Planning for plenty
I found it fascinating that Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer newspaper felt it necessary to claim that no one apart from “revolutionary socialists” were advocating a “command economy” as an alternative to the chaos and destruction of the crisis of the current system.
Perhaps Andrew is fearful that people are indeed advocating such an alternative and this may appear right and sensible to many more. Boom and bust, unemployment, war, ecological destruction, personal insecurity, wasteful production, and indeed production for destruction, are precisely the consequences of the capitalist economic and social system and are inherent to it.
The wholesale socialisation of the economy means taking it out of the hands of the 5 percent who own and control the means of production and distribution who have made such a horlicks of it.
And placing it under the common ownership and democratic control of the vast majority of people is precisely the way to end boom and bust and ensure the economy in run in the interests of the majority of the people and not for the profit of the capitalist minority.
Under socialism everyone would be gainfully and usefully employed. Working years, weeks and days could be drastically reduced, with no loss of personal economic or social security.
With production and distribution in harmony with the environment and management of natural resources, we would be perfectly capable of combining long term planning with meeting immediate needs.
Democratically determined decisions would be taken at global, regional or local level as appropriate.
This is a far more practical and sensible alternative than the pouring billions into the banks, which will only result in the living standards of working people being cut further.
Andrew Northall, Kettering
There are so many worried people around and I have had conversations with many who feel that Blairism has failed them. It is a fact of life now that many are very concerned about loans and house repossessions.
The solution to bankers greed is nationalisation of the banks, freezing their assets, no repossessions and no MPs getting a pay rise.
It is my earnest hope that this government and the fellow travellers in the Labour Party will not only be marginalised but kicked out of any position they hold.
We need radical policies not platitudes or empty promises. Things are serious and will get worse. Capitalism has failed us. Now its time to take control of banks, utilities and public services and put them where they – belong in the hands of the people who created the wealth in the first place.
Paul Barker, Wakefield
I was interested to read about the treatment of asylum seekers in Britain (» Asylum seekers speak out about persecution and a life on the edge, 1 November).
In France the sans papiers, undocumented workers, are now victim of something reminiscent of what happened to the Jews before the Second World War and the north Africans who were sympathetic to the national liberation movements during the 1950-60s.
Over the past couple of years sans papiers were arrested outside schools where they were waiting for their children.
It is estimated there are between 200-400,000 sans papiers in France, with about 80,000 in Paris. Many work and pay taxes but are afraid of collecting benefits or health treatment for fear of detection.
RESF, an association in support of the sans papiers, successfully highlighted this terrible treatment and these migrants have held strikes and demonstrations to show the economic contribution they make to France.
The president, Nicholas Sarkozy, is leading these attacks which play into the hands of the racist right wing. He aims for 26,000 illegal workers to be removed from France by the end of 2008, an 80 percent rise on those deported in 2007.
There have been several examples of people being denounced to the police as illegal.
Ordinary people are encouraged to report those they suspect of being without documentation.
A young woman from Ecuador was called in by the police after she registered her child for school; a social worker denounced a Senegalese sans papiers; a post office manager called the police regarding an Algerian couple; and a train ticket inspector phoned the police to express his doubts over a 22 year old student.
RESF and other organisations supporting the rights of sans papiers are now campaigning by going to police stations when sans papiers are arrested.
We must campaign against the racism of the state across Europe.
Cyril Pommereau, Paris
Dividing workers is no way to fight racism
Recent comments by the head of the Commission for Racial Equality, Trevor Phillips, will anger many.
Last week he said that the colour disadvantage in some parts of the country “is not black or brown, but white”.
The name of the game now is to “tackle inequality, not racial special pleading”, which is the only way to stop a “racist backlash”.
This is part of a growing trend that assumes the “white” working class have separate interests to black or Asian workers, and are inherently racist.
While it would be naive to think racism will not be a problem with the onset of recession, I find this view incredibly patronising.
What’s more dangerous are the logical conclusions of this view, which could encourage racists.
Trevor Phillips’ previous insights include claiming that Britain is “sleep walking towards segregation” and that we should “kill off the word multiculturalism” – music to every racists ears.
In the week of the inquiry into the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, you would think that Phillips could spend his time challenging the very real racism that exists in society.
Pandering to racism has never helped to defeat it. Phillips is no friend to workers – white, black or brown.
Robin Burrett, East London
Why defend the failed market?
According to 16 “leading economists” who put their names to a letter to the Sunday Telegraph (“Keynesian over-spending won’t rescue the economy' – Telegraph, Letters 26 October) state intervention in the economy is “misguided and discredited”.
But just how do they think the “credibility” of neoliberalism has fared over the last few weeks?
For a generation it has been argued by “leading economists” in government and academia alike that the free-market is the best, indeed the only, way to organise society. The quest for ever greater profit has been defined as our highest aspiration.
The crisis has exposed neoliberalism as an ideology by which the rich justify their plunder.
It’s also exposed the free-marketeers as hypocrites who won’t stand by their own economic dogmas.
The free-market god has failed. Neoliberalism should be consigned to the dustbin of history.
Consulting a Ouija board would be a more credible way of allotting resources than the free market so beloved by “leading economists”.
Sasha Simic, Hackney
The priorities of the mainstream media and TV news baffles me.
The lead story is of a couple of sexist idiots who got rich for heading the “lad culture” revival and being caught out for being too sexist and too idiotic.
The second story is the humanitarian disaster in Congo as thousands of people fear for their lives.
Coming in at third – the evidence that the police don’t shout warnings before they shoot after a long chase with no one having any idea – who the hell they were.
Keep up the good work Socialist Worker – some of us out here need you to stand between us and certain insanity.
Heather Kay, by email
Students in Naples
I’ve seen some really good things here in Naples in the last few days.
One of the best universities in Naples have been holding protests and there have been daily public meetings attracting 300 to 400 students.
Yesterday they decided, with the support of a lot of teachers, to hold lectures outside the school buildings and in the squares blocking the roads as a sign of protest at the government’s education plans.
Today I saw ten lectures going on in the square, blocking all the traffic through the heart of the historical centre and a further 10 in a nearby square.
I hope this spreads to Britain. The mood is really intense and people are up for a fight.
Ameet Bhakta, Naples
Responding to the crisis
As supporters of the People Before Profit Charter, we organised a small lunchtime meeting last week of NUJ, PCS and Prospect union members with left Keynsian economist Graham Turner.
It attracted twelve people from our two neighbouring offices.
The discussion about the economy was excellent.
Sixty redundancies were announced earlier that day at one of our workplaces so we also started to plan a campaign.
And now civil service workers have announced a national one-day strike against pay cuts.
Workers are thinking big, and so must we to respond to the scale of the economic crisis.
Dave Crouch and Simon Hester, Central London
Car workers’ fight for jobs
We are very pleased with the article about the fight for jobs (» Fights, not deals can save workers' jobs, 1 November). Lads were reading it and liked the tone.
Ford worker, Southampton
Louder voices of resistance
The London Fire Brigade is threatening to make around 30 administration workers redundant without any consultation with the unions.
Recent branch and shop meetings in Unison have shown the willingness of workers to fight to defend our jobs by being prepared to take strike action.
The message that we shouldn’t pay for the bankers’ greed is very popular. The convulsions which the capitalist system is currently going through means socialists have the opportunity to relate to large numbers of workers.
We are no longer talking to just “the ones and twos”. As Socialist Worker has been saying in recent weeks, recession can lead to resistance. What socialist activists do can make a difference.
Steve Sparks, Lewisham
Correction: RMT protest
Due to a sub editing error the letter from Alan Crowe (Letters, 1 November) said that the seafarer’s demonstration in Brussels faced an “attack” by police. In fact while the Belgian police intimidated the demonstrators, there was no physical attack.
We apologise for the error.