Letters

The Generation Game

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The useful pensions article by Solomon Hughes (September SR) contrasted 'pay as you go' and pre-funded (savings) pension systems, but it omitted a crucial economic point.

All methods of supporting pensioners are in reality 'pay as you go', or more accurately 'consume as you produce', and all are in fact based on 'intergenerational solidarity', ie today's workers providing goods and services for today's pensioners. This is concealed by the great con that is the money system, which also of course conceals the 'inter-class robbery' by which the ruling class get very generous goods and services out of us.

Spread the Word

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Can I congratulate you on publishing Sabby Sagall's article 'Solidarity Forever' (September SR).

This piece addresses something that many trade union stewards, myself included, often encounter--communicating the significance of internationalism to many of our 'less active' union associates who have difficulty looking beyond their own immediate needs. Hence the reason for my writing and asking if it would be possible to have an electronic copy of the article that might be sent to selected Scottish Unison branches for inclusion in their magazines/newsletters.

I await a favourable response.

Gerry McGarvey
Edinburgh

New Nightmares

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Sabby Sagall (September SR) makes important points about the tradition of international solidarity of British workers, but a key point needs to be underlined--the taking of industrial action in solidarity with struggles abroad.

This strand continued well into the post-1945 era with action against apartheid South Africa and Pinochet's Chile. Indeed, it was the horror of the tradition of political industrial action which motivated many of the Thatcherite attacks on unions. In the 1980s and 1990s the tradition waned but, as Sabby suggests, with union support for the Palestinian struggle and opposition to war it is back on the agenda. Walkouts if there is war with Iraq could revive the Tories' worst nightmares and give New Labour some new ones.

Keith Flett
London

No Cradle of Democracy

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While watching the jingoistic posturing of Bush and his poodle Blair, am I alone in remembering that in my teenage years the US still practised apartheid? Can this be the nation that lays claim to leadership of the 'free world'?

I know a decorated US army officer whose career was ruined, following investigation by the FBI, for believing he was free to remark in a bar that had Christ been alive today he would have been a Communist. The mother of democracy?

Utopia: Dreams and Nightmares

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Steve Smith's otherwise interesting article on dystopia in film (September SR) was ruined by his casual definition of dystopia.

The use of dystopia has a very specific place within art--to comment on modern society in an entirely different context.

Artists extrapolate the worst aspects of their present day society to create a future totalitarian state, such as in George Orwell's '1984', Yevgeny Zamyatin's 'We' or the film 'The Matrix', where things cannot get much worse. The likelihood of even challenging the system is seen as remote, and beating it almost impossible.

Utopia: Dreams and Nightmares

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I agree with Mike Gonzalez that corporations are colonising bits of the world through tourism (September SR). However, it seems to me that he then goes on to place some of the blame with the actual holidaymaker for choosing certain types of holiday.

In asking, 'How many Ayia Napa visitors see the rest of Cyprus?' Mike is falling in line with the view of many independent travel guides that the independent traveller is an innately superior being to the ordinary package tourist, who will almost always be portrayed as a working class yob devoid of any cultural appreciation.

The Blood-Soaked Flag

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Joe Cardwell and Mike Gonzalez are absolutely right to emphasise the links between sport and nationalism (July/August SR).

Cardwell quotes Orwell: 'Sport is war minus the shooting.' In Turkey it includes the shooting as well! Every time leading Istanbul team Galatasaray beats foreign opponents (alas, quite frequently in recent years), crowds take to the streets, shooting in the air in celebration.

Many have been killed by stray bullets, and many others in traffic accidents caused by drunken cavalcades of flag-waving supporters. These have been accidental deaths. The murders of two Leeds United supporters in Istanbul's central square were not.

No Place for Inaccuracy

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Martin Smith's otherwise reasonable article on trade unionism (July/August SR) was spoiled by an inaccuracy.

Paragraph 16 contains the following sentence: 'In an attempt to appease management he has signed a no-strike deal'. This is not true and if you can produce the agreement to support this assertion I would be amazed, as no such agreement exists.

Inaccuracy in the press is part of the world we live in but in a measured article accuracy should be at a premium.

W Hayes
CWU general secretary,
London

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