Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2159

PCS union members joined an anti-fascist demonstration in London recently

PCS union members joined an anti-fascist demonstration in London recently

United, we can beat the violence of the fascists

We know what happens when the mask of respectably falls from the face of the fascist British National Party (BNP) and its supporters.

Seven years ago our car was petrol bombed outside our house. All our personal details had been posted on the Nazi hate website Redwatch. There was no question that we had been the victim of a right wing attack.

The question was what to do. We decided the safest thing to do was go public and tell as many people as possible what had happened.

Local TV and papers picked up the story and the picture of our daughter’s pink trainers in a burned out car was shown all over. We explained what had happened to our neighbours.

We had a huge amount of support from all over the movement – people we had met through our Stop the War and anti-racist activity, fellow trade unionists and, of course, SWP members.

The Nazis will use violence and the threat of violence to try and scare away opposition. It is very important that when happens people go public and expose them.

The vast majority of the population are against fascists and deplore what they stand for. That is our greatest protection.

Sally Kincaid and Steve Johnston, Leeds

People often argue that Britain is too “mixed” and “civilised” to turn to fascism. Why bother with BNP leader Nick Griffin? He is an irrelevance. Fascism can never happen here.

Last week’s article about Mendelssohn (» Mendelssohn and the documenting of Nazi absurdities, 27 June) shows that to be a dangerous illusion.

Mendelssohn was one of many composers, philosophers and writers that came from Germany, which was seen as the bedrock of European civilisation.

The socialist SPD, and communist KPD were among the biggest working class parties in the world with a heritage derived from Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, who were both German.

Mendelssohn shows that Jews, while suffering antisemitism, were seen as part and parcel of German society. The fact that Hitler came to power in Germany was truly shocking. The stark truth is that if fascism could succeed there then it could succeed anywhere.

Those fighting Hitler in the 1930s could not know of the depths of fascism’s barbarity.

Today we have no such excuse. We have to oppose the Nazis wherever they show their faces.

Duncan Brown, Glasgow

Reforms cost SNP nothing

The “minor but welcome reforms” brought in by the Scottish National Party (SNP), that Neil Davidson refers to (» Devolution and the neoliberal agenda, 4 July), were populist shams that cost nothing.

The SNP government has enthusiastically seen through massive cuts in the public sector.

The SNP in Edinburgh blame Labour in London (or Glasgow) for the cuts – just as they say they are against Trident nuclear missiles and war but are powerless to stop them.

Populist rhetoric and the collapse of New Labour are the only things that keep people voting SNP.

There are now more than 1,000 fewer teachers than when the SNP took office. This amounts to nearly 2 percent of the total workforce.

Schools are being closed and class sizes are on the up. Cuts are set to be even bigger in the coming years.

The SNP promised they would fund local services with a fair local income tax, but all they have done is cut business rates and frozen the council tax forcing council’s to slash services.

But when the Labour council in Glasgow decided to shut over 20 primary schools the SNP opposed it.

This shows how confusing things can get! We should be under no illusions – both Labour and the SNP want workers to pay the price of the crisis.

The left must unite where possible to present the strongest possible alternative at the ballot box.

But it is the strength shown by workers through their collective action and solidarity that offers us a real alternative.

My EIS teaching union passed strong motions for industrial action and demonstrations against the cuts and for smaller class sizes at its recent conference.

It will be up to socialist teachers in the union to turn those words into action. We will take our inspiration from the recent victory in construction.

Andrew Fullwood, EIS council member (pc), Glasgow

We need peace not celebration of war

The anger at Britain’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was palpable during Armed Forces Day in Manchester recently.

Over 200 people signed the Stop the War Coalition’s “Troops Out of Afghanistan” petition. Activists from Military Families Against the War helped lead the petitioning.

Many people from military backgrounds signed. Others stopped at the stall to discuss issues around the war and Armed Forces Day.

One woman said, “My son is on his third tour now. He was in Iraq, and now he is in Afghanistan.

“We should get out as Afghanistan has got nothing to do with us.”

An ex-soldier said, “I served over 15 years in the army. I was in the 1991 Gulf War, Bosnia and Iraq.

“When I got out I got no help with finding a job or a place to live. Once you leave they forget you.”

The local MPs were nowhere to be seen.

Karla Ellis, whose brother was killed in Iraq, said, “Our family got less money after losing our Lee than our MP got fiddling his expenses.”

Rather than build support for the Afghan war, Gordon Brown’s Armed Forces Day put a spotlight on the disdain politicians have for those risking their lives conducting a futile brutal war in Afghanistan.

Mark Krantz, Manchester

Green response isn’t collective

It is true that the Greens are critical of capitalism (» Letters, 4 July), but there are clear differences between their position and that of the SWP.

This doesn’t stop us working together in many campaigns.

It was a bit simplistic for Socialist Worker to call the Greens “middle class”, but they can’t be called a working class party either.

This isn’t because of their class origins or their level of support in working class areas. It is because their policies aren’t based on class lines.

For instance, the SWP is clear that we need fundamental changes to the system to deal with climate change.

In contrast, the Greens espouse individual as well as collective responses.

The concentration on individual responsibility makes it all too easy for the ruling class to demand individual sacrifice.

Our rulers will try to make us pay for their climate mess as well as their financial crisis.

The party’s good results in the recent European elections showed that there was no general shift to more right wing ideas.

But this ex-member, didn’t find the Green Party the best place to be a revolutionary socialist.

Elaine Graham-Leigh, North London

Obama’s first coup?

During the presidential election campaign last year, one of Barack Obama’s criticisms of George Bush was that his administration had taken its eyes off South and Central America.

This had allowed the emergence of a number of governments that did not acknowledge US domination, the biggest culprit being Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

Obama also complained about growing Chinese influence in the region.

He promised that he would put this right and reassert US influence and power.

The Honduran coup is the first step in this process.

It will not be the last.

Whatever Obama says in public, the US Empire is determined to restore its dominance in its own backyard.

John Newsinger, Leicester

Imperialism and Iran

In an interview given to Iranian socialist Ardeshir Mehrdad in 2006, Alex Callinicos stated the importance of the self–emancipation of working class.

He also said that, in a war between two capitalist powers, Marxists should support the side whose success will advance the interests of the international working class – specifically not the US.

Since the pro‑Mir Hussein Mousavi demonstrators in Tehran are not working class and are weakening Iran in its struggle with the US, I am concerned that Socialist Worker supports them.

There seems to be confusion about the Basij, which is the million strong volunteer section of the Revolutionary Guard – not a privileged elite.

I do not condone the shootings and beatings they dish out to demonstrators on the streets.

However they have been, and will be in the future, the backbone of any resistance to Western imperialism.

Nasser Baston, by email

Unionising sex workers

I have recently read two contradictary articles in the Morning Star on the topic of unionising sex workers.

In one a GMB union organiser is quoted saying that, “After listening to them describe their experiences and what they have to overcome to get organised and get respect, I can’t imagine anyone giving me a reason as to why they shouldn’t unionise.”

But the paper had previously printed an article criticising the GMB for being “manipulated” by the International Sex Workers Union (ISW).

This quoted Cath Elliot from Unison saying “they are simply using the union movement to justify the industry. Most [ISW] members are pimps, managers and punters”.

I’m not sure which side we should be on. Shouldn’t any workers who want to join a union be supported?

Jackson McCarthy, by email

In defence of the army

I write in response to the letter signed “Soldier” (» Letters, 27 June).

I served for 22 years in the Cheshire Regiment (now part of The Mercians). We had people of many different nationalities and ethnic origins.

Any racism (and there was very, very little) was dealt with publicly and quickly.

It is an offence in itself for an NCO to fail to report an offence and fail to intervene.

I only ever encountered bullying once. Again, the two culprits were dealt with publicly – and extremely harshly.

They each received 12 month custodial sentences in Colchester military prison.

I urge “Soldier” to turn himself in and make formal complaints in writing. He should name names, particularly if any of the culprits hold rank.

There will be no cover-up, believe me.

AD Williams, Anglesey

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Article information

Tue 7 Jul 2009, 18:50 BST
Issue No. 2159
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