Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2091

Racism, rebellion and reflections on today

Alex Wheatle is right to criticise the way young people have been demonised by the press and politicians – both in the past and today (» 'Stop and search' and Brixton’s anger, 23 February ).

Young people today – especially working class and black children – have to deal with a lot of difficult issues.

An alarming number of young people with problems are excluded from education instead of being offered help and support. Many more are unofficially excluded by a curriculum that isn’t interesting to them or relevant to their lives.

It’s not surprising that many feel alienated by schools and colleges that have effectively just become test factories.

There are other factors that increase the growing stress in many young people’s lives.

It is shameful that in the worlds fourth richest country more than millions of children live in poverty. Britain also locks up more children than any other country in Western Europe.

These are all problems that the New Labour government could address if it wanted to, but instead it consistently treats young people as a problem to be feared and policed.

Of course there are some young people who behave badly or cause problems. This is hardly surprising when you consider how difficult their lives have become.

But as Alex points out, demonising and criminalising young people only makes the situation worse.

Jess Edwards, South East London

I completely agree with the sentiments expressed by Alex Wheatle and share his sense of isolation as a result of institutional racism.

The political climate has shifted since the 1980s and today poorer Asian communities are being subjugated in much the same way that the African-Caribbean community has been for years.

More should be done to unify the many minority ethnic communities of Britain to show each other we are not alone in our fears and feelings.

In doing this we may save a generation from the belief that we are alone and that nothing can change.

Vijay Sisodia, Bournemouth, Dorset

Alex Wheatle is right when he says that drugs should be legalised – drug addiction is an illness and should be treated as such.

If clinics were established where drugs could be prescribed with a view to rehabilitating addicts it would go a long way towards combating the epidemic that we face.

Hopefully it would also impact upon the big dealers and put them out of business – it’s them who should be languishing in jail, not the hapless addicts.

If the government is so concerned about the drug issue why haven’t they addressed the problem? They have had ample time to tackle the issue.

Nick Rowland, Hastings, East Sussex

Crucial mistakes on Cuba

I would like to point out some flaws in the arguments your article makes against Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution (» Castro and Cuba , 1 March).

Firstly, the claim that Castro was just “in the right place at the right time”, and that the victory of the revolution did not lie in the use of guerilla strategies is questionable.

Castro’s takeover lasted several years as his rebels fought US-armed Cuban troops. Fighting off an army that is numerically stronger and better equipped than yours requires much more than luck.

It is true that Castro’s success in Cuba was not replicated in subsequent conflicts in which he played a role.

The reason for this was not that guerilla warfare is a “tactical error” – Che Guevara’s mission in Bolivia failed due to lack of cooperation with native communist parties, while the war in the Congo was lost due to lack of coordination with other rebel groups.

Secondly, the claim that ordinary Cubans did not play a large part in the 1959 revolution defies all logic.

Your article states that Castro arrived in Cuba with “a few dozen men”. So how did the rebel army grow to become a force capable of defeating the Cuban army without the participation of ordinary Cubans?

And what about the general strike called against the military as Castro approached Havana? Was that not participation by ordinary Cubans?

Finally your article ends by saying that, “We should not have illusions in the allegedly socialist character of the country.”

Cuba has a world leading healthcare system and free university education that we can only dream of in Britain – despite the US economic blockade and years of comparative isolation.

Is the aim of socialism to bring economic prosperity to the poor? Or is it, as Hugo Chavez says, to give the poor a sense of dignity rather than riches?

Joe Simpson, by email

Obama is best hope for anti-war movement

I found your article on Barack Obama’s fight to be the Democratic Party nominee for US president (» Obama’s vision won’t see a new America, 1 March) to be at best rash and overly pessimistic, and at worst misleading.

It is not at all accurate to say that Obama only opposes the war in Iraq because it is “unwinnable” .

Obama opposed every aspect of the rush to war, and for those of us here in the US who were in the streets protesting, he was a bold and needed ally.

I differ with Obama on several domestic issues, but on his stance on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan we are as one.

Obama is the only serious candidate for the presidency who sees negotiation with “enemies” as a means to end conflict.

I understand Obama’s ideas and perspectives may seem far too mild to you. But you should understand that in the US the very word “socialism” conjures up images of breadlines in the average citizen’s mind.

Perhaps Socialist Worker would be more satisfied with Hillary Clinton, whose lobbyists claim she represents “everyday working people” but who votes for war and against a ban on urban use of cluster bombs?

I would caution against a rush to judgment of a man who hasn’t even gained the nomination of his party yet.

Derek Hasenstab, by email

German Greens lurch to the right

Your article on the Hamburg state elections in Germany (» Rise of new left party reshapes German politics, 1 March) was right to point to the possibility of a coalition between the right wing CDU and the Green Party.

The head of the party’s parliamentary group last week opened the door to working with the CDU, declaring that she was “in principle for new coalitions.”

The Greens have moved rapidly to the right since they joined a federal government with the New Labourite SPD a decade ago.

At that time many people thought that they would drag the SPD to the left.

In fact the role of the Greens was to provide left cover for right wing policies – like the German government support for Nato’s war in Yugoslavia.

The success of the new left party Die Linke seems to be pushing the Greens even further to the right.

They recently supported the continuing presence of German troops in Afghanistan.

With the Greens, the CDU and the SPD all cooperating in the implementation of neoliberal policies, what a joy it is to have an alternative that stands up for working people.

Sigrid Paulat, Dusseldorf

A voice for the voiceless

As a Pakistani living in England, I would like to say I was moved by the way your paper gave a voice to those individuals that are the most important, the people of Pakistan (» ‘A revolution has begun’, 1 March).

It is very important to highlight that Pakistan is a mixture of many traditions and cultures and it is a shame that this kind of journalism is not evident in the mainstream press.

It is important to show a country with a human face and you have done that brilliantly.

Keep up your good work.

Riaz Khan, by email

Good plays, bad politics

Thanks for your article on George Bernard Shaw (» A fascinating contradiction, 1 March).

Too bad that for all his great literary work and socialist ideals he was also into eugenics and the breeding out of social groups and nations he deemed unsuitable for the “high society” he swanned around in.

Sean Fay, by email

More than enough food

Your article on how food price rises will kill millions in the Global South made some excellent points (» Food price rises will kill millions, 1 March).

The price of food and its distribution is entirely in the hands of capitalists, and they are profit-mongers.

The capitalists would rather that we did not know that there is more than enough food to feed everyone on the planet, if only it were properly distributed.

Just like during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the bosses are creating food scarcity to make bigger profits.

And if they cannot make a profit, they would sooner dump food in the ocean before they would let the people eat it.

Ziaul Haque Babloo, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Wholesome future

In the present world order food is not primarily grown to eat, but to make a profit.

We can see farmers paid to set aside huge warehouses overflowing with grain in a world of starving kids.

Let us all help to speed the day when this earth is held in common for the benefit of all humanity.

Arch Stanton, by email

Imperialist carve-up?

I read your article on how Kosovo’s breakaway will inflame Cold War tensions (» Breakaway will inflame 'cold war' tensions, 23 February) with interest.

I understand the point you make about the need for a federation of socialist states, and that the imperialist powers have their own reasons for supporting independence for Kosovo.

But surely Kosovo has the right to self‑determination?

John Passant, Australia

Left, but not left enough?

We should be careful in celebrating Die Linke’s recent electoral victory.

Die Linke is not yet a revolutionary party – it is composed of many different factions, including left social democrats.

We need to focus on ensuring that the revolutionary faction is able to secure control of the party.

Benjamin Kindler, by email

Campaigning councillors

I am doing some research on the campaigning work of left of Labour councillors since the 1930s.

I am hoping to interview some former councillors, and those that worked alongside them.

If any Socialist Worker readers can help put me in touch with anyone who fits that description I would be very grateful.

Please email

Michael Lavalette, Preston

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Article information

Tue 4 Mar 2008, 19:06 GMT
Issue No. 2091
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