We need a fightback—and we need socialism
The revolutionary socialist James Connolly died fighting for Irish independence—but throughout his life he taught that Ireland could not be free under capitalism.
Events in the last few days remind us of what he wrote in 1897:
“If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain.
“England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.”
Now it’s not just “England”, but also the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Perhaps it’s time that Ireland set about organising for Connolly’s socialist republic!
Ken Montague, North London
I’m still angry at the way those in power were allowed to abuse parliamentary expenses not so long ago.
A couple of broken windows at Tory HQ is nothing compared to the damage their cuts will do to working class people.
Deb Taylor, by email
Students in Britain—congratulations on your truly inspiring demonstrations against fee hikes on 10 November.
We wish you all the very best in your campaign against these dramatic attacks on higher education.
We’re with you in spirit—both in taking to the streets and in militant actions such as occupying Tory HQ.
We hope that your upcoming demonstrations will be equally strong, and that you all succeed in beating back the cuts.
Kath Larkin and Phoebe Kelloway, National Queer Officers, National Union of Students (Australia)
I was in Leeds city centre last week and it was so good to hear the chant of “Tory Scum!” ringing through the streets.
It’s especially good to hear it shouted with such fury from those who aren’t old enough to remember the Tories the last time around.
It’s like it’s being passed on from generation to generation.
Now all we need is for Margaret Thatcher to die on the day of the royal wedding. It would give an added impetus to the protests that I’m sure will be taking place anyway.
I look forward to throwing coal at her coffin.
Theresa Woods, Leeds
Conflicts that help us to resist
In response to your article on the role of education (What would liberated education look like?, 20 November), we need to explain why and how there is room for change and resistance.
This arises out of the gaps left by the system’s contradictions:
- Education is supposedly about “individual” achievement. But in order to achieve it, governments have created education factories—schools—where teachers, other school workers and students are brought together.
This is hierarchical, but the association is what keeps undermining the production of individuals.
- The system demands that everyone achieves, but it can’t provide enough university places nor enough jobs for everyone.
- It demands that students acquire knowledge—while concealing from students the means by which the education system sustains its own power, through its own rules, regulations, monitoring, reward and punishments.
- It claims it wants “active” learners but the system has a tendency to induce passivity—especially through the above point.
- It claims that knowledge is objective whereas in fact the knowledge it offers is largely of one kind.
It is a knowledge that the professions control rather than the kinds of knowledge which are not controlled.
- The system fetishises “product”—in other words, outcome, output, individualised performances—as it is only these that can be graded.
Yet practice keeps telling teachers and students that it is getting the process of learning right that is crucial—and that learning is not individual and isolated but rests on many acts of co-operation.
- Even as they talk of fairness and equality of opportunity, they create selection, streaming and segregation systems that are clearly not fair or equal.
Michael Rosen, East London
Coverage of students hides police violence
I was at the student protest in Whitehall, central London, last week.
I acknowledge that there were some people causing disruption and violence but I am absolutely indignant about the fact that it’s the only thing reported by most news outlets.
I was in a row of peaceful protesters. We were sitting down when, at around 4.30pm, the police started forcing us to stand up and pushing us away.
Shortly after this police horses started charging into the crowd, and when we refused to move—still without resorting to violence—they started to hit the nearest people with batons.
One university student who had shown no intention of being violent was hit on the head and a policewoman pushed a girl from a secondary school to the ground.
As people tried to run away towards Trafalgar Square we noticed that we were being kettled as there was another row of policemen at the end of the road.
This caused even more panic.One group managed to run through a small road and then dispersed.
We waited until 8pm when the police finally started to release the main group of protesters who had been kept in Parliament Road.
I hope that, for once, someone will let people know what the police did as well as focusing on the students.
Ariella, North London
A great film that needs your help
Can I bring to readers’ attention a campaign to get the film Little White Lies a distribution deal?
The film, written by Helen Griffin and starring Brian Hibbard from Coronation Street and The Flying Pickets, won a Welsh Bafta and has been highly praised at international film festivals.
When the film is shown it invariably brings audiences to laughter and tears as it delves into the lives of white working class people.
It is a brilliant and funny anti-racist film kept away from a mass audience.
I believe there is one main reason why the distributors have ignored this film. It names the British National Party (BNP) as a major factor in a racist murder.
The only whiff of a large audience the film got was when ITV Wales showed it on a late night slot—yet this version had all direct references to the BNP removed.
The film looks at the murder of Neath shop keeper Mohan Singh Kullar. It is a fitting tribute to his memory.
Please watch and rate the film on Amazon Studios http://studios.amazon.com/movies/447?ref=email
Martin Chapman, Swansea
Tories? Bring on the battle!
I just wanted to send a quick message to say how much I appreciate Socialist Worker’s online updates of the student protests.
It is a shame I can’t be there, but seeing the updates is encouraging.
I know it is becoming a bit of an over-used phrase, but this really is just the beginning.
Once the VAT hike kicks in, chunks of the NHS are privatised, public sector workers are sacked, housing benefits slashed, the cost of travel goes up—while wages stagnate AND the bankers still get their tax-payer funded bonuses—there will be more protest.
The government is in for a shock if it thinks last week’s direct action is unacceptable.
Lee, West London
Just a happy coincidence?
I think it is worth remembering that the managing director of Care UK funded the election campaign of Andrew Lansley, health spiv in this scumbag coalition.
Who stands to benefit from the government changes to the NHS? Why, firms like Care UK.
It all feels like we are being governed by the Kray twins.
Mitch Mitchell, Cambridgeshire
A right royal rush to wed
Well said and so eloquently put ( William and Kate: the question engaging the nation , 27 November).
However, you omit to mention the indecent haste with which this “delightful” wedding was announced.
Of course, the whole family is breeding like bloody rabbits or grouse or at least like some political leaders.
So there’s sure to be another birth to celebrate quite soon.
Oooooooh, right royal soaps.
Bread and circuses—who could live without ‘em?
Basta! Off with their heads.
Patrick Black, Sheffield
A bootiful end for Matthews
The press paint Bernard Matthews, who died last week, as a harmless figure from simple beginnings.
But workers at his factories faced low pay and poor treatment.
Their great answer was to unite with migrant workers and fight back.
Lizzy Cochrane, Lancaster
Union rights victory in Oz
There was a great victory for union rights in Australia last week.
A construction worker, Ark Tribe, was facing six months jail after holding a union meeting.
His “crime” was refusing to hand over to bosses and the state the names and contact details of those who came to the meeting.
Workers around the world, including in Britain, had protested in support of Ark.
A court in Adelaide found him not guilty.
Henry Black, Bolton
Back climate protesters
Two spokespersons for Climate Justice Action, Tannie Ørum and Stine Gry Jonassen, each got a four month suspended sentence last week.
They were convicted of assaulting police during last year’s Climate Summit in Copenhagen.
This is an attack on the right to protest and organise civil disobedience.
For more information go to www.climatecollective.org/post/151
Jørn Andersen, Denmark
Gamu gets a great result
X-factor’s Gamu has won a reversal of a decision to deport her and her family to Zimbabwe.
Her case will now be reconsidered. It’s a victory for everyone who campaigned for her right to stay.
Now we need to keep going.
Sally Nixon, Dundee