Letters

Antisemitism and the left in Britain today (3)

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We have President Trump appointing open antisemites to the White House, the end of the so called “solution” of two separate states for Jews and for Palestinians, the expansion of “illegal” settlement in the occupied West Bank — and John Rose argues for the “the need to campaign for a national dialogue between Palestinians and Israeli Jews”.

Is this really the key task for socialists and students on British campuses today? Few Israeli students study here, and those that do have served three years in the Israeli army where they are taught to hate and kill Palestinians.

Universal Basic Income

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Michael Lavalette’s piece on Universal Basic Income (“Safety Net Without Stigma”, October SR) is spot on. And the two letters, one supporting the idea, one against (November SR), are an object lesson in our united-front politics.

We support transitional initiatives such as UBI with enthusiasm because they benefit our class and strike a crushing blow to austerity blame-culture.

Reject Universal Basic Income

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Socialists should completely reject the concept of UBI for one main basic reason: it takes class struggle out of capitalism.

Instead of fighting for higher wages, against privatisation of the NHS, schools and all the rest and for higher benefits and less means testing, workers would be sidetracked into an endless and pointless discussion on how to best balance UBI.

Michael Lavalette’s article in October SR is a telling example.

David Paenson
Frankfurt, Germany

Change without struggle

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Michael Lavalette’s article on universal basic income (October SR) is welcome and I share his basic assumptions. I would like to add some points.

A debate about UBI has been raging in Germany for a while. The Left Party (Die Linke) is split on the question with the trade union wing inside The Left being against UBI for similar reasons to those Michael mentions.

Who supports Trump?

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In his otherwise excellent article, “Black Lives Matter” (October SR), Brian Richardson repeats a fallacy promoted by the American mass media — that the “more than 19 million white Americans” who “fall below the poverty line” form the “cohort of justifiably angry Americans that the billionaire Donald Trump has pitched his bellicose appeal.” The facts do not concur.

Shlyapnikov and the Left Opposition

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I have to disagree with John Rose (October SR) when he writes that in her biography of Alexander Shlyapnikov Barbara C Allen doesn’t ask why he didn’t join forces with the Left Opposition.

Allen actually gives two reasons that have to do with Trotsky’s acceptance of the ban on factions during the 1921 Tenth Congress of the Russian Communist Party and the subsequent dissolution of the Workers Opposition, of which Shlyapnikov was the most prominent member.

Mental illness and other oppressions

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Laura Miles’s article “How we fight for transgender liberation” (September SR) showed that while great strides have been made in terms of LGBT+ — rights transphobia is still very much a problem. The same could be said of racism and other forms of oppression.

There is, however, one issue that is regularly overlooked: that of discrimination against those who suffer from mental health problems.

I was Entertained

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Much as I enjoyed Bob Light’s invective in his review of The Entertainer (September SR), I have to disagree with him.

Osborne was part of the post-war generation that had had hopes in the 1945 Labour government but had become disillusioned. The Entertainer used realism but introduced a new element. Osborne’s music hall motif is a metaphor for Britain but also for popular culture, once vigorous and unifying but now grubby and taken over by those only interested in making money.

Spin and anti-Semitism

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The Chakrabarti report failed to expose the extent to which the Israel lobby manufactured Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis.

I recommend an article by Asa Winstanley (electronicintifada.net/content/how-israel-lobby-manufactured-uk-labour-party’s-anti-semitism-crisis). He found that some of the most prominent stories about anti-Semitism in the party are falsified.

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