Friday, 30 April 2010

Why I'm Worried About Gordon

Ten years ago I suffered a nervous breakdown. Knowing the symptoms, and having just watched Gordon Brown being interviewed by Jeremey Paxman I am worried for Gordon Brown that he is heading in that direction.

Gorodon is driving himself into the ground, and is struggling to try to control a situation that is beyond his control. The party, and his family and friends should come to his assistance whatever the political consequences.

Britain Is not Greece

In the last few weeks the Tories have tried to boost their claims that its necessary to deal with Britain's Budget Deficit, by comparing the situation in Britain with that of Greece. If the country doesn't accept the scope and urgency with which they want to cut into vital Public Services, they claim, then the Bond Markets will turn on Britain, refusing to lend other than at exorbitant interest rates, and forcing Britain to go to the IMF as it did in 1976. It is nonsense.

The situation in Greece is serious, but the basis of the crisis has to be understood, and it should not be overstated. The fundamental basis of the crisis in Greece, as I said in my blog the other day, Beware Of Greeks In Need of Gifts, is the fact that Greece is part of a single currency area, but that area does not have a single sate operating a single fiscal policy, and does not have a single Debt Management Office. In Britain, for example, the Government's Debt Managment Office sells Government debt into the market. The proceeds from those sales might be used to finance spending in Tyneside or in Cornwall. Yet, if Tyneside came to raise its own finance on the markets it would undoubdtedly face different conditions than would Cornwall or some other part of the country, precisely because the economic conditions in Tyneside are different from those elsewhere. Local inflation will be differernt, as will the level of economic growth, and so the likelihood of being paid back, and the amount lenders think they can charge for lending would differ accordingly.

Any country within a single currency area should have the right to borrow at the same rates as any other country within the area in return for having given up control of its currency, and interest rate policy. But, that can only be the case if there is a single Debt Management Office. An EU debt Management Office would sell debt to the markets, which would be priced according to how the markets viewed the area as a whole. But, there is a further concomitant to this. Such a situation can only work if fiscal policy is determined centrally too, or at least the biggest part of it. It would mean that the budgets of each state would, like Local Government in England, and largely like that of the States in the US, be determined in large part by what the central state agreed with them. Any state that wanted to increase its spending ove that level would have to make up the difference by higher local taxes, just as Local Government has to impose higher Council Tax, or levy higher charges on its services here. If the EU is to continue to exist - and the idea that a single market can exist for any length of time without a single currency, and single state is utopian - then it will have to centralise further both economically and politically. This is the contradiction at the heart of the EU, and that lies at the basis of the current crisis facing Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland.

European Capital, and its political representatives have a choice to make. They can forget why they set up the EU in the first place, as a larger economic unit necessary to take on the large economic power of the US - now supplemented by a large Asian economic bloc forming around a China-Japan axis - and go back to inefficient, competing small nation states, each pursuing a beggar-my-neighbour policy, or they can bite the bullet, and address the problems of constructing a Federal United States of Europe.

The answer to the problems of Greece and the other PIGS, in the immediate term is quite straightforward. Initially, Greece has to be bailed out to prevent it defaulting. But, the initial bail-out will almost certainly not be sufficient. Moreover, the markets have already turned theeir attention to Portugal, and Spain's credit rating has already been downgraded with more to come. Unemployment in Spain, has gone over 20%, which is essentially Depression levels. It is quite possible to bail-out Greece with loans from the richer EU countries. Essentially, what such a bailout is, is an application of the principle set out above. The richer countries with good credit ratings simply borrow the money, and lend it at low rates to Greece. But, if it comes to further loans, if it comes to bailing out with even larger amounts the other economies then this would begin to reduce the credit rating of the EU as a whole, it would increase the borrowing costs for the richer countries too.

The answer then is simple. The debt of these economies has to be monetised. In other words, the European Central Bank, which has been printing money to feed into the commercial banks during the financial crisis, to prop up liquidity, would have to be instructed to print more money that could be directly handed over as low rate loans to the PIGS, thereby reducing the need to borrow on the markets, and removing the pressure on interest rates. But, such a policy cannot be implemented under current EU systems precisely because it would encourage states to simply run up large debts in the knowledge that money would be printed to cover them. neither the ECB, nor the major EU economies would want to pursue such a policy, because the implication is two-fold, firstly it would mean an increase in inflation, and secondly it would mean a fall in the value of the Euro.

Yet, it appears that the foreign exchange markets have already discounted something along these lines happening, because the Euro has been under pressure against the dollar and Asian currencies for some weeks now. That pressure cannot be explained on the basis simply of a bail-out. If the EU bailed out Greece, and simply borrowed money to cover it, then the consequence would be that this would push up interest rates within the EU. But, usually when interest rates rise within a curency area thee consequence is for the currency itself to rise. The fall in the value of the Euro can only be explained on gthe basis of investors betting that at some point in the future thee debt will be monetised.

But, in fact, that might not be a bad thing from the perspective of European Capital. Had the financial meltdown, and more particularly the consequent recession not occurred, the crisis in Greece and the other PIGS would have been masked, and delayed. Part of the problem these economies have faced is that they have been saddled with a strong currency at a time of very weak economic activity, and recession. From a low of $0.8 to the Euro not long after its inception, it rose against a weak dollar to almost double thaat level! That mae importss into the EU cheaper, and exports more expensive. At the same time, the other big economies China and Japan were printing huge amounts of currency to keep their currencies weak in order to continue exporting to the US, and other Asian currencies followed the value of these regional giants. If the Euro was to weaken at a time now when global economic growth is beginning to ramp up at a pace faster than most economists had anticipated, it would be a huge boost to the main EU economies such as Germany that rely heavily on exports to drive their economies. Under such conditions, the problems of debt become manageable, and the increasse in liquidity becomes quickly absorbed in a rising volume of economic activity rather than rising inflation.

And, it is necessary to place the situation in Greece and Europe into context. This is not the scenario of 1930's Depression that the world was facing 18 months ago. China grew by 12% in the last quarter, a staggering figure for the world's second largest economy. The US has today posted a provisional figure of 3.2% growth for the First Quarter of 2010. For the world's largest economy, and one that is developed that in itself is not shabby, but is actually below the predicted figure of 3.6%, and below the figure of more thaan 5% posted in the last quarter. It is, however, the third consecutive quarter of growth for the US, and was accompanied by strong figures for consumption and investment.

Last year I predicted that there would be a recovery that saw a sharp rebound based on the rebuilding of inventories that had been liquidated, followed by a short plateuaing effect as businesses continued to increase activity, but was checked as the inventory rebuilding was completed. O Ye Of Too Much Faith. That has pretty much been what has happened both in Europe and in the US. But, without any unforeseen exogenous shocks to the system, I would expect to see endogenous growth begin to increase from herein.

What is puzzling is that within this process Sterling has been pulled down along with the Euro. I say puzzling, because although Britain can, and I think will, monetise its debts in the way I have suggested for the Eurozone, and can do so precisely because it can print its own money, and although Britain has large debts, comparable in absolute terms to those of Greece, the conditions are wholly different. In fact, for months now, Britain has faced much higher rates to insure its debt than has say Germany. But, as one City Economist said some months back that is bizarre. The only purpsoe for such insurance is against the possibility of default. But, does anyone serious person beleive that Britain IS going to default on its debts???? In reality, the cost of tht insurance should be close to zero. The markets do not always price things rationally, and sometimes as Stiglitz points out the invisible hand is invisible precisely because it isn't there! If I were a currency speculator I'd be using that mispricing to bet on the value of Sterling rising considerably compared to that of the Euro.

Britain is not Greece, or even Spain or Italy. Britain may have huge Public Debt, but unlike Greece, which can't even get its own citizens to pay their taxes, much of that debt is owed not to foreigners, but to British citizens, to Pensikon Funds that invest billions of pounds for up to 40 years in order to guarantee future pension payments, to British companies, and to rich British people who seek to diversify their wealth from being just in shares into Government Bonds, precisely because they know they will get their money back. In addition to that on the other side of the Balance Sheet, Britain has itself huge overseas investments built up over centuries of Britain's overseas activity and Empire. There is a big difference between the person who has a huge mortgage on a small flat, and who has no other assets or income to cover the payments when they fall due, and someone who has an even bigger mortgage on a mansion, who might be struggling to cover the immediate payments, but who has several other properties they could sell, and from which they are already receiving rent payments, should they need to.

And, although the Tories keep referring to Britain having to go to the IMF in 1976 this is a sham. There was no need for Britain to go to the IMF, and there was certainly no possibility of the IMF not lending money to Britain if they failed to comply with its requirements. The truth in 1976 was that Britain could have met its obligations if it chose, for the reasons set out above. The reason Healey went to the IMF was simple. In the 1970's working class militancy was still strong. There had already been significant campaigns against cuts, and there was a flowing ove of that into the Labour Party. Some Councils like Lambeth had been refusing to implement cuts, and there was growing industrial action as workers having thrown out the Tories, were refusing to bear the cost of Capital's crisis. By going to the IMF, Healey achieved two things. First, he was able to paint up the crisis as worse than it was, and thereby frighten the population if not into restraint by militant workers, at least into developing a climate of public opinion against them. Secondly, by claiming that the cuts and conditions of restraint to be imposed were not what he and Callaghan wanted to impose, but were being imposed on them by "foreigners", by the IMF, they were able to shift responsibility from themselves, and divert anger to those "foreigners" - a not too uncommon feature of British politics.

But, as I have said before the conditions then are not the conditions now. In 1976, the world was entrenched in the Second Slump as the post-war Kondratiev Boom ended. The prospect of using Keynesian policies, sucking up unused Surplus Value from the private sector to promote growth in order to pay it back later, was no longer an option. Today, in a Kondratiev Boom it is. It is not in the interests of Capital to provoke a crisis through massive cuts. Even if the Tories attempt it should they win the election, the Capitalist State will frustrate their efforts. There will be attacks on Benefits and Welfare, on easy targets, and some tinkering around the edges, but the central structures of the Capitalist State, and its function in stabilising the economy will remain pretty much untouched. Inflation is rising and will rise much more to liquidate the debt, workers living standards will fall as wages fail to keep up with inflation - which is why the Tories NOW propose to link Pensions to incomes not prices - and longer term interest rates will rise, as Bond investors demand a higher return to cover the reduced real value of the income stream. But, given the underlying potential of the British economy in the context of a rapidly growing world economy none of that signifies the kind of doom mongering that is being promoted.

If it really was the case that any incoming Government would then be out of office for a generation as a result of thee measures needed to be undertaken, as the Governor of the Bank of england is reported to have said to US economist David Hale, then it is a certain fact that the Tories and Liberals would be doing everything in their power to lose to Labour.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Tories Propose Attack On Small Printshops

In a clear statement David Cameron in the leaders debate has issued a clear warning that small printshops will face a big attack if the Tories win the election. Asked to give examples of what the Tories would cut, he gave as one example stopping the glossy leaflets that Councils send out.

As many small printshops depend on work from local Councils who commision them to produce these glossy leaflets, they would face a big rduction in their regular work. Thousands of these printshops would be affected, putting hundreds of workers jobs at risk in these small printshops. In addition these printshops would then reduce their orders to paper suppliers, ink suppliers, printing amchine suppliers and so on. The workers in these printshops who lost their jobs would be throwwn on the dole, and would become a burden on the taxpayer. They would no longer be paying tax increasing the Public sector debt further. In addition the small business that rely on the spending of these workers would also suffer.

That is just one small example of the damage that the Tories plan to impose on the economy by their reckless polcies of spending cuts. In reality as the Institute For Fiscal Studies set out this week, the implications of the Tories spending cuts plans would mean a bigger attack on spending, and therefore on workers living standards and the serices they rely on, than at any time since the Second World War. If we take that into consideration we can see that the Tories proposals, as some economists set out in the Financial Times made clear the other week, would result in tens of thousands of job losses, which would necessarily throw the economy back into a recession possibly worse thaan thaat from which we have just emerged.

How To Increase Voting

I was just watching a programme on ITV about how many people would vote, and how to encourage more to do so. The emphasis was based on making it easier to vote. But, that has been done repeatedly over the years, and not worked. In fact, the most likely way of increasing voting was given. The programme pointed out that lots of people are prepared to pay to vote for the X factor and so on.

Generally speaking, economics tells us that people place little or no value on those things that are free, we take them for granted. If we have paid a lot for something, if we have had to queue up a long time to get it etc., then we tend to place a high value uppon it.

My suggestion would be that rather than accommodating to people's apathy and laziness, we should make it more difficult to vote, so that people valued their right to vote. We now have qualifications that people have to undertake in order to take up citizenship, yet their is no qualification other than being old enough, and not being in gaol, for being able to vote. We should perhaps, require that people can demonstrate some basic political understanding, some knowledge of the facts before they are allowed to vote.

Even if it didn't increase people's voting, it would at least mean that the votes cast had more meaning, and were more valuable. I suspect that as soon as people were told they had to palkce some value on their right to vote, they would in fact, be up in arms, and keen to make sure that they exercised that right.

Bigotry, Immigration & Unemployment

My Dad was a life-long Trade Union militant, and a left-wing socialist. But, like most people, certainly most working class people, his views were not always clear. On some things he was clearly conflicted. For example, he was an engineer, which was an almost exclusively male job at the time, but he worked in a maintenance shop of a tile factory, which like most of the ceramic industry was a mostly female dominated workforce. I can remember him commenting, on many occasions, that their wages were being held back, because the women workers were prepared to accept lower wages, as their earnings were a secondary, not a primary, household income. I don't remember him using the term, that many many men at the time used, who argued against women working, because they were taking away "Men's" jobs, that of working for "pin" money, but that was essentially the argument he was using. Yet, he most certainly did not oppose women working. On the contrary, he was always a bit disappointed that my Mother was never able to go out to work, because she spent so much time looking after me when I was ill as a youngster.

He was certainly not a racist either, but judged by today's standards some of his views would be at least considered patronising. For example, I recall him countering the argument, that someone raised, about "coloured" people having large families, with the reply that British people used to have large families once, but better education had led them to reduce the size. Once "coloured" people had the same benefit of education they would do the same. I can't remember him expressing an opinion about immigration, even though, during the 1960's, it was beginning to be a topic of conversation. He certainly never expressed any strong argument in favour of Immigration Controls, but then, although he was not a Marxist, in the sense I would understand the term, he did always see things, and discuss things, in terms of class and class struggle. Partly, that was from his own experience, partly, I think, because he had a friend who was a CP'er. In fact, I remember when I was about 13 or 14, one night, whilst we were out walking the dog, we were having a discussion during which he expressed the opinion that the British working class wouldn't move until the Red Army marched in. Even then I had to disagree.

But, again, I can remember, at around the same time, having a discussion at school on the question of immigration, and expressing the view that we could not let lots of foreigners into the country, because they would reduce wages by increasing competition for jobs. Yet, I was not a racist. On the contrary, I was already a fan of black music by this time. I also had a school friend who was Romanian, and the antagonism he faced was not from me or any other kids in the school, but was if anything from teachers. In fact, there were lots of people from Eastern Europe who lived in the area. They had come to work in the local collieries before, during and after the war. Both me and my sister had friends who were Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Polish, and Serb.

Yet, the argument in favour of Immigration Controls IS racist. Just as it is sexist and bigoted, against women, to blame male unemployment on women workers, on the basis that if they didn't have those jobs, men could, so it is a racist argument that blames unemployment on immigrants. It is not immediately apparent that it is so, it requires some thought and consideration to understand why it is a racist argument. I didn't automatically understand that argument, but once I did, I could have no alternative but to reject the idea that immigration could cause unemployment, and to reject Immigration Controls as being racist.

The argument is not at first apparent, and yet it is not that difficult to understand. The idea that unemployment is caused by some group (women, immigrants, disabled people, old people or whoever) having employment that otherwise would go to someone else relies on a number of fallacies, and of course, on a moral judgement that some people, (white, male, young, able bodied) have a better claim to jobs than others!

The claim relies on the notion that there is some fixed number of jobs that can be shared out. Not only is that not true, but even if it were the conclusion that unemployment results, when there are more workers than enough to fill these limited jobs, is clearly also false. Let's assume that there is only a limited number of jobs, does it mean that more workers means unemployment? The Tories, are always keen to refer to household economics to support their ideas. Let's put it in those terms. If we think of some household job such as washing-up, it only requires a certain amount of work to fulfil. But, does that mean that, in a two person household, one of them is redundant? No, of course, it does not. One person COULD do all the washing up, but, in most households, rather than that, the extra person's efforts are seen as a bonus. It means that the work can be shared out, one person washes, the other dries and puts away. Having more workers to do a given amount of work, therefore, does not result in unemployment, but simply results in the available work being shared out, so that each worker benefits by not having to work so long or so hard. What applies here, in relation to household chores, applies to work in general, or would do in a rational economic system.

Suppose that we assume a fixed number of jobs, by which what we mean is that there is a fixed amount of work to be done - just like so much washing-up - then, if currently, this work is done by 10 million workers, working a 10 hour day, it means 100 million hours of work to be done. But, suppose then that 2 million more workers joined the workforce. It could be that 2 million women started work, or 2 million young people left school, or 2 million disabled people started work, or 2 million people migrated to the country and so on. Does the addition of these 2 million people mean that another 2 million people have to be without work? Of course not, just as having two people to do the washing up does not mean that, because the work COULD be done by one of them, the other is redundant! On the contrary, the addition of this 2 million people means that the work could be done by that 12 million people now benefiting from only needing to work an 8.5 hour day rather than a 10 hour day.

Put another way, instead of the Government telling people that they have to work a year longer, the existence of more people to do the work, means that all the work could be done by providing everyone with a job, and allowing people to retire earlier! It means that work could be shared out so that no one has to work so hard or so long. It means that, in Britain, we could begin to enjoy the benefits that many European workers have, of earlier retirement, and better benefits, and of working a 35 hour week. That would be the rational thing to do, it is the way a rational economy would work, sharing out the work amongst a greater number of people so that each could have the benefit of working less hard, less long. Even within the confines of a Capitalist system, much of Europe does that, to some extent. In much of Europe, workers retire earlier than they do in Britain, and have better pensions when they do. Most of Europe is covered by the Working-Time Directive that limits the amount of work bosses can force workers to do. But, Britain has opted out of that, so that British bosses can squeeze more profits out of British workers, rather than allow the work to be shared out amongst them. And most of Europe has more holidays than Britain too. In most of Europe, which has actually had more immigration than has Britain, additional workers have not posed a problem, but a been a benefit, enabling work to be shared out, and thereby made less onerous. We should not see the existence of additional workers - be they immigrants, new young workers, women workers, disabled workers enabled to work, or older workers wanting to continue working - as a problem, but as a bonus, a means by which work can be shared out so that workers in general can work less, whilst all of the production they need to consume is unaffected, just as two people, doing the washing up, means that the same amount of washing-up gets done, but with each person only needing to do half as much as they did before.

In many ways, the argument is the same as that 200 years ago, when workers argued against the introduction of machines, which they said were taking their jobs. Yet, today few people would argue in favour of banning the introduction of new machines on that basis. Although, a new machine might enable one person to do the work that previously 10 people did, this does not mean that 9 people have to lose their job. It simply means that the ten people only need to work a tenth of the time they did before. A rational economic system would do precisely that. Capitalism does not do that for the simple reason that it is only the Capitalist who gets to decide how long he wants workers to work, not the workers themselves. And, for the Capitalist, there would be no benefit in simply allowing the workers to work less. He introduces the machine so that he can save money himself, by only paying one worker, and sacking the other 9, and, in so doing, massively increases his profit. It is not the existence of more workers, or the introduction of machines that causes unemployment, it is the functioning of an irrational Capitalist system, in which the decisions of a tiny minority of people, the Capitalists, determined by their own self-interest, rather than the interest of society, are all that counts, and the interests of the vast majority are subordinated to those interests.

But, in fact, even when they act in what they see as their own self-interest, the Capitalists as a whole, by their actions, undermine themselves too. One capitalist who introduces a labour saving machine, gets a boost to their profits, because their costs are lowered compared to their competitors. But, when their competitors introduce the machine as well, all of their costs are lowered, and the price of the goods made falls, and along with it the profits. Relatively, less capital is required to produce the same amount of goods as before, as well as less workers. Society, gets to consume the same quantity of that good, but at a much reduced price. The saving can be used to consume some other good, and the Capitalists, in search of profits, switch their, now excess, Capital from this good to some other. That is why, from the time of the Industrial Revolution, the introduction of more and more machines, that have massively increased the productivity of each worker, has not resulted in mass unemployment, even though the number of workers has itself increased. Instead, workers have been able to win some of the benefits of more efficient production for themselves in terms of reduced hours, more holidays etc., whilst the Capitalists have been able to concede these improvements, because their profits have increased by an even larger amount, even after they have conceded the improvements. In fact, it has been in the interests of Capital as a whole to make these concessions, because not only has it helped to create a healthier, to some extent happier, workforce - and therefore more productive, less restless - but, rising real wages are needed if workers are to be able to consume the ever growing range of products that the Capitalists want to sell back to them. As Marx says, although each capitalist wants to keep the wages of his own workers to a minimum, they all want the wages of every other worker to be at a maximum so as to create a bigger demand for their products!

But, this also demonstrates another point. The amount of work is by no means fixed. There is not a fixed amount of things to be produced that limits how many workers can be employed in producing it. If that were the case, then the increase in the workforce, over the last 200 years, let alone the effects of introducing all those labour-saving machines, would most certainly have led to mass unemployemt. At its most basic level, the increase in population over the last 200 years has created its own additional demand for products, and with it, its own additional demand for workers to produce them! Let us suppose that an immigrant comes into the country. They need somewhere to live. That creates a demand for a house that previously did not exist. The demand for that house means that a demand is created for bricklayers, plasterers, joiners, plumbers, electricians, painters and so on that did not exist before. Far from that immigrant taking a job away from someone else, they have created the demand for many, many jobs that previously did not exist. But, more than that all of those brickies, plumbers and so on that now have a job, building a house for this immigrant, which they did not have before the immigrant arrived, now have money to spend that they did not have before. When they go to spend that money whether it be for bricks, paint, timber, cable or piping to build the house, or whether it is on fags and booze, clothes for their kids, or a new car and so on, they create a demand for more goods that previously did not exist, and therefore, a demand for workers to produce those goods too, which did not exist before.

I have not even begun to talk about the demands that this new immigrant has for food, clothes, entertainment and so on, which themselves create even more demand for goods and services, that in turn create a demand for new workers to provide those goods and services, and which therefore, INCREASE the amount of work to be done, increase the amount of jobs available for all. And, of course, all of these people, who have now been provided with work, and with additional income, spend that on buying goods and services. In doing so, they create a demand for more workers to produce those goods and services. They may for example, use some of that additional income to make improvements to their own home, including some plumbing work. If our immigrant is himself a Polish plumber, then he can, in return, meet the new demands of these workers by doing that additional plumbing work for them. In fact, just as many British workers have benefited from being able to buy imported Chinese suits, shoes and other goods at a fraction of the price they were formerly sold at, so they might also benefit from being able to get that plumbing work done more cheaply than they would previously have been able to do.

That is the economic reality of immigration as opposed to all the bigotry that surrounds opposition to it. It is why the economic data shows that the British economy has benefited considerably over the last decade from immigration, particularly from Eastern Europe. Of course, those benefits are not immediately apparent to British workers, and indeed, many British workers have not directly benefited. But, that is not thee fault of immigration, and certainly not of the immigrants themselves. Just as workers do not automatically and immediately benefit from the introduction of a labour-saving machine. But, the reason they do not benefit is due solely to the working of an irrational capitalist economic system, not the machine or the immigration, just as the introduction of large numbers of women workers after the second world war, may well have enabled capitalists to pressurise wages downwards, more than they otherwise would have done, did not mean that this consequence was the fault of women workers, was not a reason to demand an end to women being able to work. And, in fact, the existence of those women workers, meant that, after the war, working-class families were able to buy consumer goods that they would not have been able to buy. It meant that they were able to buy houses, cars and a whole host of goods, which in turn meant that a demand for a whole host of new goods was created along with a demand for additional workers to produce them.

The fault for unemployment does not lie with this or that group of workers occupying jobs that would otherwise be occupied by some other group of workers, whether it is women occupying men's jobs, disabled people occupying able bodied people's jobs, old people, staying on in work, depriving younger people of jobs, or immigrants occupying domestic workers jobs. The fault for unemployment resides with an irrational capitalist system, which instead of rationing out work so that all can work less hard, instead of planning ahead to allocate labour and resources to new types of products, so that a smooth transition can be effected, is based solely on what is in the interest of the individual Capitalist, and their need to maximise profits. It is the same drive, which leads those self-same, BRITISH Capitalists to seek out profits overseas where they can obtain cheaper labour.

We should put that blame where it belongs on an irrational, capitalist economic system, and the drive for profits by the individual Capitalists, not on our fellow workers be they women, disabled, old, young, or foreign. All of these other workers are our allies. It is Capital, and the Capitalists that are our enemy, British or not. That enemy has an interest in diverting our attention from their culpability, and scapegoating someone else for it, be it women, the disabled, the old, the young or the foreign. That is why they, and their mass media spend so much time trying to divert our attention on to blaming other workers. To the extent that we fall for that ploy, we do base our ideas on bigotry, and not on fact. That is not our fault. It is the fault of us not having access to the necessary education, and the necessary facts to be able to see through the lies that the Capitalists tell us. But, those views are bigoted, even if we are not necessarily bigots or racists for holding them. That truth has to be spelled out, and those bigoted views confronted as I have tried to do here. Otherwise, the bosses, and their agents, such as the BNP, will once again get away with diverting responsibility for yet another crisis away from themselves and on to workers.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Media Hypocrisy

Not just all day, but all night, the media election coverage has spoken of nothing else but Gordon Brown, and his comments in Rochdale. What it has demonstrated, more than anything, is the total hypocrisy of the media. Several weeks ago, the media was promoting the book by Andrew Rawnsley that supposedly exposed Gordon Brown as a bully, intolerant etc. Today, Rawnsely was wheeled out again and the story told that Brown's reaction showed that Rawnsley had been proved right. But, anyone who has heard Brown's comments in the car must realise that, if anything, they completely undermine Rawnsley's claims. Brown was not happy about how he thought the situation had gone, but his comments were totally calm and rational. There was no shouting, no recriminations against staff, there was no thumping the seat or stabbing with pens of seats, no throwing of phones etc. In short, his reaction was no more, no less than that of pretty much anyone else who had just had a discussion on camera with someone whose views they thought would give the media a story.

Then the media make a story out of that too. They say that Brown's comments in the car, that the interview would be used by the media, showed him to be over sensitive! But, hasn't his view been confirmed precisely by the actions of the media during the whole of the day and night, in not wanting to talk about anything else?? And, the fact is that no matter how many times the media rake over the event, to suggest that Brown was being hypocritical, the fact is - as many ordinary people commented on screen and over the net - that there is no shortage of outtake programmes that show TV personalities, including well-paid journalists doing exactly the same thing! Are we to believe that TV interviewers do not say all kinds of derogatory things about the people they interview off screen? In fact, don't we all do exactly what Brown did? If I had been Brown, and wanted to dissuade someone of bigoted views, after all, I wouldn't begin by saying to them that they were themselves a bigot!!!

I remember some years ago, when our kids were little, we had been given a tablecloth by the in-laws. We'd commented that we didn't know why they had chosen it, because it didn't go with anything. The next time the in-laws came, we came to put the tablecloth out, and one of the kids said, why are you going to use that, because you said it didn't go with anything. Yes, we had, but like many more people we wouldn't say what we thought out of politeness. Should we not expect a Prime Minister to act politely and not necessarily say to someones face what they actually think. After all the words "polite", "politic", and "politics", all have the same root. Of course, we do need to address bigoted ideas - and the ideas about Eastern Europeans flooding the country, taking jobs and houses have been expanded upon by many other ordinary people, interviewed in Rochdale and elsewhere today - but that does not at all require us to do so, by deliberately offending, and personalising those views to those who hold them. But, nor, if asked to be honest, should we hold back from calling a spade a spade.

If someone said that men in Rochdale were not getting jobs because women were taking those jobs, today most people - though by no means all - would have no problem in identifying such views as being bigoted against women. But, claiming that workers in Rochdale or anywhere else were not getting jobs due to immigrants filling those jobs is no different. The same is true about claims about housing being taken etc. The responsibility for lack of jobs does not lie with immigrants from Eastern Europe or anywhere else, it lies with a Capitalist system that cannot guarantee jobs for workers, it lies with BRITISH bosses who, in order to maximise profits decide to locate production overseas etc. Those are the facts that Labour should have been arguing for years now in order to undermine these bigoted views about immigration. They have not done so, because the Labour Party remains bound by the ideas of bourgeois society. As such, it is not able to place the blame where it belongs, on the shoulders of a Capitalist system, which ultimately it seeks not to replace, but at best to reform.

But, the other hypocrisy of the media is that at the same time that it shows indignation at the fact that it has to deal with the BNP, it is the media itself that has fed those underlying ideas about immigration. At worst, the gutter press whip up that hysteria to sell papers, at best organisations like the BBC fail to confront those ideas. Even today, it has simply reported the mass of anti-immigrant sentiments being unleashed without in any way questioning the validity of those ideas. All sections of the media are as guilty as the mainstream parties for the growth of intolerance, and for the rise of the BNP. Their indignance is wholly hypocritical. They should look to themselves.

Chickens Come Home To Roost

The news is full of reports, and repeats of the video clip showing Gordon Brown calling a woman, who had confronted him, a bigoted woman.

The woman was reportedly a Labour voter, yet the way she assailed Brown shouting "Are you going to deal with the deficit today, Gordon?" did not give that impression! She then went on to assail him, in discussion, with comments about Eastern European immigration. Brown dealt with the comments in the way all the mainstream politicians have dealt with this issue - by slimily accommodating to it, by attempting to show how tough they are on immigration. In private, Brown gave his real views, the views he should have expressed publicly in replying to the woman's bigoted views.

For years, the main parties have tried to portray this ridiculous picture in which Britain is a most tolerant society, where racism is restricted to just a few extremists. But, anyone who talks to ordinary people everyday knows that the bigoted views this woman came out with, about immigration, are common coin. The fact that they are so widely held does not make them any less reactionary, any less bigoted! And its not just in relation to immigration that such bigotry and intolerance is widespread. Britain is riddled with intolerance, whether it is sexism, racism, homophobia, and even intolerance of disabled people, as recent programmes showing how attacks on disabled people have been swept under the carpet, demonstrates.

And attempts to legislate that intolerance out of people's heads has clearly not worked. Nearly 40 years after the Equal Pay Act was passed, women continue to be discriminated against both in pay and jobs, for instance, and what applies to women applies even more to other forms of discrimination.

But, the mainstream parties have responded by sweeping it under the carpet, by trying to perpetuate this ridiculous myth of a tolerant society. In relation to immigration, they respond by accommodating to it, by vying between each other as to who can be seen to be the toughest on immigration, rather than pointing out that race is not a problem, racism is! Even when reaction takes the form of organised child abuse within the Catholic Church, rather than confront that reaction head on, they respond by giving an official invitation to the Pope to visit!

In this election, it was known that one of the elephants in the room would be the BNP, but instead of confronting those ingrained bigoted views, that are rampant in British society, like those expressed today, and on which the cancer of the BNP feeds, the main parties have attempted to keep the discussion within narrow bounds.

Nick Clegg is presenting himself as something different. He isn't. When people quickly realise that fact, who are they going to turn to next? It will not be the various left sects, who delude themselves even more about the real nature of the British working-class than does the Labour Party. Either these bigoted ideas are confronted here and now - and there is no reason to doubt this woman when she says that she did not see what was bigoted in the ideas she put forward - or else the main parties are simply driving large numbers of people into the hands of the BNP, the EDL and possibly at some point even worse.

Brown should stick by his words. The ideas put to him were bigoted, he should explain why, and in the process begin to undermine those ideas within society in general, and thereby undermine the basis for the fascists to benefit from them.

Change? Or Just Short Changed

Both david cameron and Nick Clegg have run their campaign on the grounds of change, itself no doubt just an attempt to latch on to the "change" slogan of Obama. Of course, there has been no real change accomplished by Obama either. Still less do Cameron and Clegg represent change. In many ways, its a pity that, in the Leaders Debates, the SNP and Plaid didn't get to be represented, because although they too are bouregois parties, at least on a superficial level they stand to the Left of the main three. It would, if nothing else have shown up just how meaningless is Cleggmania, just how tenuous is his claaim to be something different rom the other two parties.

In reality, anyone who wants to judge the parties on fact rather than claims for the future has only to look around. The idea that the Tories or Liberals represent change can be judged simply by looking at what they are already doing! The Tories and Liberals HAVE been in Government for several years. The Tories and liberals for several years have been in control of large swathes of the country through their control of huge County Councils, Metropolitan Councils etc, and through their control of hundreds of District and Unitary Coucils. Have they represented anyhting new in their control of lagre chunks of Government? No, absolutely not. If they have it has only been to the extent that they have cut spending, and attacked Local Government workers even more viciously!

Of course, irts true that Labour Councils have hardly been hotbeds of militant socialism either. But, the difference is clear. The Trade Unions continue to play an important role within the LP, including the provision of finance. The unions if they organise themselves, if workers at a rank and file level force the unions to act, can pressurise the LP to act in their interest. Ordinary workers as members of the LP can organise within their Trade Union Branches, and within their communties likewise to apply pressure within the Party. That is not true about the Tories or Liberals. On the contrary, both the Tories and Liberals as outright bosses parties will feel the presssure on their necks not of worker members, but of the large and small bosses. Although Blair, and probably Brown, would have liked to break the link with the unions, they have not been able to do it, and now their is even less chance hey could achieve it. Although, Blair and brown have failed to get rid of all the Tories anti-union laws, they have facilitated workers struggles in some limited ways, whereas the Tories in particular call openly for strike-breaking by the State, and for workers to ignore even clear demcoratic decisions in order to scab!

Its true, as I have written that the Tories proposals for the "Big Society", for workers to have the right to establish their own Co-operative organisations for education and so on, stand closer superficially to the ideas of Marx than do those of the statists, including Left-wing statists. But, as I've also argued that is only true at a superficial level. Their support for such Co-operatives is not the support that Marxists advance for such ventures, which breaks out way beyond he bounds that the Tories would limit them within. It was remarkable this week that at the Conference of the RCN there was considerable support for the idea that ordinary nurses and healthworkers could efficiently run their own facilities, similar to that which is already being undertaken in Surrey. But, the loudest most sincere applause came when one nurse put it to Clegg that if it was okay to sack your MP, why shouldn't nurses and healthworkers be able to sack their NHS Chief Executives!!!

Quite right too, but in defending the state capitalist NHS, the vast majority of the Left fails to raise such demands for workers and patients control, or een for a thoroughgoing democratisation of the NHS. As so often the Left is tailing large sections of the working class in its ideas. Workers such as those health workes in Surrey, and many thousands more in worker owned enterprises throughout the country aredoing what Marx suggested and demonstrating in practice that they can run enterprises effectively, and efficiently without bosses, and in so doing are demonstrrating to the mass of workers that a different type of society is possible.

Of course, the Tories and Liberals are not going to give worekrs the right to sack NHS Chief Executives, just as they will not give rank and file Coppers the right to sack Chief Constables, or troops the right to elect their commanding officers, or any other worker the right to sack their bosses. Workers can only win that right by themselves owning the means of production, which for now and the immediate future means by establishing their own Co-ops, by demanding control of their pension funds to buy up big businesses lock, stock and barrel.

If we want real change, and want it now, we should not look to any politicians to deliver it for us. We have to deliver it for oursleves, through our own, direct self-activity, by taking control of our own lives back into our hands, not in some kind of Tory individualistic way, but by recognising as workers our own collective self-interests.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Electoral Reform

I was watching some election coverage the other day where one woman commented that she might vote for Nick Clegg - I don't think she would because she didn't live in his Constituency - because he seemed nice(!), but couldn't possibly vote for Cameron, because she didn't like his mouth!!!!!

It would be easy to blame the Leaders' Debates for this degeneration into the worst kind of personality politics, but, in fact, however much I think that these debates have encouraged such a mentality, they are not the real culprit. The real culprit is the abysmal level of political culture in Britain. The fact, that the Liberals vote went up so much, and has stayed up, after the first television debate, is an indication that very large numbers of people are not interested in policy issues other than at a very, very superficial level; that if it takes more than a couple of minutes to listen to, if it requires any degree of serious thought to understand, a large number of people simply cannot be bothered. Listening to what people have to say, they simply parrot cliches about, none of the parties speak to me and so on, yet it is clear that they really don't know whether any of the parties DO speak to them, because, by and large, they have no idea what the parties stand for. The LP has complained to the BBC that too much of the news coverage is about analysing the TV debates, and very little about actual policies. They have a point.

In fact, if we are going to move towards a Presidential system, and I repeat, if we are that raises the need to scrap the Monarchy, and if the choice of candidates is to be based on whether we like or dislike certain of their body parts, then we have to question whether the very basis of bourgeois, representative democracy is itself undermined. If that is the route to go down, then it would make more sense to use the old Greek form of democracy, where the elected were simply chosen by lot. We are just as likely to get a decent representative if their name is pulled out of a hat as we are if they are chosen on the basis of their smile.

But, the Tories also undermine the basis of bourgeois democracy. Not only do they support the unelected Monarchy, whilst wanting to turn the Prime Minister into a President, with their proposals that the PM must be elected at a General Election, but they refuse to commit to abolishing hereditary peers. In addition, their opposition to PR, and support for First Past The Post, on the basis of the need for strong government, is ridiculous. On that basis, of rejecting the idea that those elected should reflect those who have voted for them, you could defend ballot rigging! Or why not go the whole hog; why not simply argue for a totalitarian dictatorship. You couldn't get much more of a strong government than that!

But, there are problems with PR too. On the Andrew Marr show Nick Clegg made clear that it would not be credible for a Party that came third in the popular vote to lay claim to forming the Government. He didn't say, what the BBC tried to interpret him as saying, that what he meant was Gordon Brown could not lay claim to being PM, but that another Labour MP might be able to do so, and secure Liberal support. Nor did he commit himself under such conditions to supporting the Tories either.

But, consider the following. In Scotland, there are no Tory MP's. It is precisely that fact, under the last Tory Government, that created the demand for devolution. How could you defend the Tories having a writ over an entire country where hey had no MP's??? The same could be said for Wales. But, the peculiarity of Britain is that a large percentage of the population is concentrated in a relatively small corner of the country in the South-East, which is one of the reasons that there is this strange idea that in a country which is still 75% rural, where only 10% of the land area is built on, we are in some way overpopulated!!! And, this small segment of the country is also the most affluent part of the country, where the Tories have their support concentrated.

If we took simply the share of the popular vote, it is quite possible that the Tories, on that basis, could win a large number of votes, just in this affluent part of the country, with little support in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, The Midlands, and the North-East and North-West. On what basis would this give them any better mandate to be considered to have a writ over the whole area of Britain, than a majority of seats does? At least First Past The Post does give some account of that geographical divide, just as in America, the Presidential Election is not a Popular Vote election, but an Electoral College based on having to win a majority in each state.

The Tories have already shown that they intend to create tens of thousands of job cuts in the North of Ireland, in Scotland, in Wales, in the North-East and North-West - that is all those areas where they have little or no support - if they win the election based on a majority of seats in the South-East, and a smattering of seats in other affluent parts of the country. A PR system that simply enabled them to rack up large numbers of seats solely based on support in the South-East, would lead even more to such an approach. Either it means an incitement to massive social unrest in parts of the country that would feel disenfranchised, or else it means that the demand for regional government would become unstoppable. Ironically, such a development, which is probably likely anyway, because that is the logic of European integration, where "national" powers are concentrated in the hands of a European State, and where that is balanced by decentralisation to more local "regional" governments, would almost certainly see the Tories "ghettoised" into control of just the South-East corner of Britain.

As I said the other day, what this election is demonstrating is the need for a thoroughgoing Constitutional reform, for a completion of the Bourgeois Revolution that began with the 1832 Reform Act. But, for that to happen we need the kind of revolutionary measures that other such bourgeois revolutions have adopted. At the very least it requires the demand for the convening of a Constitutional Convention, through which the whole people can present their views and determine a new Constitutional settlement for Britain.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Beware Of Greeks In Need Of Gifts

Greece has gone bust!

It is now dependent upon the kindness of strangers to bail it out. Or not so much strangers, but those who should be its brethren within the large family of the Eurozone. In reality, that means Germany, in particular, but also France. Ironically, the bail-out package involves contributions from other Eurozone countries Portugal, Spain and Italy, which also comprise the so called PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain) whose economies are also on their uppers, and facing problems financing their own debts! Already, Manuel Barroso has commented that his own country, Portugal, is not much worse off than Greece in this regard.

What this demonstrates is the contradictions of modern imperialism as I set out in my blog imperialism & War. Capitalism develops through a process of combined and uneven development. That process is manifest even within a single economy, which is why in Britain we see rapid development in the South-East, and sluggish development in the North-east. Before the development of the nation state, these different regions would have separate economies, and measures developed according to their needs. But, the rapid development of Capitalism requires both a more extensive market for goods, and a more extensive Capital Market. It requires Capital to face similar conditions wherever it operates. That is precisely why the development of a single market goes hand in hand with the development of the nation state, and hand in hand with a single currency.

But, Capital is able, within a single currency area, operating within a single state, to use fiscal measures to offset the contradictions that arise from a single currency, and single interest rate policy conflicting with different rates of economic growth, different rates of inflation etc. In the US, the Federal Budget has taken on an increasing role in fulfilling this function, whereas originally it was each state that was supposed to regulate its own economy via fiscal policy. In Britain too, the fiscal powers of Local Government were severely constrained, whilst the intervention of the central state in providing local financing, in financing directly Education, Healthcare etc., and of directing economic development through the RDA's increased.

A global capitalist market requires a global state, and indeed Capital has moved to establish global state structures such as the WTO, World Bank, IMF and so on, and even through the UN. But, these structures are partial and can never truly fulfil the functions of a state, because they immediately come up against that process of combined and uneven development, and, in particular with the continuing interests and remnants of an Imperialistic system in which sections of Capital remained tied to domestic states, and where powerful nation states can continue to offer significant benefits to Capital that comes under its specific protection. Political structures do not necessarily simply develop to reflect economic realities, because in the real world human beings, and their own immediate self-interest intervene. In a world of economic giants like the US, European capital needed to expand beyond its own limited national borders and to create its own super state. But, Capitalism is not a conspiracy. although, this was in the interests of European Capitalists, SOME European Capitalists, some European citizens, did not necessarily see that it was to THEIR particular or immediate advantage. This is one reason why European integration has largely progressed by such a bureaucratic means.

Yet, the fact is now made clear that, without a European State apparatus, that can act as the "Executive Committee" of the ruling class, and thereby set common rules for all Capital throughout Europe, establish a level playing field, on environmental requirements, working conditions, benefits, pensions and so on, unless it can have, within its grasp, the kind of control of fiscal policy that nation states exercise, there can be no single market, or single currency. The current crisis is putting that necessity firmly on the agenda, at a time when the ability to win support for such a development is probably at its least likely. In reality, the cost of bailing out Greece, will be less for Germany, than was the cost to it of bailing out the East after reunification. That burden was undertaken at a time when it had been drained by the Second Slump of the late 70's and 1980's, and by the recession of the early 90's. Today, despite the last recession, Germany is in better condition to undertake that role. Without it, a collapse of Greece, threatens sending Europe into recession, and a collapse of the Euro. European Capital certainly cannot want that, but German people have different views about bailing out what they see as a spendthrift economy, especially given their own habit of saving.

The danger is that a bailout for Greece might prompt calls for similar bailouts for the other PIGS, whose economies are much larger. But, a collapse of Greece, its withdrawal from the Euro, would almost certainly have a cascade effect on the other PIG economies, and would stimulate a crisis of confidence in the Euro itself. The current bailout of Greece is almost certainly not enough, they will be back for more. But, it is not at all clear that such support cannot stem the flood. In 1976, Britain did not need to go to the IMF for help, but did so, because it enabled the Labour Government to throw responsibility for the cuts on to external agencies, and to frighten off opposition by hyping up the seriousness of the situation beyond what it was. The same may be true in Greece, a combination of carrot and stick to lessen the immediate effects in order to buy time, and spread the cuts out over a period.

Moreover, although the other PIG economies are much bigger than Greece, this does not at all mean that the scale of bailouts would have to be proportionally bigger. As bigger economies, they are able to shoulder themselves a bigger burden of debt, so any financing only has to be sufficient to enable them to get through the current situation. Given that growth is returning to the world economy - China grew by 12% in the last quarter! - the answer to this debt is clear. Moreover, as I said in relation to the question of British debt Paying for the Crisis the certainty of inflation resulting from the massive amount of money printing, will itself resolve the debt crisis by shifting the burden from debtors to creditors, as it has so frequently been the case in the past. In Britain, as I forecast, inflation has already started to rise, even whilst economic activity remains subdued. I suggested that it would be by the end of this year before inflation really picked up, and I would not be surprised to see it close to twice its current rate by that time, despite the assurances of the Bank of England that it will fall.

But, making any kind of prediction is becoming more difficult, due to the number of exogenous factors, that can so easily combine to bring about a crisis - the crisis caused by the volcanic eruption is just one example, what might happen if the Tories do cut spending early on is another.

Cameron Gaffe

In an interview with Jeremy Paxman, David Cameron has made the first big gaffe of any of the leading contenders in the election campaign. Having said that Public Spending accounts for too much of the economy, in parts of Britain, Paxman asked him which parts. Cameron cited The North of Ireland, where it accounts for 68%. But Paxman then taxed him on other areas such as the North-East where the percentage is similar. Wales and the North-West where the Tories were hoping to take seats from Labour are not far behind.

As Paxman pointed out, given the Tories plans for spending cuts this year, this must mean large job losses in these areas. Already, the Northern Echo has picked up on this and run a headline to that effect.

Cameron says state spending must be cut in North-East. Tory candidates in these areas, already now under pressure from the rise of the Liberals, cannot be best pleased. There was already rumbling of dissatisfaction in the ranks about the way the campaign was going.

What it does show also is the problem that all bourgeois governments now face. State spending in total is so large, the number of people employed in, and dependent on, the state so great, and the power of the top echelons of the State so extensive that any attempt to seriously reduce it is fraught with danger. Not only do such cuts threaten a public backlash, such as that now being experienced in Greece, but the simple threat of such attacks may simply make those proposing it unelectable. Even if they overcome those obstacles the simple power to frustrate, by that State, means that any Government, seeking to undertake such a course of action, would require something approaching a Political Revolution to achieve it. As an example of that, just look at the failure of even Thatcher to accomplish any serious reduction in the power and size of the state.

As I have said before, anyone who has worked in the Public Sector knows how this works. In Local Government, when cuts are demanded, the first response of the Chief Officers is to propose a list of important frontline services, knowing that Councillors will baulk at that prospect. Then they propose a series of less important frontline services, especially if the areas of the leading Councillors can be protected. Often its accompanied with proposals for some "restructuring" of Departments, to better fit the new level of services. In this restructuring, those Chief Officers wanting to take early retirement can be made redundant and gain immediate access to their pensions. As recent press reports have shown these pay-offs are far from insubstantial. I was told recently that one Chief Officer from my old Council was given a pay-off of £400,000, and this is a Council that has less than 500 employees, that has sold off its housing stock, and shed most of its functions!

As Departments have become larger, in the restructuring, those left in place gain pay rises to reflect their added responsibility. In short the paper "savings" are rapidly swallowed up by the bureaucracy. Frequently, a few years later, its suggested that the restructuring didn't work, and Departments need to be split up. Of course, no reduction in salaries accompanies it, more Chief Officers get to retire, and a raft of second tier upper management get promoted into the new positions. Of course, the Chief Officers don't have to rely on their £40,000 plus pensions, because they are also frequently invited back as Consultants!

Yes, we certainly do need some new politics, yes we certainly need a thoroughgoing democratisation of the system, but it will require something way beyond what any of the Parties are currently proposing.

Northern Soul Classics - Manifesto - James Lewis & A Case of Tyme

Another stomper with a political twist. Good start to the video with all the Labour posters, shame it decided to be balanced as it went on.

As with many of these Northern Soul bands that had just one or two big sounds on the scene, they were dug out by DJ's, whilst the bands themselves had simply disappeared, because they were produced on small back street record labels. More in for on this one, and the flip side "Some Call It Love", is given here.

Friday, 23 April 2010


All of the main parties have made a big thing about not just being in favour of, but there being a serious need for Constitutional change. The seriousness with which that change is being proposed varies. The Tories do not propose scrapping the Hereditary Peers, for example. But, if long awaited Constitutional Change is to be discussed, should the whole thing not be put on the table? Indeed, should not the basis of that be through the convening of a Constitutional Assembly, where proposals for establishing such a Constitution, be opened up to everyone?

Everyone recognises that the introduction of electoral beauty contests, via the Leaders Debates, takes us further down the road to a Presidential system. Diane Abbot, on This Week, last night, recounted how, on the doorstep, when she asked people, who had voted for her, last time round, how they would vote, they said they were waiting until they had seen all the debates. But, in that case, if we are to effectively move away from electing parties to electing individuals, then we should do it consistently. In just the same way as there is no point having a Lord Mayor if you have an elected Mayor, so there is no point having a Monarch if you have an elected Head of State.

And that would also mean disestablishing the Church of England, because an elected Head of State might be an atheist, a Muslim, Sikh, Scientologist etc. In fact, the question the leaders were given, over the visit of the Pope, illustrated a similar level of hypocrisy. All of them, including the atheist Clegg, said they welcomed the visit of the Pope. Yet, this is a man, who, if he were not protected by the power of the Catholic Church, would probably be under serious police investigation for running an organisation that has covered up serious child abuse! However, much we might desire to allow people to have freedom of religion, and to believe whatever medieval nonsense they like, that is far from the same thing as welcoming the visit of someone like that, let alone someone whose views, on many other things, are pretty indistinguishable from those of the BNP.

Gordon Brown said he thought that it would be good, in order to promote a coming together of all religions. But, the fact is that all religions hold similarly reactionary views to those promoted by the Pope and the Catholic Church. Why would anyone with progressive views, let alone socialist views, want a group of separate and thereby weakened reactionary organisations to come together, and thereby become stronger?

Worse, Gordon Brown said that, even though he is a Presbyterian, he welcomed the Pope's visit. But, traditionally, the Presbyterian Church has viewed the Pope as being none other than the anti-christ! How can anyone, who treats their own faith seriously, welcome the visit of the anti-christ???? They can do so, because the reality is that the only people who actually do take their faith seriously are the religious fundamentalists, the people who the vast majority of society views as being complete nutters! But, if you can't take your faith seriously then what is its use, what basis do you have for clinging to it? The reality is that, for such people, it is based on total hypocrisy. It is like someone who having discovered that Santa Claus doesn't exist, makes sure not to tell anyone, because they like still receiving presents!

If the Expenses Scandal has exposed the need for Constitutional change, a fact that Marxists have argued for a very long time, then let us have it, but let us have it resolved in the way bourgeois revolutions have resolved it in the past, with the convening of a Constitutional Convention, through a thoroughgoing national debate on the types of institutions, and mechanisms we want. perhaps we could revive the People's Charter? Better still, we could revive the revolutionary tradition of the Chartists.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Core Vote

New Labour's electoral strategy was based on the idea that the core working class Labour vote was not big enough to secure election victories. It ws basically an acceptance of the embourgeoisement theories of the 1960's and 70's, which argued that rising affluence was transforming large sections of the working class into a middle class, whose aspirations made them look away from the traditional affiliation to Labour. Many sociological studies showed that the embouregoisement thesis was false. Yet, there was no doubting the fact that from 1945 onwards Labour's vote was declining. New Labour's strategy basically amounted to the idea that the traditional, working class, core Labour vote would turn out for it almost whatever it did, and, therefore, to win it had to woo the middle classes, even at the expense of policies that were seen to alienate the core vote.

There were quite a lot of flaws in this strategy. Firstly, it assumes that the embourgeoisement thesis was right after all. Secondly, it assumes that the other parties could not equally appeal to that middle class vote, thirdly it assumes that a sufficient number of workers would keep that core vote at a suficient level, and finally it assumes that appealing to the middle class also involves policies that are geared solely to them, rather than that it is possible to design policies that are aimed at workers, but which not only do not attack, but which also benefit the middle class.

I don't intend going over all of the refutations of the embourgeoisement thesis. You can look those up for yourself. However, what I would point out is that many of those traditional groups of workers that have most frequently been seen to fall into this category have themselvess been some of the more militant groups of workers of the last 20 years. On the second point, it took some time for the Tories to regroup, but Cameron embodies the fact that the Tories have indeed, reshaped themselves to win back the middle class, and for that matter so does Nick Clegg for the Liberals. On the third point New Labour appeared to have been proved correct until the last few years. In successive elections large numbers of workers DID continue to come out to vote Labour, which alongside thee middle class vote provided it with huge majorities. In a way that is not surprising. Although the Left has criticised New Labour for not pursuing the kind of socialist, interventionist policies it sets as being the benchmark for judging workers parties, the reality has been that New Labour DID carry through a whole raft of policies that benefitted ordinary working people, such as the building of large numbers of new schools and hospitals, a tripling of the NHS budget, the inroduction of the Minimum Wage, and so on. Yet, despite all of that a section of workers, or what has previously been described as an underclass, remained relatively excluded from these benefits, and if anything relatively more so, as the benefits and rising wages of workers above them increased quite rapidly. Although, this group is quite small, perhaps only 5-10% of the population, it is concentrated in certain areas that make it appear larger than it is, and that is enhanced by the fact that groups like the BNP have been able to latch on to it. Its problems of exclusion, and the causes attributed to it - largely large scale immigration - have been turned into an emblem of the failings of the Government in general.

Politics hates a vaccuum, and as large numbers of Labour activists left the Party, the basis of communtiy organisation began to be undermined, though not as much as is often stated, because that communtiy organisation was always mostly the work of the ordinary worker Branch members, rather than the politicos who focussed on "political" activity in the CLP and higher bodies. The activists who had Left were neither the kind of activists who were going to immerse themselves into the kind of community activism that the ordinary Branch members were engaged in, and as they either dropped out altogether, or else isolated themselves from thee class in tiny sects, they were in any case in no position to do so. Its no surprise that both the Liberals who for several decades have built up their local organisation and position in Local Councils through Community activism, and the BNP who have made a conscious turn to such work have filled the vaccuum that was left. We will have to see how much of Labour's core vote turns out for it, in the election, but it is being attacked from several directions.

The greatest tragedy is that it was, in fact, quite possible to have appealed to and won over sections of the middle class, whilst at the same time advancing policies that were directed towards the traditional working class. The German SPD at the beginning of the twentieth century went out of its way to win the support of the middle class, of small traders etc., whilst advancing a solidly pro-working class programme. Unfortunately, it is the idea that most of the Left has adopted of "redistributive socialism", which undermines this strategy. It is frequently pointed out that if you want to finance the spending that is seen as necessary for the NHS, Education etc. this cannot be raised simply by raising taxes on the few billionaires, and multi, multi-millionaires. The massive growth of the Welfare State, and attendant bureaucracy requires huge amounts of finance, and in order to finance it taxes are raisd not just on the rich, but on everyone. As Eric Hobsbawm has pointed out, what the Welfare State has done is not to redistribute from the rich to the poor, but merely to redistribute from one group of workers to another. In doing so, it necessarily creates the basis of intense division and antagonism within the working class. That is why so many workers, complain about scroungers, about single mothers, and so on. It is not just the fault of the gutter press that enhane and play upon those ideas. They can only do so, because those stories play into the experiences of many workers in their daily lives. Middle class lefties might not want to accept that, but it is a fact.

What the Left has done is to abandon all hope for now of challenging the wealth and power of he bourgeoisie, and instead settled for a redistributive socialism that attacks not the bouregoisie, but the petit-bouregois, the middle class, and even as the need fo more taxation has risen, even the better off sections of workers. It has advanced a strategy that divides the majority of workers from its natural allies, and drives those other sections of society into the hands of the Liberals and Tories. It does so whilst, trying to attract to it those very sections of the working class, least likely to form a "Vanguard", the least advance sections, the sections who are in fact, being attracted to the BNP. In that respect, the strategy of the Left has been at least no better thaan that of New Labour.

More than a hundred years ago, Marx argued against such a strategy. He pointed out why such redistribution could never work. It does not matter whether it is proposed to effect this redistribution by militant Trade Union struggle to raise wages and conditions, or by the Tax policies of a "Workers Government". He advised workers not to spend too much of their time on the former, precisely because of the limitations that existed to it, due to the natural laws of economics and Capital accummulation. He pointed out the fallacy of the latter, because it assumes that Distribution and Production are two separate spheres, whereas those very same laws of economics that he and others had uncovered demonstrated precisely that Distribution was a function of Production. If you want to change the Distribution of Wealth and Power in society you first have to change the distribution of ownership of the means of production. So long as capitalist retain the majority ownership of the means of production, whatever measures for reeduistribution of income or wealth are undertaken, will come to nought. But, as he says, once Co-operative ownership of the means of production begins to increase, those same laws, bring about a decisive shift in distribution of wealth and power to workers.

If Labour or any other Workers Party is to have a succesful strategy it has to build that alliance between the working class and the middle classes. It cannot do so on the basis of redistributive socialism, which to be credible has to place the burden of taxaation on those very same middle classes, and sections of the working class. It has instead to focus its attention on attacking the real basis of inequality in society - the concentration of ownership of the means of production in the hands of a tiny number of very, very rich families. It can do that by immediately demanding control of the workers pension funds, in which those same middle classes also have invested large amounts. It was not just workers after all who were aghast at the actions of the bankers and financiers. At a time when even the Tories are talking about Co-operatives and Mutualisation, let's take them at their word, and begin by turning those pension funds into Co-operatives, owned and controlled directly by the workers.

Immediately, the rise of the Liberals opens an intersting prospect for Labour. If the Liberal vote were to turn out anything like that being suggested in the polls, then this would mean that it is that large centre ground that has been divided up. No longer would Labour have to worry about losing it to the Tories. The most sensible strrategy for labour then would be a core vote strategy. If labour can turn out its core vote, whilst the centre ground vote is split fairly equally three ways then it has every chance of winning.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Cameron Takes Head Off Chicken

David Cameron, yesterday, risked losing the votes of animal lovers when he took the head off a chicken!

But, revenge was swift when today he got egged!

Ash & Cash

Watching the coverage of the chaos, caused by the Icelandic volcano, over the last few days, has caused me to consider a number of things. Firstly, what does this tell us about our reliance on air travel - a question environmentalists may have something to think about. Secondly, it made me see, yet again, the ability of the media to shape public discussion. All discussion has been around whether the State, has done a good or bad job, in dealing with getting people back home. There has been no discussion of whether, in fact, the State had that responsibility in the first place. Thirdly, and intimately related to the first two, is that it has demonstrated that air travel is way too cheap, and is so because the full costs of flying are not reflected in the price.

The first question is, of course, a huge area for discussion, and not one I could adequately deal with here. But, I want to deal with the other two together. If I get in my car, to drive somewhere, there are various costs that I have to bear. In actual fact, most transport economists have known for decades that, even here, the full costs are not borne by the motorist. The costs of environemntal pollution, the costs of policing the roads, the costs of healthcare for accidents etc. are not at all covered by the private motorist in the tax they pay etc. But, the motorist does cover some of that cost, as well as the other direct costs of motoring. The private motorist also has to take out Insurance to cover other unforeseen costs. Although, they do not have to take out breaakdown cover, many do, and, if they don't, and their car breaks down, they do not expect the state or someone else, to cover the cost of them getting to their destination.

If I book a train journey, then I expect the train company to get me to my destination, and if there are leaves on the line, I expect them to lay on buses instead, and so on. According to EU rules, airline companies have some similar obligations. If passengers are left stranded, the company should provide them with food and accommodation. It is clear that some companies, due to the length of time that passengers have needed to be accommodated, have not been fulfilling this requirement. All of them have complained that the cost of doing so is threatening them financially, and are demanding, that the rules be revised, to deal with such situations. None of them have had a legal requirement to ensure that passengers could be returned home by alternative arrangements, and none of them appear to have made any attempt to do so. Instead, that responsibility has been passed from the Profit & Loss of the companies - and thereby its shareholders, on to the backs of the State, and thereby to you and me the taxpayer.

But, as a socialist, there seems something very unfair, about the idea that some low paid worker, who cannot afford any foreign holiday, but who pays tax, whether Income Tax, N.I. or VAT, should, thereby, cover the costs incurred by people who have been able to afford a holiday on the other side of thee world! Still less to cover the costs of business travellers, whose air fares are often as much as a low paid worker earns in six months. Why should the state be responsible for picking up the bill that should rightfully fall upon the airline companies to esnure that they get their passengers to their destination? After all, the airline companies know who all those passengers are, they should have some idea where they are and where they are going. Logistically, it makes far more sense for them to deal with getting them home, than for the State, which cannot possibly know the who, where, and when of such a logistical nightmare, even with all of the growth of the Big Brother state. Why should it be respoonsible for doing that when it is not so responsible for any other form of transport?

Of course, if the airline companies did have to meet that reponsibility, the cost of air travel would rise substantially. Either, the companies would have to build up their own reserves, to cover such costs, as and when they occurred, or, more rationally, they would need to take out insurance to cover such an eventuality, and, given the massive, and almost open ended, degree of exposure that insurance companies ould be subject to, in the event of an event like the current one or worse, the insurance premiums would be significant. The result would have to be that the cost of air travel rose substantially. But, would that be a bas thing. Should we not actually have to judge the cost of air travel, against other alternatives, on a rational basis of the real costs? What, in fact, we have had is competition between airlines that has driven costs down by cutting corners. That is the real basis of the BA dispute. And, for passengers, not only does it open up the problems we see now, but it has serious implications for passenger safety.

Of course, the reality is that, given where we are, there is no alternative but for the State to have to try to get people back home, just as in the case of houses built in a flood plain getting flooded, no socialist would simply say "Its your fault for buying a house there", or "its the responsibility of the insurance company". The point is, we should try to not be in the kind of situation we are in. The cost advantages of flying, by not including all the costs, have to be addressed, just as the cost advantages for builders of building on flood plains have to be addressed - for example by demanding from them a bond to cover the cost of future flood damage, and so on.

If the capitalist State has a role to play it is in ensuring that private Capital has to properly reflect these costs in prices, it is not to simply bail out the private Capitalists when such costs manifest themselves, and we should not let the Capitalist Media shape the debate to suggest that it is.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


It occurred to me last night that its ironical that the vast majority of people who decry the Labour Party for no longer being a "Workers Party" are themselves middle class, whilst the majority of actual workers themselves DO continue to see it as a Workers Party.

I'm sure there is something significant there somewhere.

Infamy, Infamy. They've All Got It In For Me.

The first round of "Britain's Got Elections - The PM factor", has seen an astounding rise in the fortunes of the Liberals, based solely on the performance of Nick Clegg. From being the subject of love-bombing by both other candidates, the rise of the Liberals means that Clegg is now being lined up for becoming the target. Even the media are starting to give the Liberals a harder time, instead of treating them as being like some inoffensive relative who normally sits quietly in the corner, and who no one either listens to, or wants to upset. Its about time, because anyone who has seen the effects of Liberal Government where they have been in power in Local Government, often in coalition with backwoods Tories, knows that they are far from being inoffensive or harmless.

The irony is that, because of Britain's undemocratic First Past The Post System, the rise of the Liberals is benefitting Labour, even as it has ssen its standing fall to third place. As Cameron had based most of his campaign on an Obamaesque idea of "Change", including the vagueness of exactly what this change was a change to, the emergence of Clegg, as supposedly something "new", has cut the legs from under the Tories strategy. The Tories are scrabbling to adjust. They are in acleft stick. If they come out and attack Clegg too vociferously, as some of their rank and file are demanding, they will inevitably have to do so by striking a harder, more right-wing pose, allowing their persona as the "nasty party" to shine through. But, the Liberals are not only shoring up their own seats, depriving the Tories of potential seats in the South-West, but they are taking votes away rom the Tories where they could have been challenging in Labour Marginals. There are not enough seats hat the Liberals could take from Labour that would counteract this. No wonder that Labour politicians have been looking smug in the last few days. As Ed Balls said on one show, their best tactic at the moment is to sit back, and let the Tories attack the Liberals.

On the present polls, the analysis suggests that Labour could emerge as the biggest Party with around 250-300 seats, and with the Liberals on 100. You see if you'd put £10 on Labour To Win at 5-1, you'd be looking at picking up £50.

Saturday, 17 April 2010


There is a very strange article on the AWL website by Martin Thomas - 1976 Walsall by-Electin. In terms of the arguments that are put forward in the original WA article from 1976, I agree with most of it.

That argument is that Marxists should not counterpose electoral support for Left candidates standing on non-revolutionary programmes to support for the mass workers party. It covers many of the ideas I have outlined here in the past. but, what is odd is that this article appears now a couple of weeks before the election, an election in which the AWL is standing its own candidate in Peckham on a centrist programme against Labour!!!! Worse, as set out in previous blogs the AWL has set up a Socialist Campaign To Stop The Tories and Fascists, which calls for support for "socialist" candidates where they are standing against Labour.

But the term "socialist" does not at all mean "revolutionary", and we can only assume that the AWL does not beleive these candidates to be standing on a revolutionary programme, or else it would have no reason to maintain a separate organisation from them, just as in the original WA article, Trotsky made that argument against the ILP. To be honest the AWL have zigged and zagged in its positions so wildly in recent years that it is difficult to understand the significance of this article. For example, as stated a couple of blogs ago, a couple of years ago, the AWL, out of the blue, announced, in what appeared to be partly a unity offensive aimed at SWP members, and in part a childish desire to support any candidate on any grounds that could be thought up, against their old enemy Ken Livingstone that they would be supporting Lyndsey German and the SWP's Left List in London. Yet, that support certainly could not meet the criteria set out in the 1976 article.

Reading between the lines of the canvassing reports given on the website from Peckham, I get the impression that the AWL have decided they made a big mistake in standing a candidate. The SCSTF seems to me a last-minute, cobbled together response to square the circle of having made that decision, and the need to do what they know should have been the correct strategy of developing an SCLV. The extent of union involvement in Labour's campaign, particularly through UNITE, also undermines much of what the AWL has argued about Labour being dead over the last few years, and they are probably belatedly trying to position themselves, and more importntly prepare their young, inexperiened cadre for yet another zig, or will it be a zag, towards renewed activity in the LP.

A Stern Education

The other day, I wrote about an article the AWL had written, about Marx and education. Some of that article talked about education in the wider sense of how, workers are educated, by their experiences under Capitalism. It reminded me of a chance few words I had, in the supermarket, the other week, with an old friend.

The old friend was Geoff Bagnall, General Secretary of the Potters Union. I first met Geoff when I was about 19 or 20. I was a member of ASTMS, working in the Pottery Industry, a shop steward, and already a militant. Geoff was a shop steward for the Pottery Union CATU. I had been elected on to a Negotiating Committee to agree a National "Spheres of Influence Agreement", between ASTMS and CATU. Geoff had been a member of the IMG, but by this time was not a member of any revolutionary group.

We hadn't seen each other for quite a few years when we came across each other the other week. Geoff bemoaned the state of the LP, and also complained that many of his own members stood to the right of the BNP, and he wasn't speaking just about the most backward, rank and file members. I had no reason to doubt what he said.

"Yes, I replied, but whose fault is that? It is not the fault of those workers, is it? It is the fault of people like you and me, people who have gone through the school of Marxism, who knew, or should have known what we had to do, and who failed to do it."

He agreed it was our fault. I take the position that, if kids fail in school, it is not the fault of the kids. It is the fault of the society in which they live, and, in large part, of the teachers and the learning environment in which they are taught. I take the same attitude to the education in Socialism that workers receive. One of the reasons that Marx and Engels favoured the combination of Education for children with paid employment, was precisely for that reason. Its far better for children to learn the lessons, of their class position and interest, if they are able to combine what they see in the workplace, on a daily basis, with an explanation of those things by their fellow workers, on the shop floor, and in the school room. Remember that, when Marx and Engels were writing, even the schooling provided by employers, for children, was done by older workers. That opened up the potential, at least, to struggle for some control over that process, just as they struggled for control over the work process itself. In itself this would be an education for workers.

More than that, workers had already shown that they could set up their own educational organisations, just as they had set up their own Co-operative enterprises, and shops. They had set up the latter because private Capitalism had failed them. Textile factories, in particular, had collapsed, and workers had taken them over. The Truck System, and the drive to make profits by the deliberate corruption of foodstuffs, had led workers to establish the Co-op in order to provide themselves with wholesome products. Not just the Owenites, but also the Chartists set up agricultural Co-operatives like he Chartist Land Co-operative. By creating their own schools - which could be open to adults and children - workers could do the same thing, and for the same reasons in relation to Education. It could be an education in class struggle, free from the control of the bosses or their state.

But, for the last 100 years even those who call themselves Marxists have been happy to allow workers to continue to be brainwashed by the Capitalist "head-fixing industry". At best they have settled for arguing for reforms to it, and within it, just as they have settled for reforms to Capitalism itself, happy to postpone any real alternative, until some glorious day in the future after the revolution, when they have control over that state themselves, and can use it to ensure that events unfold according to their plan rather than risking it to what the workers might decide. This is what Marx meant when he said that his objection to the provision of elementary education by the State did not apply JUST to that provision by the existing state, but by the future state too. Indeed, in every syllable of the Critique of the Gotha Programme, Marx sets out his similar objection to the idea that the State - even the future state - could simply substitute itself for the self-activity of the class. Yet today's Marxists having collapsed into statism and Welfarism, are even happy to settle for pathetic pleas, to even the Capitalist State, to do just that! They are happy, like First World War generals, to keep sending wave after wave of heroic workers, in each generation, to fight the same battles, simply in order to try to regain the same small pieces of territory on the battlefield of class struggle.

Yet, as I wrote some months ago in my blog Cut & Run, the system of Welfarism, introduced by Capital, via the Tories and Liberals, at the beginning of the twentieth century, reproduced at a State level all of those elements of private Capital that had led workers to seek to develop their own Co-operative alternatives. The system of State pensions, benefits,healthcare and education provided by the Capitalist State Monopoly, and paid for by compulsory deductions from the workers wages in taxes and National Insurance, backed up by the full might of the law, is nothing other than a massive Truck System! Yet, whereas socialists in the 19th Century like Marx, had the good sense to oppose it socialists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, argue for its expansion, argue for workers through it to tie themselves ever closer into the web of Capitalist exploitation, and in the process turn large numbers of the class at its base into nothing more than serfs, dependent upon that State for their very existence - not to mention a considerable number dependent on it for their own employment. The adulteration of food by producers in order to reduce costs, and increase profits, is reproduced - particularly when that state needs to make savings - in the adulteration of education, of health and social care etc. for the very same reasons, and because socialists have built up this huge Capitalist Monopoly, it is able to get away with it, becaus workers have been given no credible alternative, but to put up with what it provides. And what do the leaders propose? That workers ask for more of the same! At best, like the Lassalleans criticised by Marx, they try to hide their shame in making such demands, by adding in for good measure statements about asking the Capitalist State to please give some democratic control over its Monopoly to the working class! Not only do such demands demean those that make them, but as Marx says, demean the class itself, demonstrate its unready to rule if it goes along with such supplication at the feet of he bourgeois state. And such a demand is completely counter to the very fundamental tenets of Marxism. In contrast to reformist, redistributive socialism, which argues that socialism can come about by simply redistributing wealth and power in society, as a result of measures of taxation and democracy introduced by the State, Marxism declares openly the Utopianism of such ideas. Not only is the State not neutral, and therefore, has no reason to bring about such redistribution, whichever Government may be in power, but even if it did, the fundamental basis of wealth and power, and its distribution resides in the ownership of Capiatl, of the means of production, and without changing that, any reforms, will be only that, temporary palliative, withdrawn no sooner than thee needds of Capital accummulation demand it. In a globalised world, where Capital can flow at a second's notice away from anywhere that does not meet that requirement, this is more true today than it was even in Marx's day.

It is little wonder that workers have abandoned such "leaders" and settled for others who, even if they do not offer them such shining victories some time in the future, do not get them killed today. But, the role of the Marxists in educating the class has been abysmal in another sense. We are used to the notion that Capitalism, because of the demands of bourgeois education, because of the pressure of resources on teachers etc., abandons large numbers of failing students in order to concentrate its resources on a small number of more advanced kids. But, what is that, if it is not a perfect description of the attitude of "Leninist" groups, expressed as "Vanguardism". What is worse, is that not only do, at least some of these organisations, disdain the mass of workers - for example, the attitude they took to the LOR workers raising nationalistic demands - because those real workers do not come up to their pre-ordained view of what worekrs should be like, but when it comes to building mass workers organisations, their attitude to even the more advanced workers is little better. In reality, they appear only interested in talking to, and allowing into their organisations people who already agree with them! However, much they complain about the LP excluding the Trade Unions from having a voice, nowadays, the reality is that these organisations would NEVER allow the Trade Unions to simply affiliate to them, and to have the kind of voice they demand for them in the LP. To do so would be to liquidate those organisations, precisely because it would then be the programme of ordinary workers that would be adopted, a programme that would at best be one that reflected a sort of left-centrist reformism, and more likely would be indistinguishable from that of New Labour, which those same Trade Unions, those same mass of workers accept, and vote for now.

In many ways this attitude is worse than a teacher abandoning the less able students to concentrate on a small number of clever kids. Its more like teachers who are more interested in staying in the staff room where they can just have intellectual discussions with other teachers at their own level, rather than have to subject themselves to the ignorance of the students, and try to remedy it. Rather as Marx spoke about the State needing a stern lesson from the workers, so the Marxists seem to need such a stern lesson. Let's hope they are quick learners.