Author Archives: davidellis987

Corbyn, Cameron and ISIS: To bomb or not to bomb

Should Jeremy Corbyn win the Labour leadership election he can go part of the way to making amends for the left not supporting Cameron’s motion to Parliament of two years ago to take military action in Syria by not supporting Cameron’s far more serious and surely imminent motion seeking Parliamentary concensus to bomb ISIS in Syria.

Corbyn must not allow himself to be brow beaten into supporting such an action even if the Russians, Iran and Assad are on board and a UN Resolution is passed legalising it. But why if it was wrong to oppose illegal action two years ago would it be right to oppose legal action now?

Two years ago the action proposed was limited and in support of the areas liberated from Assad by the National Democratic Revolution that broke out in 2011. It amounted to placing a No Fly Zone over those areas to protect civilians and defenders against Assad’s tanks and barrell bombs which were killing thousands and driving millions into refugee camps. The No Fly Zone would have alllowed the rebels to consolidate, it would have ended the outpouring of people and it surely would have spelt the end of Assad at the hands of the people he still ruled over.

Cameron happily accepted the Parliamentary vote against his proposals. He was happy for Labour to take the blame for the continued mass murder in Syria and he was in any case on board with Obama’s new policy of rapprochment with Iran which involved not upsetting them or Russia over Syria and Assad. This decision closely followed by a similar one in the US Congress sparked a huge upping of the violence by Assad and also saw the bursting on to the Syrian scence of the fascist gangsters of ISIS which immediately began land-grabbing from the areas liberated from Assad by the revolution and killing democrats, revolutionaries, trades unionists, aid workers, intellectuals, community and tribal leaders wherever it went and imposing its fundamentalist version of Sharia Law.

The West’s illegal war in Iraq had sewn the ISIS seed where rather than fight the invaders they had instead sparked a vicious civil war whilst the West’s turning of its back on the Syrian Revolution despite years of sanctions to induce just such a thing was the manure it needed to fully germinate. So what is wrong with supporting air strikes in Syria against ISIS?

Certainly concern for their health and safety is not our motivation. No, now not only is the West no longer seen in Syria as opponents of Assad but more like his friends or certainly the friends of Iran whose proxy he has become. Up to now Western airforces have been supporting the Iranian-backed Iraqi Army and Iranian militias in Iraq and they have been extremely casual about civilian deaths whilst doing it. They are no longer seen as potential liberators in Iraq or Syria. If they push back ISIS the local populations currently suffering under their vicious tyranny will be looking at genocide at the hands of the equally violent Iranian militias and Assadist forces.

The refugee crisis will be taken up a further notch. Where ISIS is pushed back the people will flee or face certain death and where it is not the germinated seed will merely put down roots. No doubt the decsion to lift visa restrictions on asylum seekers that sparked the current mass evacuation is a prelude to air strikes against ISIS signalling the finalisation of the West’s rapprochment with Iran by taking the pressure of Assad and the neighbouring countries and the final dismemberment of the country by Iran, Turkey and anyone else who wants a slice including ISIS where they manage to cling on.

So, Corbyn should stand against any attempt at Parliamentary concensus aimed at launching a bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria even if UN-approved in favour of the imposition of a No Fly Zone across the whole of non-Asssad Syria and the proper funding of refugee camps in Syria’s neighbours from which the Syrian people can plot to retake their country.  Anything else is to boost fascism or reward tyranny.

Scotland can do better than this lot

2016 Scottish Parliament Elections: A Manifesto for an Independent Scotland

People of Scotland. It has been nearly a year since we elected over fifty SNP MPs to the Westminster Parliament. Since then they have been ignored as a loose coalition of Labour and Tory MPs under Ed Milliband’s leadership voted to impose further swingeing austerity on Scotland and to re-new Trident against our wishes. The begging bowl tactics of the SNP have not worked. If the Labour MPs from Scotland who were part of a Westminster establishment party could not get a fair deal for Scotland and lost their seats as a result an outsider party was surely never going to be able to get blood out of the Westminster stone. It is time to call time on the Westminster Union and for Scotland to take its future into its own hands.

We do not want another referendum. If a majority for independence can be won in the Scottish Parliament then we must simply declare it. But it is no good taking this bold step armed only with the wooly populism of the SNP. A party prepared to declare Scotland independent must be armed with a radical programme of socialist measures that will make an independent Scotland the property of the Scottish working class majority to be run in the interests of society as a whole and not just a handful of self-serving elites who would make of it a tyranny.

The first priority is to establish a Peoples’ Bank of Scotland out of the bankrupt ruins of the defunct capitalist private finance sector. We must take the estates, deposits and staff of these bankrupts into administration and create with them a national bank with a monopoly of credit that can lend at base rate to small business and facilitate social investment in accordance with a democratic and environmentally sustainable plan.

Second we will socialise the means of production and exchange and replace shareholder and Old School Tie Network-imposed fat cat executives with managers and leaders elected by the workforce. We will end all anti-union legislation in Scotland and facilitate working class defence of demos, meetings, pickets and communities against state and fascist attack.
On this basis we will then establish a regime of full-employment by which every school and college leaver and unemployed worker who cannot find their own job are bought into the local workforce to share in the available productive work with each paid the minimum of a trades union living wage. Scotland will lead the struggle to end the scourge of capitalist unemployment and the achievement of a genuine work-life balance as the benefits of increased productivity accrue to the working class via an ever shortening working week rather than to a rich elite through unemployment.

We will of course defend all necessary and desirable public spending and pay for it through a sufficient and fair system of taxation.

Finally we will seek to replace the Westminster Union with a Federation of Sovereign Nations as we are confident England, Wales and Northern Ireland will also soon sever their links with the corrupt centre. We of course recognise that socialism cannot be built in one country but is the task of the working class internationally so we will seek like-minded regimes in Europe who will join us in a New European Union based in socialist principles such as Europe-wide full-employment, a Europe-wide living wage and a Europe-wide health service free at the point of delivery as opposed to the neo-liberal principles that are tearing capitalist Europe apart and threatening the re-emergence of old and murderous emnities. Our socialist Europe will seek a fundamentally different relationship with Africa and the Middle East based not on imperialism but co-development.

April 2016

1979 and all that: get ready to fight not just to vote

This is the most important general election since 1979 for Britain’s working classes but you wouldn’t know it if you went by Labour’s nonchalant approach or even that of the so-called far left who simply trade in demagoguery and propaganda and obsess endlessly about immigration and how great it is as a way of avoiding the real issues or developing a real programme.

The British state has been bankrupted and the British economy is moribund as the Great Recession trundles on. But the last five years of this Coalition Government has been almost a denial of these facts or at least a tip-toing around them. The next five years will not be. The Tories are promising spending cuts of truly eye-watering proportions in order to bring down the deficit, keep the national debt in check and continue the bail out of the bankrupt banks. This will ensure that like Geoffrey Howe’s budget of 1980 the entire burden for all this will fall first and foremost on working, poor, sick, disabled, young and old people. The proposed cuts will trigger a contraction that will make the recession of the early 80s look like a mere pot hole in the road.

But what of Labour? Hey, they say, that’s no fair. The entirety of the burden should not fall only on working people. The rich must pay a little too and so, along with a raft of not quite so brutal cuts, they also promise to raise a few taxes much to the annoyance of the rich and their middle class useful idiots. This may be ever so slightly fairer but in reality it does not matter whether a cut in spending by government or private citizens or a combination of both is contemplated the removal of the amounts of money from the economy that all parties are proposing will trigger the same frightening recession. Unless you are super rich, one way or another, you are going to get it in the neck. The higher rate of tax might rise slightly but your higher rate job may no longer exist in any case.

Unlike Thatcher’s recession, however, there is no possible way out of this one in capitalist terms. The monetarists of the 1980s had one trick up their sleeves which while slashing public spending was to hand responsibility for money supply over to a de-regulated private finance sector on the grounds that `enlightened self-interest’ would prevent them from allowing the supply of money to get out of equilibrium with the demand for it. Naturally, the first thing they did was set about building the world’s biggest Ponzi Scheme in human history based on their counterfeit claims on the social product. This scheme funded the greatest consumer boom we have ever or are ever likely to see.

When the scam came to an end in 2008 it showed that late capitalism had merely added irreversible bankruptcy to stagnation and decline. Far from winning the Cold War and its aftermath the effort had killed it. Instead of curing the decrepit old patient the bankers’ steroids had given it not growth but cancer and induced a massive and fatal heart attack. Since then capital has been rowing back from Western-sponsored globalisation to a future that looks a lot like the past but without a future of its own. In fact, having induced a recession, the right talk almost endlessly of leaving the EU and its single market where once that was seen as the road to the regeneration of British capitalism following the removal of all protections. Truly austerity is about preparing the corpse for burial.

So, the choice at this election may appear to be a merely cerebral one between cuts or cuts and a bit of tax but in actual fact for the working class and no doubt for huge swathes of the middle class it is actually a matter of life or death. They are being asked to choose between death by firing squad or lethal injection whilst the super-rich look on knowing that either will do.

Of course we must vote in solidarity with workers who want to get rid of this wretched Coalition as there is no serious revolutionary alternative whether that be by voting SNP in Scotland or Labour in England or Plaid in Wales but if such an alternative has not made serious strides not just in Britain but across Europe towards being built by the time the next election comes around we could be looking not just at a Great Recession or even a Great Depression but a New Dark Ages from which for humanity as a whole there may be no escape.

Capitalism is dead: long live socialism!

Class society has its stages, its identifiable modes of production, beginning with ancient slavery followed by feudalism and finally capitalism. But capitalism too has its stages, its modes, which it outgrows and leaves behind until it itself is left behind.

 

There would appear to be three distinct capitalist modes. The early, the industrial and the imperialist. The earliest mode of capitalism, the mode of primitive accumulation, of mercantilism and colonialism, stretched from the 17th Century to the mid-18th. It opened with the signing of the Treaties of Westphalia in 1648 which guaranteed peace in Europe after years of war through respect for sovereignty and religious tolerance.

 

Britain took the lead and by the mid-1800s was ready to launch industrial capitalism which propelled it to the status of world hegemon. It was able through trade and force to impose a Pax Britannica on the whole world and it had an empire upon which it was said `the sun never set’. Industrial capitalism led to domestic monopolies and gave way to imperialist capitalism whereby finance and monopoly capital allied to the state began to export itself all over the planet. Basing themselves on this model imperialst challengers to Britain emerged and inter-imperialist rivalry grew to fever pitch. Pax Britannica was smashed by the outbreak of World War One in 1914.   The final stage of capitalism already begun announced itself with a bang.

 

Each crisis of capitalism within each mode led to ever more acute crises until the crisis that comprehensively swept away the old political-economic arrangements came along and took us to the next mode. Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, has also itself gone through distinct stages with each new crisis resulting eventually in a new mode. Of course we know that in reality the hare always does catch the tortoise and everything must one way or another pass away. The hegemony of British imperialism gave way to a period of intense rivarly between it and emerging European imperialist powers resulting in the First World War and culminating in the Second. It was only after this incredibly violent period that the greatest power the world has ever seen was able to establish a new world order: Pax Americana. It was only able to do this, however, with the help of the degenerate workers’ state the Soviet Union and its Stalinist leaders. The Stalinist Soviet Union enabled America to unify Western imperialism in a common endeavour which led to US-sponsored globalisation and the eventual surrender of Stalinism. This launched the final mode of the highest stage of capitalism: the retreat from globalisation and the irreversible decay of world capitalism. Though this period opened with a fanfare of triumphal imperialist hubris by which America was going to finally establish itself as the sole and only world super power this illusion was quickly shattered. By 2008 the neo-Con project was dead in the water. Militarily it was bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and the financial collpase demonstrated just how bankrupted Western imperialism was by the effort to defeat `communism’ and by its post-Cold War adventures.

 

The road to US-sponsored capitalist globalisation has been an extremely violent one but the retreat from it politically and economically will be, if not stopped, ten times more violent. It will, in fact, result in a New Dark Ages and probably the disappearance of the human species from the planet. For a localised taster of the global barbarism to come take a look at Syria where a tyrant slaughters his own people by the hundreds of thousands with impunity and the fascist gangs of ISIS roam virtually unhindered garroting, torturing, burning and beheading workers and farmers in the name of their gangster Death Cult. Huge swathes of a once vibrant nation are emptied out and flattened probably for ever. In this final stage of the highest stage capitalism is in fact already dead but the alternative is not yet born. And what is the alternative to barbarism. It is and could only ever have been as it was explained it would be some 160 years ago: socialism. Socialism does not mean propping up capitalist globalisation and making it work somewhow, that is not possible, but radically transcending it. Only world proletarian revolution basing itself on a commonwealth of socialist nations and planned economy can take global economic integration to a new and sustainable level providing a platform for the survival and harmonious development of the human race. The stage is set.

Globalisation: The Highest Stage of Imperialism

Imperialism as Lenin famously pointed out was the highest stage of capitalism. It was the stage when capitalism had, in the more advanced nations, outgrown the national borders of the state and was compelled outwards in search of new investment opportunities and the control of resources. A period of war and revolution. Nothing has changed from that perspective except that imperialism itself has now reached and began to row back from its own apogee.

Under the tutelage of US imperialism, the mightiest imperialist power ever seen in human history by some distance, capitalism created a globalised economy: an economy in which political divisions no longer prevented the development of the division of labour such that the world economy began to resemble a single whole. The US required the co-operation of Stalinism to impose its hegemony on a post-World War Two West and its spheres of influence. In order to extend that hegemony over the whole world it required its complete surrender which was delivered in the late 80s and early 90s with the collapse of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satelites.

However, as Lenin also famourly pointed out in his book about imperailism, a unified world imperialism is an impossibility. As soon as the Soviet Union collapsed America and its subordinate imperialist allies set about consolidating itself as the sole and only world super power. The supreme expression of this political objective was to be found in the programme of the neo-Conservatives who came to power under George W Bush. The invasion of Iraq resulted in America becoming bogged down militarily and exposing the fact of its utter bankruptcy as a result of the cost of winning the Cold War and attempting to wipe out all opposition. America was bringing into being the very forces whose emergence it had sought to prevent. By the time Bush was kicked out of office it was clear that the world was sliding back to multi-polarity by which a number of great powers competed for spheres of influence. Inter-imperialist rivalry was back on the agenda.

Capitalism is a mode of production. It is a political-economic arrangement of some dynamism which means that the means of production more quickly come up against the limits of those political-economic arrangements than they ever did under previous modes of production. The means must continuously burst through these modes if capitalism is to progress. Since its rise to dominance in the 1700s capitalism has built and outgrown several modes of political existence each containing and giving rise to productive forces more mighty than the last. The road to the establishment of globalisation under US imperialist hegemony has been tumultuous and violent. From mercantilism, industrial revolutions, colonialism, slavery, imperialism, world wars and mass slaughters of incredible barbarity it has been a long old haul made possible only by the fact that the capitalism mode of production had at no point outgrown the mode of production in the absolute sense.

However, as we have seen above, a unified imperialism is an impossibility and as close as the US came to establishing such a thing globalisation has started to go into reverse. Capitalism has reached the outter edges of its political-economic potential. Beyond globalisation there is nowhere for it to go not even backwards. A system that can no longer accommodate change is a dead system. Capitalism is a dead system. The reversal of globalisation will not, as some hope, result in the return to a period of peaceful power balancing between a few great powers and a new golden age for capitalism as happened in the pre-imperialist age of European capitalism when it was young and dynamic. The opposite. The reversal of globalisation will require ten, twenty, a hundred times more violence than that which was required to achieve, or almost, achieve it. It has come to, as we were always told it would, a blunt question of socialism or barbarism. Do we descend on the coat tails of the ruling elites into a living hell and the death of our species or do we embrace the world proletarian revolution and transcend capitalist globalisation through a socialist commonwealth of the peoples of the world?

Profit and Loss

The exchange value of a commodity is determined by the amount of socially necessary labour time required in its production. I don’t think anybody would dispute that a coat that took two hours to produce would not be exchanged for a piece of gold that took say ten hours to dig up unless there were guns, whips, immanent fear of hypothermia or idiocy involved. If to acquire gold all that was needed was to bend one’s back and pick it up then it would have the value of dust and as little use value.

Commodities tend to have less and less socially necessary labour time expendend on their production as more is invested in machinery and less in wages which means of course that their exchange value is reduced. For the capitalist the profit he makes on any given commodity comes from the difference in what he invested to produce it and what he exchanges it for. We have already seen that what he exchanges it for is the amount of socially necessary labour time that was required in its production. Nobody is knowingly going to buy a commodity off the capitalist with money it took them two hours to earn if that commodity only took one hour to produce. But wait a minute. If what the capitalist sells for is objectively determined by the amount of socially necessary labour contained in his commodity where is the profit? After all he has to buy commodities like plant, machinery and a worker’s ability to work at their value which was itself in turn determined objectively by the amount of socially necessary labour time required in their production. Is our capitalist not just a necessary facilitator or an organiser of production? No, I’m afraid not. Our capitalist friend is a thief.

The use value to a capitalist of the commodity that the worker has to sell, the ability to labour, is that it produces a surplus value above its own exchange value i.e. the amount of socially necessary labour time required for its production. This surplus is what the capitalist pockets. Unfortunately for our capitalist he is compelled by competition to constantly reduce the amount of labour power he purchases and up the amount of plant and machinery he invests in. This increases productivity but devalues the commodity he is selling which means that each commodity is less profitable for him. He compensates himself by upping production and cornering the market which has the duel result of creating monopolies that can charge what they like and thereby snuff out economic growth and overproduction whereby they have produced more of a commodity than there are people who can afford it at a price that is profitable to the capitalist even though those people may desperately need what they are selling. In the midst of great wealth there is great want itself in turn created by the great wealth. Growth followed by stagnation and decline is the inevitable cycle of capitalism but with stagnation and decline obviously being the end result. Death comes to us all and capitalism is no exception.

How to get young people to register to vote

Brothers and Sisters. I will be standing for Parliament not because I believe in Parliament because I do not, it is a den of corrupted thieves serving not the people who elected them but themselves and the monied. No I will be standing in order to call for its abolition and for its transformation into London’s biggest Wetherspoons. I will be arguing for the Westminster Union of the elites to be replaced by a Federation of Sovereign British Nations and a new sovereign parliament for England in the Midlands or the North. I will be using the platform that I hope you will give me to agitate for an end to the bail out of the bankrupt banks. For their staff, estates and deposits to be taken into administration and used to form a new People’s Bank with a monopoly of credit so that the private financiers can never rip us off again. This bank will lend at base rate to small business and facilitate social investment in accordance with a democratic and environmentally sustainable plan. I shall also be arguing for a regime of full-employment by which all school and college leavers and unemployed workers who cannot find their own job are bought into the local workforce to share in the productive work with each paid the minimum of a trades union living wage. We must put an end to capital’s right and ability to maintain a reserve army of unemployed in misery and penury and we must begin the process of dramatically reducing the working week. I will demand the revoking of all anti-trades union legislation and for the proper funding of all necessary and desirable public spending through a fair system of taxation. I will stand for worker-elected managers and leaders to replace the Old School Tie Network or absentee shareholder-imposed fat cats that treat UK plc like a private trough. I will stand for the socialisation of the means of production and exchange. I will agitate for the formation of working class defences against state and fascist attacks on their communities, meetings, marches and picket lines. Finally I will champion the re-negotiating of the founding treaties of the EU in accordance with socialist principles including full-employment in every member state, and EU-wide living wage and an EU-wide health service free at the point of use. I will also call for a completely new relationship between Europe and Africa and the Middle East based not on imperialism but co-development and respect. I will of course represent the particular interests of my constituents to the fullest of my ability and will intervene on each and every political matter that arises nationally and internationally from the point of view of working people.