Here's a recording of a debate carried out on Sunday between Labour Party leadership candidates Gordon Brown, John McDonnell and Michael Meacher organised by the Fabian Society.
News has just come through a few minutes ago that Michael Meacher will stand down and recommend support for John McDonnell in the Labour leadership election.
The next hurdle is getting on the ballot paper, the deadline for this is Thursday. So if you haven't already written to your Labour MP asking them to nominate John McDonnell, now is the time.
Good stuff, I agree with most of what he says. He covers democracy over the economy, democracy within the Labour Party, corporations not paying £90-£150 billion of tax a year, housing crisis, union rights, air and rail travel, the failure of the market and the environment.
In an ongoing discussion I've had with Mr Anthony, I used Venezuela as concrete examples of nationalisation of international companies, and reducing the working week without impacting production or pay.
5. I wonder about your Venezuela example. It is true they nationalized the petrolium industry. But Citgo functions worldwide. And even though it makes up 80% of the governments revenue has it really changed the country.
I was actually referring to Venezuela taking majority ownership of Chevron, Exxon Mobil and BP property within Venezuela.
but when you read their statistics you are left lacking:
Infant Mortality 21.54 to every 1000. Child malnutrition is 17%. In the Amacuro Delta it is 30%. 32% without addequet sanitation. 5,000,000 without drinking water. 37% poverty rate. It ranks poorest of all South American Nations. (And its Socialist). The list goes on and on.
Well let's clarify the socialist thing first Venezuela is not a socialist country, the vast majority of the economy is a market, with capitalists, capitalism and the usual. Some members of the Venezuelan government are socialists, and have been carrying out fairly progressive reforms and social-programmes to aid the people of Venezuela. The capitalists are however the ruling class in Venezuela and still own the vast majority of productive property and the wealth in the society. I would only begin to consider calling it a socialist country when the working class have taken political power, when capitalist property has become the public property under the control of the workers and when the revolution is spreading across the globe. I think most people would agree with that definition.
Well let's get onto the statistics. Statistics are good, I like statistics, but on their own they don't really tell you a lot.
"Infant Mortality 21.54 to every 1000".
"37% poverty rate".
"Child malnutrition is 17%".
Well two of those are actually true. I dispute the last one and have data that contradicts it. I can't find sources for Anthony's remaining figures.
OK so infant (defined as under 5) mortality sure that's bad. So let's now bring in more statistics so we can actually compare it to something.
The current government in Venezuela was elected into power in 1998. So perhaps comparing before and after figures would be a good way to judge if things have improved or not, figures from UNICEF.
Under-5 mortality rate in 1990: 33 per 1000.
Under-5 mortality rate in 2005: 21 per 1000.
So under the present government we've likely seen most of the 33% improvement.
Let's compare that to some of Venezuela's neighbouring countries, countries that do not have governments implementing such progressive social-programmes.
Mexico under-5 mortality rate in 2005: 27 per 1000.
Brazil under-5 mortality rate in 2005: 31 per 1000.
Guyana under-5 mortality rate in 2005: 63 per 1000.
Venezuela, thanks to its social-programmes is leading the way.
Anthony's 37% poverty refers to the number of households in poverty. So let's compare these figures with some pre-Chavez figures from UNICEF.
Households in poverty, first half of 1997: 55.6%.
Households in poverty, second half of 2005: 37.9%.
Under the Chavez government things have improved again about a third.
The figures I've found for child malnutrition are quite different than those Anthony provided, I can't find any figures over a period of several years so instead I'll compare Venezuela with the Latin American average. Figures from the INE.
Child malnutrition: 4.7% (of which 0.7% is severe).
Latin American average: 8% (of which 1% is severe).
Again Venezuela is above average.
So the figures that are thrown out there by the imperialists to try and discredit the Venezuelan government and its social-programmes, to assist them in their quest to overthrow the government and its social-programmes so they can increase "profitability", are nonsense. When you compare the figures to Venezuela's neighbouring countries, and to Venezuela before the current government came to power things have quite dramatically improved for the people of Venezuela.
Statistics in a vacuum are fairly useless, without having a point of reference; something to compare them against you can't make any judgements.
Thank you Anthony for putting these numbers out there to help me prove my point that capitalism doesn't work, and the market doesn't solve anybody's problems, only social-programmes, like a higher minimum wage, free health care stand a chance, and only the socialist revolution can secure those gains.
I thought I'd tackle some comments left on a previous blog post so I can get more into detail. This left from Anthony:
My point is simple. How could 1 person make such outragous promises. Say in theory you make valid points. That doesnt mean you would be able to enact anything.
Obviously one would need a majority within parliament and an organised working people ready to defend themselves from any counter attack.
Capitalism is simple and it works if people are educated enough to understand the system.
Capitalism doesn't work, 35 million people dying every year isn't "working", 6 billion people being exploited by a few thousand tyrants isn't "working", never ending war between capitalists struggling for new markets isn't "working", it's a bloody disaster.
Capitalism does pay the employee thier rightful wage. The employee has the free will to turn down any job they do not feel like is worth thier time.
Workers sell their labour-power on a market; they're being forced to compete on a market, which forces their wages down. Capitalists also compete on a market; capitalists who can force wages lower have an advantage in competing with other capitalists. The workers produce all the wealth in society, yet a tiny minority profit out of it. That is theft; the wealth created by the workers is robbed under the guise of private ownership.
The reserve labour army, commonly called the unemployed also keeps wages down. Unemployment is almost a universal law under capitalism, the capitalists love it because it reduces their costs (your wages).
Owning a human being wholesale, classical slavery. Renting a human being by the hour, or by the year, or by the quota, wage slavery, is nothing less than theft and utter exploitation.
The minority of tyrants hide behind private ownership of the means of production to get away with it.
Since when did the government start caring what stressed people out? I would agree some people dont have the technical knowledge to properly invest thier pensions but to remove all peoples pensions would be folly. I suggest that you make it optional. Something people can choose. After all you want to give people as much freedom as possible right?
People that are stressed out are less productive, it damages the whole society. Having a state pension does not prevent an individual from putting money aside every month to save for a rainy day, or to top up their state pension when they retire.
1. You cant nationalize the countries total economy due to international companies operating on your soil.
Yes you can. Venezuela just nationalised the oil industry. Chile 1973, I can go on and on.
Of course to guarentee the victory of the socialist revolution and not just nationalisation it must be worldwide, and that is why socialists are internationalists, as Marx predicted capitalism created a single world market, with a single global working class.
After thousands of years of class struggle, in our epoch it is our class and our class alone throughout all of history which has the ability to end class society. It is in the era of capital that the class struggle can be simplified to its most basic element, the wage-profit battle, two grand classes directly facing each other, one which produces everything in society and one that like a vampire bat sucks the blood of the producers.
2. Buisness will not lose money they will simply pass the cost to the consumer.
An economy owned and controlled democractically by the people doesn't have to run with a surplus. There are no businesses in the sense you're using the term. The workers take back the surplus value that is stolen from them.
Reducing the work week is a novel idea. But reduced hours would mean reduced pay. Perhaps they pay you 40hrs worth. But they reduce your salary to make up the difference.
Factories under control by the workers in Venezuela recently voted to reduce the working week, with no loss of pay. Why? Because it takes up the surplus value that the former owners extracted from them. It is also necessary to give people time to participate in running the economy and politics.
Instead of new technologies being used to increase profits for the minority, new technologies increase productivity so people can make a bit more money or can spend less time at work, and more time educating themselves, doing art, developing culture, technology, science, which will push civilisation forward at a rate faster than ever seen before.
If you raise minimum wage that just means that the prices go up and you dont actually help anyone.
Take the United Kingdom. The Labour government introduced the minimum wage, before then workers could be paid anything between bugger all and £3 per hour. Nowadays the minimum wage is £5.35. It hasn't impacted employment; employment is higher now than in 1997. It hasn't impacted prices; inflation has been running at a couple of percent, below the increases in the minimum wage every year.
So it isn't even true in a market economy, let alone an economy owned and controlled by the people.
The new society that you speak of seems like one where there are little to no freedoms.
Under socialism some people (the former capitalists) no longer have the freedom to exploit the people, so they have to work like everybody else for a living. Like abolishing slavery, people no longer have the "freedom" to own slaves or the "freedom" to rent slaves by the hour.
This is a freedom that normal people cannot make use of, because they don't have the capital to exploit people. So it is no loss for the vast majority. It is a huge gain for the vast majority, who get the full value of their labour; they no longer have to work to maintain a parasitic class.
After all if the government owns everything.
Public ownership, controlled democratically by the people. You wouldn't use a political government to manage an economy. In my opinion you'd use enhanced and extremely democratic versions of trade unions.