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latest news

Ireland North
Martin McGuinness - from IRA leader to Stormont minister

29/03/2017: The IRA campaign, the ‘peace process’ and the working class

  Ireland North

Greece
H&M workers score victory against management plans

28/03/2017: Despite very difficult times, struggle can bring results

  Greece

 Solidarity
#JobstownNotGuilty international day of action a huge success

28/03/2017: Over 30 protests around the world and 88 MPs/MEPs pledge support

  Solidarity

Russia/Belarus
A week-end of mass protests

27/03/2017: New spring of protest opens up, as 1,000s arrested

  Russia

Hong Kong
Creeping “coup” by Chinese dictatorship

27/03/2017: Defend the four Hong Kong legislators

  Hong Kong

Britain
Terror attack at Westminster

24/03/2017: Unite against terror, racism and war

  Britain

Italy
Democratic Party splits and 5-Star Movement in crisis

22/03/2017: Class struggle can build real left force

  Italy

Spain
Student strike empties classes and fills streets on 9 March

21/03/2017: Over 100,000 take to the streets in SE demonstrations

  Spain

Scotland
Second referendum on independence?

18/03/2017: SNP fire the starting gun but offer no solutions to austerity

  Scotland

Brazil
National day of strikes and protests shows Temer can be beaten

17/03/2017: For a one-day general strike as the next step

  Brazil

South Africa
Unity against poverty, crime and xenophobia

17/03/2017: Capitalist politicians use xenophobia to divert attention from failures of profit system

  South Africa

Netherlands
Election result a colossal defeat for austerity government

16/03/2017: Oppose Wilders and the ‘mainstream’ right – Build a mass workers’ party that struggles for socialism

  Netherlands

Yemen
Workers and their families left to starve by multi-billionaire companies

16/03/2017: International campaign needed to force companies to pay

  Yemen

Hong Kong
Protest against LSG Sky Chefs dismissal of union chairman

14/03/2017: Ng Chi-Fai sacked for organising union by multinational’s Hong Kong division – international solidarity needed

  Hong Kong

Ireland North
Snap election raises sectarian temperature    

14/03/2017: Workers need strong socialist alternative at ballot box and in unions

  Ireland North

Quebec
Counter protest against far-right

13/03/2017: Rise of Islamophobia and right-wing reaction poses new challenges to the left

  Quebec

 International Women's Day
Speech by Kshama Sawant

12/03/2017: Video of 8 March rally in Seattle

  Women

 International Women’s Day
Millions join marches and take action

10/03/2017: Socialists around the world demand an end to women’s oppression

  Women

 Hong Kong
Women’s march against sexism and racism

09/03/2017: International Women’s Day: “Solidarity with global mass protests and women’s strikes”

  Women

 Spain
Hundreds of thousands participate in International Women’s day student strike

08/03/2017: ‘Libres y Combativas’ and Sindicato de Estudiantes call strike against sexist violence and for working class women's rights

  Women

Pakistan
Political spectacle of the ruling class

08/03/2017: Most workers underemployed, 40% in poverty - situation demands new workers’ party

  Pakistan

 International Women’s Day 2017
A century on from the Russian Revolution

06/03/2017: Demonstrations world-wide swelled by anti-Trump anger

  Women

Britain
Massive demo shows battle to save the NHS can be won

06/03/2017: Up to 250,000 march in national protest, organised from below

  Britain

Egypt
Price hikes hit workers and middle classes

04/03/2017: Falling support for dictator Sisi portends growing opposition

  Egypt

Hong Kong’s sham election

03/03/2017: Pan-democrats sink to new low by supporting “lesser evil” John Tsang

  Hong Kong

US
Socialist response to Trump’s address to joint session of congress

02/03/2017: Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative councillor, speaks

  US

Sweden
“Who could believe it?"

24/02/2017: What is behind Trump's attack?

  Sweden

Britain/Ireland
Dublin's #JobstownNotGuilty

23/02/2017: Defend the right to protest - stop this political vendetta!

  Ireland Republic

Ireland
A web of intrigue sparks government crisis

22/02/2017: Smear campaign against a prominent police whistleblower

  Ireland Republic

February revolution 1917
What lessons for today?

21/02/2017: 23 February 1917 (8 March in today’s calendar) marked the beginning of the socialist revolution in Russia, which sparked a revolutionary wave that would travel around the world.

  Russian Revolution

Britain

Universal basic income demand gains ground

www.socialistworld.net, 08/02/2017
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

What approach should socialists take?

Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales)

The idea of welfare benefits being replaced by a ‘universal basic income’ (UBI) has resurfaced in recent years - a welcome discussion because it raises the fundamental right of everyone to have an income that meets their basic needs. Exact proposals vary but they are all based on the idea of everyone in society receiving an unconditional, tax-free, regular payment, regardless of whether they are working or the composition of their household (see box).

Supporters of a ‘progressive’ UBI say it would:

  • Secure everyone’s right to a basic standard of living
  • Reward the huge amount of unpaid care and voluntary work
  • End means testing and benefits sanctions
  • Give women greater independence, as they would be paid as individuals rather than as part of a household
  • Mean no financial disincentive to work, as UBI would not be withdrawn
  • Be simpler than the present benefits system
  • Give workers a safety net allowing them to more easily risk switching jobs
  • Make it easier to make ends meet when taking strike action
  • Enable reduced working hours, creating more jobs for others and allowing more time for innovation, leisure, political activity, etc

Discussion on UBI is centuries old, but today campaigners point to a new urgency due to the growing precarious nature of employment and the threat to jobs from automation. More and more workers face the insecurity of having no set minimum hours of work or are being paid ‘by the task’. Many who do have full-time contracts are not paid enough for a decent standard of living.

The “possible effects on the labour market of robotics” is one of the motivations behind a report advocating UBI that is being presented to the European parliament in February by a Luxembourg MEP. The French Parti Socialiste (PS) presidential candidate, Benoit Hamon, chosen by the party’s membership for rejecting the anti-working class measures of present PS president Hollande, calls for an eventual UBI of €750 a month for every adult in France. He aims to partly finance it by a tax on the deployment of robots.

Limited UBI-type trials are being carried out - or are planned - in a number of countries and cities around the world, including in Finland, the Netherlands and Kenya. In Britain, the Scottish National Party and Green Party support the idea of a UBI, and Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour will look into it.

Right-wing motivations too

Ominously, it is not only from the left that support for UBI comes. The UBI trial in Finland, involving unemployed workers, is under a right-wing coalition government. Among right-wing capitalist economists and commentators who have supported some form of UBI (including ‘negative income tax’) are Milton Friedman and Charles Murray in the US, who argue it would reduce government bureaucracy by axing welfare programmes and open up a bigger ‘free market’ for private service provision.

In addition, as academic Jathan Sadowski wrote in the Guardian last year: “UBI can, in some ways, be seen as welfare for capitalists. Now more people can drive for Uber and work for TaskRabbit - at even lower wages! - because UBI subsidises the meagre paychecks earned by hustling for the sharing economy. The tech companies take home the profit and face even less pressure to pay a living wage to their non-employee employees.”

The UBI proposals of some on the right are regressive rather than progressive, ie they would directly benefit the rich more than the poor. However, despite all these possible gains for the most wealthy, most capitalist representatives have opposed UBI.

Their reasons include its vast potential cost; the undermining of having a pool of unemployed workers who can be used to drive down wages and conditions; and the safety net a UBI would give workers who move to take strike action.

When a referendum took place on it in Switzerland in June 2016, none of the Swiss parliamentary parties supported the idea. A deluge of propaganda helped to defeat the proposal, including slamming it as a ‘something-for-nothing’ handout and the right-wing Swiss People’s Party raising the spectre of a flood of immigrants eager to cash in.

Could UBI be funded?

A June 2016 study of possible UBI schemes by pressure group Compass, with funding from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, concluded: “In the context of existing tax and benefit arrangements, it is not possible to design a scheme that is revenue neutral, pays a decent sum and withdraws most means-tested benefits without significant numbers of losers.”

This finding isn’t surprising when looking at the draconian cuts made over years to benefits for the poorest and most vulnerable layers of society, the mega tax cuts for the rich and corporations and the fact that UBI would provide for everyone in society.

Far from moving towards better-funded welfare, successive governments are pushing more and more people into destitution, one of the latest measures being backdoor cuts during the change to Universal Credit. Child Benefit, which once had an element of the UBI doctrine in that every household with children could have it, is now means-tested and its value is falling in real terms.

The Socialist Party calls for:

  • All welfare and other cuts to be reversed
  • Greatly increased provision of services 
  • A minimum wage of £10 an hour without exemptions as an immediate step towards a real living minimum wage
  • An immediate 50% increase in the state retirement pension, as a step towards a living pension
  • A maximum 35-hour week with no loss of pay

Not just in Britain but across the globe capitalist-driven austerity is pushing down the protection provided by all types of benefits and subsidies. For decades Alaska’s government has used oil revenue to provide every resident - including children - with an annual, unconditional UBI payment, which in 2015 reached a peak of $2,072. But last year the state governor vetoed around half of the planned payment, reducing it to $1,022, on the grounds that the state budget deficit was too high.

Hybrid schemes

Searching for a UBI scheme that would be acceptable to big business, some left-leaning think tanks and political parties have proposed hybrid solutions. Any improvements in living standards for the poorest in society - and for the overwhelming majority - would be welcome, and every such scheme has to be judged on its merits.

But all their proposals go through contortions to be as ‘revenue neutral’ as possible - ie to avoid substantially hitting the wealth of the super-rich. So their best proposals would only benefit some sections of society to a modest extent, while leaving in place parts of the old benefits system to compensate the ‘losers’.

The Green Party’s proposal for a ‘citizen’s income’ more than doubles child benefit, but people presently living entirely on benefits would only do “a little better” say the Greens, with the rider that at least they wouldn’t face the misery of benefit sanctions.

Unwilling to propose raising enough money for UBI (or existing benefits) by strongly taxing the rich and big business and/or by nationalising the top companies, Compass and a number of other organisations propose creating a special ‘social wealth fund’.

Compass wrote: “Such funds have been widely used in other countries and would ensure that a higher proportion of the national wealth is held in common and used for public benefit and not for the interests of the few. They are a way of ensuring that at least part of the benefits of some economic activity are pooled and shared among all citizens and cross generations.”

Why just “part” of the benefits of “some” activity? Why not all of the benefits from the biggest - and decisive - companies in the country, through taking them into public ownership and deciding democratically how the wealth they produce is distributed?

Otherwise the funds created will be restricted in income and expenditure to the whims of philanthropists or subjected to the needs of the capitalist classes and their governments, as are the social and sovereign wealth funds that already exist across the globe - and as the Alaska example shows.

Compass also suggests that a “more radical” way of funding a UBI than a social wealth fund would be “a small annual charge on the owners of shares”.

This isn’t a new idea - many left reformists have raised it over decades. The problem they come up against is that a “small” charge wouldn’t be enough to fund a UBI that people could live on, and a large charge would be intolerable for the ruling class - whose interests the parliamentary pro-capitalist political parties will not readily defy.

Capitalism vs socialism

The present onslaught on welfare states and the gifts of reduced taxes for the richest in society have not just been for ideological reasons. They also reflect the endemic economic crisis the capitalists face - including their lack of profitable-enough ways to invest their capital.

Why then would capitalist governments agree to a sufficient UBI that would mean much greater taxation for big business and the rich? Clearly they wouldn’t out of choice.

Any such ‘generosity’ could only be achieved by a massive wave of working class struggle, one so great that workers would most likely want to push on beyond the gaining of a ‘survival level’ UBI, to challenge the capitalists’ role and right to own the means of creating wealth in society.

What, fundamentally, do working class and middle class people want and need? Not a future where capitalist-owned robots increasingly displace them from the workplace, the bosses become ever richer and many workers are left to exist on whatever level of benefits or UBI can be extracted through struggle.

A socialist scenario would be entirely different. With the main companies taken into public ownership, automation could be used to reduce working hours without loss of pay. The available work could be shared out so that everyone who is able to can be part of producing the wealth in society and then that wealth be used to provide a good standard of living for all - including those unable to work.

Under socialism it could be democratically debated and decided whether to have a system of good wage levels with a decent minimum, along with excellent benefits for those unable to work, or whether to achieve a similarly high standard of living across the board through a UBI based system, or to adopt elements of both.

Also, a socialist society would be able to provide vastly improved services - including for the elderly and the incapacitated - which would contribute towards a universally good standard of living, along with other measures like low cost housing and transport, and free education.

Capitalism has created enough productive capacity to enable the complete wiping out of poverty and poor living standards.

However, not only will the capitalist classes not do that, they are presiding over the opposite trend - ever-increasing inequality, the enrichment of the richest at the expense of the majority. Eight individuals now own as much wealth as half of all humanity.

It’s also the case that they are unable to use anywhere near all of the productive capacity they have brought into being.

A socialist system based on public ownership of the main industries and services and socialist planning could not only use the presently unused capacity but could hugely increase the production of socially useful goods, and in an environmentally friendly way. Automation could be used to phase out the most tedious and ‘dirty’ jobs and reduce working hours, rather than being the threat to workers’ livelihoods it is under capitalism.

 



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Che Guevara: Símbolo de Lucha

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A socialist world is possible, the history of the cwi with new introduction by Peter Planning green growth, a contribution to the debate on enviromental sustainability

NEWS

Greece: H&M workers score victory against management plans
28/03/2017, Statement (slightly edited) by Xekinima (CWI Greece):
Despite very difficult times, struggle can bring results

Solidarity: #JobstownNotGuilty international day of action a huge success
28/03/2017, socialistworld.net :
Over 30 protests around the world and 88 MPs/MEPs pledge support

Russia/Belarus: A week-end of mass protests
27/03/2017, Socialist Alternative (CWI Russia) Reporters:
New spring of protest opens up, as 1,000s arrested

Hong Kong: Creeping “coup” by Chinese dictatorship
27/03/2017, Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) :
Defend the four Hong Kong legislators

Britain: Terror attack at Westminster
24/03/2017, Judy Beishon, from the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) website :
Unite against terror, racism and war

Belarus: Protesters flood onto streets demanding scrapping of “law against parasites”
21/03/2017, Daniil Raskolnikov (translation of article from the Russian CWI site www.socialist.news):
President Lukashenko must go!

Spain: Student strike empties classes and fills streets on 9 March
21/03/2017, Sindicato de Estudiantes (SE), Spanish Students' Union :
Over 100,000 take to the streets in SE demonstrations

Scotland: Second referendum on independence?
18/03/2017, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI) :
SNP fire the starting gun but offer no solutions to austerity

South Africa: Unity against poverty, crime and xenophobia
17/03/2017, Shaun Arendse, Workers and Socialist Party (CWI South Africa):
Capitalist politicians use xenophobia to divert attention from failures of profit system

International Women’s Day: March in Malaysia and week of activity in Belgium
16/03/2017, socialistworld.net :
Reports from Kuala Lumpur and Brussels

Netherlands: Election result a colossal defeat for austerity government
16/03/2017, Pieter Brans, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands), Amsterdam:
Oppose Wilders and the ‘mainstream’ right – Build a mass workers’ party that struggles for socialism

Russian Revolution: March 1917 - After the fall of Czarism, what next for the revolution?
16/03/2017, socialistworld.net:
New article on 1917revolution.org

Hong Kong: Protest against LSG Sky Chefs dismissal of union chairman
14/03/2017, Sally Tang Mei-ching, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) :
Ng Chi-Fai sacked for organising union by multinational’s Hong Kong division – international solidarity needed

Quebec: Counter protest against far-right
13/03/2017, Michele Hehn, Alternative Socialiste (CWI in Quebec) :
Rise of Islamophobia and right-wing reaction poses new challenges to the left

International Women's Day: Speech by Kshama Sawant
12/03/2017, Socialistworld.net :
Video of 8 March rally in Seattle

International Women’s Day: Millions join marches and take action
10/03/2017, Clare Doyle, CWI:
Socialists around the world demand an end to women’s oppression

Hong Kong: Women’s march against sexism and racism
09/03/2017, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) reporters:
International Women’s Day: “Solidarity with global mass protests and women’s strikes”

Spain: Hundreds of thousands participate in International Women’s day student strike
08/03/2017, Sindicato de Estudiantes, students’ union in the Spanish state :
‘Libres y Combativas’ and Sindicato de Estudiantes call strike against sexist violence and for working class women's rights

Pakistan: Political spectacle of the ruling class
08/03/2017, Tariq Shahzad, National Organiser of IYWM (International Youth and Workers Movement) :
Most workers underemployed, 40% in poverty - situation demands new workers’ party

Britain: Massive demo shows battle to save the NHS can be won
06/03/2017, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) deputy general secretary :
Up to 250,000 march in national protest, organised from below

Egypt: Price hikes hit workers and middle classes
04/03/2017, David Johnson, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) :
Falling support for dictator Sisi portends growing opposition

Hong Kong’s sham election
03/03/2017, Dikang, Socialist Action:
Pan-democrats sink to new low by supporting “lesser evil” John Tsang

US: Socialist response to Trump’s address to joint session of congress
02/03/2017, socialistworld.net:
Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative councillor, speaks

Catalonia: Historic demonstration in Barcelona in support of refugees
25/02/2017, Esquerra Revolucionària :
'Volem acollir'

Sweden: “Who could believe it?"

24/02/2017, Per-Åke Westerlund, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden):
What is behind Trump's attack?

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Ireland North: Martin McGuinness - from IRA leader to Stormont minister
29/03/2017, Michael Cleary, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast :
The IRA campaign, the ‘peace process’ and the working class

Italy: Democratic Party splits and 5-Star Movement in crisis
22/03/2017, Marco Veruggio, ControCorrrente, (CWI in Italy) :
Class struggle can build real left force

Brazil: National day of strikes and protests shows Temer can be beaten


17/03/2017, André Ferrari LSR (CWI in Brazil) :
For a one-day general strike as the next step

Yemen: Workers and their families left to starve by multi-billionaire companies
16/03/2017, Cedric Gerome, CWI :
International campaign needed to force companies to pay

Ireland North: Snap election raises sectarian temperature    
14/03/2017, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast :
Workers need strong socialist alternative at ballot box and in unions

International Women’s Day 2017: A century on from the Russian Revolution
06/03/2017, Clare Doyle, CWI :
Demonstrations world-wide swelled by anti-Trump anger

February revolution 1917: What lessons for today?
21/02/2017, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales), printed in the Socialist (paper of the Socialist Party):
23 February 1917 (8 March in today’s calendar) marked the beginning of the socialist revolution in Russia, which sparked a revolutionary wave that would travel around the world.

India: Upheaval in Tamil Nadu
09/02/2017, Sajith Attepuram, New Socialist Alternative (NSA) (CWI India) :
Corruption, nepotism, and other crimes of ruling party exposed

Britain: Universal basic income demand gains ground
08/02/2017, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales) :
What approach should socialists take?

CWI and Izquierda Revolucionaria – Towards unification
06/02/2017, Socialistworld.net :
Joint declaration of the CWI’s IEC and Izquierda Revolucionaria’s IEC

France: After Sarkozy, Juppé and Valls, now Fillon is on the way out
06/02/2017, Alex Rouillard, Gauche Révolutionnaire (CWI in France) :
Space opening up to left of Socialist Party

Syria: Is an end to the war in sight?
03/02/2017, Serge Jordan (CWI) :
New movements for change will need to arm themselves with the lessons of the Syrian tragedy

Sri Lanka: The year 2017
31/01/2017, Siritunga Jayasuriya, United Socialist Party (CWI in Sri Lanka) :
Between oppression and struggle

Canada: Where are Trudeau’s ‘Sunny Ways’?
31/01/2017, Tim Heffernan, Socialist Alternative (CWI Canada), Toronto

:
Battles of Indigenous peoples, youth, workers will test Liberal government

Russian Revolution Centenary: January 1917 - On the eve of revolution
29/01/2017, Niall Mulholland, from 1917revolution.org :
War, hunger, hated Tsarist regime: class tensions reach breaking point

Afghanistan: The limits of US power
28/01/2017, Judy Beishon, from Socialism Today (February 2017 issue), monthly magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales)<br />
<br />
:
Imperialism’s 15-year adventure a bloody catastrophe for millions

US: Build 100 days of resistance to Trump’s agenda!
27/01/2017, Bryan Koulouris, Socialist Alternative, US :
Establishment deeply divided as mass resistance explodes

Millions on women's marches around the world
25/01/2017, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) and reports from US marches :
Reports from mass women's marches against Trump

China: New US President’s approach to China
21/01/2017, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info :
Outbursts raise fears of confrontation

Ireland North: Snap elections called to Stormont Assembly
17/01/2017, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast :
Build a socialist alternative to the ‘Orange’ versus ‘Green’ headcount

Spain: What kind of Podemos do workers and youth need?
17/01/2017, Izquierda Revolucionaria, Spanish state, editorial :
Debate within leadership touches on fundamental issues for future of party

US: Trump prepares vicious attacks
05/01/2017, Philip Locker and Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative (US):
Mass resistance needed!

Russian Revolution centenary
02/01/2017, Editorial from Socialism Today, Dec/Jan 2017 edition:
Defending the legacy in a new era

2017:Upheaval and fightback will continue
01/01/2017, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) general secretary :
Everything to play for in 2017

Britain's shifting political contours
22/12/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) from Socialism Today Dec/Jan 2017 edition :
Capitalist establishment in disarray