Letters

Facing Down the Evil Empire

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Sight and Sounds

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After having just seen, and very much enjoyed, 'Gangs of New York', there are a number of things I'd like to add to Mike Davis's article ('Bloody Streets of New York', January SR).

This is a Hollywood movie on a grand scale, like a lurid Northern counterblast to 'Gone with the Wind'. This accounts for some of its faults--for all the violence, the gangs' world often seems attractively bohemian. The battle with which the film opens has a choreographed quality and a thumping soundtrack which almost turns it into a rock video.

The Missing Links

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As the firefighters' dispute develops, socialists inside the trade union movement need to answer--and win--the crucial political questions which have underpinned the strike.

Central to the future of our movement is the relationship between the trade union leadership and the Labour Party and our ability, at a rank and file level, to condition it.

As our union leaders fight to ensure the political fund is exclusive to Labour, we need to battle to democratise it. To do so effectively means rebuilding a political rank and file movement as the only method workers have of controlling their union leaders-right wing or left wing.

Julie Waterson
London

The Missing Links

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There is room for some innovative thinking on the link between pay discontent and the march towards war ('Fight Fire with Fire', November SR).

Buried away in Gordon Brown's Finance Bill is a freeze in personal allowances for working-age adults. This is the threshold at which workers start to pay income tax. It is obviously of greatest importance to the low paid, but it affects everybody.

Direct Action

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Having read Lindsey German's article 'Moving On Up' (November SR) I feel I must defend direct action and those who choose to engage in it.

Granted, collective action is vital if we are to build a truly mass movement, and the Stop the War Coalition is a shining example of what can be achieved by this means. However, direct action can be equally effective in raising the consciousness of those to whom we need to appeal. Also, on a practical level, direct action by small groups can be quicker to enact and far easier to arrange.

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