Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2232

The SWP has been at the heart of the recent protests (Pic: Socialist Worker)

The SWP has been at the heart of the recent protests (Pic: Socialist Worker)

I want a velvet school revolution

My name is Red Justice (yep, it is actually Red Justice). I am a socialist as well as a 12‑year old schoolboy. I detest my school as it is a complete dictatorship.

I believe it needs a student union. I recently found myself in an hour long detention for calling a teacher a dictator. This annoyed me.

Then my form tutor asked to have a word with me about it, where she stated my political views are up for attention. She then told me to write a list of things I would like to change about the school. This included me wanting to start a union.

So I gave it to her to find that it wouldn’t be taken seriously. Pupils at my school need to get some rights and a choice. My list of things that should be changed included:

  • Freedom of speech. Although this is a human right, I believe it is something that we as pupils do not have. I don’t mean to make it acceptable to swear at teachers or scream in the middle of a lesson but to be able to voice your opinion and not be told off severely.

    If we didn’t have freedom of speech then maybe we would be under the rule of some antisemite, as there would be no debate of anything, just a dictatorship. This is where the world will possibly end up if teachers continue to teach in such a manner.

  • Union. This school needs a student union. I don’t mean some stupid little union that has the rights to choose where to place a bin. I mean a proper union, which has a lot of choice in the curriculum, projects, where and what to spend some of the school budget on and many more rights.
  • I also want another school election as the last one was stupid because they had absolutely no power. Last of all I want this to be read seriously by my teachers. If not I will “start a velvet revolution until we’re given some power or taken seriously”.

Red Justice, Cookham, Berkshire

Now is the time to join the SWP

In the 40 years since I became a revolutionary socialist, there has never been a time that Marxism has seemed more relevant or urgent.

The con-demned society that the Tory coalition intends for us to inhabit is based on what a Canadian Marxist, Alan Sears, termed the “Lean State”.

At its heart are the bodies of armed men—police, army, airforce, MI5 spies—organised to protect the capitalists’ profits.

The other major role for the lean state is to prop up the capitalist market, local and global. It pumps in trillions of our tax revenue to support the banks’ survival and increase the corporations’ profit margins.

The lean state forces the market into every part of our lives. In education, for example, it trains people in the harsh reality of the global market.

This not a society I want to live in. Sign up for socialism and join the SWP, a party that fights for a better world—before they destroy it.

John Murphy, Blackburn

Malthusian calls are a disgrace

The fact that this year’s climate change demonstration was smaller than usual ( Protest calls for climate action , 11 December) meant that some of those who express more extreme environmental views were more visible than they have been recently.

I was particularly concerned about the delegation from the Optimum Population Trust (OPT).

The OPT is an organisation that has the support of some well known environmentalists. On the protest their leaflets argued that the planet can only support a population of three billion.

That begs the question of what the group thinks should happen to the remaining three and a half billion.

Given that the nations often said to be overpopulated are ones where the inhabitants are mostly black or Asian, it’s easy to see such arguments fuelling racist agendas.

The theory of overpopulation has a long and unfavourable past in our movement. It seems to offer an easy way to solve global warming or poverty, but the reality is more complex.

Emissions per-capita are not identical in rich developed nations and the rest of the world.

The reason that some countries are poor has more to do with their history than their population size.

Arguing that the problem is that there are too many people, fails to challenge the real causes of global warming—the corporate polluters only interested in profit, and the lack of any real government action.

Those who believe that the world is overpopulated follow the flawed ideas of the 19th century writer Thomas Malthus.

Karl Marx denounced his work as being a libel on the human race, as his arguments diverted from the struggle against capitalism and blamed ordinary people for the world’s problems.

We too should argue that they have no place in today’s fight for a better world.

Martin Empson, Treasurer, Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union group (personal capacity)

No ‘Heroes’ in bloody Afghanistan war

Normally I’d be happy to see David Bowie’s iconic 1977 song “Heroes” at the top of the charts.

But listening to the dreadful X Factor cover released to raise money for the Sun’s “Help for Heroes” military charity is enough to make my ears bleed.

“Heroes” was recorded in Berlin while Bowie was recovering from drug addiction.

It was here that his flirtation with the far-right was ended after meeting German socialists.

Bowie wrote the song after seeing two lovers kissing in the shadow of the Berlin Wall.

The triumphant music and vocals belie the lyrics, which detail an embittered couple reflecting on the romance of their youth.

Bowie put the title in speech marks to underline the irony.

This irony has been lost on Simon Cowell and his gang, who are using the song to drum up support for the war in Afghanistan and paint the troops as heroes.

The growing unpopularity of the war has seen the establishment fly into a frenzy of support for “our boys”.

The politicisation of the poppy campaign is just one example.

Jingoistic propaganda is not going to help the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The best way to support British troops is to bring them home.

Jonny Jones, East London

Michael Gove is not a good sport

Another Tory cut that will have a devastating impact on school students’ life chances is that of the School Sports Partnerships.

This sees the government provide £162 million to run PE classes in schools where there are no trained staff, organise sports clubs and hold competitions.

But education secretary Michael Gove wants to scrap this as he does not believe that it provides enough competitive sport in schools.

Instead, he wants annual school Olympics to drive up pupils’ participation in sport.

Gove wants to create a mythical age of disciplined, healthy and obedient children through such competition.

But School Sports Partnerships have encouraged people who have not enjoyed PE before to become more active. That is because they have used new sports, such as rocketball, wave-boarding and cheerleading.

Now all that will be lost from March next year.

But there is opposition on the streets. Hundreds of pupils, parents and former athletes, such as Denise Lewis, protested on Tuesday of last week outside parliament against the plans.

Katherine Branney, East London

Respect the FBU’s opinion

Socialist Worker should stop trying to stir up unrest that’s not needed over the London fire dispute (Socialist Worker, 11 December).

Firefighters in the FBU union have fought well and got the potential for a settlement that is far off what management wanted in the first place.

I would have thought you’d have respected the opinion of the FBU.

You should stand shoulder to shoulder with them as part of the solidarity of the working class that papers like yours love to promote when you’re calling us to strike, rather than trying to divide the union from the outside.

LFB member, London

Thanks to all the students

I’m a 48 year old disabled man who can do little about this government and its unjust cuts.

I would just like to offer my support to all you students who are the only people, it seems, standing up against this government.

You are not only fighting for yourselves but for people like me and for that I thank you.

Keep doing what you’re doing.

Paul, by email

Corrie’s strong traditions

When Coronation Street was “radical” (A soap that gave north’s working class a voice, 11 December) Ken Barlow went out petitioning against the Vietnam War in one episode.

Although we had strong SWP branches in Salford at that time, and regular sales of Socialist Worker on precincts and outside factories, Ken was never red enough to have bought a paper.

Many actors on Corrie today though did come out and oppose the Iraq war. Julie Hesmondhalgh, who plays Hayley Cropper, has spoken at many anti-war and anti-racist events in the city.

Mark Krantz, Manchester

Human beings are not selfish

People are naturally selfish and are only out to look after themselves. That’s the oldest argument in the book against socialism.

Except that the university students protesting over fees are not fighting for themselves but for those who will come to college after them.

Students protesting in Scotland, where there are no fees, are fighting in support of their sisters and brothers down south. Humans selfish? No way.

Carmela Ozzi, West London

I agree they’re all big liars

I totally agree that the government is a coalition of liars and thieves ( Coalition of liars and thieves , 11 December). It’s been fantastic to see so many people out, demanding to be heard.

It’s the only good thing about having the Tories in power—at least people will think a lot more when the next election comes round.

S Whiteford, Whitwick, Leicestershire

Tory cuts will hit children

Imagine that there’s no summer playscheme in Camden in 2012 (Camden protest rattles council, 2 December). Children will be left home alone, there will be inappropriate care arrangements, older siblings will be left to look after younger ones.

Local authorities have a duty to provide sufficient childcare.

The proposal to work with only the most vulnerable is against playwork principles. Having an inclusive approach to working with all children ensures everyone develops.

M Mia, by email

Well done for protest report

Socialist Worker had excellent real-time coverage of last week’s protests. It gave an idea of the genuine anger of people against lying politicians and a corrupt political system.

Dave Atkins, Guyhirn, Cambs

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Article information

Tue 14 Dec 2010, 17:30 GMT
Issue No. 2232
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