Letters

Nothing Natural about War

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

William Halpern asserts that 'human nature' needs 'to be considered alongside the purely political and economic issues 'to get closer to the truth about the nature of war' (Letters, March SR).

Like other arguments from human nature, this presupposes that some trait, say the ability to learn a human language, or violence, is genetically hardwired into the human organism--that it is part of what it means to be human to manifest the trait. This is a very strong claim. A single counterexample--a society whose institutions do not express or promote greed or violence--means that we have to scrap or modify the assumption and reconstruct any arguments that rest on it. 'The exception proves (ie tests) the rule.'

On Mums and Orphans

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Shaun Doherty's review of Peter Mullan's 'The Magdalene Sisters' (Feburary SR) was spot on. It is also worth drawing your readers' attention to Mullan's earlier masterpiece, 'The Orphans', which is available on video and DVD.

This is a grim, wonderful, surreal, working class black comedy. Set in Glasgow, it follows the misadventures of three brothers and their disabled sister the night before their mother's funeral.

While not wanting to go over the top, it was one of the best films I have seen, although my mum thought the masturbation scene unnecessary! It is essential viewing.

John Newsinger
Leicester

In the Right Direction

Issue section: 
Issue: 

In his review of Welcome to the Desert of the Real!, the latest book by the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, Alex Callinicos remarks that despite Zizek's intermittent political 'misses', he's generally 'heading in the right direction' (January SR).

One noteworthy example of this appears in an interview with Zizek published in 'Ha'aretz', the liberal Israeli newspaper, on 13 January. At the end of the interview Zizek is asked what sort of alternative to capitalism he'd like to see. He replies: 'There's the puzzle. I would say, a new version of what was once called socialism.'

This, to my knowledge, is the first time that Zizek has explicitly used the word 'socialism' to describe his hopes for the future. Previously, he tended to (mis)use the term to describe state capitalist regimes of the former Eastern bloc.

Slush and Nonsense

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

What an excellent article on the late Joe Strummer (January SR), and the lyrics to 'White Riot' still inspire today.

Of course after this single and the excellent first album The Clash made startling progress (the album reached number 12 on its release in Britain). The record company started taking control, and after that the band, despite critical acclaim for their efforts, started churning out what can only be described as corporate slush, and the politics died a death.

The best way to appreciate Joe and his thinking is through The Clash's first album--which reflected 1970s Britain superbly.

Facing Down the Evil Empire

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Mike Haynes's article 'Facing Down the Evil Empire' (February SR) identifies the links between the motivation for military proliferation, the desire for war, and questions of global economics, particularly the rise of capitalism.

However, the possibility of future conflict in Iraq and elsewhere in the world is about more than US imperialism and western capitalism versus its rivals.

There is the daunting question of human nature itself which the author does touch on briefly. He makes the bold claim that human beings are not inherently warlike. This is open to debate and crucial to questions about human conflict. Beyond this there is the question of the clashing of religious and moral beliefs which have led to many conflicts, irrespective of global economic considerations.

Jarrow Anger March

Issue section: 
Issue: 

The sight that greeted me on 15 February as the protest against war on Iraq began its slow but methodical move towards Hyde Park was truly amazing. As Andrew Stone predicted in last month's Socialist Review (February SR) it was truly an historic day.

Virgin and veteran, black and white, male and female, mums and dads and children and teens, we marched side by side in a resolute display of what we think of Blair's attitude toward those who have supported his rhetorical eqivocations for the past eight years.

We have meekly accepted his 'spin without substance' and his grandiose designs on international leadership, fearful that a revolt would once again open the door for the return of the right wing infested Tory machine.

From Calcutta to Cairo

Issue section: 
Issue: 

During a weekend of anti-war protests in Cairo to coincide with 15 February's international day of action demonstrators were warned of more mass arrests. Riot police surrounded a rally to prevent supporters joining from the streets. They told young activists that they would be dragged to jail.

One of the protesters who was seized the week before has been released. Ibrahim al-Sahary, a journalist, was freed from Tura Prison on the Monday after the demonstration, leaving 11 activists still in jail.

From Calcutta to Cairo

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

India, like the report about Britain (February SR), also saw a spate of anti-war protests--in Delhi, Calcutta and Bombay.

In Delhi it was organised by the Committee Against War in Iraq formed in October 2002. Some 3,000 people marched in the heart of the capital, New Delhi, in protest against imperialist plans to attack Iraq. Placards and banners said 'No War on Iraq', 'Down with US Aggression', 'Protest Now or Perish'. Other placards showed the connection between the war and corporations. Students, academics, writers, social activists and workers were part of the march. Dalit (oppressed caste) and Muslim groups were also present to protest against the war in Iraq.

Occupational Hazard

Issue section: 
Author: 

The article 'From final salary to final straw' (January SR) needs some additions, mainly because it does not examine the fundamental flaws of privatised pensions adequately--particularly final salary occupational pensions.

As the article says, pensions have led to mass mobilisations in France and other continental countries. This is because their trade union leaders, to their credit, have not spread the illusion that saving up and gambling on the stock market, rather than class struggle for adequate social insurance, is a route to decent pensions for the working class.

In contrast trade union leaders in Britain have engaged in gross class collaboration with both employers and the City over pensions for 50 years via the privatised occupational and other funded pensions systems.

Sight and Sounds

Issue section: 
Author: 

Joe Strummer's recent untimely death robs us of a true rebel, as John Rees explained (January SR).

It's hard to believe that I and 500 others saw his last ever show in Liverpool last November. Joe and The Clash politicised thousands, from their Rock Against Racism gigs onwards. Joe helped to instil anti-war, anti-fascist and anti-imperialist values that have stayed with my generation. He also made some of the most powerful, exciting music there's been.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Letters