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Monday, 18 August 2014

The long slow death of the great British Pub

I come to you all with sad news. Every eek 10 pubs close in the UK if this trend continues we will not have many pubs left in 10 20 40 years time. This for me is a tragedy. I know some of you may be glad your partners will not be heading out to the pub for much longer but this is a trend and one that is not all together positive. The drinking culture in this country has changed drastically in recent times. The days of a social drink with your friends is dieing off with today’s young people I’m afraid. With many young people growing up going out or staying in just to get drunk not enjoy their drink and socialise and meet people. It’s a speed thing where the faster you get drunk the better for many. For me this is alien. I do like my drink I won’t deny this but for me it’s a social thing. The chance to meet new people talks to regulars and discuss the days news, politics, sport and for me football in particular is a great help for someone who is not naturally a confident person and has lots and lots of friends. I may go out a few times a week to drink and meet people for me its not so much about the drink or the quantity or the alcohol percentage its who I meet and the overall pub experience. I often see it as a place to escape and chill out and I do think this social aspect has been lost in many of today’s drinkers. Much of the decline of the pub trade can be linked to higher taxes, higher rents and cheaper and cheaper drinks that can be brought in supermarkets. For example I can buy a pack of 4 fosters in my local Tesco for £3.50 while in my local pub a brewery owned tenancy I wouldn’t even be able to afford one pint of Fosters. Ok I live in Ware not far from London a fairly affluent area some may say but even around here there is poverty and many surviving on the local food bank and welfare. The disposal income and the amount of cash in their pocket is reducing all the time with the cost of living going up and up and wages standing still and quite often going backwards in many case’s. So what can be done to help pubs and enable the industry to survive and a great British tradition saved?? Well I think there is much that can be done by government in terms of tax breaks. With local councils they can be more helpful in terms of the local rates being looked attend a fairer local rates scheme should be considered. I do think the decline of the British pub coincides with the similar decline of the high street I don’t think this fact can be dismissed. So I will keep loyal to the pubs around my area and the people I know working hard to keep them a place for all. I just find it incredibly sad we are letting the pub trade go to the wall. It’s not too late to save it but a country full of Weatherspoons as cheap as they are is not my ideal scenario. We do still need our local independent pubs big and small they make a town and a city what it is. They should be the vocal point of the community a place for all. Do support your local pub and the local ales which are also on the decline sadly. Let’s reverse this trend and make pubs a cool place to be again where the beer is good and the atmospheres are good and work for all.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Anti semitic feelings on the rise, how this has happened

So a lot of bad feeling is out there right now understandably at what Israel has been doing in the Gaza strip but too many dangerous generalisations have been happening too which need challenging. The main one for me is that Israel is a Jewish state so when attacking Israel a a vocal minority seem to be unable to distinguish between Israel and the Jewish religion and think that Israel is in fact a Jewish state, of course it is not. It’s a dangerous road of thinking its linking the two together to create a myth a agenda I have always found. The idea of a potential Jewish state is viewed by some people (even in Israel) as a positive development. Israel is not a theocracy; however, it is governed by the rule of law as drafted by a democratically elected parliament. It is informed by Jewish values and adheres to many Jewish religious customs (such as holidays), but this is similar to the United States and other nations that are shaped by the Judeo-Christian heritage and also have expressly religious elements (e.g., church-state separation in the U.S. does not preclude the recognition of Christmas as a holiday). Israel has no state religion however, and all faiths enjoy freedom of worship, yet it is attacked for its Jewish character, whereas the Arab states that all have Islam as their official religion are regarded as legitimate. The Jewish people are a nation with a shared origin, religion, culture, language, and history. And why shouldn't the Jewish people have a state? No one suggests that Arabs are not entitled to a nation (and they have not one, but twenty-one) of their own or Swedes or Germans, or that Catholics are not entitled to a state (Vatican City) headed by a theocrat (the Pope). To suggest that Zionism, the nationalist movement of the Jewish people, is the only form of nationalism that is illegitimate is pure bigotry. It is especially ironic that the Jewish nation should be challenged given that Jewish statehood preceded the emergence of most modern nation-states by thousands of years. It is also not unusual that one community should be the majority within a nation and seek to maintain that status. In fact, this is true in nearly every country in the world. Moreover, societies usually reflect the cultural identity of the majority. India and Pakistan were established at the same time as Israel through a violent partition, but no one believes these nations are illegitimate because one is predominantly Hindu and the other has a Muslim majority, or that these nations shouldn't be influenced by those communities (e.g., that cows in India should not be treated as sacred). In the United States, a vigorous debate persists over the boundaries between church and state. Similar discussions regarding "synagogue and state" are ongoing in Israel, with philosophical disagreements over whether Israel can be a Jewish and a democratic state, and practical arguments over Sabbath observance, marriage and divorce laws, and budgets for religious institutions. Nevertheless, most Jews take for granted that Israel is, and must remain, a Jewish state. Arab citizens also understand that Israel is a Jewish state and, while they might prefer that it was not, they have still chosen to live there (nothing prevents Arabs from moving to any of the 180-odd non-Jewish states in the world). Both Jews and Arabs realize that if Jews cease to be a majority in Israel, Israel will no longer have a Jewish character or serve as a haven for persecuted Jews, and that is one of the elements underlying peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The Socialist Way: Israeli military manufactures hope to make a killi...

The Socialist Way: Israeli military manufactures hope to make a killi...: I learnt the other day, and with great interest I must add, that 300 employees of Israel Military Industries, which is currently state...

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Could Boris Johnson be PM one day??

Could Boris Johnson be PM one day?? A terrifying thought no doubt too many of you but today I believe Boris Johnson took his first steps towards this ambition of his. Today Boris announced that he will look to find a seat to stand in for the 2015 general election currently scheduled for next year. This follows years of speculation of if he’d return to Westminster or not. So now we know he will do will just becoming a MP be enough? I suspect not. For a long time now Boris has had this oar around him which has protected him from the criticism levelled at any other Tory. He is just like David Cameron a former Etonian and was good friends with David Cameron during their public schooling days. But would Boris throw all that friendship away to become Tory party leader with a chance of prime minister? I think he would. I think he is a very driven man with lots of ambition and charisma. Let me be honest and lay my cards on the table I hate the Tories and all that they stand for. I cannot stand this current ConDem coalition government and want rid of them ASAP. But I also take an interest in politics in general and have always done so as this blog can testify. But as a bit of a passing interest I do look at what is going on on the other side such as the Tories and the ruling class. As I do feel you got to know your enemy to know how they work as to develop an idea how to defeat them once and for all. So could Boris one day be tory party leader and PM? Why not we do live in exceptional times and despite all the cuts he has pushed through in London he has still managed to regain power and was re elected in 2012 all be it on a reduced majority. He has something which most if not all current tories do not that ability to win when your party brand is toxic and even hindering you. Boris can get away with lots I believe and am a dangerous individual for the working class as a result. Due to his ability to come across as a bafoon to be frank a bit of a clown and is a little entertaining people who would ordinarily be turned off by the views he claims to stand by. But being Boris he can carry it off. I would compare this to the Nigel farage factor that has very little in the way of principles and beliefs but gets away with so much due to being very media savvy and a projecting himself as a guy you could have a reasonable conversation with in your local pub. Of course both Nigel’s and Bore’s politics are not to be supported many that are maybe not tuned in to politics can be won over to their popularism. For Boris this will become increasingly difficult if he is to fulfil his ambition of becoming PM as he will have to agree with things he may have already opposed before as London Mayor. For example if he does which is expected to stand for the Uxbrige and South Rieslip seat which is up for grabs next year he will have to balance his views of opposing a Heathrow expansion with a mixed feeling in the area who more of less are pro expansion due to the fact it provides jobs and a lifeline for the area. Before as London Mayor he was standing for all Londoners if Boris goes for this seat he will have a smaller area of people to stand up for meaning his previous policies may clash with others in this seat. So Boris Johnson will be an interesting figure to watch in the coming years. But most of all we must learn how to expose him far better. Just being a clown may show most people are politically apathetic understandably but we do need to fully explain to people the role of these dangerous people with dangerous ideas which affect us very much in a real way. Boris could become PM one day and this scares me greatly while his image of a funny guy and a likeable chap seems ok now just think what he could do with powers to destroy the NHS and our public services all because we took our eye off the ball thinking he is just a funny guy and we will vote for him because we like his personality. How this will fit with old school conservatives who believed in the traditions of the family and the old days. Boris who has a love child and various mistresses doesn’t really fit in to the old view of the conservative many of their activist base do. But maybe they will look past all that as its Boris who can win for them during troubled times. I am no fan of personality politics but you can’t help commenting on it and recent developments under line that sadly. Let’s do away with personality politics once and for all I say.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Marx and Lenin's views contrasted

Marx and Lenin's views contrasted • Richard Montague | I found this piece online which I found very interesting. Since my days of being a member of the Socialist party which is an authordox trotskyist party I’ve been looking to re assess my views and notably my marxist views. I cant reject marx entirely his economic works are amazing and well wortha read to any socialist I’d say. His 3 volumes of capital not completed fully of course are a joy to read and are a mine of information. I have steered myself away from traditional trotskyism for now and as a result Lenninism too as they are more or less one of the same thing. I’ve taken a step back and looked again at things to things I’ve previously been told and thought again. There were always many questions and quieries I had whilst a trotskyist on various issues such as bourgeois elections and trade union work and their analysis. I felt like trotskyist groups were involved in the workers movement to a point but often talked to themselves and were never wrong in their views. Admitting your wrong in a dignified manner is a position of strength. Not only could many trotskyists I came across were not able to admit they were wrong many wouldn’t even wish to examine if they may have been wrong at all in the first place. Such closed minded attitudes grated with me over time. No one not even Karl Marx can be right on everything. I mean Marx thought we would have socialism far sooner he could not have fore seen the transformations the capitalist class have gone through just to survive it’s a feet in itself. While I don’t agree with all of this article below by Richard Montague it does raise some good points on leninism and its differences with marx’s thought. I do subscribe to the anarchist understanding of trade unions and their role in society but I also subscribe to a lot of Marx’s thought especially when it comes to theory and economic theory notably his theory of the tendancy of the rate of profit to fall being a major if not the most important law of political economy ever to be understood and a key theory into understanding capitalist crisis’s. So here is Richard Montague and his article below: • • Leninism Lenin stood for state capitalism and argued that socialist democracy is in no way inconsistent with the rule and dictatorship of one person. Was Lenin a Marxist? Marx and his co-worker, Engels, consistently argued that socialism (or communism, they used the terms interchangeably) could only evolve out of the political and economic circumstances created by a fully developed capitalism. In other words, production would have to be expanded within capitalism to a point where the potential existed to allow for "each [to take] according to their needs". In turn, this objective condition would have created the basis for a socialist-conscious majority willing to contribute their physical and mental skills voluntarily in the production and distribution of society's needs. With the extension of the suffrage, Marx claimed (in 1872) that the workers might now achieve power in the leading countries of capitalism by peaceful means. Given the fact that socialism will be based on the widest possible human co-operation, it need hardly be said that Marx consistently emphasised that its achievement had to be the work of a majority. Again, given their understanding of the nature of socialist society, Marx and Engels saw socialism essentially in world terms: a global alternative to the system of global capitalism. In the very first sentence of his monumental work, Capital, Marx wrote that "the wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails presents itself as a vast accumulation of commodities". He then went on to define the nature of a commodity in economic terms as an item of real or imagined wealth produced for sale on the market with a view to profit. Marx claimed the wages system was the quintessential instrument of capitalist exploitation of the working class. He urged workers to remove from their banners the conservative slogan of "A fair day's pay for a fair day's work" and to inscribe instead "Abolition of the wages system!" Throughout his writings, he repeats in different form the admonition that "wage labour and capital are two sides of the same coin". Marx considered that nationalisation could be a means of accelerating the development of capitalism but did not support nationalisation as such. On the contrary, he argued that the more the state became involved in taking over areas of production, the more it became the national capitalist. Marx saw the state as the "executive committee" of a ruling class. In a socialist society, he affirmed, the state, as the government of people, would give way to a simple, democratic "administration of things". Marx's vision of a socialist society can be fairly summed up as a world-wide system of social organisation based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by, and in the interests of, the whole community. In other words, a universal classless, wageless and moneyless society wherein human beings would voluntarily contribute in accordance with their mental and/or physical abilities to the production and distribution of the needs of their society and in which everyone would have free and equal access to their needs. Lenin's distortions Post-Czarist Russia was a backward poorly developed and largely feudal country where the industrial proletariat was a relatively small minority. To suggest that Russia could undergo a socialist revolution (as Lenin did in 1917) is a complete denial of the Marxist view of history. Indeed, following the news of the Bolshevik coup, the Socialist Standard (official organ of the Socialist Party of Great Britain) wrote: "Is this huge mass of people, numbering about 160 million and spread over eight and a half million of square miles, ready for Socialism? Are the hunters of the north, the struggling peasant proprietors of the south, the agricultural wage slaves of the Central Provinces and the wage slaves of the towns convinced of the necessity for, and equipped with the knowledge requisite for the establishment of the social ownership of the means of life? Unless a mental revolution such as the world has never seen before has taken place or an economic change immensely more rapidly than history has ever recorded, the answer is 'NO!'"(August 1918). Lenin persistently rejected the view that the working class was capable of achieving socialism without leaders. He argued that trade union consciousness represented the peak of working class consciousness. Socialism, he affirmed, would be achieved by a band of revolutionaries at the head of a discontented but non-socialist-conscious working class. The Bolshevik "revolution" was a classic example of Leninist thinking; in fact it was a coup d'├ętat carried out by professional revolutionaries and based on the populist slogan, "Peace, Land and Bread". Socialism was not on offer, nor could it have been. It is true that Lenin and his Bolsheviks wrongly thought their Russian coup would spark off similar revolts in Western Europe and, especially, in Germany. Not only was this a monumental political error, but it was based on Lenin's erroneous perception of socialism and his belief that his distorted conceptions could be imposed on the working class of Western Europe which was, generally, better politically organised and more sophisticated than the people of Russia. Probably for practical purposes – since no other course was open to them – Lenin and his Bolsheviks could not accept the Marxian view that commodity production was an identifying feature of capitalism. Following the Bolshevik seizure of power, the production of wealth in the form of commodities was the only option open to the misnamed Communist Party. Commodity production continued and was an accepted feature of life in "communist" Russia, just as it is today following the demise of state-capitalism in the Russian empire. Back in 1905 Stalin, in a pamphlet (Socialism or Anarchism), argued the Marxian view that "future society would be . . . wageless . . . classless . . . moneyless", etc. In power the Bolsheviks proliferated the wages system making it an accepted feature of Russian life. Wage differentials, too, were frequently greater than those obtaining in western society. Surplus value, from which the capitalist class derives its income in the form of profit, rent and interest became the basis of the bloated lifestyles of the bureaucracy. A contrasting feature of state-capitalism and "private" capitalism is that, in the latter, the beneficiaries of the exploitation of labour derive their wealth and privilege from the direct ownership of capital whereas, in the former, wealth and privilege were the benefits of political power. There is a wide chasm between the views of Marx and those of Lenin in their understanding of the nature of socialism, of how it would be achieved and of the manner of its administration. Marx sees socialism as the abolition of ownership (implied in the term "common ownership"). His vision is a stateless, classless and moneyless society which, by its nature, could only come to fruition when a conscious majority wanted it and wherein the affairs of the human family would be democratically administered. A form of social organisation in which people would voluntarily contribute their skills and abilities in exchange for the freedom of living in a society that guarantees their needs and wherein the poverty, repression and violence of capitalism would have no place. Lenin's simple definition of socialism is set out in his The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It (September 1917): "Socialism is merely state-capitalist monopoly which is made to serve the whole people". Lenin knew that he was introducing a new definition of socialism here which was not to be found in Marx but claimed that there were two stages after capitalism: socialism (his new definition) and communism (what Marxists had always understood by socialism: a stateless, classless, moneyless, wageless society). However, so new was this definition that other Bolshevik publications of the same period still argued that "socialism is the highest form of social organisation that mankind can achieve". Marx would obviously have concurred with the latter claim but, as has been shown, would have rejected completely the suggestion that socialism had anything to do with nationalisation or that it could be established over the heads of the working class. Obviously Lenin was being consistent with his "nationalisation" theory when, in Left-Wing Childishness (May 1918) he proclaimed the need for state capitalism. It is true, of course, that the situation in Russia left the Bolsheviks no alternative to the development of capitalism under the aegis of the state. The fact is, however, that the concept of state capitalism is wholly consistent with Lenin's misunderstanding of the nature of socialism. State capitalism achieved a permanent place in the Russian economy and Communist Party propaganda exported it as being consistent with the views of Marx. The contrast between Marx and Lenin is demonstrated most strikingly in Lenin's view of the nature and role of the state. Whereas Marx saw the state as a feature of class society that would be used by a politically-conscious working class to bring about the transfer of power and then be abolished, Lenin saw the state as a permanent and vital part of what he perceived as socialism, relegating Marx's abolition of the state to the dim and distant future in communism while in the meantime the state had to be strengthened. The Russian state and its coercive arms became a huge, brutal dictatorship under Lenin, who set the scene for the entry of the dictator, Stalin. That Lenin approved of dictatorship, even that of a single person, was spelt out clearly in a speech he made (On Economic Reconstruction) on the 31 March 1920: "Now we are repeating what was approved by the Central EC two years ago . . . Namely, that the Soviet Socialist Democracy (sic!) is in no way inconsistent with the rule and dictatorship of one person; that the will of a class is at best realised by a Dictator who sometimes will accomplish more by himself and is frequently more needed" (Lenin: Collected Works, Vol. 17, p. 89. First Russian Edition). This statement alone should be enough to convince any impartial student of Marxism that there was no meeting of minds between Marx and Lenin. Russia, after the Bolshevik coup and the establishment of state capitalism became a brutal, totalitarian dictatorship. The fact that that its new ruling class exploited the working class through its political power instead of economic power meant that the workers were denied the protection of independent organisations such as trade unions or political organisations. The western media, particularly oblivious to the implications of communism even as defined sometimes in their dictionaries, frequently drew attention to the poverty of the Russian workers. Conversely, and correctly, it also drew attention to the privileged and opulent lifestyles of the "communist" bosses. The same media, apparently without any sense of contradiction, was telling the public in the western world what the "Communist"-controlled media were telling workers in the Russian empire: that Russia represented the Marxian concept of a "classless" society. The litmus test of the existence of "communism" for western journalists was recognition of the claim, by a state or a political party, that is was either "socialist" or "communist". Similar claims by such states and parties to be "democratic" was never given the slightest credibility. It might be argued that those who rejected the "democratic" claim knew a little about democracy whereas they appear to know nothing whatsoever about socialism. The contradiction between the views of Marx and Lenin set out above relate to fundamental issues. Inevitably, however, they formed the basis for numerous other conflicts of opinion between Marxism and Leninism. In the light of these basic contradictions, it is absurd and dishonest to claim that there is any compatibility between Marx's concept of a free, democratic socialist society and the brutal state capitalism espoused by Lenin. Journalists, especially, should be in no doubt about the interests they serve when they promulgate the lie that Marxism or socialism exists anywhere in the world. Richard Montague

Monday, 4 August 2014

100 years on from WW 1, have we learnt anything?

It was today 100 years ago in 1914 which signaled the start of World War 1 which was to change the face of the world as all wars do. ‘War is organised murder and nothing else....politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising nothing better than legalised mass murder’ Harry Patch, last surviving British soldier from the First World War (who passed away in 2009, aged 111) One hundred years ago World War One (WW1) began, unleashing slaughter on an unprecedented scale. It was dubbed the 'Great War', the 'war to end wars'. For the ten million killed and more than ten million seriously injured it was certainly not great. The battles fought saw some of the bloodiest human slaughter in history. We remember all who lost their lives all those years ago. But sadly war is something which humans are constantly involved in it seems. Never learning the lessons and continuing national antagonisms and feud’s that in allot of cases’ go back years if not decades. So this war which was meant to be the "war to end all wars" was nothing of the sort. As subsequent conflicts have erupted, it is self-evident that it did not mean an end to war. In the current carnage in Syria, 6.5 million people have been internally displaced and a further three million driven into external exile. Human suffering and killing have been repeated again and again since this 'war to end war'. World War One ended one historical era, opened another, and reshaped international and class relations. In its wake, empires collapsed some rapidly, while others took a slower, more inglorious decline. It opened the way for the USA to replace Britain as the world's leading imperialist power. Above all, it acted as the midwife to the greatest event in human history: the Russian revolution in 1917. There, the working class was able to take over the running of society for a time. At the same time, a revolutionary wave engulfed most of Europe. The trigger for the carnage was the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. Yet could this really be the cause of such a global conflict? Although centered in Europe, the war drew in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and, of course, the USA. While the shooting of the archduke may have been the excuse to unleash the dogs of war, the real underlying causes lay elsewhere. The war erupted as a massive struggle in defence of economic interests, markets and political power and prestige. The trigger for the carnage was the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. Yet could this really be the cause of such a global conflict? Although centred in Europe, the war drew in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and, of course, the USA. While the shooting of the archduke may have been the excuse to unleash the dogs of war, the real underlying causes lay elsewhere. The war erupted as a massive struggle in defence of economic interests, markets and political power and prestige. Eventually, this competitive struggle brought the main imperial powers into horrific conflict, as each tried to secure bigger markets or to defend those threatened by emerging powers. If new markets cannot be found, capitalism is driven to a destruction of value in order to begin the productive process anew. The price was to be paid by the working classes of all countries in this power struggle. So today the situation is still largely the same nations competing over markets and market share in the global race. Today the lessons are still not being learnt the leap towards nationalism is still around today. We must always warn against this having solidarity with our fellow workers across the globe is key. Not bowing to support for your nation over others remembering the great phrase that Karl Marx once said in his communist manifesto. The working class have no nation they are linked by a common struggle to over throwing the existing order and to build a more just and fair society based on the needs of the many over the few.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

TUC Side With Bosses To Back Tory Workfare Scheme

Posted on August 2, 2014 by johnny void “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” In an astonishing and genuinely sad day for the trade uni0n movement, the TUC have teamed up with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to issue a statement supporting unpaid work. The TUC have sided with the bosses to sing the praises of the Tory Traineeship programme. This unpaid scheme can involve up to five months full-time work, sometimes for giant profit making companies like BT or Virgin. The placements are used to ‘prepare’ young people to be Apprentices, although there is no guarantee that they will be offered even this at the end of the scheme. Just like Margaret Thatcher’s despised YTS schemes, Traineeships represent a wealth grab by greedy employers. Once companies recognised they had to pay young people whilst they trained – now the tax payer will pick up the tab whilst the worker gets nothing. And just like the YTS programme was used as political cover to strip benefits from 16/17 year olds, Traineeships will be used to undermine social security payments for those under 25. George Osborne has already announced that under 22 year olds who refuse a Traineeship will soon face the prospect of six month’s workfare somewhere else instead. Despite Osborne’s announcement, the TUC say in the statement that Traineeships should be voluntary. As claimants themselves know, very little is voluntary such is the current mass benefit sanctioning culture at the DWP. This doesn’t seem to bother the scabs running the TUC who seem to have decided that Traineeships aren’t workfare, and even if they would rather they were voluntary they appear to back them anyway. This is an appalling attack on not just young unemployed people, but all workers who will see their own wages and conditions undermined by an army of unpaid staff. It is hardly surprising that the CBI are salivating at the prospect of this huge subsidy for business at the expense of the working class. Tory Skills Minister Nick Boles has joined them saying he is ‘delighted’ that the TUC support this scheme. They no doubt dream of a day when they don’t have to pay people under 25 at all. That day may not be far away and that the TUC are helping to bring it closer is as shocking as it is shameful. This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation. Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid