Letters

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

The Good Side of Focus Groups

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In his article on asylum seekers, 'Labour puts asylum seekers in focus' (July/August SR) Solomon Hughes refers to focus groups as 'guided discussions which reflect the prejudices of their organiser more than public opinion'.

While it's absolutely right to be sceptical about Philip Gould's use of focus groups, they are also a valuable research tool. They have been used by critical social scientists to investigate how opinions are formed collectively--and how they can change collectively.

I'd refer interested readers to work done by the Glasgow Media Group, to Michael Billig's writings and especially to a fascinating book by William Gamson, 'Talking Politics', which shows working class Americans to be far more politically aware than their leaders think.

Rachel Aldred
London

Corrupting Ideology

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Sabby Sagall's article on anti-Semitism (July/August SR) takes a very superficial attitude towards anti-Jewish sentiments in the Middle East.

While there has often been a tendency for protests in the Middle East against Zionist colonisation and discrimination to degenerate into a pogrom against Jews as a whole, the rise of extreme Islamic sentiments has been accompanied by the popularisation of prominent features of European anti-Semitism. The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion do a roaring trade in the Middle East, and only recently a Saudi Arabian newspaper retailed the very European myth of the Jewish blood sacrifice.

Threat Requires Anti-Establishment Response

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John Shemeld's letter (July/August SR) was well argued. Indeed for five minutes he convinced me.

But then I tried to relate that to my experience in the May elections. I stood as a Socialist Alliance candidate, and while we were canvassing on the estate, people kept bringing up the issue of asylum seekers, but the same people agreed with everything else we were saying! That is because we were talking about how neo-liberalism is making people's lives shit. We stuck to our guns and argued against the racism and people respected us for that, especially because our counter-argument that the rich were the real enemy and were trying to scapegoat refugees did strike a chord.

Popular Front is a Warning from History

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John Shemeld, Jamie Rankin and Phil Webster argue that it was right to call for a vote for Chirac in the French presidential elections (July/August SR).

Rankin in particular dismisses the experience of the fight against fascism in the 1930s as having no relevance today. In fact applying the lessons of a period when the stakes were even higher is crucial.

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