Sunday, 31 January 2010

What you can do with a poster!

This was just to hard to resist; a wonderful example of artwork! 

Haiti - An Un-natural Disaster

The earthquake in Haiti and similar misfortunes are presented as unavoidable natural disasters. To some extent, this is true. But it ignores the consequences of the deliberate pursuit of profit at the expense of environmental protection. It is not a coincidence that the number of victims of recent disasters such as the Asian tsunami and the Katrina hurricane and now Haiti are clearly related to the degree of their poverty.

The reality with earthquakes is they kill only if we let them. They are inevitable, but the death toll is not.

It is collapsing buildings that take lives, not tremors in the ground. Throughout the animal kingdom, creatures have adapted to survive in their surroundings, but in our environment, where earthquakes are a fact of life, though nature challenges us to do something to protect ourselves, capitalism compels us to surrender safety to monetary profits and savings. No matter how severe earthquakes are, if buildings were properly built in the first place, then the vast majority of people would survive. This does not happen under capitalism, particularly in poorer countries, since the unavoidable pressure to make and save money affects what does, or more importantly, does not happen. There are pressures to build quickly and slapdashly to meet housing needs by landless labourers forced by poverty to find work in urban areas; inferior materials and construction methods are used in accordance with market forces, with poor people getting poorly-built homes; building inspectors are persuaded by politicians or back-handers to ignore breaches of rules so that businesses get the cheap employees they want and workers get hovels they can afford; landowners lobby governments, hand over party "donations" or resort to simple bribery to have new housing built on their land, even if it is unsuitable or downright dangerous. With, moneyless, socialism human needs and safety come second to nothing.

Though seismologists don't know precisely where or when earthquakes may strike, general areas of risk are identifiable. In a socialist society, how we respond to this information would be very different. There would be far greater freedom for those in danger to move to safer areas—action under capitalism that can involve huge financial losses from writing off unsafe homes, shifting businesses to where workers then live, adapting that region's infrastructure to aid in exploiting the new workforce etc. And those who, for whatever reason, chose to reside in seismic zones, they would then have access to the best buildings capable of withstanding the most powerful of quakes. Although Japanese and Californian architects have designed “active buildings”, some on top of massive rubber shock absorbers or with computerised counterbalancing systems that identify and counteract seismic shocks, what's the likelihood of such sophisticated technology being used under capitalism on multi-storey dwellings in poverty-stricken areas for workers on subsistence wages? Using superior designs, building methods and materials, there is no reason why populated areas should suffer any loss of life or major disruption after experiencing very powerful quakes.

The surviving victims of the disaster in Haiti need food, fresh water, clothing, medication and many other items. Some of those needs are being met, but not nearly enough. Governments of the richer countries have offered niggardly help. Ordinary citizens, appalled by the extent of the tragedy as revealed by the media, have responded generously to appeals by the charities.In times of natural disasters volunteers are never lacking, nor slow to offer assistance, whether practical or monetary.Humans are endowed with the ability to sympathise and empathise with their fellow humans. Humans derive great pleasure from doing good, are at their best when faced with the worst and will go to extraordinary lengths to help alleviate the suffering of others.

Most natural dangers are well known and socialism would not need to leave communities exposed to them. This would avoid many disasters. Also, contingency plans would exist throughout the regions and at a world level for the relief of any catastrophe. Emergency supplies of food, clean water, medical supplies would be maintained at strategic points whilst machinery, equipment and helpers would be moved quickly to the area of crisis. The present appeals for money are a pathetic substitute for the availability of real resources and the freedom that communities in socialism would have to immediately use them.

We have access to more comprehensive information and news coverage about world disasters than any previous generation of humans, and yet it appears that people don't feel driven to bring about an end to such catastrophes. It seems our society has been influenced to believe that nothing can be done. That big death tolls from quakes, volcanoes or droughts are inevitable. What efforts do the media make to change this, by explaining both capitalism's culpability and socialism's solutions? If people don't understand, then all there will be are yet more channel-changing "Not-another-disaster. There's-nothing-I-can-do " indifference.

Well worth a read is an article from Rosa Luxemburg about a volcanic eruption on the nearby island of Martinique in 1902.

Geast Post By: Max Hess and Alan Johnstone
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Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Haiti aid control...

Disputes emerge over Haiti aid control:

Even Humanitarian Aid comes from the barrel of a US gun!

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Monday, 25 January 2010

Chilcot or Poppycock?

With an inquiry into the Iraq invasion in full thrust, it doesn’t seem as if anyone’s bothered from where I’m standing at the moment! It’s not the conversation I hear in the street amongst ordinary people like my neighbours and friends. Will that change this week; as Tony Blair is set to give his evidence. Up till now I don’t think anyone has taken the bloody thing serious at all, or are we just not bothered, do we know deep down this is just a show, that in the end it will let off the hook the real murderers?

I wonder especially after learning that the evidence relating to the death of Government weapons inspector David Kelly is to be kept secret for 70 years. A highly unusual ruling by Lord Hutton, who chaired the inquiry into Dr Kelly’s death, means medical records including the post-mortem report will remain classified until after all those with a direct interest in the case are dead, the Mail on Sunday reported. And a 30-year secrecy order has been placed on written records provided to Lord Hutton’s inquiry which were not produced in evidence. The Ministry of Justice said decisions on the evidence were a matter for Lord Hutton. But a solitary Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who has conducted his own investigations into Dr Kelly’s death, described the order as “astonishing”.

Coming back to Blair; it is almost seven years since he joined with the other war criminal Bush, and led Britain despite the protests of millions and around the world, they led wars that have cost millions of lives, trillions of dollars and pounds to fund; but when he (Blair) steps into the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster on Friday morning, through the ring of steel that will be set up by the security services, the enactment of time will count for nothing, and he in his own knowledge that since stepping down as Prime Minister he (clearly with the blood of others still dripping from his hands) has been able to accumulate a vast fortune of money and property, his family, his children will not go without, they will never feel the hurt or loss like those who have lost their loved ones. However for everything that is bad and unpleasant that has been sanctioned or ordered by both Bush and Blair we must remember that the real crime has been their willingness to serve, retain and defend the capitalist financial aristocracy that has a hold on ‘our’ world; this was their number-one priority and if it hadn’t been those two, then I’m sure it would have been others, only too willing to carryout the dirty work of capitalism.

As I write this wondering as you do, where I am going with it, the media on the internet have started the build-up to Friday’s proceedings. The Daily Telegraph backing the powers that be with an igniting report that thousands of anti-war protesters and Muslim extremists are expected to line the streets and outside the inquiry in protest against his decision to invade Iraq. They also say that Intelligence officers are also reported to have picked up “domestic chatter” suggesting his appearance warrants a high state of alert, what’s the problem here then, are we not already on a so-called terrorist level of severe, meaning an attack is "highly likely".

Oh what times do we dwell in! We invade other countries and then for the next decade the political establishment aided and abated by the mass media label many innocent people as the potential enemy, extremist or worst terrorists!
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Sunday, 24 January 2010

That bill poster is not innocent!

What if anything, does the Tory Poster Campaign lunched earlier this month tell us? Well I suppose not a great deal in the opening shots of the general election campaign, only that the Conservative’s the natural party of Capitalism has a lot of lolly!

As in the US it’s the money that determines the way (always the same) and who will govern us for the next 4 to 5 years, and that’s democracy folks, so we are told.

For the last 30 years or so, I’ve witnessed election campaigns slide into something that’s beginning to take after the US and the way they do things, televised debates, and rallies, but now we have this new demotion as it seems; the leader the person to deliver us from all that is evil.

I remember as schoolboy posters put-up in the windows of Steelworkers homes in Scunthorpe supporting Harold Wilson back in the 60s. But the poster plastered on over 500 billboards of Cameron has been effective in ways the Tories wouldn’t like to admit too, I do suspect! They have drawn it seems, much attention and indeed ridicule and for all the obvious reasons, the vernacular I won’t go into. The internet and the cyberspace of blogs and general political comment has started to gear-up it’s intervention and much has been made of the Cameron posters, the poster has been played about with immensely, here are two of my personal favourites!

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The Wall Street Adagio!

Candidates spent $23 million on the election to replace Edward M Kennedy last Tuesday, an election that may mark the turning point in the Barrack Obama tenure of a president?

A flood of money (very important ingredient) was concentrated on securing Scott Brown a historic upset and sifting the balance of power in Washington, Senate Republicans now have enough votes to block Democrat’s and Obama initiatives.

One organisation that tipped in dollars was American Future Fund, an outfit advocating conservative, free market ideals, and they posted the following on their website after the Republican win:

“The central battle in our time is over political primacy. It is a competition between the public sector and the private sector over who defines the work and the institutions that make a nation thrive and grow.”

The Iowa-based American Future Fund spent $400,000 over five days airing a television ad comparing the two major-party candidates on the issue of taxes.

Banks are marshalling and mobilising what the Observer says is a smooth-running lobbying machine in Washington to ­battle Barack Obama's plans to limit the size and scope of Wall Street institutions, as financial services firms gear up to stop a shake-up that could slice away large chunks of their operations.

The hope and change that Barack Obama came to represent in the yes we can election campaign, has begun to evaporate amongst his then supporters who sent him to the messy White House of American Capitalism.

Will New Rules Tame the Wall Street Tiger? Was the Wall Street Journals headline and a quotation: “There is an old saying that good politics makes bad laws.”

So Obama has told the banks and bankers they were behaving badly, their bonuses were obscene, their determination to go on lining their own pockets with reckless bets underwritten by ordinary taxpayers was inexcusable. It had to stop.
The Times described the Presidents words as rhetorically powerful, designed to chime with the feelings and prejudices of a public furious that in their eyes Wall Street has been afforded special privileges at a time when seven million ordinary Americans have lost their jobs. Interesting that same Times article reported; “coming on the day of the Goldman Sachs bonus announcement, the speech had double the resonance. Rolling Stone magazine’s description of the bank as “a giant vampire squid ... relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money” is a cruel exaggeration, but not entirely inapt.”
One thing can be said about last week, it was the week that the Obama administration locked on to the Wall Street cats, only because of the falling support amongst public and electorate, will it be that defining moment that makes or breaks Obama remains to be seen but worth following the developments as they happen!
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A highly likely story ...

I’m extremely concerned when I read and hear reports like the one when our Home Secretary Alan Johnson raised the so-called terrorist level and its current threat level on Friday evening from substantial to severe, meaning an attack is "highly likely".


What is this?

Just watching Alan Johnson on the BBC news report, sent a cold shiver down my back, his well preserved and I’m looking good persona! It’s hard to believe that this man was once a postman, and I wonder what he was like then!

I just can’t understand what’s going on here! One thing I’m sure of though; and that’s I’m not paying any heed to government spin or even downright lies!

Just the "highly likely" but, “an attack was not imminent”, the language used giveaway the game the government are playing, and with considerable certainty; they may think that it may help them out, on one or two fronts, such as Brown giving evidence to the Iraq Inquiry before the election, and with high level meetings and gatherings of world leaders planed to be held in London around issues such as the Middle East, Yemen and Afghanistan, twenty-one foreign ministers, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are expected to attend the January 27th London Conference discussing threats posed by Yemen.

This may go some way to explaining the situation. However in this last year the government has had a hard time selling the government mission to the public; they try every trick in the box to win some sort of backing for the two wars!

Let’s be absolutely clear here: Labour, that’s New Labour, stand-down from government after 13 years, and go before the country for its hopeful renewal – offering more of the same from these blood dripping bugs of capitalism. The real terrorist level and threat comes from within the system of capitalism, supported by this government and the next whom ever that may be? The all so obvious is spelt out by what the former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix claimed in giving evidence, he said: “the ex-PM (Blair at the time) desperately wanted evidence, but as the case "crumbled" he changed tactics. Instead, he demanded Saddam surrender chemical and biological weapons.”

Dr Blix told BBC Radio: "They changed the tactic at the end. I think they had given up hope." He said he had warned Mr Blair that there were no WMDs at 30 suspected sites but the PM insisted they existed.”
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Saturday, 23 January 2010

Lor' luv a duck! Roselea. Know what I mean?

So much has been happing and since my last posting, and in the space of just a few day’s as well! Now what was it that Harold Wilson said about a long time in (admittedly British) politics?

Well with so much happing, much to think about before I felt like submitting or committing anything to the blog. I read something yesterday, which made me stop and think for a time, about our changing times!

Things do change, and they change it seems these days’ at an enflaming rapid rate. In a story I came across in the East London Advertiser, and will find that here,  about the old greasy spoon’s of old and in particular a traditional East End 'caff', reminding me that not long ago they were a common sight, and all over London, the word Café it’s very being was a common high street resident amongst the other shops. The old café acquainted more with the 50/60s is about to fade away into nothing more than living memory, and with little complaint in the least, and not any from the fixture and fittings that make Rossi's on Hanbury Street in Spitalfields. This is one caff which I never had the opportunity of visiting in my time. But I do have some great memories of dining or breakfasting in such establishments.

Some of the best fry-ups I’ve ever had, they made tea with such skill and perfection, the brew was Britain’s first drink long before coffee. The working man’s café soon to be a no-more; was a real institution an essential of the community; mothers stopping off having delivered the kids safely to School; they made the time, it was part of life’s ritual, the cuppa and chat, the London Black Cab drivers had their own favourites, and I always made a point of using the ones endorsed by the Black Cabs.

Oh, and that one special ingredient that above all else was the wholesome, nourishing, home cooking, egg and chips will never again taste quite the same. I remember a lovely little Italian setup in Kings Cross, it was called the A1 café and it did fantastic Spaghetti and the chips served as a side dish. At one time some of North London was referred to as little Italy because of the number of Italian’s who lived owned or were generally associated with what was next to fish and chips an institution, a custom that for a long time has been an important feature of society; and the old café fell into the middle of working class community, even today’s great British TV soups have a café or a pub sometimes centre-staging their scripted plots, what about Sid’s café in the ‘Last of the Sumer Wine’. . They became haunts for teenagers in particular; Italian-run espresso bars and their formica-topped tables were a feature of 1950s Soho that provided a backdrop as well as a title for Cliff Richard’s 1960 film Expresso Bongo.

Well I think the café has a special place in this islands cultural history that holds such diversity to which this is but only a peace of the jigsaw!

One other point about the café which we Socialists and freethinkers should remember at its demise and yes’ it’s death sadly!

The cafe evolved out of and from the old 17th century coffee houses. Café the French word for coffeehouse means an informal restaurant, offering arange of hot meals and beverages. They were community meeting points from the start, if you like the first community centers, and as such it shouldn’t be surprising to find that they played such prominence in the history and development of the Labour movement. We all have to move on with the time; that’s the way it is just like the tide, it comes in, and on its way out it takes far out to sea its debris - that something that has been destroyed and broken up!
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Monday, 18 January 2010

A Plague on all our homes!"

During the past two and a bit years the capitalist world has been going through phases of the most server economic crisis. Crises are not, indeed, any new experience for capitalism. Here in the UK, which as we all know was the first country to establish a capitalist system of production, and the consequential system of the distribution of almost all products by means of exchange mediated by money, has experienced many of them. My own best description of them would be, they are like economic earthquakes, and like earthquakes they have devastating consequences, as we have seen in Haiti; many made homeless displaced and lost all worldly processions. Well a real earthquake such as the one in Haiti have claimed much life with  buildings reduced to rubble is no joking mater, but there are similarities in economic earthquakes; in as much as people lose homes, jobs and the means to support themselves. In an economic earthquake for the ordinary family it's impact can be as great as an actual ground-trembler make no mistake! The hole that opens up can take everything, and some have been driven to such dissolute dejection and complete despair that life has been lost. Last year researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London and the University of Oxford examined economic downturns over the past 30 years and concluded that when unemployment rose by 3%, there was a corresponding increase of 4.5% in the number of suicides among people under 65. The medical journal the Lancet,  concluded that people who lose their jobs during a rescission  are at greater risk of suicide – and that for the least well-educated, the risks are even higher.

In a recent post here on this blog we discovered through the comments, that working people are paying the real price when an economic crisis descends;  like a 'Bat from Hell' bringing a plague on all our homes. We have seen and heard much about those amongst us; who have lost homes, jobs and much more bedsides. But lets just consider the plight of our fellow workers in the US where millions have lost their homes and this comment that was posted on this blog two days ago:

"A record 2.82 million homes faced foreclosure foreclosed in 2009, according to RealtyTrac, a web-based firm that tracks and markets foreclosed homes. It is anticipated that at least 3 million more homes will enter foreclosure in 2010.

Last year saw an increase of 21 percent in the number of homes in foreclosure from 2008, in spite of President Barack Obama’s much-vaunted “housing rescue.” In all, 1 in 45 US homes was subject to at least one foreclosure filing, or 2.21 percent of all homes, compared with 1.84 percent in 2008, 1.03 percent in 2007, and 0.58 percent in 2006, according to RealtyTrac’s “Year-End 2009 Foreclosure Market Report.” The report compiles the number of separate homes that received default notices, faced foreclosure auctions, or were repossessed by banks."

The latest foreclosure statistics are indisputable proof that President Obama’s “Making Home Affordable Act,” launched in March, has done nothing to lessen the housing crisis. The $75 billion program offered banks rich incentives to renegotiate payment plans, but ruled out reductions in mortgage principal, or outstanding loan balances. The banks refuse to take any loss on these vastly overvalued loans, and worst still 7 million properties are all going to go back to the banks, and lets face it they always knew that one day they would come to them, as they do time and again, changing hands many times over.

If I were an alien looking in on Earth, and seeing the many being forced to pitch tents up alongside rivers or in parks all over America. I think I would soon come to the conclusion very quickly that this planet and its inharmonious inhabitants are a bit crazy the way they run things, and I'd leave some crop circles and then get the hell out of it!

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Saturday, 16 January 2010

Breaking the frozen ice!

Just for a change and because I've been distracted somewhat with the last post; I offer something different here. The above picture is that of Seals trying to break free from a frozen pool at a nature reserve in north-east China, and as lovely as these endearing creatures are they remind me of the road ahead for the Worlds workers in breaking the frozen ice age of capitalism.
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Picture credit: BBC

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Capitalism or Socialism?

The Socialist Party has organised a public debate for early February between ourselves and Dr Eamonn Butler the Director of the Adam Smith Institute, and the subject under discussion and examination will be Capitalism or Socialism! That's straight forward then, and this is an event that if you live in the London area; you may find it well worth attending irrespective of what organisation you belong to or opinions held; with plenty of time allowed for floor discussion and contributions your take on the situation would be most welcome. To get you in the mood I've reproduced an article from last years Socialist Standard entitled Capitalism is working.

Capitalism is working

The Times (9 March) carried an article by Eamonn Butler, the director of the Adam Smith Institute. Yes, they are still around, even if it might be thought that they would be keeping a low profile these days, given that the pursuit of profit has yet again led to overproduction and a financial and economic crisis, a really big one this time.

Butler began by quoting a speech by an American professor called Boettke at a recent gathering of Mad Marketeers in New York:

“If you bound the arms and legs of gold-medal swimmer Michael Phelps, weighed him down with chains, threw him in a pool and he sank, you wouldn't call it a ‘failure of swimming'. So, when markets have been weighted down by inept and excessive regulation, why call this a ‘failure of capitalism'?”

That depends on what you mean by capitalism. Boettke seems to mean the spontaneous operation of production for profit and the market. But that’s not really capitalism; it’s just a policy that some capitalists (and their paid and unpaid publicists) have favoured at some times.

Capitalism is a system of production for sale on a market with a view to profit. Ideologists such as Butler and Boettke are assuming that there is some irreconcilable conflict between the profit system and government intervention. But there isn’t. Capitalism has never existed without government intervention and never will. For a start, it is based on the exclusion of the majority from the ownership and control of the means of production, which are monopolised by a profit-seeking minority. A state is needed to maintain this exclusion. This has to be paid for, so taxes have to be levied. Capitalists in one country are in competition with capitalists from other countries, and governments have always intervened to help “their” capitalists with tariffs and subsidies and, if need be, by military action.

So, capitalism and the state are not incompatibles. They go together. What is true is that the consensus of capitalist opinion varies at times as to the desirable degree of government intervention. What seems to be annoying the Adam Smith Institute today is that their ideological rivals, the Keynesians, who have no qualms about government intervention in the capitalist economy, are making a come-back because of the present crisis.

“Up to now”, Butler wrote, “the Keynesians have made the running. Greed, they say, has brought down the world economy. Only massive public spending can revive it”. If by “greed” Butler means the pursuit of profits, the Keynesians are not against that, even if they certainly are in favour of trying to spend the way of the crisis. But that’s just an alternative policy for the profit system to the one favoured by the Adam Smith Institute. It’s not a negation of capitalism.

Butler proffers his own explanation for the crisis: “excessive regulation” (of course). This assumes that, without this, the crisis would not have occurred. He rather undermines this approach by concluding his article by saying that “occasional crises are the cost of the prosperity that entrepreneurial capitalism brings”.

So, crises are going to occur anyway, even in his ideal, unregulated capitalist world! And what, without excessive regulation to blame, would they be caused by if not by the pursuit of profits leading to overproduction in some sector in relation to the market, from which the only way out is a crisis to eliminate the lame ducks and the deadwood, as capitalists like to refer to their inefficient colleagues? In this sense, Boettke is right. This and other crises don’t represent the “failure of capitalism”, but capitalism working normally.
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Monday, 11 January 2010

‘Now is the winter of ..." our discontent’

How close are we from a gas blackout and would such an event have dreadful and dire consequences if the coldest winter in 50 years, continued to run on?

This was an unimaginable conceivability a few years ago, but today it’s anyone’s calculation how close we are or have come to running out of the stuff that when we had our own, it was used to pay for the unemployment that Thatcher conceived in the 70s as well as 80s.

Brown say’s we have an enough, and last week he said we still had reserves in the good old North Sea. A child could tell us along with the cod and the haddock that this simply is not the case.

At lunchtime today Britain's reserve of stored gas stood at just six hours as imports from Norway failed to arrive. Last week the National Grid cut off industrial users on interruptible gas contracts to give priority to domestic supply. Big companies such as British Sugar and Vauxhall's car plant at Ellesmere Port were temporarily cut off last Thursday, forcing them to turn to oil-fired generators. Today they issued an appeal for more gas to be pumped to the UK after unusually cold weather led to a shutdown of the Ormen Lange processing centre in the Norwegian Sea, interrupting gas flows to the UK at a time of peak demand.

So what is going on, if it’s not the very obvious; then how about this? The once grate workshop of the world is so dependent to such an extent on imported fuel and energy to meet its industrial and domestic needs! That this will hamper the so-called economic recovery, and Britain’s standing in the capitalist world is underscored and may be looked on unfavourably, good job that when all else fails; we have the City of London the bankers and the moneylenders!
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Dancing on Ice!

This looming (blooming) Friday, I will sign on for the first time since just before Christmas, it will be nice to be in that specialized, familiar and very well known environment of the dole office. I always look forward to the fortnightly chat with my personal adviser, although he is on to my case and probably thinks that I should do more too secure game full employment of a respectful nature.

I am what you could call a challenge; first I do not really want a low paid job or even any employment that makes me the slave to the master. I have no family commitments to speck of and no need for disposable income. I am not work shy or a shirker in fact in my time; I’ve grafted and worked long hours in many different jobs and industries. But things aren’t the same as they were 30 years and more ago when I arrived in London; you could walk around the corner and find a job, or jack a job in one day and start anew the next. But time and the tide have changed much on the beach, and although I feel like a small crap hiding in a rocky pool of water from the nosey searching seagulls up above I’m content with my lot. You have to get your head around a lot of things when you have to live on and manage a monthly budget of £257.20.

This is no easy task, but not imposable, and it brings with it a new discipline. Paying and keeping bills under control is the hardest especially with the winter we are experiencing, fortunately for me I invested in a halogen heater before winters onset and for only £12.50 my rooms are warm and Jack Frost and the gas bill are kept at bay. I only use the gas for cooking and heating hot water. Last winters the costs of gas was crippling and let’s remember that single unemployed persons such as me; don’t receive government winter fuel payments, even when it’s below freezing, but we still have to stay warm.

In many respects, I feel much like a prisoner, very limited, confined in the solitary confinement of the area or neighbourhood in which I live. I consider it to be my good fortune, to own a pushbike, and therefore able to get around London whenever I like or need too, but many of my friends and neighbours are trapped and never get away for years on end. It’s ironic that in Canning Town we are able to watch the aircraft come and go with passengers travailing all over Europe on business or holiday flights without giving them underneath (us) a single thought. However there is one good thing about the location of the city airport though, a monastery tucked away in a very poor rundown housing estate on the other side of the A13 receives every day the sandwiches, pies and cakes that are unsold to distribute with soup amongst those of us with little or no money.

Anybody reading my blog could be forgiven for thinking that I have an obsession with poverty and writing about it. Poverty is all around; it’s never been far away wherever we live in the world, the richest the poorest from one to ten degree’s to zero it’s global. They say that about 22 people have lost their lives here in Britain due to the whether conditions, but spare a thought for fellow workers in the US were a protracted cold spell of freezing temperatures has spelled misery for many, especially in areas unaccustomed and ill-prepared for the frigid conditions. The arctic blast began last weekend and has been blamed for a least seven confirmed deaths. The number is likely far higher, and confirmed deaths can be expected to climb as packed shelters turn away people seeking refuge and communities struggle to provide a warm place for the growing ranks of the homeless.

The freezing weather has placed in sharp relief the devastating social impact of mass unemployment and growing poverty for the US victims of the economic crisis. Households may have a roof over their heads, but have had their utilities shut off due to non-payment. The use of space heaters, fires, candles and other unsafe sources of heating and electricity leaves families vulnerable to house fires, according to the New York Times.

In Kansas City, Missouri, police found the frozen body of a homeless person in an underpass. It is likely the man had been there for days. The Salvation Army and other shelters and charities in the area report a desperate need for donations of hats, gloves and socks for the homeless. What can I say; the supper power that has spent whatever on landing man on the Moon cannot or will not prevent a human being freezing to depth, what an obscenity. In Germany which is nearer home At least 10 homeless people have died as the freezing winter conditions take their toll on the vulnerable. Those who perished were mostly older men sleeping in the open, under bridges, in doorways, and the remains of demolished houses according to the Federal Association for Aid for the Homeless, BAGW. There are fears that more may have died but have not yet been discovered.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

What’s ‘Dogma’ Then?

What’s dogma then? That’s an interesting question intricate and compounded with some considerable conplexity about it.

Wikipedia, say’s that Dogma: “Is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization: it is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from. The term derives from Greek δόγμα "that which seems to one, opinion or belief" and that from δοκέω (dokeo), "to think, to suppose, to imagine". The plural is either dogmas or dogmata, from Greek δόγματα.”


“Dogmata are found in many religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, where they are considered core principles that must be upheld by all followers of that religion. As a fundamental element of religion, the term "dogma" is assigned to those theological tenets which are considered to be well demonstrated, such that their proposed disputation or revision effectively means that a person no longer accepts the given religion as his or her own, or has entered into a period of personal doubt. Dogma is distinguished from theological opinion regarding those things considered less well-known. Dogmata may be clarified and elaborated but not contradicted in novel teachings (e.g., Galatians 1:8-9). Rejection of dogma is considered heresy in certain religions, and may lead to expulsion from the religious group.”

What I’m building up too; is to try and establish what is political dogma; and do we already live in a dogmatic society, were dogma is used in part to sustain its continuation?

This whole consideration is the result of a conversation I had yesterday morning with two friends; during which one friend said that he considered ‘Socialism’ to be a dogma!

I must also say that this friend had spent some years as a member of the SWP, which when I think of dogma in the political sense; they do come to mind and so do the Socialist Party, and others including the BNP.

And when I refer to the Socialist Party, that’s not to confuse that outfit formally, and famously known as Militant with the Socialist Party (SPGB) founded in 1904 and still going strong.

Well I’m a member of the Socialist Party (SPGB) and of course I would be expected to say that about my own party. However the thing is; I’m not selling the party as an organisation that people have to join; never have and never will! I’m a member because it advocates transforming the world from a capitalist advocacy to a Socialist Society of free access to all the worlds’ resources that supports life and its quality thereof, and for all its populations’.

The socialist world will be what we all make it to be?

Everyone has ideas; socialism is about listening and liaising with others in all our common held objectives. Everyone’s ideas and efforts will contribute, for that’s the only way it will work, a real democratic choice, equal voice in the democratic decisions that are taken.

I suppose that there will be those out there; and if they have read thus far, will start to think that I’m now being utopian. And that’s what happens all too often when ether an individual fails to understand and dismiss an argument, they attach a label or tag conveniently, walking away from freethinking openness.

I read a lot about teenage gangs; I think about the gangs that children at school tend to build amongst themselves, all of these, are mirror reflections of society. Children are educated to follow’ and abide by the rules, rules that are made by a few and handed-down by leaders. So what happens is that children sooner or latter start to impersonate the society they are born into, they set up gangs because they think society is run by gangs with leaders, they fight wars with other gangs, because there is always a good, a bad, a wrong and a right. This leads to other unpleasantness; such as bullying and much far worst! Just the other day a friend told me of a fatality outside a nightclub in Canning Town near my home that involved a knife and a gang.

Some political organisations that are about today look like gangs to me. I have already said this on my blog about the ‘Gangs of Westminster’ a few weeks ago and here!

With the general election under starters orders and now on the off’, we will see much, of the various mainstream political parties and there leaders, just like courting peacocks’. The peacock with the best display attracts a harem of peahens with his courtship dance. That’s what comes to mind when I consider the election coming, in fact it’s the breeding season and like peacocks the political leaders choose special places (TV, Radio, Newspapers) to perform their courtship dance and they tend to return to the same location every four or five years. Others may be doing the same thing close by and the workers (peahens) will window-shop—the peacock with the best display and most money wins.

I would say; that people become dogmatic in order to exercise power – over others!

It’s also about quelling descent and promoting unity, to vent feelings; and establish confidence in its advocates and others especially with regard to aims, values, and courses to be taken.

Some modern day dogma has led us to war! Then used to justify the actions taken at a later date.

The whole rotten system is run on the dogma preached and practised by world capitalisms, whether state supported or not. China and the former USSR along with their satellites’ would be an example and lets not forget Cuba or the Latin-American contribution, or otherwise, if you get my drift!

Socialism is not remotely recognisable in any of the above, is my contention here, and I’m not afraid to say so!

Socialism is about a society that is run by all its members, and in all their interests, not the few that will use any means to control and keep their profit system. They control government, judicatory, police and armed services, all of which is used to keep their system in place.

This control is being tested, and has been for some time right around the world. One look at the transformation of police officers on the G20 demonstration in comparison to their predecessors of the 1960s policing a CND march…They look like Robocop.

Of course Robocop is a film of made up science fiction, I think it's fascinating!

Detroit - in the future - is crime ridden, and run by a massive company. The company have developed a huge crime fighting robot, which unfortunately develops a rather dangerous glitch. The company sees a way to get back in favour with the public when a cop called Alex Murphy is killed by a street gang. Murphys body is reconstructed within a steel shell and named Robocop. The Robocop is very successful against criminals, and becomes a target of supervillian Boddicker.

After Omni Consumer Products (OCP) announced that it bought out the Detroit police department, the department decides to go on strike. Alex Murphy, gets transferred from Metro South to the West. He and his partner, Anne Lewis, track down a group of criminals led by Clarence Boddicker. Unfortunately, Murphy was killed by Clarence's gang. Bob Morton, one of OCP's employees, transforms Murphy's corpse into Robocop, to compete with another employee Dick Jones' ED-209. Robocop's tests are successful. Unfortunately, Robocop rediscovers his memories (when he was Alex Murphy), and now knows he has to find and arrest Clarence Boddicker. He realizes that Clarence is working for Bob Morton's competition Dick Jones. Now, Robocop must stop both Clarence and Dick Jones.

 I’m grateful to the Internet Movie Database for the above plot summary.

I think its uncanny this film made in 1987, for around the world, there are solders and cops; who look as if they had just come strait from being supernumeraries on the Robocop film set! But it’s not fancy dress, props and makeup! This is very real; they have the weaponry that I thought way back then in 1987 was so far fetched, to ever become real! Well I was wrong, the police, the cops, they have real convincing machine guns,  seen more often these days on our streets; particularly here in London.

Well I'm trying to look at what might be dogma; and  like falling snow have drifted somewhat, but I'm glad to belong to an organisation that has no leaders, and that is run through and by its members!

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Friday, 8 January 2010

Bitter bite!

I’ve been quite undecided, what exactly should I blog about; there has been lots happening or not happening, the big freeze will be memorable; if we manage to survive its bitter bite!

I’ve noticed less people out on the Streets; Canning Town seems to be depleted of people, most I would think, are just staying in the warm in doors. Not only is it cold, the streets footpaths and roads have become lethal, grave and unsafe. It was only a couple of months ago that the Met Office was predicting a mild winter. Well, the start has been anything but. Thousands of schools are closed across the capital and indeed the whole country has been affected, half the workforce of those currently in employment, failed to turn in to work one day this week, costing the economy millions, not exactly the start that local capitalism was expecting I am sure!
One other illumination; is Gas and how dependent Britain is on foreign suppliers?

Factories and business are brought to a complete ‘Holt’ as supplies are rationed out. It’s so cold that you have to chisel" your dog off the lamppost; is a bit of an exaggeration, but running out of road salt or rubbing more salt into the face of Gordon Brown whilst the plastic facial expression of David Cameron beams down from 700 bill boards and hoardings across the Kingdom.

And what a hoot’ it is, I think it is? Looking at the top High Priests of the Labour Party slug it out; leadership fighting and positioning. You could not make this up; I have to say though; that I am not in the least bothered who leads the Labour Party into the general election, whoever leads or wins the keys to No 10 will not make any difference to us workers, employed or unemployed, retired or even still working. There are differences among the political top contenders, but only on the surface. It’s beginning more than ever, to look presidential, what with Cameron appearing on the poster; he’ has the look of a conman and trickster; but reminds me of some actor caricature say in an episode of Dr. Who, which in fact the last series, screened recently; presented the Master’ as a former UK prime minister, so is Cameron the Master I wonder?

And I see sadly; Christmas trees’ damped; that little joyous atmosphere from Christmas is soon killed off!

I was also thinking wouldn’t Edward "Ed" Samuel Miliband;  make a great Dr. Who? Or maybe not!
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Monday, 4 January 2010

Children are growing up quick!

They say that our children grow-up quick these day’s, in fact the Archbishop of Canterbury had something to say about this over the Christmas period.

Now I learn that children as young as FIVE will be taught how to manage bank accounts and budget.

When I was at school I remember this Teacher banging on about when we would join the Rat Race. I didn’t understand at that time what he was on about; in fact I thought he was on drugs. The years have passed and now I fully appreciate what the Rat Race is and what this particular Teacher was approvingly pointing out.
It’s almost thirty nine years since I walked out of my old school and into the big bad world; and things have changed a great deal in both the world of a child and that of an adult. However one thing remains the same and that’s the role of money and the part it plays in all our lives, through both the possession of it - and the lack of it!

We didn’t hear a great deal about money when we were at school; it wasn’t any part of the curriculum that I recall; then again I spent most of my time gazing out of the windows waiting for the bell indicating it was home time and that sweet release from the day time prison. We paid our dinner money with it and used it to travel from home and back, or at least that’s what we were supposed to do but most times we spent the fare and walked home, but the point is that money was never a topic in any lessons throughout my schooling.

One other thing is that when I got my first ever job, everyone I knew received a pay packet with actual money in side of it; and usually Thursday was traditional for pay day, and for years many of us had no need for such things as bank accounts, when I worked on the Steel Works we collected our wages from a pay station. Then that day arrived when to be able to secure and get employment you had to have a bank account, when that exactly was, I’m not quite sure, some time during the mid to late 80s, but not really that long ago. So we can see the rapidity of change, and with it many other things changed in the way we do and carryout our everyday financial transactions.

This generation is the generation of plastic, or it was up until the credit crunch, if you had a job and regular income, credit was slung at you like an alluring lady of the night. Last year I attended a demonstration organised by the SWP at the Bank of England just to hand out some Socialist Party literature about the financial crises and the governments intervention of quantitative easing, such a lovely term is that and it has entered the vocabulary of words associated with this century, including that of credit crunch, anyhow I was handing out this information to any takers when I entered into this conversation as you do, with a young man, well he was younger than me and I think he worked in the financial circus that is the stock exchange, I would never hold that against him or anyone for that mater, after all we all have to work for our bread and butter and have no real choice but to do so, some jobs are glamorous and clean others are dirty smelly and dangerous, but it’s the only way to get our hands on the money that we need to live on. I once worked on a sewerage works and he worked in the stock exchange, so I’m just wondering who had the dirtiest job then?

Well during my conversation with this young man, he informed me that the credit crunch was the fault of working people; they he said were to blame what with their plasma TVs, cheap holidays and cars all obtained on easy terms and finance, they and they alone had brought the crises on, well I attempted to put him right on a thing or two but he wasn’t having any of it, in fact the conversation turned nasty when he asked me if I wanted a fight with him, I told him that I was old enough to be his dad but he couldn’t possibly be my son; for he wouldn’t be that stupid.

We all come across those who are blind or refuse to see the truth when they are doing better than others, and of course the system that we live under does a good job on the many who just refuse to see the woods for the trees. If we were honest with ourselves; it is through our children’s education that the system survives, teaching them how to conform to serve its interests without question and not their own; more so today than ever before.

Under new Government plans for a personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) curriculum, all pupils aged 5-16 will receive compulsory lessons in "financial literacy".

Children are growing up quick because they are being forced too by the system of profit!
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Sunday, 3 January 2010

Champagne reception to help Jim Fitzpatrick beat off Galloway!

Canary WharfImage via Wikipedia
Well here we are day three of 2010 and may I extend to all visitors and readers of this blog a happy Socialist New Year to one and all.

With that out the way; now lets get down to the brass tacks of political reality, and of course this is the year of the general election, no, that is not the Chinese name for their new year, but the non-event that has already started it’s phony war. I am not going to bother examining in any detail what the main political parties are hawking, as far as this blog is concerned; nothing more than the same old same or in other words a continuation of running the system of capitalism.
We also have the new added attraction; well I say attraction but the reality may be that the planed debates on TV of the leaders may turn many of us voters off; this is of course, besides the party political broadcasts and all the junk mail that will be shoved thought the mail box.

I’ve already received an invitation from the Labour Party to attend a fundraising event organised to finance the campaign of Jim Fitzpatrick the Labour candidate for Poplar and Limehouse who is being challenged for his seat by George Galloway, currently the member for Bethnal Green and Bow. So Fitzpatrick is hosting a Gala Dinner to raise 30 thousand pounds for the election and to help him little, wee  David Miliband the Foreign Secretary will be the guest speaker at the event to be held at the East Winter Gardens, Canary Wharf and as the letter say’s the venue is a beautifully designed glass building offering spectacular night views over an illuminated (light pollution) London skyline. The evening will kick off with a champagne reception; guests will be able to have a photo taken with Miliband and enjoy a three course gala dinner all for £50 with no concessions for the low paid or unemployed.
Well I’ve decided that I will attend this event but not as a participant, but rather to use the opportunity to sell the Socialist Standard and distribute some socialist information in regard to some forthcoming events, It is likely I may be slung off Canary Wharf as it is private property, but nevertheless worth a go!
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