Jan Nielsen’s article (“How austerity hurts women”, February SR) very usefully showed the disproportionate impact of government cuts on the lives of women. There is also an ideological element to this.
The ruling class, via the media, government, education system, and so on, perpetuates the idea that women are naturally suited to certain roles. Those at the top of society need women to be defined by the services that they provide, and the products they consume.
In “God, Greed and Homophobia” (January SR) John Newsinger writes, “the great Clement Attlee did send 20,000 British troops to Saigon in 1945 to fight alongside the French against the Communist resistance!” Not quite true. John has written some splendid denunciations of British imperialism, but here he is too kind to Attlee.
It was refreshing to read Barry Conway’s article on the Zulu victory at Isandlwana in South Africa (January SR).
It can’t be overemphasized that the British were defeated because of racist arrogance. Lord Chelmsford, leading the British invasion, couldn’t conceive of the Zulus as a serious enemy. So he didn’t follow standard procedure and set up a defensive perimeter around his camp, and then he fell for a clever trap set by the militarily experienced Zulus, drawing away most of his best troops.
I want to thank Leahy and Thomas for their comments regarding the professional middle class (Feedback, January SR). As the capitalist class shrink in numbers and the working class grow in numbers, professionals become more important as a managerial class. The professional class do not create surplus value; they facilitate its creation in the working class.
Clearly, attacks from the right on LGBT rights must be resisted, as Laura Miles says (“The war on trans”, January SR).
However, the potential erasure of “women” and “lesbian” as categories are real issues which are worthy of discussion. There are far reaching medical and social issues associated with self-ID, especially for children.
Raph Piggot (Feedback, January SR) correctly attacks the EU for its role in imposing austerity on Greece and now Italy. However, the EU’s Social Chapter safeguards many workers’ rights — its working time regulations imposes a limit of 48 hours a week; young people under 18 are protected from super-exploitation by not being allowed to work more than 40 hours a week. Equal pay has been enshrined in EU law since 1957.
It was good to see the engagement in the letters pages of last month’s Socialist Review to my and Andy Ridley’s article about the turmoil in the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) which has followed from discontent over this year’s NHS pay deal (“A right royal crisis prods dormant unions to life”, November SR).
Thanks to Pete Sinclair for his clarifications and insights about the limitations of the deal and to Dave Lyddon for his informative comments about the historical evolution of the RCN.
Susan Rosenthal’s letter in December SR defines all professional workers as middle class because they are graduates who allegedly “stand between the capitalist class and the working class, taking orders from above them and giving orders to (or wielding power over) those below them”.
In November SR Sabby Sagall puts forward the left case for remain. This essentially consists of an argument that the EU supports “women’s and workers’ rights” and “upholds environmental protections and provides major support for the arts.” This argument might come as a surprise to the people of Greece who have seen in practice exactly what EU “support” does to the rights of women and workers, environmental protection and so on.