Hunger in Britain

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As the crisis of global capitalism deepens, more and more working people in the centres of imperialism, a lot of whom have been living relatively secure (although not necessarily fulfilling) lives, are being pushed down further into real poverty once again. A parliamentary inquiry has just brought to light the extent of the effects of the economic crisis and rising food prices on some of the most poor sections of the working class of Britain. Among other things they found that:

“The rising costs of housing, food and fuel have had an adverse impact on households’ ability to buy and cook meals. Since 2003 food, fuel and housing costs have all increased at a greater rate than earnings, with food (46.4%) and fuel costs (154%) increasing by a significantly greater amount than both earnings (27.9%)and overall inflation (37.7%). Oil and food price spikes will have contributed disproportionately to these increases. This is likely to have had a greater negative impact on living standards for the poorest households.”

Some key stats from the report:

  • 4 million people at risk of going hungry
  • 272 food banks across big cities and towns
  • 500,000 children live in families that can’t afford to feed them
  • 3.5 million adults cannot afford to eat properly

(Source: All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the UK, Poverty and Social Exclusion project)

And it is the youth of the country who will come to suffer most, as many are not even provided with a decent present let alone any hope for the future.


Out of Touch

Meanwhile the political representatives of the ruling class how out of touch and indifferent they are to the working people of the country. Below are some comments made by Tory politicians (which is of course not to say that the other mainstream parties are any better):

  1. Michael Gove MP claimed Food Bank users were “Not able to manage their finances”
  2. A former Tory Minister claimed “the moment they [Food Bank users] have got a bit of spare cash they are off getting another ­tattoo”
  3. David Cameron PM said Food Banks are “Part of what I call the Big Society”
  4. One Tory MP claimed that Food Bank usage can “become a habit”
  5. Another Tory MP said people use Food Banks because of an “inability to manage money and to budget, addiction to alcohol or substance misuse…”
  6. Tory Minister, Lord Freud, suggested “food from a food bank is by definition a free good and there’s almost infinite demand”
  7. A senior Tory Councillor said Food Banks enabled poor budgeters to “have more money to spend on alcohol, cigarettes”
  8. A Tory MP jibed “how many folks can still find funds to pay for alcohol and cigarettes but not food”
  9. West Oxfordshire Conservative Future chairman  “I have seen some ‘food bank users’ in the pubs of Witney… #priorities.”
  10. Iain Duncan Smith MP accused the Trussell Trust of “Scaremongering”

(Source: http://www.greenbenchesuk.com/2014/01/10-appalling-comments-by-tory.html)


Waste

Another thing this inquiry has laid bare is the amount of irrational waste that is produced by the anarchy of capitalist production and its focus on profit rather than need:

“Just 2% of edible surplus food generated by food retailers, manufacturers and suppliers that is fit for consumption, is currently redistributed. 98% of this surplus food is currently turned into compost or energy, or disposed of in landfill.”

Capitalism is proving once again that it is incapable of providing humanity with its basic needs — it merely gives us increasing impoverishment, homelessness and hunger at home, and continued misery, starvation, lack of clean water and shelter for hundreds of millions more around the globe.


The Future

To quote from a CPGB-ML leaflet:

It is clear that capitalism has outlived its usefulness. The longer working people allow it to linger on, the more we will suffer.

That is why those who profit from the system are trying to convince the working masses that there is nothing wrong with capitalism; that the only problem is the greed of a few ‘fat cats’. But this is like trying to blame blowflies and maggots for the rotten flesh off which they are feeding. Instead, our attention needs to be focussed on getting rid of the stinking corpse of the capitalist system itself.

Working people must take possession of all means of production now owned by the capitalist class (factories, machines, raw materials etc) in order to start producing goods that directly meet the needs of the people, as opposed to the current system, in which even the most basic necessities of life are only produced or distributed if there is a profit to be made.

The capitalist state has been perfected as a machine to prevent us challenging capitalist relations of production and it must be smashed. In its place we need to build a workers’ state, whose main jobs will be to plan production rationally and to stop the old exploiters returning to continue their reign of misery and war. This is the only way out of the mists of darkness.

The financial crisis is not of our making; our work can and will create sufficient wealth for everybody to be able to live well. If capitalism will not produce or distribute because there’s no profit to be made, then the working class must step into the breach to take over production for itself.

By spreading understanding about the real nature of the crisis among workers, our party seeks to help empower our class to fulfil its historic mission of killing off capitalism once and for all and building a new socialist society and a bright future for all our children – free of war and free of want.

Help make it happen, join now!

Red Youth arrive in Quito for the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students 2013

Red Youth delegates have received a warm welcome in Quito, landing at midnight local time (5AM UTC) after a marathon 24 hour journey.

Delegate Pack, 18 WFYS, Quito, Ecuador
Delegate Pack for the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students, Quito, Ecuador

So far, we are the only members of the British delegation to have arrived, and – although the defunct Brit National Preparatory Committee have not passed on our registration fees – Red Youth delegates have successfully registered.

Delegates who have already arrived are enjoying the buzz of the festival grounds, which are being prepared for the opening ceremony at 12:30pm (17:30 UTC) tomorrow, in the beautiful and expansive Parque Bicentenario, repurposed from the old Quito airport.

Parque Bicenteniario, Quito, Ecuador

The Festival’s slogan is “Youth united against imperialism, for a world of peace, solidarity and social transformation.”

During our short time in Quito, as well as enjoying the warm hospitality of the Ecuadorian people, members of the British delegation have already had the chance to meet with and talk to many other youth delegations from across the world, including Canada, the USA, Argentina, Russia, and Germany.

While travelling to Ecuador, Red Youth delegates were much saddened to hear of the death of Nelson Mandela, former leader of the African National Congress and central committee member of the South African Communist Party, who became one of the great symbols of the South African masses in their arduous struggle against the vicious, racist, colonial-settler apartheid regime.

Mandela and Hani
Nelson Mandela and People’s Hero Chris Hani

We send our condolences to the people of South Africa, who held him in such high regard as the first president of a non-racist South Africa, to his party comrades, his family, and the freedom-loving people of the world, who admired his articulate and self-sacrificing championing of the cause of equality and freedom.

We note with Mandela’s passing, that the ‘Freedom Charter’ –  the document that promised the redistribution of the wealth of South Africa, including its minerals, and its land, to the hungry and impoverished South African masses – remains unfulfilled; and that the struggle which he embodied during much of his adult life, remains to be fought and won.  South Africa’s workers and peasants look to their neighbour Zimbabwe as the model for solution to their poverty; one of many facts about Mandela and South Africa that all the press coverage of Madiba’s death is anxious to brush aside.

We are excited and privileged to be able to attend the festival with so many of our fellow optimistic and active youths from across the globe, all here to talk about how we can make the world a better place and achieve a future free from imperialism, exploitation, poverty, unemployment, famine, and war.

School is a tool

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The divide between capitalists and workers, both politically and economically, is continuing to expand rapidly as we sink further into economic crisis.

Adding to the relative and absolute impoverishment of the working class in the material sense is the impoverishment of our minds. The most glaring example of our lack of class consciousness or of a Marxist understanding amongst Britain’s workers is all too apparent when we compare the prevailing social peace in the face of massive cuts in Britain with the dramatic fight-back that has been unfolding in the streets of Greece, Turkey and Spain in recent weeks and months. It is clear that we are suffering from a total malnourishment in theory and understanding.

The education of workers regarding the alternative to capitalism is hardly touched upon by our labour movement, and within the state schooling system it is conducted in no meaningful way whatsoever.

The education system works in tandem with the ‘justice’, media and religious establishments (to name but a few) to acclimatise us all to monotonous subordination and despair. The idea that another world is possible is never on the horizon. All of these institutions, it should be noted, are currently being removed from state control and placed into the hands of private owners in the hope that our parasitic ruling class can wring a few more drops of profit out of public institutions that have been bled white.

The purpose of schooling under capitalism is to train us for disciplined labour in the imperialist workforce – to instil us with the stamina to run on the hamster wheel of pointless employment (if we’re fortunate!) until we drop dead, or until we make it to some ever-receding ‘retirement’ age (assuming there will even be such a thing as a state pension by the time we make it to the age of 70!)

The modern curriculum seems to be saturated with mathematical equations whose usefulness is never made clear to us, with religious instruction that is utterly inane, and with repetitious emphasis on how to speak and spell ‘properly’ … even while we are given instruction in the works of William Shakespeare, who was famous for being the originator of so much English slang! How contradictory!

Our schools, and the whole grading and assessing system they buy into, teach us that we are only as good as the grades we receive on results day and the marks we are adjudged to have earned from our teachers. They teach us that the girl across the hall from you is better than you because the A* that she has received is better than your dismal C!

This is a system that inevitably benefits the bourgeoisie, and it is no coincidence that it does so. To earn your A* you must learn to be an excellent parrot – no individuality or criticism is permitted. Regurgitate your textbook onto your exam paper in order to demonstrate how Stalin killed all and sundry before brunch on an icy Russian winter’s morning. A* and place at university assured … along with access to a higher-paying job and a nicer level of life than might be open to some of your less fortunate friends.

But is the great Albert Einstein not proof that the current existing methods of assessment are incorrect, idealist and unfair? Poor old Albert was considered to be an ‘underachiever’ in school too!

Schools are not there to not teach us how to think critically, to pose alternative theories or to explore beyond the curriculum. Everyone has their own ways of thinking, their preferred learning strategies and their unique mix of abilities, yet we are taught, assessed and ranked through the same means.

The present exam system is a hegemonic ideological state apparatus enforced by the bourgeoisie. The whole purpose of exams is not to maintain standards but to ‘reward’ those with the right class background along with the most pliable working-class students with access to university places and jobs. It sets a pattern that is preparing us for our roles in society, all the while covertly teaching us to look down on people who earn less than we do because they must surely be ‘less intelligent’ or ‘less deserving’.

It’s important for us to realise that most people don’t get the grades they worked for so much as the grades their parents paid for. The entire public-school system is set up to make sure that A grades and access to Oxbridge are achieved as standard by anyone with a modicum of intelligence and pliability. Small class sizes, extra coaching, extra-curricular activities, internships, business and academic contacts and exam technique are all part of the package that ensure that the richest parents can expect their children to ‘achieve’ as expected.

To get the same grades as a state comp student requires far more discipline and motivation, especially if you come from a poor family where books and knowledge are not on tap at home and in which such attainment is not expected or planned for, either by your family or by your teachers. Yet still, to win this coveted prize requires students from all backgrounds to crush their critical faculties and teach themselves to become mouthpieces for the prevailing system – something that is far harder to do if your life experience is constantly teaching you that the system is not the ‘fair’, ‘democratic’ ‘meritocracy’ it pretends to be!

If schools endorsed the theories of Karl Marx, if they educated students on his revolutionary literature and explained the materialist conception of history, how quickly do we think the ‘great minds’ at the Department of Education would cry aloud that dictatorship and all the rest of it have long been done away with?

It is not that Marx’s theories are not relevant today or, as the bourgeoisie would have us believe, that ‘Marxism is dead’. Quite the opposite. The bourgeoisie are fully aware that his teachings are correct and that Marxism will never die while class society continues to exist. Indeed, they themselves desire to understand Marx’s ideas, the better to debunk them. Not a great house or public school in the country would be without complete without the works of Marx and Lenin on its shelves – but try finding them nowadays in your local library!

Unfortunately, all that working-class youth are likely to find on comprehensive or academy school shelves is Animal Farm, the objective of which is to hammer home that nonsensical view that ‘communism doesn’t work because everyone is naturally greedy and people won’t work together’. This ‘truth’ is handed down to us just 20 minutes before the next teacher tells us what a wonderful ‘Big Society’ we have in Britain, and how we all worked in common to bring understanding to the natives during the colonial era. What happy times.

Working-class youth needs to educate itself; to set its own programme and curriculum – one which reflects our life, our struggle and our conditions. Young people should educate themselves in the most advanced theory, Marxism Leninism. The CPGB-ML urges the youth of this nation to read the revolutionary and emancipating works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin so that they can prepare themselves to break out of the poverty and ignorance that has been assigned to them.

The youth of today is the wealth of tomorrow. Don’t let our school and our warped and class-ridden assessment system determine what you do with your life. Join the CPGB-ML, join Red Youth and be the change you want to see in the world. As Chairman Mao put it: “Dare to struggle; dare to win!” Or as Marx and Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto 165 years ago: “Let the ruling classes tremble at a communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.”

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