Reflections on July 4

As yet another July 4 approaches we are inundated with the usual flood of ‘patriotic’ (i.e., nationalist) songs and rhetoric. Perhaps the nastiest feature of the rhetoric is the emotional blackmail that it deploys. If we do not ‘support our troops’ – so we are given to understand – we are showing gross ingratitude to […]

The Electoral College: how it works

You may be thinking that what you are about to read will turn out to be quite dry, and perhaps you will come away from this essay thinking that it was in fact ‘quite dry’! But isn’t it a good thing to latch onto something that is ‘quite dry’ if you are drowning is a […]

A guide to Marx’ Capital for the anti-capitalist (but not yet socialist)

Last updated July 14, 2019 Introduction: Why read Capital today? It goes without saying that people read Capital to understand capitalism. But what do they do with that understanding? I would argue that unless it is connected to developing an image of a future society—fundamentally distinct from capitalism—then the understanding is worth very little indeed.  This was […]

Bernie Sanders and Workers Control

The idea of “workers’ control” or “industrial democracy” is now being  discussed in American political circles. Even some of the more far-sighted employers now support the idea of “workers’ participation” or “worker directors”. Bernie Sanders, the progressive presidential hopeful, is set to introduces plan that encourage employee-owner businesses and would require corporations to reserve a […]

Impressions on returning to a strange native land

I have lived more years in Japan than in my native country, the United States. My impressions of American life come from visiting Chicago for a couple of weeks every year. One thing that strikes me immediately, from the moment I arrive at O’Hare Airport, is just how little the basic infrastructure has changed over […]

Iran: again in the crosshairs

An American war against Iran has appeared imminent on previous occasions. Eleven years ago we saw similar military and political preparations for a US attack on that country. Fortunately, it never came. Now Iran is again in the crosshairs. War may again be avoided. However, even establishment analysts acknowledge that the confrontation in and around […]

A Hundred Years Ago: The Winnipeg General Strike

From the May 2019 issue of the Socialist Standard ‘The Winnipeg Strike will go down in history as a magnificent example of working-class solidarity and courage’ (Bill Pritchard). In February 1919, Seattle workers engaged in the general strike tactic, with 30,000 workers in 130 unions walking out for 5 days in sympathy with 38,000 shipyard workers. The city’s […]

How much are you worth?

From the May 2019 issue of the Socialist Standard Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democrat member of the US House of Representatives who calls herself a socialist, tweeted in February:  ‘Workers are often paid for less than the value they create.’ The American financial magazine, Business Insider, picked this up, commenting ‘this is essentially a restatement of Karl Marx’s “Labour Theory of […]

What is ‘millennial socialism’?

Opinion polls suggest that the younger age groups in the United States – colloquially referred to as ‘millennials’1– are much more open to socialist ideas than their elders. At least the taboo that used to surround the word ‘socialism’ is rapidly disappearing. The figures are quite striking. A poll conducted in April 2009 found that […]

I Wannabe a Plutocrat! (2013)

The Material World Column from the August 2013 issue of the Socialist Standard Dear Material World,  My life’s dream is to become a fully paid-up member of the capitalist class. Do you have any advice? How much money do I need to join? I am willing to work hard, but I need some guidance.  Greed is good!  […]

Lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan

By Alan Johnstone The wheels of justice turn slowly. Lead poisoning also acts slowly, but is no less pernicious for that. The city of Flint’s water crisis began in April 2014. In a cost-saving measure to save around $5m the state-appointed city manager changed the city’s water source from treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Department […]

May Day: the endless fight for the eight-hour day

Dancing round the Maypole on the First of May is an ancient custom. Only in 1891, however, did May Day become an occasion for workers’ demonstrations. The date was chosen to commemorate a police massacre during a rally at Haymarket Square in Chicago on May 4, 1886. The rally was in support of a strike […]

Arguing with President Trump

On February 5 our great flag-hugging president Donald Trump stood before Congress and delivered his State of the Union Address. Among other things he said: Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination, and […]

Trump’s Economist Advisors Seeing Red Everywhere (2018)

From the December 2018 issue of the Socialist Standard The word ‘socialism’ is more attractive than scary these days—and that has the White House worried. Two hundred years after the birth of Karl Marx, socialism is making a comeback in the United States. That is not our optimistic claim, but rather the view expressed by the Trump […]

Human Nature and how it can save us

Talk given by Karla Rab at the Community Church of Boston on May 3rd, 2015 “Socialism — A nice Idea, but it’ll never work because it’s against
 HUMAN NATURE!” That assertion has been encountered many times by socialists explaining the case for socialism to someone new to the idea. Here’s why it’s wrong: Probably the […]

Clash of the Nincompoops — The 2016 Presidential Election (It Matters, But not the Way You Think)

  Talk given by Ron Elbert at the Community Church of Boston, November 13, 2016 You might have seen clips of House Speaker Paul Ryan warning a crowd in Wisconsin (Joe McCarthy’s home state!) that if Republicans were to lose control of the Senate, guess who would become chairman of the Senate Budget Committee? A guy […]

Who or what is ALEC?

No, ALEC is not a new kid on the block. ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC was born in 1973 – the brainchild of Paul Weyrich and a group of Republican Party state legislators. This was not Weyrich’s first brainchild: he also fathered the Heritage Foundation and somewhere along the way coined the […]

Manufacturing the news

Mark Fishman, associate professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, investigated routine news production by examining the work practices of reporters and other news workers. His research findings were published by the University of Texas Press in 1980 in a book entitled Manufacturing the News. At the beginning of his book, […]

USA: illusions of democracy

The United States of America has been under one-party rule since its birth at the drafting of the Constitution. This document was drawn up by a small group of men (the founding “fathers”) representing four major economic interests – money, public securities, manufactures, and trade and shipping. In the conclusion to his classic work An […]

The World Socialist Party of the United States Turns 100

From the July 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard It is now just a century since the World Socialist Party established itself in the USA. Other such organizations arose at about the same time in Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere, from similar circumstances: SPGB comrades became world travelers to escape conscription in The Great War, […]

The cause of and cure for climate disruption

There is a political dispute going on about climate change, global heating, or global climate disruption. The dispute, unfortunately, is not simply about what to call it but about whether ‘it’ is happening at all, and if it is whether ‘it’ is being caused by human activity. 

Bernie Sanders Bows Out

Having acquired less delegates than Hillary Clinton in the primaries, Bernie Sanders has endorsed her as the Democratic candidate for the US presidency in the elections in November. Even if had won the nomination and actually become President of the United States of America, his freedom of action would be very restricted by economic and […]

The insanity of coal mining

National Public Radio (NPR) and the Centre for Public Integrity (CPI) teamed up to produce a special investigative report on the increased incidence of black lung disease in coal miners. The results of their combined investigations were released on the NPR’s radio stations on July 9–10, 2012 and broadcast on Public Broadcasting Systems (PBS) television […]

The ‘democratic socialism’ of Bernie Sanders

To a socialist Senator Bernie Sanders is far and away the least distasteful of the current contenders for the American presidency. He seems decent and sincere. Although he is running in the Democratic Party primaries, he has a long history as an independent politician, starting with his election in 1981 as mayor of Burlington, Vermont. […]

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