Letters

Savaged to the Bone

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Regarding the Walrus article on pensions 'Move Over Darling' (April SR), I think the article is too detached from the struggle and has no clear class content. There are also some important omissions.

The push for funded pensions was instigated by employers but it could not have worked without the support of the trade union leaders. The promotion of funded pensions by union leaders, instead of a struggle for decent state pensions with sufficient employer contributions, now looks so stupid that one queries if stupidity is all it was--or is.

We Call on Your Support

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Recently 90 people were arrested in Johannesburg after a demonstration at the mayor's house. Some 49 are still held in prison, awaiting trial. The demonstration was built by the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee (SECC).

When the mayor, Masondo, wanted votes he came to the streets promising free services, but electricity cutoffs are everywhere. For two years running SECC and its supporters have marched against electricity cutoffs on Human Rights Day (21 March), and for two years the mayor refused to come and receive our memorandum. So in April a crowd went to Masondo's house in Kensington to fire him from office because he does not listen to us.

An Attack Against the Enemy

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Alex Callinicos's article 'Unity in Diversity' (April SR) was a useful description of the relationship between revolutionaries and organisations such as Globalise Resistance and the Socialist Alliance.

However I feel that in the case of the Socialist Alliance, the term 'United Fronts of a New Type' obscures more than it reveals. The difficulty is that we have been used to jumping from one campaign to another depending on the demands of the day. With ever more going on in Britain, this tendency can become even more pronounced. If the Socialist Alliance is to be successful in winning over large numbers of Labour supporters a consistent effort is needed to give the Socialist Alliance a profile in all united fronts of the classical type.

An Attack Against the Enemy

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Alex Callinicos is right (April SR). Anti-capitalism is growing--and not just in Britain.

Most countries now contain organisations similar to Globalise Resistance or the Socialist Alliance, although the precise nature of these organisations varies from country to country. In France, as Alex says, Attac started as a largely single-issue campaign, promoting the Tobin tax. Attac Germany, which developed some years later, generalised from the start.

One Nil to the Supporters

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The campaign to save York City Football Club is a good example of fans resisting the trend whereby people who own professional football make a financial killing with no regard to fans or players' livelihoods.

Owner Douglas Craig's contempt for the supporters and his refusal to sign up to the Kick Racism Out of Football campaign had combined to make him deeply unpopular with York City supporters. In December Craig announced his intention to sell the club or close it. Days later he revealed that he would sell Bootham Crescent, the club's ground, to house builders for £4.5 million, evict the club and resign from the football league.

Report Digital

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When I was at the Berlin conference against deregulation and for labour rights for all, I was given quite a nice video of May Day 2001 in London and a protest against tube privatisation.

These are two separate films on the same video. These were filmed by Alex Klute of Vereinte Dienstleistgungs-gewerkschaft (ver.di), a German trade union. I have one video and one digital tape which are available on loan free of charge. Please contact me if you would like to see them.

Ben Rickman
Secretary Brent TUC
www.brickman.dircon.co.uk/btuc.htm

Debates on Death Row

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Thank you for sending copies of 'Socialist Review' to my penfriend, who is currently on death row in Texas.

The men and women on death row in Texas have no access to television. They are locked up in purpose built (no bars) six foot by nine foot cells for 23 hours a day. They have inadequate diets which can only be supplemented if they have access to sufficient funds. They are subject to barbaric and retaliatory 'lockdowns' which can be declared at the whim of the state governor (Bush had the whole of the system on lockdown during the election). And even for the 'best behaved' prisoners there are no contact rules, and extremely limited phone calls and access to stamps for postage.

Double-Edged Bard

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Paul Foot says that Shakespeare's sympathies were probably with Mark Antony, and against the conspirators, in Julius Caesar (March SR). This is usually the view that is taken, but it is also one that can be questioned.

There are good reasons to believe, when we look at the context in which Shakespeare wrote the play, that perhaps his attitude towards the conspirators was more complex. In a classic essay the Marxist historian Christopher Hill has examined the role of censorship in 17th century drama. He points out that Shakespeare switched to writing Roman plays from history in 1599, at a time when English history plays were being more and more heavily censored. This increased censorship was the response of the absolutist state at a time of growing political and economic crisis.

Building Blocks of Protest

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War is a key issue for the unions, but how are we going to mobilise them?

Tony Benn's call to stop the city on the day they bomb Iraq is a brilliant opportunity for activists. But it is also a serious challenge-we need to start organising now if we are going to deliver action on the day.

First and foremost, this means holding workplace meetings to discuss Bush and Blair's war drive. Union branches need to decide what action they will take on the day, whether it's calling an immediate stoppage, a 15-minute lunchtime meeting in the canteen, or gathering to spread the word about local street protests.

Building Blocks of Protest

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Some 500,000 people demonstrated in the streets of Barcelona against a Europe of capital and war.

This demonstration shows that the movement is not at all dead, but alive and growing. People from Barcelona and the rest of Spain and Europe showed their strength, and their capacity to draw in more and more people from different backgrounds to participate in this rally. The demonstrations in Barcelona were the biggest ever, and have become a turning point in the struggle following on from Genoa and Seattle.

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