Letters

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.

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.

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