Letters

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

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?

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