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 ‘I Feel I am a Slave’   There are now 53 million domestic workers worldwide, 1.5 million domestic workers in Saudi Arabia alone, where recruitment agencies fly in 40,000 women a month to keep up with demand. In the Gulf, the International Trade Union Confederation says that 2.4 million domestic workers are facing conditions of slavery. Rothna Begum of Human Rights Watch says that ‘in
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In a discussion with a correspondant in the Guardian about former Labour treasury minister Liam Byrne's latest wheeze,"It’s time to rewrite the rules of economics to end the growing chasm of inequality", he took exception to the notion of socialism proper and wrote:

  "I'm not sure a fully egalitarian system will ever be possible with capitalism; but this is as good as it's going to get. Capitalism, despite its evident faults, has a proven track record of lifting people out of poverty. Socialism has never been tried, its Marxian version - of a wageless, class-less society - is pie-in the-sky, as Lenin recognized. Since his day, socialism has simply referred to varying degrees of state control and expenditure (hence, some refer to Sweden, laughably, as a socialist state!) This form of socialism demonstrably fails, on all counts. True socialism is impossible."


Response:

 You are correct as far as capitalism goes.Which is why it must be removed and replaced with the post-capitalist majority revolutionary alternative. It can't be reformed in any major way, Swedish and Labour Party models do not impinge in any way upon capitalism's rapaciousness. It is like trying to make a vegetarian out of a tiger.

 Lenin's model was a Jacobinistic one to win power. Lenin wasn't trying to make socialism, but to make state capitalism, because socialism was impossible in one country and certainly in Russia emerging out of feudalism, not because socialism was impossible or an impossible dream, but because of the fact, as real Marxists told him at the time, socialism is a post-capitalist society and not a post feudal one, which Russia was becoming.

 You are correct also that capitalist development creates the tools to eradicate poverty and an educated workforce to create and run ever more of it (the capitalist class are a redundant class now inasmuch as they are not needed for wealth production), (which is why Marx supported capitalist revolutions to overthrow feudalism), but then it has to increase or curtail production to satisfy an artificial 'market' demand in the interest of the minority classes profit accumulation.

 The minority capitalist class has become a fetter upon the realisation of the productive potential of the technological capabilities of the potential productive capacitive process capitalism has bequeathed to the 95% wealth producers. Socialism will build upon capitalism.


  Capitalism can not distribute resources to satisfy human needs without destroying itself in the process and it also doesn't lift us out of the relative poverty, but retains it as a necessity, to ensure a constant supply of waged slaves. as Voltaire wittingly put it, "The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor."

 The comparison is not with early capitalism and todays, but between the social and economic position of the immense majority relative to the wealth they collectively produce. The needs of industry demands an educated , fed workforce in many instances, as workers also run capitalism from top to bottom, the diseases of poverty can jump class barriers, so self preservaation of the system requires different scenarios to early developmental models, but can revert to smokestack circumstances and shanty towns also, as the developing world shows us.

  Poverty in those twin senses, relative and absolute, is entrenched forever if capitalism is retained, as is war (business by other means), trade wars, war over resources and geopolitical interests.
Don't forget also the horror of two world wars for economic dominance and the war science upon Nagaaski and Hiroshima by the kind hearted capitalist class as they currently pick sides for another go.

 To say as you do that 'true socialism is impossible' is akin to a person in feudal times expounding against the coming 'impossible' capitalist revolutions.

Nothing will stop social change or an idea which time has come.

 The post-capitalist revolution has of necessity to be a majority one. The first time ever for majority revolution and not some vanguardist, Lenin style minority putsch as all previous revolutions have been minority led, 'meet the new boss' ones.

 Using the Achilles heel of bourgeois democracy a politically aware immense majority, conscious of their class interest in abolishing the last great slavery, that of wage slavery, can transform the world into a commonly owned , production for use , free access socialist society without elites and change the operating tenet from the present minority favouring exhortation of , "Accumulate, accumulate", into a majority one of , "From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs".

 It will not happen by gradually reforming capitalism,nor by premature nationalist adventures masquerading as 'socialism in one country', an impossibility, or mislabelling state capitalist monstrosities, but the primary task of socialists these days is education to this end however long this takes.
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To form an idea or notion with regard to something not known with certainty...(Oxford Dictionary)

 It has been said that the first victim of war is the truth, but surely the first victim of orthodox education is imagination. From a very early age every worker is taught to be “practical”, “realistic” and stop “dreaming dreams”. And yet imagination is the very act of being human.

 Whatever other aspects make human beings different from other animals, the human capacity to imagine is one of the most striking.
“I imagine, therefore I am a human being”, is a better aphorism than Descartes’ “ I think therefore I am.”
Imagination is not only the wellbeing of all poetry, music and art; it is the source of all science.

 Where would science be if Newton hadn’t imagined an invisible force called gravity? Or, if Einstein hadn’t imagined the concept of relativity? Indeed it was well after the original flight of imagination that his view that light was bent by gravity was factually proven.

 Darwin’s view of evolution wasn’t really proved conclusively until the discovery that the process of heredity, as earlier shown by Mendel, backed up his view. In a sense Darwin had imagined what was true. This new way of looking at the natural world was achieved by a leap of imagination.

  The stifling of imagination is essential if the owners are to retain their class monopoly of the planet.
The great revolutionary act for the working class is to imagine an alternative to present day society.

  Elsewhere in this issue very practical analyses of society, of economics, and politics are made, but let us indulge ourselves here in that most human of all pursuits – let us imagine the future.

A socialist view of the future society is one where the whole earth and all its resources are owned and controlled in common by the whole world’s population. Socialism is a world without money, prices or wages. Let us take a trip into that future. Let us take a leap of the imagination.

A future

 Having arranged that he wouldn’t be needed for a couple of days Billy decided to take Jane’s kids to the Museum of Ancient Artefacts.
The children loved it, but the trouble was that they kept asking awkward questions. “Why did people use stone tools?” “Billy, Why did people walk about in suits of armour?”
By reading the cards that accompanied the exhibits he managed to answer most of their questions.
“You see Susan, stone tools and weapons became redundant with the discovery of smelting metals.The iron age succeeded the stone age.” “Well Jack, suits of armour were used for warfare inside feudalism. They became useless, with the discovery of gunpowder and the improvements in the manufacture of artil-
lery in the 17 th century.

What was a dollar?
 
  It was then that they came to the Hall of Capitalism. Now that was more difficult. There were so many baffling exhibits. What was a cheque? What was a cash register? The children had lots of questions as they
played with the cash registers on display.
“Billy, what was a dollar? What was a pound note? “Billy, had a lot of difficulty answering the questions and was a bit relieved when the kids got bored and asked to go to the café for an ice-cream.

What was a cash register?
 
  As Susan and Jack ate their ice-cream. Billy sipped his coffee and wondered how this cash register thing could have worked in the Old Days. How did it tie in with the other astonishing exhibits in the Hall of Capitalism.

 Did people who wanted an ice-cream have to bow to the Queen? Or did they have to recite a verse from the Koran? Now this seemed daft. Did they have to give tokens to the cash register? No matter how you looked at it, it was a bizarre business.

  It seems today an obvious thing – if you want an ice-cream you take an ice-cream. Tomorrow Jane and the children were going to the South of France to pick fruit and he was going to visit Stephen in Amsterdam about the wood carving course. He wondered what the role of the cash register was in aeroplane trips in the Old Days. If you didn’t have enough tokens for the cash register did they throw you of the plane? Did they forbid you from entering the plane even though there were empty seats.

Why not eat fruit.
 
  It surely couldn’t have been as bad as that though. No, surely not. But then again, inside capitalism they starved children.....killed them because they hadn’t enough tokens to put in the cash registers. Children died because their parents hadn’t enough tokens.

“No!”, thought Billy. “Perhaps I’ve misunderstood those exhibits in the Hall of Capitalism.” But then, there was that ghastly photograph of tiny children starving as they sucked their mother’s empty teats.
Young Jack had asked him, “Billy, these people lived in warm places. Fruit grows in warm places, doesn’t it? Why did they not eat the fruit?” Come to think of it Billy wasn’t sure it was a good idea to let young children see such horrible images. Still, they had to learn about the Old Days he supposed.

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there” L.P.Hartley

RICHARD DONNELLY

Socialist Standard June 1994

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