EdinburghEH7 5HA 
  • The Socialist Party does not minimise the necessity and importance of the worker keeping up the struggle over wages or to resisting cuts. We welcome any upsurge in the militancy and organisation of our class. But we also know, from bitter experience, that work of an altogether quieter, patient, more political kind is also needed.  It is the responsibility of the Socialist Party to challenge capitalist apologists and pseudo-socialists in the battle of ideas and that requires talking to and debating with our fellow workers. We recognise the necessity of workers' solidarity in the class struggle against the capitalist class and rejoice in every victory for the workers to assert their economic power. But to struggle for higher wages and better conditions is not revolutionary in any true sense of the word, and the essential weapons in this struggle are not inherently revolutionary either. It demands the revolutionising of the workers themselves. Participation in the class struggle does not automatically make workers class conscious. Militancy on the industrial field is just that and does not necessarily lead to political militancy, but ebbs and flows as labour market conditions change – and militants in the work-places can in no way count on their supporters on the political field. 
  • We do say workers should sit back and do nothing but wait for socialism to arrive, the struggle over wages and conditions must go on. But it becomes clear that this is a secondary, defensive activity. The real struggle is to take the means of wealth production and distribution into the common ownership. Only by conscious and democratic action will such a socialist system of society be established. This means urging workers to want something more than what they once thought was "enough". The Socialist Party is sometimes accused of wanting "too much" because our aim is free access and common ownership. The task of the Socialist Party is to show workers that in fact, it is a practical proposition. To transform this desire into an immediacy for the working class. The Socialist Party would argue that it is about engaging people with the idea of socialism, to talk about a revolution in social relations, and that if workers are already involved in an actual struggle they would be more receptive to the idea more effective it would become. But not inevitably. There is nothing automatic about social change, it has to be struggled for.
  • The workers' acceptance of capitalist political and social ideas, like their other ideas, is learned from other people--their parents, their school-teachers, their workmates, the media--and so it follows therefore that the struggle against capitalist ideology must also be a struggle to spread socialist ideas - a role taken on by the Socialist Party.  
  • Socialist ideas arise when workers begin to reflect on the general position of the working class within capitalist society. They do then have to be communicated to other workers, but not from outside the working class as a whole. They have to be communicated to other workers who, from their own experience and/or from absorbing the past experience of the working class, have come to a socialist understanding.  
  • It's not a question of enlightened outsiders bringing socialist ideas to the "ignorant" workers but of socialist-minded workers spreading socialist ideas amongst their fellow workers. We see socialist consciousness as emerging from a combination of two things - people's experience of capitalism and the problems it inevitably creates but also the activity of socialists in making hearing the case for socialism a part of that experience.
  • The Socialist Party has never been in the business to win popularity contests and jumps on any old band-wagon for the sake of recruitment as many other political organisations which have now disappeared, leaving no lasting impact. The fact of the longevity of the Socialist Party as a political body based on agreed goals, methods and organisational principles seems to suggest that we indeed represent some strand of socialist thought that some people are drawn towards.
  • The Socialist Party can be proud of its long history in exposing the oxymoron of the "workers state" and attacking the concepts of Leninism (and its spawn, Stalinism, and Trotskyism).

4 hours 49 min ago
Public support for fracking has fallen to 16%, with opposition at 33%. But it also reported a lack of knowledge of the technology, with 48% of people neither supporting nor opposing it.

Fracking for gas will not work in the UK, according to research carried out at Heriot-Watt university. Prof John Underhill, Heriot-Watt's chief scientist and professor of exploration geoscience, said the geology of the British Isles will not support it. The fracking debate, he has claimed, is 55 million years too late. He said the rocks containing shale deposits in the UK are riddled with fractures. Fifty-five million years ago the rocks on which the British Isles stand were pushed up against continental Europe. They began to tilt. Subjected to enormous forces, the rocks didn't just lift but folded and fractured. A tracery of black lines show where fault lines shatter some of the UK's biggest shale deposits: West Lothian, Bowland Shale in Lancashire, the Weald Basin. His research on the influence of tectonic plates on the UK suggested that the shale formations have been lifted, warped and cooled by tectonic action. "For extraction to occur," he says, "you need a simple geology in the subsurface. So you can drill and then drill horizontally for long distances with confidence. Not go up, down, around. If you've got a fractured subsurface and something that's uplifted, you've switched off the kitchen in which oil and gas is generated - and you've broken the rock so it's not continuous." Successful gas extraction requires shale to be underground at just the right temperature and pressure. That's how it happens in the US. A drill digs deep, then turns to push and frack horizontally along the shale deposit. And that, according to Prof Underhill, is what can't happen here. Because Britain is broken, geologically speaking. "The complexity of the shale gas basins hasn't been fully appreciated so the opportunity has been hyped." He said: "I'm neutral about fracking, so long as it doesn't cause environmental damage. But the debate is between those who think fracking is dangerous and those who think it will help the economy - and no-one's paying enough attention to the geology. Prof Underhill said: "For fracking to work, the shale should be thick enough, sufficiently porous, and have the right mineralogy. The organic matter must have been buried to a sufficient depth and heated to the degree that it produces substantial amounts of gas or oil."
7 hours 49 min ago
Saturday, 19 August   In the Parade pedestrian precinct from 12 noon  (Organised by Kent & Sussex Branch)
7 hours 49 min ago
Population aging is certainly a significant human achievement, the result of smaller family sizes, lower mortality rates and increased longevity. In the past century, for example, the percent elderly, those aged 65 years and older, averaged around five percent. In striking contrast, the proportion elderly will more than triple during the 21st century, reaching close to one-quarter of the
13 hours 58 min ago