London bus strike:

Workers to stage two 24-hour walkouts in the next weekGettyImages-487281473.jpg1

London bus workers today announced two 24-hour strikes in a row over rosters, including on Bank Holiday Monday when the Notting Hill Carnival takes place.

Members of Unite at bus operator Tower Transit will walk out on Friday and again on Monday after voting by 9-1 to back action.

Unite said around 1,000 drivers, engineers and other workers are involved in the dispute – affecting 28 routes in the capital.

Regional officer Simon McCartney said: “Tower Transit bus workers have reached breaking point over an increasingly belligerent management who have turned their back on constructive consultation and dialogue.

“Instead workers now face the imposition of changes to their rosters leaving them out of pocket and rearranging their family life.

“To add insult to injury, bus workers have also found themselves short changed when doing overtime on a rest day.

“Our members take great pride in keeping London on the move 24 hours a day and deserve better.”

Mike Weston, Transport for London’s director of buses, said: “I’m sorry that some of our customers may face disruption to their usual routes.

“I would advise everyone to check our website for the latest updates and we’ll be working hard to ensure that customers have up to the minute information about which services are affected.

“We’re also encouraging Tower Transit and Unite to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible to avoid disruption to passengers’ journeys.”

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Unite’s community membership scheme:

Community membership

communitybannerUnite’s mission is to organise people to strive for a society that places equality, dignity and respect above all else.

But our union recognises that we can only achieve this if we bring people together from all walks of life.

Even now in the 21st century, too many people in our country are being pushed to the margins of society. They deserve to be heard;No Sanctions logothey too deserve the support to organise collectively.

It is with this in mind that Unite has founded its community membership scheme, making us the leading community trade union in the UK and Ireland.

Unite’s community membership scheme brings together people from across our society. 

Those not in employment are welcomed into the union family, adding another dimension to our strength in thousands of workplaces across the UK and Ireland.

 

Organising and activism are at the centre of strong communities, which is why Unite’s community membership provides a way people can find and use their political voice. Whether it is taking a stand against a service closure or coming together to improve your living environment, as a community member, Unite will be on your side.

These are seriously hard times for ordinary people. Incomes, housing, our health, education and legal services – the very pillars of our society for more than 60 years – are now under assault.

It is only as standing together that we can defend and improve our lives. 

15reasons Community membershipThrough Unite’s community membership we will work with you to make life better; we will give you the platform you need to create a fairer society. Our trade unions are the biggest voluntary group in the UK and Ireland. At 6.5 million strong, we are the Big Society. At Unite we have 1.5 million members – just imagine what you can achieve with them standing by your side?

For information on the scheme send us an email

For more information and to see what benefits Community Membership brings you – providing support, helping you save money and claim your entitlements – click here

Or call the Community membership information line – 0333 240 9798 (calls chargeable at normal landline rates)


Community membership: together we are stronger

– See more at: http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/communitymembership/#sthash.r80ehrMy.dpuf

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Finding Something Magical about Private Ownership and Control of Social Property

Reject Neo-Liberal Ideological Assault

– K.C. Adams –

Ideological pressure on the people from the ruling imperialist elite is constant. Their star performers, one could say their celebrity ideologues, are constantly paraded on television, newspapers, magazines and the Internet.

A common method of the star performers is to present concepts as unchangeable universal values. A concept is repeated as unassailable giving it a mystical or magical quality. In this way the concept becomes a quasi-religious dogma that cannot be analyzed or assessed in itself or in its relation with the material world because it is irrefutable and accepted on faith with the power of the sincerity or celebrity of the personage or state-organized force promoting and repeating it again and again.

A concept is presented as an article of faith, almost divine in nature. As such, it cannot be analyzed in itself or examined in relation to other phenomena. The people are encouraged either to believe and have faith in a concept’s magical powers and the sincerity of the state-sponsored celebrity and accept it without question or oppose it with another article of faith backed by another or competing celebrity ideologue. For the ruling elite, the issue is to have a fight amongst their star performers and their articles of faith, often presented as duelling policy objectives of the cartel political parties or disputes between the left and right wings of the ruling elite. Not allowed is human-centred scientific analysis and thinking, which examines the problems facing the economy, political process and country with objectivity of consideration.

For the ruling elite, the target of the ideological pressure is the working class, the continued seizure of the social wealth workers produce and to promote and maintain class privilege as a necessity of society. To accomplish this they need to convince themselves of the rightness of their ownership and control of social property and to keep the working class from developing its own thinking and theory. The ruling elite are so stuck in outmoded capital-centred thinking that they imagine all problems the economy and politics face can be fixed by reducing the claim of the working people on the social wealth they produce, increasing the amount that flows to the rich and consolidating their class privilege and hold on political power by depriving the working class of its independent organizing, thinking and theory.

An example of a concept that puts ideological pressure on the people is the dogmatic faith of many celebrities in the magical power of private ownership of social property. The concept is presented as a universal value, an assertion that when people own social property directly, they have an interest in its value and tend to take better care of it, in contrast with state ownership where no one cares about the asset or property.

From this mental construct, the celebrity ideologue builds a case for the anti-social offensive, including privatization of public assets and the continued private ownership and control of social wealth and property despite evidence that such ownership and control along with its corresponding aim for private profit give rise to intractable problems and are in contradiction with the social interconnected nature of socialized forces of industrial mass production. The celebrity promotes the mental construct regardless of whether it has anything to do with a problem in the economy or some other issue the people and country are facing. The point is to take people away from viewing the world as it presents itself, as material that can be analyzed in itself and in its relationships with other material within a historical context. The people are meant to marvel at the celebrity ideologue’s brilliant dogma and slick presentation and not analyze and think about the economy for themselves.

Calls for private control and ownership of all public property are meant to destroy public social programs and services so that owners of social wealth can take them over as private enterprise. The new owners of the hospitals, schools and other privatized public property will then increase their claim on social wealth and force people to claim less and to pay for everything in user fees regardless of an individual’s circumstances.

Experience in all countries has shown that private schools and hospitals are too narrow in their aim to guarantee the modern right of health care and education for all. It may sound simplistic, but to guarantee the rights of all, the broad aim must be to guarantee rights and not some other aim to serve narrow private interests. Once the aim is set to guarantee the rights of all, the problem becomes how to fulfil that broad aim in the best possible manner. Once the aim is set to make private profit for a few in contradiction with the broad aim to guarantee the rights of all, the problem becomes how to fulfil the narrow aim.

User fees are now ubiquitous. People are nickel and dimed to death with fees for everything from “road pricing,” bridge tolls, public park fees, education fees, daycare fees, after-school fees for recreation and sports programs, post-secondary education fees, high mass transit prices to park fees etc.

“Fend for yourself” and private charities have supplanted any concept of society, a government of laws, social love and solidarity or resolve to curtail class privilege and monopoly right and guarantee the rights of all. “Might makes right” through the power of social wealth in private hands and state police power to protect and serve class privilege, the status quo and the imperialist system of states.

The ruling elite and their celebrity ideologues deny and trample on the modern principle that people have rights by virtue of being human. They openly call for the suppression of the working class movement and any effort to open a path forward to modern socialized relations of production in conformity with the modern socialized productive forces of industrial mass production. No concrete analyses are allowed in the public domain to explain, deal with and resolve the pressing problems of recurring economic crises and predatory and inter-imperialist wars. The celebrity ideologues spout empty platitudes and calls to arms to serve and protect the class privilege of those who own and control the social wealth the working class produces.

Disappearing the Working Class

For the celebrity ideologues, the actual producers of the social property owned privately or by the state are dismissed or simply not accounted for as important. The “something” owned privately or by the state has no origin, no coming into being through work, no materiality and no historical context wherein the relations of production could be analyzed. The social property owned privately or by the state exists inside their brains as an imaginary concept outside space and time, and that suits the ruling elite just fine because the last thing they want analyzed is the economy and its social class relations in the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. They want the producers of all social property, the working class, to disappear from any discussion of the economy, property, ownership, politics, rights, duties, motivation or relations of production. In capital-centred ideology workers exist only negatively, as costs to social property and a drain on the value that private owners hold so dear, which ironically is the social wealth workers produce through their collective work and which does not exist without them and their work-time on the socialized productive forces.

The celebrity ideologues disappear the working class and present their anti-social concepts with impunity in writing, television and elsewhere because they have the backing of the imperialist state. Their universal eternal values are neither concretized in the material world nor do they exist within a historical context. The ruling elite do not want their mental constructs challenged with an analysis of the world as it presents itself that contradicts the dominant ruling ideology.

In the Fantastic World of the Celebrity Ideologues, the Actual Producers of Social Property Have No Say in Its Ownership or Control or What Motivation or Relations Conform to Modern Social Production

For example, according to the celebrity ideologues’ mental construct, the steelworkers do not care for the productive forces on which they produce steel or the broad steel sector in general, as they do not own the mills or the social wealth they produce, regardless whether the steel mill is owned privately or publicly through the state. According to their dogma, the only people who care for the steel mill are individuals who own the mill, and because of private ownership those individuals, as the celebrity ideologue says “have an interest in its value and tend to take better care of it.”

Is this true? Do those who own the former Stelco mill in Hamilton take better care of it? Is this how today’s world of ownership of social property presents itself or is such thinking really off in some magical world of their own mental construction, spinning ideas out of ideas to suit a preconceived notion? Perhaps they should journey to Hamilton and investigate the private ownership of Stelco during the twenty-first century and analyze and judge scientifically with objectivity of consideration whether the various people who have owned Stelco have had and continue to have an interest in its value and consequently tend to take better care of it or have any interest in the Canadian steel sector and all the factors and infrastructure necessary for it to thrive or at least give it some stability. Broadly speaking, the former owners and now U.S. Steel have had a singular interest to wreck Stelco in ways that serve their narrow private interests and certainly not in ways to take care of and renew it with investments and solve the problems facing the company, steel industry and economy generally.

Every private owner of Stelco has presented its problems in the most self-serving manner to deflect from analyzing and resolving the real problems that require real solutions. The monopoly owners present the problems in two ways both of which are false.

First, they accuse the actual producers, the steelworkers, of claiming too much value from the new value they produce, as present workers in wages and retired workers in pensions. This problem of claims on the value of steel production has nothing to do with the actual production of steel, the organization of the steel industry and its role in the economy. The problem of claims on the new value of production is found in the relations between employer and employee and with the distribution of the new value derived from steel production between the two social forces. A change in how the new value is distributed between the two social forces does not resolve in the present the problems of steel production, the industry generally and its role in the economy. The claims of steelworkers could be reduced to a minimum wage with no pensions or benefits and the problems of the sector would still remain with recurring crises and constant instability.

Secondly, the owners accuse other steel producers in Canada, the U.S. and abroad of producing too much steel and flooding the available markets. One of the reasons U.S. Steel had in buying Stelco in 2007 was to eliminate it as a competitor and to eliminate much of its productive capacity, which it has done. This was done under the plea of too much production of steel everywhere causing prices to fall and leaving steel unsold or mills not producing.

This accusation of too much steel is false and cannot be taken seriously. Where in any country in the world is the need for steel not higher than ever in history and much greater than the capacity to produce steel? Certainly not Canada, where the need for steel is enormous and generally unfilled domestically. What city in Canada does not need steel to house the people, to rebuild manufacturing and infrastructure? The problem is not too much steel or any other social product but the inability of the ruling elite and the market economy to handle the immense productive capacity of socialized industrial mass production. The concern of those who own and control the socialized means of production is not the social product and how it can meet the needs of the people and economy but how to turn the social product into social wealth as money for themselves. Whether the social product is needed or not is irrelevant to the ruling elite only how to turn the social product into social wealth as money in their hands.

The fact that the economy, as presently constituted and divided into social classes with outmoded relations of production, does not have the capability to turn the actual and potential social product into social wealth as money and therefore becomes “too much social product” and “too much capacity to produce social product” is not presented as a problem to be taken up and resolved. Why not, the working people may ask? Because the resolution of the problem entails curtailing monopoly right to control the economy, it entails bringing a different aim and direction to the economy and establishing modern relations of production in conformity with the modern forces of production.

Rather than the current aim of those who own and control competing parts of the economy of turning social product into social wealth as money through the marketplace and squeezing from it the greatest claim possible in increasingly dictatorial, destructive and parasitic ways, the working people are challenged by history to organize and bring into being a new aim.

A new aim for the economy would be to produce social product to meet the needs of the people, economy and society, to harness the full power of the socialized productive forces of industrial mass production to guarantee the rights of all.

A first step in that struggle is to curtail monopoly right of its dictate over the current state of affairs. Free from monopoly dictate, another step is to look at the steel sector and economy as an integral whole with all its diverse but necessary parts from raw material to finished steel product and all the attendant social and material infrastructure functioning together and in harmony with those sectors and enterprises that require steel for the production of means of production or articles of consumption.

Such a step in the steel sector would mean reducing the power of private ownership and investment to one of an annual claim on the total investment determined through a percentage, an average rate of profit, within the price of production. The investment would be separate from the production process and without control over production, prices and the wholesale distribution of the social product. This would require a public authority accountable to the people to oversee production, the determination of prices of production and the apparent domestic demand and wholesale distribution of steel, and its import and export.

Current Private Ownership and Control of Parts of the
Economy Does Not Work

Owners in today’s monopoly-controlled economy are mostly not located where the productive forces exist, and in terms of the investment usually two or three times removed. Except for small and some medium-sized companies, the enterprises of today are not owned directly. They are owned through trusts, holding companies, stocks, bonds and derivatives, and various other enterprises of the financial oligarchy, which together can be characterized as Social Wealth Controlling Funds. (See item “Control and Ownership of Monopolies” detailing the ownership of U.S. Steel in TML Daily, May 5, 2016 available here.

Owners from the financial oligarchy are driven to protect and enlarge the portion of social wealth they own in this and that enterprise, and if this entails destroying particular productive forces, they will oblige. Their goal is not production, enhancing the productive forces or bringing security and stability to the local, regional or national economy but seizing a derivative of production as social wealth in money. Steel as use-value is not their aim. They only want steel as exchange-value,money. Usually the closest an owner from the financial oligarchy gets to the means of production is clipping a dividend coupon, cashing an interest payment or reading a short synopsis of a quarterly financial report.

The ideological construct — when people own something directly, and have an interest in its value, they tend to take better care of it — is misleading in an economy the financial oligarchy dominate. It conjures up a romantic vision of ownership of the material productive forces from the early period of the transition from petty to socialized industrial mass production when a single capitalist owner would sacrifice his own personal life and comfort to put his claim on added-value back into the enterprise he owned. The monopolies of today are privately owned but not usually directly but rather indirectly-owned through Social Wealth Controlling Funds.

Private ownership of monopolies cannot be considered direct in the sense of a small family business. Monopoly ownership presents itself as negative and even destructive in many ways. Monopoly ownership representing private interests comes into contradiction with the interrelated socialized nature of modern productive forces. The problems facing a particular enterprise are related to the economy as a whole and require social solutions not just ones that may appear on the surface to be peculiar to a certain enterprise.

Either the private interests are not interested in social solutions unless they serve their narrow private interests for a claim on social wealth or they are not in a position to enact or enforce social solutions because cooperation amongst competitors and with other broad sectors is lacking. But usually, the solutions to real problems in the economy require restricting monopoly right to serve the public interest, and the financial oligarchy refuses even to discuss such a possibility.

As stated, the aim of the owners of parts of the economy is their claim on social wealth as money, a derivative of social product, and not its production either as goods or services. Their attention and concern is to generate and make the greatest possible claim on social wealth as money including fleecing others without going through the hassle of producing and selling social product. Parasitic schemes to seize already-produced value are now so numerous they dominate the imperialist economy with trillions of dollars changing hands electronically, which does not involve any new production. The parasitism and decay of those who control social wealth constantly encroach on and disrupt the actual production of goods and services. The parasitic schemes are accompanied with pay-the-rich schemes for the monopolies using public funds, including outright grants, loans, waiving of fees and taxes, and public-private-partnerships. Other state-organized programs for the monopolies are guaranteed government contracts for public services, pharmaceuticals, medical and hospital supplies and military and police weapons and even the prison system in the U.S.

The private ownership of monopolies is mostly second or third hand. In the minds of the distant ownership, the actual problems of a local facility are of no consequence; they are left to a hired local executive manager but that manager has no power over major investment or other decisions. The real problems for the financial oligarchy are found in amassing social wealth, mostly as money but also as social property, and empire-building. The private owners are removed from the enterprise they own to the extent that its continued existence through reinvestment of the social wealth workers produce is often rejected because the social wealth is needed elsewhere in the monopoly empire or losses somewhere in their global empire require social wealth from the particular enterprise to be drained away.

Essar Steel Algoma is an example of a local enterprise suffering from problems and losses elsewhere in the Essar Global Fund’s empire, in addition to the problems of the Canadian steel sector. Essar Global’s construction of an iron ore mine nearby in Minnesota has drained billions of dollars from Essar and now is the subject of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy and huge dogfight with a competing U.S. iron ore monopoly Cliffs Natural Resources, which even went so far as to cut off iron pellet supplies to the Algoma steel mill.

The problems at the former Stelco (U.S. Steel Canada) steelworks in the Hamilton region and at Algoma (Essar) Steel in Sault Ste. Marie are not found in the facilities themselves other than they need renewal through reinvestment. The problems are found in the Canadian steel industry itself and its manipulation by global empire-builders to serve their private interests. Canadian steel production and distribution need a national direction to control prices and supply and demand. The problems require broad pro-social solutions serving nation-building but they come into conflict with the narrow private monopoly interests of the ownership groups serving empire-building. The problems need analysis and real solutions across the broad interrelated socialized economy. They cannot be solved by repeating ideological dogma such as “only private owners are interested in the facility.” The dogma serves no useful purpose in solving problems and is outmoded in its essence. Such dogma serves private monopoly interests for empire-building in opposition to nation-building, the working class and the public interest.

In the case at Stelco, steelworkers have worked out various alternatives as solutions to the problems in the steel sector, which do not fit into the dogma of the celebrity ideologues. Importantly, the solutions workers propose arise from the actual producers themselves and their analysis of the concrete conditions. They do not start from pre-conceived dogma but from how the situation at U.S. Steel-controlled Stelco, the steel sector and the interrelated economy presents itself. From there, an analysis and solutions have been developed to open a path forward but the pro-social alternatives of the steelworkers have been denied public space to build public opinion and support, and therein lies an obstacle the working class must overcome.

The prejudices and dogma of the celebrity ideologues, together with the power of the state and mass media, overrule pro-social alternatives that do not fit neatly into their mental constructs. A celebrity ideologue’s dogma can be thrown into any article or TV show to disrupt and stop the development of thinking and analysis of the material world. A recent example is a star professor in Hamilton who denounced as a “publicity stunt” USW Local 1005’s call for a public inquiry into the steel sector and the destructive use of the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act against steelworkers, the public interest and the solving of any problems.

The ruling elite through the state and control of the mass media deny public space for analysis of concrete conditions and discussion of pro-social alternatives. The working class movement is faced with the necessity of building its own media if it hopes to break through the ruling elite’s control and domination of public opinion and the direction of the economy.

State Ownership and Private Ownership

Within the celebrity ideologues’ construct, they often use a straw man to generalize private ownership as superior to state ownership. They contrast private ownership with state ownership but not in itself and in its relation to the social class forces at work — the actual producers of a particular historical context — but abstractly as an assertion without materiality in time and space and without concrete analysis.

They attribute people’s sentiment and motivation towards property and productive forces, although mostly unmentioned, according to whether the state or individuals own the social property. The contrast of ownership and sentiment of certain individuals towards property are presented outside any historical materialism and specifically without any context of relations of production, such as serf and landlord, slave and slave-owner or in the modern context of workers and those who own and control social property, the ruling elite of the financial oligarchy.

What Kind of State Do the Celebrity Ideologues Talk About?

Celebrity ideologues mostly speak in broad terms outside a historical context. They often assert in various ways that when the state owns something, no one has an interest in its value or takes care of it. Is this statement factually correct in today’s world or historically for that matter during other periods of relations of production when different social classes were dominant? Why would a state under the control of a social class build something, if no person or social class cared about its value or bothered to take care of it? What would be the point of building it? The state exists in a specific historical context of social classes, productive forces and relations of production. The state serves a particular social class or classes during its existence generally to assert their domination over another social class or classes and other states or peoples.

The state is the organized force to maintain control and domination of the ruling class during a particular historical period. Members of the ruling class care very deeply about their state and what the state owns and they ensure both human and material resources are mobilized to build and take care of the state and its property and assets. The most important asset of the state is its armed forces and the property and assets of their standing army and reserves. The ruling class cares very deeply about the human and material resources of their armed forces because the military, or police power, is the main weapon to maintain its domination over internal class forces they exploit and against external forces it may want to conquer or from whom it may wish to seize their territory and property.

The U.S. imperialist state claims $650 billion annually from the economy to finance its armed forces, which are stationed throughout the world waging predatory wars to expand its Empire, suppress the nation-building projects of others and plunder their wealth and to compete and collude with others within the imperialist system of states. The U.S. military, spy agencies and police forces are organized to suppress the U.S. working class and prevent it from developing its own nation-building project in opposition to U.S. imperialism.

The U.S. ruling elite care very deeply about their state, in particular the military, to the point they force members of the country, especially the youth, to swear allegiance daily to the military and imperialist state. The ruling elite stage elaborate patriotic exercises to brainwash the youth into becoming cannon fodder in their predatory wars and not question the role of the U.S. state and its institutions as the greatest weapon of the financial oligarchy to perpetuate its violent class rule and suppress the peoples of the world from opening a path forward.

To suggest as the celebrity ideologues do with their mental constructs that no one or social force gives a damn about the U.S. state institutions and enterprises is ridiculous and utterly wrong. First and foremost, the U.S. ruling elite care deeply about their imperialist state and its public enterprises and institutions. They use the power of their state to expand their imperialist system of states throughout the world, to enrich themselves with tribute forced to flow into their coffers and to deprive the peoples everywhere including within the U.S. of their right to build a modern state with socialized relations of production in conformity with the modern conditions of an interrelated socialized economy based on industrial mass production.

The care of the ruling class for state property goes well beyond the military, spy agencies and general police power. For example, the Anglo-Canadian ruling elite at various stages around the end of the nineteenth century and during the twentieth built publicly-owned hydro-electric companies throughout the country. These state-owned enterprises ensured abundant cheap electrical power for modern industrial mass production, commercial development and the expansion of cities. The ruling elite have long considered the Quebec, Ontario, BC and other state-owned hydro companies as excellent in serving their private interests and nation-building. Other examples of state enterprises engaged in nation-building are the post office, national airlines, railroads and all manner of material and social infrastructure.

State Ownership and Control Has Profound Meaning

Celebrity ideologues use the term “state” very loosely and fraudulently. Someone owns and controls the institutions and enterprises of the state. A public authority, representing those who dominate the state, exercises ownership and control over its institutions. The ruling elite derive benefit from those institutions and enterprises. The classic slave-owners of ancient Egypt held great pride in the value their slaves produced for the state such as the pyramids.

Celebrity ideologues suggest that the ruling class of Canada, who own and control the institutions and enterprises of the state as well as their own private property, do not give a damn about their value; that no one cares about the value of the state property. This suggestion flies in the face of the reality that a state represents and defends the interests of particular social classes. The foundation of the Canadian state is the dictatorship of the financial oligarchy over the producers of social wealth and property, the working class. The Canadian state defends and perpetuates the rule of the financial oligarchy, who own and control social wealth and property, and its integration within the U.S.-led imperialist system of states.

The construct of the celebrity ideologues finding something magical in private ownership of social property is aimed in part at disarming the working class in modern Canada who work either for privately-owned or state-owned enterprises. The construct obscures workers’ relationship with those who own and control the workplace and buy workers’ capacity to work.

Whether those in control own the socialized productive force privately or publicly through the imperialist state bears little influence on the relationship of workers with those to whom they sell their capacity to work. The relationship at the place of work is governed by the fundamental laws of the capitalist system where those who own and control social wealth and property are bound within an antagonistic dialectical social relation with those who sell their capacity to work. The social relation capital is a dialectic based on the thesis, those who own and control the socialized productive force working class, exploiting the antithesis, the working class.

The antithesis sells its capacity to work to the thesis as exchange-value, and the thesis consumes the capacity to work as use-value by putting it to work on the socialized productive force it owns and controls either privately or publicly through the state. The new value produced by the use-value of the antithesis working on the socialized productive force owned and controlled by the thesis is greater than the exchange-value paid for the capacity to work of the antithesis. The difference is the added-value, the profit seized by the thesis, those who own and control the productive force, whether privately or publicly through the state such as Canada Post. The social relation capital is held together and kept in place with the dictatorship of the financial oligarchy, the Canadian state and its institutions.

The struggle to control the socialized material productive forces, whether owned privately or publicly through the state, is at the heart of the class battle within the social relation capital between the financial oligarchy and the working class. The struggle is not over private or state ownership of the material productive forces but over which social class within the social relation controls the use-value of the antithesis, the working class, and controls the socialized productive forces on which the antithesis works. For the working class to be victorious in the class struggle to control its capacity to work, its use-value, the working class must break free from the dialectical social relation capitaland emerge as a new working class, a synthesis, in control of the socialized productive forces and its own new state.

All enterprises in modern Canada both private and public consist of social property the working class has produced. The main issue facing the working class is to gain control over the social property it has produced and on which it works and produces new social wealth; to gain the power to deprive the thesis, those who own and control the socialized material productive forces, of its ability to exploit and oppress the antithesis, and through the power to deprive emerge out of the social relation as a synthesis, a new working class with its own state. How to open a path forward to achieve that goal requires great wisdom, organization and powers of analysis, not dogma whether it comes from celebrity ideologues or others.

Workers Do Their Best with the World into which They Are Born

The working class inherits the social relations, means of production, state and thought material of the previous generation. Workers learn through participation in the struggle for production, scientific experimentation and class struggle that something is not right with the country, in particular their relations with their employers. They sell their capacity to work and through their work produce the social wealth and property, the goods and services society needs for its existence yet do not receive in return a guarantee of security and well-being from birth to passing away. The prevailing social relations leave them without a say or control over the socialized productive forces, what they produce and its distribution. The social relations deprive the working class of control over the political, economic and social affairs that directly affect their lives and without the ability to solve society’s many problems and open a path forward. The root issue workers face does not lie with the modern productive forces, whether their means of production are privately or publicly owned, but with the outmoded relations of production that do not conform with the interrelated socialized economy and its productive forces, an absence which deprives the actual producers of control over their means of production, the social product they produce and the ability to harness the power and enormous capacity of socialized industrial mass production to produce effectively without crises and interruption to meet the needs of society and the people and guarantee their security and well-being throughout their lives.

Workers want the best for the productive forces where they work whether privately or publicly owned. They want the public interest served and for nation-building to march forward. But they come up against a financial oligarchy that cares only for its narrow private interests and empire-building within the U.S.-led imperialist system of states.

According to a value construct of the ruling elite, the workers do not care for or value the means of production where they work. For the celebrity ideologues, the only individuals who care about the material productive forces are those who directly own them. Workers in both the private and public sectors would vigorously disagree especially now during the anti-social offensive when monopoly right and empire-building have unleashed extensive wrecking of the productive forces, both public and private, under the reactionary banner of making our monopolies competitive and number one in the world. The truth of the situation is that the working class is blocked in its desire to develop and improve the productive forces and have them work collectively for all the people and general interests of society.

The mental construct of the celebrity ideologues suggests that nurses, teachers, postal workers and others in the public sector could care less about the productive forces where they work, and Canadians generally do not give a damn about their public schools, hospitals and other social property owned by the state.

Most public sector workers would vehemently disagree, such as teachers who point out that their working conditions, which include the buildings and tools of teaching, are the learning conditions of students. Education workers care passionately about the conditions at their workplace. They have been in the forefront of defending the right to education for all at the highest levels against the neoliberal wrecking and attacks, and would like nothing better than to have more control over those conditions to improve them with increased investments.

The financial oligarchy deprive public sector workers from exercising control over the social programs and public services where they work especially how much social wealth should be reinvested in their sectors and how the value they produce should be realized (exchanged) with value produced in other sectors and enterprises in the economy.

Workers in the private sector generally hold this sentiment just as strongly although their situation presents itself differently. The common thread is that workers care very deeply about the productive forces because they are the material basis for their survival and the well-being of the people and society. Without modern socialized means of production the standard of living would be considerably lower. Steelworkers would like nothing better than to have owners of their steelworks, private or public, who actually care in practice about the productive forces and ensure that the facilities are constantly renewed with investments from the social wealth workers produce and that problems in the sector and economy are properly addressed in a broad pro-social manner.

If steelworkers met with these celebrity ideologues, they would tell them and show them with convincing facts that the owners of Stelco and Algoma in today’s world consider the productive facilities and workers as mere pawns to be routinely sacrificed for the greater good of their empire-building and narrow private interests. Those who own and control the steelworks do not value them for their productive capacity in nation-building. If they did, they would defend them as precious assets and ensure they were constantly renewed with investments and do everything possible to solve the problems in the sector and economy generally. They would view the existence of the steelworks and the human factor as critical within the Canadian economy, which means broad interrelated problems such as pricing, supply and demand and the development of the material and social infrastructure are interconnected with the steelworks and all depend on each other for their security and well-being.

In other words, the problems of the steelworks are not private matters affecting the private interests of those who own particular means of production but public matters and social problems affecting the broad economy and nation-building. They must be addressed as public social problems of nation-building and necessary to resolve in the public interest. But those who own and control the steelworks at various times are fixated on their narrow private interests and view the workers and steel competitors as enemies to be crushed. They refuse to recognize the means of production as social property and interrelated with the well-being and stability of the entire economy, with the necessity of the whole being addressed in a broad public way. They refuse to recognize the rights of the human factor without which no modern society can be built and no modern relations of production can be developed, not even any equilibrium in the present within the social relation between the working class and those who own and control the socialized means of production.

The celebrity ideologues want to embroil the working class and its allies in diversionary nonsense over private ownership versus state ownership because such a discussion has nothing to do with the concrete conditions in Canada today, and nothing to do with solving problems in the modern economy and moving nation-building forward. The ruling imperialist elite do not want the working class developing its capacity to analyze the concrete conditions as they present themselves objectively and subjectively. They deprive the working class of its right to enhance its thinking through conscious participation in finding a way forward to complete the transition from petty production, medieval autocracy, and the outmoded social relations to socialized industrial mass production and modern relations of production where the actual producers control production in conformity with the modern socialized conditions, bring stability to the whole overcoming the recurring crises that are a feature of the present transitional period and empower themselves politically in a democracy and state of their own making.

The working class is gaining the capacity and willingness to denounce the nonsense and prejudices of the ruling elite, and in doing so come to depend on its own organizations, wisdom and scientific power of analysis. The dogma of celebrity ideologues and others in the service of those who own and control the socialized means of production is meant to stop the people led by the working class from developing modern theory to guide actions and relations in the modern world of socialized industrial mass production.

The capital-centred thinking exalting private ownership and control of social property leads nowhere and is totally unsuitable in the modern conditions. Modern thinking and theory must be developed that reflects the changed conditions in the way people work and live. The old prejudices and dogmas from the previous era of petty production and autocratic rule play an extremely negative role in today’s world. They must and can be rejected and replaced with a new direction.

Notes

1. Another area of discussion, which celebrity ideologues dismiss with their dogma, would go into the relationship between social responsibility of the state towards its members and the productive forces, and the social duty of the members of society towards the state and its productive forces and the work they must perform to produce and reproduce social wealth and maintain and increase its value. If the productive forces and resources of the country were organized and mobilized to defend the rights of all and their well-being from birth to passing away, the members of that society would gladly and enthusiastically uphold their social responsibility to work to produce the social wealth that serves as the material basis for their rights and well-being. In doing so, the motivation to work would change from one of being forced to sell their capacity to work to survive, to one of work as the necessary factor to guarantee their rights and the rights of all from birth to passing away. This would recognize the necessity to empower the actual producers to control the productive forces and the social wealth they produce and to participate consciously in all aspects of nation-building especially politics.

2. Perhaps the working class should not judge celebrity ideologues so harshly. Maybe what they really mean by saying “when people own something directly, and have an interest in its value, they tend to take better care of it” is that the actual producers, the working class, should own and control the means of production on which they work. In that way, the working class would be both the producers of all social property and those who own and control it. The problem for the working class is how to organize to deprive the financial oligarchy and their flunkies of the power of their prejudices on the people’s thinking and theory, and deprive the ruling imperialist elite of the dictatorship they exercise over the people through ownership and control of social property and the state.

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What are Political Forums talking about?

History, recent history, shows that there are no “external models” for building socialism, though there is a wealth of past experience for us to draw on; us working people have to do it ourselves.

The space for change at this time is much greater than it has been for at least decades. There are great mass movement in the making. These movements are affirming that the problems facing society, including the danger of war, the destruction of the manufacturing base, and the trampling on the rights of all human beings, demand resolution and working people are the force that can bring about change.

The opposition, neo-liberals, the Tories presenting themselves as the “natural party of government”, is at this time particularly weak. It is difficult for any political force to make headway without presenting itself as “leftist”. Potentially this also increases the space for change.

The Marxist-Leninist Party (RCPBML) has its own rich experience in developing a political programme “in step with the times”, in particular the need for “democratic renewal” etc. This consciousness separates us from other political forces

The guideline that both “the end is everything” and “the movement is everything” are wrong.

 

A Perspective from the Point of View of Determining the Future of Society

The starting point  for Political Forums is on the Future of Society.

So the fundamental question is that of what is absent, which is the ability, the power, of the working class and people to control their lives, and generally to determine the future of society and the elements which go to make up that future.

So the most important aim of the programme is to get people together from all walks of life to participate in this discussion. That means that all democratic forces should be approached to participate.

The programme is a programme for all of Britain. This means that in each region, conscious people can be mobilised to participate, who in turn can be mobilised to mobilise others.

The aim then of the Political Forum in each region is both to initiate this discussion and also to discuss the concrete work and practical politics required to ensure the success of the pro-social movements of the people and to remove the blocks to the progress of society.

People can come along and contribute in this context from their own walk of life, to energise the discussion and the Marxist-Leninist Party will be at the disposal of the success of the pro-social movements in the various crucial spheres of life. Participants will all have their vision of a better future, a new direction, which they can present.

The Marxist-Leninist Party will also present crucial elaborations of the modern definitions – on rights, on economics, on ideology, on empowerment, and so on – which it considers are essential for working for a human-centred outlook and a society which embodies this outlook.

We encourage the working class and democratic forces to come along on the basis that this is the 21st century – well into this century – and there has to be a new vision, there is a necessity for change, and to build unity by treating all these visions with respect, embodying social responsibility.

The issue of gaining control over the issues affecting our lives is one of organising to deprive those social forces of the power to deprive the people of their right to control their lives and work.

This is the perspective, but we want conscious participants to building a coherence and consciousness about the path to be opened up in becoming masters of the affairs of state in a human-centred society. Everyone should participate in the work to make the programme of Political Forums a success. Let us unite and chart a new path in the interests of all sections of society!

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Yemen: The Forgotten Front in the ‘War on Terror’

BY ANDREW MURRAY

Andrew Murray: ‘This is a British war as much as a Saudi war’

ForgottenFront564

It is more than 35 years since I first worked alongside Yemeni workers in Britain.  Migrant workers from Yemen have always shown solidarity with the labour movement in Britain and we owe the people of Yemen our solidarity now. Yemen is the forgotten front in the ‘War on Terror’.  The devastation being done to Yemen by the Saudi-led aggression stands comparison with the destruction wrought on Iraq, Syria, Libya and the other countries which have become battlefields in that war.

As many as ten thousand people have been killed, most of them civilians and many children.  Indeed, six children a day are being killed or maimed in the Saudi attacks. Hospitals have been repeatedly targeted and schools have been destroyed, while desperately needed humanitarian aid has been blocked from reaching the people of the country. There are now serious food shortages and millions of people are on the brink of outright famine. The basis of Yemen’s economic life and its social infrastructure are being destroyed.  Its development has been set back a generation or more.

When similar suffering is imposed on the people of Aleppo in Syria there is, rightly, outrage and there are calls for something to be done, for intervention to bring peace. We have seen the moving picture of the little Syrian boy, his face bloodied, in an ambulance.  Yet similar children are being pulled from the rubble every day in Yemen after Saudi airstrikes – using British-made bombs.

Yet the suffering in Yemen is largely swathed in silence.  This is despite, or perhaps because of, the huge British role in the conflict.

It would be no exaggeration to describe this conflict as a British war. Britain has sold over £5 billion-worth of arms to the Saudi dictatorship in recent years.   Those sales include not just bombs but the airplanes being used to drop them. Britain’s role is about more than just munitions.  British military personnel are involved in the criminal Saudi targeting strategy and in the use of drones in the conflict. So this is a war with British planes dropping British bombs on targets chosen by the British military.  It is a British war as much as a Saudi war.

That means that the war crimes being committed – and they have been publicly exposed as such are on the account not just of the aggressors of the Saudi-led coalition, but of the British government too, in particular the successive Foreign Secretaries who have blessed this conflict – William Hague, Phillip Hammond and now Boris Johnson.

This support has its roots in the vast interlocking business relationships that tie the British elite in with the ruling establishments in the Gulf.  This has long been based of course in the exploitation of oil resources but now extends to arms sales and financial and investment ties which make the Gulf despots almost a part of the British establishment. This is hugely profitable to Britain’s rulers.  The debt is paid in political support.

So we see Britain re-establishing a naval base in Bahrain, joining the US military there, going back “east of Suez” for the first time in forty years or more. This despite the Saudi crushing of the democracy movement in Bahrain, which the British government has maintained a “diplomatic silence” about.

We can see it too in the support for the dictatorship in Kuwait and the other oligarchies, commitments which make a mockery of supposed British support for democracy and human rights. But it is above all in backing Saudi Arabia that Britain aligns with the most reactionary force in the Middle East. Not only does the Saudi regime deny its own citizens basic rights; it exports religious sectarianism to the rest of the region (and the whole Muslim world) and this ideology is key to the spread of terrorism, including that of Islamic State.  It opposes any democratic development anywhere in the Arab world too.

But this despotism is a lynch-pin of the Anglo-American order to be imposed on the Middle East.  So full support is given to its aggressive, illegal and sectarian attack on Yemen and its people.

We know as trade unionists that there can be no future under such circumstances.  Indeed, trade unionism in Yemen is doubly prejudiced by the Saudi attack. First, where there are no factories, no economic development, no infrastructure and no work there can be no basis for trade unionism.  And second, the dictatorships of the Gulf do not permit free trade unionism in any case, any more than they allow any other basic liberties.

The TUC has declared against the ‘War on Terror’, and we need to win the understanding that the war against the people of Yemen forms a part of that project. We must demand first of all a cease-fire so that real humanitarian aid, food and medicine can reach the suffering people of Yemen.

Beyond that, we must demand an end to arms sales to the Saudi and other Gulf dictatorships; an end to political support for Saudi aggression and terrorism across the region.

Trade unionists in Britain will be with you in demanding that the British government show real support for democracy and self-determination in Yemen and across the Arab world; and we will be your allies in opposing US and British imperialism.

 

 

 

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Collective action of gig economy workers:

Collective action via social media brings hope to gig economy workers

Campaigners hope Deliveroo couriers’ victory over pay will rally more temporary, self-employed workers to organise

Deliveroo riders
Deliveroo riders protest against the imposition of new pay terms outside the company’s offices in London. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA

Campaigners against low pay are hoping that a victory for Deliveroo couriers this week will encourage further action by gig economy workers. One of the biggest barriers to a repeat, however, is the very nature of the work Britain’s part-time, self-employed army carries out.

Workers at Deliveroo, the online food delivery firm, won a rare victory in seeing off an attempt to force them to sign up to new pay terms. Deliveroo’s change of heart followed several days of protests by its drivers.

The protests, in which more than 100 moped riders and cyclists took to the streets after being told they would have to move from an hourly rate to payment per delivery, marked a new assertiveness among workers in the UK’s so-called gig economy.

Dr Alex Wood, a sociologist at Oxford University who is studying the gig economy and collective action, said the success of the Deliveroo strike could motivate other workers. “One of the most important elements for any action is that they believe there is a chance of it being successful,” he said. “That fact that the workers have got some concessions out of it will inspire other workers to think it is worthwhile.”

The Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh, who has been campaigning for better treatment of low-paid workers, is less optimistic. She said it was hard for those employed in the gig economy – the term for temporary, self-employed work – to organise and agitate for better pay and conditions.

“They are not in the same workplace and there is not the same unity of cause. There is always somebody who will do it if you don’t want to. There is a big role for unions in this area, but they will have to change the way they are working and offer different services,” she said.

Mags Dewhurst, the chair of the couriers and logistics branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) helped the Deliveroo drivers draw up a list of demands. She said she had tried to recruit workers before the recent pay protests, but without much luck.

“The difficulty we faced had been accessing them. How do you reach thousands of people when they are spread around London? I was literally chasing them down the street if I saw a blue jacket.”

Several major trade unions are considering how they can adapt to the fast-growing gig economy. Wood raises the possibility of a move towards something similar to “worker centres” in the US, where volunteers offer resources and advice to those on low pay.

Legal test cases also have a role to play. The GMB union is backing a court case taken by 19 drivers for taxi-hailing app Uber, who say they are employees rather than self-employed. A ruling in their favour could have far-reaching implications for gig economy businesses. The GMB became involved after existing members began working for Uber and asked for advice. The IWGB is backing action by cycle couriers at four firms starting later this year.

Alice Martin, a unions expert at the New Economics Foundation thinktank, said: “Major unions can play a really important role as they have the clout needed to take on these big cases, that strong presence, resources and expertise.”

There are challenges, however, for unions that consider the cost of engaging with self-employed workers in the gig economy to be too high, according to Wood. “There’s a high turnover of people and there’s low market bargaining power. If they go on strike it’s not going to bring the economy to a halt, unlike coal miners or rail workers,” he said.

Social media and digital technology will probably play a key role in low-pay campaigns, he added. “Even amongst the workers who are working around the world from home we find most of them join online social networks through Facebook, forums and blogs,” he said.

“There’s not much formal training in the gig economy so the only way they can make it work for them is to get support from other workers. They need to learn from each other. They’ll find ways to meet up and exchange information. These networks form the basis for people to share dissatisfactions.”

The use of social media has taken employers by surprise. Workers for Deliveroo and the parcel firm Hermes have used closed social media groups to exchange information about things they are unhappy about, and messages about the protests were spread on open Facebook group pages and on Twitter.

Dewhurst said firms’ reliance on digital technology for their business models also laid them open to the possibility of workers’ action.

Although this kind of tech has been designed to isolate individuals and atomise work, deskilling the industry and driving down wages, the very platform it uses to do that is hugely vulnerable to ad-hoc collective action by groups of individuals,” she said.

“It’s now very easy for Deliveroo to hire and fire people, but equally easy for drivers to decide not to work, and when they decide do to it altogether, can garner huge leverage against their would-be employer. All they need to do is log out.”

Whether traditional unions are ready and able to engage with workers in the digital world remains to be seen.

Martin said: “A lot needs to be done in terms of [traditional unions’] digital capacity.” Referring to digital voting, she said: “Traditional unions have found it notoriously hard as some technological changes have to be written into law.”

The TUC has spent several years campaigning for the right to conduct digital ballots, but was only able to win the right to a review of the concept and a pilot scheme in the controversial Trade Union Act brought in this year.

Martin said it was possible new unions and staff-led groups might have to fill the void if traditional unions were unable to.

Dewhurst said the events of the past 10 days were “just a taste of what could happen” when low-paid workers campaign together.

“The biggest problem people face is getting in contact with each other. Once they are in contact and they have decided to work with one voice, they have effectively unionised and the company is screwed,” she said.

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Ken Livingstone: “Britain’s economy needs a radical transformation”

 

Britain’s economy needs a radical transformation – Jeremy Corbyn is the man to deliver this writes Ken Livingstone

It is my strong and long-held belief that what holds back Britain’s economy is a lack of investment, both public and private, which is now running at its lowest level since World War II.

Nearly all economists now agree that investment is not just the most important factor in economic growth, but outweighs all others put together.

This is why, for example, when the Con-Dem coalition first took power and drastically cut back on the last Labour government’s investment spending, it pushed our economy back into recession.

The current crisis was caused by the failure of the private sector to invest and has been extended by the continued refusal to organise an investment recovery.

Under the Tories ideologically driven austerity, productivity growth has stalled since 2007 and wage growth remains low.

Despite Osborne’s targets and wave after wave of cuts that have devastated our communities, the current account deficit remains at near-record levels, while borrowing by government and households is also rising.

While in many areas the current Tory austerity is a particularly unfair and brutal novelty, what it rests on in terms of economic policy is not.

For far too long, since Thatcher’s election in 1979, we have seen deep structural problems in our economy. Manufacturing decline has been caused by a lack of investment. We see low productivity, geographical imbalances, the shackling of trade unions and in recent years an ever-increasing growth in insecure working and low pay, as illustrated by the explosion in zero-hours contracts. These have survived successive governments.

With Theresa May appointing a clearly Thatcherite Cabinet, it’s important to remember that while the Tories constantly say Thatcher’s economic strategy saved Britain, when she died The Economist, which devoted six pages to her record, did not mention growth in the economy or investment.

We were told that breaking the power of the unions, cutting taxes for the wealthiest and big corporations and deregulating the banks would unleash a wave of investment and growth.

But in the 30 years following Thatcher’s election the British economy only grew at two-thirds of the rate it did in the 30 years before Thatcher came to power.

The euphoria when Tony Blair defeated the Tories soon evaporated as he continued Margaret Thatcher’s economic policies of prioritising the banks and ignoring our manufacturing and working-class communities. Whilst much was achieved by the Labour Government, a chance for a new ‘1945 moment’ was missed.

Today, of course, even after the economic shockwaves caused by the EU Referendum vote, the Tories simply have not learnt these economic lessons. In George Osborne’s last Budget he sought to target government investment for cuts alongside day-to-day spending. And still, the Tories are not listening to the growing coalition of voices — from the experts at the IMF and OECD to our trade unions — that even before the EU Referendum were saying government investment is needed to navigate the choppy waters ahead.

In contrast to the Tory government, Jeremy Corbyn is the only major national party political leader who fully grasps this key issue and the need for a radical change of direction from neo-liberalism. That is what makes his re-election as Labour leader so important – Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow chancellor John McDonnell understand that the productivity problems Britain faces are a product of a chronic lack of long-term investment, and that the reversal of this is now what is needed to deliver both sustainable growth and social justice following the EU referendum result.

This is shown clearly in Jeremy’s 10 pledges to rebuild and transform Britain that our the foundation of his campaign to be re-elected Labour leader, where he commits to “full employment and an economy that works for all.”

His plan commits to creating a million good-quality jobs, all across the regions and nations of Britain, and seeks to guarantee a decent job for all.

He specifically commits to new investment spending of £500 billion in infrastructure, manufacturing and new industries backed up by a publicly owned national investment bank.

He explains that this is the route to a “high-skilled, high-tech, low-carbon economy that ends austerity and leaves no-one and nowhere left behind.” He also committed to investing in the high-speed broadband, energy, transport and homes that “our country needs and allow good businesses to thrive.”

Other parts of the pledges included a welcome commitment build a million new homes in five years, with at least half a million council homes, through the aforementioned public investment strategy and, crucially, a commitment to accelerate the much-needed transition to a low-carbon economy, using the national investment bank to invest in public and community-owned renewable energy.

This is key reason Labour needs to keep Corbyn – he and his leadership team understand the fundamental problems facing the British economy and have a clear, coherent alternative that can both restore Labour’s economic credibility and transform our economy into one that works for the 99 per cent rather than the 1 per cent.

What makes me angry about austerity Britain today is that my generation is the luckiest in human history.

Born into post-war Britain’s welfare state we all got a job, healthcare, free education and help to buy our homes or pay our rents.

I want my children and grandchildren to have the same opportunities we had.

Because he gets the need for a real alternative economic strategy, I believe Jeremy Corbyn is the best chance to achieve that and take Labour back to Downing Street and transform Britain — let’s keep Corbyn and take the fight to the Tories.

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