I WORK at a school in north west England. I was very shocked by the deaths at the World Trade Centre and I still feel horrified whenever I see the pictures on the television. But I am also very determined that this horror should not lead to others, such as the further destruction of Afghanistan.
When I went to work last week I started a very gentle discussion about the need for peace in the world, not violence, and also for us to be able to debate issues in a calm way.
In our staffroom, and with some of the students, we have been able to talk about Islam, the role of the US in the Middle East and the real aim of the Western-led coalition. I was an activist in Jubilee 2000 and am still involved in the Drop the Debt movement.
I have found that as the shock recedes people are more and more open to talking about why the world system we live under is so truly inhuman and has provoked inhuman acts in return. One colleague said to me, 'I have finally understood that all these issues are our issues now. I'm not sure I agree with your solution, but I know we have to start talking about a way forward.'
All of us who hate war should take heart from the fact that there was no universal violent reaction last week, and that a big minority want to respond peacefully and for justice.
I WAS working at Mile End tube station in east London as the full horror of the attacks in the US began to unfold. There was great sympathy for the victims, but it is also true that staff and some members of the public were immediately thrown into debates that continue as I write.
On several occasions during the last fortnight I heard the sentence, 'What happened was just a matter of time.' The Socialist Worker headline 'Bitter Fruit Of US Policy' the following day hit the nail on the head. I sold 18 copies to fellow workers who would say, 'That's what I said,' or, 'Remember what the US and its allies have done in Palestine.'
On the prospect of revenge war, one worker told me, 'They want to kill their Frankenstein's monster but are only giving it the ability to breed.' Bush and Blair talk of democracy, yet their key military ally is a dictator who took power in a coup in 1999 in Pakistan, General Musharraf.
They talk of defending the civilised world against evil, yet uphold a system that doesn't give a damn for the 19,000 children who die each day because of debt.
UNJUM MIRZA, East London
Arguments do fit
I READ your paper for the first time last week and this week. I must say I did so with some doubts. I know that Bush and Blair are wrong, but I don't want to support the methods used by those who flew into the World Trade Centre either. I want to put forward this argument to my mates at work-I work in a council manual depot.
I was pleasantly surprised by what I read, and more importantly I found that the arguments made sense to the people around me.
There are a few who want to just bomb and bomb and kill and kill in revenge for what happened at the World Trade Centre. Most people are much more doubtful about it all. Please keep giving the arguments we all need.
JOHN KILEY, Cheshire
Readers are now more vital than they were before
YOUR ARTICLE 'Scaffolding For A New Movement' (Socialist Worker, 15 September) which calls for a drive to increase the sales of the paper should, I hope, find many supporters. In the 1940s and 50s some in my generation thought the Daily Worker was such a guide.
Events have taught us differently. There is one thing I have found over the years. We often have to fight a political battle for every reader. I have just arranged for a friend to call for a discussion on the attacks in the US and what Socialist Worker had to say about them. Having two copies sent by post gives me an opportunity to carry a 'spare' if I meet anyone.
If we all took an extra copy it would immediately raise the circulation and encourage us to work for another solid reader. I am recovering from an operation and have certain limitations, but I also have a sense of political responsibility for the future.
DAVID DAVIS, Beckenham, Kent
Who will pay for this war?
THE EVENTS in America last week gave my elderly parents particular cause for anxiety. This is not because they fear the forces of world terrorism, but because Bush announced that he would 'dip into' the social security fund to pay for his 21st century crusade.
They paid thousands of dollars into that fund for a decent standard of living when they retired. They fear that their pension will now go to pay for Bush's war. They're not alone. Within hours of the attack assorted right wing lunatics in Congress were calling for funds to be diverted from health and education to beef up America's war machine.
Now we are being asked to donate money to the victims and their families. Human decency and compassion will mean that throughout the world people will donate money to citizens of the world's richest country. There has been no such compassion from Bush and Co-their first thought was for Wall Street. After a massive tax cut to the rich this year, capital gains tax was cut in the wake of this tragedy to reassure the markets. We are facing war and recession coming hand in hand, and it is clear that the rich expect us to bear the burden of both.
JOHN KENNEDY, South London
With Cuba against Bush
THE CUBAN Revolution 'is an important defeat for American imperialism, both in Cuba itself and in the effect it will have throughout Latin America'. That was the editorial in International Socialism in 1960, and it has remained the SWP's position.
I vividly remember joining a demonstration with members of the International Socialists (forerunners of the SWP) in 1962 to oppose US president Kennedy's attempt to use nuclear blackmail to keep Cuba as part of his territory. Andy Higginbottom (Letters, Socialist Worker 22 September) says the SWP should rethink its 'sectarian' position on Cuba.
We are not sectarians. We will unite with anyone on the left to defend Cuba against Bush and friends. But to pretend that Cuba, with no workers' councils or any other form of workers' democracy, is socialist is quite another matter.
Che Guevara was a courageous anti-imperialist. But to imitate his methods would lead to disaster. He did not ignore the working class, but he made no attempt to help it organise.
IAN BIRCHALL, North London
Human, not just a class
ALL MY life I have considered myself working class and have been proud to do so. Recently, however, with the events over asylum seekers and terrorism abroad, I more and more class myself as simply human. I do not want the pigeonhole of being 'working class', because it suggests that I am part of a group or club.
There are so many problems in the world at the moment, and most of them seem to have come from either ethnic or religious backgrounds. So why be socialist? Why be anything? The only thing that we all have in common is our humanity, so when someone asks you about asylum seekers or a minority just say, 'I have as much in common with them as I have with you.'
ANDY SIMPSON, Newcastle upon Tyne
Zionism does divide people
A LETTER in Socialist Worker last week sought to argue that being a Zionist does not mean that you are a racist. I am sure the writer was sincere and not a racist. He or she wrote that Israel should be a state where Jews can live, and that 'it doesn't matter who else lives there'.
This is an interesting vision, but it certainly isn't what Zionism or Israel is about. The Israeli state cares very much 'who lives there'-it excludes hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from having the right to return to the land of their birth or where their parents and grandparents came from.
Zionism draws a line between Jews and non-Jews. It says that the two will never be at ease in the same land. This unalterable belief is a recipe for conflict, however it is phrased. I am a Jew who fears terribly for the future. I know that Israel and Zionism have placed Jews in a situation of unending enmity against others. I want a peaceful future for all the peoples of the world, not a divided humanity.
MIKE LEVY, Birmingham
IF BUSH and Blair are allowed to get away with the pretence that they are forming a 'front against terrorism' I believe we will be allowing a very dangerous precedent to be set.
In the future any government can announce that it is fighting 'a war against terrorism' and it will have free rein to repress any minority it wants. Russia will be 100 percent sure of international government support for its crimes against the Chechens. The Sri Lankan government will have complete freedom to do what it wants about the Tamils. I shudder to think what the Turkish state may do to the Kurds.
ERICA COTTON, West London
FOR A brief period (when NATO was bombing Yugoslavia) Kosovan refugees were welcomed to Britain. Very soon, of course, normal business was restored and they were all sent back to their devastated land. It won't be the same again this time. This time they are not even bothering to pretend that Afghan refugees have a case.
I well remember the vile propaganda in most of the press towards people fleeing Afghanistan when an airliner arrived in Britain last year and most of its passengers claimed asylum. Now those same papers have stories of how horrible Afghanistan is.
SANDRA CRICHTON, Glasgow
THANK GOD for Socialist Worker after reading all the vile crap and bile in the rags over the last few days. Socialist Worker is the only newspaper that has correctly reported and analysed the events in the US over the last week. God bless you all.