Thursday, April 18, 2013

Controlling Democracy

Where there is democracy, there is inevitability insecurity for the capitalist class. True democracy places power with people and in such circumstances the few who hold power become threatened. The “threats” to elite interests from the possibility of true democracy has always required to be neutralised by “social engineering” through educational institutions, religious and philanthropic foundations, public relations and advertising agencies and , of course all the various means of mass media, press, radio, tv and film. Political, economic, and cultural agencies all sought to defend the principle of privilege. All have been used to protect the power of the wealthy from the potential of popular democracy. Yet the threat of democracy has remained a constant, persistent and pervasive.

Is it a surprise that the Robber Barons, the Carnegies and the Rockefellers of the world, endowed educational departments that chose to study the 'social questions' of their time and subsequently, promoted reformist solutions that did not threaten the capitalistic nature of the social order, such as promoting “company unions” over “autonomous unions” undermining the freedom of labour to organise and oppose the social order as a whole.

After what became known as the 1914 Ludlow Massacre where women and children were murdered by hired guns of the Rockefeller-owned Colorado Fuel & Iron Company, the Congressional Walsh Commission set up to investigate the slaughter published the Manly Report concluded that the Rockefeller “charitable" foundations were so “grave a menace” to society, that “it would be desirable to recommend their abolition.” The Commission’s founder, Frank P. Walsh, explained: “...the creation of the Rockefeller and other foundations was the beginning of an effort to perpetuate the present position of predatory wealth through the corruption of sources of public information...”

They were attempts to undertake “damage control” for the Rockefellers and cultivate allies. Through the educational system, the social sciences, philanthropic foundations, public relations, advertising, marketing, and the media, At he capitalist class of the world developed a unique and complex system of social control and propaganda .

Monday, April 15, 2013

FIFA and Zionism

“FIFA strongly condemns all forms of racism in football, and any form of discrimination will not be tolerated and will receive a strong response by the relevant FIFA authorities”

In June, Israel will host the European Under-20 football championship.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Labor Theory of Value

One concept that is completely absurd is that of the “cheated employer,” who is “taken advantage of and swindled” by his employees. It comes in many versions but they all contain the same basic formula: The boss is just an honest person, trying to get by in this crazy dog-eat-dog business world, but they are being cheated by the laziness and sometimes downright theft of their employees. Those mooching workers are protected by the union , so the poor, victimized suffering boss is forced to endure the abuse and extortion of the lazy union workers.

Everything the capitalist does, from the axing of jobs, the shutdown of industries and the out-sourcing of labor to the passing of strict draconian labor laws against the workers are based on this myth of the “exploited boss.”

Marxists hold that all profit is produced by labour. This is called the theory of surplus value. So if all profit in any business is produced by labour, what right has any bourgeoisie to claim that they are “being cheated,” let alone lay any claim to said profit in the first place?

There is another widespread popular myth that the capitalists are entitled to their compensation, as well as the value of other peoples’ labor, simply because they take “risks” or because they come up with original ideas for production of goods. Who takes more risks—the worker or the capitalist? The capitalist is someone who has capital, at least enough to invest in some industry or business. After all, this is what we are speaking of when we speak about capitalists taking risks—they invest in some business or industry with the hopes of getting a high return on their investment. Recent events have shown us how wonderfully this system works, but let’s ignore that for a moment. What happens when the capitalist takes a risk and loses? Most likely, he/she will not lose everything unless they have been very foolish with their money and careless with their investments. Even if that should happen, what is the absolute worst that could occur? They will have to work for a living, like everyone else. What a calamity!

Now what about the worker’s risk? The worker is already forced into a life-or-death situation, as working people have no means of subsistence other than their ability to work. They are forced by necessity to work for the capitalist by his or her conditions in order to be paid money to live. Thus for many men, women and even children, the worker may often be risking physical injury, disease or death. Millions of workers worldwide are forced to risk their health and life by working long hours under extremely dangerous conditions such as exposure to toxic fumes, heavy machinery, unsafe structures and so on.

As if that wasn’t enough, the worker is also taking a risk when they trust that the company they work for isn’t going to go belly-up within a short time, putting them back out on the street. This is especially devastating in these days when unemployment is very high. Workers may have to relocate and disrupt their lives just to find a decent job. When they are laid off soon after relocating, all their plans are shattered. The capitalist by stark contrast, risks at most being reduced to the state of the worker. Clearly, the worker risks far more, and yet their compensation is far less than that of the capitalist, thus dispelling the idea that risk entitles one to wealth.

Capital, in a capitalist system, is generally accumulated via surplus value; that is the exploitation of workers’ labor. Moreover, what about those capitalists who make wise investments, searching for investments which will guarantee profitable returns? Should they be penalized or taxed in some way for not making risky investments? But how are investments risky when the richest capitalists can trust the governments they control to bail them out if they should fail? Those banks and companies which invested their money weren’t risking anything at all, since the government promptly compensated them for their failure at the expense of the public. Explaining that a capitalist deserves to profit off of others’ labor because he allegedly takes a risk simply does not stand up to scrutiny.

You’ll hear employers and politicians, even union leaders argue for fair days pay for a fair days work. The labour market works this way; employers have capital and are in need of workers to manufacture their products and provide service. Those who seek to be hired, seek an opportunity to sell their only “commodity” their labour power. This seems like it could be a fair trade, yet workers continue to demand fairer wages, and the capitalists continue to make higher and higher profits while they refuse these demands. How can this be?

The capitalist invests a certain amount of money to hire the worker $56 for 8 hours of work, a wage of $7 dollars an hour. However, the value of the product of this labor will net his boss $200. So is this extra $144 the work of magic? Of course not. The Marxist Labor Theory of Value explains that value is created by labor power. The amount of spent labor power is measured in time, therefore the value of a commodity is determined by the time necessary to produce it. This means that the value of the worker’s labor power can be measured in the amount of goods and, thus, money he needs to keep himself alive and going, to maintain and restore his ability to work after a long day on the job. Therefore the capitalist is compelled to pay him the bare minimum wage needed for survival (sometimes more, sometimes less), $56 in this example, yet the ratio of the amount needed for the basic maintenance of the worker to the hours needed to earn this much is unlimited. Essentially, the capitalist is able to extract more hours from workers while only compensating them to a minimum and reaping the larger part of the value created by the worker.

In our example, the worker would only need to work for approximately 2 hours and 14 minutes to produce a value of $56, but the capitalist hired the worker for a certain period of time, 8 hours here, and during this time all value produced belongs to the capitalist. The workers are paid not for their labor, but for using their labor power to perform work for the capitalist, and they do so with his means of production. The moment they start working, the product of their labor belongs to their employer, no matter if less (which would most likely get the worker fired) value or more value is produced in that period of time than is embodied in the money the workers have received.

This additional, unpaid labor, is called surplus labor and the value it produces without the worker being compensated for it is called surplus value. The extraction of surplus value from the working class is the basis of the capitalist system. Every capitalist’s goal is to extract as much surplus value as possible as it is the basis of their profit. The only way to press more and more surplus labor from a worker is to either reduce the time he works, to gain capital through investment and/or to increase the time the worker works “for free,” without receiving any payment. To put it bluntly: the higher the wages are for workers, the lesser the profit for the capitalists, and vice versa.

So are fair wages possible under capitalism? Can a worker receive the full equivalent of the work he performs in a capitalist society? The answer is no; it is entirely impossible as it would leave no surplus value and thus no profits for the capitalist class, and thus render their existence impossible. It would become obvious that they are superfluous parasites, feeding off of the blood and sweat of the working people and living on the unpaid labor of others. The wealth of a selected minority is based on the exploitation of the majority’s hard work. To expect fair wages under this system is like expecting the abolition of slavery in a slaveholder society, as Marx points out. The moment the slaves are freed, we can no longer speak of a slaveholder society; the moment the working class receives the full value it produced, our society has ceased to be capitalist.
The labor theory of value is an essential concept in a Marxist understanding of the world.Without workers and their labor power, there can be no production. Without people working to build and manufacture goods, to extract natural resources, to transport them and to facilitate their use, value is impossible to realize.The “invisible hand of the market” can’t build things, cannot mine coal or run machinery or drive trucks. Yet, we are supposed to see it as the chief decider of value, as if labor could be removed from the situation effectively. Labor is, and always will be, the key to unlocking the wealth of nature.
So always remember this, if you produce goods or services worth thirty dollars, and the boss pays you ten; it is you who is getting cheated, and don’t ever forget it!

Saturday, April 06, 2013

the dream is over

Cuba was once a Spanish-ruled sugar plantation economy, with a largely black workforce, until the Spanish-American War of 1898. Slavery had only been abolished a decade earlier by means of a royal decree issued by the Spanish King in 1886. After independence in 1902 little changed. The population of African descent remained at the bottom of the economic and political ladder and whites at the top, with Mulattoes (of mixed European and African lineage) in between. Cuba's history of racism originated with the colonial Spanish settlers and their subordinated African slaves.
In1891 Cuban author and independence fighter José Martí stated that there is no racism in Cuba because there are no races. He argued that Cuban unity and identity depended on all Cubans identifying as Cubans, instead of racially. White Cubans have often cited Martí's position subsuming race to national unity as an argument that racism is not an issue in Cuba because "we are all Cubans." But the legacy of slavery lingered, and was exacerbated by Cuba's semi-colonial status under U.S. hegemony. Interactions with wealthy, white, prejudiced visitors from the U.S. contributed to social and economic divisions along racial lines. Afro-Cubans endured segregated facilities, discrimination under the guise of eugenics, and  blatant racism at the hands of groups as extreme as the Ku Klux Klan Kubano.
The Castro government achieved more for blacks in fifty years than previous administrations had in the last 400 years. He passed policies to desegregate beaches, parks, work sites and social clubs. He outlawed all forms of legal and overt discrimination, including discrimination in employment and education. Three years into his rule, Fidel Castro declared that the Revolution had eliminated racism, making any further discussion of racial inequalities a taboo subject.

"Racism in Cuba has been concealed and reinforced in part because it isn't talked about. The government hasn't allowed racial prejudice to be debated or confronted politically or culturally, often pretending instead as though it didn't exist" explained Roberto Zurbano

Castro’s policies only addressed issues of unequal access without changing structural biases underlying society. With a new wave of economic changes affecting the country, race and racism are once again becoming important issues in Cuba.

Cuba has now in many ways reverted to what it was prior to the revolution. The country now allows for self-employment and the buying and selling of homes and cars. Small businesses have sprung up everywhere. The much praised health and education systems have suffered declines. Commitment to social justice has lost ground to the need for economic development. The country has moved backward in terms of race relations as well.

Without Soviet sugar subsidies, Cuba's economic development shifted to the growing tourist trade.Tourism once again has become a mainstay of the economy, and foreign capital, from Canada, Spain, and elsewhere has flowed in. The US dollar is again king, fuelling an underground economy. While the tourist industry is currently the most profitable sector because of the availability of US Dollars, it is also the industry with the greatest racial disparity in employment opportunities. Afro-Cubans are often excluded from positions in tourism related jobs, where they could earn tips in hard currencies. They are relegated to poor housing. Afro-Cubans hold only five percent of jobs in the tourist sector.The tourist resorts hire primarily whites, drawing on the structural legacy of racism and the pervasive cultural belief that white is superior. Whites tend to live in more up-market houses, which can easily be converted into paladares (small restaurants run from the home) or bed-and-breakfasts — the most common kind of private business in Cuba. Jobs in the tourist sector require less education and skills, meaning that Afro-Cuban advances in education in the early years of the Revolution no longer translate to economic success.
Most remittances from abroad go to white Cubans. 83.5 percent of Cuban immigrants living in the US identify themselves as whites. Assuming that dollar remittances are evenly distributed among white and non-white exiles and that they stay, roughly, within the same racial group of the sender, then about 680 out of the 800 million dollars that enter the island every year would end up in white hands. Black Cubans have less property and money, and also have to contend with pervasive racism.
In 2000, the Havana Survey found that 77 percent of the self-employed were white, and that these white entrepreneurs were more economically successful in comparison to their Afro-Cuban counterparts. Once again, blacks face disadvantages because they lack the capital in USD from tourism and remittances: it often takes an initial investment.
Zurban writes "It’s true that Cubans still have a strong safety net: most do not pay rent, and education and health care are free. But the economic divergence created two contrasting realities that persist today. The first is that of white Cubans, who have leveraged their resources to enter the new market-driven economy and reap the benefits of a supposedly more open socialism. The other reality is that of the black plurality, which witnessed the demise of the socialist utopia from the island’s least comfortable quarters.”

Taken from

Thursday, April 04, 2013

cheap drugs for sale

India - the ‘pharmacy of the world's poor’

Glivec is produced by Novartis in the treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). Glivec as a life-saving, breakthrough drug for certain forms of cancer, The treatment cost is 130,000 rupees ($2400) a month. An Indian generic alternative is priced at cheaper 8000 to 12000 rupees a month.

The Indian Supreme court just granted a victory to the sick all over the planet when it refused the Swiss pharmaceutical giant a new patent for the tinkering it did with its anti-leukemia drug Glivec.

Novartis’ website declares: “We are committed to provide access to medicine for patients worldwide.” But how is this possible where the sick find their drugs prohibitively expensive?

It was only when Indian firms began to make cheap copies of HIV drugs that it became possible more than a decade ago to contemplate the treatment of millions of people in impoverished countries of Africa, where the AIDS epidemic was at its worst

“This is a huge relief for the millions of patients and doctors in developing countries who depend on affordable medicines from India, and for treatment providers like MSF,” Dr. Unni Karunakara, the head of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Imagine socialism

Let us take a look at the world today. What do we see? A world where most must struggle to make ends meet, while a select few reap the rewards from their labour by virtue of what they own. They do not work any harder than your average worker, yet the surplus value of the blood, sweat and tears of the world’s labourers goes to this parasite class.The benefits for working in such a society are centralized for the benefit of one exploiting class. The bread-crumbs, in the form of wages and salaries, are what workers must compete for in the labour market. It is like a lottery, in that many will enter, but few will actually “win.”
Imagine now a society in which the worker, instead of working for the profit ends of a private ownwer or government department works instead for the benefit of other workers. So, rather than working for someone else’s profit ends, or competing for more bread-crumbs than your neighbour, you are working for your own benefit in the context of being part of a broader society. Why is this so? It is because your work (along with everyone else’s) will work to increase overall production in society, whose rewards will be enjoyed by the society as a whole. As a member of that society, as a worker under socialism, you are entitled to work and share in the products of that work. It is in this way that socialism will work to meet the needs and wants of all members in society in a way that capitalist exploitation cannot.
The question changes from “how can I make a profit” or “how can I make ends meet” to “how can I help, while enjoying what I do?” This change in the essential question that guides work is brought about through the construction of socialist relations to the means of production, as well as the consciousness of workers in society. As the working masses no longer have to worry about going hungry doing the work they do, they are allowed to decide for themselves what work they want to undertake. In addition, they will have every resource they need to undertake this new work, including public education through graduate school, healthcare and daycare services for their children, housing and job entitlements. It is with these considerations that workers will have the freedom to do the work they want to do.
In socialism, the social priorities are different. Rather than capitalism’s carrot and stick, the necessary risk of unemployment under capitalism to force workers to take on labour which is inadequately compensated (and therefore, undesirable) compared to the decadence enjoyed by those who best help advance the ends of capitalist profit, the emphasis in socialism is on the work that it needed for the betterment of social conditions. The bottom line is that every worker in socialism has their individual interests invested in the success of socialism. In order to protect these individual and collective interests, the worker is encouraged to take up that work that best suits current social needs. The force which would provide this encouragement is socialist consciousness, the understanding that one’s personal ambitions must coincide with those of the masses of the proletariat if anyone is to meet their needs.