Letters

Remember Germans' role in Middle East

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Simon Guy’s article (“The Use and Abuse of the Arab Revolt”, June SR) is a timely reminder of the role of imperialism in the Great War in the formation of the Arab world today.

However I would just like to point out that it was not inevitable that the Ottoman Empire sided with the Central Powers, but the result of an assiduous campaign by the Germans, heavily subsidised by German finance capital and fronted by Kaiser Wilhelm II.

A few comments on the Philippines

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Giles was, as always, sharp in his article on Rodrigo Duterte’s victory in the Philippine election (“New Philippines president is a gangster”, June SR).

However, I believe there are a few things we have to consider to understand the situation.

First, the Maoist Communist Party (CPP) is part of the National Democratic Front (NDF), which includes organisations of workers, peasants, students, women, etc. So if we simply regard the CPP as “no force for progress” it is hard to see how we build relationships with these organisations.

Fight for good beer

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I enjoyed Keith Flett’s article “Real Ale, Craft Beer and Anti-capitalism” in the May issue of Socialist Review. The emergence of craft beer is to be welcomed and encouraged. But even the best craft beer can’t match a great pint from the wood. The infrastructure needed for great ale is complex and expensive. Well, it’s a pub! We must focus primarily on protecting and promoting real ale above all. Even the greatest victory can be reversed in time, especially when big business wakes up and sniffs money. We must stay vigilant and protect the gains we’ve fought so hard for.

Building networks is key

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Following our article on the national Scottish FE strike in last month’s SR (“FE: Not a one day wonder”) there has been discussion about whether our stress on the importance of rank and file organisation means ignoring or taking a hostile attitude to union officials. The answer is no. In a very modest way we’re emulating the Clyde Workers Committee a century ago (and that’s not because they were fellow Scots): “We will support the officials just so long as they rightly represent the workers, but we will act independently immediately they misrepresent them.”

More on robots, please

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There has been a series of articles in the media on the issue of robots and automation becoming much more sophisticated. Some of the articles claim this could lead to many jobs disappearing. I have recently started a new job for an insurance company. In the first month we were told by management that they are looking to automate certain tasks. They of course told us everything would be fine, but I’m not an idiot — that is going to mean jobs.

Tantalising Egypt

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Simon Assaf’s glowing review of The Egyptians by Jack Shenker (March SR) is spot on. Shenker is totally committed and reports from the thick of the struggle. He brilliantly captures the shifting moods of the masses in the words of participants and provides a comprehensive historical analysis of the crises at the heart of the Egyptian neoliberal authoritarian state.

Strikes stopped call-up

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There was an important omission in Chris Fuller’s fascinating piece on resistance to conscription during the First World War (“Forced to fight their war”, March SR). Chris concludes by stating that the government backed off from introducing conscription in Ireland “still stunned by the Easter Rising”. In fact it was mass resistance, crucially the general strike called by the Irish TUC, that forced Lloyd George to retreat.

United fronts today (2)

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The labour movement has revived and the time has arrived to build a front against racism, Islamophobia and all the other associated forces of repression perpetrated by this monstrous government.

It was heartwarming to read Tom Kay’s thoughtful and timely article on the need for a united front. Such a body requires having sufficient organisational coherence to enable it, as Trotsky enjoined in 1921, to work “at every given moment” for “joint, coordinated actions” between revolutionaries and non-revolutionaries.

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