Minimum wage reminder for Somerset's seasonal workers

Somerset County Gazette: Minimum wage reminder for Somerset's seasonal workers Minimum wage reminder for Somerset's seasonal workers

STUDENTS and seasonal staff working over the Christmas holidays are being reminded by HM Revenue and Customs not to accept less than the national minimum wage.

The minimum wage hourly rate for under-18s is £3.72, age 18-20 it is £5.03, and for anyone 21 and over the hourly rate is £6.31.

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7:35pm Sun 29 Dec 13

TauntonMayor says...

Kings Cycle shop try to do this.
Kings Cycle shop try to do this. TauntonMayor

1:06am Mon 30 Dec 13

Somerset.SocialistParty says...

Fight for a living wage!

The cost of living is soaring but real wages for millions of workers, as opposed to the millionaires, have fallen by around 9% in the UK since the financial crash and recession began.

This driving down of wages, alongside draconian government spending cuts, is causing widespread hardship and enduring poverty.

Increasing numbers of working households have to use food banks to feed their families.

Little wonder then that it's dawned on Ed Miliband that raising the poverty pay levels of the minimum wage (£6.31 an hour) may be a vote winner. Around 4.5 million workers are paid less than £7 an hour.

The Labour leader has proposed a "make work pay" deal if Labour wins the next general election. This would raise the minimum wage to the "living wage", an informal benchmark figure, currently set at £8.55 an hour in London and £7.45 an hour in the rest of the country.

Predictably Tory ministers have dismissed this demand accusing Labour of "calling for yet more borrowing and more debt".

They also pointed out that Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, had previously criticised Miliband's policy during the 2010 Labour leadership contest, saying it would require "a substantial extra cost either to the Exchequer or to business".

Business leaders have been more cautious in their comments, not least because under Ed's proposals private firms would be able to claim back about a third of the cost of raising their workers' wages to the living wage, worth up to £1,000.

Moreover, such a scheme would be voluntary, requiring companies to sign up to it. In other words, Labour's pledge amounts to yet more public bailouts to profitable companies.

Even the living wage will only scratch the surface of in-work poverty - not least because of cuts in working hours, a rise in part-time jobs instead of full time work, and zero-hour contracts (see youthfightforjobs.co
m).

Establishment politicians will at best only tinker with capitalism and do little to redistribute company profits to workers' earnings.

Workers must use their collective strength through trade union organisation to fight to compel the bosses into paying a real living wage.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates in next year's local elections, who include Socialist Party members, are pledged to fight for councils to adopt measures to introduce a living wage of £10 an hour and hold those that have already signed up to their word.

"Boris Johnson's increase of 25p on the London Living Wage (LLW) to £8.55 an hour is an insult to hard working Londoners.

"The fact that politicians in London think that this will be enough to live on shows how completely out of touch they are with working class people.

The LLW can be opted-in and out of by employers as they see fit; a paltry 200 employers have signed up to the living wage since it was introduced in 2005. This means that only 11,500 workers actually benefit from it."

Nancy Taaffe, Socialist Party member and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition prospective candidate (www.tusc.org.uk)
Fight for a living wage! The cost of living is soaring but real wages for millions of workers, as opposed to the millionaires, have fallen by around 9% in the UK since the financial crash and recession began. This driving down of wages, alongside draconian government spending cuts, is causing widespread hardship and enduring poverty. Increasing numbers of working households have to use food banks to feed their families. Little wonder then that it's dawned on Ed Miliband that raising the poverty pay levels of the minimum wage (£6.31 an hour) may be a vote winner. Around 4.5 million workers are paid less than £7 an hour. The Labour leader has proposed a "make work pay" deal if Labour wins the next general election. This would raise the minimum wage to the "living wage", an informal benchmark figure, currently set at £8.55 an hour in London and £7.45 an hour in the rest of the country. Predictably Tory ministers have dismissed this demand accusing Labour of "calling for yet more borrowing and more debt". They also pointed out that Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, had previously criticised Miliband's policy during the 2010 Labour leadership contest, saying it would require "a substantial extra cost either to the Exchequer or to business". Business leaders have been more cautious in their comments, not least because under Ed's proposals private firms would be able to claim back about a third of the cost of raising their workers' wages to the living wage, worth up to £1,000. Moreover, such a scheme would be voluntary, requiring companies to sign up to it. In other words, Labour's pledge amounts to yet more public bailouts to profitable companies. Even the living wage will only scratch the surface of in-work poverty - not least because of cuts in working hours, a rise in part-time jobs instead of full time work, and zero-hour contracts (see youthfightforjobs.co m). Establishment politicians will at best only tinker with capitalism and do little to redistribute company profits to workers' earnings. Workers must use their collective strength through trade union organisation to fight to compel the bosses into paying a real living wage. Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates in next year's local elections, who include Socialist Party members, are pledged to fight for councils to adopt measures to introduce a living wage of £10 an hour and hold those that have already signed up to their word. "Boris Johnson's increase of 25p on the London Living Wage (LLW) to £8.55 an hour is an insult to hard working Londoners. "The fact that politicians in London think that this will be enough to live on shows how completely out of touch they are with working class people. The LLW can be opted-in and out of by employers as they see fit; a paltry 200 employers have signed up to the living wage since it was introduced in 2005. This means that only 11,500 workers actually benefit from it." Nancy Taaffe, Socialist Party member and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition prospective candidate (www.tusc.org.uk) Somerset.SocialistParty

1:09am Mon 30 Dec 13

Somerset.SocialistParty says...

Minimum wage?

You might think the point of a minimum wage is to make sure all workers are paid at least enough to afford the very basics.

You'd be wrong. Apart from the fact the measly amount is so pitiful, many are forced to top up their income with benefits to survive, and some employers don't even bother paying this insufficient legal minimum.

Last year the government found that 26,000 workers had been underpaid and were owed compensation - 708 employers were fined. And that's just the ones they found out about!

Don't just get angry... Get organised!!

For more information or to join the Socialist Party, visit: www.socialistparty.o
rg.uk
Minimum wage? You might think the point of a minimum wage is to make sure all workers are paid at least enough to afford the very basics. You'd be wrong. Apart from the fact the measly amount is so pitiful, many are forced to top up their income with benefits to survive, and some employers don't even bother paying this insufficient legal minimum. Last year the government found that 26,000 workers had been underpaid and were owed compensation - 708 employers were fined. And that's just the ones they found out about! Don't just get angry... Get organised!! For more information or to join the Socialist Party, visit: www.socialistparty.o rg.uk Somerset.SocialistParty

1:24pm Mon 30 Dec 13

duckface08 says...

Why do the Socialists think we are in this mess? Could it have anything to do with the previous administration? Some of us have seen socialism at work, remember the USSR no thanks.
Why do the Socialists think we are in this mess? Could it have anything to do with the previous administration? Some of us have seen socialism at work, remember the USSR no thanks. duckface08

2:55pm Mon 30 Dec 13

FreeSpeech? says...

duckface08 wrote:
Why do the Socialists think we are in this mess? Could it have anything to do with the previous administration? Some of us have seen socialism at work, remember the USSR no thanks.
Yes have to agree his comments reek of the old USSR and so does his manipulation of his own feedback, the self adoration of the socialist pleb.
[quote][p][bold]duckface08[/bold] wrote: Why do the Socialists think we are in this mess? Could it have anything to do with the previous administration? Some of us have seen socialism at work, remember the USSR no thanks.[/p][/quote]Yes have to agree his comments reek of the old USSR and so does his manipulation of his own feedback, the self adoration of the socialist pleb. FreeSpeech?

3:58pm Mon 30 Dec 13

Mr Billy O'naire says...

Ha! Minimum wage?.... We billionaires are eroding all your incomes through hiking up your bills and pocketing the proceeds... Hahahahahah! Combined with various pay freezes or below inflation 'increases' we billionaires are having a hoot of a time at your collective expense you crawling little maggot plebs! Got to go now to count the millions that we billionaires made from the recent Royal Mail robber- job......Happy new year plebs - we're all in it together! Hoooooomwhahahahahah
ahahahh!
Ha! Minimum wage?.... We billionaires are eroding all your incomes through hiking up your bills and pocketing the proceeds... Hahahahahah! Combined with various pay freezes or below inflation 'increases' we billionaires are having a hoot of a time at your collective expense you crawling little maggot plebs! Got to go now to count the millions that we billionaires made from the recent Royal Mail robber- job......Happy new year plebs - we're all in it together! Hoooooomwhahahahahah ahahahh! Mr Billy O'naire

3:23pm Tue 31 Dec 13

Somerset,SocialistParty says...

duckface08 wrote:
Why do the Socialists think we are in this mess? Could it have anything to do with the previous administration? Some of us have seen socialism at work, remember the USSR no thanks.
The Russian Revolution took place in October 1917, inspiring revolutions throughout Europe and the rest of the world.

For 70 years the debate about what sort of society had been established in Russia raged among socialists. Despite the collapse of these regimes, the debate goes on -- what was the significance of the Russian Revolution? Does Stalinism inevitably arise from any attempt to establish a socialist society?



The Socialist ran a series of articles in 1999 marking the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. An eyewitness report on the fall of the Berlin Wall begins:


"The November 1989 breaching of the Berlin Wall has come to be seen as a defining moment in world history.

It heralded not only the collapse of the East German Stalinist regime but the end of the Soviet Union and the other regimes which falsely claimed to be socialist."

The Socialist, 5 November 1999.

We also reproduce here a report from Rob Jones in Russia, The rise and fall of the Soviet bureaucracy, with an Introduction by Jane James. Together with What About Russia?, by Pete Dickenson, these articles provide a marvellous background to the writings of Trotsky, co-leader with Lenin of the Russian Revolution, and the leader of the opposition to the Soviet bureaucracy, and update them with the Socialist Party's analysis of these events.

Trotsky’s brilliant In Defence of October examines the causes of the October revolution, and demonstrates its historical justification, despite its subsequent demise. Based on a speech Trotsky delivered in Copenhagen in November 1932, In Defence of October is an inspiring short introduction to the Russian revolution viewed from a Marxist perspective. (Available in a pamphlet from Socialist Books for only 50p.)Trotsky in 1919

By 1937, however, the failure of the Spanish revolution further isolated the Russian revolution, and led to the further consolidation of Stalin’s counter-revolutionar
y regime. In Stalinism and Bolshevism, written in the same year, Trotsky explains how isolation in the economically backward countries of the Soviet Union led to the inevitable overthrow of the genuine socialist ideals of the Russian revolution.

Trotsky

Indeed, the most detailed and demanding of Trotsky's works provided here, Lessons of October (156k) written only shortly after Lenin's death in 1924, issued a serious warning to workers about the mistakes and inadequacies of the clique already forming around Stalin. It obliquely draws lessons from the failure of the German revolution, "a perfectly exceptional revolutionary situation of world historic importance," due in part to the failure of leadership of Stalin himself, which left the Russian revolution isolated.

But it is Trotsky's In Defence of October which is most recommended to the new reader. Trotsky concludes this remarkable explanation of the ideas of Marxism (as developed by Lenin and Trotsky) with the words:


"The historic task of our epoch consists in replacing the uncontrolled play of the market by reasonable planning, in disciplining the forces of production, compelling them to work together in harmony and obediently serve the needs of mankind."

(In Defence of October)

Socialist Party members are always available to discuss any questions you may have about these pamphlets. Why not contact us, email us, or ring the Socialist Party on 020 8988 8777.

www.socialistparty.o
rg.uk
[quote][p][bold]duckface08[/bold] wrote: Why do the Socialists think we are in this mess? Could it have anything to do with the previous administration? Some of us have seen socialism at work, remember the USSR no thanks.[/p][/quote]The Russian Revolution took place in October 1917, inspiring revolutions throughout Europe and the rest of the world. For 70 years the debate about what sort of society had been established in Russia raged among socialists. Despite the collapse of these regimes, the debate goes on -- what was the significance of the Russian Revolution? Does Stalinism inevitably arise from any attempt to establish a socialist society? The Socialist ran a series of articles in 1999 marking the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. An eyewitness report on the fall of the Berlin Wall begins: "The November 1989 breaching of the Berlin Wall has come to be seen as a defining moment in world history. It heralded not only the collapse of the East German Stalinist regime but the end of the Soviet Union and the other regimes which falsely claimed to be socialist." The Socialist, 5 November 1999. We also reproduce here a report from Rob Jones in Russia, The rise and fall of the Soviet bureaucracy, with an Introduction by Jane James. Together with What About Russia?, by Pete Dickenson, these articles provide a marvellous background to the writings of Trotsky, co-leader with Lenin of the Russian Revolution, and the leader of the opposition to the Soviet bureaucracy, and update them with the Socialist Party's analysis of these events. Trotsky’s brilliant In Defence of October examines the causes of the October revolution, and demonstrates its historical justification, despite its subsequent demise. Based on a speech Trotsky delivered in Copenhagen in November 1932, In Defence of October is an inspiring short introduction to the Russian revolution viewed from a Marxist perspective. (Available in a pamphlet from Socialist Books for only 50p.)Trotsky in 1919 By 1937, however, the failure of the Spanish revolution further isolated the Russian revolution, and led to the further consolidation of Stalin’s counter-revolutionar y regime. In Stalinism and Bolshevism, written in the same year, Trotsky explains how isolation in the economically backward countries of the Soviet Union led to the inevitable overthrow of the genuine socialist ideals of the Russian revolution. Trotsky Indeed, the most detailed and demanding of Trotsky's works provided here, Lessons of October (156k) written only shortly after Lenin's death in 1924, issued a serious warning to workers about the mistakes and inadequacies of the clique already forming around Stalin. It obliquely draws lessons from the failure of the German revolution, "a perfectly exceptional revolutionary situation of world historic importance," due in part to the failure of leadership of Stalin himself, which left the Russian revolution isolated. But it is Trotsky's In Defence of October which is most recommended to the new reader. Trotsky concludes this remarkable explanation of the ideas of Marxism (as developed by Lenin and Trotsky) with the words: "The historic task of our epoch consists in replacing the uncontrolled play of the market by reasonable planning, in disciplining the forces of production, compelling them to work together in harmony and obediently serve the needs of mankind." (In Defence of October) Socialist Party members are always available to discuss any questions you may have about these pamphlets. Why not contact us, email us, or ring the Socialist Party on 020 8988 8777. www.socialistparty.o rg.uk Somerset,SocialistParty

3:27pm Tue 31 Dec 13

Somerset,SocialistParty says...

duckface08 wrote:
Why do the Socialists think we are in this mess? Could it have anything to do with the previous administration? Some of us have seen socialism at work, remember the USSR no thanks.
The republication of Leon Trotsky’s marvellous ‘In Defence of the October Revolution’ is very timely. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a whole new industry of babblers and scribblers has sprung up determined to rubbish the accomplishments of the Russian Revolution and dedicated to spreading the lie that Socialism automatically begets dictatorship, poverty and human suffering.

Even second-rate literary dilettantes like Martin Amis have jumped on the bandwaggon. In an intellectually embarrassing attempt to prove that Fascism and Communism are political twins, he rails against Lenin and Trotsky, claiming their policies provided the foundation for the later horrors of Stalinism.

All the usual myths are resurrected in his shabby and incoherent little rant. Trotsky is indicted for being as bloodthirsty and amoral as Stalin. Amis denounces the international left for passing over in silence or seeking to justify the famine in Ukraine in 1932, the infamous show trials when a generation of Bolshevik leaders were tortured and murdered and the Kremlin’s crushing of the Hungarian workers’ rising in 1956.

This is a monstrous slur when extended to Leon Trotsky and the International Left Opposition, as Amis seeks to do. From 1923 when the embryo of Stalinism began to tighten its grip around the neck of the weak and isolated workers’ state, Trotsky courageously undertook what he was later to say was the most important task of his life, that of combating the rise of the bureaucratic machine around Stalin. His supporters were to be hounded, exiled and murdered.

Trotsky

Let a leading Soviet figure from that period eloquently answer Amis’s literary lies. Leopold Trepper, the head of the legendary Soviet spy ring which managed to penetrate the highest echelons of the Nazi leadership and provided key information that decisively changed the course of the second world war, wrote when looking back on the nightmare years of purges and executions:


"But who did protest at that time? Who rose up to voice his outrage?

The Trotskyites can lay claim to this honour. Following the example of their leader, who was rewarded for his obstinacy with the end of an ice axe, they fought Stalinism to the death and they were the only ones that did…..Today, the Trotskyites have a right to accuse those who once howled along with the wolves. Let them not forget, however, that they had the enormous advantage over us of having a coherent political system capable of replacing Stalinism. They had something to cling to in the midst of their profound distress at seeing the revolution betrayed…" (‘The Great Game’ – 1973).

Why do these hired ‘theoreticians’ of capitalism with their perjured pens, feel compelled to keep returning to writing obituaries of the Soviet Union, if it’s so clear that Socialism is obsolete as a theory and bloodily discredited in practice?

Precisely because a new generation of workers and youth are moving into struggle and are looking for an alternative to the waste and madness of the market economy. Capitalism crows at ‘Socialism’s failure’ but remains deafeningly silent about its own diseased system. Wars, environmental catastrophes, persecution and poverty are the norm for millions. Even in the citadel of Imperialism – the United States – hunger still afflicts 10 million households.

Marxism remains the most modern theory of our epoch. It is the only theory which correctly estimates the course of development and can provide workers with the necessary strategy and tactics for challenging and overthrowing capitalism.

Trotsky was fond of stressing that Marxists don’t prepare revolutions, they prepare for revolutions. As he states in his speech:


"No tactical recipes could have called the October revolution into being, if Russia had not carried it within its body. The revolutionary Party in the last analysis can claim only the role of an obstetrician, who is compelled to resort to a Caesarian operation."

‘In Defence of October’ is a robust and startlingly clear explanation and justification of the October revolution. The speech is a condensing of the ideas elaborated in his mammoth 3-volume ‘History of the Russian Revolution’ published early in 1932. Trotsky explains the necessity for and key role of the Bolshevik Party and argues that Lenin’s understanding and clarity were decisive in 1917. He mocks those facile thinkers who try and label the revolution as a mere coup and succinctly elaborates his celebrated theory of Permanent revolution by explaining how in an economically-backwar
d country like pre-1917 Russia, the numerically-small working class could overthrow capitalism before the more advanced German, British or French workers.

Already in exile on the Turkish island of Prinkipo, Trotsky received the invitation to make his speech from Social Democratic students in Copenhagen, capital of Denmark. The Danish government provided him with a visa for just 8 days and insisted that the speech be limited to a historic-scientific elaboration of the question of 1917.

Trotsky agreed and therefore scrupulously abstained from dealing in his speech with the reasons for the rise of Stalinism, limiting himself to a defence of the Russian revolution. For a comprehensive understanding of Trotsky’s critique of Stalinism, readers are advised to study his 1936 book ‘Revolution Betrayed.’

Sailing from Turkey on 14th November 1932, Trotsky was not allowed to disembark while the boat docked at Greek ports, though a pro-Left Opposition demonstration took place at Piraeus and another occurred at night as the boat made its way through the Corinthian canal. All along the canal, cries of "Long live Trotsky" and "Long live the Commune" could be heard from the throats of Greek workers.

Upon arrival at Marseilles, Trotsky was bundled into a car, which never stopped for 8 hours before arriving at Dunkirk where he was thrust onto a boat bound for Denmark.

The speech delivered on 27th November was the first public speech Trotsky had delivered for over 5 years and his first public speech to a western European audience since 1914. It was also to be his last. The dark curtain of Fascism was descending in Germany, while at the same time economic crisis in the western democracies caused the bourgeois politicians to fear Trotsky’s words more than ever. Countries and whole continents slammed their doors on him in a confirmation of the assertion he had made in his 1929 autobiography that the world for him was becoming a "Planet without a visa."

At the same time as highlighting the impressive economic progress made through the planned economy, Trotsky emphasises the challenges still confronting the young Soviet state.


"But in the Soviet Union there is no Socialism as yet. The situation that prevails there is one of transition, full of contradictions, burdened with the heavy inheritance of the past and in addition is under the hostile pressure of the capitalistic states. The October revolution has proclaimed the principles of the new society. The Soviet republic has shown only the first stage of its realisation. Edison’s first lamp was very bad. We must learn how to distinguish the future from the mistakes and faults of the first Socialist construction."

In ‘Revolution Betrayed’ written 4 years later, Trotsky warned that the manacles of Stalinism had all but succeeded in snuffing out the last vestiges of genuine workers’ democracy. A nightmarish totalitarian regime had been established and at its head was the bureaucratic elite around the figure of Stalin, still resting on the planned economy and living off of its produce in a parasitic manner.

Trotsky defined the bureaucracy as a caste and refuted the incorrect assertion that the Stalinists had already transformed themselves into a property-owning class.

He argued that its position was more akin to that of a managing caste, forced to defend the planned economy but committed above all to the maintenance of its control of the state apparatus and to the extension of its rights of ever-greater consumption.

Such a regime was a hybrid, neither a restored capitalist state, nor a healthy workers’ state, but instead a regime characterised by Marxists as a proletarian Bonapartist state. Two scenarios presented themselves given this analysis. Either the working class would carry through a second revolution – a political revolution that would restore workers’ democracy, or the bureaucracy could transform itself into a property-owning class by literally destroying the still-existing, though heavily bureaucratised planned economy through a form of creeping social counter-revolution.

In the 1930s when the principal economic task lay in building gigantic factories and vast hydro-electric plants, then commandism from above and militarisation of huge armies of labour sufficed, though production was up to three times as expensive as in the west.

But the requirements of a developed and modern economy were becoming more complex; a workers’ state needed democracy as a body needs oxygen. Without that it was impossible for bureaucrats in the Kremlin with little knowledge of the costs of production or even the purpose of the commodity being produced, to run 100,000 industrial enterprises, many of which employed over 100,000 workers who produced more than one million separate commodities.

From being a relative fetter, the bureaucracy gradually became an absolute fetter on the further development of production, reflected by the falling graph of GNP growth, which by the end of the 1970s limped along at just 2% per annum.

The potential of the planned economy was caught in the straightjacket of bureaucracy – it is estimated that European Russia had a productivity potential approaching that of the west and in several key areas actually exceeded capitalism’s performance, but under Brezhnev and Gorbachev, fully half of output was wasted. For every act of waste, a case of corruption could be cited. In 1980 the state-auditing agency discovered that a new tractor repair factory, supposedly handling 14,000 tractor motors annually, had never been built.

Perestroika, under Gorbachev was a desperate last fling of the dice as far as the bureaucracy was concerned. While defending the privileges of the Soviet fat-cats who increasingly felt their remoteness from society, Gorbachev leaned on the younger middle layers of skilled technicians and managers, offering them greater incentives to boost production.

Tinkering with symptoms of malaise rather than removing the cause of slowdown (the bureaucracy itself), was to lead to the worst of all worlds. Encouraged by a new openness of debate (glasnost), workers scornfully rounded on the bureaucracy.

Statistics began to pour out revealing the true picture of the retrogressive economic and social policies of Stalinism; between 1975-1985 there was zero growth after taking out oil revenues and vodka sales. 15% of daily production was being lost through alcohol abuse, while in the two decades since 1960, infant mortality rates had risen from 24 per 1000 to 30 per thousand.

The breakdown of the benefits of the planned economy led to cracks within the formerly monolithic bureaucracy in every republic and throughout the eastern European satellite states. Openly pro-capitalist wings began to appear in the late 1980s. The bureaucrat reasoned empirically, just as Trotsky had foresaw he would; if the planned economy can’t deliver anymore, then why not transform myself into a capitalist. The boom of the 1980s in the west dazzled these scoundrels, many of whom as Trotsky had put it, did not need to unload any ideological baggage before reappearing as entrepreneurs with Swiss bank stashes.

The greatest indictment of Stalinism is that when workers finally took to the streets and built barricades, it was not to defend Socialism but to objectively help to clear the ground for capitalist restoration. By its crimes, Stalinism had temporarily thrown back the consciousness of workers in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, summed up by the bitter sign on a banner: ‘72 years on the road to nowhere.’

There is no question that the planned economy raised Russia from centuries-old backwardness. Despite the dead-weight of bureaucracy the achievements are without parallel. In 1913 there were 28,000 doctors in Russia. By 1982 there were 1 million. In 1989 alone 80,000 new inventions were patented – the same figure as in the USA. One third of the entire world’s scientists and engineers are educated and trained in the republics of the former USSR.

Unraveling this apparent paradox and refuting the allegations of those illiterates who seek to besmirch the potential latent in Socialism is a more vital task for Marxists today than at any time since Trotsky spoke to the Danish student youth. Millions of workers in the world seek an alternative to capitalism.

In ‘Marxism in Our Time’ written shortly before his murder, Trotsky put the question clearly:


"As a matter of fact, Marx never said that Socialism could be achieved in a single country and moreover in a backward country…the wonder is that under such exceptionally unfavourable conditions, planned economy has managed to demonstrate its insuperable benefits."

The enemies of Socialism claim that the Bolsheviks’ taking of power stopped the growth of democratic capitalism in Russia, plunging the masses into the long night of civil war, famine, forced collectivization, labour camps and show trials. The same people stay quiet about capitalism’s own ‘triumphs’ – fascism, the Somme, Auschwitz, and Hiroshima.

Elemental movements of the working class have never yet been halted by these finger-wagging critics however. When all other methods of settling class struggle have been exhausted, revolution presents itself as the only way out for the working class.

History did not stop in 1991 with the implosion of the Soviet Union. The idea that capitalism has won a final victory and that Imperialism represents humankind’s highest and final social and economic achievement is either a complacent display of arrogance on the part of those multi-billionaires and their scribes for whom Eden has arrived already, or a comfort-blanket for those who fear the working class and its power and hope that the contagion of revolution will never again affect the masses.

The Russian Revolution remains the greatest event in human history. In the future when the working class has taken power and hunger, prejudice, disease and illiteracy are just obscure words in very old dictionaries, the names of Lenin, Trotsky, Bolshevism and the Russian working class that shook the world will be properly honoured once again.

September 2002

www.socialistparty.o
rg.uk
[quote][p][bold]duckface08[/bold] wrote: Why do the Socialists think we are in this mess? Could it have anything to do with the previous administration? Some of us have seen socialism at work, remember the USSR no thanks.[/p][/quote]The republication of Leon Trotsky’s marvellous ‘In Defence of the October Revolution’ is very timely. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a whole new industry of babblers and scribblers has sprung up determined to rubbish the accomplishments of the Russian Revolution and dedicated to spreading the lie that Socialism automatically begets dictatorship, poverty and human suffering. Even second-rate literary dilettantes like Martin Amis have jumped on the bandwaggon. In an intellectually embarrassing attempt to prove that Fascism and Communism are political twins, he rails against Lenin and Trotsky, claiming their policies provided the foundation for the later horrors of Stalinism. All the usual myths are resurrected in his shabby and incoherent little rant. Trotsky is indicted for being as bloodthirsty and amoral as Stalin. Amis denounces the international left for passing over in silence or seeking to justify the famine in Ukraine in 1932, the infamous show trials when a generation of Bolshevik leaders were tortured and murdered and the Kremlin’s crushing of the Hungarian workers’ rising in 1956. This is a monstrous slur when extended to Leon Trotsky and the International Left Opposition, as Amis seeks to do. From 1923 when the embryo of Stalinism began to tighten its grip around the neck of the weak and isolated workers’ state, Trotsky courageously undertook what he was later to say was the most important task of his life, that of combating the rise of the bureaucratic machine around Stalin. His supporters were to be hounded, exiled and murdered. Trotsky Let a leading Soviet figure from that period eloquently answer Amis’s literary lies. Leopold Trepper, the head of the legendary Soviet spy ring which managed to penetrate the highest echelons of the Nazi leadership and provided key information that decisively changed the course of the second world war, wrote when looking back on the nightmare years of purges and executions: "But who did protest at that time? Who rose up to voice his outrage? The Trotskyites can lay claim to this honour. Following the example of their leader, who was rewarded for his obstinacy with the end of an ice axe, they fought Stalinism to the death and they were the only ones that did…..Today, the Trotskyites have a right to accuse those who once howled along with the wolves. Let them not forget, however, that they had the enormous advantage over us of having a coherent political system capable of replacing Stalinism. They had something to cling to in the midst of their profound distress at seeing the revolution betrayed…" (‘The Great Game’ – 1973). Why do these hired ‘theoreticians’ of capitalism with their perjured pens, feel compelled to keep returning to writing obituaries of the Soviet Union, if it’s so clear that Socialism is obsolete as a theory and bloodily discredited in practice? Precisely because a new generation of workers and youth are moving into struggle and are looking for an alternative to the waste and madness of the market economy. Capitalism crows at ‘Socialism’s failure’ but remains deafeningly silent about its own diseased system. Wars, environmental catastrophes, persecution and poverty are the norm for millions. Even in the citadel of Imperialism – the United States – hunger still afflicts 10 million households. Marxism remains the most modern theory of our epoch. It is the only theory which correctly estimates the course of development and can provide workers with the necessary strategy and tactics for challenging and overthrowing capitalism. Trotsky was fond of stressing that Marxists don’t prepare revolutions, they prepare for revolutions. As he states in his speech: "No tactical recipes could have called the October revolution into being, if Russia had not carried it within its body. The revolutionary Party in the last analysis can claim only the role of an obstetrician, who is compelled to resort to a Caesarian operation." ‘In Defence of October’ is a robust and startlingly clear explanation and justification of the October revolution. The speech is a condensing of the ideas elaborated in his mammoth 3-volume ‘History of the Russian Revolution’ published early in 1932. Trotsky explains the necessity for and key role of the Bolshevik Party and argues that Lenin’s understanding and clarity were decisive in 1917. He mocks those facile thinkers who try and label the revolution as a mere coup and succinctly elaborates his celebrated theory of Permanent revolution by explaining how in an economically-backwar d country like pre-1917 Russia, the numerically-small working class could overthrow capitalism before the more advanced German, British or French workers. Already in exile on the Turkish island of Prinkipo, Trotsky received the invitation to make his speech from Social Democratic students in Copenhagen, capital of Denmark. The Danish government provided him with a visa for just 8 days and insisted that the speech be limited to a historic-scientific elaboration of the question of 1917. Trotsky agreed and therefore scrupulously abstained from dealing in his speech with the reasons for the rise of Stalinism, limiting himself to a defence of the Russian revolution. For a comprehensive understanding of Trotsky’s critique of Stalinism, readers are advised to study his 1936 book ‘Revolution Betrayed.’ Sailing from Turkey on 14th November 1932, Trotsky was not allowed to disembark while the boat docked at Greek ports, though a pro-Left Opposition demonstration took place at Piraeus and another occurred at night as the boat made its way through the Corinthian canal. All along the canal, cries of "Long live Trotsky" and "Long live the Commune" could be heard from the throats of Greek workers. Upon arrival at Marseilles, Trotsky was bundled into a car, which never stopped for 8 hours before arriving at Dunkirk where he was thrust onto a boat bound for Denmark. The speech delivered on 27th November was the first public speech Trotsky had delivered for over 5 years and his first public speech to a western European audience since 1914. It was also to be his last. The dark curtain of Fascism was descending in Germany, while at the same time economic crisis in the western democracies caused the bourgeois politicians to fear Trotsky’s words more than ever. Countries and whole continents slammed their doors on him in a confirmation of the assertion he had made in his 1929 autobiography that the world for him was becoming a "Planet without a visa." At the same time as highlighting the impressive economic progress made through the planned economy, Trotsky emphasises the challenges still confronting the young Soviet state. "But in the Soviet Union there is no Socialism as yet. The situation that prevails there is one of transition, full of contradictions, burdened with the heavy inheritance of the past and in addition is under the hostile pressure of the capitalistic states. The October revolution has proclaimed the principles of the new society. The Soviet republic has shown only the first stage of its realisation. Edison’s first lamp was very bad. We must learn how to distinguish the future from the mistakes and faults of the first Socialist construction." In ‘Revolution Betrayed’ written 4 years later, Trotsky warned that the manacles of Stalinism had all but succeeded in snuffing out the last vestiges of genuine workers’ democracy. A nightmarish totalitarian regime had been established and at its head was the bureaucratic elite around the figure of Stalin, still resting on the planned economy and living off of its produce in a parasitic manner. Trotsky defined the bureaucracy as a caste and refuted the incorrect assertion that the Stalinists had already transformed themselves into a property-owning class. He argued that its position was more akin to that of a managing caste, forced to defend the planned economy but committed above all to the maintenance of its control of the state apparatus and to the extension of its rights of ever-greater consumption. Such a regime was a hybrid, neither a restored capitalist state, nor a healthy workers’ state, but instead a regime characterised by Marxists as a proletarian Bonapartist state. Two scenarios presented themselves given this analysis. Either the working class would carry through a second revolution – a political revolution that would restore workers’ democracy, or the bureaucracy could transform itself into a property-owning class by literally destroying the still-existing, though heavily bureaucratised planned economy through a form of creeping social counter-revolution. In the 1930s when the principal economic task lay in building gigantic factories and vast hydro-electric plants, then commandism from above and militarisation of huge armies of labour sufficed, though production was up to three times as expensive as in the west. But the requirements of a developed and modern economy were becoming more complex; a workers’ state needed democracy as a body needs oxygen. Without that it was impossible for bureaucrats in the Kremlin with little knowledge of the costs of production or even the purpose of the commodity being produced, to run 100,000 industrial enterprises, many of which employed over 100,000 workers who produced more than one million separate commodities. From being a relative fetter, the bureaucracy gradually became an absolute fetter on the further development of production, reflected by the falling graph of GNP growth, which by the end of the 1970s limped along at just 2% per annum. The potential of the planned economy was caught in the straightjacket of bureaucracy – it is estimated that European Russia had a productivity potential approaching that of the west and in several key areas actually exceeded capitalism’s performance, but under Brezhnev and Gorbachev, fully half of output was wasted. For every act of waste, a case of corruption could be cited. In 1980 the state-auditing agency discovered that a new tractor repair factory, supposedly handling 14,000 tractor motors annually, had never been built. Perestroika, under Gorbachev was a desperate last fling of the dice as far as the bureaucracy was concerned. While defending the privileges of the Soviet fat-cats who increasingly felt their remoteness from society, Gorbachev leaned on the younger middle layers of skilled technicians and managers, offering them greater incentives to boost production. Tinkering with symptoms of malaise rather than removing the cause of slowdown (the bureaucracy itself), was to lead to the worst of all worlds. Encouraged by a new openness of debate (glasnost), workers scornfully rounded on the bureaucracy. Statistics began to pour out revealing the true picture of the retrogressive economic and social policies of Stalinism; between 1975-1985 there was zero growth after taking out oil revenues and vodka sales. 15% of daily production was being lost through alcohol abuse, while in the two decades since 1960, infant mortality rates had risen from 24 per 1000 to 30 per thousand. The breakdown of the benefits of the planned economy led to cracks within the formerly monolithic bureaucracy in every republic and throughout the eastern European satellite states. Openly pro-capitalist wings began to appear in the late 1980s. The bureaucrat reasoned empirically, just as Trotsky had foresaw he would; if the planned economy can’t deliver anymore, then why not transform myself into a capitalist. The boom of the 1980s in the west dazzled these scoundrels, many of whom as Trotsky had put it, did not need to unload any ideological baggage before reappearing as entrepreneurs with Swiss bank stashes. The greatest indictment of Stalinism is that when workers finally took to the streets and built barricades, it was not to defend Socialism but to objectively help to clear the ground for capitalist restoration. By its crimes, Stalinism had temporarily thrown back the consciousness of workers in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, summed up by the bitter sign on a banner: ‘72 years on the road to nowhere.’ There is no question that the planned economy raised Russia from centuries-old backwardness. Despite the dead-weight of bureaucracy the achievements are without parallel. In 1913 there were 28,000 doctors in Russia. By 1982 there were 1 million. In 1989 alone 80,000 new inventions were patented – the same figure as in the USA. One third of the entire world’s scientists and engineers are educated and trained in the republics of the former USSR. Unraveling this apparent paradox and refuting the allegations of those illiterates who seek to besmirch the potential latent in Socialism is a more vital task for Marxists today than at any time since Trotsky spoke to the Danish student youth. Millions of workers in the world seek an alternative to capitalism. In ‘Marxism in Our Time’ written shortly before his murder, Trotsky put the question clearly: "As a matter of fact, Marx never said that Socialism could be achieved in a single country and moreover in a backward country…the wonder is that under such exceptionally unfavourable conditions, planned economy has managed to demonstrate its insuperable benefits." The enemies of Socialism claim that the Bolsheviks’ taking of power stopped the growth of democratic capitalism in Russia, plunging the masses into the long night of civil war, famine, forced collectivization, labour camps and show trials. The same people stay quiet about capitalism’s own ‘triumphs’ – fascism, the Somme, Auschwitz, and Hiroshima. Elemental movements of the working class have never yet been halted by these finger-wagging critics however. When all other methods of settling class struggle have been exhausted, revolution presents itself as the only way out for the working class. History did not stop in 1991 with the implosion of the Soviet Union. The idea that capitalism has won a final victory and that Imperialism represents humankind’s highest and final social and economic achievement is either a complacent display of arrogance on the part of those multi-billionaires and their scribes for whom Eden has arrived already, or a comfort-blanket for those who fear the working class and its power and hope that the contagion of revolution will never again affect the masses. The Russian Revolution remains the greatest event in human history. In the future when the working class has taken power and hunger, prejudice, disease and illiteracy are just obscure words in very old dictionaries, the names of Lenin, Trotsky, Bolshevism and the Russian working class that shook the world will be properly honoured once again. September 2002 www.socialistparty.o rg.uk Somerset,SocialistParty

2:23pm Wed 1 Jan 14

duckface08 says...

My My What a lot of brainwashing. If Socialism is so good how come the poorest people in Europe are from previous socialist states Rumania, bulgaria etc. Tells us a lot more than hot air.
My My What a lot of brainwashing. If Socialism is so good how come the poorest people in Europe are from previous socialist states Rumania, bulgaria etc. Tells us a lot more than hot air. duckface08

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