Letters

An Echo from the Past

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Chris Harman argues (June SR) that it was wrong to call for a vote for Chirac against Le Pen in the second round of the French election.

I agree that the way to stop the Nazis is by mass action, not just by voting. I agree that the slogan of the left should be 'Onto the streets' not 'Vote Chirac'. I agree that our politics should be those of the united front, not the popular front. I agree that in certain circumstances the Tory-type right would let the Nazis into power. And I agree that the left should never agree to withdraw from standing in elections under pressure to 'unite behind an anti-Nazi candidate'.

Rather the Gangster Than the Fascist?

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I don't agree with Chris Harman (June SR) that the French left should not have voted for Chirac to keep Le Pen out of power.

People on the streets don't get counted towards a vote. History does not repeat itself, although there may be echoes from a similar period in the past. We most certainly don't want our hands to be tied by what other generations decided. Implicit in Chris's argument is that if Hindenburg, when president of Germany, could make Hitler prime minister, then Chirac in his turn could make Le Pen prime minister.

Rather the Gangster Than the Fascist?

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I agree with Chris Harman (June SR) on the danger of a re-emergence of popular front politics, but I do not agree that this meant abstaining in the second round of the French presidential election.

The LCR in France were right to call for a vote against Nazi Le Pen and therefore, unfortunately, for Tory Chirac during and only during the crucial two weeks of street demonstrations between the first and second rounds. Football fans understand two things that are relevant here. Firstly, if they are there in the stadium, and if they choose to support one side, they can have a small but real effect on the result.

Creating a New Canvas

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At last month's Globalise Resistance conference in London, and at the European Social Forum mobilising committee meetings in London, proposals have been put (and defeated) about setting up an English Social Forum.

The argument is unlikely to totally disappear, so the experience of the social forum movement in Italy needs to be assessed critically.

Nothing Personal

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One of the most active groups in modern society is the pensioners' movement.

This is for two good reasons. Firstly they remember the periods before and after the Second World War and the pressures which led to the welfare state. Secondly, they are suffering from neglect and the increasing disparity of wealth within society.

Help the Aged has done an invaluable service in providing solid evidence on which we can campaign.

Bang Out of Order

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Chris Talbot's review of Cosmology by Peter Coles (April SR) made far too many concessions to the idealist theories that now appear to dominate modern physics.

For example, the so called 'Big Bang' theory of the origin of the universe was invented by a Christian cosmologist (Lemaître) who wanted to reconcile cosmology with the biblical story of creation. The evidence for the occurrence of just such a 'Big Bang' is equivocal--at best--despite the hype that surrounds it.

Capital Gains

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The Walrus was right to point out that the bosses are worried about the issue of London weighting (May SR).

The Economist' recently reported that NERA--an economics consultancy--had published a survey suggesting that London teachers should be claiming an allowance of more than £9,000. NERA arrived at this figure by comparing the regional pay differentials in the private sector. The government use the pay differentials in the public sector, which NERA rejects because it argues they do not accurately reflect the extra cost of hiring people in and around London.

A New Left is Emerging

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The coverage on Palestine and the Middle East (May SR) was excellent. Palestine is now a key fault line in US imperialism's effort to establish 'full spectrum dominance' around the world.

This is especially true of the Middle East, but in Europe support for the Palestinians is running high. So in the run-up to Bush's recent visit his supporters were casting criticism of Israel as a direct attack on US interests. They accuse Europe of being both 'anti-American' and 'anti-Semitic', pointing to the success of Le Pen and other fascists in recent European elections.

A New Left is Emerging

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On a recent visit to Beirut I had the opportunity to see for myself the last 10 days of the sit-in reported in last month's issue (May SR) and speak to some of the activists involved in the protests.

This was at a critical moment as it looked like the intifada was being squeezed on all sides, and the need to both explain this and take things forward was urgent. The left in Lebanon looks and sounds like the left anywhere else at the moment. It is young, active, full of confidence and very open to discussion and ideas. The success of the globalisation conference in Beirut nine months ago meant that a delegation was sent to Porto Alegre, and they are hoping to send people to the European Social Forum.

Making Memoirs Come Back to Life

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The Victor Serge Public Library has been functioning in Moscow for three years.

Created on the initiative of the International Victor Serge Foundation, of which I am secretary, the library has the aim of introducing the Russian public to the great wealth of radical and dissident ideas which were forbidden during the period of totalitarian Communism and are rarely heard in present-day Russia.

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