Letters

After Florence: from Resistance to Revolution

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The fallout from the European Social Forum (November SR) is huge.

The organisers of the ESF estimated that attendance would be around 20,000 for the forum and 150,000 for the demonstration. In fact 57,000 signed up for the first European Social Forum, and 1 million marched against capitalism and war.

The anti-capitalist movement has shown incredible resistance and strength despite many of the pessimistic words and thoughts of those on the left. Only a year and a half after the violent repression suffered in Genoa, the movement has responded in the most spectacular fashion.

...And the Chart Toppers

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Lee Billingham (October SR) addresses the evolution of politics within the world of music, but apart from a fleeting reference to System of a Down, almost entirely ignores the rock and metal genre.

While the music industry continues to reap huge profits from musicians and those who buy music, it is invigorating to know that a number of bands have, and continue to, challenge the system. Rage Against the Machine, for example, have a long history of politics under their belt--from the defence of the rights of Native Americans, to the struggle to free Mumia Abu Jamal.

The Chart Stoppers...

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I read Lee Billingham's article 'Revolutions Per Minute' (October SR) with interest.

Unfortunately, Lee's idea of ticking off the ideological good and bad points of current pop acts didn't make for an inspirng read. Readers of Socialist Review already know that sexism and homophobia are bad and that anti-capitalism is good, so do we really need a survey to tell us which chart fodder we can buy that is politically okay? As I thought we'd been reminded by anti-capitalism, cultural commodification is part of our oppression.

Looking for the Missing Clue

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I agree with Chris Harman that Eric Hobsbawm's autobiography shows both the best and worst sides of him (October SR)--on the one hand, the defender of Marxist history, with whom readers of 'Socialist Review' could differ only in matters of detail; on the other hand, the theoretician of 'Marxism Today', which genuine socialists have nothing in common with.

However, Harman fails to spot the clue that Hobsbawm gives us as to the connection between these two apparently opposed positions. Hobsbawm reveals that he never bothered with the work of ordinary Communist Party members, organising branches, selling papers and so on. He says this was not for him. Hardly surprising, therefore, that when he delivered the lecture that became the notorious 'forward march of labour halted', Hobsbawm notes that he entirely failed to realise what a furore it would cause in the labour movement, because he was not aware of what was going on in that movement.

They Think It's All Over

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As an active SWP member who also loves football, recent articles and letters apparently having a pop at the beautiful game have really wound me up. Happily, Pat Stack's wise and sympathetic article (September SR) calmed me down again--especially as he 'came out' as a footie fan, so making me feel less like a heretic!

Alas, it couldn't end there. Ann Rose (Letters, October SR) writes to urge Pat Stack to recant and condemn football, citing the usual charge sheet of racism, violence and commercialism.

So here's my twopenceworth. Yes, football suffers from the evils of commercialisation and commodification. But hang on--which popular activity doesn't? Yes, football is exploited to promote nationalism and racism--but which sport isn't? And yes, football as an industry is institutionally sexist--but which industry isn't? The point I want to make is why pick on football?

The Lie Detector

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If there was such a machine as a bullshit detector, then the needle would have gone off the dial. There's a 1960s poem with the constant refrain of 'Tell me lies about Vietnam'. Without the irony, New Labour politicians are queuing up to 'tell us lies about Iraq'.

The generalised antipathy towards all politicians means that there's an almost automatic distrust of whatever they say, but that rejection can also reflect a desire to seek out alternative explanations to the official version of events.

We cannot underestimate the impact that John Pilger's Daily Mirror articles have had. He has been able to put hard-hitting anti-imperialist arguments to a working class audience of millions. The 'Alternative Dossier' (October SR) was good and has gone down a storm. I've heard many anti-war activists praise it.

The Lie Detector

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With regard to the UN sanctions against Iraq mentioned in 'The Alternative Dossier' (October SR), under Resolution 661 imports such as food and medicine were specifically exempt from the embargo.

But Britain and the US who dominate the Sanctions Committee have banned or delayed such items as baby food, X-ray machines, heart and cancer drugs, chlorine, and a wide range of contracts related to food, water, health, sanitation, education and agriculture.

The lie Detector

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Your 'Alternative Dossier', (October SR) was a welcome demolition of the half-truths, fabrications and downright lies being used to justify slaughter in Iraq. It is essential we expose the hypocrisy of the warmongers at every opportunity.

A key plank of the allegations is that Iraq is 'within six months' of the ability to build and deliver nuclear weapons. It is surreal how Iraq has supposedly been 'within six months' of delivering a nuclear bomb--for at least the last ten years! This accusation is even more bizarre when you consider an event that Blair and Bush would be happy for us to forget. During the 1970s Iraq built a nuclear power station (despite having plentiful supplies of oil). In the wake of the 1979 Iranian Revolution its military significance was hard to ignore.

Basquing for Trouble

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Ninety percent of Spain's parliament and Spanish judge Garzon have decided to ban Batasuna the Basque nationalist party.

Meanwhile the majority of the Basque people have rejected such action. The point is, who dictates what is democratic to whom? Political conflicts will end when democratic sense allows people to choose their own future (read Kashmir, Palestine, Sahara, Corsica, Northern Ireland, etc).

Sick as a Parrot

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Being an avid reader of 'Socialist Review', imagine my dismay on turning to the back page, which is the first one I read (Pat's hilarious column), to hear him wailing on the demise of football (September SR).

Shame on you Pat--if ever anything should fail it is football, with its racist chanting, hooliganism, money grabbing directors, primadonna players--in fact words fail me.

So Pat, I am afraid I will have to condemn you and the above-mentioned to Room 101.

PS: I will still read your page.

Ann Rose
Stockport

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