Letters

Seoul Music

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At last South Korea has joined those countries in which great anti-US demos happened last year. By 'anti-US', of course, socialists mean opposition to the US state and its foreign policy, not ordinary US citizens.

On 7 December, 50,000 took to the streets of South Korea, protesting against the 'not guilty' verdict given to the US soldiers who had run over two Korean junior high school girls with an armoured car, and demanding a revision of the law (SOFA) concerning the US army stationed in South Korea.

Freedom Denied

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The Malaysian constitution guarantees the right of every citizen to establish a society or party, and freedom to associate.

However, on 27 January 1999 and again on 15 September 1999, applications by the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) to become a registered society were turned down by the Ministry of Home Affairs. In August 1999 Azmi Khalid, then a senior minister in the Ministry of Home Affairs, stated that the decision to decline PSM's registration was taken because PSM were regarded as a 'threat to national security'.

Disco 2002

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The problem I had with Lee Billingham's article on music (October SR) and Muhammad Salleh's letter (November SR) is that both of them said, 'Buy this band, they're political.'

When so much chart music is so shallow, you can understand where they're coming from. But music isn't meant to be journalism with sounds added on afterwards. Interesting art follows different rules.

Bankrolling Beethoven

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Like many reviewers, Lee Billingham uses a music column (October SR) to write about the lyrics of songs rather than about the music itself.

However, music communicates feelings and experiences at a very profound level. At its best, it can capture the emotional state of a movement, its confidence and its political direction. It is for these reasons that ruling classes suppress musical traditions for their musical content, rather than the explicit political content of the lyrics. It is also one of the reasons why music is coded, and the political purposes of the musicians do not necessarily coincide with the political sentiments expressed in the lyrics.

An Important Postal Point

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As a member of the CWU I can say what a massive difference it has been to have had Billy Hayes as our general secretary.

It's a big step forward for getting things through at union meetings. I'm extremely pleased that he's been so prominent in support of anti-war activity and the European Social Forum. The piece in last month's 'Socialist Review' was an excellent summing up of where we are and where we want to be.

After Florence: From Resistance to Revolution

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It is likely that Florence will go down in history as one of the great gatherings of the European left.

A real sense of collective excitement gripped the tens of thousands of activists who attended. That the left across Europe has been able to regroup on such a scale is testimony to all those who have built the movements against war and globalisation.

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.

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