SPC Newsletter 1st April 2014

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    The Socialist Party of Canada

    Secretary’s Report for April 1, 2014

    Email Report

    – WSPNZ GAC meeting notes for February received with thanks.

    – WSP India Annual Conference 2014 Report received with thanks.

    Good of the Movement

    – The Spring edition of Imagine has been completed and printed. Mailing will begin immediately. Thanks to all those who contributed.

    – One introductory package sent out.

    – Please note new address of secretary:- John Ayers, 2, Potts Lane, Port Hope, Ontario, L1A 0A4, Canada


    – Secretary’s expenses for March, $14.84. A donation of $50 received with thanks.

    Karl’s Quotes

    – Socialists hold that the whole of the working class is exploited by the whole of the capitalist class in that surplus value is extracted from or aided in extracting from the unpaid labour of the worker, no matter what his job may be. Also, production is a communal effort. Automobiles are not produced by auto workers alone but by a myriad of workers in society that extract, transport, and refine raw materials and they, in turn, are supported by a host of support workers, and so on. Even the merchants’ workers are involved in the process even though, as reported last month, commercial capital does not produce surplus value. Marx writes, " It is only by way of its function in the realization of values that commercial capital functions as capital in the reproduction process, and therefore draws, as functioning capital, on the surplus-value that the total capital produces. For the individual merchant, the amount of his profit depends on the amount of capital that he can employ in this process, and he can employ all the more capital in buying and selling the greater the unpaid labour of his clerks. The very function, by virtue of which the commercial capitalist’s money is capital is performed in large measure by his employees, on his instructions. Their unpaid labour, even though it does not create surplus-value, does create his ability to appropriate surplus-value, which, as far as this capital is concerned, gives exactly the same result; i.e. it is its source of profit. Otherwise the business of commerce could never be conducted in the capitalist manner, or even on a large scale." (Capital, Volume III, page 407, Penguin Classics edition)

    Food For Thought

    – "Equality Now", a human rights group, said in a recent report that cultural traditions and a lack of legal protections are driving tens of millions of girls around the world into early marriages, subjecting them to violence, poverty, and mistreatment. The report said that more than 140 million girls over the next decade will be forced into marriage before the age of eighteen. Dividing the working class into races, religions, colours, and sexes is a ploy of the owning class and this is one result, besides the obvious – lack of concerted working class action.

    – Meanwhile, UNICEF is making an unprecedented appeal for $2.2 billion to avert a crisis of 59 million children around the world at risk from war, hunger, exploitation, disease, and natural disasters. The report (Toronto Star, Feb 23) says the children are the canaries in the coalmine pointing to the state of the world and those who will soon inherit it. "Keep on rocking in the Free world" as Neil Young sang. Indeed!

    – For some years, the apologists of capitalism have touted Sweden as an example that capitalism with a small dash of socialism will work. They mean free enterprise and the welfare state wedded together, that has meant some prosperity, low unemployment and lack of abject poverty in the country. However, the population of Sweden, as elsewhere, lives under capitalism and nothing stands still, so prosperity doesn’t last. The Toronto Star of February 22, reports that they now have shanty- towns in the suburbs of Stockholm. Growing unemployment in the last six years has caused at least twenty shanty-towns to spring up. That’s in a country that has largely avoided Europe’s debt and economic crisis but now has beggars on the streets. The plain, brutal fact is that no matter how good things may get, at times, under capitalism, it won’t last.

    – We are all aware of the mental illnesses leading to breakdown and suicide of soldiers who have been in combat. In fact nine Canadian soldiers have committed suicide in the last few months. Another, related problem has arisen – the silence of those who suffer with mental illness. They worry that by coming forward to seek help they may be declared medically unfit and discharged from the forces. 4,500 soldiers leave the army every year and about 1,700 of those are considered medically unfit. So here we have a situation of people with a genuine need of psychiatric help remaining silent through fear of unemployment. As we keep saying, war is not a normal condition of man and a system that demands such barbarity must be terminated as soon as possible.

    – The act with the Orwellian title of "The Fair Elections Act" is not fair at all, according to Canada’s chief electoral officer. According to Marc Mayrand, we would be better off with no act at all as it disenfranchises those who show up to vote with only voter-information cards or with friends and family to vouch for them. It’s estimated that about 120,000 voted this way in 2011. Of course, most of those are poorer people on the margins of society who probably won’t vote Conservative.

    – Lake Cachuma in California, a lake created in 1953 by the damming of the Santa Ynez river to provide water for 200,000 people has completely dried up in California’s worst drought. Usually, it’s 15 metres deep and not long ago spilled over the top. This is just another indicator of our changing climate and the need to act now.

    – The death toll in Syria has now reached 4,110 in three years and has been rising at the rate of 170 per day, every day, for the past year. This is just one of the many conflicts around the world – insane!

    – On February 24, we were treated with the delightful photographs of Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe cutting one of his birthday cakes. Residents were compelled to wave flags and cheer in his honour of his 90th celebration. This is quite a contrast considering that 2.2 million Zimbabweans are in need of food assistance according to the UN Food Program. Though the official unemployment rate for the country of thirteen million is officially eleven per cent, unofficial estimates peg it at eighty per cent. The economy hasn’t been helped by Mugabe’s seizure of privately owned farms and giving them to his political cronies who lack agricultural experience. Meanwhile, Mugabe is renovating his suburban mansion, in readiness for his daughter’s upcoming wedding. Nor are there any political opponents. As one commentator said, " I think people are no longer much interested in politics. They are interested in getting relief." This, however, is the time to get political so they can be relieved of a system that creates Mugabes. To him it could then be said, "Go and eat cake!"

    – One effect of the Crimean crisis is the fear of the Russian elite. The Star reported that the country’s nineteen richest people have lost $18.3 billion in the wake of the crisis…and we wonder why there is not enough money for health care!

    – The National Retail Federation recently complained bitterly that many shoppers were ripping them off, especially in the area of returns. Sham returns involving stolen merchandise, items bought with fake money, and doctored E-receipts cost the industry $8.8 billion. Another trick was spending a minimum of $50 for a free gift then returning everything but the gift. Senior retail analyst, (now there’s a job that will disappear in a socialist world!) Matthew Ong, said, " Consumers are savvier and smarter than they have ever been before. There’s so much more information available. They’re talking to hundreds, thousands of other people." So after years of legal theft, a section of the capitalist class is experiencing some illegal theft or, at least, some gray areas. Doesn’t your heart bleed for them. Better a society where there is no theft of any kind.

    – On the same theme, Sears Canada reported that, though revenue has dropped, profits have risen. Sears had a $373.7 million net profit in the quarter ending February 1. This was up from $39.9 million a year earlier. The company also had gains from the sale of the sale of four large stores. Whoopee for the company but cold comfort from the workers laid off.

    – The Toronto Star reported (March 15 2014) that the cost to taxpayers of the 2008 financial collapse in the US was $12.6 TRILLION in the form of bailouts to prop up the financial sector. More than 8 million workers lost their jobs and as the malaise spread to Europe, the cost was in the high rates of unemployment – 10.2% in France, 12.9% in Italy, and almost Great Depression levels in Spain (26%) and Greece (27.5%). Last year, "The Dallas Federal Reserve estimated that, even assuming the US climbs out of the economic doldrums, the financial crisis will cost that country as much as $14 trillion – or about 90% of GDP – to cover increased spending on social assistance." The article speculates how many of the culprits will be prosecuted as the statute of limitations is fast running out. To date – none, because the relaxation of laws and controls was all part of the scheme to rake in big profits and that’s what the system was designed to do.

    – In Montreal, a rally against police brutality was chased off the streets by riot police in helmets and batons, detaining 280 people and fining them $638 each. Contrast this with the criminals in the above paragraph.

    – Reading the World Section of the newspaper is always a horror story. On March 1 The Star reported, "In Malawi, more people have HIV than have electricity, and many of them are girls who are encouraged to have sex and marry when still barely adolescent. It means when life should be beginning, it is already ending." And, " North Korea: The Atrocity Guide – extermination, murder, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions…" Our critics on the Left will say how terrible, we need to eliminate this awful situation now, along with a thousand other awful situations and thus never get to solve one of them entirely. That’s because they quite happily leave the cause of the problem, capitalism, in place. The bitter, ironic, truth is that if the working class want it, socialism could be established immediately and end this and most other ‘ills’ of the present system.

    – The debate in Canada now is about the value of our participation in the Afghani war. 168 soldiers died in the twelve years of the war and many more injured or damaged through post- traumatic stress disorder and other mental disorders. In the capital, Kabul, where one would expect the most security, the Toronto Star reports that business is conducted from behind blast barriers, razor wire, and thick steel doors. At the shopping center, mall cops in camouflage carry AK-47s and even the grocery store is a bunker shielded behind steel doors thick enough to withstand a hit from a rocket-launched grenade and bag boys pack assault weapons. What a tragedy that Afghanistan and Iraq have been reduced to such horror only to make things worse. We all know that the real reason for the two wars was nothing to do with security or democracy but it is still a tragedy that need not have happened.

    For socialism, John


    All well said, John. What an excellent profile of the system we live in. All the best, Howard Howard Moss Swansea (UK)

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