Arguments for socialism: Charity or justice?

[Green Left Weekly, #291, September 24, 1997]

At Princess Diana's funeral, representatives of some 100 charities she had worked with walked in the cortege. Charities are such an all-pervasive feature of modern society that we tend to take them for granted. However, they are decidedly a phenomenon of capitalist society and are essential to its functioning.

Arguments for socialism: In the spotlight

[Green Left Weekly, #289, September 10, 1997]

It is a now a commonplace that the untimely death of Princess Diana has put the spotlight on the media. But the issues raised go far deeper than questions of media intrusion into the private lives of famous people.

Arguments for socialism: Jobs at a price

[Green Left Weekly, #283, July 30, 1997]

Although the tourist postcards ingeniously manage to leave it out of the picture or consign it to a hazy background, BHP's huge Port Kembla steelworks is the most obvious feature of Wollongong. The towering main smokestack with its ever-present whitish plume can be seen at great distances from the city.

Cancer fear in the Illawarra

[Green Left Weekly, #282, July 23, 1997]

WOLLONGONG — The recent release of a long-awaited government report on leukaemia clusters in the Illawarra will do little to allay community concerns.

Arguments for socialism: Is 'human nature' up to it?

[Green Left Weekly, #275, May 21, 1997]

If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, "human nature" is often the final defensive position of apologists for capitalism. Any sort of truly egalitarian society is impossible, it is claimed, because people are naturally greedy and competitive. The ambitious and aggressive will always form an elite which will dominate society, irrespective of any economic arrangements. Thus socialism is a utopian fantasy — it is against "human nature".

Arguments for socialism: Crime and punishment I

[Green Left Weekly, #273, May 7, 1997]

Crime, especially violent crime, is a favourite staple of the capitalist media. Murders, assaults, sex crimes, paedophilia, robberies, home invasions, gang violence — they can never get enough of it. Then they whip it up over supposedly lenient jail terms or the release of murderers, rapists and child molesters who have served their sentences.

Arguments for socialism: Capitalism and the ecological crisis

[Green Left Weekly, #272, April 30, 1997]

The ecological crisis is perhaps the strongest argument for socialism. Despite the business-as-usual attitude of the capitalist media, this is not just one more crisis: it is a looming catastrophe that threatens the survival of humanity. It is generated by the most fundamental workings of the system and for that reason cannot be overcome within the framework of capitalism.

Arguments for socialism: Would socialism work?

[Green Left Weekly, #270, April 16, 1997]

Socialists condemn capitalism because it has failed the overwhelming mass of humanity in the most decisive way. It promises freedom, democracy and prosperity but spectacularly defaults on all three (as, for instance, the people of the former Soviet Union are today finding out to their bitter cost). Nevertheless, capitalism has one undoubted historical merit: it has developed society's productive powers to the point where everyone on the planet could be assured a decent, truly human existence — on the condition that the capitalist system is replaced by socialism.

Arguments for socialism: Utopian fantasy or realistic option?

[Green Left Weekly, #269, April 9, 1997]

February next year is the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Marx and Engels' famous Manifesto of the Communist Party. This event can be regarded as the birth of the modern socialist movement. Yet, despite all the drama and turmoil of the past century and a half, today the socialist movement seems at its lowest ebb ever. Among capitalist commentators, it is the received wisdom that socialism is a dead issue. Many erstwhile radicals have come to the same conclusion.

An introduction to James P. Cannon

[From Building the Revolutionary Party: An Introduction to James P. Cannon (New Course Publications: Chippendale, 1997)]

James P. Cannon was a pioneer of the Communist Party of the United States and one of its central leaders in the 1920s. Breaking with the Stalinised CP in 1928 he founded the American Trotskyist movement and played the decisive role in building it for over three decades.