Thursday, May 31, 2012

LHO Killed JFK

Supporting an earlier blog here on the motives of Lee Harvey Oswald in assassinating JFK is this review of a new book by the author Stephen King who revisits 1963 and tries to understand why LHO did it.

Over the decades conspiracists have created so many myths over the facts and falsified the evidence that many genuine enquirers remain convinced that there is something "more"" to the assassination. But even the most mundane domestic-dispute murder is seldom is fully explained in court and in countless of other cases circumstantial evidence has led to convictions. With Lee Harvey Oswald the evidence was more than just theoretical but hard to dispute forensic science.

In his latest book, "11/22/63", Stephen King weaves time travel into a fictional narrative about the Kennedy assassination and joins joins the late Norman Mailer, who arrived at similar conclusions in his 1995 historical novel "Oswald's Tale".

The belief that Lee Harvey Oswald was part of a plot has been persistent but Oswald was not a pawn of the Mafia, the CIA, pro-Castro Cubans, anti-Castro Cubans, the KGB, or any combination. There is no evidence whatever of that.  Oswald's motives were personal. The evidence points to the conclusion that Oswald killed JFK because of deep rooted personality issues. In Russia  Oswald attempted suicide . Oswald acted alone on the alleged assassin's loyalty "to himself and his own ideas," coupled with his delusional sense that he had the "makings of a great leader." according to Norman Mailer. Oswald was a violent man in a failed marriage and his main fault with capitalism was that it wasn't working in his favor. Kennedy in LHO own view of himself  was everything he was not. Oswald, the autodidact, felt that he was smarter than his fellow Marines, co-workers, and bosses. He had a domineering mother, and a more successful big brother, often a volatile combination. In the workplace, he was antisocial and surly. Oswald tired of his wife asking why he couldn't earn enough income for them to afford better housing for their growing family and the modern household appliances the other dinner party guests considered standard.

LHO was man who taught himself Russian, but never learned to drive an car. He got Marina to take a backyard picture of him holding what became the Kennedy murder weapon. He discarded  the rifle and left his palm and fingerprints on it. The same weapon was linked to the attempted murder of extreme right-wing Major General Edwin Walker in Dallas the previous April -- a crime local police had no leads on until the day the president was killed and they came into posession of the Mannlicher-Carcano. Marina Oswald testified on one occasion she had to lock Lee in a closet to prevent him from going into town to kill  Richard Nixon, then a presidential candidate. His get-away smacked of someone who had never really considered the possibility of actually getting away with the shooting, by using unpredictable city buses and taxicabs. And after the assassination, if Oswald was an innocent pawn, as some claim, his killing of patrolman Tippit in front of several witnesses makes little sense.

Oswald was full of hatred and an inflated sence of self-worth. Motive enough to kill. 

Adapted from here

Eating babies

South Korean customs have discovered 35 smuggling attempts from China involving 17,450 capsules described as "stamina-boosters." The capsules are reportedly filled with powdered human baby flesh.

Human baby-flesh pills are in demand for many reasons, some who believe that it is a "tonic for disease." The Wall Street Journal reports that in China it is common to consume human placentas to revive blood supply and circulation. Another reported theory for the use of these pills is that they enhance sexual performance.

 A documentary has claimed that pharmaceutical companies in China are working with abortion clinics.

And some wonder why the Traditional Chinese Medicine and Complementary and Alternative Medicine lobby are often challenged by those of us who want health and safety protected by evidence based research and scientific testing.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tommy Tait of the Edinburgh SLP

Remembering our working class history.

Thomas Tait was born in Leith on 11 January 1889 and served in the Army during the Boer War where he became a socialist  through reading the pamphlet, What means this strike? by American socialist, Daniel de Leon. He joined the Edinburgh Branch of the Socialist Labour Party around 1905. The Party later split in 1912 and Tait continued in membership of the British Section of the International Socialist Labour Party, of which he was Secretary in the 1930s. There were 22 members of Edinburgh Branch in Dec 1932. In 1936 the Party was meeting at 55 Elder Street in Edinburgh. However, by 1939 they had moved to 1 South West Thistle Street Lane.The BSISLP in turn became the Revolutionary Socialist Party in 1936. Tait was a powerful orator. He was unsuccessful in contesting the municipal elections as a socialist, standing 17 times. He died on 12 May 1941. 

"It was as a speaker that comrade Tait excelled. And it was as a speaker that he was known to thousands of workers. At the Mound and the Foot of the Walk he propagated revolutionary socialism for thirty years, amusing and educating his hearers in his own inimitable way. His ability to mix socialist propaganda and humour, indignation against capitalist exploitation and a shrewd common sense made him a powerful influence for socialism. His kindliness, his simple directness, above all, his honesty, compelled the recognition of even his opponents."

From Thomas Tait's obituary, the RSP's Workers Weekly, No. 61, 16th May 1941

Saturday, May 26, 2012

free from ads

The Hopper digital video recorder "auto hop" feature allowed viewers to completely skip over adverts that interrupted shows they had recorded. US TV broadcasters, Fox, NBC and CBS, have sued the maker of the device in a bid to ensure viewers see ads.

 The networks fear that if viewers choose not to see ads their main source of revenue will dry up. They allege that the ad hopping is illegal because it involves the gadget making an unauthorised version of a copyrighted TV show.

But its not really a battle for copyright freedom but a contract negotiating ploy.  Dish which wants to pay less to air shows from large broadcasters. "This is about programming costs. Dish is saying, if you want to charge me up to the wazoo, we will disable commercials. But if you charge us less, we can disable the feature."

Monday, May 21, 2012

something to chew upon

he amount of meat humans eat is immense. In 1965, 10 billion livestock animals were slaughtered each year. Today, that number is 55 billion. More chickens are killed in the US every year than there are people in the world, and there are one billion cattle alive, weighing twice as much as the human population.

All that livestock needs land, which places pressure on wildlife habitat and forest. Livestock is the world’s largest land user. Grazing occupies 26 per cent of the earth’s ice-free terrestrial surface, and feed crop production uses about one third of all arable land.

And what about all that manure? In traditional, sustainable systems of agriculture, manure is part of a holistic cycle: it’s fertiliser. But in modern agriculture, this waste is not cycled through the farm because there’s just too much of it. Instead, waste is stored in manure “lagoons,” which emit methane and, even worse, nitrous oxide.
Meat production requires staggering amounts of land, water, and energy, as compared to plant foods. A 2010 UN report explained that western-type dietary preferences for meat would be unsustainable in future, given that the world population is forecast to rise to 9.1 billion by 2050. Demand for meat is expected to double by this date, and meat consumption is already steadily rising in countries such as China, which once followed more sustainable, vegetable-based diets.

A person existing mainly on animal protein requires ten times more land to provide adequate food than someone living on vegetable sources of protein. Far more energy is put into animals per unit of food than for any plant crop because cattle consume 16 times as much grain as they produce as meat. It takes 16 pounds of grain to make one pound of beef.

Animal farms use nearly 40 per cent of the world’s total grain production. In the US, nearly 70 per cent of grain production is fed to livestock. If humans continue to eat more and more meat, it means we’re not just going to use far more land and water, but we’re also going to manufacture much more chemical fertilisers and pesticides. We will thus be creating far more pollution and greenhouse gases.

Modern farming (both meat and non-meat production) is heavily dependent on chemicals, which leads to the emission of the major greenhouses gases: carbon dioxide from the use of fossil fuels for machinery and to produce the chemicals needed, nitrogen oxide (300 times more potent than carbon dioxide) from the use of chemical fertilisers and methane (animal flatulence) from factory farming.

It has been estimated that livestock contribute to about 9 per cent of total human related carbon dioxide emissions, 37 per cent of methane emissions and 65 per cent of nitrous oxide emissions. This includes carbon dioxide emission from deforestation in Central and South America, attributed to livestock production.

Factor in that a gallon of gasoline is used to produce a mere pound of grain-fed beef, and you begin to appreciate that meat production is a very fossil fuel, resource-intensive industry.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, “Ranching-induced deforestation is one of the main causes of loss of some unique plant and animal species in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America as well as carbon release in the atmosphere.”

A 2010 report from the United Nations Environment Programme’s International Panel of Sustainable Resource Management declared: “Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth and increasing consumption of animal products… A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”
Environmental vegetarians are calling for a reduction of the consumption of meat in the ‘developed’ world. According to the United Nations Population Fund, “Each US citizen consumes an average of 260 pounds of meat per year, the world’s highest rate. That is about 1.5 times the industrial world average, three times the East Asian average, and 40 times the average in Bangladesh.”

Scientists at Cornell University have advised that the US could feed 800 million people with the grain that livestock eat.

Meat production also places a great strain on fresh water, which is likely to become an increasingly scarce resource in the coming years. John Anthony Allan, professor at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, argues that the average meat-eating US citizen consumes five cubic meters of water compared to half of that which vegetarians consume. But not all meat is equally water-intensive.

He says that beef requires 15,500 litres of water per kilogram compared to chicken, which needs 3,900 litres per kilogram. So, at the very least, consumers could think about reducing their beef consumption since it requires the most unsustainable water footprint.

In her book, Stolen Harvests, environmentalist Vandana Shiva says that for every pound of red meat, poultry, eggs and milk produced, farm fields lose about five pounds of irreplaceable top soil. She also states that the water necessary for meat breeding comes to about 190 gallons per animal per day, or ten times what a normal Indian family is supposed to use in one day, if it gets water at all.

The great Ogallala aquifer in the US is the largest body of fresh water on earth. The water in it is left from the melted glaciers of the last Ice Age. It is not replenished from rainfall. Author John Robbins notes that more than 13 trillion gallons of water are taken from the aquifer every year. More water is withdrawn from the Ogallala aquifer every year for beef production than is used to grow all the fruits and vegetables in the entire US. Robbins states that it’s only a matter of time before most of the wells in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico go dry, and portions of these states become scarcely habitable for human beings.
This is a salutary reminder of what other countries may face in future if their meat consumption increases dramatically.

Of course, other arguments against eating meat or using animal products have been around for a long time, well before global warming and climate change appeared on the scene. Various religious and philosophical traditions believe that humans should not kill, maim, torture or exploit fellow beings for food or other purposes.

But kill, maim, torture and exploit we do. Take chickens as just one example from the many that we could take. For the past half century, there have actually been two kinds of chickens — broilers and layers. They have different bodies, engineered for different ‘functions.’ Layers make eggs and broilers make flesh. Over the past 50 years, they have been engineered to grow more than twice as large in less than half the time. Chickens once had a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years, but the modern broiler is typically killed at around six weeks. Their daily growth rate has increased roughly by 400 per cent.

All male layers in the US, comprising more than 250 million chicks a year, are destroyed. Most are destroyed by being sucked through a series of pipes onto an electrified plate. Some are tossed into large plastic containers. The weak are trampled to the bottom, where they suffocate slowly. The strong suffocate slowly at the top. Others are also sent fully conscious through macerators.

So, if global warming isn’t enough to make people think twice about going vegetarian or reducing their meat consumption, the cruelty we inflict on other species may well do.

In many respects, thanks to its various traditions, India has a definite head start when it comes to not eating meat. This is just as well considering 17 per cent of the global population live here on a mere two to three per cent of the planet’s land, and the country is already facing water shortage issues and dwindling wildlife habitat.

According to a 2006 State of the Nation Survey, 31 per cent of Indians are vegetarians, while another nine per cent consumes eggs. India also has a system of marking edible products made from only vegetarian (non-animal) ingredients, with a green dot in a green square.

Consider the fact that the next time you eat a meal of rice and vegetables, you could be taking in more than 40 times the amount of pesticides that an average North American person would consume for a similar meal. India is one of the world’s largest users of pesticides. Lady’s finger, cabbage, tomato and cauliflower in particular may contain dangerously high levels and fruits and vegetables are sprayed and tampered with to ripen and make them more colourful. Research by the School of Natural Sciences and Engineering at the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bangalore reported in 2008 that many crops for export had been rejected internationally due to high pesticide residues.

Shiva argues that this type of intensive chemical-industrial agriculture, with its reliance on vast amounts of fresh water, fertilisers, pesticides and the like, is destroying biodiversity and contributing towards climate change, not just in India but worldwide. It might have increased food production in the relative short term, but it has been at a terrible cost to the environment and is ultimately unsustainable.
Modern industrial farms rely on fossil fuels, from powering machinery to petroleum-based chemicals used to create artificial soil fertility, protect against pests and stave off weeds. It is this use of fossil fuels on farms and the manufacture of fertilisers and other agricultural chemicals that negatively impact the environment. For Shiva, the answer is to return to basics by encouraging biodiverse, organic, local food systems.

She argues that small, biodiverse, organic farms, especially in less developed countries, are totally fossil fuel-free. Energy for farming operations comes from animal energy and not machinery or the fertilisers manufactured down at the local polluting chemical factory, and soil fertility is built by feeding soil organisms via recycling organic matter.

Making the required shift away from modern farming practices could be a lot easier said than done, however. Huge, politically connected and often extremely unscrupulous agribusiness concerns involved in fertiliser, pesticide and seed manufacturing (and let’s not forget the genetically modified sector) have a lot invested in maintaining the current, highly profitable system.

In finishing, let us end where we began — with meat. Author James E McWilliams raises the all-important ethical issue by saying that it’s not how we produce animal products that ultimately matters, it’s whether we produce them at all.

The dilemma he raises leads to some deep seated questions about how we as individuals personally regard our mass slaughter and wholesale exploitation of the living creatures we share this planet with. Even if our consciences can continue to live with this, the evidence is that, in the long run, the planet certainly can’t.

Taken from

Sunday, May 20, 2012

press power

Social Security is the one issue on which the electorate is not divided. Gallup polls dating back six decades consistently show some 70 percent of the public strongly supports Social Security.

Listening to the politicians and policy gurus, one would conclude that this most basic of retirement programs for nearly all Americans is in grave danger, and America itself is in grave danger because of it.

For nearly three years Columbia Journalism Review has observed that much of the press has reported only one side of this story using “facts” that are misleading or flat-out wrong while ignoring others. Whatever the reason—ideology, poor understanding of how the program works, gullibility, or plain old reportorial laziness—news outlets have given the public a skewed picture of the financial health of this hugely important program, which is the sole source of retirement funds for millions of Americans and will continue to be for decades to come.

But the fact is, the program can pay full benefits until 2036, and three-quarters of the benefits after that without new revenues. Many experts believe small fixes like lifting the cap on income subject to payroll taxes—$110,100 for 2012—will make Social Security solvent for decades. But that option is not on Washington’s table, nor has it been discussed much in the press. Why not? Because it doesn’t fit into the doom-and-gloom narrative that has proved politically expedient to tell? The one-sided reporting on this issue has influenced the way millions of Americans, especially younger ones, now think about Social Security.

“The elite press repeatedly quotes the commentary of the devoted opponents of social insurance retirement programs,”
says Yale professor emeritus Theodore Marmor. “But they appear unaware of how they are supporting a strategic attack on social insurance that has been going on for years.”

It’s a popular message. TV anchors, hosts, and expert guests have also told the public that Social Security is the cause of the federal deficit, and have narrowly framed the possible cures. The ones mentioned most often include reducing cost-of-living increases; means testing the program, and raising the age of eligibility to 69, 70, or higher.

There is little debate on other solutions  such as trimming the bloated, out-of-control defence budget, or allowing the US government to bulk negotiate for lower-priced prescription drugs for Medicare (like virtually every other post-industrial nation does) - or not imprisoning a larger share of our population, per capita, than Ming The Merciless.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sacred Cows

An interesting read 

The construction of today’s India as a vegetarian-loving and cow-praying country is an outright lie and a false cultural-propaganda by right-wing upper caste forces to oppress Dalits, lower-castes and Muslims. Culinary politics and contact with animals play a huge role in establishing purity-pollution rules to discriminate people in the caste system. In today’s independent India, the beef-hating Brahmanical vegetarianism made cow slaughtering and beef-eating not only a taboo, but also illegal in many states of India. It has even secured a supportive-protection in the Indian constitution: Article 48 of the Indian constitution directs the State to take necessary steps for prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves. Many Indian states have banned cow-slaughtering and selling beef is not permitted in public. Beef sellers and buyers in those states have to conduct their trade like drug-dealers. In Delhi, the cow protection enforcement team visits supermarkets to ensure beef is off the shelves.

 Despite all these forceful bans go to prove that India has a significant beef-eating population. In fact, that consumption of beef and buffalo meat together top the list of highest meat consumption in India. Annually, India produces an estimated 1.5 million tonnes of buffalo meat, of which only 24% is exported. This year India will also overtake the United States as the world’s third largest beef exporter. The vegetarian image is also now part of India Inc. and exported to the world. It is a false-representation of millions of people’s every day politics and food practices.

 Cow was neither sacred nor unconsumable by Brahmans according to D.N.Jha who has studied Rigveda in detail. This vedic scripture – written roughly between 1100 and 1700 BC – has frequent references to the cooking of ox meat for every day consumption and offering to gods. Jha’s The myth of the holy cow, offers detailed evidence that ox, bull and cow were both killed in public sacrifices and domestically slaughtered to be consumed in every-day life. Later, Buddhism and Jainism became critical of ritual and public sacrifices of animals and introduced ahimsa (non-violence). According to Ambedkar – Dalit leader, architect of Indian constitution and a strong critique of Gandhi’s ideals – ‘the clue to the worship of the cow is to be found in the struggle between Buddhism and Brahmanism’, a strategy to establish its Brahmanical supremacy over Buddhism.This explains why Ambedkar advocated Dalits to convert to Buddhism.

The historian D.D. Kosambi pointed out in his work The culture and civilisation of Ancient Indian (1964), “A modern orthodox Hindu would place beef-eating on the same level as cannibalism, whereas Vedic Brahmins had fattened upon a steady diet of sacrificed beef.”

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Recommended reading

Two articles that are well worth a read.

Pirate Utopias

The Luddites

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


Ownership of land by overseas interests remains controversial and poses challenges to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Around 80 estates covering around 905,000 acres are held by overseas individuals and offshore trusts. Periodic calls for tighter regulation or abolition of overseas ownership (particularly land owned in offshore tax havens) have failed to lead to reform. Many of the institutional owners, such as Eagle Star and Prudential, have sold their land in Scotland and the extent of such ownership is much reduced from what it was in the 1970s. Pension funds still include land as part of their investment portfolio but now seem to prefer urban to rural. Forestry investment by pension funds is still prevalent and institutional or industrial ownership of forests by the timber industry has been growing steadily.

Scottish Ministers, the legal name for the Scottish Government, is the largest landowner in Scotland, owning 1,901,607 acres of land (9.8%) of Scotland’s land area. Land held by Scottish Ministers consists of two main holdings – the national forest estate managed by the Forestry Commission and the agricultural estates managed by the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate.

According to Auslan Cramb Who Owns Scotland?, the top twenty landowners of Scottish lands in 1996 are:


The Forestry Commission = 1,600,000 acres
Duke of Buccleuch/Lord Dalkeith: 4 estates in the Borders = 270,000 acres
Scottish Office Agriculture Dept: 90% crofting land = 260,000 acres
National Trust for Scotland: (including the 75,000-acre Mar Lodge) = 190,000 acres
Alcan Highland Estates: land used for electricity generation = 135,000 acres
Duke of Atholl, Sarah Troughton: Estates around Dunkeld/Blair Atholl = 130,000 acres
Capt. Alwyn Farquharson: Invercauld on Deeside & smaller estate, Argyll = 125,000 acres
Duchess of Westminster, Lady Mary Grosvenor: = 120,000 acres
Earl of Seafield: Seafield estates, Speyside = 105,000 acres
Crown Estates Commission: 3 main estates, including Glenlivert = 100,000 acres


Andras Ltd, Malaysia: Glenavon, Cairngorms/Brauen, Inverness = 70,000 acres
Mohammed bin Raschid al Maktoum: = 63,000 acres
Kjeld Kirk-Christiansen, head of Lego, Denmark: Strathconon, Mid Ross = 50,000 acres
Profs Joseph and Lisbet Koerner, Swedish Tetra Pak heiress: Corrour, Caithness = 48,000 acres
Stanton Avery, USA: Dunbeath, Caithness = 30,000 acres
Mohamed Al Fayed: Balnagowan, Ross and Cromarty = 30,000 acres
Urs Schwarzenberg, Switzerland: Ben Alder, Inverness-shire = 26,000 acres
Count Knuth, Denmark: Ben Loyal, Sutherland = 20,000 acres
His Excellency Mahdi Muhammad al-Tajir, UAE: Blackford, Perthshire = 20,000 acres
Prof. Ian Roderick Macneil of Barra, USA: Barra and islands = 17,200 acres


Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Who does the land belong to?


"Today, 6,000 landowners own some 40m of Britain's 60m acres of land, and that 70% of the land is owned by 1% of the population. By contrast, 60 million people live in houses collectively occupying 4.4m acres."- Kevin Cahill  Who Owns Britain?

Currently, in our "property-owning democracy", nearly half the country is owned by 40,000 land millionaires, or 0.06 per cent of the population, while most of the rest of us spend half our working lives paying off the debt on a patch of land barely large enough to accommodate a dwelling and a washing line. 


"There are more than 9.4 million acres of land held by a mere 969 landowners. 10 million acres of land are held by a mere 1550 private landowners in estates of 1000 acres and larger." Andy Wightman in his 1996 book Who Owns Scotland Andy Wightman

The number of owners of 60% of private rural land in Scotland has decreased since 1970, from 1180 to 969 in 2010.

capitalist aren't greedy, they just have closed minds

Edward Conard, Mitt Romney's ex-partner in Bain Capital, is not merely a member of the 1 percent but member of the 0.1 percent, justifies his wealth and proudly defends Wall St. He presents the capitalist case that it was the poor people, and not the finance industry, who were responsible for the financial crisis and subsequent recession. That the ultra-wealthy are wealthy because they are smarter and work harder than everybody else, and that they are resented for their success. That the ultra-wealthy are being victimised by prejudice by the envious and jealous who want to impose more regulation and  higher taxes upon the hard-done-by capitalist.

Some capitalists try to argue that an individual's greed turns free-market capitalism into prosperity for all. The successful businessman is the hero, while the rest of us lesser mortals are deadbeat leeches, living parasitically from their superior drive, brains and skills and talents that lead to innovation. Profits are the reward for risk-taking. (hmmm...and follow the herd investment mentality is taking a risk). In fact we should all be very grateful to the mega-wealthy

But they are wrong. The rich are not more hardworking than the masses. They are not any smarter. Nor do people whose  business of extracting royalties and copyright fees or interest by moving rich people’s money around are in any way “job creators.”

When  Facebook goes public, Mark Zuckerberg he will be worth more than $17 billion. If Zuckerberg had never been born, would no one else have come up with the idea of Facebook? (oh, somone else did and thats why he had to pay compensation, wasn't it?)

Why do people try to maximise their incomes? The poor person wants more money in order to eat, a better house or a new washing machine. Even a comfortably well-off person may want an even better house or a servant to cook and clean . But what more does a really, really rich person — worth hundreds of millions — want that money can buy? What motivates him or her to go to work every morning - simply trying to accumulate even more. But, to be sure, it is not personal greed. It is simply the rationale of accepting an economic system that demands such a constant process of reproduction of capital and being unwilling to break with it.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Speaking of...

Linguistically, the Picts who drove the Romans from Hadrian's wall seemingly spoke a distinct Pictish language, possibly distantly related to Welsh. The Scots who settled in the west, and eventually came to dominate the Picts, spoke a form of Gaelic. The Angles of the south east spoke Northumbrian Old English which later became the Middle English known as Early Scots. The Britons of Strathclyde spoke Cumbric, also related to Welsh; while people in the Viking dominated areas spoke Norn, or Old Norse.

Over the 500 years until 1500, the Norse influence was largely displaced by the Gaelic-speaking Scots. Meanwhile, The Early Scots language slowly expanded its influence to become the most common language spoken in the Borders, the Central Lowlands, the coastal fringe of Aberdeenshire, Caithness and the Northern Isles. Everywhere else, including a large part of Dumfries and Galloway and South Ayrshire, spoke Scottish Gaelic. Over the 500 years since 1500, Scots has remained a commonly spoken language, but largely displaced by Scottish English, much more closely related to English, for the written word and by many in speech as well. One of them, "North East Scots" is sufficiently distinct for it to carry a separate name, "Doric".  Increasing use of Scottish English across Scotland forced Scots Gaelic to steadily retreat west.

In 2001 the figure for those who could speak Gaelic stood at 1.2% of the population, the lowest ever recorded.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Imagine William Wallace

William Wallace is one of Scotland's most famous historical figures. Many more around the world grew acquainted with Wallace when Hollywood and Mel Gibson portrayed him in the movie BraveHeart. However, we know that stories get distorted just through the passage of time. Wallace cames from minor gentry in the West of Scotland. The name Wallace, or Walensis, derives from the Welsh-speaking people of Strathclyde. We have no exact date for Wallace's birth. William Wallace emerges from obscurity and rises up in the spring of 1297, kills the English sheriff of Lanark, then leads an effective and oft-hitting operation against English strongholds.

Edward I had already annexed Ireland and Wales and now took an opportunity of  a political vacuum to meddle in Scotland's affairs in the guise of legal mediator and appointed the weak John Balliol as king, made impossible demands of him, and then settled the issue by military conquest. It was in November 1292, that Balliol was declared King of Scotland, against the Bruce claim. Edward's pressure on him is relentless, forcing acts of homage on several occasions, and to revoke the Treaty of Brigham, which recognised Scottish independence. . When Edward haughtily orders Balliol into military service in France, the Scots instead ratify a treaty with Edward's enemy, Philip IV, and war is inevitable. Edward was free to roam through Scotland as if it was his own fiefdom. This he did, taking control of castles and humiliating King John as he went, resulting in the forced abdication of Balliol in Angus in July 1296.  The stripping of the royal emblems earned Balliol the insulting name "Toom Tabard" (Empty Tabard).  He was sent to the Tower of London and thereafter spent the rest of his life in relatively comfortable exile. Edward's dominance over Scotland was total. He made over 2,000 freeholders swear allegiance to him, in a document which became known as the Ragman's Roll. It was  William Wallace's aim to restore Balliol to the throne of Scotland.

Along with Andrew Moray, Wallace defeated an English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, and was Guardian of Scotland, serving until his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk. After Falkirk, Wallace resigned as Guardian and was sent on a diplomatic mission to France and Rome. He did not return until after the Scottish surrender in 1302. In 1305, Wallace was eventually captured in Robroyston near Glasgow by John de Menteith, a Scottish knight. Menteith was no English lackey, and in 1320 he put his seal to the Declaration of Arbroath. Wallace was taken to London to be handed over to King Edward. After a cynical mock show-trial at Westminster Hall in London, where he responded to the treason charge by declaring "I could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject." Wrapped in an ox hide to prevent him being ripped apart, thereby shortening the torture, he was dragged by horses four miles through London to Smithfield. There he was hanged, as a murderer and thief, but cut down while still alive. Then he was mutilated, disembowelled, his heart, liver, lungs and entrails were cast upon a fire, and, finally, his head was chopped off. His carcase was then cut up into bits. His head was set on a pole on London Bridge, another part went to Newcastle, a district Wallace had destroyed in 1297–8, the rest went to Berwick, Perth and Stirling (or perhaps Aberdeen), as a warning to the Scots. Edward had destroyed the man, but had enhanced the myth.  Edward I of England wanted the destruction of Wallace's name and reputation as well as physical presence, but inadvertently created a hero and martyr. He entered the realm of folktale and legend.

Separating myth from historical truth is no easy matter. The waters are muddied when the historian only has access to scant Medieval resources. Around 1470s the epic poem, The Acts and Deeds of Sir William Wallace, Knight of Elderslie, was written by Henry the Minstrel, also called Blind Harry; which became  possibly the most influential long poem ever written in Scots. And here we are most definitely in the realm of powerful and deliberate myth-making. Professor Cowan writes of "borrowings plunderings, plagerisms, inventions, and fancies", and points to two major events at least in the poem that never happened - Wallace's victory at Biggar, and English atrocities at the Barns of Ayr. One story says that he started by killing a bunch of English soldiers who tried confiscating the fish he'd caught in the River Irvine. Another says that he killed the son of an English governor who had been bullying his family, and yet a third states that he killed William Heselrig, Sherriff of Lanark, in revenge for the death of Marion Braidfute. This last version dates only from Blind Harry's story from around 1470, and is most likely pure fiction. In 1722 Blind Harry’s work was translated and adapted by another poet, William Hamilton of Gilbertfield, and became the most commonly owned book in Scotland next to the Bible.

Modern Scots today honour who they acclaim as a fighter for Scotland's sovereignty. What was the “Scotland” that Wallace believed in, defended, pledged himself to and died for? The idea of Wallace as early exponent of “democratic patriotism” ahistorically gives to a medieval man the mind and sensibilities of a later, modern age. Wallace was a violent man in a violent age; and anyone researching the gleeful cross-border forays of Wallace’s bands into Hexham Abbey or the priory at Lanercost in Northumberland, England’s far north, can register their devastating impact. Wallace never fought for an abstract “people” or even “nation”, but always in the name of a legitimate power of which he was but the temporary protector or “guardian”  -  John Balliol.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

1931 - The Govan Workers Open Forum and the SPGB

A report of an address delivered by Comrade A. Shaw, Glasgow Branch of the SPGB; to Govan Workers Open Forum, at Robert Street on Wednesday, December 24th,, 1931. Other Party members also contributed to the discussion..

Why the Socialist Party of Great Britain is opposed to all other Political Parties

Opening Address: The Chairman opened the meeting at 8 P.M. by announcing that the purpose of the Govan Workers Forum was to get workers together for the purpose of examining the objects and principles of the many working class organisations, in order that, if possible, the way of emancipation from the thraldom of capitalism may be made clear to all workers who attended their meetings. Tonight Comrade Shaw, representing the Socialist Party of Great Britain would in the space of half an hour or so, address members on the position as held by his organisation relative to other political parties. Thereafter the meeting would be open for question and discussion. Comrade Shaw, in his opening remarks thanked the members of Govan Forum on behalf of the membership of Glasgow Branch, S.P.G.B., for placing a whole evening at the disposal of the Socialist Party in order that the position of that body may be made clear to all present. The title of the address would be: “Why the Socialist Party of Great Britain is opposed to all other Political Parties”.

Alex Shaw: The reason why the S.P.G.B was opposed to all other parties including the B.S.I.S.L.P (British Section of the International Socialist Labour Party) would become clear to the audience after an examination has been made of the conditions which gave rise to the present party system.

The system of society today, within which workers starved and suffered, was known as Capitalism. This form of society had not always existed but was the product of a previous system known as Feudalism. Feudalism had been preceded by a system known as Chattel Slavery and Chattel Slavery in turn was the product of the first form of society we know of – Primitive Communism. The different forms of society have expressed the changes which have taken place in the mode of production of society’s necessities of life. The basis of Primitive Communism was Common Ownership of the means of production with Social distribution of the product of food, clothing and shelter. No member of society then had too much of the good things of life and others with too little. Each form of society contains within it the seeds of its own destruction and in the course of time private property was the seed that destroyed Primitive Communism. From the fall of Primitive Communism until the present day, the ownership or non-ownership of property determined one’s position in society. Under primitive Communism equality existed and all the people had the same rights and privileges; a relationship of freedom existed which has been lost to the human race since private property was established and can only be recovered by the establishment of Socialism.

In the system known as Chattel slavery the relationship was Master and slave, under Feudalism Lord and Serf and in modern Capitalist society it is capitalist and worker. Between these divisions of people or classes in society a struggle went on. This struggle was known to all Socialists as a class struggle. The modern struggle is between Workers and capitalists and the reason is not difficult to understand.

The means of production today are privately owned, that is to say, a section of society own all the factories, mines, mills, workshops etc., through which ownership they are able to live a life of ease and luxury. The other section owning nothing are forced to sell themselves as workers to the owners of property in order that they get food, clothing, shelter for themselves and their wives and children. The mode of production being commodity production for profit, the return to the worker takes the form of a money wage. This wage is the money expression of the value of the particular worker’s labour power. A Navvy and an Engineer received different amounts of money as wages but both of these workers received the value of his particular labour-power. This value was determined by how much it cost to produce his kind of labour power. All commodities, labour-power included, had their values determined in the same way, by the amount of socially necessary labour embodied in them.

In the process of production the worker produced a surplus over what as returned to him in the form of wages. This was the reason his master the Capitalist employed him and was the sole aim of the Capitalist System.

The worker found through experience that his wage enabled him to purchase only the cheapest necessities of life and to maintain even this he had to continually struggle with his master. To assist him in his struggles he formed Trade unions some people advocated the formation of industrial unions but there were no difference between them fundamentally), but in spite of all his efforts his conditions gradually became worse and he was able to see that his life was one long story of poverty, degradation and misery.

Many political organisations professed to exist only for the purpose of assisting the working class. The Conservative Party, Liberal Party, Labour party, Communist Party and a host of others drew up programmes of social reforms which they all guaranteed would, if the workers would only trust them and vote for them; solve all the ills which afflicted the working class. The Socialist Party of Great Britain had no reforms on its programme and was opposed to all parties who asked the workers to support a reformist policy. Reform of Capitalism would still leave workers in their slave position. Reforms, apart from the fact that in many cases they had proven worse than the evil which they set out to remedy, were but the normal features of Capitalism. Capitalism and their representatives had been busy reforming the Capitalist System since it had been established but in spite of all their reforms the condition of the working class was worse today than ever it was in its history. It was the boast of such outstanding defenders of capitalism as A. J. Balfour, J. H. Thomas and many others of the same type that “Reform is the antidote to Revolution” and they were correct. The Communist Party, with its ever-changing lists of reforms should be an example to the workers of the futility of wasting valuable time and energy attempting to reform a system which could not be reformed in the interests of the working class.

The mere ownership of wealth was not enough; a means must be at hand to protect that ownership. This means was the armed forces of a society and were under the control of whichever Political party having a majority of representatives in Parliament. Whoever had control of these forces were masters of the situation. If the workers had not this force to contend with it would be an easy matter for them to dispossess their masters. In 1926 we had an example of the masters using their political control to smash discontent among the workers. History as a matter of fact was full of such examples. So long as the workers left this gigantic weapon in the hands of their masters they were helpless.

Social reform being no solution to the ills suffered by the workers the Socialist Party of Great Britain pointed out that all the evils could be traced to the one cause and to this one cause only –Private Property. When we looked around us we saw notices such as “This is Private Property” or “No admittance except on business ”. To the Socialist these were advertisements of the cause of poverty, slums, disease, crime, prostitution, war and all the other curses of the human race. Having found the one cause for all our troubles we find the remedy almost automatically - Socialism. Abolish private property with production for profit and establish a new system of society based on Common Ownership with production for use. This is what Socialism means. Under such new conditions would he be lifted above the sordid animal stage of existence such as he finds himself at present. This was something worthwhile fighting for and the way to achieve such a new system of society was by the workers first of all getting to understand their enslaved position in present day capitalism, to organise with others, in order to take revolutionary political action to control the State machine in order to transform society from the basis up. This meant the action of a class conscious majority of the workers. Minorities were of no use. We have a class conscious minority today yet it is helpless. That minority would have to go on broadcasting the principles of Socialism until the majority accepted them.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain was the only organisation in this country that faced up to the task other organisations shirked preaching the only solution, and, in shirking such an important duty, proved themselves enemies of the workers and unworthy of their support. Socialism is the only hope of the working class. The Socialist Party of Great Britain had been advocating nothing else since 1904 and since Socialism was our object all our activities were directed towards getting it established as soon as possible. For the aforementioned we are opposed to all other political parties.

The chairman announced that the meeting was open for discussion.

Mr McKay, Socialist Labour Party. After listening very carefully to the lecture delivered by Mr. Shaw (I have no intention of calling him comrade) I am trying to find just exactly where I stand. I am a Socialist, but I understand that, when we understand what Socialism is, we differ in degree. One thing we are agreed on, that is, the workers are quite as poor at the end of every year as they were at the beginning of the same year. That happens in every country with the exception of Socialist Russia. I put it to the speaker: he wants the majority of the workers to become class-conscious, he still wants that after all the years the S.P.G.B. have been preaching the principles of their doctrine to the workers. In spite of all their efforts the workers have no time for them. The speaker is not a Socialist; his party is not a Socialist party; if it was the workers would have more time for it.

Industrial Unionism, Shaw claims, is the same as Trade Unionism. Such a statement only shows his ignorance on the subject. Industrial Unionism is altogether different from Trade Unionism in that it will act along class lines as opposed to craft lines of the present day Trade Unions. The waste of time and energy of hundreds of Trade Unions in this country is made plain when we realise that only twenty Industrial Unions cover and control industry in Soviet Russia.

The S.P.G.B. is continually telling us that we must have a majority of workers class-conscious before we can have Socialism. If a majority of that nature is necessary then many future generations are doomed never to see Socialism. I have my doubts about such a theory. In the near future there will be such conditions as will compel the workers to take action. The majority may not understand the Materialist Conception of History, may not be able to understand and expound the intricate Marxian Theory of Value, but they will understand that their class must take over and run the economic system in their own interests.

Mr Kilpatrick, B.S.I.S.L.P. The speaker, Mr Shaw, opened his address in his usual slovenly manner by referring to the Anarchist B.S.I.S.L.P. as being the owners of these premises. Such a statement was ridiculous as it was well known that the premises were only rented by the B.S.I.S.L.P.

Another slovenly statement was; the basis of ownership since Primitive Communism had ended had not changed. It was patent to all that we have now arrived at the stage of the Trust, Combine, etc. The speaker must have had some glimmering of this when he first at all spoke of the private ownership of wealth and later on referred to the class ownership. This was a change the speaker and his party should take into consideration as it may alter their outlook a little when they examine Industrial Unionism.

The principal difference between the S.P.G.B. and the B.S.I.S.L.P. is that the Socialist Party believes only in political action, while the B.S.I. with its broader outlook understands that Socialist philosophy is all embracing thus including the place where goods are produced. The B.S.I. therefore advocate the economic and political organisation of the working class.

The working class has been bought into existence by Capitalist Class itself, and, being the mass of the people with no property tradition does not know where its real interests lie. On the economic field the workers are all at sixes and sevens because of their many Trade Unions, but a class instrument is being forged –The industrial Union. This instrument will be perfected to take control of production and distribution. It is the only organisation that is capable of performing a task.

Shaw did not define what Socialism was. Socialism meant that society would own and control the means whereby society lived.

If you understand how old parties came into existence with their class slogan of “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” you will know that it was because they owned the economic means which enabled them to rule. The class which owns the wealth is the class which dictates.

After all has been said, and all that may be said to the contrary, it is clear that the workers must develop the arms of their movement, the economic and the political (Applause).

W. Travers, S.P.G.B. It is rather curious that in spite of all that has been said about Industrial Unionism, not one of its advocates tonight has attempted to explain what it is. We had been solemnly assured that Industrial Unionism was an instrument by which the workers could control industry. Were we supposed to become enthusiastic about something which had not been explained? Industrial Unionism as a matter of fact was a flyblown species of thinly disguised Anarchism. The home of Industrial Unionism was America where Mr. Trauptmann, Mr. DeLeon. E. V. Debs and others had advocated it as the means of emancipating the proletariat. It central idea was that workers should organise on the economic field with the view of grabbing the means of production from the Boss. Workers had not, so far, accepted this theory which would bring them up against the murderous forces of the State. Perhaps this was the reason so many workers were alive today.

Before I became a Socialist I used to hold Propaganda meetings in Ireland with the late Jim Connolly. Jim, unfortunately, took a trip to America and had a conversation with Daniel Deleon, a conversation from which he never recovered. He came back to Ireland and acquainted many of us with the new revolutionary tactic – Industrial Unionism. At first we received this new idea with enthusiasm, but, afterwards having thoroughly examined Industrial Unionism we saw, clearly, that all the efforts put forth by workers organised in Industrial Unions or any other kind of economic organisations would be futile so long as the Ruling Class had control of political power. Attempts had been made in the past in America and elsewhere at forming Industrial Unions for the purpose of “Seizing and Holding” the means of production but in every case dissension among those organised had paralysed their activities. This disproved the theory of the Industrial Unionist who thought that all would be well if only the workers could be organised on an industrial basis instead of the present basis. Even if they were successful in forming Industrial Unions as desired they would still have to overcome the military forces of the State.

The only way of emancipation was that advocated by the Socialist party of Great Britain. Industrial Unionism, Social Reform. Seize and Hold methods and all the other alternatives put forward by the multifarious so-called Working Class organisations were so many obstacles which the workers must overcome before they can abolish Capitalism. Socialism is the only hope of the workers all else being illusion. It was up to all workers present to study the position of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, and, on understanding it, to join that organisation to take part in the great work of abolishing Capital and establishing Socialism.

Mr. C. Martin, B.S.I.S.L.P. Mr Travers in his contribution has done nothing other than attack the Anarchists. Travers and Shaw want the workers here to believe the wonderful S.P.G.B., but if they would come regular to these meetings and get an understanding of Industrial Unionism they could then speak on that subject more intelligently. The S.P.G.B. were, in spite of all they said to the contrary, mere physical force Anarchists. They wanted to obtain control of political power in order to knock hell out of all who opposed them. This proved they were Anarchists under their skins. The orthodox Anarchists in the past had made many mistakes, but they had guts. The S.P.G.B. were all mistake and no guts.

I would like to ask Saint Travers and Saint Shaw (I wish they were Saints) a few questions. What did Marx mean when he wrote in the “COMMUNIST MANIFESTO” that “the workers must organise into a class and consequently into a political party”? Shaw had objected to his [Martins] explanation of this passage on a previous occasion and he would now like to hear Shaw’s explanation. The S.P.G.B. had their own peculiar interpretations of such quotations from Marx. That was the sort of people they were. The quotation simply meant that the workers must organise at the point of production.

Another point: What did Marx mean when he says in the “COMMUNIST MANIFESTO” that we must wrest by degrees all property from the hands of the masters?

The difference between the B.S.I.S.L.P. and the S.P.G.B. lies in the different concepts of the State as held by the two organisations. The S.P.G.B. concept is muddled. They want a majority of workers to understand Socialism and to get control of the State through the Ballot box. We will not get a majority for three thousand years or so. Marx says we must establish a Dictatorship of the Proletariat. The S.P.G.B. being opposed to Marx on this point I would like to know what are they going to do with the State when it dies out?”

The Chairman announced at this stage that the meeting was now open for questions.

Questions to be asked only of the Speaker or of anyone who had taken part in discussion.

Question: When did Jim Connolly join the Socialist Party of Ireland? I deny that he did so. How can we overthrow Capitalism by the methods advocated by the S.P.G.B.?

Answer by Comrade Travers SPGB

“I was with Connolly when he joined that opportunist body known as The Socialist Party of Ireland and I attacked him repeatedly for doing so. The method of the S.P.G.B. is the only method applicable to highly developed Capitalist countries and is the scientific method advocated by Marx. Industrial Unionism, street fighting and other methods of force are doomed to failure and only means another bloodbath to those workers who would be silly enough to attempt them. Class conscious political action to get control of the State machine is the method – the only method open today”.

Question: “Was not Daniel De Leon speaking on the same platform in 1886 and assisting Henry George, an anti-Socialist into Congress?”

Answer by C. Martin B.S.I.S.L.P:


Question: “Is a director of a company a member of the Working class?”

Answer by Mr. Kilpatrick: B.S.I.S.L.P:

“Yes, if he is dependent on his salary. No, if of independent means.”

Question: “Is the difference between the S.P.G.B. and the B.S.I.S.L.P. that the S.P.G.B. takes political action only whilst the B.S.I. takes both political and economic?

Answer by Comrade Shaw:

“The S.P.G.B. advocates that the workers must organise on the political and economic field on class lines before they can abolish Capitalism. Political action is necessary to end the system, and the act of revolution is political”.

Question:Is it not a fact that Anarchist methods crept into the S.L.P. during the years 1900 and 1907?”
Answer by C. Martin:

“There is a danger of such a thing happening but we guard against it in the same manner as the S.P.G.B. does –by insisting that members of our organisation be educated along the line of our principles.”

Question: “Comrade Shaw says that there is no Socialism in Russia. Will he explain why every Capitalist country is opposed to Russia?”

Answer by Comrade Shaw:

“Foreign capitalists are opposed to Russia for the same reason that Britain and Germany are opposed to each other. Russia is a trade rival competing in the World’s markets with other capitalist countries in order to sell her commodities. While opposed to each other for this reason, all are agreed that Private Property must be protected. Trading goes on between Russia and other Capital countries, loans are floated, and millions have invested in Russia by foreign capitalists. At the present moment advertisements appear in the press offering you a high rate of interest if you will lend your money to Russia. The interest accruing from such loans comes out of the exploitation of Russian workers. All countries where the capitalist mode of production, distribution and exchange exists are opposed to each other”.

Question: “Must we merely put a cross on our ballot papers in order to get Socialism, and the kind capitalists will then hand over?”

Answer by Comrade Shaw:

“No. when the workers understand Socialism and take the action necessary to obtain it, the capitalists will not be asked to “hand over”. The workers will take over and the bosses’ opinions on the matter won’t matter a tinker’s curse”.

Question: “Will Socialist Society be political or economic?”

Answer by Mr Kilpatrick, B.S.I.S.L.P.:

“Society under Socialism will be a social unit, instead of at present divided into economic and political classes”.

Supplementary question by the same questioner:

“Since man is a political animal, I would like to know if Kilpatrick’s organisation claims that politics will be abolished under Socialism”.

Answer by MR Kilpatrick:

“What I understand by “Political” is that state of affairs wherein we have different economic classes who struggle with each other. Under Socialism classes will be abolished and the political struggles of classes will cease. Society will have to have some method of conducting the affairs of the community and social Administration will be entirely different from the present political system. I would say that man is a social animal rather than a political animal”.

Question: “Did not the workers in Italy take possession of a number of factories and were driven out by their masters who used their control of the State forces through having political power”.
Answer by C. Martin B.S.I.S.L.P:

“The people of Italy who took control of the factories were not Socialists but Syndicalists who did not believe in taking political action. The S.L.P. and the B.S.I.S.L.P. believe in talking political action as well as economic action”.

The Chairman at this stage announced that questions would have to cease but further discussion could take place. Each participant would be allowed five minutes.

A. Thompson, S.P.G.B.:“Much had been said of political action tonight by the opponents of the S.P.G.B. but it was quite apparent that they did not understand what it meant. Marx and Engels made it quite clear (as did all literature published by the S.P.G.B.) that political action meant that action which had for its object the control of the governmental powers which controlled the armed forces of the State. Engels pointed out that the workers would have to be in a majority, and thoroughly understanding the necessity for such action before they could establish Socialism.

Much misunderstanding exists as to the Socialist Party’s attitude regarding Trade Unions. The Socialist Party of Great Britain had always made it quite clear that the workers must organise on the political and economic field on sound class lines. Such organisation could not be accomplished by unclass-conscious workers, hence the S.P.G.B. carried on Socialist propaganda everywhere it was possible to do so. Everyone present should study the works of Marx, and when they had done so, they would see that the only organisation they could join, if they wanted Socialism, was the Socialist Party of Great Britain.

Mr McKay, S.L.P.: “Shaw’s position regarding Russia was the same as that told by the average bourgeois tourist who had spent a few days there then returned and spoke of things he did not understand. The facts are that the workers in Russia produce consciously in their own interests. Doctors, Lawyers, etc. are paid less than many of the manual workers. (Comrade Shaw: “What is your authority for making that statement”?). A friend of mine, returned from Russia recently, had been forced whilst employed in that country as a dentist to appeal to his clients who were members of unions to use their cards in order to obtain wine and cigarettes for him.

The delegates of the timber trade while in Russia had taken films of the Russian workers engaged in their employments and the films showed the workers to be strong, well fed, vigorous and healthy specimens of humanity. Work was done under ideal conditions, was not mechanical, and there was no compulsion. The workers, generally, were very satisfied and realised that in the near future all this work would rebound to their benefit. Every stage of the Five Year Plan was of interest to the International Proletariat.

A Socialist Revolution had undoubtedly taken place in Russia, but, as yet, Socialism proper had not been established. It was only a matter of time until it would become a living reality. Meanwhile, the S.P.G.B. theories against Russia but this only shows that they are feeling very sore about the matter, particularly the failure of their pet hates. Eventually the S.P.G.B. will spark out”.
Mr C MARTIN, B.S.I.S.L.P.: Thompson of the S.P.G.B. says that Trade unions are necessary under Capitalism and that is the S.P.G.B. position. The SOCIALIST STANDARD, for March 1915, says that the working class must organise both economically and politically. Shaw says Trade unions are rotten. Shaw seems to be very inconsistent. However it is the main points of the S.P.G.B. position I wish to get after.

Marx digs the S.P.G.B. pretty hard in the “COMMUNIST MANIFESTO” when he says that: “The workers cannot lay hold of the ready made State machinery and wield it for their own purposes” etc.

The B.S.I.S.L.P. says that the workers must organise on class lines on both the economic and political fields. We oppose the Communist Party for advocating reforms and for their bad tactics generally.

The Russian workers got control of the main industries thus getting economic power. With this economic power they soon got political power. All classes in history had likewise to have economic power before they could attain political power. The S.P.G.B. say that the workers must organise economically and politically but take no practical steps to organise the workers on the economic field. They are purely and simply a political party, and as such, is no use to the working class”.

Comrade Travers, S.P.G.B.: “Industrial Unionism as a method of revolution has still been forgotten by its champions in their endeavour to deal with the scientific position of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. This is very significant. Instead of members of the S.P.G.B. studying Industrial Unionism, as desired by Mr Martin the boot is on the other foot for it is quite obvious that that the case for Industrial Unionism has been outlined by its opponents tonight than its advocates. If the opponents of the S.P.G.B. will only study the position of that organisation they will soon see that Industrial Unionism is a red herring which must be kicked out of the workers’ path (A voice: “Industrial Unionism is a bird with two wings”). A bird with two wings is of no use if it has no brains. The antidote to the fallacies of Industrial Unionism and the many other red herrings is a sound knowledge of Socialist Principles. Once the workers have that knowledge, and not until they have it, then the business of emancipation will be a relatively simple matter”.

Answer to discussion by Comrade Shaw, SPGB:"The wordy assertions of our opponents fail to touch even the fringe of the Socialist party’s position. Misrepresentation has been resorted to, but this misrepresentation by Mr M’Kay will serve to show up in its true light the attitude of the Socialist Labour Party towards the War. Mr M’Kay says that the Socialist Party of Great Britain deserted the workers when the war broke out in 1914, but let us see. [Mr M’Kay at this stage, on a point of order said that the Socialist party of Great Britain were never with the workers at any time]. I would remind you that his colleague, Mr Martin has in his possession the official organ of the Socialist party for 1915, which in itself gives lie to the statement that the S.P.G.B. “packed up” during the war. On that much vexed question of “guts” which annoyed Mr. Martin, let us see what kind of a show was put up by those who possessed, or claim to possess, so much of that commodity. First of all, what did the Socialist party of Great Britain do in 1914? Listen to this. (Quoting from the MANIFESTO of the S.P.G.B.):

“Having no quarrel with the working class of any country, we extend to our fellow workers of all lands the expression of our goodwill and Socialist fraternity and pledge ourselves to work for the overthrow of capitalism and the triumph of Socialism”.
That was the attitude of the S.P.G.B. towards the war, but let us see how the men with the “guts” the “Fighting S.L.P” as they called themselves, faced up to the issue. This is from the S.L.P. paper, “THE SOCIALIST”, December 1914:

“The S.L.P. – let us admit it freely, it has been taken by storm, though not so disastrously as other parties. What policy does the S.L.P. follow with respect to this war? We do not know. We are disunited. We are groping for a lead at the present time”.
The Editor of the same journal wrote in the issue of November 1914, three months after the war broke out:-

“I cannot say what the official attitude of the Party is”
[Loud laughter].
You have heard the quotations from the organs of both organisations relative to the war, and it will be obvious to you which is the correct attitude.

We have been informed by our opponents that the condition of the workers in Russia are better than in any other country, they have a Socialist government there, but have not got Socialism. No evidence has been presented to us that there is a Socialist government in Russia, we are merely asked to believe the statement. I explained in answer to a question what was going on in Russia, that Capitalism is being built up and not Socialism.

Regarding the position of the Industrial Unionist which S.L.Per and B.S.I.S.L.Per alike take a stand on, I have enough material here to speak for two hours on the subject but I intend to deal with the main points only due to the lateness of the hour.

On the question of “Economic power” so much beloved by the S.L.Pers, and Industrial Unionists generally, if they mean the ownership of wealth, then history has much to say on this point which disproves the idea that mere ownership in some miraculous manner confers power on the owners. In England, from the 11th to the 14th century, the woollen merchants were the most economically important class, with all their wealth they were helpless and were fleeced right and left by those who had political power – the feudal aristocracy. The history of every country has been the same in this respect. The capitalist class, under Feudalism in spite of all their wealth were helpless until they wrested political power from the then dominant class in society. If we study the issues raised at a General election in modern times we see, plainly, the struggle between sections of the Capitalist class to get political power in order that their particular interests may be served. “Economic power” is another of the dangerous illusions that the workers must get out of their minds before they can win their emancipation.

Industrial Unionists claim that the Industrial Union has to be organised on a class basis, but Mr DeLeon the Pope of the S.L.P. has made it quite clear that non-Socialists must be recruited into the Industrial Union. Experience of the shop steward movement on the Clyde showed that the officials, mostly S.L.P.ers were just as reactionary and treacherous as the ordinary trade union officials. These individuals were outstanding as job hunters.

Another illusion of the Industrial Unionist is, that when we get economic unity we shall automatically obtain political agreement. But what are the facts? In America, we witnessed the two outstanding champions of Industrial Unionism, namely E. V. Debs and Daniel DeLeon, whilst in agreement as to economic organisation were deadly enemies on the political field. They were at daggers drawn all during their lives, one in the reformist Socialist Party of America and the other in the Socialist Labour Party. So much for the unity theory.

Industrial Unionism is essentially no different from Trade Unionism in so far as it, like the Trade Unions breeds its own scabs and, on occasion hands out definitely reactionary advice to the workers. During the miners strike in 1921, the advice offered by the S.L.P. in their paper “THE SOCIALIST” was: “Miners do not strike, seize the mines”. Fortunately for themselves the miners paid no attention to such nonsense, if they had done so they would have felt the weight of the Capitalist State. During the industrial troubles of 1926 the B.S.I.S.L.P. circulated the miners not to strike and this at a time when a savage attack was launched against the miners’ wages and working conditions.

The name adopted by the B.S.I.S.L.P. (British Section International Socialist Labour Party) is dishonest as the parent body, the socialist Labour Party in America, repudiates it. Why two Socialist labour Party’s anyway? Both organisations cannot be right, and it is quite plain to all that both are wrong.

The answer to all Mr. Martin’s questions are to be found in the works of Marx and Engels which he is so fond of talking about. Martin’s curiously worded question about the State is answered by Engels, when Engels describes the withering away of the State. The state will not commence to “wither away” until it is in the hands of the revolutionary workers who will slowly but surely build up the new order of society thus abolishing the State functions. The state is a necessary evil, as Marx shows, which is transmitted to the workers through revolution.

The pessimistic wail uttered by our S.L.P. opponents tonight that we will never get a class conscious majority is ably answered by Frederick Engels when he writes: (quoting from the “REVOLUTIONARY ACT”): “When it comes to a matter of the complete overthrow, the masses must participate, must know what is at stake”. All through the later writings of Marx and Engels we find the position put quite plainly that a class conscious majority of workers, in order to establish Socialism, must get control of the State machine.
Political power is the power to rule. The Capitalist Class have that power to-day and the Working Class give them that power at every election. When the workers understand and desire Socialism they will organise in the socialist party in order to raise themselves to the position of ruling class, by capturing political power. With that power in their possession they will set about the task of building a new order of society which will conform to the interests of all."

At this stage the chairman announced that owing to the lateness of the hour, the time now being 11-35pm, he, much against his will, was forced to draw the meeting to a close.


This was the first time the Socialist Party of Great Britain ever held a meeting in Govan, and the workers present, hearing our position for the first time, were certainly impressed.

Every worker who attended this meeting was presented with a free copy of the SOCIALIST STANDARD. A number of pamphlets were sold.